Afternoon Walk – A Churned Landscape


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April 22, 2017

In the coziness of our cottage comfort is the warmth of silence.  Always there are house sounds,  the refrigerator motor humming quietly, an electric heater whirring as it spreads warmth across the room. The 4:30 alarm of a gentle music refrain, repeating every minute, rising in volume until it is tapped off.

Now comes the espresso, sipped, swirled around the mouth as the intense flavor licks this tongue and lips. A thyroid pill tickles the tongue, washed down easily with the espresso. Being up this early one remembers to change the cover photo too.

In the busy activities of a work day, it is easy to forget a few simple pleasures. Cozy sox, a warm bathrobe, instead of work clothes, a few scans of news articles, and a moment of doing absolutely nothing. Thoughts of others close to us slowly seep into the mind. A loved one, friends, relatives, and the peace of living in solitude.

It is the last work day of the week. One relaxes his grip on this morning with no urge to ‘get things done.’ Time will manage without activity for at least a half hour. One needs to savor a quiet morning pause.

Such a jumble of life sometimes breaks the gate and the outside world stampedes into the meadow of quiet space. Like a frightened herd of buffalo running wildly with great abandon distractive thoughts crowd the mind and rush the blood. Leaving behind a churned landscape of mutilated words and sentences.

Later, there will be time to find all the scattered thoughts, phrases, metaphors, and expressions of  tranquil ideas. Breath deep, inhale quietly, and expel all but those dreams still humming their tune of relaxation. Now is the time for a slip stream of transition into a working mode.

In the busyness of work days, one forgets to become this moment. The blur of days becomes a string of beads all of the same color, a blur of blue. Rest and quiet are warm and gold. Like rosary beads those golden days are separate but connected.

As age creeps into one, a desire for more days of gold and fewer blurs of blue becomes prominent. Not yet, not yet, whispers this scrooge of time. Our day will come, but now, it is time to work, to push your limit and look to the sunrise of rest. But rest comes with a ticket one must use in the search for golden days.

The late afternoon walk of April 19 was such a ticket of searching. This hunt for this quiet, outside of our cottage, in the world of the Rim Trail began. A search for some significant image of satisfaction. Too late the day, too slow the exposure.

At least one broke the comfort zone, and explored an old trail with a new perspective. A cliche of effort foot stepped the same trail, finding a new version of exposure. Though not realized that day, the idea, and the vision of new images emerged.

Tweaking the exposure, time of day, and use of shadow and light shall produce images of abstraction one has been searching. Lloyd’s admonition, which has rattled this brain on its own, rang like a bell and vibrated within the self: Get out! Get out of your comfort zone!

Though no images of note were captured, a lump of coal became a diamond of a goal sought haphazardly for some time. Thank you, Lloyd. Future images will test the clarity of this hardened rock of sparkles.

Thank you. I am grateful for your visit.

Afternoon Walk – Source Of Power


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April 29, 2016

Pain, when it is constant and unrelenting, can take over thoughts, attitude, a daily concurrence of someone’s everyday life. It creeps in, slowly, without any annoucement other than its sustained, and perpetual nudges, and prods, and pokes of a weary ache that never seems to leave. Medication helps, but the uninvited guest constantly reminds the hotel of its unwelcome presence.

There are mind tricks one can employ to fend off this persnickity visitor of torment. To some extent one can ignore these jabs, stabs, and rubs of discomfort. One can ingest pain relievers, until larger doses are required and the inevitable shadow of addiction knocks on the door. One can get involved in the lives of others in a good and positive way, and/or use humor to defend the owner against the univited guest.

All of these are avenues worth taking, but realizing the risk of medication and its own possible unsatisfactory side-effect, must be guarded against at all times. What pain does, besides being hurtful, twists the mind and points it in another direction, sometimes so insiduously, the owner is not aware, until the pain has completely taken over the body and the mind.

Pain rears its head in the mind in little or seemingly insignificant ways. Like showing irritability at the slightest disagreement, or becoming grumpy with a server in a restaurant because they did not bring you water quickly enough. As the pain increases its hold, the mind becomes more angry and begins outbursts out of proportion to the irritation. One becomes angry, for no apparent reason, with people who are trying to help because they care.

