Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Eve

All the classics at the Christmas Eve service tonight.  I'm Lutheran again.  I find a lot of comfort in the liturgy now that I have no guilt disregarding what others say about the eternal.  The playlist was nice and as it should be in a rock church by the creek:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Angels We Have Heard On High
Little Town of Bethlehem
O Come All Ye Faithful
Silent Night
Joy to the World

We sang Silent Night with candles lit.  By the time we got to Joy to the World, I had dripped wax in the hymnal.

Christmas was a muddy mess here this year.  The river is as high as I have ever seen, springs have erupted under the main road and have made their way across our drive to our yard.  I diverted them before they got to a rabbit den we have with babies in it.  

(time passes and today becomes yesterday)

Well, I crashed before I could finish.  I was going to wax nostaligic and invoke some reflection for auld lang syne, but alas, I fell asleep and now its Christmas Day.  Perhaps New Year's Eve will drag it out of me, as if its ever hard to do so.

Today was and still is beautiful.  We try to do very little and not get into overbuying for the season and I was worried that perhaps the kids would be disappointed.  However, the day was joyous and full and Zoe thinks it was the best Christmas, ever.  It was rather great.  We are truly blessed and lucky (are those separate things?) - our new wood cook stove arrived 2 days ago and not only did we get it, but Ash and I got it off the truck and onto the new pad I made.  It heats wonderfully and this morning I made the best biscuits ever... at least that was what Ash said.  They might have been.  Its really great to have an oven again.  However, we were also just treasured by those we know.  So many wonderful people who have every excuse to not take us into their heart (like Marie, Mary, and Bonnie) simply have in a huge way.  Perhaps its because everyone thinks we are living in abject poverty:)... or perhaps people are just very giving and loving.  I have a lot to learn still, but I seem to have good teachers.

On other news, I am part of a rather amazing team that is working on a grant to start a high school.  Its a dream that has ebbed and flowed for years now, but now it seems to be in full flood.  I realized years ago that I just don't have the mind and drive to make it happen - it would take others with talents and minds rare, and so I somewhat gave up on the idea because those people tend to have busy lives.  Then the idea landed in my lap unexpectedly when a friend that I have worked with a lot in my classroom the last few years sent me the XQsuperschool grant.  I sent the word out to a list of folks I kept in a folder that I should have labeled: HOPE... and we had our first meeting.  It was liberating.  The minds that showed up that first day and all the days since humble me.  I actually don't have much to offer except as a motivator and a coordinator and as someone who smiles a lot.  The brains and the brawn of the group are not me.  We are going after this school and upon the large chance that we don't get the grant, we are going for it anyway.  After AT2 and what it taught me about its eventual demise, this project is my hope in education.  Appalachian Heritage School.  If things continue to go well, perhaps you will hear about it someday.  I know we have a real chance because I am not so much excited as I am nervous.  Its getting real.

Today Esme and I did a neat hike nearby up to a ridge and then we used her spyglass and my grandfathers' compass to orienteer through the woods back to the car.  It was pretty wonderful.  She beat me in chess later:)  Adia has her piggie and her new doll that she has wanted for EVER.  Its been wonderful to watch her caring soul.  Zoe is entering adolescence in as good a way as anyone can.  I miss her as a kid that wanted to do everything with me as she branches out into her self... but that is how it should be.  She is ... to use the same word yet again... wonderful.

Besides the rain and mud and flooding, it was a pretty great Christmas.  I am pretty tired a lot of the time and I still have trouble sleeping until 5, but I am satisfied with my life.  I hope you all have a happy new year.

Pine needles make odd sounds when sucked up in the vacuum
the flow of yesterday has ebbed
into the mudflats of the day before yesterday's flooding.
My children's laughter is a memory I look forward to
and I feel inertia
as the weight of my full belly 
anchors the abandon 
I ate with you in our yesterday

Our yesterday is always here
and our tomorrow never is.

For me, today is always tomorrow's yesterday.
Yesterday I was excited about tomorrow
But today I am in between


Monday, November 23, 2015

Fireside cleanup

A day to remember.  Though all days are even when they are not.

Today I tackled a few jobs that I put off for a year and a half because I … well, I don’t exactly know except I thought they would be big projects and so I didn’t want to face them.  One was the burn pile… the burn pile that contained trees from the first burn pile a couple of years ago when we bulldozed the buildings here … trees that didn’t burn the first time.  The other project was cutting up the I-beams from the mobile home we demolished.  That metal has been an eyesore for so long and now its all done.  We made a huge inroad away from “junkyard” and toward “pasture”.  It took all day and I am pretty exhausted, but the splinter in my brain has been removed and the relief is pretty sweet.

As an added bonus, I sat in the dark with two of my kids at two different times and we just talked.  Esme and I got to talk about 6 year old stuff and I got to be present and hold her in the soft evening with the cool air mixed with the heat from the fire.  Then after dinner I made Zoe go out with me because she was having a difficult time.  She stormed out there and I brought two chairs and we just sat in silence for awhile.  Eventually, as the sparks circled and zoomed up toward the dark sky, our words started to circle and buzz.  We ended up having one of the most wonderful conversations of my life.  My shins were on fire and my back was cold.  The sparks would occasionally land on my bare legs because I just had a sweatshirt and boxers on – with muck boots of course.   Religion, fate, the dichotomy of good and bad, the universe, books we read, people, the future, her future…  I was alive tonight, I was real.  It rained on us for awhile and we just ignored it.  Now I’m left with that perfect feeling that cannot be talked about as good or bad, happy or sad.  It’s simply perfect.  I once described the feeling as the chilly glow after a perfect day and that’s as close as I can get to capturing where I am.  Thank you, universe – I didn’t deserve such a gift, but I shall treasure it.  Zoe asked me if I thought there was a higher power and I answered that I am pretty sure there is no bearded white guy “up there” – but that the mysteries of the universe are just so enormous that I am pretty sure there is something going on that is pretty difficult for humans to comprehend...

