Friday, December 21, 2007

Bouncing Off The Walls

I love my parents and all, but keep in mind that I've been living in my own home for over a decade now, and staying with them (it seems for the duration of winter) is driving me stir-crazy. This is not due to any transgression or shortcoming on their part. I'm simply ridiculously independent and feeling some major withdrawal from not having my own home environment to micromanage and a lack of an easily-available internet connection. The up-side: cheap rent and living expenses for now, which is enabling me to save up for a down payment on a home even faster than before, and I get plenty of exercise hiking all my familiar childhood trails.

There is a popular book that I am in the middle of reading (on the advice of a coworker) - The Saint, The Surfer, and The CEO; a decent read so far, but parts of it feel like a pre-scripted interaction within an Amway presentation, with people planted in the audience. Regardless, there are some interesting theories put into the book and I shouldn't discount it on the basis of it's mechanically contrived feeling. One of the concepts put forth in the book is that within the complexity of life, circumstances and teachers are sent our way repeatedly until we learn what they were sent to teach. I can not truthfully disagree in this case. It has felt for some time like the people and circumstances in my life are there to teach me to stop being so headstrong and independent, learning to be more socially passive and take help and acts of kindness instead of being the one who always gives them. My other lesson seems to be in the areas of patience and tolerance... Being a bit of a social introvert, I have a strong aversion to people who talk a lot while not expressing anything useful or meaningful, suddenly it seems like I am being surrounded with them everywhere I go, babbling non-stop and sometimes trying to engage me in conversation. I have to keep reminding myself that they do it because they want approval and camaraderie, seeking a connection just like any other human being. I just need to step back and patiently allow them to come into their own and hopefully outgrow the tendency toward verbal incontinence.

I was playing around with google maps a few weeks ago and stumbled across a woodland lake I had never seen before...
...and only a stone's throw away from one of my favorite hiking trails. It was in a section of the woods which I thought I had known like the back of my hand while growing up. Obviously I didn't know the woods as well as I thought, so I decided to go out and find it. After traversing the trail to where I figured was the nearest point, I guessed which direction the lake would be in and I bushwhacked through about a half mile of underbrush and ended up right on the shore...
...on further exploration around the entire perimeter of what turned out to be more of a large pond, I found a well-marked ATV trail leading from the other side of the lake onto a neighbor's property about a quarter mile away, but I also found something else interesting...
...on the shore of the pond was an old, decrepit sugaring house that looked like it was on the verge of falling down...

...note the large collecting tank for the sap...

...there were faint traces of an old (and long since grown-in) road leading to the structure and miscellaneous bottles & rusted out equipment lying around. I wish I knew the history of this structure: the conversations that may have taken place, the people who worked in it. If it was a family business... I am hoping to talk with the neighbor who presumably owns this property and ask about it.

More Miscellaneous Pictures:

Weird anthropomorphic stump aquarium ornament at work

My feline children resting comfortably

My former roommate brought 'Spud' for a visit at my workplace and she dressed him up in one of the small dog costumes.

I'll wrap this up with a cutesy-amusing video of 'Ozzy', a Brussels Griffon owned by one of my coworkers, reacting strangely to having winter paw-wear put on him.

Monday, November 26, 2007

'Monty the Magically Malevolent Mantis Shrimp'

So we're a bit distracted and disturbed at my workplace... obviously so when we give some of our charges names like the title of this post. Check out the YouTube video below for a video I took of 'Monty' at mealtime. We have him trained to recognize the noise of the long tweezers tapping on glass as a signal that it is time to come get his food.

Video Caption on Youtube:
Young green mantis shrimp (Geonodactylaceus sp.) takes a piece of krill from long tweezers. Note the loud clicking noises as he violently whacks the tweezers with his claw in an attempt to take the food. This is why I do not feed him by hand. They are commonly known in the aquarium trade as "Thumb-splitters!" We named this one 'Monty'. He is currently about 2 inches long, was about three quarters of an inch when we originally acquired him by accident with a load of aquacultured live rock at my workplace. They are normally a pest organism in reef tanks but we didn't have the heart to euthanize him so we set up a mini-reef just for him. They are some of the most intelligent invertebrates in the ocean and they have the most complex eyes of all creatures, with the ability to see colors far outside the range of most mammals. Oh yeah, that's my coworker you hear calling me a dork in the beginning (she thinks it's abnormal that I am actually taking a video of this).

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


The essay I mentioned in this previous post has finally gone online at, and can be viewed by following this link. For those of you who may not know what this is about, it is a narrative detailing the hardships and struggles I have been through as a result of the "Ex-Gay" movement as well as addressing the misinformation that this religious/political initiative has fed to some of my loved ones. I won't lie, it is a long read and some of it is depressing, much of it may also be edifying if you are seeking to learn more about the "Ex-gay" school of thought. I will return and post more afterthoughts concerning this at a later time.