Most of the time, the host of pain, because of pains insidious nature, does not recognize this change in behavior, until something so slight and without merit, becomes a mountain of turmoil. For some, it is a revelation at this point, for others, it takes more. So it is for this writer.

All week Brownie has been barking for a walk. It has been windy, rainy, and cold. This writer, who has been directed to stop taking medication because of his upcoming surgery, has become more irritable, grumpy, and thoughtless. Yesterday, it was still windy, cold and looked like rain, but the decision to take a walk overcame the tiredness and out the door we went.

By the time we reached the 300 Road, also known as General Crook’s Trail, the residence of pain in this guest had been revealed, and all the behavior of the past few days was realized. We turned around and went back to our cottage. The realization did not erase the irritation, but the knowledge of why this writer has been acting with such a bad temper became elegantly apparent.

Like pain itself, this emotional temper tantrum does not just fade away. It has taken some time to build up and also take residence in the mind. It becomes comfortable to blame others for this state of mind, as it relieves the owner of responsibility for their actions.

There we were on General Crook’s Trail, standing at a cross roads of sorts. The realization struck like a bolt. Yes, we went back to our cottage, but the ebbing away of the frustration, tired body, and general wearyness of the constant pain, does not drain out like a pail with a hole in it.

However, pain, with it’s constant and unrelenting persence, has been realized as the instigator, and like the control of pain, one can control and direct one’s own thoughts, and not fling spears and arrows at those who only want what we want: an ending of this constant pain. The resolution is to take back control of this writer’s thoughts and actions and refuse pain its current source of power.

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

Afternoon Walk – Blind Faith


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Reaching for the light

April 03, 2016

Maybe it is the change in weather, the tilt of earth leaning closer to the sun these days. Who knows. Brownie was chipper, smiling and eager to get out of the gated boundary she has been a captive of for so long. She pulled me along. Her joy of being ‘out’ expressed itself by rubbing my right knee. Her caress of thanks.

Even in the forest her nose took off ahead of us, keen of the scents she inhaled and needed to smell. Tugging this weary body along she glanced back in a look only she could give. One cannot but be happy when a dog is happy. Joy like that rubs the hair off her onto the nearest person available. In this case, yours truly.

It was late afternoon, though the sun still caressed its warm rays all over us, one look at the horizon and one knew it was not to last. No clouds gathered in the western sky and the sun faded without reflecting its dynamic colors through the thick atmosphere. The cobalt sky in the east seemed touchable, as if one could reach up and grab that color and bottle it for future use.

Now the brown dog smelled the water waiting on the porch, pulling this walked out body back to our cottage. There were a few images, but one knew, not getting down on the ground close to the subject, was a mistake. In this case this writer said; there are other days, the forest ain’t goin’ nowhere. Who knows; today may be too late. Take em when ya got’em. The mind says yes, but the body says no.

According to my fitbit wrist band, yesterday this writer was an over-achiever, walking 6.3 miles, 4, 230 steps over my daily goal of 10,000 steps. Did not feel like an over-achiever. A matter of perspective, as always.

Thinking of photographic expression while on the walk, one realized this shooter is out of touch. Not keeping up with the latest trends, ideas, or fads. Do not care. A bumper sticker says it: “Not all who wander are lost.”

One must follow the heart of the mind, going where trust of self leads. Usually, that is off the beaten path of following anyone or anything. Searching for and finding the abstract in common objects, living things, and the light and shadow in the inter-play of objects, that is the personal goal. It is the light and lack of light that reveals this abstraction. Training this mind to see, that is the path.

Now, today, in Lightroom, more than Photoshop, one selects, adjusts, frames, sharpens, and releases chosen images. Not that great. This shooter has done better.

One is looking, instead of being open; letting the images expose themselves. This writer knows better. Putting pressure on the self hardly ever reveals what is self evident. Trust, like all precarious undertakings must be embraced with blind faith.

Change in the weather is most welcome. The cold nights, the chilled wind of March during the day must yield to Spring, and embrace the warm. Brownie will greet this change with relief, as will this writer.

This particular writing is dedicated to the loved one. This is not usual, but then, neither is she.