I don’t remember where the time went
Just the motion of the night
The moonless talk on burning stumps
A continual begin
I remember occasionally moving logs and chairs
And the burning of my shins
All else I simply felt

As something opened deep within.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Samhain, Billy?

Ah, Halloween has come and gone again.  We went to our little community center for the first time for the Halloween party.  Adia and Zoe both won 1st prize in their age groups... granted, Zoe was all alone and Adia only had 2 competitors:)  We met new folks in the area and that was really encouraging.  Overall, very nice.  Halloween night we went down to Glade and the town square was hoppin'.  Maw Maw took them around town square while Ash and I went to the brewery and had a beer with the usual crowd.  Tim's nephew fired up the smoker and put some amazing meat out on the bar.  It was pretty sweet to be sipping on local beer and nibbling on amazing BBQ in Glade while tons of folks trick-or-treated outside.  Once we got back, I took the two young ones out again in the dark to go down our old road. We talked to the neighbors and bounced from house to house.  At the end of the road we went up and over the sledding hill and down the pasture to the cemetery.  No light.  At the cemetery we read the old graves - most dated from mid 1800's.  The kids loved it.  We made our way back to town as the last walkers out on the road.

After I came in tonight from setting posts for the shed addition to the house (2 days, 2 posts, but they are plumb and square, darn it)  Ash was telling the kids about Samhain (SAH-win) a time in between the equinox and the winter solstice that is the festival of the dead and a time when the veil between this world and the next (or previous??) is very thin.  Many recognize those ancestors that have already passed on and we talked to the kids about those that she and I have lost.  I told the kids about all my grandparents, some friends and students, and Billy, of course.  Then I realized that last week ... I had my most vivid Billy dream ever.  In previous dreams, he is just a presence, but in this one I first meet his child and then out of a building, ol' Bill just walks over to us.  I am truly in shock - choking as I wonder at the fact that he is not dead... and has a kid:)  We start talking and I say something like "you being here does not make sense... it only works if this is a dream" and he just nods and says "that's right".  And in the dream I realize that I am dreaming.  I step back and just look at him and look all around and look at him and listen to him and all the while thinking that I am going to wake up any minute and that I didn't want it to happen.  I woke up suddenly, gasping.  And that was it.

Its been over 20 years and he just appeared like that.  Samhain.  Maybe the veil was thin... maybe I just miss that joker.  So odd to see this time as a 40-something father.  A man with young children, a man who has lost some in his life, but hasn't felt the flood of loss as my generation comes to an end.  I feel a bit like I am Samhain .... a time in between the the equinox  and the shortest day.  Like I am in the 70th minute sometimes - still in the game but the clock ever present.... and other times I feel like I'm walking on the field just after half, chewing on an orange.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Midnight thoughts at breakfast

An Alzheimer's brain makes one wonder
About what and who we really are
What I mean is that I consider myself still me
If I lose a finger 
Or a leg
Or a my sight
But if I could I would not consider myself me
If my brain dissolved to the point where 
I forgot me
or forgot you.
So am I just adaptive?
Am I just something my mind has made up?
Is the me I know just a figment of my imagination?
A deadly weapon for a naked primate?

Would tragedies exist 
If no one remembered how to wail and mourn?

That being said, it makes me wonder 
What am I?
Do I really exist?

Am I just emotions masquerading as basic need?
Can a human act on something other than emotion?
Is any decision besides when to piss
Or shit
Or what to pull out of the fridge
At 2am
Is any decision besides these 
Anything but emotion?
A frontal lobe concoction?

Do I exist?
Do you exist?
Do we exist?

This morning when I slammed my fists into the breakfast table
And stormed out cursing God...
Even then I couldn't help but wonder

Is my broken heart really just
the lucky charms scattered on the breakfast table?

Is my soul 
Just spilled milk 

dripping. on. your. floor.

Consider the night

What stirs me from the dark tonight?
Some phantom, perhaps
Or a hunger gnawing on my spine

My eyes long for rest
As I stare into the hearth-fire of my ancestors
My mind registers only the rythmic flickering

But it's my ears that listen... For It
It that will be there when the flame dies
It that will be there when eyes close

It that no longer leaves claw marks on this sterile ground
Yet still hunts at night
Demanding my ears to listen to the unnatural silence

Waiting, waiting yet no longer caring 
for that one 

Monday, September 7, 2015


don't you dare think I've forgotten
things I've said and done
promises I have broken
and the distance all have run
from a shining little star to
a glimmer in a pond
fishtails shimmer in my eyes
the come undone is done

moon she glides across the night 
my sole grips heavens dirt
she smiles upon the thieves in pain
and rips my favorite shirt
her calm chaotic steady stare
her presence ever there
she shines below the treeline
when the worlds weight she bears

so my life is not my own but I live inside it too
I am the sun I've always sought
when the moon's in view
I am the light on full moon night
(although I thought that that was you)

But I am you. 

