Monday, October 17, 2016


Just writing to remember this. I don't usually wax poetic about riding a motorcycle - its always kind of been my way of getting around on good gas mileage. But I do love it and after moving 10 miles up a deserted gorgeous winding road, I love it more. This morning, the road was dry and it wasn't too cold, and that big ol' full moon was just right there. I left early because Es woke up early and I couldn't get back to sleep - so it was pitch dark and glorious. Blasted a great playlist and watched the moon weave back and forth in front of me through the trees. Singing at the top of my lungs, cold wind in my face, leaning around curves. Expansive. I love that feeling. I lose it too often.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer is back and I guess I am too

Bette Davis Eyes comes on the radio as I am driving my two daughters back from picking berries. Esme has black raspberry all over her face but its just wonderful. The sun, the air, the dad time with his two daughters (the other one is backpacking with mom)... it was one of those moments where one loses oneself and becomes air and sun and music. I love those moments... I feel fully alive in those moments. Its all probably biochemical, but that's ok. Life and consciousness is overrated, I think.

I know, PA....THETIC! (however, it was the grammy winning song and album of the year - 82 and ranks 15 on Billboard's top 100 - so, there) I can't help my crap taste in music and I simply claim it. I can't do much but be the person I am. Sure, its embarrassing.. but what isn't in this world?  Duran Duran Hungry Like the Wolf came on after and I almost cried :)

So my oldest daughter is on the trail tonight with my wife. I dropped them off at Grayson Highlands and they are walking the 20+ miles back to the house. Its quiet here. I think of the lives of my kids all the time and I always wonder if the odd way we live is going to be something they see later as a gift. I do hope so, but I guess how they see their childhood is perhaps not something I can control that much... or worry about much.

Jason and I took the younger kids on a 3 day backpack and they had an absolute blast. Esme took all the photos and I took video and stitched it together. They did awesome and yet another chapter opened in our lives.

Final thought as I go to bed and wish my daughter and wife a great trip - out there somewhere, wonderfully out of touch in this age of constant connection: When we got home from picking berries, E and A and I quick did the chores and then took our bikes across the tree to Creek Junction and found where the sun still hit a bit of water and we went for a swim. When we got back, we fixed up some cheese quesadillas and for dessert, we took a big handful of berries and spread them on our dinner plates and buried them in spray can whipped cream and sat on the couch to watch a movie (with a pause to milk the cow:)

My life is shockingly perfect, but I carry a nostalgia all the time. Like today was great, but now its a memory. I love it and now its gone. Even worse (or better), I am pretty sure that my brain erases yesterdays more completely than most - so perhaps I know that when I fall asleep, its really goodbye to yesterday. The memories fade but the emotion remains.


I know you are out there
somewhere in the dark

I suppose that my dreams of you
are often off the mark

I imagine your existence
in some other universe

And I feel the impossible distance
as a heavy leaden curse

Monday, May 23, 2016


I am finally done. Grant done. Greenhouse done. Time to take a breath.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hello goodbye, I'll see you later

2 days. 2 days and I am done. I have been running... ragged, mostly. I have not had time to face my life in years. In 2 days, we turn in our freaking $10 million grant and I will have our greenhouse... and therefore, our house, done. I am going to relax, I am going to fish, I am going to ride my bike, I am going to love, I am going to heal, I am going to say goodbye to my past and open a new chapter in my life. I will open this school, I will change jobs yet again, and I will find my balance and my pace. I have tried so hard these last years - but its been isometric. Its time to walk around the wall I have been pushing on and move forward again. I cannot fix my past, but I can come to terms with it and leave it the hell behind. Perhaps I will even leave this blog, my diary of sorts, behind for awhile. Maybe not. However, for now, its goodbye.

Friday, May 6, 2016

The school

I think it really is going to happen.

We've gotten a town to believe it.  We've gotten a superintendent to believe it.  We got a US senator on our side.  We have to convince a few principals next week and then that might actually be our last major hurdle.  The universe keeps smiling at us and pieces keep falling right into place.  We've kept quiet about it and will for a bit longer, but I am dying to tell you (the world) about it.