I am currently between permanent living spaces and relying on local coffee shops with wireless internet access. The dial-up at my parents' home is so painfully slow that it takes me ten minutes just to access my e-mail, so long delays in response time and blog postings are to be expected until I am settled again.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Move Almost Complete

The moving is almost finished with. I am happy that it is almost over with but feeling ambivalent in other areas. Part of me feels defeated and shaken from having my life gutted and reduced like this. The other part of me feels relieved because it is another chapter of my life over with and it signals a new beginning.

One of the things that keeps me grounded right now is the remembrance of other people who have been forcibly uprooted in other parts of the world: families, towns, entire ethnic groups who are/were coerced into leaving their homes without any prior notice and no means of taking their possessions with them. There is no reason for me to whine about what I am going through. At least I had a couple weeks to haphazardly prepare for this and I still own most of what I have worked hard for. I am lucky by comparison.

This life has been long overdue for a serious shakeup. Traditionally, times of insecurity and fluctuation have been unpleasant and stressful, but they've also forced me to reevaluate my situation and turn the time of change into a turning point leading to deeper meaning and better things in life.
"A door closing frequently signals the opening of another." I mourn for my old life, the quiet predictability and security of being the king of my own domain, but I am relieved that I have less to maintain and worry about for the time being. I feel like it is time to focus on strengthening my existing talents as well as the connection with my family & friends. It also feels like the time for seeking out new skills and perspectives. I do not know what the future is bringing but I will accept it and take it as it comes, looking for the opportunity to create something good from it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Possible Hiatus???

Due to the impending temporary living situation mentioned in the previous post. I may not be able to blog or check my e-mail on any sort of predictable schedule, it will most likely be infrequent. If this blog seems to go dead for a while, I've simply put it into suspended animation until I am in a living situation that is at least semi-permanent. Bless you all and wish me luck with moving ;-).

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I'm sorry that my blogging is so sporadic lately (yeah yeah, I have made this apology several times over the past year for various reasons). Life has blown up in my face and I am frantically rushing around trying to pack it all in again... literally. My (former) landlord has lost the building my apartment is in to foreclosure, and my status as a flawless tenant means squat to the default loan company who now possesses my residence. This has been my home for four years and I will need to be out by this Saturday. One of my best friends also tried to commit suicide the other day and he was almost successful. Thankfully he was rescued in time and is now getting the help and counseling he needs. I've been handling some of his affairs and visiting him as frequently as possible in the midst of all this frantic packing. I'm praying for him and wishing the best for him and his family. There is also a certain level of detachment at this point which is helping me to deal with what is on my plate right now. A few months ago I started having a foreboding feeling that my strength and focus would be put to the test at some point soon; time to dig in my heels and take the bull by the horns again.

A positive side to what I am going through: My parents and I had a family sit-down while on vacation in August. Having felt strongly that our family was on a collision course with permanent division and strife; as gently and considerately as possible, I called my parents on the carpet for some of their past and current mistakes, pleading for more cohesion in the family and a change in the way that we deal with each other. I am not meaning to vilify them in my blog, they are only human and all of us make mistakes. One of my loved ones who was present thinks that I "let into" my Dad, but I actually choked back the vicious side of me that wanted to spew venom about some of the shortcomings which have caused me a lot of pain over the years. I have learned that allowing my hurtful, raging ego out of it's cage can never result in anything positive in the long term.

As a result of all this, the whole family is now making a sincere effort to be more tactful and kind to each other, which is bringing us all closer. Also, this has enabled me to see my parents in a more forgiving light. I would initially have had reservations about staying with them for a short while due to my sudden change in living situation (this point will become more clear when my essay is posted), but now I feel much more comfortable about being in their household. The peacemaker role is new to me and even if it puts me in difficult positions, it has so far made me a stronger, better person and I welcome the opportunity to act as a balancing force where there is discord.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


"The whole point of getting things done is knowing what to leave undone." -Oswald Chambers . . .file under the category of 'Sage Advice Which Has Come In Handy Lately'.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Latest Mewziq

A couple of great musical delights I've been into lately:

Pink Floyd
- The Division Bell: A friend of mine burned me a copy and I was so impressed with it that I actually went out and purchased a used album from Amazon. I can't believe that it has taken me this long to experience this CD; it is probably one of their most under-rated albums. Yeah, everyone has listened to Dark Side of The Moon and while it IS brilliant as well as being one of their most popular, solid albums, Division Bell has great lyrics and a distinct emotional ambiance which I feel sets it apart from their other work. It has a slightly melancholy feel with some uplifting moments and an heir of departure & finality to it. Below is a Youtube video of a live performance of my favorite song off this album, Coming Back To Life. I connected very intimately with this particular song because it describes the realizations and struggles I have been through on multiple levels in the past year.