I'm still the one.

and we are still the few.

but it's not night, there is no sun.
it seems our evening's day is dawn

your fishtails shimmer in my eyes
The come undone is done.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

At The Beach

We made it to Duke Marine Lab.  The drive was typical... long, hot, and sweaty.  But no one threw up, so that is a plus.  Once we left AHS parking lot, my eyes suddenly got really heavy and I wondered if it was because for the first time in many months I was somewhat done.  I couldn't work on the house, I couldn't worry about the trip, I couldn't even work on school stuff.

We took two buses and a van.  63 persons.  We made it here in time for dinner (10 hr ride) and then headed out to the coast for a night beach walk.  The ghost crabs were out and we had a great time walking through the surf and chasing those crabs like chickens.  This group is rather amazing.  Just filled to the brim with wonderful people.  People that I am grateful to have known, even if only for a week.  People that I will miss.

The next day we went to Beaufort and did the historical stuff - then to Carrot Island in the afternoon.  The water was wonderful and we all swam and wandered around the tidal flat for 4 hours.  The adults then got together to plan the next day - which was rather difficult.  We had four 2hr dredge trips, five 1hr kayak trips, and two 3hr trips to Fort Macon.  It took 3 hours to figure it out.  Then I realized a mistake I had made (the captain told me could do it in 3 trips).  So we all sat back out at the picnic tables and redid it.  11pm.  My mind was shot and Eric saved me.  It was humbling to not be able to figure something out and to need help and leadership.  Yesterday then worked out pretty well.  I did 4 kayak trips, one dredge trip... I was sweaty, salty, fishy, and dirty all day.  I barely made it to dinner and that was in soggy clothes.... cause then after dinner we went clamming.

We walked to the end of the road and crossed it into the estuary bog.  It was epic and sublime.... and slimy and wonderful.  The mud was silky smooth and creepy and the kids were squealing kids.  Every time someone found a quahog, the whole group cheered them like Norm walking into Cheers.  We found 95 clams and they are going to be served with dinner tonight.  I should have let these teenagers shoot off some fireworks (I would have thanked them) ... that would have made the evening perfect.

We walked back to the lab right before dark... along the way a student pointed out a snake that wasn't a snake... it was a glass lizard (legless)... I have only ever seen one before... so I tried to catch it and finally got it by the tail as it went under some bushes and brush.... I pulled and pulled and POP off came its tail wriggling like crazy.  So I jogged back to the group and handed it to a student with the line "can you hold this while I tie my shoe?"  The shriek could be heard for miles.  Eric and I ran back to the lab to beat the kids there because we all were going to jump off the swimming dock.... which we all did... in the last moments of the day.  The night drew to a close.  I finally got a shower around 9 pm.

I live a charmed life.  I tell the kids that experiences are what matters... that going clamming is about the feel, the smell, the way your emotions buzz.  I have had amazing experiences in my life.  I can't speak in terms of being happy or sad.  It has been full of highs and lows, pleasure and serious pain, lots of love.  It has simply been well worth the cost of the fare... if I can find the driver, I am going to thank her.

Wow.  I edited and added in what happened today.  Then I lost it.  Too sleepy to redo, so shortcut.  Kids went to the aquarium in the AM and Kim and I and William stayed back to shuck clams for dinner.  It was wonderful.  William had us rolling, Kim and I got to catch up, I laughed until I cried.

Shackleford Banks after lunch.  Bushwacked through the island to the ocean.  It was calm and serene.  The dunes that were there last year were gone, but the ocean was calm today.  Storms raged and will rage again but they didn't today.

We wrapped up the week and said our goodbyes.  We talked about what education should be and were grateful for this experience.  We were a family for a week and my heart hurts a bit to see them go.

Good Trip.  I feel like I have been barely hanging on for a long time and for the first time in a long time I can breathe... and maybe even sleep.  Goodnight.

We will close with Esme....

"cause we are a small boat... in the ocean...putting big waves into motion"....

Where are you?
and what do you need?
am I in there?
and how do you read this tale?

I carry you
a thousand miles
but I am carried by you
and the wind that blows between us

I thought that I did this for you
but as time blows by
I see that is not the case
I gave selfishly of my life

So that I could be part of yours

Monday, August 31, 2015

High life

This took a shocking amount of mental ability from me. For some reason I just had a block and had to think through this over and over and over and over.  It was so much easier than I thought it would be. I know this lesson - the hardest part is starting... The hardest cut is the first.  But we now (drumroll) have ended the camping phase.  We have a sink that no longer has bucket under it. We have a washing machine. Sure, we still shower in the apple tree, but that is by choice and by the grace of God.  It probably should have some sort of wall, however... But that is a project for a later date.

I am really tired. Once again I worked kind of furiously on the weekend only to do a stream sampling field trip today. Tomorrow I must have sub plans ready for the coast trip... Which was awfully stressful in its own right - but seems to be ok now ...36 hours before departure.  Perhaps I can unplug a bit on the trip... While I manage 63 people:). Gawd.

I did walk through the pasture and then through the creek (because the log was too slippery) and bombed the creeper trail in the dark to school this morning on the cross bike I created... All from old parts except the frame ... Which I bought for two six packs of IPA.

