Monthly Archives: July 2012

Pieces from the mourning phases

I didn’t put my “Farewell to a Friend” post up on this blog because, frankly, at the time, going through WordPress seemed too cumbersome and complicated and I just couldn’t deal.  I can do LiveJournal in my sleep.  Even though WP isn’t any more complicated, really, I just didn’t have the spoons.

I have spoons now.  Nonetheless, I’m still gobsmacked and in shock from the death of my friend Lori.  It’s been just about a week since I got the two calls from her husband–one, to tell me how severe it was (news that I both expected and dreaded hearing, suspecting it did not make hearing it one whit better), the next to tell me that she was gone.

It took DH and me nearly a week before we could talk to each other about it, and that only after we went to see her husband.  In the interim, we went to Oregon Country Fair, which was probably the best thing for ourselves that we could have done.  Even then, I found moments where I thought “I can’t share this with Lori any more.”  Not “I’m going to share this with Lori–oh, no I can’t.”  I wasn’t even thinking about sharing and then realizing.  The realization that I couldn’t share was there.  Stark.  Huge.  Like the cavity left after a freshly-pulled tooth, that your tongue keeps seeking out and exploring.

I mean, who the hell else in my life now can I share that frisson with that I experienced when Bernadine Dorhn spoke up at the panel with herself and Bill Ayres to say “Let’s hear from a sister” and realize that for her, it wasn’t just posturing or pandering but a genuine expression of feminism that was deeply internalized and not conscious.  A reflection of shared experiences and dialogue that wouldn’t need a lot of explanation.  Someone who would resonate in such a way that I wouldn’t have to explain why it touched me in the way it did.  Besides DH, one, maybe two people who are reading this (Kris Lewis and John Silvertooth, I’m LOOKING AT YOU).

There is a whole history of verbal and ideological shortcuts with someone that just died.  A library of thirty-two years of shared experiences and reflections that is no longer available.  It’s not just Lori who died, it’s a part of me who died with her.  A partner in ongoing dialogue.  Our relationship was intellectual and ideological, not just personal.  You don’t build such relationships overnight, you build them over a lifetime.

And the personal was political.  Working class rural left political.  Part of our last conversations included discussions about what’s happening with the longshoremen in Longview and the degree to which there’s a lot of grass-roots longshoremen support in the town.

Most folks who know me on line don’t know that much about my political past.  It’s never been headliner stuff.  With rare exceptions, I’ve tended to avoid cameras and media attention, just been the girl in the back room who kept stuff going, who did the research, who saw what happened.  Lori was a big part of that past.  One reason I’ve not talked about it is because she was intensely private and I respected that privacy.  Another is that if you’ve not been in those back rooms on the low level campaigns, you don’t know what that life is like, and it takes too damn long to explain it before getting to the point.  Most people really don’t want to hear about this.  Plus there are some political insights that you can only share with your closest circle when you’ve been in that world.  Skeletons that both of you know about that maybe are no longer relevant because of various reasons, and can grimly share the latest development without a lot of expository detailing.

And to be honest, I know damn good and well that there are people out there who are both happy and relieved that she is gone (none of you who are reading this, for certain).  You play in the small level political world and that’s the truth of things.  There are always shadows when you play in the political world, and sometimes karma takes a very long time to come around.  Some secrets go to the grave.  Others are freed by the grave.

All of this is a very long way around to say that there are shadows flitting around me now.  I’m not sure where they will take me.  But…I feel this loss very deeply.  Lori was a part of my life for longer than my mother was and almost longer than my father (my mother died when I was twenty-nine, my father several years later).  I wouldn’t say we were necessarily BFF in that blindly cheering way so many people like to proclaim…but we were close friends, good friends, and still…it’s a loss.

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Rocky Mountain National Park and SCI Red Rocks

Twenty-four years ago DH and I discovered Rocky Mountain National Park, while taking a quick trip to investigate Colorado and family connections to the place (my father’s family came from Colorado).  We fell in love with RMNP and have made several subsequent visits.  Three trips were focused on RMNP; the remaining four trips were associated with other reasons to go visit Colorado (String Cheese Incident concerts, Worldcon).  Oddly enough, we’ve never visited the park at the same time as previous visits.

This year was the earliest we’ve been in the summer (we found our way there in March 2011 and drove as far as we could).  We were hoping to see some megafauna (elk!  lots of elk! and maybe a moose and bighorn sheep or two).  As we discovered, the big herds of elk cows and calves aren’t that high up early in the season, but for the first time, we actually spotted a bighorn sheep in the area bighorn sheep were supposed to be.


We did see some buck deer, a bull elk and some young cow elk.  Obviously early July is not when you see herds of elk at the higher elevations.

