September 20, 2014

GOING INTO THE WOODS TOMORROW AND I CAN'T WAIT

It is a good thing I am retired. My WORK now is Physical Therapy.  As soon as I finish one set and take a breather and do some things around the house or outside, it is time to start my second and final set for the day.  All is well.  I am practicing patience rather than just talking about it.  My PT widened his eyes and pointed at me with an expressive straight arm and said, "IT WILL COME!!!"  I had just expressed doubts and fear to him over not being able to squat a few inches evenly.  It IS coming, slowly but surely.  Steady on, I carry on.  Michael has been helping me as we are doing this little workout video together each day.  It has done wonders for my strength and balance.  It only takes five minutes to watch, if you are interested. Mike and Susan's Workout

We are going into the woods tomorrow and I cannot wait.  I have missed the smells, the quiet, the trees, the peace, the beauty.  I have missed hiking.  We will just camp up at Lake Irwin for awhile, and I am grateful for one big dose of the forests...maybe we'll get even more before the snows come.

Gary Snyder is a spry 84 year old who wears a little diamond stud in his left ear.  He is a poet who has won the Pulitzer.  He knew Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, Cassady and Kerouac and was the inspiration for Kerouac's Dharma Bums character, Japhy Ryder. He is a Buddhist using the Zen approach of applying the Buddha nature into daily life and for the benefit of others.  He is a lecturer and a retired faculty member of University of California at Davis.  He is an environmentalist who says important things and quietly mesmerizes you as he talks.  And he was the keynote speaker last hight at Western State Colorado University's 25th Headwaters Conference.

Gary Snyder sees plenty of occasions to be grateful.  Our planet can swallow pollution like Lord Shiva who consumed the poison from the Serpent King in order to protect the Universe and is now forever the color blue.  It may take hundreds of years, thousands of years, or hundreds of thousands of years, but our planet will survive.  Snyder passes each day, as he leaves his house in the woods of Northern California, the traces from hydraulic fracturing, and he says, "Nature takes its time."  Give it five thousand years and you'll never even notice it.  Our planet is capable of its own healing.  The Colorado River can do its own healing.  "Wild" means orderly, sensible and self managing.  Plants are wild.  Animals are wild.  We humans are very fortunate to be basically wild creatures.  We eat a meal and we do not have to tell our digestive system to now begin digesting.  Our body self manages in an orderly and sensible manner.  Are our wilderness areas pristine?  It is the percent of the "wild process" still around that counts.   We were told last night to stay together, learn the flowers, and go light.

FOR THE CHILDREN
The rising hills, the slopes
    of statistics
   lie before us.
  the steep climb
of everything, going up,
   up, as we all
      go down.
In the next center
or the one beyond that,
         they say,
   are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
      if we make it.
To climb these coming crests
     one word to you, to
    you and your children:
          stay together
        learn the flowers
             go light

Gary Snyder

September 15, 2014

Horseman Pass By

Recently, I mentioned a sliver of an Emily Dickinson verse, said to be "among her last words," to a friend: "But it is growing damp and I must go in. Memory's fog is rising." She quickly responded that her favorite bit of poetry in that end-game context came from Yeats' "Under Ben Bulben," carved on Yeats' tombstone: "Cast a cold eye/On life, on death./Horseman, pass by." Really nice, huh? Yes, and made me think of e.e. cumming's wonderful: "Buffalo Bill's defunct/who used to ride a water-smooth silver stallion/and break one, two, three, four, five glass balls/just like that/Jesus, he was a handsome manAnd what I want to know is/what do you think of your blue-eyed boy, Mr. Death?" I guess I could go on in this sad line, calling up, though not exactly, "There is nothing like the guillotine to focus the mind," said to be someone's (I have Sir Walter Raleigh in my mind, which doesn't mean that much) last words, just before he was beheaded (a ghastly practice that has proved to be all too resilient). But I won't...go on that way. Rather...

