Tuesday, August 28, 2007

more on flow

Another glorious morning here at the Park. Yesterday it looked like the grim reaper had descended, with huge dark clouds, lots of rain, and awesome displays of lightning bolts. Hurricane Dean wreaking what little havoc it still could. Today--all gone, and I bet a lot of the smoke from the fires up in northern states that had drifted down here is gone as well.

It's a good day to be outside, and a hard day to spend writing inside! I will be out a fair amount today, but my laptop urges me to spend some time with it as well. I have some deadlines I'd like to make. I will be going into the field for a wilderness program tomorrow, and so will be out of writing (and posting) commission for a week.

Going into the field is always an interesting experience for me. I have jumbled thoughts, all involving varying levels of anxiety about what I am leaving behind (pets, family, daily minutiae), what I am going into, and the oddness of being in the field again, even though I love it. This program is not one I have worked for before; it's called Passages to Recovery and is for adults. It is in the same general gorgeous area as I am in now, although the course area is one I am not as familiar with, so I am really anticipating the exploring I'll get to do.

Flow. I'm in it right now, and I'm just letting go and riding easily with the current. Hmm...such a nice way to do it!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


It's rainy and thundery in Wayne County today--very lovely. Someone said it was from Hurricane Dean, the last hurrah trying to stir something up. Thanks, Dean. The smell of dampened sage is filling my nostrils and sending me in paroxysms of delight at the familiar, much-loved scent. Have I mentioned before that this is home, and always will be for me, no matter what other changes I experience?

Yesterday, as I ferried about a visitor to this place, I was struck again by how much I love it here, and how tight the community is, and how many different little microcosms of community there are here, and how diverse this area really is, which few would believe on first glance. For a county of about 2500 people, and then in a town of about 150 (Torrey), there are communities upon communities, blending and merging and never mixing and shifting and reshaping as the years and the people all go on, stay, leave, and change. I was reminded of how many people here I know, and how many I truly care for, and how supporting this place can be to those of us displaced, either by choice or suddenly.

I am not feeling particularly verbose today, nor eloquent. I want to go out and take a walk in the rain, and smell the wet sage, and look across the immense, sky-darkened landscape, and simply feel my way into the next step of my journey.

Friday, August 24, 2007

fruit-picking and more canaries on the rim

My friend Michelle from Durango is visiting me here in Fruita, Utah. (Yes, the Capitol Reef National Park employee community is located in a place called Fruita, after all the fruit orchards the pioneers planted a century or so ago. I'm in Fruita. Isn't that cool? Although since I have screwed up the cooling system in my friend's house and can't figure out how to make it work again, it's actually not cool at all, which is a pity this time of year.) We went to one of the open fruit orchards a while ago to pick some ripe deliciousness off the trees. Apples and plums were available in that particular orchard, although the plums seemed not quite ready yet--perhaps for canning? There were also peach trees, which not quite ready either, but we sneakily picked a few because they were so pretty.

What a lovely experience...picking fruit at the height of summer, the perfect lazy Friday afternoon activity. And only $1/pound, you can't beat that. And waaay better than supermarket fruit, for sure.

Seeing this area newly through a friend's eyes is also, well, eye-opening. (Snort.) I realize again how spectacular it is, how pristine, how stunningly gorgeous, with the red and cream rock walls framed against the impossibly blue sky with just a few little puffy white clouds drifting about for maximum effect. Photo opp indeed! We're going to Panorama Point and the Goosenecks in a bit for sunset, to really dazzle her with this place's beauty. Then to the Patio, the local pizza and (3.2%) beer joint, for dinner and perhaps some tunes as it's open mic night.

I was just sitting in the living room and watched the neighbor across the street put out her cats, on leashes so they could safely roam the front yard and chew on grass till they threw up, just like good felines are supposed to do. They're on leashes because companion animals cannot roam the Park unleashed, especially not those belonging to employees. My cat, stuck inside, watched them through an open (screened) window with utter fascination. She looked back at me a few times as if to say, Check it out, Mom! Cats on leashes. Weird!

I'm just enjoying this afternoon, sitting here in a glorious little red rock corner of the country, listening to the sprinklers (yes, it strikes me as quite odd that a national park in the desert has grass lawns in its housing area and the employees use water around the clock to ensure the attractive verdant color--and this in an area where there's been a moratorium on water rights in the local selling community for a few years now), and being quiet and peaceful and accepting of it all.

Not too shabby.