What we did see were these guys.  Lots and lots of them.

Marmots on rocks, marmots on the road, marmots grazing in alpine fields, and this fellow, quite calmly and happily destroying the wood frames on the bathroom structures.  Lots and lots of marmots.  While we were out hiking, one marmot took quite vocal exception to our presence and squeaked at us while running and wringing her tail.

I also finally caught a picture of the elusive pika.

It only took about nine shots to get a pika picture that wasn’t part of a nose, ear, or butt.  They move fast, those little critters.

Besides another visit to RMNP, our main purpose for this trip was to attend another three-night performance by String Cheese Incident.  DH and I discovered this band a few years ago and we’ve liked their mix of rock, electronic music, and bluegrass.  The venue at Red Rocks is also stunning.  From the upper levels it’s possible to see Denver and suburbs, and on a good day you can see all the way to Denver International Airport.  Well, this time wasn’t laden with good days.  The Thursday night performance opened with one of my favorites, “Sometimes a River” and took off quite nicely from there until closing with another favorite, a sequence of “Desert Dawn.”

SCI is best classified as a jam band.  One feature of this sort of rock is that instead of playing a song or two, stopping, then picking up more tunes, each set is an integrated mixture of songs with very rare speaking interludes.  They’ll start one song, segue into one or two others, then return to the first song.  The mix generally includes songs which either have similar topics or similar musical themes.  Plus SCI has some very nice lighting stuff going on (especially at Red Rocks).

The first night was warm and dry.  Not so the next two nights.  Friday night, the show had barely gotten started (with a very nice Birdland mix) when the thunderstorms that had been flashing lightning all around the venue moved in, dumping massive amounts of rain and creating a small flash flood in the venue.  We watched the amazing light show (don’t get storms like that here in Oregon, even in the mountains and the high desert).  But when the lightning started striking in the canyon behind the stage, a weather hold got declared and we were told to take cover.

Um, yeah.  9000-some people present.  You can imagine the challenge.  Nonetheless, it’s Colorado and we figured they knew the weather, so when we were directed to take cover, we got down off of the high seats and started toward the car.  About halfway down the 193 steps to the exit, we realized that–uh, maybe not.  Water poured down the steps, three to four inches deep in places.  Most people kept their cool but there were some folks getting panicky about the water.  We looked at the narrowing corridor down the steps and decided we were low enough in the arena that risking lightning was a bit safer than risking getting trampled in a panic flight.

So we held at a lower level.  Eventually, the rain went away.  The crew cleared the water off of the stage, and the second set started.  Another lovely night, including me dancing with a bunch of folks to “Bumpin Reel” on a lower landing.  Lightning still flashed in the distance, with long strokes of ground to cloud and cloud to cloud types.  If I’d had my camera I’d have gotten some good shots…but I had decided not to risk the camera in the rain.

The third night was wet but the rain was more of a Western Oregon type of slow, steady, mist rather than flash flood downpour.  More dancing, more friendly people.  One young woman commented to us that she hoped she could still keep going on like us when she got to be our age.

Which leads to another element of SCI concerts–all ages are well-represented, from babies to grayhairs.  The younger adults openly appear to enjoy having us middle-aged (and older) folks sharing the music.  And DH and I apparently appear to project a lot of happy couple vibes that the younger set pick up on.  SCI crowds are for the most part pretty social and friendly, even more so than at Dead or Furthur concerts.  It’s not just the music but the overall positive feel of the crowd that works for us.

I also got quite a bit of writing in, with the exception of the travel day yesterday.  Overindulgence in caffeine, alcohol and rich food did my gut in and I felt wretched.  OTOH, not too bad a way to spend a travel day.  Southwest did its usual fine travel management (I’ve rarely had a bad experience with them) and we got home with little fanfare.

And now, another short week before more adventures.  July is the adventure month this year.  Fun times ahead.

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Horse is too smart for her own good

Either Mocha can count to six or else she recalls pattern elements really well.  This afternoon we were working a four leaf clover pattern at trot and lope, and I decided to do six and six sets of cloverleaf loops instead of four and four.  That meant that a change of direction swapped around with each repeat.

Darned if she didn’t start anticipating the lead changes in the lope every six loops.  Correctly.  No anxiety about changing before that sixth loop, but bam!  She was ready to hit those changes just a hair before I cued her.  I suppose I could have been shifting my weight, turning my head or otherwise very subtly signalling her before I gave the signal, but if so she’s still anticipating and anticipating correctly.

This is going to make schooling for the reining class this fall very, very complicated…..

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Another Netwalker Uprising snippet.