I'll point out that all sorts of writers regularly take lines from poems as titles to their books, particularly novelists. Larry McMurtry, for a ready example, used Yeats' "Horseman, pass by" as the title of his first novel, in 1961. That book became "Hud," the great movie, starring Paul Newman as the sorry son of the decent old rancher, who, remember, was faced with having to shoot his entire herd, after a cow or two seemed to have contracted a disease (hoof and mouth?). Newman proved to be above the rest, unafraid and secure enough in himself to play a total jerk. Not many marquee idols will risk taking those kinds of roles. Brando, of course; Pacino; in the past, Lancaster; never Bogart, after he became a huge star; Mitchum, though, and, man, was he the best? The Duke? Jimmy Stewart? Nope. Cagney? Oh, yeah. Robert Redford? Gatsby is as bad as he's agreed to be, so far as my memory serves.

Today, Jack Nicholson will play a low-life, Michael Douglas, too, and I will bet that Tom Cruise would, if he could get the right opportunity. I feel he wants to do something other than what he's done. But I digress. All this movie talk. Who cares? Well, I do, of course. I love the movies. Don't you? I mean, is there anything better--now, I mean, at THIS age, oh, there was a time, but, hey, let's have no more digressions--anything better than sitting with popcorn or beer and pizza in a lovingly restored old theater, watching a great film? I can't think of many things to top the experience. The Red Sox last year, perhaps.

I remember the first movie I ever saw by myself. It was Martin and Lewis in "Jumping Jacks" way back in, let's say, 1953, give or take. I saw it at the Nu Vu (get it?) in my hometown, Abernathy, Texas, just north of New Deal on the way to Hale Center, and the outing was made even more memorable for me because it was on a Sunday, after church, early afternoon, and the reason I remember that so clearly is because my father was against going to the movies or working or a lot of things on Sunday, the Lord's Day, but my more lenient mother prevailed, bless her heart. (My father was also against dancing, though he didn't really know why, but that opposition, I should tell you, was no match for my love of dancing to the music!) It wasn't long before I saw the early Steve McQueen horror flick "TheBlob"(yep, his first leading role), AND "Them," at NIGHT, and had to walk home in the dark by myself, a trip I made short work of.

The Nu Vu somehow just shut down shortly after "Them," and I don't really connect the dots on that sequence. Truly, most of the town shut down, primarly because the Interstate was built just to the east, racing past us like freeway overpasses race past and kill poor and black neighborhoods in big cities. We could drive by that time (though I never had a car until I went off to college), and I would see the big movies, the major releases--a few of them, not many--at The Lindsey in Lubbock. That's where--again on a Sunday--I went with Jimmy Burnett, after church and MYF, so it was at night, to see "Psycho." (1960-'61?) Scared me to death. Imagine, seeing "Psycho" for the first time, without really knowing a single thing about it beforehand. Indelible, in a word. As I recall, Jimmy and I bumped heads, ducking behind the seat at particular points in the action--Tony Perkins meeting Martin Balsam at the top of the stairs? Uh huh.

And, too, I'll not leave out The Antelope drive-in movie theater, just south of town. We'd sneak into the show in the trunks of cars, now and then, just for the excitement. I can't really remember any movies I saw there. Who knows why? Or at The Red Raider drive-in on the north side of Lubbock. The back of the huge screen had a giant painting of a football player in neon--Texas Tech Red Raiders--with the jersey number being the number of a current star--55 for E.J. Holub, 44 (a little later) for Donnie Anderson, the Golden Palomino, the Wild Hoss of the Plains. Donnie was from Stinnett, in the Panhandle, one of the countless little Nowheresvilles that cling to a semblance of life in that unforgiving country like scrawny cedars somehow alive in a tiny slit in solid rock. Donnie, of course, went on to be a "bonus baby," signing with Vince Lombardi's Packers immediately following the Gator Bowl, in which he, of course, starred. (Rumor was that he might have signed even before the game, but that was a gentler time, so who tried to make a big deal of it?) I'll never forget--or haven't forgotten yet--the picture of Donnie in the dressing room after that game, smoking a big cigar, talking to reporters about the professional contract. "When was the last time you smoked a cigar, Donnie?" "Last night," he said.

