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Nevada, Missouri

Nevada, Missouri

On our way back from Rolla to Denver, we stopped at the limit of Nevada, Missouri for a picture. In Missouri, Nevada is pronounced “Ne-va-duh” with a long a in the middle syllable, which would cause a native Nevadan to have a hissy fit. It is one of the amusing things about Missouri life that I appreciated.



Yesterday morning I left a bit early before heading to my in-laws’ 65th anniversary celebration. I elected to wander about Rolla to clear my head and spend some time alone with my Girl. We collected the last stage of a multi-stage geocache we were working on and then drove up to Buehler Park to retrieve another geocache. On the way we passed the Maid-Rite. This is a Rolla landmark and has been there since before I came to Rolla in 1968.

I decided to buy a Maid-Rite and sit in the cool air inside for a few minutes. Decades ago i worked at a gas station a few hundred feet west from the Maid-Rite. I would walk down to the store to buy a sandwich or a bowl of chili/soup now and again. The sandwiches were never that great, but they are still solid food and not bad. The soups and chilis were great in the winter, though, and I remember those very well.

Mount Vernon, Washington

Lakeview Oregon AlleywayI woke way-too-early Monday morning, probably about 0400, rolled over, and realized there was no going back to sleep. With my restlessness, Ki stirred, lifted her head, and looked at me. She seemed to say “What… are you thinking?” Then she wisely laid her head back down and resumed snoring.

I made some coffee and went out the to 4Runner to get my half&half from the cooler. Ki watched me, not wanting to be left out (or left), but waited patiently for my return and then resumed sleeping. I puttered on the computer for a bit, catching up my email (nothing else was to be done with slow internet) and drinking my coffee. I realized that I might as well get going.

So, I put Ki’s collar on her and we went out for a romp in the wonderful play area at the Rim Rock Motel. She did doggie things, sniffed about, and I made another image or two of the gorgeous irises. Then we packed up the 4Runner and drove back into Alturas to find a few geocaches and refuel the car.

The geocaches were fun. I especially enjoy earthcaches. These are containerless geocaches where the intent is to see some geographic or geologic item of interest. I love the outdoors, I love geography (a civil engineer has to love maps), and I love geology. Earth sciences fascinate me.

On our pass back through town, the breakfast cafe was still closed (and would not open until 0800). So we drove out to find a couple more geocaches. The Chimney Rock geocache was very cool and the Girl and I drove the short run to the real Chimney Rock (need image) to see it. I was planning on making breakfast out there, but the mosquitoes drove me off. So, given it was still too early for the Alturas breakfast cafe, I elected to drive on north and find something else. I would either pull off at a nice place and cook or find an open cafe.

The small towns between Alturas and Lakeview look like toys that a parent folded up and put away. There was not much between Alturas and Lakeview, Oregon — certainly no place to eat. But, in Lakeview I found a place. The best rated was closed, so I took a chance on Jerry’s and pulled in there.

The place was clean and the waitstaff attentive. It’s hard to ruin ham and eggs and they were great. Or, perhaps I was just hungry. Nonetheless, I was refueled and ready to get on with my day.

The morning air was pleasant, so Ki and I walked to a geocache located at the local museum (Historically Fat Log Cache). It was a nice walk and fun find. After the find, it was time to head out, so we walked back to the 4Runner and headed out. However, I was not yet done. There was another geocache I wanted to find and I couldn’t resist being outside in the morning sun. So we stopped by the Oregon Fire Defense headquarters, found the hide there, and walked inside to refill my water bottles. While there, I visited with the young woman in charge of the front. Her brother is an engineer working in the aerospace industry. It’s a small world.

I had asked about engineering firms in Lakeview and it happened that the local general civil engineering firm was located on my way out of town. So, I stopped by and visited with the principal engineer, Daryl, and left my business card. I will follow up with a copy of my resume and perhaps there will be some consulting work for me there.