Wanted to add too that I'm almost done reading Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West by Chip Ward, which I mentioned a few posts back. It becomes more and more horrifying, almost stupefying in its endless, eloquently written litany about the unthinkable idiocy that has been wreaked upon the West and its peoples by our lovely government and, even more so, military. Nuclear waste, scary stuff. I strongly, strongly recommend reading it. Then letting your blood boil. Then doing something productive with that anger. Some other recommended sites to check out, which I also list in my links, are Downwinders and HEAL Utah. Do something. Anything. Don't just sit and let this sort of shit happen ANYWHERE in our country, or, indeed, the world.

I am still deciding what to do with my horror and rage. But I won't let that freeze me into inaction, facing such a large, sprawling mess. One I am doing is right here, in blogging about it. Every little tiny bit is a start!

All right, off to watch the sunset. The sunset over the raped landscape. Hmm. I must say, as I read Canaries on the Rim while lolling (love that word!) by the favorite river the other day, I wondered what sort of horrors might be lurking in that favorite place of mine, beneath the waters. Hmm, something to investigate!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Lineage Holders of Dysfunction

Okay, had to use that as a title--isn't it great? Thanks to a friend who shall remain anonymous on this post--who's perhaps afraid of karmic retribution for being sassy! In a nutshell, there is a group in this little part of Utah which practices its own brand of spirituality, which is open to all, and it's wonderful that they do it, indeed. Diversity's a great thing. The occasionally frustrating issue is that the leading members of this group have a tendency toward, ah, being the enlightened ones, the ones who are mindfully living their lives of great understanding and have been given the burden of being the teachers of others. Therefore, these lineage holders are better than you and I. At least, that's the impression some of them give at times. Many times. Lots of times.

So they've been dubbed the Lineage Holders of Dysfunction, because their group is really full of quite dysfunctional people! (As we all are, bless our varied uniquenesses.) Or perhaps it's just that they're sort of teaching dysfunction? Hmm...ideas to ponder. Anyway, I just thought that was fun, and I was moved to put it as today's post. Plus, I see a short story forming...heh heh heh.

Anyone else out there have their own experiences with lineage holders of dysfunction?

Okay, enough of this. I'm off to pick peaches in the Park! Persecuted Mormon pioneers settled this place (it's called Fruita) originally, and they planted lots of fruit trees--self-sufficiency and all that. The Park staff tend to the orchards all year, and the public benefits at harvest time by being able to pick said fruit for nominal prices. And is it ever good.... A friend of mine and I tried to get some last night, but they locked the gate on this particular orchard at 5pm. I suppose to keep out all those marauding deer?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

writing challenges...sigh

So I'm noticing that I'm sitting here this morning (fast turning into afternoon) reading other people's blogs, checking out the news, and thinking about writing. Oh, and I'm inside, which is a tragedy in this beautiful area. (Shall I mention again that I am house-sitting in Capitol Reef National Park, which is divine and gorgeous and in the hot height of summer, which does not bode well for hiking but bodes very well indeed for lolling around by the river?)

My cat, however (Bella, see her picture on the right somewhere), is totally thrilled to have me here with her, and she's been showing off her great skills as a hunter of toys and dustballs in the house this morning. And I'm listening to Diana Krall, and I'm enjoying this very moment of being in this place, lucky me!

So. I'm having an issue dragging myself outside just yet. But I will soon enough!

Now, to attend to the writing.... I do have a call for submissions that I want to check out, so that's encouraging. Off I go, writing away. No procrastination for me, uh-uh.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

on floating and being in the flow

My friend Dan told me that when unmoored, we should float. Well put, Dan, and true. So I am attempting to merrily float down the stream, feet in front of me, simply watching the passing scenery and just letting myself be while in this vast unknown space I am currently NOT navigating!

Being in the flow has many interpretations (see here, and here, and here for just some examples). I generally see it as accepting where one is in life and just letting go, letting that present state of being just, well, be. Ah, so simple to believe...so hard, sometimes, to practice! I live in flow a lot of the time and often counsel others to live that way too. (It's a heck of a lot easier than being constantly stressed out.) And then there are other times when I abandon ship, panic, and flail around like a really pissed off and disoriented cat suddenly finding itself in water.

Now is one of those times for me, a chance for me to practice being in flow, just existing right in this moment and believing that the right things will happen. Trusting, and enjoying every moment! Just letting the current take me, and enjoying the ride.

Lesson for the day. A spiffy one indeed....