Those were among the last words I remember Donnie Anderson having said, though surely he'll have more to say even yet. The Wild Hoss of the Plains. Another Horseman, who has passed on by.

September 8, 2014

I'm Younger than that Now

Waiting for Susan to ride the stationary bike, listening to the beginning of St. Louis vs. Cincinatti on Sirius radio while a bit of rain tickled the roof of the Outback--white, everybody has one--I heard the announcer say "he's 29 years old, not getting any younger" about the Reds starting pitcher, David Axelrod, a 29 year-old guy, southpaw, from, I think, Houston. But 29 and not getting any younger? Well, sure, he'll be 30 before 28, but still.

That's the point today--and I know, I know, it's been a long while since I've posted; I've been busy. Don't ask. Imagine. Really. Twenty-nine years old, and already on the cusp of being too old. Hmmm.

I read in the Times: Wozniacki will be back in New York in November to run in the New York Marathon. So? So that's Caroline Wozniacki, who had just been defeated by Serena Williams--and, boy, do I love Serena--in the US Open tennis championship match. She'll likely play in another tournament or two somewhere--Monaco, Buenos Aires--then go back to the Big Apple and RUN THE MARATHON! I mean, for goodness' sakes. Of course, Caroline just last month or so broke off her engagement with the world's No. 1 golfer, Rory McIlroy, who (as my bro' in law points out) immediately began playing better golf. Big deal, Bro'. Caroline immediately began playing better tennis AND running faster, not to mention longer.

And Serena? What about Serena? Well, with the victory she matched Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova with 18 Grand Slam titles. Chris and Martina were there to reward her, welcome her, with a nice expensive gift -- the new member of their club. Whew! Way to go, Serena! What a career! A career? Not quite. She's now on the trail of Stefi Graf, who racked up 22 Grand Slam titles then just stopped to marry Andre Agassi. So what? Serena will easily pick up four more titles, then five, won't she? The announcers are not quite sure. After all, Serena is 33. She may not last long enough. Thirty-three! Getting a little long in the tooth for Wimbledon.

The most-recent phenom burnout, Tiger Woods, ran through Majors like a hot knife through butter, bam, bam, on his way to Jack Nicklaus' 18 Major titles, before Tiger ran into a cage he could not get out of. He'll never make it. I am willing to bet $100 right here and now that he not only does not catch Jack--a bet that would have been taken by everybody in the sentient world just a few years ago when it seemed certain Tiger would not just catch Jack but pass him like he was standing still--but that he never wins another Major tournament. Tiger's stripes have changed. I hate to see it. I was, and am, pulling for him. I'd love to lose the hundred bucks. But Tiger is like Billy Joe Puckett (?), Dan Jenkin's Mr. Touchdown in "Semi-Tough," whose knee was ruined when Dreamer Tatum tackled him and ruined his knee in a goal line encounter. "Turn me over, Dreamer," Billy Joe (Bob?) said, "I'm done on this side."

Youth rulz! It's speed, isn't it? The old adage, that "speed kills," is Truth on steroids. Speed is youth, and vice-versa. It's regularly noted that professional athletes don't really make as much money as it appears, because their careers don't last but four years or whatever. In four years, some 25 year-old cornerback has made $40 million, and in six years, he has been out of the league for two years and is already broke. But that's another story. He lost a step, and there went his life.

My friend Lisa just finished her 27th Imogene Pass Run in a row! It's one of the toughest runs around. I've run it twice. Lisa beat me both times. Eighteen miles, beginning in downtown Ouray: 11 miles up, seven down, finishing in downtown Telluride. Tough. And Lisa, though not MY age...yet, is no spring chicken. It's the record, 18 consecutive times. The record may never be broken, certainly won't be, so long as Lisa keeps running. She doesn't have anything else to do. Too much time on her hands.