We drove north, windows down until about noon. The temperature was over 85F, and that’s about the point where I decide to close the windows and run the A/C. The land became more desolate, much like Nevada, with the exception of those irrigated areas, which were lush and growing. Lake Albers was stunningly flat that morning. When we passed Alkali Lake, we came across a group of sand dunes, probably aeolian deposits from the prevailing winds across the lake basin. So, I stopped the rig and stepped out.

I put my hand down onto the sand to test the temperature. It was warm, but not blazing, so I let the Girl out for a romp with me. We bounced up the dunes, she hunting lizards and me just looking around in the warm air. The sand was so fine that it filtered right through the uppers of my shoes and I had sand in my shoes after only a couple hundred feet. Although there really wasn’t much to see, I saw it, made an image with my phone, and then followed the Girl back to the 4Runner. She was hot and the sand was too hot for tenderfoot. She darted under the rig until I opened the door, when she jumped in.

The remainder of the drive north that day was relatively uneventful. It was 106F in Bend, Oregon that afternoon. That’s very hot — Texas hot — and reminded me of many hot summer days motorcycling across Texas. We stopped for the night in Toppenish, Washington, not far north from the Columbia River crossing. I was very tired and crashed early.

I slept late for me, probably 0600 or so. I suppose I was more tired than I thought. I made some coffee and sat down to gather my thoughts for the day. After a few minutes I gathered up my things, staged them, and prepared to leave. Then Ki and I went for a walk in the small park across the street from my lodging. We played ball in the dew-wet grass and enjoyed the warm morning sunrise before returning to the motel to move our things to the 4Runner and head out.

It was not far west before we began the climb into the Cascade Mountains. That was a pleasant change because the air cooled substantially with the sea breeze from the west slope. Although much more humid, the cooler air was welcomed after the blazing heat for the eastern part of Oregon and Washington.

I was ready to be out of the car for a bit and the bed and breakfast was a happy sight. CJ was working in the yard when I arrived. She motioned me where to put my rig, then showed me the ropes of her place. It’s a converted garage, but very nice (much nicer than the motels where I stayed), had plenty of good coffee, and a residential place for walks.

A local church lot was very large and nicely mowed. It made a perfect place to play ball with the Girl. I knew that I was going to enjoy my stay in Washington.

One Ending, One Beginning

Carson Valley OverwatchThe last few days were a whirlwind of intense activity. Older Son was here to help me prepare the house for sale. Then, once it listed, it sold the first day. I waited until I had some assurance the sale would be consummated before starting my move.

That was a mistake, I think. But it is what it is.

Eight years ago (and change), I left a tenured university appointment and returned to private practice. I was tired, recovering from a clinical depression, burned out, Daughter and Grandsons had just left, and the last straw was a personnel issue. It felt like it was time to move on to something else and somewhere else.

An opportunity opened and it seemed like the right thing to do. So, I moved and brought my family with me. For the first couple of years I was slammed at work, trying to get through the backlog of hydraulic projects that were left in various stages of undone by others. Yes, it took me two full years to clear that backlog. Then, in 2009, the bottom fell out of the housing market and work began to dry up with the fall of housing prices. There isn’t much need for general civil engineering (and the supporting hydraulic and hydrologic work) when the private sector is dead.

I expected to be laid off at that time, but it didn’t come. So, I kept after it, finding small projects here and there. I suppose it was enough to justify my continued engagement.

Then, four years ago, Wife became ill. About this time four years ago, she was in chemotherapy for lymphoma. My focus shifted from work to caring for her. If you follow my weblog, then you know the rest of the story. She lost that fight in January 2013.

As I worked through my grief, I picked up a little more work, but the projects were not plentiful. That process culminated in my engagement ending about three months ago. So, I elected to sell my house without knowing where I would go.

That process is nearly complete. The closing is next Friday. That will bring my tenure in western Nevada to an end. Anticipating that (and there’s no reason to doubt it now), I cleared my house and put my durable goods into storage. I put Older Son on an airplane home Saturday morning, then returned to my house to sort through my remaining things, do a test fit into my rig, and pack those things that would not fit in my rig (but that I wanted with me) and put them into storage. I finished that process about 1700 Saturday night. It being late, I elected to sleep one more night in my house, made my bed on the floor, and crashed.

I woke early Sunday morning, as usual. The Girl and I walked a short version of our regular route. Everything was wet from the showers Saturday afternoon. When we returned home, I began cooking without my familiar tools. I’m using my camping rig and things work differently. It’s all good — I’ll sort out how everything works and it will become familiar again. I ate, fed my Girl, and then took a shower. Then I gathered up my things, stowed them in my rig, and did a last walkthrough the house.

Those tasks completed, I pulled the 4Runner out of the garage and closed the door, probably for the last time. A chapter of my life ended that moment.

The Girl and I headed for Reno to have coffee with our friend Jimmy. This will not be the last time for coffee with Jimmy, God willing. Jimmy might as well be my brother. He is my brother-from-another-mother. We sat at Java Jungle, solved the world’s problems, and talked about my mobile house. I think that I’ll land in Reno again later in the summer and, if it seems appropriate, Jimmy will show me the ropes of finding a solid travel trailer that will be my home — my mobile house — going forward. This is a beginning. A new chapter of my life is beginning and I have no idea where the plot leads.

The Girl and I headed north on U.S. 395. We’re going to go see a friend in Washington. I want to spend a few days with her, work my dog under her guidance, and see a new area. We’ll be there in a few days.

Once past Susanville, California we were in new territory (for us). It was warm, but it wasn’t until mid-afternoon that I decided to put up the windows and run the A/C. I much prefer the air to the conditioning. The Girl snoozed most of the afternoon, except for the pause now and again to stop and stretch legs. I’m on no schedule, so I’m free to move at my own pace. So, that’s what I’m doing.

I decided to pause for the night in Alturas, California. This is northern California and does not deserve the PRK moniker I’m fond of using to refer to this state. It’s a big state and might as well be two, given the differences in culture. I chose Alturas partly because of the Google reviews of the Rim Rock Motel. The place is old-school motel, but it’s not run-down as I normally experience; it’s clean, kept up, and gorgeous. Rory greeted me at the desk, quoted me a (very attractive) rate, and I signed the papers.

Alturas is a beautiful little town in northern California. I think I could live here. I wonder if there is work for me here?

So, here I am. I’m in-between engagements, working part-time for myself, I’m partly retired. I’m houseless and have no plan other than the vague notion of seeing a friend, seeing my in-laws, and spending some time with Daughter and Grandsons. In the meantime, I’ll drive a bit, photograph a bit, and work a bit. This will be interesting.

How do I feel about this change? Well, there is a mixture of trepidation and excitement. So we’ll see where the path leads!

A New Beginning

SucculentMy house sold the first day it was offered. A family — the first family that visited — sat at the dining table and wrote an offer with their agent. That offer was submitted to my broker and we reviewed it. I signed the contract the following Monday and then the process began.

After a couple of weeks of waiting, the appraisal and inspection were completed. Both the inspector and the appraiser advised me verbally that there were no apparent issues with the property and the transaction. So, my broker gave me a go-ahead to begin the process of moving out of my house.

Saturdays are always a bit different for me because I remember Wife every Saturday morning. Saturdays were always our day to run errands; to spend time together getting things done. Saturday was the day Wife died. So, each Saturday morning I take a couple of minutes to celebrate her life and our life together. Then I take a couple more minutes to mourn my loss before I begin whatever is on my plate for the day. Then I get after it. This Saturday was not much different. I rose, spent some time reflecting, reading, and writing, then we went for a good long walk.

Then Older Son and I began the process seriously — on Saturday — Memorial Day (for real). I have a place to receive mail and storage for my durable goods.

This morning Older Son, the Girl, and I will regroup, walk, feed ourselves, and then Older Son and I will continue packing my things in cartons, sorting them into long-term storage, climate-controlled storage, and then those things I’ll need right now and those I’ll need if/when I decide on a mobile-house. The Girl will watch us, nervously, then most likely retire to the bed to sleep while we work.

