Thursday, August 26, 2010

Things are going well as I prepare to start teaching. We had our first meetings today and they went fine.
Yesterday I almost put my hand on the head of a big black snake (see above) but fortunately I drew back in time.
I am going to get the propane heater fixed tomorrow and Ronnie is coming to check out the road job. I hope he can do it for under a thousand.
Finishing Line Press has accepted my chapbook of poems about living in the hollow and that should come out next year.
I also purchased a 22 caliber pistol. I have read of recent attacks by dogs and coyotes and I saw a TV show about them. I walk by myself all the time and with a bad knee I couldn’t get away from a pack of dogs or coyotes or even climb a tree. I shot it a few times and I was pretty accurate but I really just want it to scare away any problem animals. A friend who knows guns thinks it is a really good idea and I have to agree, even though I am not a gun person, but I do want to be safe.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A good deal of good news. I was able to clear the water system in about an hour, although the water people advised me to check for bacteria. I may have to shock the system with chlorine. Fortunately, the Rinnai on demand water heater is fine after I ran it for a few minutes. I sprayed the huge hornet nest last night and killed almost all of them, but a few were still flying around this morning. I purchased the pin for the three point hitch, and Mike will help me put it in next week. The road is certainly passable, so I can get by. The solar was fine but pretty low (1200) even though the gauge in the house shows it to be at 97%. I started the generator just to test it, and it started right up.
I practiced this morning for a full 40 minutes, the first time in many weeks. My Selmer is sticky as usual, but after cleaning it a little, it played fine. I should be performing next Friday if I can get my playing back in shape. I finished the poem for Kelly and sent it to her. I hope she enjoys it.
Ronnie called me back and I will talk to him next week about evening out the worst section of the road.
I start teaching next Monday and I am ready. I do have some paperwork to finish up.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I am back in the Neversink, where I slept in my tiny cabin last night. I fished the gorge for an hour, but didn’t go very far upstream in order to save my knee for the photo shoot this afternoon. I ran into the legendary Phil Chase, an environmental activist that has been an important factor in the present health of the river and its wonderful flow of 100 cfs (not too long ago it was 15). I hooked a big trout right by the old bridge, but he broke off instantly. I got two other hits but brought nothing in. That was fine with me; it was wonderful to be back in the gorge.
On last Saturday morning I headed into town to have coffee at Dunkin Donuts and to work on a couple of projects, the main ones being my new poem about Kelly having another baby and about the river rescue on the Stillwater. I cut all of the earlier stuff about my kayaking experience and I fiddled with the baby poem. Both are getting there.
I did some shopping and did a very necessary laundry (I was down to my last shirt). After that I went to the “New” Nugget tavern and had lunch and watched Tiger play poorly again. If his putter was working he would have been in it.
I called Joey but his phone wasn’t working so I decided to drive out earlier to beat my friend Phil Chase to the best spot and Joey and Rebeka were ready to go.
The shoot itself went very well and Joey/Justin got one ten inch brook trout. We are planning to get together tomorrow. I met Joey’s mother Katharine, and she was attractive and interesting.
Jump forward to my return to Virginia and things started to fall apart. There was a tree fallen across the road so I had to walk up and get the chainsaw. After cutting it up and clearing the road, I found that my water was very dirty and letting it flow didn’t clear it. I went up to my cabin to clear it at the faucet there and to my surprise the top of my cabin had been taken over by swarming hornets who was very upset by my coming up and turning on the faucet. I waited a few minutes for the hornets to calm down and for the water to clear but the water in the house was still dirty, potentially a big and expensive problem. Then I started to scrape the flooded out road with the tractor and half way down one of the three point hitch pins broke and I had to get a new one at Wimmer later in the afternoon. I have to get Mike to help me put it in on Monday or Tuesday. The satellite TV also wasn’t working since it had been off for six weeks. Who knows what is coming next?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The picture above is of the Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colorado. It signals the end of my western trip and the beginning of my return to the east. I brought up about 5 fish on the Poudre but failed to land any.
As I drove toward the Catskills for the photo session, I played golf, rode my bike and was astonished by the 100 degree heat.
This morning in a Starbucks in the Plaza section of Kansas City I wrote this poem for my ex partner, in a whirl of intense passion and focus.

For Tracy

A Creek in British Columbia

We had driven three thousand miles
To fish this one stream, especially to try
Three of the deepest pools.

I wasn’t sure I would ever be back,
The chemotherapy finished the month
Before, numbness still in my
Hands and feet, and a bad knee
the doctors thought may have also come
From the toxic brew.

It didn’t matter as long as I got you here
And you caught some of the fifteen inch grayling
That visit each summer.

I wouldn’t cast at first,
wanting the pleasure of each fish
To be only yours, partially because you were my best student,
From your first cutthroat on Yellowstone’s Bear Creek,
But more because I wanted to thank you
For coming to spend the last hour or so
Of the chemo sessions.

After Janet got the intravenous needle in,
And I had covered the site with a small towel,
I would busy myself with my laptop, a newspaper,
Or a book, but after two hours my focus faltered
And time slowed like a heart about to die,
But one that didn’t, the minute hand on the big clock
almost refusing to move.

Then you would appear, dressed for court,
And the seconds would return, like punished children
Sent to sit in the corner and now released,
and I could actually smile
For a moment and bless your coming
Like some simple sacrament.

So those grayling were my gift,
And as we neared the biggest pool,
I watched and knew my present
Was better than anything store bought,
Perhaps not equal to yours,
But the best I could do in difficult times.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Photos from Arches National Park

Thursday, August 5, 2010

my first swimming hole on the American

My visit to my friends went according to plan, long, catch up conversations, bike rides and hikes, and some terrific dining. I didn’t mind the city driving except once riding back to Fremont on I-880 at midnight. It was too fast and I was too tired.
I left on Monday morning and decided to take a scenic route up into the Sierras and that was a good decision. I rode along the American river and stopped twice to swim in the icy, turbulent waters. I passed the Carson river and that was also quite appealing and if I had had time I would have fished both rivers. However, I wanted to get to Las Vegas by Tuesday so that meant I had to make up some miles.
I crossed the Monitor pass and then headed south on California route 395, which quickly paralleled Mill creek, which was rocky and pretty fast, obviously fed from the snow fields in the High Sierras, but eminently fishable. Nonetheless, I wanted to get across to Nevada 95 before dark, so I didn’t stop but I hope I can get back and fish all three rivers some day.
The next morning I stopped to take a long bike ride near Tonopah, and then drove the rest of the way to Vegas. It has been tremendously hit by the recession but the in town traffic on I-15 didn’t hint toward any decline.
A couple of years ago I worked on a Fear manuscript (which tied my colon cancer with the economic disaster) and after talking to my friends Dave and Pat, I think the economic part of Fear may still be a viable topic. While Vegas and Nevada may be in exceptionally dire straits, many of the pundits are predicting a double dip recession nationally. I wish I could be more optimistic but people are scared and too many are out of work and we have an incredible deficit. I have given up on any thoughts of retiring early, and I will probably have to stay in my hollow for many years since I doubt I will be able to sell it for a decent price any time soon. But at least I have a secure job and a reasonable salary.