It is March 19, 2018, and I am currently in California, having flown here from TX, to help look after my two youngest grandchildren. I'll be back in WYO by early April.
When Grace and Antony are in school, I have a little time to read. Here are two nonfiction books I checked out from the Livermore library. You can find the photocopies of their dust covers on the "Book Gallery" page of this website. Both authors are well-known and oft-published, Neill Ferguson as historian and Luke Harding as political commentator.
Niall Ferguson's book is The Square and the Tower. Here he relates the history of the world as the struggle between “hierarchical” and “network” power structures. He begins with a summary of network theory, then retells the story from this perspective, ultimately considering the future of human civilization. His central idea is that the influence of social networks throughout history has been downplayed by historians, for they rely on state archives that tend to stress the role of hierarchies. Hence, the rise in the power of social networks spawned by the computer age is mistakenly thought to be an entirely new phenomenon. Ferguson argues that the struggle between networks and hierarchies is as old as human history. This is a book for armchair intellectuals.
Luke Harding's Collusion makes for disturbing reading. The implications for democracy are enormous, not just for the US but globally. Harding, a former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, examines the sources in Christopher Steele’s now famous Trump Dossier with razor-sharp logic. One wishes this book were fiction; sadly, though written with flair, it's far from fictional.
Of particular interest: the backgrounds of the numerous Russian characters who are crucial to our understanding pf what is happening. Harding brings all these characters to life, with their charmed business biographies and their nearly universal ties to both Putin and Russian intelligence. Particularly harrowing: the likely fates of Russians who may have been Steele's sources.
It is early Match 2018 at my son & daughter-in-law's Texas spread near Milano, a town in the southwestern part of the state you'll have a hard time locating on a map. t's not far from College Station, where the family also owns a town house. When they stay there overnight, I feed the critters at the Milano place, which includes a boisterous rooster, see pic to the right, who likes to attack anyone venturing near him. Below is Walter on his atv.
Further below: their three horses, plus the three calves, recently brought in from the pasture to be weaned. A blurry chicken pic.
Bikes in the Rain--Feb. 20, 2018
It has been raining and raining here in southern Texas. I'd hoped to go bike riding in College Station when I stay there some weekends, but so far, not a chance. These bikes are at Walt & Lynda's townhouse. Th blue one was mine once, before I gave it to Amanda when they moved from WYO to TX.
Below are the two conflicting signs in the hamlet of Bushland, TX. My conjecture is the overhead sign was posted by the state and the road-side sign by the city or county. To read the story of my Bushland "misfortune," please go to the OP-ED page of this website.
Below isthe portion of the citation dated January 21, 2018 (a Sunday) charging me with exceeding the speed limit in an "active school zone." Next to it is the one-day pass to Palo Duro, showing I entered the state park on January 29, 2018, at 10:47 am.
January 19. Yesterday I sent a proposed column to Torrington after talking on the phone to the editor. No response thus far. I have posting it on my op-ed page, should you be interested in perusing the same.
It's awfully cold just now in southeast Texas--colder than in Cheyenne, if you can believe this! Still working on upgrades on the trailer that's my TX "home away from home" WYO.
Jan 12, 2018.Not much writing since arriving in Texas, partly because the PCRT does not have an editor. Its publisher in Torrington is swamped, with no time, apparently, to look at new submissions.
I’m currently addressing problems with my trailer here (a leaky skylight; an empty propane tank), plus family conflicts (of which the less said the better). On the plus side, southeastern Texas weather is not as cold as Wyoming’s, though this morning it’s overcast and misting.
I meant to send season’s greetings to my reader's group but got distressed with cellphone problems. As soon as they resolved I headed for Texas via Kansas, where I stayed overnight with atc hosts. As I set out the next morning it was very cold—around 5 degrees F; in Oklahoma City it was actually snowing. Ft Worth, TX, was not as cold, but its traffic seemed worse than ever. I arrived at my son & family in southeast Texas the evening before New Year’s Eve.
It’s cold here also—not as bad a Wyoming cold; still, cold is cold. On the plus side, it’s forecast o be 50 degrees F by mid-week. Until then I’m wearing a ski mask when I walk the dogs.
Wishing you all a happy New Year and a good 2018. Be well and, as Garrison Keillor would say, “stay in touch.”
It's unbelievable the time I've had to devote to my cellphone problems. After the second batch of hunters and hunting left my home I wanted to spend time on autobiographical essays; instead, I spent hours on other people's phones trying to get my problems addressed. Earlier today I composed and submitted a column on it but I doubt it'll get published. Some of it reiterates what I explained below. If interested, go to my OP-ED page to peruse the details. Merry Christmas to all!
