August 20, 2015


Let's see....

Back to Creede and our camping with friends and seeing plays.

                         Still crawling in and out of our tent.

Good buddies from our Telluride days, camping together in Creede.

I have been climbing some peaks, no 14ers but the 13,000 and 12,500 peaks are enough and they get you plenty high for the panoramic beauty.  There is nothing like sharing the glory with friends, using your body to climb, terrific conversation, and peaceful wonder at the top.

                         Hanging on from the violent wind on Ruby Saddle

                                 Resting in the glory heading up to Belleview


                                         Friends, good buddies, powerful women

                                   Imagine!!! Lunch on top of a mountain.  Views galore!

                              Bushwacking straight down!  Thank goodness for poles!

And then a visit from our Darlene and her Cooper dog.  What a pal from our Winter Park days!  Dar and I spent three months together living in Cholula, Mexico and traveling all over Mexico and Guatemala in the early seventies.  What tales and adventures!!!

                                Dar picking raspberries at Karen and Paul's garden.

And now, making a rhubarb cake and heading over to Paonia at a ranch of our Corpus friends.  Mike is a trooper spending four days with eight of my high school pals, all from elementary days and one from preschool - a bit unusual to stay in such close bonds with high school friends, but so fun!

Life is pretty darn awesome!!
Mike may return, but in the meantime, here are some pictures.

August 9, 2015

Literary or Political

Ursula K. LeGuin, in this week's "By the Book" column in The New York Times, answers one of the column's regular questions, "Who would you invite to a dinner party," by saying, "Oh, to have Bob Nichols and Grace Paley back for just one more evening!" I did not know who Bob Nichols was or is; turns out "was."

The late Robert Nichols was a Beat poet and, like LeGuin, a political activist. He always said that there is no separation between the literary and the political--and so did Grace Paley, Nichols' late wife, and one of the most-heralded short story writers in our canon. I've never really read either of them, but now I will. I know that not long ago I read a Paley story, but can't recall which story--or it may have been the interview in The Paris Review, done many years ago. I do know that, last spring in Portland, visiting with two of my young colleagues from the MFA program, both of whom either were or had been teaching a class on writing at Portland State University, I heard them say that their students--20 year old's--didn't seem to care for Grace Paley's work. I'll read her, and see if I can tell why.

My last post was simply the link to a column by someone who said we should not see the movie, "End of the Tour," about David Foster Wallace, because, even though the movie is well done and interesting, it takes away from Wallace's work, which both that writer and, he said, Wallace himself would be unhappy about. I asked for input, and got several replies, all of them interesting.

But I'm not going into them right now. I don't know that I will. All I'll say is that I can't really get fired up to see that movie, but not for that reason. It just doesn't sound like much, not, say, like "Mission Impossible IV: Rogue Nation," or "The Drop," or "About Elly," or...

This is likely my last post for some time, maybe forever. I don't mean to be cryptic or maudlin, just letting you know that I am pushing right now my own short story writing, and don't have much time to get what needs getting got to turn out decent posts.

Thanks for reading, and stay in touch. I hope Susan will continue posting now and then, particularly her fine pictures, but that's up to her. We've enjoyed doing it, and, like I say, will likely do more of it. You might check in now and again, or might not.

Whatever, thanks for reading and commenting, and POWER TO THE GOOD PEOPLE!

August 5, 2015


My Birthday Bouquet from Karen is all one stalk!  Believe!

The wildflowers have popped beyond belief with all this rain.  I thought last week was the peak, but no!  They are bigger and higher, the fragrances of the lupine are huge.  The corn lilies have exploded in millions of little flowers on each stalk.  

I took Mike up to Hasley's hoping to see a bit of color left and WOW!  The Fireweed is ready to go and has gone in spots.  We walked across an entire field of Elephantella out in the open but in a bog at 12,000'.  The Bistort is fat, long, and tall.  I need help on this one.  It was real high, in the open beside the small Sulphur.  Is it a Lousewort?

My Michael at the top!  And glory on the way down.


August 3, 2015

Read This and Let Me Know What You Think

I'm not actually posting today, merely tuning up for a future post, by asking my legions of constant readers to click on this link, read the piece, then respond:

Thanks, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Your OLD pal,


July 27, 2015


The flowers are at their peak.  I have been hiking a lot.  Knee is good. My Physical Therapist said, "hiking is your friend," so here I go.

Pictures from Hasley Pass in Crested Butte.  It cannot be captured on camera.  There are basins and fields covered for acres, some over your head.  As you go up and into higher elevation, the flowers change and you see smaller tundra flowers but still is awesome and brightly colored.  I would like to take everyone up there on my shoulders, so you can see the magnificence.

                   Green Gentian (Monument), Columbines, Osha, Sneezeweed

Paintbrush, Lupine, Columbines


                                   Baby Elephants - see their trunks

                                     Columbine and Green Gentian
                                              Larkspur, Lupine, Mules Ears

                                       Field of dreams

Dense Flower Dock

                            Ladies bushwhacking up the basin through the tundra

                     Fravert Basin to Frigid Air Pass and West Maroon Bells Pass

Hagerman Peak, West Snowmass Peak, and Snowmass Peak way in the distance

                                  Maroon Bells from the Hasley Ridge

Ladies on top

There was a GPS among us.  We walked 3 hours and stopped to gaze and photograph 3 hours, so a six hour day, 2000' elevation gain one hour drive to Trailhead and back.  Beautiful day!

And to Third Bowl for ice cream in Crested Butte where a large male bear was in a tree right in the middle of town beside the river.  The Animal Control and police were keeping humans at a distance and intended to herd him out of town when we were all asleep.  And were to make it known to him that he was not welcome back.  Hopefully, he will learn and not get a "strike", for three strikes and you are out.

Tomorrow we are off for Creede to meet Telluride buddies, camp along the river and go to two plays "Guys and Dolls"  and "I love St Lucy."

Fun in our Colorado world.
Susan is back!

July 22, 2015

Farewell to Rudy and Ed Doctorow, fine companions both

E.L. Doctorow died of lung cancer. He was 84, and had an excellent career, though it was not until "March," one of his later novels, that John Updike was, Updike wrote, "cured of my Doctorow problem." Updike had criticized Doctorow again and again for playing fast and loose with history--a sort of Zelig of the novel, while other equally qualified and astute reviewers entirely disagreed.

I am moved this morning to write about Doctorow, after seeing the terrifying video of the Texas State Trooper's mauling arrest of the young woman--young BLACK woman, of course--who shortly thereafter hung herself in the Waller County Jail. She had moved into the right lane to allow the trooper to pass, but had failed to signal. The trooper basically picks a fight, mauls her, and (later) she dies, all for nothing--nothing? Not quite. She was "irritated" at the officer's treatment, and told him so. What did she expect?

Why did that awful story make me think of Doctorow? You will recall that, in "Ragtime" (1975), the story is of the lead character, Coalhouse Walker(?), refusing to allow his inhumane treatment at the hands of white authority to go unpunished; he was willing to die to gain retribution--and he did die, of course, just one of many over the course of so many ugly racist years.

Here is the link to the video and story:

Doctorow, who was called by his name, Ed(gar), was born in the Bronx and raised as a curious and intellectual boy. He said he just naturally attended the theater and movies and cultural events, and began writing very early-on. His novel, "World's Fair" ('85), he said, was pretty much autobiographical--the Depression, etc. And many of his works, including "The Book of Daniel" ('71--about the son of the executed Rosenbergs), "Ragtime" (in which James Cagney made his last screen appearance) and others won the major awards--Pulitzer, Book Critics Circle, the National Book Award. One of his best, in my view, is his short story collection, "Sweet Land Stories" ('84), which I learned of in my MFA program. It was a New York Times "Notable Book."