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

Morning Walk – Between Paragraphs


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Manzanita Blooms

March 27, 2016

Have not stepped out the door on this crisp, clear morning. It will happen. A first word entering this mind is turbulence, on this Easter Sunday. It has nothing to do with this Christian celebration, which is just a marker to note the day.

It has everything to do with this life. It seems everyone, in their own unique adventure has turbulence: violent or unsteady movement of air, water, or of some other fluid. Indeed. The word has taken on a much broader meaning as writers look for expression, words are used in different contexts. They then become common, and as one reads this in a sentence, the reader knows what the writer is referring to; an inner, or perhaps an outer confrontation, violent or unsteady communication or conflict with others.

So it is these days. Inner turbulence, outer turbulence; a constant confrontation with others, with an occupation, with one’s own body, as this left hip continues its slow disintergration, with a partner, lover, friend, and confidant.

Always, it is the absence of communication which confuses any topic, discussion or problem. Men and women speak in their own language. A meaning of one word or a single sentence, is interpreted in a completely different way by the other, and the conversation dissolves. It is amazing. How does one resolve these disturbences?

Does one attempt more communication, using different words, or does the conversation just end, without resolution? These situations have solutions. Sometimes answers are not forthcoming in a quick, direct and meaningful manner. Sometimes time is the fix.

Sometimes there is no key to unlock the door of mis-communication. It is a struggle, a constantly striving movement of the mind to resolve a particular turbulence. The occupation has its own battle, everyday that is worked.

There is the physical struggle of doing the work, and the mental conflict with endless repetition. There is frustration with people who constantly and forever, have no respect for the property. There is turbulence with the people who work in the store. Not to mention the total disregard for the efforts of those who attempt to make the environment pleasant and welcoming.

We continue: if one just stops, gives up or turns away, that is an unresolved solution. It is one choice of many. It is looking more and more like the only choice.

This writer continues. A quote that echoes in the mind like a repeating GIF that will not stop; words said in extreme anger: ”End your existence. Do the world a favor.” There is understanding of where this comes from. Been there. A personal message of this nature should not be displayed for all to read. However, it illustrates the frustration, anger, dissastisfaction, and disappointment of the person who spoke thusly.

Absence of communication, a terrible circumstance of choosing words, or not choosing words is the crux of this situation. A coin of sorts; do this and that happens, or do that and this happens, neither of which is satisfactory.

The walk has been taken in an interval between paragraphs. Images were shot. Turbulence, however, has not ceased in this short, sweet pause. A clear, bright, cobalt blue sky, free of clouds was absorbed. There is no peace. There were no revelations. The wind blows through this mind still, with all the violence it is capable of producing within the chambers of this mind, and all of its rooms.

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

Afternoon Walk – Renascent


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Pintail Lake Framed

March 20, 2016

The urge to write, to express the self has been inside since high school, when I discovered my love for the English language. Having only my native tongue for examples, it occurred to me early that writing, words, and creating unique sentences was fun, interesting and an artistic expression. I have never lost that joy.

At least not yet. English can express such confusing and consternating sentences. For example, the word meet, when spoken but not written has different meanings depending on the context. It, of course is not alone. There are many, many examples of this.

But writing in Englsih, because of the many meanings words acquire, display, and can be used for, it is always a challenge to write, to express in a creative way. There are many writers who put their ideas, stories, and findings on paper for others to read, and the great joy in writing is that everyone can write the same topic and say the same things but with a difference that is as individual as the person writing.

For example: write a sentence with the word shoes, as the subject and a verb that means motion. The flame decorated shoes strolled aimlessly down a tattered sidewalk of dreams. Shoes meant for others tromped the battlefield in a disgusting display of revenge. There are at least 26 different verbs one can use to write a sentence like that. And the ideas expressed go into a realm of creative energy of anyone who can write a sentence.

The point: the point is that language is a universal and completely expressive medium for anyone, IF, and WHEN, they obtain the courage to communicate their ideas through writing. No one can ever take from writers their creative spirit of writing, unless they succomb to fear.

This writer knows, as fear has come upon me more than once. Fear of losing friends, fear of exposing thoughts so personal they can drive others away, ideas so remote and out of the mainstream, one wonders how they even entered this mind in the first place.