I have a lot of poems to publish but they are all either too sad or bitter.  The beach.  I need the beach.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Really? Busy.

I just need to write this to remember.  I am pretty exhausted.  So we moved in to our new place and even worse, we moved out of our old place and had to get it ready for renters.  Our deadline was August 1 - we made it but really just barely.  Juuust in time for school to start.  So right from working like mad to "finish" the house and move out to work days at school (lot of fun analyzing faulty data.. but it was back at my old school - room 507 - a tad difficult)  while trying to throw together the coast trip to getting ready for the first day of school.  That got me to Friday.  When I left Friday, I had a flat front tire.  It was raining.  Hard.  I pumped up a bit and took off to the grocery store and bank. After, I noticed that I still had some air, so I pumped it up at the gas station and took off.  I stopped at Straight Branch to check and pump up again.  It still had some.  So off I went.  I kept looking down at it to see.  Then around Beartree, it felt very flat.  It was pouring rain.  I looked down and the tire rolled out sideways and next thing I know I am sliding down Hwy 58 watching my bike slide in front of me.  I wasn't going very fast so I really didn't get hurt at all.  I was running toward the bike before it stopped sliding.  I got it up and turned around and limped it to a pull-over.  Still pouring rain.  That's when Bonnie T from my work drove up and asked if I needed a ride:)  She was the only car that came past.  That takes me to today - Ash went to Glade to do the town yard sale (perfect timing) while I dug post holes for the goat fence... through rock.  It was some of the worst digging I've done and I am no virgin.  I was flat out exhausted at 5 when I came in to a phone call from Ash saying that the truck blew a radiator hose.  So down the mountain I go again and after an hour of wrangling, got it fixed (awfully nice that it happened right near the auto parts store).  What will tomorrow bring?  I am seriously tired from the last 2 months.  Am I really depending on school to be a break?  The irony.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Fears and Steps

It's 3am and while this is my usual time to be up for a bit - but tonight there was a moment that shook me - just a moment, but it was no surface vibration.  I was dreaming about the fittings for the hot water line (it will make sense soon) and the dream turned into an endless loop and so I got up to test thinking I was low. I was 119 or something so I nibbled some chocolate chips and peanut butter just for fun when Ash came in and got Adia's test kit and went back to test her. (Pause, then everything goes to slow motion) she calls my name in ... That way... And comes running in saying "it just says low blood glucose". I know this to mean she is below 20 and I assume she is unconscious and unable to wake up.  In now ultra slow motion, I jump up, grab the glucagon shot, and stifle true fear... Because I am wondering how long she has been out... Minutes? Hours?!? As I sprint out of the kitchen, I meet Adia in the hall and I can immediately tell that she is fine - we sit her down and throw some glucose tabs in her and then we test her again because she is not acting like she is sub-20.  It reads 80. What. The. Fuck.  I think she was a bit low, but there was a strip/meter malfunction to give us the "low" reading. How about saving such issues for the daylight? Damn.  So I am now decompressing from having 2.3 seconds of exposure to one of my true fears... What if I can't save her or what if I am not there to save her?  I suppose that is universal.  I suppose that is being a parent.  It sure makes letting a child go and experience the world a bit challenging...

The ceiling is some barn metal I pulled off the old dairy that was wrecked in the tornado. Johnny helped me out with that - I think it came out rather nice.

In other news, this picture says it all.  Water. I decided to use our neighbors well but that involved digging 350 ft of water line... New water line. It was exhausting and that was with an excavator.  After tying in the water was spurting.  So I figured their pressure tank was waterlogged.  Sure enough - so we pumped some air into the tank and that helped - but still no pressure.  There was a check valve on the line.  So because the tank was on its very last legs, I installed a new tank, T, pressure gage, and blow off valve - and the water flowed wonderfully to our hydrants (didn't have it coming in to the house yet)  That was amazing because I thought for sure we would need a separate tank and in-line pump at our house.  The water is wonderful - coming from a well that was artesian when it was drilled.  Last night I plumbed the cold water line in and turned on the sink for the first time.  Amazing.  Hot water line today.  Oh and all the big stuff is out of our house - we spent most of the day yesterday cleaning and organizing the garage that we will use as a storage building.  Today we will bring up mattresses and tonight I think we will move in.  Enter the next chapter.  

I'm human and I know it
So I know I'm going to blow it
But I try 
I try and yet I'll die at your feet and still never show it
Actions and words, intentions and doubt
Blood and bone and nerve
Never serve my souling shout
Never leave me within
Always give without
Words I can speak
Leave me too thirsty to seek
The water spout
Too thirsty to speak my souling shout
I'm human and I know it
And I accept that I'll blow it
But I try
I try.
And I'll die at your feet and still never show it