The Rankin Family
- North Country: I've heard them off and on doing bluegrassy folk tunes, often with an Irish flavor in VPR's lineup. I enjoyed what I've heard so far and after seeing this CD for sale at a local thrift store for $2.75 , figured it would be more than worth the price. A few of the tracks are a tad hokey, with a sappy-fake folk ballad feel to them, but I still liked most of the other songs. Click here to listen to the signature song from this album (my favorite). Here is a (non-embeddable) youtube video of another good song from this CD, Rise Again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Recent Happenings

I've been feeling a bit bedraggled lately, but continue to press on. There is a lot of drama going on all around me and several of my friends are in the middle of a time of crisis. I do what I can to help and it does feel good to be able to see them through the tough times, but sometimes I wonder if I allow myself to get too close. One of my long-running shortcomings has been in carrying others through bad times instead of stepping back a bit and walking beside them while letting them learn how to carry themselves. It brings to mind the saying "Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, you feed him for life." I have a hard time striking a balance between giving too much, giving too little, and finding precisely what to give. I need to keep remembering that I am only human and our lives are an art which we are continually perfecting.

I just finished reading a copy of Running With Scissors lent to me by a coworker. All I will say is that it is both hilarious and horrifying, mostly due to the fact that it is based on true events in someone's life. At my sister's urging, I've finally dug into the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia which I purchased back in early August. I am already on The Silver Chair (fourth book). I read parts of The Chronicles back in third or fourth grade as an assignment and due to the nature of the assignment, I hated the books at the time. Now I love them and find them to be a great mental vacation as well as spiritual/emotional soul food. As I've likely said many times before, I am thankful for my sister. She is very well-versed in literature and always seems to know what readings to recommend to me when I am feeling depressed or worn out.

A while back, my friends P and R hooked me up with copies of Wonder Falls and I watched the final episode last night. It had many common themes and the same general feel as Dead Like Me (not coincidental due to the two shows having a producer in common). Speaking of TV, I just read an article in a local paper where the folks in a housing development are up in arms about their cable TV rates being raised because of the recent Comcast takeover in my community. I can understand people being annoyed because of large rate increases on any utility, but what surprised me is the sense of entitlement with which they expressed their anger. Some seem to think that cable is a Divinely bestowed right and a necessity. OK, so maybe I am a little biased... I've not had any sort of paid TV programming package for over three years now because I couldn't justify paying $50 a month for a stripped package that did not come with any of the channels I wanted to see, and I DEFINITELY couldn't justify paying over $90 just to watch nature shows and historical documentaries. Not to mention the fact that my TV watching averages less than a half hour a day. I occasionally go weeks without watching any at all. TV programming has it's place, but real life is far more interesting and fulfilling than a passive, vicarious existence in front of a screen.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Too Early for Alzheimer's

Yet again, somebody I have no recollection of walked up to me in the grocery store today and greeted me as if we have been acquainted for a long time. This has been happening, on average, 3-6 times a month for the past few years. Someone crosses my path and they seem to know me very well, offering personal details that a casual stranger would not know, yet I've not the slightest inkling who the heck they are. Most times they don't even look remotely familiar and often they talk about discussions we apparently had where the subject matter, wording, and focus sounds just like something I would say. Sometimes I am able to place them. The rest of the time it is a bit unnerving but at least I've gotten really good at politely faking familiarity because I don't want them to feel bad or unmemorable. I know I partied hard in my late teens but DANG!! I don't think I partied THAT hard!!!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Dreams Pt. 1

I was discussing the significance of dreams with my good friend Pasha a while back... also the flawed logic in some of those formulaic dream interpretation books which give somewhat archetypal definitions to various objects and characters in dreams, the limitations of this thinking being human individuality and the fact that not all objects and characters have the same significance or implied meaning for all people. Id Est, a wheelbarrow appearing in a dream might be a symbol of oppression and distress because one has to use it every day for back-breaking labor, while another person might be a recreational gardener and regard it as a useful tool for a pleasant, relaxing hobby. This also relates to an e-mail exchange I've been having with my sister lately, discussing the progression of themes within my own dreams over the years, what these experiences have taught me and how they relate to my current life struggles. I've not been one to assign much meaning to dreams until lately. There is a weird dichotomy of mysticism and literalism coming forth in my life. Surprisingly, they seem to get along well.