Of course, Lisa does not win. Some 26 year-old wins, and holds the record for fastest finish until next year when a 25 year-old waxes him. Youth rulz! Speed.

On the Santa Monica Pier, at a beer and burger place--historic place called Big Dean's--every day in the early afternoon a 91 year-old woman comes roller-blading in off the boardwalk, sits at the bar, drinks two beers--always on the house--visits a couple hours, then roller blades off into the sunset. Ninety-one. Almost as old as I am, or feel. Roller blades. I'd be safer with a gun to my head.

I've heard, as have you, that we're only as old as we think we are, only as old as we act, only as old as we want to be, that age is all in our mind. No, age is for real, brother. I know I don't have to tell YOU that. But now and then, Lisa or that old roller-blader shows the rest of us that, hey, maybe it IS in our minds. If it is, let's erase it. Think of something else, like the time back in the early part of the last century when we could run like the wind blows in West Texas. You know...

Back in the day.

Yours in faith-based Methusala don't have nothin' on me-ism,

You Know Who

September 4, 2014

ANONYMOUS?

Over the three or so years of this blog, we have received three anonymous comments from people who have just lurked around and found something we wrote to respond to. The first two were legitimate comments about one of our posts - like climatic change or some topic we were pondering.

The one I got last week was in response to "An Invalid's Life in the Mountains."  The person seemed to be angry over the word "retirement" which, of course, comes from "Retirement for Dummies" rather than over any rehab info I might have mentioned.  It was from "Hacksterbate.com."  Now, that caused me to ponder before I even read his or her rant.

Here it is, the whole thing.

"Anonymous said...

You baby boomers are the most selfish generation to ever exist.  You destroyed your own children's and grandchildren's future with your short-sighted selfishness and immaturity.  And then you expect them to pay for your retirement???

Can you baby boomers just hurry up and drop dead, please?"

Hummm...  Well...  Interesting...
I guess we are dropping dead, too gradually for old Hacksterbate, but surely, nonetheless.  Then, it'll be someone else's turn. You ready, Hacksterbate?






August 29, 2014

BODY AND MIND

"That lady is kicking ass," I heard my PT say to his patient when I was walking through the door.  Everything is great, and that made me feel even greater!  I am doing a good job of not overdoing!  My nice antique wooden crutches are ditched, I can get on a stationary bike and ride with no resistance twice a day for 10 minutes, pain and swelling are under control, my quads are getting pumped up again.  I attribute it totally to the two months rehab I did prior to surgery. I was ready!  Of course, had I just done the surgery two months ago, I would only have four more months of rehab left.  All is sweet in the way it has fallen.  I have no complaints or regrets.  My mind is on task.

Look at this beauty! In my dreams! I am so appreciative of seeing this visual.  Misty Copeland, the second black soloist ever in the history of the American Ballet Theater.  She took her first dance class in school at age 13 and 3 months later was a child prodigy.  As you know, most pro dancers begin dancing by age 5. She is sponsored by Under Armour, a sports clothing shop.  She makes twice as much money from this sponsorship as she makes with ABT, usually about $50,000 for the top dancers.  Her life has been full of turmoil.  "Life was so hard that I think that I almost needed to become a ballet dancer to develop as a person."  Under Armour ad



Iyengar died last week and all Iyengar teachers everywhere are honoring him and wanting to pass on their wisdom and knowledge.  There are three certified Iyengar teachers in little Gunnison, all of whom have had the great opportunity to work directly with him.  From his book, Light on Life:  "I am old, and death inevitably approaches.  But both birth and death are beyond the will of a human being.  They are not my domain.  I do not think about it.  Yoga has taught me to think of only working to live a useful life.  The complexity of the life of the mind comes to an end at death, with all its sadness and happiness.  If one is already free from that complexity, death comes naturally and smoothly.  If you live holistically at every moment, as yoga teaches, even though the ego is annihilated, I will not say, "Die before you die."  I would rather say, "Live before you die, so that death is also a lively celebration"..."I do pray that my ending will be your beginning.  The great rewards and the countless blessings of a life spent following the Inward Journey await you."  BKS Iyengar.