Friday, July 10, 2015

Its all about the house now

Wow.  Time is flying by.  We have to be out of our house in a few weeks and into Konnarock.  Sure, we probably won't have some of the finishing details done... like water... but its all good.  The kids have a chalkboard for a ceiling, the walls are mostly up - kitchen counter maybe tomorrow and then its time to dig a water line.  I slept in the house for the first time the other night because I had to paint ceiling panels and let them dry during the night.  It was pretty nice... except that I got a little food poisoning and ended up puking a few times in the middle of the night (outside of course)... not particularly the good omen I was hoping for, but as I said before... its all good.  The river came up and the kids have been walking up the road and tubing back to the house.  Quite sweet.  I am ready to get up there.  We went to India Towers wedding on the 4th and we danced like there was really no tomorrow.  Me, Ash, and the kids just tore it up.  It was classic white folk dancing, but man we had a blast.  The kids started it.  I was truly thankful to have been alive to do that with my family.  I lived so much of my life quite inhibited especially when it came to music and dancing... but I am not going to pass that on to my kids... it took a lifetime for music to move me and I will not give that up while I breathe, Thank you.  Oh, and Esme lost her first tooth... well actually it got hit and abscessed and the dentist took it out.  She was a total champ.  Her tooth fairy wrote her a note ... her name is Primrose:)

This was a few hours before I got sick.... obviously... or the board would have read some other set of four letters....

blackboard paint fingers a carpenter's pencil
the quill writer's hands are clean

in the shade of a hundred points of light
what does a half inch mean?

mosquitoes track my longing breath
the gray moon betrays desire

first night blood and skin
her rain made him a liar

so fight the guilty conscience
we've traded for our past

give up the you you thought I knew
and tilt your toasting glass

i'll taste the wine upon your lips
as I breathe a prayer unseen

in the shade of a hundred points of light
what does a half inch mean?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The wiring of my mind

A type of tragedy befell us - our calf, Mac, died very unexpectedly.  This was quite a blow.  I milked the day before and he was energetic and fine - when I went up the next morning, he was unable to get up and died by noon.  It was particularly difficult to dig a grave... in the poison ivy... the day after I played a 5v5 soccer tournament in Boone after being a sloth for a year... I could hardly walk (let alone dig) and the turf fields took huge patches of my skin.... however it was an absolute blast... we got killed but it was fun.... I was invited by an old student (Chandler H) and some Emory players.

We still don't know what it was that killed Mac, but it left us in a milk situation.  We were delaying the final decision about what to do here when we move.  We were going to leave her here with her calf and by August, Mac should be taking all the milk - and we would just raise him for meat.  But once he died, we were forced to make a decision - which was probably what we needed to do anyway - we just needed the push from the universe.  Peg was giving 2.5 gallons each morning (no including goat milk) and that quickly makes life a bit busy - the fridge fills up like crazy, we were making butter, cheese, and ice cream every day.... so we sold her.  It was tough to see my old friend go, but I do believe it was for the best - the money went straight into the building account and the extra time is nice.  Time and money - those are nearing critical levels now.  So now we have more time and money - but abundance that was my old friend is gone.  I think I have enough for one last bit of butter now...

I finished the framing and I should finish wiring today.  I really enjoy just slowly making my way through this process - Its satisfying in a deep way to build a house from scratch.  I know every square inch, every board, every nail and screw... every mistake too:)

From the kitchen - the frame is for a lowboy water heater - it will be on a convection loop from our wood stove - hence the height.... not to mention that it saves space.  There is more framing that has been done, just no pics yet.

From the living room (if it can be said that we have such a thing:)

The beginning of my panel... it has grown, but there will not be that many circuits in this small place.


A wide river is my consciousness
But its fed from smaller streams
Then thinner flows that branch and narrow
Begin as drops of half-forgotten dreams

My words speak from the river
And my soul leaks from the springs
Yet somehow you were in the rain
That the cloudy season brings

I swim within my river
And let those blended streams just clean
My mind out of the present
To the song of life you sing

I taste a trillion perfect moments
In every glass of me
You are there and all the rest
I drink your cacophony

And yet...

I am forever helpless to stop the steady flow
Of memories to the sea

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Insomnia playlist

(To the) Elderly woman behind the counter in a small town:

Hey, Soul Sister -

Do you remember?
Sunday morning
(being) All alone
At the beach(?)

November rain.
Buckets of rain
Welcome me (to this)
Shelter from the storm
(or) Wake me up when September ends.

Just give me a reason
(to) Feel the silence.

Somewhere over the rainbow
I'll take my chances
With or without you.


Universally speaking
(its a) Beautiful life

Don't ask me why
(but) I've loved these days.

Goodnight, my angel.

Fabled Angels

I'm not the hero
I never was
nor a songbird cloaked in black

Fabled angels
in our snowy woods
have never left a track

Now I'm free to feel
the presence...
or absence of myself

I'm free to taste
the highway salt
off the long road back to health

Now in your so-called "freedom"
where I am who I am
the me that we've forgotten 
subsides into the din

And so, in wordless melody
My snowstep presses in...
I fold my wings against my spine
and wink a knowing grin

to the hero that I never was
nor will ever be again.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Adia turns infinity on its head

School is winding down spring has come. Peg gave birth to a new bull calf - who the kids named "Mac".  I am milking again and it's a nice return to what I am comfortable with.  The windows in the house are finished and tomorrow I plan on putting in the front door.  Even though I made the door, we spent $200 on hardware... Amazing.  I can't wait to put that sucker in and open it for the first time.  The door weighs more than I do.