A few years ago my dreams frequently involved fearfully running away from something that terrified me, always with that hobbled feeling like you are trying to run through deep mud or have an anchor tied to your waist. I don't recall precisely what kind of creature my pursuer was, but in one of the dreams I turned around and faced it, telling it that I was sick of running, that I accepted whatever it was that it was going to do to me and I reached out to embrace it. Then it disappeared, I woke up, and haven't had any more dreams like that. Then the general theme changed to searching, always searching for something, usually an unknown but sometimes a well-defined goal, person, or object. I don't recall what the ultimate goal was throughout this series of dreams, but I remember finding it and the general theme changed again. Now I find myself having unusual abilities and/or perspectives in these dreams. It usually involves flying, breathing underwater, reading minds, or something completely unhuman. Sometimes I'm scared and apprehensive, other times it thrills me.

Ever since I can remember, I've had unusually random dreams interspersed among the ones that I can make sense of. There is a difference in these now too. Instead of being a bit disturbed by these dreams and resisting them, now I just enjoy the silliness and flow with it. I think that having worked with Alzheimer's patients as well as folks who are developmentally handicapped or mentally ill has helped to change this perspective over the years. The dreams and real life are the same in this case. I learned a while ago that instead of resisting the madness around you, trying to change it all at once, walk through the middle of it: changing, helping, and tweaking things wherever you can.... if possible helping to prop up those who have been knocked down by it, remembering to keep a firm footing so that it does not lash out and pull you down again.

I had a particularly vivid dream lately which gave me a lot to think about, as well as bringing a further measure of peace in my life. I have already described it to my sister because it bears a lesson that has meaning for both of us and I may or may not share it here at some point in the future. I am not certain of how my dreams relate to real life, but they have drawn a lot of very close parallels in recent years. I question if the underlying significance of these dreams is mirroring my reality, or if I am subconsciously patterning my life after what I take away from these dreams. Do one's life and dreams feed off of each other in equal measure? Is it fair to even make such an evaluation because the parameters within these two worlds are so different? I am no psychologist and definitely not an expert in dream interpretation. Maybe this is just another example of me getting distracted and over-analyzing something that should just be put away for now.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Canine Humiliation

Alternative title for this post: "Methods For Promoting Homicidal/Suicidal Tendencies In Your Dog"

Today I snapped a pic of my friend J's adorable Kelpie/Australian Cattle Dog 'Piglet' modeling one of the Halloween doggie costumes that were dug out of storage to put up for sale again at the store. Yes, people actually buy these things. I kid you not, she actually had a human-like look of disgust and embarrassment when this outfit was being put on her. But dang isn't she cute!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Torrid Writing Confessions

1. I; often; use; too; many; semicolons; and; often; in; the; wrong; places!

2. I am having a long-running love affair (with narrative, parenthetical commentary [but don't tell anyone {it's a bit of an embarassment.}])

3. There is a tendency to use long run-on sentences which often lose their point in obscurity just by the finite sheer unnecessary details and adjectives that they contain as well as the lack of proper punctuation which causes the sentence to read like it was written by a fourth grader with ADHD who is exceedingly high on energy drinks and hasn't taken his ADHD meds for several days and is very excited about a new discovery or point that he has to make and he is rattling on and on and on and on looking for attention that is not forthcoming from his audience who is presently disinterested and making small-talk above the din of his blatherings but he doesn't realize this so he just won't shut up!!!

4. I like lists and the colons preceding them:
a. categories
a1. and organizing them*
*so that they can be broken down.

b. descriptives

c. clarifications*
*with excessive footnotes

d. general absract nitpicking and clarification of minor details*
*which don't have any real bearing on the main points within the writing, often detracting from it.

5. Sesquipedalian: "given to or characterized by the use of long words." Anyone using this word in their writing or everyday speech may also be accurately portraying it's definition.
id est: I have a definitively herculean predilection toward the utilization of prodigious proliferations of a plethora of thesaurically exhaustive, erudite (and occasionally alliterative) written discourse.

6. I like to take liberties (I sometimes am arrogant enough to call it poetic license) by making up words which sound like they should be in the English dictionary, but aren't (notice the word "thesaurically" in the above sentence.)

7. My English teacher in high school was wonderful and I aced two years of college-level English. So I hate to admit that I've forgotten a good portion of what she has taught me. I wouldn't be able to diagram a simple sentence these days.

8. Even though they're considered improper English in many circles, I can't bring myself to stop using contractions in writin' n' every day speech.

9. I often edit proofread my compositions writings many multiple times before publishing posting or sending them in the form of a letter, e-mail transmission or essay. I went back and modified edited this post 2 three four five times before I was satisfied with it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Vacation Pictures 2007

In yet another posting which sadistically taxes the blogger servers and casual readers with dial-up connections, here are some pictures from my recent family vacation in Elmore, VT. Well, most of them are actually from the Camel's Hump Mountain hiking trip that my parents planned with a group of my cousins. Unfortunately my parents weren't able to make it the whole way on account of bad shoes that my mother was wearing. The other seven of us made it to the top. Here's another lovely source of information on Camel's Hump.