                             A young man
                               
                                              An old man

                                           Age 93


A strong body makes a strong mind. Or is it visa versa? The spine and the mind!  Buck tells us of a 91 year old woman in Santa Monica who, each day, roller blades into Dean's, drinks two beers, stays for a few hours and roller blades back out onto the boardwalk.

And so it goes...
Susan




August 22, 2014

AN INVALID'S LIFE IN THE MOUNTAINS

We are doing fine here in Recovery.  My first shower was most heavenly.  Our daughter reports from her reading The Diary of Samuel Pepys that in year 1658 old Samuel's wife took herself a bath.  She told Sam he could not sleep with her until he, too, bathed.  And so he did.  And the next bath they got around to taking was in 1660.  We have become more accustomed to many things.

I got a great report from my PT yesterday and my doctor today.  I am now down to one crutch and next week will be allowed to make a full rotation on the bike.  Yikes!  We look forward to watching old Seinfelds each evening, a wonderful recuperation gift from Mike's brother and wife.  I have been referred to as "peg leg," or Long John Silver as I wander around at night getting ice.  Mike is now off night duty.  Karen took me for a nice drive up Taylor Canyon and we sat by the river and then saw nine enormous mountain goats with their great horns wandering by the highway.  It was a special sighting, and I did not have my camera.  But my friend, Kate, did have her camera when she spotted this huge guy on top of a mountain. I read in Huffington Post that a hiker in Telluride this week was stalked for 20 to 30 minutes by a mountain lion.  Whenever she took a step backwards, so did the lion, eight feet away. When she began singing opera at the top of her lungs, the cat left, but then came back, approaching from the side.  The 44 year old woman was alone, but did everything else right - faced the lion constantly, got a big branch and waved it, talked or sang so to distinguish herself as a human and not prey.  Sheriff Masters and other officers were waiting for her at the trailhead.  Whew!



My guru, Mr Iyengar, died this week at age 95.  Here is my pose in honor of his life and his wisdom passed down to fellow yogis.  BSK Iyengar called Shoulder Stand the Mother of All Poses.



I hobbled over to the blocked-off highway to watch the USA Pro Challenge stage 3 which came from Aspen over Kebler Pass in mud, rain and falling rock to Crested Butte and then to Gunnison for their final push up Monarch Pass (11,000 feet), down to Salida and then back up to the TOP of Monarch for the finish on Wednesday. There were 100 racers, and they did three laps through town and then headed on out west. I like to look at huge muscles and was expecting to see some, but most of these guys were skinny dudes.  I learned that they do not bring their sprinters on these endurance rides up and down mountains, and it is the sprinters who have those humongous thighs.  These guys cannot eat enough calories to counteract what they do physically.

Chris, our friend and neighbor, the owner/publisher of The Gunnison Country Times





                           Coming up Kebler towards CB

And so it goes in Gunnison where tiny spots of yellow are being seen on the trees, orange "Welcome Hunters" signs hang on establishments,  and fall is in the air.  Hail to the next season, chug chug chugging along.
Susan

August 18, 2014

We must demand more from our media

Recently, our library held one of its Socrates Cafe sessions, the purpose of which was to discuss the topic "What Is Courage?" The title alone scared me off, but I heard from a more courageous participant that, at one point, someone said, "Was Snowden courageous?" She referred to the CIA analyst Edward Snowden, who is hiding out in Russia after having released information about our government spying on us--also spying and using the information that spying collects to attempt to alter and/or change our lives.