Adia turned 8 the other day.  5-10.  She was so excited about her birthday... Her birthday breakfast was bacon, cheesy eggs, and Belgian waffles.  I finished just in time for lunch.  We went roller skating with our great friends, Jason and Emily... whose daughter Claire was also celebrating  a birthday on the same day (same age too!)  That evening we had a great dinner, opened gifts, ate a homemade cake, and did the worlds slowest rendition of the happy birthday song:)

And as a final update, the 165 lb door I made was put in this weekend as well as the last window.  I love this project

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Mumbling in my awake

I think in words.  I try not to, but I do. But words can make me feel sometimes. I suppose that is why I like lyrics.  Words set to music are always poetry.  Poems aren't always lyrics I think.  But either way, poem or lyric, the musical nature of it makes the words ... disappear... And I am able to think without words.  Wow, that is irony stepping on the edge of the staircase down to crazy.  But that is the relief of a song... Or a poem.  Below is neither.

"Insomnia, of course"

My thoughts run wild tonight. My brain is tired but sleep is a good friend I haven't seen in awhile and one that I have no expectations of running into anytime soon.  I wonder where you went and what you do in the absence of the day, my friend.  But you are just another loss softly raining down upon me.  All the classics... Youth, innocence, naivety, childhood, friends, strength, my shoulder, now you.  I used to fall so easily into your embrace, without a care or a thought, and now I sit up in the dark and marvel at the hollowness of the echo emanating from the hole left in the dim stillness of your departure.  I am lost and tired and I don't know where you are.  I am a child in the woods as the sun sets.  My bright eyes are wide open and reflect nothing.  Not until I give up my life and lay my head on the white pine needles do I feel your presence, but I am gone before you touch my shoulder with your warm hand and whisper "goodnight"

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Out of the frying pan and into the freezer

My kind of dinner.  Last night I got a 20 lb turkey ready and today Ash baked it up perfectly.  So dinner time rolls around and I cut up the turkey and put the good cuts in storage and we all picked the carcass for dinner.  Wow, that sounds odd, but maaaan, was it tasty.  It was a stand-up affair.  I didn't make mashed potatoes or anything else that gravy would have been good on... if I had made gravy.  Instead, I brought home Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia and we washed down all that meat with ice cream - ate the whole thing.  My GOD, it was amazing.  Somehow those two liberal hippies got that flavor so right, it almost hurt.  I couldn't savor it, I had to devour it.   So right before bed I cleaned up the drippings and turned off the stock pot... and I couldn't help myself, but I opened the freezer and took a bite of the kids ice cream (Breyers chocolate chunk, btw) and I thought to myself, why the heck do I feel compelled to have that one last bite?  What does that say about me?  What does it say about the nature of satiation?  As usual, I didn't think too long about it.  I took yet another bite of chocolate chunk and closed the container and opened the freezer and reluctantly put it away.  When I did I noticed that there was an odd frozen shape in the freezer with what looked like grass in it.  I never noticed it before.  I was a bit taken aback.  Then I realized it was a snowman.  My children put a snowman in the freezer (it had to be Adia, actually) and we had turkey and ice cream for dinner.

Well that's just life isn't it?  Its odd and delicious and doesn't make sense and the great days that we had are put in the freezer with the dirt and grass and the damn automatic defrost takes the face off of it, but it still gives you a warm feeling to look at it when you put your kids' ice cream back after you raided that last undeserved bite.

What I really wish is that I could eat the sunshine on that cold day that we built that snowman... along with the sunshine from today that was tinged with the smell of baked turkey and the afterglow of Cherry Garcia.  Hell, I want to open the freezer and eat the sunshine of all the great days of my life and then come back an hour later and take

one. more. bite.

But like the snowman, most of my days are just not edible.  Nor are they in some container that can be opened.  They are memories.... and they are in a freezer that I can't even find, let alone open.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Ride through milk and honey

What a nice afternoon... I finished the bike. I bought the frame from Jason for 2 six packs and then I pieced the rest together from parts I had... Some of it was kind of creative (listened to Bob Dylan the whole time) I will build 29" wheels eventually, but I went with what I had for now.  It's a super cool 1x9 cross ride with mountain slick wheels and road levers on mountain discs. Mmmmmmmm.  To make it even more satisfying, I had to peen the scythe after .... New old reborn followed by old classic.  Then me and the kids made a pretty good salmon Alfredo and finished with a chess tournament.... Yep, pretty much uber nerd all the way, but that is who I am.  Jessa gave birth to a couple of beautiful kids the other day and Ash and I watched the birth.  She was milked today and Ash pulled 5 cups off just to let off pressure. And it was good tasting... First time.  Peg is due soon. The bees are strong. I suppose we are in the land of milk and honey... I'm older than I used to be, I'm younger than that now.

Monday, April 13, 2015

DUML and the Barn

So the Duke Marine Lab trip went really well.  Once again it was the best thing I do as a teacher... it is as close to education as I ever get.  The bonus this year is that students from 3 schools went and the teachers involved (Kim L, Marywood S, Eric H, and Lawrence C) are all pretty vested and willing to lead parts of the trip themselves.  I think we are going to try to expand - perhaps 2 busses and then the parts of the trip will be kind of a la carte.  And once again, its time for me to back away and give up the reins somewhat.  Thank you universe.  Every gift has a bit of work to do with it :)

There is also a video collection from the trip - its 20 min long, so caveat emptor.

Other than that, I am sick again - another invader landed in my chest and once I got my voice back, I just couldn't and can't stop coughing... again.  This has been the consumption winter.  I would like to breathe again without the rattle... oh well.