Many of these pictures have a larger, more detailed view if you click them.

My young cousin K and I were the sole members of the 'advance group' on the way up... which basically means that we were the only ones insane enough to keep a suicide pace.

K and I made it to this site, just a few hundred feet below the summit, about an hour before everyone else. This is the wing of a World War Two era plane that crashed on the mountain while on a late-night, mid-winter run during WW2. Here is a clip from an internet message board summarizing the crash: "On October, 1944, a B-24J Liberator flying a training mission out of Westover Air Force Base crashed into the eastern side of Camel’s Hump just 100' below the summit. Of the ten crewmembers, there was only one survivor. The survivor, still a teenager I believe, spent two nights on the mountain and lost his hands and feet to frostbite. It snowed while he was up there. It's a bit of a mystery why the plane hit the mountain -- it was traveling at 4000 feet, half its standard cruising altitude. One theory holds that they were cold and were trying to stay low for warmth." The interesting (and exhaustive) full story of the plane crash can be found here.

A few interior shots of the plane wing.

My cousin R

Some beautiful and very tasty wild blueberries that were growing in the sparse cliff-top soils on top of Camel's Hump, I ate several handfuls. You can't get much more fresh or organic than wild-picked.

A picture of my brother and four of the cousins sitting on the edge of the cliff. The picture was taken from a ledge I climbed down to about twenty five feet below the cliff.

A view of the western face of Mt. Elmore, taken from a long distance away on top of Camel's Hump.

A view from the northeastern face of the mountain... Burlington, VT in the foreground against Lake Champlain in the background.

A cliff side, westward view of one of the many green valleys.

My little brother with two of the young cousins.

Group shot on top of the mountain.

At the base of the trail, just a stone's throw from a ranger's cabin is a unique little cemetary. Unique because it is the resting place of Will S. Monroe, "Teacher, Author, Trailbuilder, Companion and Lover of Dogs," according to the epitaph on his gravestone, it is also unique because he had gravestones made for each of his most beloved dogs. This picture shows his own gravestone and his sister's with one of their dogs in between. Take note of each of the inscriptions on the stone.

"Basque of Basquaerie" had the distinction of being the "first great pyrenees born in America". Interesting. I found Mr. Monroe's name also listed as one of the past presidents of the Great Pyrenees Club of America.

Mt. Elmore with a small, blown-up inset of the fire tower in the bottom right corner.

A white leghorn chicken who followed my sister and I for a short distance while we were hiking around the backside of Lake Elmore. He was very curious and very photogenic.

Completely unrelated to my vacation: I snapped this pic of a Monarch Caterpillar on my thumb while out on a wild blackberry picking hike yesterday morning with my buddy D.

At work: a red serpent starfish. Their legs are prehensile, much like the tails of some types of monkeys.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anger and The Peace Testimony: Posting Dichotomy

Warning: snarky bitchfest coming on..... So, I just got off the phone with another mortgage broker who told me the same thing as the other 3 I applied through. I can not get approved for any size mortgage on any property because I ,"have no credit history." You would think that having paid off three cars and a couple of educational loans as well as never being late on paying for insurance and utilities would count for something!!?? My parents and teachers at school brought me up on the belief that whenever you keep making payments on utilities or a loan on time and eventually pay it off, this reflects very favorably on your credit record and you are much more eligible for a mortgage. These beliefs were correct back in my school days. It seems that the rules have changed and I am now attempting to hit a moving target. Many of the folks I have talked to about this have now told me that you need to have at least a couple of credit cards in active use for over a year as well as some sort of loan being paid off for it to reflect positively on my credit report. Basically you have to be in debt in order to put yourself further into debt! How the heck does this make sense??!! It angers me because it reflects how corrupt our financial systems have become. Those of us who have been responsible with their debts have nothing to show for it because financial companies don't make as much money off of them as they do off of interest, late fees and balloon payments from people who use the system poorly. I am gaining a better understanding of why usury was either discouraged or viewed as a sin in some cultures.

So now I have to feed this corrupt system and play the game their way to buy a home. Time to get another secured loan and a couple of unreasonably high APR credit cards and use them conservatively from month to month. I have been advised that if I use them wisely over the next year, it will supposedly make my credit look far more favorable to mortgage companies. It may be for naught because many common projections theorize that mortgages will be much harder to obtain by then. Oh joy! >:-( OK, I am done with my complaining.