For example, while splitting wood to heat our home many years ago, I thought: What if the axe slips and cuts my right hand off? What will I do then? I’ve tried writng with my left hand and my writing is terrible. I feared I would have an accident and hurt myself. I thought about an accident; I thought about fear and what can happen when one is not careful.

About ten years ago, the axe did slip. The back side of the axe was a hammer head, which crushed my index finger. There are three screws in my right index finger holding the bone together. Be careful what you think. Fear can manifest itself when you least expect it.

One avenue out of fear is to write your fright out of your mind. In the process, people close in friendship may be lost, even family, because including them in the writings and what you think about may be too much for them to handle. The only good writing is honest writing, and that leads to a narrow and harrowing path for those who express their deepest thoughts.

An aside: Word for the day; renascent – being reborn, springing again into being or vigor.

Yes, indeed. My current fear is writing a short story about someone I once knew. I will refrain from writing this story for years. But once the time is ripe, it will spill out of me in a torrent. It will be complete, it will be well written, and it will never occupy my mind again. Writing about getting sober was like that. It lived in a room in my mind for more than 20 years. Then it got written, and lifted a weight off my shoulders that has never re-visited.

Some stories are like that. Some life events are like that. They churn around inside for decades, then one day, poof, out march the many words of this event and place themselves in sacrifice on the page, never to engage the mind again, as they have escaped their prison and reside in a story, an article, an episode.

Using the urge to write and express is an agreement; once entered into, and learned well, is like breathing. This creative process, this love of language and the use of words, is a fire that must be fed, until no combustible energy remains.

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

Nothin’ Doin’ – O’Toole


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Irish Fairy Dust

March 17, 2016

Towle migrated to England from Ireland and changed their name from O’Toole to Towle to avoid persecution for being Catholic.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

May you always find the rainbow after the rain
May your heart heal from those who have given you pain

May the wind be warm on your back as you sail the human seas
May your ship always find the right tack as friends comfort you with ease

May your smile grace the faces of those you love
May the sun shine on you always from above

May your talents always be given with a free heart
May your love of life be the first of everyday you start

May your hands touch the hearts of those in need
May you always find time for a good deed

May your mind always find the good in others
May you always remember we are all brothers

May you never be lonely in the midst of a crowd
May your life be filled with love and friends endowed

May you always color your heart with brightness
May you always fill others with kindness

May you surround yourself with friends who count
May they always know your love is paramount

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

p.s. When the next payment (end of May)is due on this website, I will not pay it. It is time to end this blog. My writings will continue, just not from here.

Morning Walk – Gate Of Entry


 

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Show Low Creek

To view the Gallery click the green Morning Walk

March 14, 2016

It was a late morning venture yesterday. The wind was pushing from the West, hard, with gusts. It felt more like an autumn day than a set your clocks forward day. A concept that has lost its reality. Arizona has one thing right at least; not using Daylight Savings Time.

As soon as we arrived Brownie was jumping up and down, eager to explore any new scent she could follow or investigate. But dutifully, she waited. What a patient, loving creature.

Off we went and I knew immediately, a warmer coat was still at our cottage. Oh well, button up and shut up. Take the walk and be grateful you still can walk.

There were many anglers on the shore hoping for fish being lured onto their bait. Did not care to go there and walk against the wind gusting hard across the water, slapping our skin and fur with cold air. Went down the rocky and jagged path to Show Low Creek, where a mis-step could land this writer face down on the surrounding rocks.

It was worth the risk. Less wind, more quiet. Warm air soothed this body, a small comfort. People invaded the realm as they discovered there were no fish to be had in the creek today. Either that or their impatience caused them to seek the lake for better luck.

True angler’s are not in a hurry. They do not expect fish to eargerly swallow whatever it is they have to offer. It is the part-time people, those who only come out here now and then, who think they will catch something right away.

We waited for them to leave. We headed back towards the gate of entry. The steep incline up was slow going. Pausing to catch air, this writer noticed some lichen on rocks on a protruding ledge near the camping area. Fine green coloring of the lichen in the bright sun offered a glimpse of abstraction. Shots were recorded.