Cell Phone Woes
It's a few days before Christmas 2017 and something is seriously wrong with my cell phone . I’m beginning to suspect the entire series is defective, for the replacement phone that arrived a few days ago acts the same as the old one. Without my amplifying device I can’t understand incoming callers—but regardless of the device, they mostly can’t understand what I am trying to say. Confusingly, there are times when the phone functions ok.
Further, the Samsung works fine through Bluetooth while I drive. It happens, that’s when I do most of my talking, so it’s been difficult to pinpoint what’s wrong. Also the phone often works ok in other locations—California, Texas, Cheyenne. At first I thought it was my location on the prairie that causes the interference, yet visitors have had no trouble making or receiving calls from my home. For a while I imagined my hearing was compromised despite the hearing aid and so I purchased an amplifying device called “streamer.” It helped for a while. Recently, however, even the streamer has deserted me; plus, my phone-conversation partners have trouble understanding what I’m trying to say. I finally convinced the company that the phone was defective and received a replacement, a Samsung LG Premier LTE (LG62V). It arrived on December 16. Yesterday (Dec. 18) while setting up voice mail I discovered that the new phone is just as unreliable as the one it replaced.
Adding to the insult, when the replacement phone arrived I could not get it to work at all. Luckily Frank was here on visit (along with Walter, Brett, and Robert; all were hunting pronghorn on my place plus the Wests and Graves ranches). We were trying to have a late lunch but were treated instead to a ninety-minute spectacle of Frank trying to reconnect my cell phone to my number and to reinstate service--in spite of the assistant’s assurance the week before that they would not terminate service and I could pick up with the new
phone where I left off with the old one, this proved not to be the case.
I think the old phone was defective from the start. I had bought it last year in anticipation of my cousin’s visit; until then I owned a simple one, which I upgraded to avail myself of GPS capability. Looking back I remember instances where the GPS misdirected us (while driving in St. George, UT, for example). Later it did the same when Walt and I were returning from West Texas: my GPS added a detour of 30 minutes, which we had to correct via hard-copy map. Last October it misled me after Frank had programmed my route to Andy’s house. Although I’d driven the route before, I wanted to be guided through the increasing Sacramento traffic, not to mention nighttime driving. The GPS barraged me with so many confusing instructions, Andy had to guide me by phone conversation. Next morning we discovered the GPS was set to “walking,” which may have been due to human error though I don’t know how it could have happened.
Early this morning I talked with Ron. Even with the streamer I could understand only bits of what he said; the same was true on his end. Then I called Walter who’d returned to Texas. We could not understand each other; with the streamer it was better but still, much of what I said came through garbled. I asked him to leave a message, hoping I could catch a distorted voice mail, but of course the message came through ok. Except that, while I listened, the call dropped two times, also a feature of the interference. I made two business calls; each time the recipient said she could not “hear” me. When I dialed again, the conversation was clear from beginning to end. But then I called a bank and was put on hold. In the middle of waiting the call dropped. I gave up.
The wild sunflowers near my house have yielded to the November weather; worse, I've had a recent upset from a guitarist I thought of as friend an fellow musician. She had agreed to play a duet with me at my church on Nov. 26, then called the week before to say she had traveled out of state and would not return until the end of the month. When I reminded her of our obligation she said she was sorry I was upset. So then I had to figure out what to do. Our music director is on maternity leave, which means our choir does not sing this month and next; this is why we had arranged for the guitar music well ahead of time.
I conferred with our pianist and together we chose a solo guitar piece, Carcassi's "Rondo in A Major." I had performed the 3-minute piece at the Cheyenne Guitar Society about a year ago but it needed polishing. Now I had one week to make it halfway presentable. Fortunately my audience on Sunday was forgiving--they know me well from choir performances and the occasional lecture/talk. I have also performed guitar pieces that are simpler than the Carcassi. On my Music Gallery page you will find the piece with all its flaws, as I played it that day..
It is mid-November 2017 and the Platte County Times Recorder has not published any of my pieces. The reason? Editor Jacob Hamel, who began running my columns in June, quit or was ousted, and the new editor seems not particularly inclined toward me. I get the impression it's like an incoming president undoing whatever his or her predecessor established as valuable.
The last weekend in October some members of the Cheyenne Guitar Society, myself included, committed a handful of pieces to the recording skills of Harley Nelson. It was a fun and fruitful undertaking. Check out my Music Gallery page for postings.
For five days last week I housed and fed four pronghorn hunters who used my garage to butcher and vacuum-seal what they harvested. Son Walter had arrived from Texas with a truck full of equipment. Flying in from California were his brother and son, along with a friend the boys have known since high school. Below are some pictures. I composed a column about it that will come out on Wednesday--I'll post it under "OP-ED after it's been published.
How time goes by! Today this toddler in the picture is the age of the uncle who decades ago brought the toy horse to our house in Santa Clara, Calif. This week Walter and his middle brother are visiting my place in Wyoming to hunt pronghorn. The brother has remained in California, residing near Sacramento with is family (his older son is with him today). They flew in from California while Walter (above with harvested pronghorn) drove up from Texas. A long-time friend of theirs came also.