One of the things that I have been wrestling with lately is the Peace Testimony which is so prevalent in the Quaker circles where I circulate. The environment I was brought up in had elements of that which is reactionary and occasionally vindictive, so it is hard for me to wrap my mind around this new (to me) way of thinking. Yet choosing to follow the way of peace has been of great benefit to me and others in my life over the past year. It is by no small coincidence that I have begun to let go of struggles with adversarial people in my life; choosing instead to understand them and do what I can to receive them as a human being and treat them kindly while not acknowledging or supporting what I view to be their troublesome personality traits. As a result I have way less enemies and more friendly people surrounding me. My view of life and society is slowly evolving into one which is less negative. I have come to know that the Peace Testimony has to be applied and known intimately on a much smaller, personal level before it can be more broadly applied within society and the human race. It all starts with intent and conscious choice on the part of the individual. This may sound like very basic thinking to some, but for me it is all new.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Head Spinning

I apologize to the few people who actually follow this compendium of personal randomness known as my blog. I've been much busier than usual lately. Between household stuff, real estate shopping, hiking, occasional insomnia, blackberry picking, reading, writing, etc... I've been very lax in putting down any of my thoughts here. My head is spinning from all the activities and opportunities on my plate right now.

Good books I've been reading:
To Try The Bloody Law by Robert S. Burgess - The story of the life and martyrdom of the Quaker woman Mary Dyer.

The Renewable Energy Handbook
by William H. Kemp - A Guide To Rural Energy Independence, Off-Grid and Sustainable Living - An excellent technical guide for people like me who are researching forms of living which have a much lower environmental impact. The author really puts everything into language which is easy to understand and includes lots of simple, helpful, technical diagrams for do-it-yourselfers like me.

Dark Night Journey: Inward Re-patterning Toward A Life Centered In God
by Sandra Cronk - "The dark night aptly describes the situation of those who have had a growing sense of God's presence, direction, and consolation and are suddenly bereft of that experience. Aridity, meaninglessness, loss, and pain are hardly the milestones expected on a journey toward God. The author brings a unique perspective to her interpretation of this powerful pathway, and offers sensitive guidance to dark night travelers and those who seek to understand and nurture them.

Random things I have been doing:
It looks like it is going to be another banner year for harvesting wild blackberries. Tomorrow I am hoping to go out and pick at least a couple gallons' worth with the intention of making jam with them.

At the end of next week I am headed up to Elmore, VT again for vacation with my family. I've purchased a used boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia which I intend to start reading again during my down-time.

I am working on a narrative essay detailing how the 'Ex-Gay Movement' has affected my life and my relationship with my parents & family. It describes by struggle due to the fact that my parents espouse ex-gay philosophies and I am a gay man with no desire to submit myself to the 'reparative therapy' which is promoted by the organizations in this movement. I am running into a lot of snags in writing the essay and trying to really examine myself and my life deeply so that the essay can be truthful and concise while touching on the subject of my family and parents with a sympathetic, understanding view of them. I don't believe I have ever put as much of myself into a piece of writing and it is emotionally exhausting. It is currently under review by several close loved ones and friends and I've just submitted it for consideration (and hopefully refinement) by some of the Friends who I attend meeting with. It will eventually be posted when I feel that it is ready.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I am terrified of public speaking. Small groups or individuals are totally OK, but when it is a room full of people, it gives me panic attacks and anxiety. In meeting today, I spoke for the first time; from the Spirit and from the Heart. I was completely taken by surprise... hashing over a thought in my mind relating to what someone else had said a few weeks ago in meeting and how it related to what someone had said today. My mind was still sitting down and thinking while my body stood up and spoke, seemingly involuntarily. Despite my heart pounding out of my chest and most of my brain racing around trying to figure out what the heck was happening, my words were clear and concise. A couple of people thanked me after the rise of meeting and told me that I spoke directly to their condition. It was a slightly unnerving, yet it felt right. For those who are unfamiliar with various religious phenomena, it is a sensation not unlike speaking in tongues, except maybe it just comes out in one's native language. I am probably over-analyzing. I have a way of attempting to dissect and understand everything that happens in my life and I need to learn to just put certain things away and wait for new perspective. Regardless, I think I am gaining a more intimate understanding of how this works.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Falling Madly In Love

And I've decided that the object of my affection happens to be a she in this case. Don't be too surprised by this fact, but do check out her amenities (which can be viewed here and here.)

She is totally my style: petite, into all the same things that I'm into... existing deep in the woods, living off the land, off the grid lifestyle, probably likes dogs & cats, and wouldn't mind having a large garden some day.

