01 June 2022

Between every two pine trees

 "Between every two pine trees there is a door leading to a new way of life."

- John Muir


A deeply personal thematic photoblog:
A half-century or so of inadvertent tree-doorway photography

05 May 2022

Archival footage: Kind of New

In late January I finished up at the FUSD Transportation Department, where I had been asked in September 2021 to return to work temporarily as the interim Student Discipline Coordinator.  Became just kinda done-with-it for a number of reasons, mostly because of the grumpy drivers, recidivistic students, uncooperative parents, and even a few unsupportive building and district admins.  It felt really nice to have the luxury to be able to simply decide, "Nope. I don't want to fight about stuff anymore."  When I met with the director to discuss my decision to leave my interim role in his department he basically said the same thing, "Must be nice.  I'm actually a bit jealous. You did good work while you were here, thanks for your service."

Dove head-first into the whole patrol-volunteer gig after that.  Went up "to work" at Snowbowl four or five days a week, five to six hours a day, from February through the end of April.  Ended up having the best season of my life, despite the relatively meager winter. Skied almost 60 days in all, nearly 300 hours total, got to assist with any number of interesting/urgent calls-for-assistance, and loved every minute of it, doing what my ski-patroller supervisor calls, "skiing with a purpose."  


In anticipation of the end of the ski season at Snowbowl I've been mulling over for a while now other means for making a productive and satisfying use of my retired-guy time.  Lots of ideas, but the one that keeps rising to the surface is Flagstaff's lack of a legitimate new/used independent retail record store.  It vexes me that every time Record Store Day rolls around, all of us Flagstaffricans have to drive down to visit Puscifer in Jerome (a very cool store with an amazingly well-curated selection of new vinyl; you should definitely visit if you're ever there) to shop the Day's exclusive releases, simply because Flagstaff (the largest town in the region by far) doesn't actually have a store that qualifies as a dedicated, independent retailer of new music.  We have Bookmans.  Don't get me wrong, Bookmans is great!  I'm a former employee, former manager even, and a very loyal customer for the last 30 years. But it turns out, Bookmans doesn't qualify for Record Store Day because, I guess, they don't commit enough square footage of their large, mulitfacited operation to the sale of new music on vinyl.  Sure, they sell a lot of new music on vinyl. Definitely more than any other store in town.  But apparently not enough to satisfy whoever makes the decisions about which stores get to sell Record Store Day exclusives. 

So it's off to Jerome we go.

20 April 2022

Just about a bike: This old frame

My dad drove me way across town early one Saturday morning at some point in late 1975 or early 1976 so that, for the very first time, I could buy a bike with my own money. I was in the fourth grade and had saved up what was to me then a massive amount of cash doing odd jobs around the house, 40 bucks, so that I could get my very own BMX bike and shred with my buddies up and down the canal banks, and through the shady orchards, and across the vacant desert lots that lay between our Scottsdale neighborhood and the Circle K convenience store and the local Schwinn bicycle shop.

The bike that was to become mine had been advertised for a week in the classified ads in the Phoenix Gazette and fit perfectly into my adolescent price point. As soon as I laid eyes on it, leaning against the front steps of the west Phoenix house that had been its home, it looked really good to me: fully chrome with silver bars and a simple black fork, kitted out otherwise with what looked like cast-off Stingray parts as most BMX bikes were back then.

08 March 2022

Credo: This is my yellow jacket

ca. 2004-2005
This is my yellow jacket. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My yellow jacket has been a good friend to me. Without it I am vulnerable.

My yellow jacket has faithfully guarded me from the ravages of weather.  It has protected my body from injury.

We are a part of 
one another, my yellow jacket and I. Together we have endeavored to master the mountain.






* the work of the Courtesy Patrol includes:
 lost family-member reunification,
detached ski reinstallation,
perplexed guest reorientation,
Ski Patrol incident notification,
uprooted signage restoration,
downhill-slope traffic mitigation,
& general ski-area explication
I have been volunteering as a member of the Courtesy Patrol at Arizona Snowbowl this season, skiing more days, and also longer days, than I've ever skied in any previous season, usually 3-5 days a week, 4-8 hours a day, weather and snow conditions notwithstanding.  Over the course of some 40+ days on the mountain thus far this season, and despite having one of the most amazingly fun and interesting ski seasons ever, I have nonetheless reluctantly been forced to conclude that my old yellow Marmot jacket is no longer able to keep up with the demands that my new work* has been placing upon it.  Lately, I've been getting increasingly colder, and wetter, and more wind-blown. And I've deduced that this is happening because my trusty old yellow shell is, quite simply, worn out.

Precise recollection fails me, but my best guess is that I probably bought my yellow jacket in 2004, nearly twenty ski seasons ago now.  I have worn it every winter, on practically every single day that I have skied since then (I did attempt to replace it back in 2011, with a newer, fancier jacket, but, well, that plan did not work out the way I had intended it to).

It has reliably sheltered me from the mountain's most brutal elements, and the weather's harshest conditions, during literally hundreds of great days, down many thousands of great runs, throughout what must have been the linking of at least a million great turns (How many Telemark skiers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? At least three, one to install it, and two more to say, "Dude, great turns!").

19 January 2022

Let's adopt a rescue cat!

“A human being with no dæmon was like someone without a face, or with their ribs laid open and their heart torn out; something unnatural and uncanny that belonged to the world of nightghasts, not the waking world of sense.”
— Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

Our cat, like our dogs, is a rescue. You can tell by her one docked ear. Our vet has told us that she was likely captured when she was young as a feral stray, spayed, and then released back into the world to fend for herself. Later on in her wild early life she must have been recaptured, probably by animal control or a rescue agency. 

Fortunately for her (and us), it seems she somehow fell into the care of our local no-kill shelter at that point. That's where my wife and daughter first encountered her. They brought her home soon afterward.

They named her Rosie.

I just call her Cat.

She is, of the many many good cats I have known in my lifetime, easily the best-of-cats, my Pantalaimon, a chatty, constant companion to me at all times (except, of course, when she is cat-napping) whenever I am at home. 

03 January 2022

Archival footage: 04 January 1997

I wrote the post reproduced below for our 20th wedding anniversary, 04 January 2017. A lot has happened in the five years that have transpired since then, too much to mention here for certain. Suffice to say, we're still together, still in love with one another, still trying to figure it all out, one day at a time.

I wanted to republish what I wrote back in 2017 today, on the eve of our 25th wedding anniversary, because this one seems to me to be an even more significant milestone than was our 20th, for lots of reasons, and not just because it's a bigger number.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey