Sunday, November 29, 2020

Dog Day Saturday

It was a spectacular Saturday.

The weather was brilliant. Once the sun came up and began to chase the morning chill away air temperatures came up nicely and the morning breeze was short lived, as if it just couldn't be bothered.

One of the things I'm working on is my attitude toward nature's predilection to moving the air mass around. I seem to be willing to accept her wind only when it's not inconvenient or uncomfortable to me personally. When it's warm and the wind doesn't feel chill I mostly pay it no mind, except when it causes wind noise in videos. When it's cold I tend to curse it for the discomfort it causes me. And when it's very hot and there's no wind at all I curse its lazy-ass absence.

At the same time I recognize nature's glory and the beauty of the way she moves air mass around. If I persevere and dress properly I find I can not only endure, but revel in the wind. There's a bonus (or 10,000). It's only on sunny but cool and windy days when I get to experience and appreciate the delight of little pockets of wind shelter. There are places along treelines and in canyons where I can soak up toasty sun-warmth in calm air while nature's air mass howls over and around me, only a few feet away. Such moments are incredible. It's the yinyang thing again, standing in the place where chaos meets order. It takes dedication and work to journey through the discomfort and place myself in those little bubbles of beautiful comfort. It takes more dedication and work to leave and head home to my human-built shelter. Bookended by effort and discomfort, nature's bubbles of ease and warmth and comfort take on the flavor of a supernatural gift. When I am there, living in that moment of wonder only, I feel as if I am standing on a higher plane of experience. These are moments which can be had only when they are earned, and that's exactly the way it should be.

All of the manifold best parts of life exist in these places; moments of bubbles of exquisite wonder and delight which can be experienced only when earned. The wonder of my life with Alexzandra is a case in point. I existed for six decades certain in the knowledge that my path should be solitary, stoic, and self-contained. I knew in my core that the sea of love is actually the sea of dragons, and those dragons would rend and tear and destroy me, that dropping my shields would be too big a risk, leading to certain destruction. When I found someone to work and dare and risk for, I found that I was right. Selfish, self-contained, stoic Shaun would have to be destroyed in order for me to step into the ultimate bubble of wonder and joy and life. When the dragons attacked and took Alex away I found I could survive the wounding, that I could survive and thrive. Selfish, self-contained, stoic Shaun could not have survived such a thing, but the point is moot, for that fellow would never have visited the sea of love to begin with. The wounding is great and the deepest scars will never heal, but they do not interfere with or take away from the wonder and beauty of sailing the sea of love.

I wasn't really intending to go there. SMH. Yet this is therapeutic for me, unpacking this stuff in written words and throwing it out there for all to see. I hope it's not too uncomfortable for any of you kind readers. On the one hand it feels like I shouldn't just throw this kind of burden out there to potentially harm people. On the other hand it feels right to share these thoughts and concepts, perhaps in an effort to provide a small service. I don't know -- can't know with certainty -- the "right" thing to do. Well. There we are.


And all of the above just to get to puppy dogs and the beauty of a late-November day here in shortgrass prairie country on the Front Range High Plains of Nebraska.

Yesterday was one of those mornings when it takes a bit of extra effort to get to doing. This morning is much the same. Sometimes mind and body have the capacity to charge ahead with seeming effortlessness, sometimes not. The effortless days are fun and easy, the harder days are, well, different. More of a challenge. They often yield a better reward, if only I can bear down and do the work.

My tentative plan was to take the dogs out to the ranch and do some hiking and hill running. Mark mentioned the puppy dogs in his latest comment, so I aimed to please. I'd only once taken Tommy to the ranch and that was not much of an excursion. Anyway, after the struggle of completing cals and lifting, Nona, Tommy, and I headed out to the south googie pasture.

I parked down in the canyon bottom and tried running the windmill hill. It was a challenge. I was fighting pain and Tommy was excited enough by my activity to nip at my heels and jump on the back of my legs. He's a who-knows-what. There's obviously some trailer park pit bull in him, but there might also be a bit of border collie the way he seems to like to herd things.

Oh by the way, Tommy is named after Alex's heartthrob movie actor Tom Hardy. Not seein' it myself -- lol!

Nona is pure border collie. She's also 9 years old, my age in dog years. So she appreciates the experience at a more reasonable pace. Or something like that.