I face a new phase of my life. I’ll be working part-time for the foreseeable future. I can do what I do almost anywhere. I want to develop a few more clients so I have a project ongoing most of the time. Therefore, I think I’ll go see some folks in my network to determine whether they need supplemental help with certain projects where I can be cost effective. That will be a part of my wanderings.

I will be house-less, but not homeless. I have resources. My monthly expenses should decline substantially without a house to support. So, although I need to be frugal I am not destitute. That won’t be the worry for me for quite a while. So, I elect to not worry about it but just be careful.

What I want to do is go see friends and family. I want to spend a few days here and there, laughing and enjoying their company. But I want to spend quite a bit of time outdoors with my Girl and my cameras. We’ll be spending a lot of time in the west, where the open spaces appeal to me. Mornings and afternoons should be spent working the light. Midday and evenings will be about reading, writing, and reviewing my images. I don’t expect to roam every day, but to move from place to place periodically so I can spend enough time to acquaint myself with the area and not have the constant stress of driving every day.

Once the equity is released from my house, I’ll look into a mobile-house. I don’t need much, just a galley, a place to clean myself, a place to sleep, and room to work. Much can be done outside (especially the cooking), but I want a warm, dry place for the Girl and myself. So, a mobile-house is likely to be required. I don’t mind tent-camping part of the summer, but I think when fall comes I’ll want something more substantial than a tent.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Today, I’ll work on dealing with my material goods. That is enough to concern me. Tuesday I sign the transfer documents. Then I can think about what is next. Until then, my task is to stay focused, stay active, and get this done. Tomorrow I can think about what is next.

Mexican Dam

After clambering across the DG and then crossing the Mexican Ditch headgate (with relief), Older Son and I decided to scramble across the rip-rap below Mexican Dam to the east side of Carson River. There was a geocache at that location we wanted to snag.

I scanned the rocks, assessing the best route. I looked at the Girl, who hates to get wet but hates being left behind even more. I wondered whether she would cross with us.

I stepped across a bit of wet soil onto the first rock. As I stepped to the next, I muttered “Not slipping, not slipping… I didn’t wear my waterproof boots today…” Splash One, my left foot slipped into the water above the boot top. It would not have mattered if I had the waterproof boots; my foot would have been wet.

“Aww… Well, they’re wet now. We might as well go on.” And so we began the crossing. I looked back for the Girl, who was reluctant to begin. “C’mon, Ki, c’mon,” I encouraged. She began, picking her way along the works and the edge of the weir.

She was more hesitant than normal. She really does not like to be wet and she could see all the water along. But, she’s game and picked her way across with some encouragement.

At one point, I watched her looking for a crossing across a wider bit of water. She put out a foot onto the rock, then tested paths turning left and right. She was timid, reluctant to commit. After a bit, she started to cross, then hesitated and “Splash!” her back end slipped into the water and she turned back, gripping the rock with her toes, up to her tummy in the water.

She looked distressed, not really afraid but unhappy to be wet. She really does not like to be wet.

With a bit of encouragement, she clambered back to her perch and found another path. We clambered over woody debris and rocks, making the crossing to the other side.

Laughing and running up the sandy slope, we started the search for the geocache. One the way to ground zero, we hopped a gate. On the other side were three or four “No Trespassing!” signs. We laughed and continued the search.

This geocache was not to be found. It had been a couple of years since the last successful log. So we logged out DNF and started back. We walked along the edge of Carson River, listening to the splash of water over the dam and enjoying the sound of water.

At the beginning of the crossing back, I called the Girl. “Let’s go!” Without hesitation, she started back across the debris and rocks. Her hesitation abated, she made the crossing back ahead of me, as usual. She sniffed new places and marked the center of the crossing — “Ki was here!”

I often say “My dog is my Zen master…” She lives in the moment, she experiences life as it comes, she expresses her feelings freely, she loves and plays and eats and sleeps. She enjoys life. I love watching her. On the outbound path across the rip-rap below Mexican Dam, she was tentative. She doesn’t like to be wet. She was uncertain. My observation of the Girl and her hesitation to commit to her crossing. That hesitation was what caused her baptism in Carson River. I think, had she elected to commit to the jump and not hesitate, she would have only gotten her feet wet. Instead, she didn’t make the commitment and got her back half wet.