Once again, a snippet in the raw:


Melanie shook out two Burnout tabs and gave one to Cat.  “Take this.  This process sucks a lot of energy and I don’t want you collapsing before it’s done.”  She sat on one of the comfortable chairs Angela dragged over.  “The other chair’s yours.  Activate your datasuit to its highest level if it isn’t already.”  She picked up two pairs of datagloves and tossed one pair to Cat.  “Put those on.”  She pulled her own gloves on.



            Angela scowled at her.  “What am I going to tell Marty?”

            “I’m doing what I have to do to save our people.  We’ll be fine, Ange.”

            Angela sighed.  “Good luck.  Do it right, Mel, and come back in one piece.”

            “We will.”  Melanie waited until Angela stepped back to activate the secured globe.  She waited until it was stabilized.

            <Hear me?>  she speeched to Cat.

            Cat startled.  <Voice, not text?>

            <Yep.>  Check.  One point for Enforcer potential.  <I’ll gather you once I’m fully virtual.>  She knew she could do that easily.  But going virtual?  She closed her eyes.  Visualized turning sideways, stepping out of her body–

            The Net came alive around her, much more vibrant than what she could access through viewscreens and hologlobes or even those brief scans she did.  She turned to Cat.  Tapped on Cat’s shoulder, took her hand.

            Cat screamed once as she separated.  Fluctuated.  Then settled.

            <So this is Netwalking?>

            <As close as we can get and still be alive.  Follow me.  I need you to back me up.>


            Melanie pulled up Andrew’s link.  Traced it to its furthest distance.  Began the process of broadcasting the recall code.  Identified the dead links and flicked them over to Cat for storage and later identification.  Directly contacted Andrew’s Renee and ensured she was on a fast traveller out of the sterilization zone, though she needed to shout to get through to the poor-quality headset.  She’ll have to go through isolation protocols but not too long.

            <Melanie!>  Cat speeched.  <What’s that?>

            Melanie turned from checking the squad she’d just routed to see what Cat meant.

            A gray nothingness hung behind them.  One malign tendril whipped toward them but pulled back before it struck too closely.

            <Let me deal with this!>  she told Cat.  <Continue getting staff out!>

            Not waiting for acknowledgement, she strode toward the gray that was beginning to spread.  Marty and I stopped Sarah when she was like this.  Codes.  She blinked up her recording of those codes.  Whispered them as she traced a blocking line.

            Gray shoved against the line.  Backed off.  Pushed on and through.

            <NO!>  Melanie projected her full Enforcer vocal command tones.  <STOP.>  It halted.  Then it pushed again, forcing her back three steps.

            <Not enough.>  Sarah materialized next to her.  <Not enough!>

            <What the hell are you doing here?>

            <You haven’t the faintest clue what you’re up against, girl!>  Sarah’s shape changed, forming a black cloud that swarmed around one of Melanie’s hands.

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Crow vs blue jay; Novel Rewrite Deathmarch

Yesterday morning as we pulled into the driveway after grocery shopping, I spotted a crow swaggering around the front yard, looking pleased with itself.  It stopped, intensely poked at something in the grass, then flew off.  I spotted something about the size of a peanut in its beak, yellowish.  I had to scratch my head because I didn’t think we’d had something like that in the grass that a bird would think yummy.  Plus the lawn had been mowed just yesterday.  The crow also hadn’t had anything in its mouth when I first saw it.

Then a blue jay landed in the same spot and started picking around the same spot.  It flew up when we got out of the car, but flew back.  It started frantically picking around the mounds of dried grass, getting madder and madder, sending stuff flying, squawking in frustration.  Meanwhile, the crow sat on the powerline and cawed mockingly.

I looked more closely, and realized that the crow had just faked out the blue jay by pretending that a yellowed leaf from the dogwood Was A Really Tasty Treat.  Just another crow joke, and an escalation in the ongoing Crow vs Blue Jay wars.

Yesterday was somewhat of a break from Novel Deathmarch.  I wrote a wee bit in the morning, then spent the rest of the day doing errands and minor care stuff for a long-term rural friend who is gravely ill and needs help with figuring out applications for high risk health insurance pools amongst other things.

I’m also starting to develop a theory of how one goes about applying regulation theory analysis to teaching and other systems.  Is very interesting.  A task for August.

Today I intend to engage in full-court Rewrite Deathmarch.  I have a block of about four hours before I will need to Do Other Stuff.  I have caffeine, carbs, occasional chocolate, fresh fruit, and a raucous bluegrass version of Dark Side of the Moon (Poor Man’s Whiskey, Dark Side of the Moonshine).  Netwalker Uprising, here I come!


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