The barn is coming along great.  A milestone was passed - the subfloor is finished and it worked out great.  It suddenly went from a barn to a house.  I want to move in now.  We consolidated our loans and are now with a local bank and there is (almost) no note on the Konnarock land - just on Glade.  We are going to rent glade and even though its not until August, we already have renters lined up.  We also got approved for a USDA program to put up a high tunnel greenhouse - so everything is proceeding at a quick clip.

And a final poem - though it reads like a song.  Its choppy and I should work on it, but I am not going to:)

"A letter to my mirror"

I used to look into my own eyes
footsteps echo, perfect skies
I used to drink it up
right from that golden cup
Now I'm just tryin'
to be free

Muddy puddles held me fast
don't reflect the me at last
now even in
a silver glass
its hard to see
beyond my past
perhaps, finally
I'm on my way
back to me

Now I look out my window
trade what I feel for what I know
I see the world outside
in that soft light
perhaps I lost myself
without a fight
I never had
the gift of sight...

I could only ever feel
now, which illusion's real?
perhaps, finally
I'm on my way
back to me

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Really?? Snow today?  Tonight its supposed to get down to the teens.  In two days I take 40 students to the beach for a week.  Well, I am as ready as I can be - the trip appears ready to roll.  It will be interesting to not be totally in charge with 3 schools going.  I love this trip, but it do take a toll.  Like this spring snow, I am excited to rage against the cold and plunge into a wave and let it carry me to shore.  Like the grass beneath the snow, I am not dead yet:)  Here's a few thoughts penned down this odd morning:

Snowflakes float down like memory
upon this spring on top o' me
drifting swirling upon green grass
frost streams streak across the glass
all but trees declared our May
the false warmth of our yesterday
faintly radiates through your ice cold mask
its here our souls are put to task
I purse my lips exhale my breath
spring snow is just a little death

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The hardest part is through

Well, the joists were so easy.... After all that digging and preparing, the floor is going to be such a gentle breeze.  Yesterday was probably the most fun day since putting the trusses up.  I truly enjoy this process. In other news, we leave for the coast trip in a a few days.  Its year 10.  Wow. Time flies.  

Good stuff to remember when I read back years from now....Tonight, Ash is at class and the kids and I jumped and just hung out in the trampoline for awhile - then we came back in and watched "Gnomeo & Juliet" all in one bed.  It was like the world was at peace except for the fact that I overestimated our dinner and Adia and I crashed low.  When it was over, Zoe and I washed dishes to music (hence the Lumineer lyric title) while the young ones got ready for bed.  They hopped in, turned off the light and all I had to do was kiss them.  

 Good. Night.

Monday, March 23, 2015

The walls are closin' in

A quick irony.  This weekend I (with the help of Jon) finally closed in the barn.  It was such a feeling of accomplishment.  The digging is done... finally... and the floor band is in place - I just need to lay down plastic and put in the floor joists and start throwing subfloor down.  But it occurred to me that I was so proud of building walls... sure this represents a sort of protection for my family - structurally, emotionally, and financially... but its still walls.  I consciously build walls.  I used to unconsciously build walls.  The walls I build now separate me from nature... and on 0 degree days, I will be quite grateful for the separation... but the walls I used to build separated me from human nature.  Hopefully my move from metaphysical to physical wall building is some sort of step.  I guess my greatest hope is that by the end of my days on this planet, I will graduate from building walls to building bridges.

I was going to leave with a quick lyric, but heck, this whole Indigo Girls song fits just right. Billy would agree.

"Hammer And A Nail"

Clearing webs from the hovel
a blistered hand on the handle of a shovel
I've been digging too deep, I always do.
I see my face on the surface
I look a lot like narcissus
A dark abyss of an emptiness
Standing on the edge of a drowning blue.
I look behind my ears for the green
Even my sweat smells clean
Glare off the white hurts my eyes
Gotta get out of bed get a hammer and a nail
Learn how to use my hands, not just my head
I think myself into jail
Now I know a refuge never grows
From a chin in a hand in a thoughtful pose
Gotta tend the earth if you want a rose.
I had a lot of good intentions
Sit around for fifty years and then collect a pension,
Started seeing the road to hell and just where it starts.
But my life is more than a vision
The sweetest part is acting after making a decision
I started seeing the whole as a sum of its parts.
My life is part of the global life
I'd found myself becoming more immobile
When I'd think a little girl in the world can't do anything.
A distant nation my community
A street person my responsibility
If I have a care in the world I have a gift to bring.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


After a great field trip to ESTU's anatomy lab - I came home and decided to run again.  Adia hopped on her bike and we went on the 3 mile run.  It felt good to sweat again.  I have a whole winter... and fall... and perhaps last summer... and the winter before.... of toxin to work out.  My shoulder is a mess but I think I will try to get back into a mild form of shape again.  Adia found 3 deer skeletons on the way... we stopped to do some forensics.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Storm Shelter

I try so hard to touch you
but my fingers won't reach out
the cold that winds around me
contributes to your doubt
my footsteps fade into the snow
I'm hanging from your limb
and you whisper that you don't really know
what or who I am

The dusty hay lays on my lungs
my fingers grasp your mane
no bit no bridle no control
we walk out in the rain
uncertainty begins to grow
your passion turns to whim
you whisper you don't really know
just what or who I am