We turn in the final section of our grant in a few weeks.  Its been 7 months full on.  The core group are all my dear friends.  Some dear friends have dropped out, but the ones still in are still all the way in.  Its been quite beautiful and win or lose, it will have been the best thing I have ever done in education.  If it doesn't succeed, I am ok to fade away and find balance in my life and leave the stress of what I do behind.

The MRI showed that my shoulder has a full thickness tear in the rotator cuff.  I can't sleep well (nothing new - but now its physical pain) and I really don't know if I will have the time or money to get it fixed anytime soon.  Its kind of depressing, but perhaps its an appropriate cross to bear.  I can still swing a hammer, I just can't put on a shirt.

The kids are doing great.  Zoe's big play is tomorrow at the Ashe Co civic center.  Its damn near killed us, but I am proud of her for doing it.  Adia's birthday is Tuesday and she is going nuts about it.  Esme is still my fighter.  It brings tears to my eyes to recognize how fast they are growing up.

This spring seems to be my first one in years.  I am still buried, but like the seed... I sense the warming of the Earth and I realize I did not die.

Update:  Zoe's play was fantastic!! The bamboo forest.  I am so proud of her.  I drove her to Ashe County in the morning on the back on the motorcycle and dropped her off.  That evening we came back and were blown away by her.  She stood up on stage all alone and did a wonderful soliloquy.  I am so freaking proud.

Friday, April 1, 2016


We rented a skid-steer and removed the remains of the demolished house that has blighted this land for a long time.  We damn near killed ourselves but it was almost cathartic.  I was exhausted all week from our spring "break".  We also are getting ready for the high tunnel and have done some fun cutting of trees.  The video was done before the grading... thats too bad.  But its looking better now. This week, Esme wanted to fish so I bought her a pole and some tackle and she, Adia, and I

started fishing.  I have been wanting to find some balance and I think I did.  Yesterday I caught my first fish ever on a fly rod and it was like the day I had been waiting for for years - the day that I would find myself eating a meal that I had provided for myself.  Seems simple and it is and was - but it was a milestone that passes like a live well lived... unexpectedly.  Tonight the 3 of us went out before dinner and made our way downriver.  Esme caught her first fish, but none of the other of us had a bite.  Her first fish was a little brook trout.  It was special and unexpected.  We followed the river and ended up descending down the gorge.  We bouder hopped and climbed quite a lot.  It was wonderful and gorgeous.  We got to a decent sized waterfall and found an absolute perfect secluded playground complete with a few wonderful boulder caves and the best swimming spots ever.  My kids were howling like wolves at the discovery of that perfection within walking distance of the house.  It felt good to take the time to live again.  The day before, Ash met me in Marion for a meeting with the town to discuss the creating a camp to practice our heritage school plan.  It was pretty great - we got a good plan to create some great much needed change in education.  After the meeting, I showed her the Henderson and we had a good meal and some good beers at a local restaurant.  In other news, my sister had her baby early... but it came on the same day the movie "the breakfast club" takes place.  The baby was in NICU for a week, but he went home yesterday.  Hopefully they are settling in and getting back to life.  That is probably good advice for all of us, especially me.

And so is Esme
Zoe is becoming quite an artist

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Past Midnight

Almost midnight, the Karate Kid is playing in the background.  My shoulder hurts like hell and wrecks my sleep most nights.  I just took 3 advil and came out to the couch to try to sleep.  Daniel-san has the same problem.  He is just now paint-a-fence.  Both side.  His shoulder gets destroyed too, but thankfully Mr. Miyagi is about to do the hand-clap shoulder fix.  If only...

I love how these kids looked like high school kids.  Not some 30 year-olds faking it.  Not to mention that the sport of choice was soccer.  The wisdom of the 80's.  If I don't get tired soon, I am going to have to break out the big guns.... St. Elmo's Fire, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, and as a last resort, Pretty Woman.  Well color me happy, there's a sofa here for two.

I keep finding myself torn.  Part of me wants to just relax and fade into the background and just be.  To take time for myself and learn to fish and grow a great garden and make bread and butter.  The other part of me wants to make this school happen.  Why?  Is the universe really talking?  How many times have I listened?  I want there to be a voice out there, but perhaps its just my voice in here.  Maybe fishing is where one loses god.  Then finds her again.  What is it about throwing oneself at something you know is right but has essentially no probability of happening?  Is that a quality of genius or madness?  If it pays off, then great - genius.  However when it doesn't?