On the way back, she was confident, picking her way back across with the “I’ve got this” attitude that is characteristic of her. There is a life lesson in her behavior. I am paying attention.

There are times when each of us is faced with change. Sometimes that is a big change; sometimes a small change. But, change in inevitable; nothing remains the same. In those times, a direction must be chosen. I think it’s better to choose than to let some external force make that choice. I also think that the direction will not be clear until a commitment is made. That’s when God reveals the plan and not before. It is a matter of faith to move forward.

I made the choice to sell my house. That means I will move. There is not much to keep me here much longer. Younger Son will finish his term at the community college soon. That leaves me with one friend in Reno, who is like my brother. But, with no work and little prospect, it is time for me to move on. Where I will go I do not yet know. That path is not clear to me. But, I’m making a commitment to move forward. I will put my durable goods in storage. I might buy a small travel trailer. I might buy a small utility trailer for my necessaries and sleep in a tent (for the summer). But, I’ll be on the road when it’s clear the contract on my house will close. I have a few ideas for where I’ll be over the summer. But, after that, I have no idea. I just have to trust that the plan will be revealed as time moves forward. I have to commit to this path in order for the way to be revealed. Of this I am convinced.

A New Adventure

Bird shoot in Smith, Nevada

From a bird shoot in Smith, Nevada

While reading this morning, I came across the obituary for William Zinsser. Zinsser wrote a very good book, On Writing Well, which I do not recall if I read, but it is on my list to read.

I live in a time where the passing of my heroes is more common. I suppose everyone who reaches their seventh decade is a witness to these circumstances.

This entry is beginning to feel like a ramble. So be it.

I am beginning a new adventure. It will be on where the earning of a paycheck will not be the first priority. The priority will be on continuing my education and working on my craft.

The appraiser visited earlier this week, did her work, and then provided a post mortem on her way out. When I asked her if there was any obvious problem, her reply was that she didn’t see anything but could not guarantee the outcome. So I wait for her report to see if we make this hurdle and move on to the next — the inspections.

If the appraisal is sufficient for the buyer to make their mortgage, then one or more inspectors will visit my house to ensure that the property is in good condition. I am fairly certain there are no significant defects. I generally stay on top of any problem I discover. I either repair it myself or hire a professional to do the repair. The inspections should happen early next week and I should have confirmation that the process is moving forward by the end of next week.

So, what happens then? I hit the road. I am uncertain just how that will work out. I might buy a utility trailer to take a few of my things with me and either rent cabins along my way or tent camp. I have most of what I need for tent camping over the summer. I also intend to visit family and can couchsurf with them.

What will I do? I have a ton of reading to do. Part of what I want to take with me is read the set of books on my list. I want to do that while away from computers and outside where I can breathe.

I want to make photographs. Part of working on my craft is the making, processing, and critical review of photography. I have been told that I do not have the talent to make it as a professional photographer; that there is a surfeit of photographers and that there is insufficient work to support the number of photographers who are trying to make a living at it. I don’t care if I make no money at this craft. I’m going to go make photographs. I will be posting some of them to my Instagram feed, a website (that I have yet to develop), and to Facebook. They will be there to share with my friends and family.

I want to write. Another part of working on my craft is the stringing together of words, hopefully into something that is interesting. I expect to post much of the text here on these pages. I will write about my travels, the people I meet (always interesting to me), and the places I see. I love to tell stories. Isn’t writing about telling stories? Even when I write technical reports, I am still telling a story.

I want to just “be.” I think there might be an entire essay (or even a book) about the busy-ness of life in American society. In particular, over the last few years, I observed the insanity of our culture’s pursuit of material goods. There is a focus on “having” that is ingrained in this culture. I do not want to do this anymore. I have enough. I have more than enough. I do not have what I really want in my life, for she is gone. There will not be a replacement and I do not think there will be a “second best.”