They are a great pair of dogs.

There's good and bad in Tommy's efforts to share my hill running. The bad is obviously the potential for a running wreck. The good is at least twofold; joy for Tommy and the potential for a running wreck. I had to work harder to maintain balance, and harder work brings more reward. Another thing to consider is that us olden folks need to fall down a lot, need to be intimately familiar with being on the ground and the process of falling correctly and getting the firetruck back up. It's a yinyang place. There will be a time when I can't do stuff no more, but that time is not yet, and being good at falling and getting up is likely to push that time at least a little bit into the future. As is all the hard and painful effort of recapturing fitness. It's a long video with hill running and climbing up out of the canyon toward Vader Hill, which I intended to run.

As it turns out, I did not run Vader Hill. Too much ice and snow on the north pitch, which is also particularly rocky. Therefore I decided not to practice falling. What of my grand thesis on the utility of falling the firetruck down and getting the firetruck back up? It's a good question. Part of me was up for the challenge, part of me was willing to forego the discomfort and press on to accumulate steps at a lower and more comfortable heart rate. Go figure.

Blessings are everywhere.

Light and shadow are blessings, beautiful experiences which fill the heart and soul with unspeakable wonder and bubbling joy. Rewards which are more sweet when earned in the pursuit of livin'.

Other saying on my desk are these.

Despite fighting pain and choosing to not fall, the hike was remarkably delightful. As they tend to be. This video is another long one. Livin' (and babbling!) in the moment with the dogs and the prairie, sunlight and shadow, warmth and ice and fences and busy noise and motion on I-80.

I've walked this ground for essentially all of my life. I knew it intimately, with much certainty that I knew it all. I walked it with Alexzandra and she showed me the rest of it, the 99.9 percent I had never seen.

The homestretch of the hike included poop!

And much more beauty.

Driving home I stopped to get images of Alexzandra's roadside cross. One of the fabric sunflower blossoms had torn loose and come to rest in a patch of sagewort, a plant that I've always appreciated but never really seen until she showed it to me. What does such a thing mean, other than she is here with me?


After the hike it was time to run steps. I hungered for the cardio workout. Fortunately for you kind readers I didn't make a visual record. But thirty minutes of hell was sublime.

I ran steps while my washing machine was busy churning through lots of laundry. It's a blessing to do laundry. Again, no visual record.

I spent the day in busy effort, but the backdrop of the day was anticipation. I had a 6 p.m. date with a tattoo parlor in Cheyenne. My first tattoo.

It might seem odd, and it probably is odd, that a sailor would be tasting the needle for the first time in his sixth decade of life. I tried to get a tattoo way back in the stone ages; it was in Pensacola and iirc I was in either Aerospace Medicine or Aerospace Physiology Class C school at the time. Regardless, the kind tattoo lady wouldn't work on a drunken sailor, and that was my only try. God bless that lady. Another tattoo memory from around the same time comes from reading Jim Webb's Fields of Fire, a novel about Marines in Vietnam. One of the main characters, Snake, is a tough street kid who decides to join the crotch one jump ahead of the law. He spends his last paycheck on a "Death Before Dishonor" USMC tattoo, and Webb gives a very interesting description of the kid's experience. For some reason the description has stayed with me over the years, and I must say (40 years later!) that he nailed it. Perhaps that description shaped my experience. Doesn't matter, just interesting to think about.

As I drove toward Cheyenne the post-sunset glow spread magic across the landscape. In particular, where I-80 runs cheek by jowl with the Union Pacific railroad line between Bushnell, Nebraska, and about Egbert, Wyoming, the tracks glowed like four parallel strings of liquid gold. All around the landscape trees and barns and houses and livestock were silhouetted against a sky glowing in as yet unnamed colors. As the Rockies hove into view I saw them for the first time. Yep, she was riding with me, in that seat she said she loved, and she showed me yet again how to really look, how to really see. The looking and seeing and driving took everything I had, and a single thought of grabbing some video evaporated. It would have killed the experience, and the video would not have captured the important stuff anyway.

At the T.R.I.B.E. Scott the artist was superb. The job I'd given him was a tiny bit of a thing, just six words. But he crafted Alexzandra's name in her own hand, and added a Dave Matthews line in a perfect cursive expression.

The bite of the needle was exactly as Snake described, and the bliss of pain and purpose yielded an endorphin/dopamine embrace of livin' in the proper moment. The thing is devilishly hard to photograph left handed and through the transparent dressing.

My next appointment is set for December 12, again at 6 p.m. This time "ALEX LO💗E across the first joints of my fingers. In proper anatomical description, across the posterior aspect of the proximal phalanges of each hand. Why? Batshit crazy. Perhaps those words will be the last things asshole ogres see before they go sleepy-time. Almost certainly not, but it's a satisfying thought for one beset by asshole ogres.

I've also asked Scott to work up a couple of designs for the forearms, incorporating Alex's hands and the rocks she's holding here on the inside of my right forearm. There's a reason for that, which I'll share at some point.

As well as her roadside cross on the inside of my left forearm.

Same reason. Maybe batshit crazy is the livin' expression of a sane navigation of the rocks and shoals of reality.

This post has gotten out of hand, so I'm going to quit while I'm behind.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.



  1. Ah, wind. You know you are in wind country when the Porta-Potties are anchored to a steel fence post. Sorry, my comment isn't nearly uplifting as you post, but there it is.

    1. Unchain the outhouse and it'll be even more uplifting! ;-)

      Wind in this part of the country is one of nature's great tricks.

      Thanks Frank.

  2. Thank you for the puppy dog show and everything else as well. It is great to see the beauty in other parts of the country and how others are thriving where they live. Keep on livin' and show us when you can.

    1. Wilco Mark, you're welcome and thanks for stopping by.

      I enjoy showing off our little piece of the world.

  3. Ah yes, the wind. Nearly a constant companion here on the coast.

    A nice, thoughtful, post. Thanks for that.

    1. Lots of people have wind, and sometimes there are fun arguments about who has the best-worst wind. ;-)

      Thanks Chris.

  4. Very revealing introspections, and it takes a strong guy to share them.

    The first tattoo is nice. And tasteful, and respectful.
    Finger tattoos, not so much.
    I'd quit with what you got, before ending up looking like some (formerly) fat biker dude. YMMV, and I know that kids these days get all tatted up and think it is cool.

    If you want to make an indelible impression somewhere, put the future tattoo money in a college account for those adorable kids.

    Those roadside crosses are stark reminders, in unexpected places. It is sobering to remember that they mark the demise of someone who was loved and suddenly departed. Few look very old, so the DOT folks probably just haul them away as illegal stuff on the State's right of way, memories be damned. The tangible markers may be removed, but those who know, will always know, and never forget those spots. Let them all remind us to drive carefully lest there be another one added, and another family shaken by the unexpected.

    Enjoy the brisk fall (weather, not the other kind!) because we know winter is coming.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Well, the batshit crazy is strong in this one anyway...

      As for the finger tattoos, I'm going to revert to batshit crazy. I have what I consider good and proper reasons, which are rather batshit crazy. At some point I'll probably detail my thinking, or at least expand on the theme. At some point i may touch on schemes in place to provide future assistance for the kids.

      The roadside crosses are indeed a stark reminder of the way mortality works. Life is ephemeral for all of us. When mowing season comes it'll be time to move the cross to the edge of the wheat stubble; the land owner won't mind and the mowing crews won't have to worry about it.

      I am enjoying the brisk fall including the occasional brisk falls. ;-) I love livin' this ephemeral life. Live hard, die on time, and leave a tatted corpse. Or something like that.

      Thanks John.

  5. Stopped by, but no new posts, so after a few days I go over to the side and read one of the Corpsman Chronicles. Some really good stuff there. I bet readers would be happy, when the muse is UA, if you reposted one of the CC episodes now and then.
    You write good stuff!
    Merry Christmas to all.
    John Blackshoe

    1. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi John. That's a good idea. I think I'll do that. I kind of hate to recycle, it feels like cheating somehow, but the muse, she's struggling of late.

      Thanks again and Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    2. Be well and enjoy the blessings of liberty, all of you. That you have trusting souls that look up to you, be glad. At this point I always think of a saying from Wilbur Smith and his books on south africa. Stay with God.

    3. Thanks Curtis. I could not have imagined the gift that those children would give me. When she brought color to my world she changed everything permanently for the better. I know now that this is what comes from trusting God.