Doubt.  Are you healthy or dream poison?  If there was just some way to look back to now.  But there is not - so I suppose I will keep hoping for genius just a bit longer?  I don't know who to listen to anymore.

Maybe Mr. Miyagi can help one last time:

Aaaayyy!  Look eye!  Always look eye!

Addendum:  after I wrote this, a true leader in our school idea dropped out.  He thought that we had lost our focus or perhaps never had one, really.  Perhaps this is the beginning of the end.  If it is, then I predict I will never go down this path again.  I shall fade into the background live a life outside of education.  I so want change, but maybe thats the lesson - change happens at its own pace, not mine.  I am not ready to give up yet, but I feel pretty damn lost.  Tonight I feel like I lost a friend and that the sand of my dream is slipping through my fingers.

Its becoming a familiar feeling as I get older.  Perhaps this is how people face death after 8 or 9 decades.  Perhaps this how my next door neighbor allegedly committed suicide 7 days ago.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

An idiot wind's a blowin'

You told me once that it was hopeless
that life was the way it was
You are never here and I am too
you said that its.... just because

Our soul lies on tracks that slaves laid down
our ashes make the sunset red
You taught the masses everywhere
but I never understood those words you said

I'm sorry.  

It doesn't matter now.

I can't forget your eyes that night
and the way you hang your head
Life goes on and prophet saviors die
but in the end we all retire... to our own bed

Our soul lies on tracks that slaves laid down
our ashes make the sunset red
You taught the masses everywhere
but I never understood those words you said

I'm sorry.  

It doesn't matter now.

If time would ever forget to fly
you'd slow your car but still drive by
Warm hands would touch my cold blue lips
and you would know the way I died... without you

Our soul lies on tracks that slaves laid down
our ashes make the sunset red
You taught the masses everywhere
but I never understood those words you said

I'm sorry.  

It doesn't matter now

and probably never did.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Snow day

I cannot help but be proud of my kiddos.  Gawd, I love them.  We had a lot of snow days but only used this last one to get in our once-a-year ski trip in.  Esme seems to really love it and perhaps it will be something we will do together.  She might shred.  Either way, it is always just rather wonderful to have this yearly yardstick to have time throw its fish right in my face and to show me that no matter how hard I squeeze, I can't hold onto my children's childhoods.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sourdough thoughts

Its a small thing, but a long time coming.

Tonight I finally made a loaf of bread.  I have made lots of bread in the past, but this one was special.  I learned to keep a sourdough starter and take care of it, the starter came from the wonderful woman that we bought our cow from, I found a way to fit the process into my life and not vice versa, and I baked it in a wood cook stove using heat from a cherry tree that I knew.  It was extra sour and made with white flour, but it was still just right.  I even washed it down with a cold glass of milk from our new cow, Sissy.

What an amazing life.  A few years ago on this very day, I knew true despair and hopelessness.  I still remember how the snow was a beautiful new armageddon laying over the world.  I still bear scars from that time, but they don't bleed anymore.  At the time I wondered if I would ever live again and now I wonder if I ever did before.

I just turned 43 years old the other day and my youngest turned 7.  We did so in the house we built on the bank of the river we love.  I feel old in many ways.  I am tired but still driven.  My shoulder is nonexistent.  My feet can still make a soccer ball sing, but my body is no longer weightless.  I believe that something about me is both lost and found.  

I listen to the river and it speaks to me.  I still don't recognize the language but I know it speaks to me.  My family is happy and we live in a tiny house that is warm and paid for, down a driveway that is a total mess but will never fail us.  Our cell phone does not work here.  

I know that I will look on this place and time of my life as one of the very sweetest chapters of my life.

So this perfect loaf emerged to surprise me on this day to remind me that the eternal is always both here and right around the corner.  That life has always been beautiful.  And that nothing compares to the crunch of fresh bread with cold butter dripping through its core.  Past and pain exist, but a good sourdough warm right out of the oven makes impossible to do anything but savor the present.