Monday, August 20, 2007

high country news & other Western-type things of note

Just noticed this on the High Country News website:

We've Been Postaled!
Dear HCN Reader:
On July 15, 2007, HCN got an unpleasant notice from the US Postal Service - a $28,000 increase in our annual bill for mailing the news magazine. For a small, independent newsmagazine this is a big unforeseen expense. $28,000 is enough money to fund five cover stories, or a half year's worth of travel to investigate and photograph stories from all corners of the West.
A timely contribution to the Research Fund will help High Country News to continue providing you with independent, feisty, and necessary reporting about the West that we all care so much about.
HCN's subscribers have proven over the years that they want to support journalism that is passionate yet fair. If you have ever thought of giving a contribution to the Research Fund, we could use your help now.
Thanks for your continued support.
Paul Larmer Publisher

The HCN is very cool. They should get support. Just throwing that out there.

Also wanted to note that I am currently sitting on the deck of a great mountain home in Durango, CO, watching my friend's dog get all tense every time some car drives by slowly (slowly drives by?), breathing in the super-fresh piney air while listening to the wind chimes and the ravens and the rustling tree branches, and again counting myself lucky that I have friends who live in such amazing places who will put me up while I house-search again. (Thank you, Jamie, and her housemates Kelly & Jordy!)

Had a moment earlier in which I felt stressed and had a few snively moments of self-pity, wondering where my house, job, and mate all were, in no particular order, all in some jumbled up mess of need in my head! Then I pulled myself together, remembered by surroundings and all my abilities, and promptly sat down to write again in my blog. Which I need to get publicized so someone out there is actually reading what I write, which is what every scribe craves, no?

Anyhoo, enough on the personal sappy stuff. Also wanted to bring attention to the whole Desert Rock debacle-in-the-making. One blog about it, which I just found, should provide enough info for the newbie, but here's also how it was portrayed in the New York Times recently (have to pay to read). Basically, it's a proposed power plant to be built on Navajo Nation land southwest of Farmington, NM, which is southwest of Durango, which means really close to where I choose to live, which might be really, really scary. There's all sorts of debate about it, and it has locals around here really riled up. I don't even know all the specific details, but I do know it's a huge decision that will likely affect the lives of many, many generations of people, let alone the creatures and the land.

Naturally, it's being built in order to supply power to lovely Las Vegas and even lovelier Phoenix, those two blights upon the Earth. Supposedly it will generate income for the Navajo Nation as well, but my question is, for whom exactly will it generate said income? All the people? And at what true cost?

Anyway. More food for thought, as usual.

Now, back to house-searching....

Thursday, August 16, 2007

canaries on the rim etc. etc.

It would seem obvious that I already read Chip Ward's Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West years ago, as it came out in 1999 and I moved to the canyon country he discusses in the book in 1999. However, I did not--but I am now, as it is one of the many books scattered around my friend's place here in the middle of Capitol Reef National Park. So far, I am enjoying and learning from it. And of course it's always fun to read about those places which we know and call home ourselves, especially if they are not well-known. I also want to read his Hope's Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the American Land. Hallelujah for people willing to take the risk and speak out, eh?

Well, as every reader knows, there most certainly is not time enough to read everything published. Listen to this factoid: one company tracking these things estimated the number of books published in 2006 was 291,920. Good grief, eh? Ah, the state of literature, etc. etc. When one considers all the drivel published out there too, the sheer numbers truly become overwhelming. Not that I can really picture nearly 300,000 books in the first place. I can barely make it through lists I've already had for years. And some writers wonder why their books don't sell. Look at the insane amount of competition out there! You have to be your own marketing team, usually.

Other fun factoid: supposedly, about 50% of the mass paperback market in the U.S. and Canada is claimed by romances, which shouldn't really be surprising. I write back cover copy for Harlequin romances, which is a total hoot and harder than one might think, sometimes. I have toyed with the idea of writing my own romance novel for a few years now, and it's time to take action on that plan. May sound silly to some, and it offended my "high literary" aspirations for years--but what the heck! Fun and profitable, and romances always have happy endings, etc. etc. I'm gonna go for it. That doesn't mean that I won't be still writing my own high literary work--I am. I'm a bit of a Renaissance woman when it comes to writing, I suppose.

Off to soak in the gorgeous scenery here and compose great works of literature!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

rising writing talent

This is a bit old, from the July/August issue of Poets & Writers, but their First-Fiction Annual showcases new voices, which I always find interesting. One day, I vow, my voice will be among them! Praised for my amazing ideas, unique style, perfectly imperfect characterizations, witty turns of phrase, heartbreaking moments of prose that bring our occasionally senseless world into greater clarity--ah yes, I can hear all the accolades now.

Although, such imaginings are essential to us all: see, for example, some work by the author SARK, whom I adore and who validates dreaming and scheming: SARK. Oh dear, that's on amazon.com. Let's go back to Powell's, whose selection is smaller but should still be wholeheartedly supported: SARK. There, now you have a shopping choice.