So forgive the stranded sailor
as he tries to quench his thirst
thinks that he is all alone
but really he's just first
I grasp your oar I pull to row
I dream of a sail to trim
and you whisper you don't really know
what or who I am

now I walk upon these gilded streets
but I'm dying in my shoes
heels inside the gutter
as I read the daily news
Dull eyes are all I have to show 
to that wall in Bethelehem
and you whisper that you'll never know
what or who I am

Its so odd to be a victim
to have this choice to choose
to be taught that upon our lives
there is no win or lose
So with bare feet upon ground below
I refuse to be condemned
but I still whisper that I'll never know
just what or who I am.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

OK, I was working on school work but then they called it off again tomorrow, so I got bored and made a little compilation of this weeks snow fun.  Please excuse the royalty-free music and my goober laughs from time to time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Winter finally arrived

To be on the beach lounging in a hammock or just in the warm sand ... that feels so far away that it causes some anxiety and presses on my chest.  Perhaps that's just because my field trip to the coast is just 6 weeks away and we are in the coldest weather of the year.  Oh well, I guess its appropriate that winter finally decided to stop by - I needed a real excuse to not do anything.  However, I recently got over a mental roadblock at the barn and now I am chomping at the bit to get some stuff done.  My lungs are better, but the weather is worse.  Oh well.

 It was snowing pretty good yesterday when we decided to go to Boone to go skiing.  The whole way there the roads were snow covered... in Boone, Zoe pointed out a car that was spinning down the road in the lane across from us:)  The kids really killed it yesterday.  I was super proud.  Adia and Zoe are riding lifts by themselves and Esme has super control.  They all skied a black diamond run (Esme and I did one last run on a narrow steep run - she loved it) - however, a Boone black diamond is really just flat and kind of steep, but still.

We did some sledding the day before yesterday in our big snow too.  The hill across the street is rather incredible but only in a big snow... and it was spectacular.  The second time down when we came to a stop, Esme was half way beneath the sled!  What was even more hilarious was that apparently Adia fell out and we ran right over her!  Gawd, we laughed... that wonderful "I can't breathe and I am going to throw up" laugh.

Day before that, the kids and I went to school to feed the fish and do a bit of sledding too.  As any good teacher would do in a deserted snow covered parking lot, I had the kids feel what a fibonacci sequence is by shifting the f250 into 2wd and ripped it up a bit.

Jason and I went to survey a cave that he started back in 2002.  There is a nasty tight spot that pretty much almost killed him and another guy when the water rose while they were in the back.  I was excited to see it but I was just as happy to find that it was flooded and we couldn't pass.  So we headed to Clarks Cave and did most of the survey there.  We would have been done but I was sketching and I am quite slow.  This will be fun to have found the cave, dug it open, and mapped it.

A week ago, we all went up to Konnarock and did a bike loop from the house using Grassy Ridge and the Creeper trail.  It was quite sweet and we nibbled icicles along the way.

Nothing much else to report -

made some pies,

freeze dried some grain from the brewery,

and of course, enjoyed the snow showers.  It was pouring snow and sleet in this one - hot water and pinpricks of ice... that's as good as life can be expected to get.

summer sweat an ember in my chest
bare feet they run on snow
wonderful journey impossible quest
warming winter sorrow

Friday, February 6, 2015


I could use a snow day or two. This isn't the winter I expected.  And now I think I am getting sick again. I usually like winter, but if there is going to be no sledding, then I just kind of want February to leave and to take its emptiness with it.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oppa Birthday Style

Hey Esme!  Happy birthday, kid!

I can't believe that the years keep drifting by.  I swear you were just born... but you are quickly becoming "not a kid".  And I am quickly becoming your "old man".  I love you and I love that you are my daughter.

We had a good birthday season - the kids have started roller skating and that means that I have started roller skating too :)  But its just like the old days... same music.  I swear, a disco ball and roller skates? does it get any better?  Should I have admitted to that??

I have turned 42... I think.  I played soccer this morning and nutmegged someone... so I am not quite dead yet.  My kids printed the cave map I made and mounted it for me - and we had a korean birthday dinner... bulgogi and tempura... it was amazing ... all the while "gangnam style" blasting... no sitting, just standing and eating as the food comes off.  It was nice.

We were all sick for the last, oh, 4 or 5 weeks... whatever that respiratory sickness that was going around.... I do not want that again.  And I do not want my family to have it either.  But we are heading to the end of it I think and I am headed toward February in good spirits. 

I am doing OK, the future is wide open, I am trying to become a better person no matter how much I keep failing.... and that is as good as it gets, I think.  I hope y'all are.

1/25/2015 update edit.  Zoe and I rode horses into town while the girls rode their bikes and Ash ran/walked.  That was fun - but then I took the kids to go skate again and we went non-stop for 3 hours.  Esme learned to propel herself on her own and Adia got to where I couldn't go fast enough to wreck her:)  We would all join hands and go around the ring together - it would take all I had to pull them in the turns... I was on the inside, then Es, Adia, and Zoe... who had some centripetal acceleration to deal with:)  I learned to skate backwards.  It turns out that I love skating.  The lights, the 80's movie song hits... phrases go through my mind like "nobody puts baby in a corner" and "enemy deserve no mercy" and "this thing corners like its on rails"... its almost a meditation... and it had better be, because there aren't many guys out there and I am definitely the oldest... but I don't act it... and at this rate, I never will.