Always, the unexpected moments are the best. Taking a different path yielded four such images, the other two are mundane shots of the creek and a few reeds, not worthy. Other pale green lichen had their own unique configurations, and the rusting firebox at one of the campsites gave me a Neil Young moment of “Rust Never Sleeps.” Shadows on a different grill box were delightfully begging in their need for expression, exposure, and interpretation.

I am grateful for these gifts of sight, insight, and interpretation the mind is so generous in providing. Only humans can look at a common object and ‘see’ something more. It is a gift we have as humans but rarely use. Getting older, I believe, has changed my eyesight, in that my depth perception is not what it used to be.

A first thought was, this is a disadvantage. Not so. It has provided me with an ability to see differently, to look at something that is flat and see it as a three dimensional object, and conversely, look at a three dimensional object and see it as flat or with only two dimensions. Sometimes this is jarring and unsettling. However, it does take getting used to, and that is happening.

It is no longer a shock to my brain. One must be aware while driving however, to keep objects in their proper perspective. We don’t want no accidents. Sometimes I like using improper English. It is also a colloquialism of the South and Southwest; using two negatives in a sentence incorrectly.

Going out late Sunday offered a different perspective, and new insights, always welcome. Despite the wind, and because of it, different choices were made that revealed images this writer would not have found had a routine been kept.

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

A Sobering Incident


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Well of Souls

36 Years of Sobriety as of March 8, 2016

Walking down the hall and coming out into the living space, Andy’s surprise at finding 4 County Sheriff Deputies in the space between the living area and the wood stove who greeted him cordially, shocked him out of his drunken reverie.

“What are you doing here?” he asked. “What’s happened?”

“Your wife asked us to come over, and take you somewhere away from here,” said the deputy closest to Andy.

“Why? What have I done?”

“Apparently, Mr. Towel, your wife is fearful you might be violent with her and your boys.”

“You’re not serious are you Bobbie?”

“You need help, Andy,” she said with a tremor in her voice. “And we are either getting a divorce or you are getting sober. You can come back when you agree to get help.”

With those words ringing in his ears, two of the deputies escorted him peacefully out of the house.

Andy, when not drinking, could be counted on as a decent fellow. He loved his boys, his wife, his work, the house they had recently built together and the life they shared. Living in a former corn field, his favorite way of telling people where they lived when asked, was a piece of heaven.

“Where can we take you, Mr. Towel,” the deputy in the passenger seat asked.

“It’s Toll, like toll bridge, or toll gate, or life takes its toll,” Andy said with some irritation. “Just call me Andy, it’s so much easier.”

“Where can we take you, Andy?” the deputy responded.

“My parent’s house. They live in Fort Atkinson.”

“Can you remember how to get there?”

“Yeah. I’ll tell you where to go when we get into Fort.”

Arriving at a dark and empty house, Andy sighed in relief. Telling his parents what had happened would have been a shameful failure. We may be adults, but we are still children to our parents.

The driving deputy turned around and said, “We’ll wait here, and make sure you are safely in the house. Do you have a key?”

“Yeah, I got a key for the garage door.” Andy said.

The passenger deputy unlocked the car door and led him up to the garage. Andy turned the key and activated the automatic door.

“Thanks for the ride,” Andy smiled and waved as the door went back down. But the cop car didn’t move, it just idled in the driveway, waiting.

“Oh, shit,” he said. “They’re gonna wait until I go into the house and settle down.”

Andy trudged into the kitchen, turned a light on, walked through the dining room into the living room, turned another light on, threw his light wind breaker across a chair and turned the t.v. on. Standing by the living room window he waved to the vehicle.

Flashed lights from the car signaled their departure.

“Thank God,” he said with relief. “Now I’ll just wait a couple of minutes and then start back to the house. I gotta talk to that woman.”