So, I think it is time to get away from the routine, be outside, be in the quiet of God’s creation, and just let that soak into me. I think it will be good to listen to birds, bugs, and the susurration of wind and rain. I think it will be good to feel the sun and let the healing warmth of the sun penetrate this old body and infuse my mind with light. I think it will be good to be outside and pray.

In the end, I cannot stay here. Without full-time work, the mortgage is unsustainable. Young Son will finish his tenure at the local college and move on. I have a few friends. But there is nothing else to hold me here. The draw of the road and the desire to spend time with Daughter and her family pulls me away. I hate living in hotel rooms, so I expect there is a travel trailer or camper in my future. I have some consulting work to keep me busy the remainder of this year. The income will be enough to keep me from drawing down my retirement funds.

It’s the tail end of this part of the journey. The wren’s tail made me think about beginnings and endings. I’m sure I’ll come back this way. I love the eastern Sierra Nevada. I think there might be some photography work for me to do. I have a couple of friends I want to keep in touch with. In the meantime, it’s time to go wander for a while. That’s what I’ll do.

A Short Walk

The last couple of months were crazy. I wanted to write here a number of times, but had neither the time nor the energy to assemble something cogent and appropriate for this space. I brought Older Son here a couple of weeks ago to help get my house ready to sell. I put it on the market about a week ago. I received an offer greater than my asking price with no conditions on the first day from the first viewer. Now I’m waiting for the appraisal and inspections to confirm that things are moving forward.

In the meantime, Older Son and I worked on some things inside the house, worked out, and hiked the areas nearby. I love to walk my Girl out in the sagelands. It’s one of the things I love about where I live. So, we do that a lot, usually a couple of times each day.

I called the realtor (one I know and trust) and set up a meeting. She and her Nevada broker visited my house, took a look around, confirmed their comparative analysis, and I filled out papers. After learning that they shot the images with a mobile telephone, I offered to reshoot the interior with a “real” camera. They accepted my offer.

So, read a bit about doing the shoot, which confirmed my understanding of the problem. Older Son and I set up everything (tidied up a bit), opened the blinds, turned on lights, and made sure the Girl remained out of the frame. (As an aside, she seems to always be in my frame, whether I intend for her to be in the image or not. How does she know where I’m pointing my camera?)

I post-processed the images, which turned out fairly well. I might want to add a speedlight to the setup for my next shoot (provided I get one) to fill in some of the darker areas of the frame, but I thought the captures were professional-grade. I packed up the frames and sent them to the realtor for review and use.

They took them. The listing went into the MLS system on a Friday night. I received three or four calls Saturday morning about visitors and said “bring them on!”

The first family that walked through the house sat at my dining table and wrote an offer. Their realtor sent the information to my broker and I reviewed the offer that Sunday afternoon. Monday morning I drove down to her office and reviewed the offer with her. “There is nothing here to counter,” she told me. I signed the contract.

Now I wait for the appraisal and inspections to be done. Once that hurdle is past, then the next one will be completion of their financing. They are pre-qualified for the mortgage, so I’m not expecting any problem there.

What then? Well, I am looking at a travel trailer. If my 4Runner can pull it, then I have a small house that will shelter the Girl and me. I have plans to travel to Texas, Missouri, Washington, and Pennsylvania this summer. I have some work to do and that will provide me with a bit of income that will preserve my savings. I plan to travel a bit, spend some time in each place, work with words and cameras, read, and write.

That’s the plan. God will decide whether I make the plan or go in another direction.

So, about that video clip at the top of this entry. We’ve been out and about a lot the last couple of weeks. I’m challenging this old body to walk hard and in the hills. Saturday we walked 6-1/2 miles in the sagebrush. A couple of the hills were tough, but doable. So, Sunday morning we agreed to take a short walk over on the Silver Saddle Ranch. There is a 1-1/2 mile loop that is pleasant, not steep, and visual.

We started down the path and walked to the first break in the trail to the east. Another faint trail lead ahead to a ridgeline that looked interesting. “What do you think?” I asked Older Son. “I’m up for it.”