Whenever I return to California I am aghast at the changes--the traffic and the asphalt jungle that have replaced the orchards of the past. Recently a rash of wildfires devastated communities north of San Francisco, including the Napa Valley wine country. Karl, my brother in the picture died young of smoke-related cancer.Let me weep.
It's October 9, 2017, and guess what? It snowed here all night and into the morning. Hope the weather changes by the time my sons Walter and Frank and Frank's son Colton plus Walter's friend Robert arrive for antelope hunting. (Don't know why these two pics are so much larger than the "cookies" ones, uploaded during the same session earlier today.)
Driving on I-80 from Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct 2, 2017, put me into a snow storm that got worse as I neared Laramie. Visibility was poor and semis kept splashing slush, an unpleasant drive. I was glad to spot my turn-off 40 miles north of Laramie, but worried about the drive across the mountains from Bosler on Highway 34 to I-25. Luckily the weather cleared; no snow on the mountains and none at home. I was glad to be off the road. Next is trying to figure out how to upload pics from google drive, where my son helped me store a bunch from our outing at Lake Folsom.
Baking cookies with grandchildren Anthony "AJ" and his sister Grace the day before leaving Livermore en route to Salt Lake City. Of course the dogs have to know what's going on--you can see the tail ofLola, the children's dog, and my own dog Abby just below the counter.
To the left is Grandson AJ, proud owner of a new bat. In Livermore, AJ is a devoted Little Leaguer who is getting quite good at baseball. In addition, he is also very conscientious about his schoolwork. Quite a guy!
I've been in California's Bay Area for ten days, and it's been a busy time, what with showing the City to Rolf & contingent. Also have had to contend with identity theft and a compromised bank account, for my laptop was stolen in Salt Lake City while staying overnight with act hosts. My own fault, too--I failed to lock the car, thinking it safe in a private driveway; worse, I didn't think to bring my bag into the house with laptop, etc. Also lost the charger for my phone and the one for my dog's electronic collar. Them's the reals if you don't watch out.
Friday, September 15, 2017: Off tomorrow to visit Calif. grandkids & family (see pic after Solar Eclipse graphic below), plus my nephew and family who will be arriving from Switzerland at the SF airport. So exited! The drive will be long, to be sure, but my dog and I will stay overnight with travel-club hosts in Salt Lake City before heading down the long road to Livermore, CA. Since Rolf and family are staying at Andy's I'll be across the street at Sister Susie's who is a former Buddhist nun.
By return time, my flowers & the sunflowers pictured below will have quit blooming. It'll be fall, with north winds blowing, soon the first gusts of snow.
These flowers will soon go the way of all life. Tomatoes are ripening in containers against the house wall and raised garden beds. Unfortunately, the Roma variety, so good for canning & cooking, some developed blossom rot. In back you see the wild sunflowers that invite goldfinches, mourning doves, and sage sparrows to harvest their seeds. The sunflowers are mostly brown now.
To the right is my poetry chapbook, published years ago in California. On September 7, 2017, I gave a reading for which I selected the poem "Red-Tailed Hawk" from the collection. For comparison I preceded it by reciting "The Eagle," a six-line poem by Alfred Tennyson plus a few lines from Thom Gunn's "Tamer and Hawk." In this poem Gunn valorizes falconry, with a subtext of gay romance is intriguing.
Tennyson and Gunn are readily available for reading on the internet. A bit from these authors' biographies: Tennyson, although he had misgivings about joining the aristocracy (whom he distrusted) was knighted by Queen Victoria. Gunn, a contemporary British writer, immigrated to the United States in the sixties.
Sometimes I like to renew old acquaintances. Last week I joined Wednesday Walkers, with whom hiked when i lived in Cheyenne. Only four of us this time, and Abby the only dog hiking around Pole Mountain. Abby alerted us to a young moose and came quickly when I called to put the leash on her. We all took pictures of the moose who eyed us warily but stayed away from our group.
To gt to our meeting at Lions Park, Abby and I had to get going at 6 AM. We met at seven and got to Blair (past Vedauwoo) half an hour later. It was a hefty walk; still, we were back at Lions by noon. Stayed in town until choir practice that evening, with Abby visiting at Lynn's.
The eclipse has come and gone, but fond memories remain. At my house south of Wheatland the view was awesome. My travel guests, however, opted to drive further north after breakfast on Monday. To the right are Donna and Doug, plus Amanda, my granddaughter, viewing the eclipse in Texas.
When it turned out that Donna had left her purse at my place I ended up driving the post-eclipse congested I-25 after all to meet them at Little Bear while they backtracked from Cheyenne. I was glad to hit northbound I-25 on the way home--no traffic there!
The Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017, begins in the Wheatland/Glendo area at 10:24 AM with maximum coverage at 11:46 AM. "Maximum coverage" means it will be dark like night, with the sun pretty much covered. The return to full daylight will take a couple of hours.
I've seen warnings to expect congestion, traffic accidents, gas & grocery shortages. It is expected that up 60,000 round-trip travelers will come just from Colorado's Front Range alone. Lots of longer-term visitors from other states are expected as well, especially in the Jackson Hole area.
I will be hosting two sets of travel-club guests from Sunday (tomorrow) to Monday, keeping my fingers crossed that their travel goes well. Glendo Lake is a superior spot for viewing and that's where they are headed, but I'll view the eclipse from my home, thank you, having secured ISO eclipse glasses. Though coverage at my house will be "only" about 95%, I prefer to stay off the beaten path.
Aug 12: In a Cheyenne Open Exchange Library, which is essentially a box from which you take a book you haven'r read and place one from your own collection, I found a book I want to take to my grandson in California for his 11th birthday. A few years ago, my granddaughter had read it for school. The book is "Hatchet," an outdoors adventure story by Gary Paulsen, who has spent years exploring (and living within) the wilderness. "Hatchet" was first published in 1987 by Scholastic, INc, and has remained a classic ever since.
August 5, 2017: After visits of sons & families, I'm little behind with my weekly post. Below is a picture of my youngest grandchild, Grace. The picture to the right shows me with Grace and her older brother AJ on the swing in front of my entry. NO pic of granddaughter Amanda--she is at a self-conscious stage.
The pictures above are arranged as "gallery," which means if you click on the lower edge, a hover text will appear. The pic below is an ordinary picture of the badger.
A rattlesnake had made a home for itself too close to my house. When my son arrived last week reminding me that grandchildren would be visiting in a few days, we decided to move the snake to a field away from the house. Walter explained he had heard an expert say that a snake once removed is too stressed to return to its former home. Luckily Walter is an expert on wildlife; he managed to capture the snake in a garbage can and took it down the road.
Yesterday, July 18, 2017, a young badger made its way into the sunflowers that line my three rows of small trees. The trees got planted last year by the Platte County Conservation District in a cost-sharing venture that aims to use trees as natural snow-fences.
I was weeding in front when I heard a commotion coming from Abby, my dog. She had spied the badger and was going wild. Before I could stop her, she'd grabbed the young animal and was shaking it. I yelled and screamed until she dropped it. I heard a painful yelp, coming either from Abby (if the badger had managed to lash out with its claws) or from the little animal itself. I took the dog into the house and went back t check n the unfortunate little thing. It raised itself up on all fours, puffed out its fur (which was wet from Abby's mauling), curled its lip and snarled at my in a high-pitched small voice. I went back int the house. When I checked on it later it had taken off. I hope the poor little thing makes it. This incident has been expanded into a column that's posted on the OP-ED page.
Sunday July 9, 2017. Today I was guest speaker at the UU Fellowship in Laramie. My topic, "The Unexamined Faith is not Worth Living," used as its springboard the two books with which I am currently involved via writing a long essay, namely Eben Alexander's Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife and Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion. As you might imagine, these two books are on opposite ends of the faith spectrum.
Participants in the discussion group were Laramie UU members I have long known from mutual engagement in social activism. Also part of the group were authors Jeffrey Lockwood (Behind the Carbon Curtain) and Erik Molvar (Hiking Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Parks). I love and esteem both authors and was pleased to engage with them.
My column on hemp appeared in the Platte Country Record Times on June 14. On June 28, the same paper published my column on the contributions of Scully and Baily families to Wyoming two-year colleges. This column will also run in the Casper Star Tribune . To read them, please see the page OP-ED JUNE '17 AND UP.
June 2017. From now on I will post here the news and events from my life that you used to find under "News Log." One item of interest to my readers: Since I now live near the town of Wheatland, I publish columns with the Platte County Record Times. The first of these posts appeared on June 14 under the headline, "The unobserved benefits of hemp" and was based on a speech I gave that week at the first-ever Wyoming Hemp Fest in Alcova. The festival celebrated our legislature's having approved the farming of industrial hemp, althoughinitially as trial plots under the auspices of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.
Playing & singing "Greensleeves" at Unitarian Universalist Church in Cheyenne on June 25, 2017. I am trying to upload the recording on my Music Gallery but haven't figured out how to do it yet.
Abby has been my companion since June 2015. This pic shows us in the backyard of my former home in Cheyenne. Abby was 18 months old when she came to me, after having been with three different owners who had difficulties with her--as did I, initially. Abby settled down on my acreage.
It's nice to be acknowledged. This bouquet of roses was given me, not by my adult children (who have instructions not to waste money on flowers) but by three Ukrainians who temporarily lodged with me.