Andy’s shock at what had happened at the house froze his mind and the only thoughts even remotely passing through were: She turned on me, she finally had enough, what am I gonna do? Mom and dad can’t find out. Oh my god, I can’t tell them. It’s too shameful, too much of a failure. Now everyone will know, I’m a drunk, an alcoholic, I’ve become my parents and I have to admit it. I can’t do that. I’m a decent guy. I work. I like my work. I have a nice house, good kids. I’m an abusive bastard, I drink to unconsciousness so I don’t have to deal with anything that remotely resembles responsibility. Maybe I should hang myself in the darkroom like I planned. Shit, Bobbie found that noose and took it down. What am I gonna do? I can’t be thrown out. I’ll do anything to keep what I have. God damn that bitch, she had to bring it out into the open. I gotta get out of this. I gotta talk to her, I gotta get back to the house. What does she have in mind? She must have a plan. I know Bobbie, she has a plan. I hope I can talk to her when I get back to the house. I can’t leave it like this. There must be a way to fix this. i’m going back to the house. Something needs to be worked out. I’m not gonna tell mom and dad. We’ll fix it, we gotta fix it. I’ll do anything to fix it.

A 20-year-old memory surfaced. Andy remembered a vow he made to himself when he at 14 and just new to high school. His parents had come home drunk, falling all over him and Ron with affection and money and drunken I love yous. He hated it. The smell, the blurred, blood shot eyes, the too big smile and overly affectionate dad, who never hugged or said anything complimentary to him otherwise.

He vowed he would never get drunk, never touch alcohol. His lips, his body, would always be virgin to the hateful brew. He would never stoop to the pathetic behavior he had seen so often.

Like all alcoholics he had succumbed. He had tasted. He had fallen off of his own pedestal, and crashed mightily to a vomit-soaked floor and slept in it more than once. His hate for himself grew and he drank to forget.

Waiting for cars Andy reflected on Bobbie’s speech earlier. So, she sees our time together as dreaded weekends, an unbearable two days with a drunken jerk. Driving to and from Milwaukee during the work week, spending an abusive weekend with me is beginning to wear her down. As a surgical nurse she has enough blood and guts reality. And now, I’m picking on the boys, with mean language and threatening to hit them. No wonder she thinks I’m a burden.

By the time Andy had walked to the edge of Fort Atkinson, he was sober. He realized if he didn’t get a ride pretty soon, a 20 mile walk on a dark highway could be a dangerous journey. But, life is full of little comforts: just then, a driver stopped, rolled down the passenger side window and asked in a drunken voice,

“Where ya going buddy?”

“Watertown.”

“Hey, me too!” came the joyous reply. “Get in. Maybe we can have a few beers at ‘The Feed Bag’ .”

“I don’t think so,” Andy said.

“Ok, just trying to be friendly. My name’s Larry.”

“Andy”

“What’cha doin’ out on the highway at this time of night?” Larry asked.

“Fight with my wife.”

“I’m not married anymore,” Larry said. “She said I drank too much and if I didn’t quit she’d leave.” Larry laughed and almost hit the mileage sign for Watertown, Jefferson and Lake Mills, as the car careened off the side of the road and back over to the opposite lane.

Any vestige of alcohol still in Andy’s system had just dissipated in a sudden rush of fear.“How about if I drive?” Andy asked.

“Nah, I got it under control. I drive drunk pretty often. I’m experienced.”

“I really don’t need a ride all the way to Watertown,” Andy said. “You know where the Pine Cone restaurant is?”

“Yeah, sure,” Larry slurred. “I go there for coffee sometimes to keep my eyes open when I wanna go to Watertown and hit the bars there.”

“Well, I live about 2 miles past the restaurant and you can drop me off on the highway when I tell you to slow down, ok?”

“Sure,” Larry said.

Andy got out of the car, watched Larry drive away and looked down Hwy 26, as the hum of the vehicle faded on its way to Watertown. The highway hum reminded him of his current journey, their lives and what might change if he kept up his current pace of drinking.

Bobbie and Andy worked in Milwaukee at different hospitals. She at Mount Sinai as a surgical nurse and he as a medical photographer at Children’s Hospital. The drive into the metro area from Johnson Creek took about 45 minutes and the drive into the crunch of cars of Milwaukee’s downtown took another 45.

As a binge drinker, Andy loaded up on alcohol Friday night and didn’t stop until some time Sunday afternoon, if he was still conscious. His meanness, verbal abuse and threatened violence started to escalate. The only time Bobbie got a decent break was when Andy lay on the sofa in a drunken stupor.