So we headed that way. One crest led to another and I looked for a path along the Mexican Ditch that would take us back to the 4Runner. I couldn’t see anything on the ground, so I loaded Google Maps on my phone. “We’re about 2,000 feet from Mexican Dam. Want to go there? I think there is a crossing of the ditch at that location, but I can’t remember for sure.”

“I’m up for it,” Older Son said. The Girl said nothing, but gave her approval to go anywhere. So, we stayed on the deer trail.

About 75 yards from the dam, the bank we were sidehilling steepened substantially. There seemed to be a path along the ditch and I headed for that. Unfortunately, it lead into some Desert Peach that was too thick to push through. I looked at Older Son, “It looks like we’ll have to climb.” I started up the bank, which was too steep to walk and had to be climbed. The first handhold of granite I grabbed broke apart in my hand. Everything I grabbed to stepped on disintegrated into coarse sand.

I stopped, looked back at Older Son, “This DG is treacherous. We’ll have to be careful. Or we can go back.” He just smiled back at me. It was a long way back over rough terrain. We were only a few feet from the headgate for the Mexican Ditch and an easy walk back to the 4Runner. I realized that there is a life metaphor in this experience. We had come almost three miles to this point, to find ourselves faced with a few yard of very difficult terrain. How much like life is this… the path is sufficiently challenging, but passable until one comes to a very difficult stretch. Sometimes one can see ahead to the goal, although the crossing is dangerous.

A decision is required — to go forward, to turn to look for another path, or to go back. The path back is difficult, but known. The path ahead is treacherous and getting across is uncertain. The risk of a fall and injury is real. So, what should be done?

I elected to push ahead. I began the process of testing each handhold and foothold before trusting it with my weight. All the calisthenics and walking prepared me for the push up the slope, which really was a climb and required all fours. The Girl scrambled up like a four-wheeler, negotiating the DG without difficulty. Her grace and power were apparent and beautiful. I love to watch her move.

I found a bit of break in slope that permitted a sidehill crossing. We were about 20-feet above the ditch. A fall would have resulted in injury and was not an option. The last ten feet or so were sheer and there would be no stopping or breakfall.

After about 20 minutes we completed the crossing and dropped down onto the path. We backtracked over the headgate to the Mexican Ditch and puttered around the Mexican Dam for half-hour or so. Then we headed back to the 4Runner to return home.

What was intended to be a short walk turned into a five-mile hike and an adventure. The life metaphor of the final few yards to Mexican Dam were not wasted on me. We walked back to the 4Runner, talking part of the way, reflecting part of the time.

When we arrived home, we were all exhausted. The cumulative effect of lots of exercise wore on all of us. We ate a bite of lunch then everyone crashed for a nap. It was a great hike and a wonderful experience.

Life Changes

swainsons-2I honestly have no idea where to begin.

That statement rings true on several levels. First, I have no idea where to begin telling this story. Perhaps I shouldn’t even tell it. There are people who read my weblog who will be surprised, maybe disillusioned. I don’t think that’s my role.

Second, I truly have no idea where to begin. I have been released from my professional engagement. I have few ties to this geographic location and now no professional ties. I can go anywhere I want.

Third, I do not even know where to begin the process of finding work again. I’m not even sure I want a job. Maybe the thing to do is strike out on my own and work for myself. I have no idea whether there is sufficient demand to keep me busy enough.

Life Changes… That phrase can be read at least two ways. Life changes. It does. The one thing about living is that it is dynamic, not static. Moments pass, turning into minutes, hours, days, weeks, ad infinitum. It is the way of this existence and nothing is constant.

Then again, there are life changes. These are also discrete points in time when big changes happen — I call them watershed events, because there is a crossing of a threshold, a topographic divide, from one state or place to another.

Sometimes, both events occur — as a result of a single event or closely-space multiple events.

I think I’ve been crossing a watershed for a couple of years now. Wife’s death was a huge change for me. It literally turned everything I worked for all these years upside down and left me bereft, not only of Wife but also life purpose. I was transformed from husband-provider to widow, abruptly.