And Doctorow, named for Edgar Allen Poe, was a classmate at Kenyon College of an old friend and mentor of mine, Marshall Terry, a Dallas-based writer and professor at SMU. Marsh has published a couple novels himself--"Northway" and "Ringer," and both are wonderful, just like Marsh. Both men studied with John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon. Doctorow also taught writing in two or three universities, as well as writing for the theater, and the occasional stinging leftist political essay.

But he is not the only loss we've suffered today, perhaps not the greatest loss, either. My lifelong friend, L.Z.'s dog, Rudy, called  it quits, also a victim of some kind of cancer. We visited LZ and his wife, Marilyn, in Victoria, B.C., back in late May, and got to know and love Rudy then. He was a Springer Spaniel, just like, if I'm not mistaken, the dogs LZ's dad, Willie, had when LZ and I were kids. Willie was a bird hunter, though neither LZ nor I followed that lead. Rudy was a fine and faithful companion, leading LZ and Marilyn on two walks each day. What now? Will they remain sitting, quit walking? No, I don't think so. Rudy wouldn't approve. His example will live on.

July 17, 2015

Bye bye to Portland, but, gulp, forever?

"Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
and many goodly states and kingdoms seen..."

Yet, may not see them again, if a piece in the current New Yorker magazine is close to right -- "The Really Big One" by Kathryn Schulz, a staff writer and author of "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error," which, Daniel Gilbert termed "an insightful and delightful discussion of the errors of our ways..." in The New York Times Book Review of July 23, 2010. I read that review, though not the book (my default position on most books, I'm afraid), and took away the opinion that it is in the genre of "psychobabble," concerning little Malcolm Gladwell-type conclusions drawn from anecdotal information. Fine...

But in "The Really Big One" Schulz commits journalistic fraud, in my view, by sensationalizing a real danger -- and leaving us there, scared and hopeless. Her report is truncated, though, I feel sure, not by any editing massacre such as I have mentioned in earlier posts. She is responsible (but I do find fault with the usually reliable and uber-circumspect editorial department at the magazine for not pushing her to go further) for the frightening story of the biggest earthquake-sunami in history that will without a doubt at any minute now wipe the Pacific Northwest coast off the map, and also I call her out for the lack of input about what we might be able to do about it, as in don't we have ways of warning buried way out in the ocean or something?

I just felt that she came up short. Maybe it's because I was so interested in it. Susan and I -- and, boy, have we become world-class over-the-road companions -- drove two days back from Portland, arriving in Gunnison at six o'clock Wednesday evening. The next trip -- if there is a next trip -- I'll be looking over my shoulder for that wave that is not a wave but just the whole ocean now forty feet or more above where it was just a moment earlier. If you saw "The Impossibles," you'll recognize the description.

The question of "not if but when" is a common question among Portlandians. But for the rest of the country, the only earthquake concerns depend on the San Andreas Fault, down in California, and that's a concern, all right, but it pales -- as in PALES -- when compared to the Juan de Fuca, up higher in the Northwest, including Vancouver Island, Canada, where we also spent a couple days with old friends, and I'm glad we did, because the next time we go visit neither they nor Vancouver Island will be there to welcome us with a COLD beer...or two.

The point is that publishing a fearsome piece that could and should be far more complete is not fair to the reader. It is what "yellow journalism" means -- sensationalistic reporting...but, well, maybe that's what we need, if we are to be called to arms. After all, readers of Schulz's story are left with the image of a schoolhouse full of little tykes in Seaside, Oregon, defenseless, innocent, and destroyed KNOWINGLY by OUR laissez-faire approach to their welfare. The school, the superintendent says -- and everyone knows he's right, including the powers that be -- should be moved, but all these cuts in education funding and...well, adios, ninos!

Portland is a great town, my favorite place. Tears stain my grizzled cheeks as I contemplate its demise, recalling the quoted expert's words: "Everything west of I-5 will be toast." That's Portland, and Seaside, and all those duffers whose feet won't reach the floor as they sit at their desks, waiting, but they don't know for what.

Oh, the lines at the top? Keats. "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer." Say what? You already knew that?