All alone out in the country, if Andy turned on her in a moment of uncontrolled violence, the isolation was dangerous. Her choices narrowed as time pushed Andy closer to violence. HIs actions of abuse, both verbal and physical, flooded him with shameful images he knew belonged to him.

Andy looked up the hill of Emerald Drive and took a deep breath. Virgin territory approached. He and Bobbie had had a few disagreements in their eight year marriage, but never a confrontation. He felt sober, scared, a little angry, and apprehensive about what might take place in this apprehensive future.

All the lights in the house  blazed as Andy walked up the 100-yard-long driveway. Did Bobbie expect me to return? Andy wondered. He walked quietly, slowly to the front door and stole a quick peek in the slit of glass next to the front door. He saw Bobbie toss the remaining toys into their box.

“What the hell time is it?” Andy whispered to himself. He looked at his watch, 1:30. She must have talked to the boys and explained what had happened. He knew Joshua would ask questions.

Zak would’ve listened and absorbed everything.

Andy stole around the house and looked in every window. He felt like a burglar casing the joint.

Zak lay curled up with his blanket, but Joshua’s light filled the room. Andy peeked in the window. He too had surrendered to sleep.

Andy breathed easier. He didn’t want them awake if this turned ugly. He tried the front door and amazingly, it opened. He slipped quietly into the house.

Bobbie came down the hall and saw him standing there. She stopped, her body rigidly still.

“What are you doing here?” she said.

“You have my attention.” Andy said. “What are you going to do?”

“It’s more like, what are YOU going to do?”

“What do you mean?” Andy asked.

“Andy, no more games. Answer the question.”

“What are my choices?”

“I don’t care, anymore. Well, I do care. I love you, but you must choose. If you quit drinking, get help, and stay sober, I will support you and we can work this through. But if you fail, even one time, we are done.”

Andy stood in the living space, where two hours ago a shock of reality brought a drunken mess of a life into focus, not moving, not talking, not anything.

“What do I need to do to stay sober?”

Bobbie walked over to him crying, hugged him, gently sobbing into his chest.

31 years and always an alcoholic. Will Andy ever drink again? It remains an open question, answered one day at a time.

Andy went into a Jefferson County sponsored alcohol program. He joined AA, attended meetings, and spoke about his problem. He also modified his behavior and substituted running for drinking. After a year of solid, sober behavior, Andy decided to manage his life on his terms and only rarely attends any more AA meetings. There are still days of desire. For some, it never leaves.

Bobbie and Andy weathered this storm and stayed together for many years, but eventually their lives discovered other paths. They divorced, but have contact occasionally through Joshua and Zak. Both remarried and still live in Arizona.

Morning Walk – The First Day


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Rocks and Gravel

March 7, 2016

Tomorrow is an anniversary day for this writer. Not the usual type of anniversary; not a wedding one, a birthday one, or other type of anniversary most people associate with having an anniversary. This one is different.

It is to commorate something that never occurred again. It is not a celebration, there will be no party, no invitations, no ‘break out the funny hats and whistles’ type of occasion. It is one of those days that happen in spite of a particular type of behavior. The only celebration will be a simple “Thank you,” and the acknowledgement of quitting an activity before it was too late.

You know what I mean; if someone had not stopped this writer from doing a particular activity, I’d probably be a dead guy; a long time ago. But someone had the courage, had enough love, to hit this person over the head with a proverbial 2×4, and brought me back from the brink, to reality.

At that time this writer was well on his way into the abyss; heading down a deep dark tunnel from which many people never return. Had I not been stopped the repercussions might still be echoing through family, and some friends. For some people it is a long slow process to the end of the road. For others, someone like me, for example, once the slippery slope has been taken, the trip is usually a short one.

The reason for that is because there are those like me who grab hold of the behavior, and once firmly in its grip ride it hard and fast to the end of the line.

Some people are fortunate, in that they get the message, read the writing on the wall, and change their lives, in a good, and positive way. Happened to me. This writer got the message, stopped the behavior, and changed the course of many lives in the process.

So why celebrate this particular day? Because it offered a different route. I was given a choice: either do this and live, or continue on your current path and watch your life slip away. It literally saved my life. It is not something one has a party for, one celebrates it as being grateful.