Back to my visions of published glory now....

Hmm, what? Oh yes--I'm daydreaming again. Time to get back to writing. I'm off to Panorama Point this morning, in the Park (that would be Capitol Reef National Park, where I have the luck to be temporarily ensconced), to watch the interplay of morning light and clouds and journal about it all while sipping on my yerba mate.

And what are you doing about your chosen art this morning? (Or, should I say, that art that chose you.) Off with you, go create.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

lightning and thunder and clouds, oh my!

So I'm out here in the wilds of Utah again, just about my favorite place on Earth, and the last two days it's been very stormy--monsoon season, it's called out in the desert Southwest, believe it or not. Yesterday afternoon, I ventured out to my favorite spot by the river (see the main picture--that's it!), wandered down the trail for short ways, then sat somewhat close to a juniper tree to watch the show.

Lightning, thunder, swirly underclouds colored brick and purple beneath one of those towering "grim reaper" type large dark gray monstrosities that just about covers all the sky you can see--ahh. Gorgeous! The lightning was particularly incredible, leaping cloud-to-cloud or from the ground up, in huge, long spiky flashes, followed by that enormous CRACK! and BOOM! that can still send shivers down my spine, even though I know (in theory) how to take care of myself outside.

I'd brought a book to read (The Pictograph Murders by P.G. Karamesines), but despite the fun of that book (which is set in the general area and is about ancient ruins and skinwalkers and archaeologists, three of my favorite topics), but the natural show was too spectacular, so I just watched that instead. Made my heart thrum and split a wide smile across my face. I am home.

So. I encourage people to sit out in thunderstorms (safely, of course!), turn their faces up to the sky, and open up to the show. You never know--it might be a catalyst for the next masterpiece you write...or dream up...or otherwise create....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

we're not as long-lived as we'd like to think

Just had to bring attention to this tidbit: US Life Expectancy Slipping in Rankings, says NPR.

See Michael Moore's Sicko, anyone? Just checking...how awake are we, anyway??? I do love living in this country, and sometimes I am so disturbed by how we have chosen to have it managed. Remember Rome, the Mayans, and all the other mighty fallen empires, eh?

Remember: sleep well & lots, exercise mightily, eat beautiful & colorful food, and ENJOY your life! (And, uh, make sure you have health insurance....)

And don't forget to cherish our natural world, read interesting things, love & be loved, and make your voice heard.

Your public service announcement for the evening. Now I take my leave to go for a mind-clearing walking meditation in some of the world's most beautiful countryside, here in the good old American Southwest. Bon soir!

summer afternoons

The heart of summer...so lovely here in canyon country! I am fortunate enough to be house-sitting for a friend who works for a national park, so I'm in the Park's housing area at the moment, which is in easily one of the world's most beautiful areas...I get to write and sip yerba mate under the morning light reflecting off the red-and-cream cliffs surrounding this lush green canyon, sitting outside at a picnic bench, listening to birds twitter and whatever else they do, and amaze myself all over again that such beauty still exists in mostly untouched state...not yet completely destroyed by the mindless and greedy, or by the merely stupid and ignorant and careless.

Which is worse, the careless swipe that eradicates a species, or the calculating decimation that fattens the pockets of a few and brings tears to the eyes of many? Deliberate cruelty, or the destruction that stems from utter ignorance...in my mind, both are of equal culpability. Is there excuse for ignorance?

Philosophical thoughts to ponder and twist the brain into spasms of confusion. Hee hee!

The creative fires are lighting under me in this space, which of course for a writer is an excellent symptom. Do I turn my hand first to the short stories that always, always beg to tumble out when I am here, in this land rich with place and people and event that all demands to written down and embellished for the ages? (Or at least for a good laugh, in some cases.) What of the essays that languish half-finished on my laptop, filled with lilting phrases and acerbic viewpoints and perhaps, sometimes, startling clarity? Mm, there's also the screenplay I'm writing with my friend Dan--that, indeed, needs to be worked on, as he often reminds me of late!

Choices, choices. Then, there's also simple lazing by the river...passing time at the local bookstore and catching up with old friends and acquaintances...watching the fawn and its mother grazing outside my friend's back door...apples to be picked from the orchards...Dreamtime to be had!

I love summer. It doesn't seem to last nearly as long as it did in childhood, when it stretched on into an unimaginable eternity...I mean, really, it seemed to be forever, didn't it? This growing up business...puts a dent in time, doesn't it....

Well. Onward to lazy summertime activities today. Namaste, and have a lovely, lazy summer afternoon yourself.