Early this year, Young Son moved to his own digs. This is part of his growing-up experience and a necessary thing. It was also not optional. I knew that he needed this, whether he knew it or not. Now I can be proud of him again — he’s working, going to school, mostly providing for himself. These are good things and vital to the move to adulthood.

So, now I’m left with this house that is much bigger than I need. I am now self-employed and my current workload is insufficient to maintain my cash burn rate. I need to make some changes. I need to figure out what I’m to do and where I am do to it.

I have a lot to do. I’d better get after it.


Ki Sleeping Peacefully, HealingFriday afternoon, the Girl and I were out in east Carson City near the Carson River looking for some geocaches. We found the one we were looking for near the Mexican Ditch, I signed the log, and then called her back to me to return to the CacheMobile. When she crossed the fence, she snagged the low wire that was on the ground and lacerated her lower right leg. I checked it and there were a couple small gashes, but not a lot of bleeding.

I checked them a couple more times over the weekend, then decided Sunday morning to call her vet. The wounds weren’t closing and I knew they’d take forever to heal without a suture or two. So, they worked us in.

When we arrived, the tech reviewed Ki’s records and suggested we go ahead and do her annual review. I mentioned her two skin cancers and that the vet indicated we should probably just do it all in one swoop so she would only be subjected to anesthesia once. After the office visit, the on-duty vet agreed and so I left her there.

I knew I’d be lost without her, but I had no idea just how anxious I would become. I did everything I could think of to distract myself, short of buying a bottle of whiskey and numbing. I wasn’t really productive Sunday afternoon, but I got part of the irrigation system working and started the process of taking care of my yard for the summer.

The vet called me about 2030. She was in recovery, doing fine, and I could either leave her overnight (without additional charge) or retrieve her. “I’ll be there at 2100,” I said.

I took her discharge instructions, got all the medications assembled, and then carried the poor baby out to the 4Runner. She was so groggy, unhappy, and felt poorly. I could tell all these things. I put her on her mat in the back seat after an abortive attempt to settle her in the front seat pan where she usually rides. The ride home was challenging, but I put on the overhead light and tilted the mirror so I could see her. We made it fine.

She didn’t want her bed on the floor; she wanted it on the sofa, where she usually has it. (I shut the bedroom door; she didn’t need to be jumping on and off the bed. Yes, my dog sleeps with me.) It’s an easy step up to the sofa for her, so I thought that would be fine. I also got my pillows and a blanket and prepared to sleep on the sofa with her.

She really wanted me close. She wanted the comfort and reinforcement that we derive from each other. I tell people all the time that we are both rescues. It’s true.

I really felt badly for her last night. She was so uncomfortable. I wondered whether I did the right thing by bringing her home instead of leaving her in the vet’s care. I guess I won’t ever know.

She groaned and whined most of the night. I felt her stirring in her sleep and could sense her discomfort. I slept off and on. It wasn’t my first time sleeping off and on with someone I love.

But, she woke more like herself this morning. She was stiff and sore, I could tell. But she was ready for breakfast and I opened a can of wet food, gave her some of it with her kibbles, and gave her the medications that will speed her healing.

We took a short walk at noon and she seemed better. I know that some modest exercise will be good for her. She slept off and on most of the afternoon. I spent much of my day on her, just sitting with her or being close. We are like that anyway.

We walked a mile this evening and she did well. I needed the walk and I think that the movement will help keep her skin stretched and supple. The vet took a lot of skin from her skin cancers.

So she’s healing. Her physical wounds will be healed in a couple of weeks. In the process of reflecting on her treatment and healing, I thought on my own. I realized that I’m still healing from Wife’s loss. I’m healing from the departure of a dear friend and my dog’s trainer. I don’t think I’ve begun healing from my change of employment status from employee to self-employed, yet, but it’s impending.

Healing is good. It takes time. It takes work and an investment of positive energy. I also think the being mindful of the need and the process is important. I am still learning, after all.