I'm checking out financing/mortgage options tomorrow ;-). Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Long Pond

Oh my word, I am very sore, my legs and arms still feel like they are on fire. On Friday a couple of my coworker friends and I went up to Long Pond in Lempster, NH for an afternoon picnic. The town beach there is posted for use by town residents only and they enforce this rule rigidly. However the boat landing uses state tax dollars so they can't legally eject out-of-towners if they are hanging around or entering the water at the boat landing. Additionally, the island in the middle of the pond is state property and available for use by anyone who wants to make the swim/boat trip over. Well, I don't have a boat yet. So I towed the cooler and the rest of our picnic supplies over on an inflatable lounger raft. It's about a 1/4 mile swim. We had a great time hanging around and being lazy in the sun, but we waited a bit too long to make the trip back. By the time we went back in the water the sun was setting and it had become a bit chilly out. I ended up towing J on a boogie board in addition to the raft because he has a bit less 'insulation' than I do and was too cold to let his top half into the water. I definitely got my exercise that day. I intend to go up there again to hike around and take pictures during foliage season.

G and J

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Feeding The Addiction

My tastes have always leaned toward a fondness for things which are a bit dark, humorous, and abstract or absurd. I recently purchased a used copy of Amphigorey Again by the late, great author Edward Gorey. This is the most recent (ostensibly last?) compilation of his short stories and drawings including projects completed shortly before his death. I was first introduced to his work just over half a decade ago when my good friend Pasha allowed me to peruse his copy of Amphigorey, the first major anthology of Mr. Gorey's best work. I was later furnished with a copy of my own when Pasha saw how much I loved it.

Over the next few years I obtained
Amphigorey Too and Amphigorey Also as well as a few pamphlet-size stories that friends had found for me at flea markets. With all of these in my collection, I have almost all of his works, save for a few rare stories which were not widely circulated and are most likely sitting in the possession of ultra hardcore collectors. This is significant because of all authors, musicians and artists out there, very few human beings actually fascinate me enough to have me authoritatively delving into their works. For those who are not familiar with the stories of Edward Gorey, this comic that I found via google: [ (first page) and (second page) ] accurately mirrors my fascination while neatly summing up many common Goreyan themes. He could aptly be described as a fusion of Dr. Seuss, William Shakespeare, Monty Python, Jane Austen, and The Addams Family.

I think I enjoy his style because he never ceases to play mind games... inserting obsessive and seemingly pertinent details into his stories; the details will appear to be driving you in a specific direction, toward some sort of conclusion or a connection with part of the story... in fact your brain is working overtime to make that connection, then nothing happens. The details open the door of the car you are in, kick you out into an empty space, then drive away madly laughing and shouting "You'll never catch meeeee....!!!" It is as if the author is thumbing his nose at you and laughing like a good-natured trickster. He is also fond of deep, flowery literary prose, yet he injects it with random nonsense words which sound like they should be real, or he uses really fancy words and foreign languages to describe something completely ridiculous or mundane. His illustrations are often dark, yet finely detailed, heavily laden with a bleak Dickensian/Edwardian style and they share many seemingly related objects, in what is yet another example of the author's abstract sense of humor... tricking you yet again into assigning significance where there is none. Despite all this, his work does occasionally carry a very well-articulated point, but he really makes you work for it.

He also seems to delight in making fun of lofty, pretentious literary themes, brutally flouting conventional story structure and ruffling the feathers of anyone who takes themselves or the world of literature too seriously. There is also the appearance of occasional, thinly veiled crass undertones, phallic references, and perverse subject matter passed off as being innocently unintended.

If you are some sort of neo-dadaist, a fan of madcap British comedy, or just plain have an appreciation for excessive nonsense then I would heavily encourage you to read any or all of the works of Edward Gorey.

Edward Gorey

...and speaking of Edward Gorey, Nicholas Gurewitch, creator of one of my favorite web comics: Perry Bible Fellowship (don't let the name fool you, it is not a religious comic), penned a strip that could be an Edward Gorey tribute. He hit the drawing style spot-on... when I first saw it, I thought that it was something he had scanned out of one Gorey's published books.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Weasely War Dance

A new friend recently e-mailed me and when I replied, I forgot that I still have my sender I.D. filled in as 'Dances With Ferrets'. She sent a reply asking what the name meant. It is a cute story, so I'm reposting my response to her query here:

It is a humorous modification of the title of the movie 'Dances With Wolves' early-90s movie starring Kevin Costner... there is information about it here if you are curious: . Costner's character receives the name after some of the local indians whom he befriended observed him playing a sort of tagging and wrestling game with some
wolves whom he had tamed.

I used to have a couple of pet ferrets and when one is teasing them with a toy (much as you would with a cat), it gets them all wound up and they do a sort of signature energetic sideways 'waltz' that some refer to as the 'weasely war dance'. Anyhow, to make a long story short, it was a name that I got dubbed with back in the early 90s because I had pet ferrets and I would frequently play with them, getting them all wound up and bouncing around... we would take turns chasing each other. One of my siblings (my older sister I think) jokingly called me 'Dances With Ferrets' and the nick-name stuck for a little while.