There is too much to inhale. It goes on and on. There are too many shocking pieces to present to avoid puzzling. Yes, our own government will do whatever it wants to do for whatever reason to any of us anytime it wants to do it, then severely punish anyone who tells us what has been done to us. Yes. But today's topic is "Where Is The Media's Courage?" "Nowhere," seems to be the most available answer.

Let's get this straight. Snowden did not release a torrent of classified documents as did Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks--BOOM! There it ALL was and is. No, he is the son of a military man, a Libertarian, a patriot who enlisted in the army in 2004 determined to fight in Iraq, only to break both legs during training, resulting in his discharge. From there he went to work for the CIA...and ultimately came to the belief that We The People simply needed to know--or deserved to know, at least--what we are up against.

In my opinion, it's a shame he has found refuge in Russia. That fact adds to the sheen of traitorial behavior with which he and his actions have been wrongly tainted. He could have found equally inaccessible refuge in far West Texas. But I digress. Here is my point (to make a long story short):

In that Socrates Cafe session, one participant said, "They (who is "they?") should kill him." That same person said, too, "He should have taken the proper steps, reported it to his superiors." That person is someone who has not understood all the terrible fates those who HAVE gone to their superiors have wound up enjoying. (Nor, it should be reported, is that person representative of the entire group at that Socrates Cafe session.)

No, Snowden is way too smart to trust his "superiors." Rather, he trusted journalists. I doubt he was even born--he could not have been born--during the Vietnam War years, when The New York Times went with Daniel Ellsberg--and with its own reason for being--and published The Pentagon Papers. Them were the days. Our newspapers don't do that anymore--not all of them, not enough of them.

Snowden was sincere and adamant, that NO document or piece of information that might endanger any serious operation or operative should be published. Honoring that demand, NO document was so-published, and in fact the government--the NSA, Homeland Security, the Pentagon, the White House--was shown most of those documents before publication.

Snowden and the journalists to whom he gave his information carried it all off in an entirely decent and honorable and honest way. Yet, the government will throw Snowden and those journalists in prison, given the chance. Why?

Snowden has been attacked by Julian Assange, even, not to mention being attacked from the right and the center. But, again, he released these documents to journalists of high standing, and they vetted them with the proper authorities, all the while acquiescing to Snowden's demand that they do so. The journalists took the documents, they vetted them, then did whatever they did--they did what investigative journalists have always done--but as The New York Review of Books is asking, is that what journalism does anymore?

Among others, Snowden gave the information to Glenn Greenwald, a respected reporter and columnist for The Guardian. Greenwald is a journalist who stands tall. He despises today's "corporate media," which, in turn, despises him. But is his hatred deserved? In the NYRB, we read: "At the urging of the White House, the New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller held back for a year a lengthy story by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau on President Bush's secret authorization of domestic eavesdropping, putting it in the paper only when (Keller's) hand was forced by the impending publication of Risen's book "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration." (Risen, by the way, is awaiting prison for refusing to reveal his source on yet another story and different subject.) At the Los Angeles Times, then editor Dean Baquet, again at the request of the government, refused to publish a story abut the secret rooms installed by the NSA at AT&T (AT&T!!!) and other telecommunications compaines to monitor phone calls. Baquet is now executive editor of The New York Times."

The NYRB goes on to stress the importance of a free press AND privacy. There is, as mentioned at the outset, too much to inhale.

But get this, coming from the liberal NYRB and the liberal JMR (namely, Yours Very Truly), both of whom supported Barack Obama: "Before Barack Obama became president, only three Americans had ever been charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. In his six years in office, Obama has tripled that number."

Begging the question: WHY? Obama, as a senator from Illinois, voted against the Iraq War. What has caused him to exponentially increase the number of drone attacks AND the attacks on his own neighbors? You, like I, see the president getting grayer and grayer with every passing day. That's his hair. What color is his heart?