So I just found a video on YouTube for any of you who are keen to see what the classic 'weasely war dance' looks like. Just plain cute!

Oh, and here's another video that I think captures the typical ferret personality to a T.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Just A Thought

At meeting today, a man spoke of intentions... how they relate to the outcome of many of our decisions. It brought me into contemplation about the base reasoning of our intentions and how the course my own life has snaked back and forth between two well-defined and diametrically opposite types of intention. In retrospect I have been made to realize that most every decision I have made which resulted in ultimately negative consequences... was based in an intention rooted in the pursuit of self and ego, and on the other end of the spectrum almost every decision which resulted in an improvement of self, a building of maturity and character, and a general richness of existence... all of these were based in an intention to pursue That which is Truth and the purest form of Love. I won't expound on this any further, it speaks for itself and reminds me of where my energy needs to be focused.

I am still wrangling the raging ego but getting better at cutting off it's supply of energy and causing it to retreat back into the darkness where it belongs.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Thoughts on Creativity & Random Hike Pics

(A couple of excerpts from Quaker Faith & Practice which I've found pertinent to the theme of some of my recent contemplations):

21.37: 'What's that on the shelf?' my artistic friend asked. 'A turbine blade. I designed it', I replied proudly. 'Oh', she said. Visiting three weeks later she asked, 'Why is that still there?' 'Because I think it's beautiful.' 'Oh', she said. My friend enthused over the beauty of a cathedral, a Rembrandt, a Turner, a sonnet. I find none in a cathedral, little in Rembrandt or poetry, a lot in a Turner. I find great beauty in Concorde, a Norton, a modern suspension bridge, in calculus and a good computer program - especially if I have written it! She little or none. I thrill to the sound of a racing car, the sight and smell of a machine shop, the noise and balletic movement of men and machine shaping white hot steel in a forge - and in my turbine blade. She does not. We could both be moved to tears by mountains, Beethoven, Britten, clouds ... and by friendship.

Graham Clarke, 1994

21.27: A sudden concentration of attention on a rainy August morning. Clusters of bright red berries, some wrinkled, some blemished, others perfect, hanging among green leaves. The experience could not have lasted more than a few seconds, but that was a moment out of time. I was caught up in what I saw: I became a part of it: the berries, the leaves, the raindrops and I, we were all of a piece. A moment of beauty and harmony and meaning. A moment of understanding.

Ralph Hetherington, 1975

I've been thinking a lot about creativity and what classifies as art lately... feeling slightly off because I haven't really done anything intensely creative for a few years. I used to constantly crank out cool woodworking projects, sewing projects, well-manicured flowerbeds, and the list goes on... and my life blew up, leaving me feeling empty and utterly uninspired. I am trying to get back into being creative/productive, but my artistic muse has been moving at a snail's pace. Still, photography fulfills me to some degree, even if it isn't all that professionally rendered. I've also been feeling a deeper level of appreciation for the joy and meaning in other people's art instead of only attaining a measure of fulfillment through creating my own... it seems emotionally and mentally onanistic if one derives pleasure only from their own creations.

And speaking of art, I always find it fascinating when one creates something cute or functional or both... and leaves it out in the middle of nowhere, ostensibly for the enjoyment and curiosity of anybody who walks by. On a hike recently I was surprised to see this ingenious little model mill set up on the edge of a hiking trail way outside of town. The wheel actually turns and whoever set it up has a lovely mind: creating it out of odd scraps of lumber and a wire spool... sluicing the stream so that it actually turns the wheel.

Within a stone's throw of the mill, somebody planted a non-native variety of Columbine ('Purple Magpie' I think, somewhat common in partial shade gardens).

Several pics of an unidentified species of flower that I've only seen twice in my entire life, both times growing in obscure places in the woods. It appears to be a member of the Dicentra (Bleeding Heart) family.
Update: OK, I was close, according to a gentleman from the NH Bureau of Natural Heritage, it is in the same general family of plants which includes dicentras and goes by the name pink corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens).

Moose tracks: judging by the size, probably female and judging by the much smaller, identical tracks accompanying these ones, she probably had a calf with her.

Old stone cabin foundation on the side of the trail

Finally, a picture of the real cat-hole warming hut on Green Mountain

Well-appointed accommodations for the weary hiker/snowmobiler/nomadic hermit

Eh, I think I'm gonna stick to using a tent. I'd be paranoid of catching some sort of parasite from the mattresses, hehe.

A view of my town from on top of Green Mountain, click for a better view

View of Mt. Ascutney (see last post) from the top of Green Mountain

A cathedral of young beech trees over the trail. This would be one of the purest forms of art in my mind.