So what are we talking about here? Perhaps some of you have already taken a stab at what one celebrates quietly, without bells and whistles. It is the last day of being an alcoholic, and the first day of sobriety. That day occurred on March 8, 1980.

Even though this writer was in a drunken stupor that night, I sobered up pretty fast when the change came and remember many things about that night with crystal clarity. It took me almost 30 years, before I could write about it. When I did write, that evening spilled out onto the page quickly, simply, and with a clarity I had not ever experienced before.

It was a defining moment in my writing. What had been bottled up for so long kinda wrote itself, because it had been in my mind for such a long and silent time. Tomorrow, this page will contain the original writing: “A Sobering Incident” detailing my release from alcohol. After writing such a personal account of this nature, writing became a flow of words, and not such a struggle to write around the problem and not detail what really happened. Writing has become the major focus ever since, and photography has taken a back seat, where it belongs, actually.

Tomorrow is my day of sobriety. An anniversary, and quiet celebration of being drug, and alcohol free for these last 36 years. There are still days when this writer would like a cold beer. That does not happen often, but it does still enter my mind.

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

Nothin’ Doin’ – Hanging My Thumb


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Barrier

March 3, 2016

“How terribly strange to be 70,” Paul Simon. From a song on Bookends titled ‘Old Friends’. Pushin’ time down the highway.

I like to drive long distances. There is something about being on the move that satisfies this spirit. Clicking along the miles the scenery changes, some of it mighty desolate, some of it mighty comforting in its familiarity, some of it are places one would like to stop and settle down, grow roots. Too late now.

When this writer was just out of the Air Force, the first thing to happen, after a brief respite of doing nothing, was to hit the road. I picked up hitch-hikers, took them where they needed to go, and then continued my own journey. It was a reckless, restless time, just wanted to be out there, on the road, pushing time down those four lane roads going nowhere in particular, just to see, explore and maybe find someone or something waiting at the end of some adventure.

Even used my own thumb for a few exploratory escapades. One night on a highway in Nebraska, under a bridge, my thumb hanging out, an older mercury slowed down and went a little past me, stopped and the passenger side door spilled out two men, about my age, as they were in bad need to relieve themselves. I thought they had stopped to pick me up. Ha. They did give me a ride however, and my journey back to WI got closer to home.

One time in Winnemuca, Nevada, I paired with a Western traveler. Shaggy looking young man, bushy beard, very hairy, on his way East. Night was coming on, and the road stopped delivering cars passing by. We unrolled our sleeping bags a little ways off the road and slept coldly, uncomfortably, in the desert night in Spring.

I woke before he did, packed my roll, and walked over to the highway. Hanging my thumb out as an 18 wheeler came steaming down the road. It looked like he was going to pull over and give me a ride. I was excited, never having had a ride in an 18 wheeler. Oh, he pulled over all right. But instead of slowing down, he speeded up, tried to run me down. I never stuck my thumb out again for any big rig like that.

Never got caught in the rain or bad storms while hitching a ride. Was lucky that way I guess. Traveling through the desert in Spring was a great time to travel through the Southwest. It gave me a false impression of the desert however, that I carried with me for many years. Flowers were blooming everywhere. I thought it was great.

What I did not know was that winter had been very wet in New Mexico, and Arizona. The result of which was a good bloom of plants during the spring, with great weather for that time of year. I had the idea that the desert was a cool and wonderful place. Oh, it can be, no doubt. However, the Sonoran Desert is also one of the most harsh environments in the United States.

It is one of the reasons I like Arizona. The climate and weather varies so much it is like being in three different areas of the U.S. The Sonoran Desert extends from New Mexico, through Arizona to California and parts of Mexico. It is the only place on earth where Saguaro cacti grow. Arizona also has what is known as the high plains, areas where there is nothing but seas of grass that go on for miles and miles. Then there are the mountains and forest areas of Arizona. The Sitgreaves and Tonto forests are two of the largest forests in the country.

They are stunningly beautiful with their tall, majestic ponderosa pine trees. Ponderosa pines have evolved to be resistant to fire. That does not mean they won’t burn. It does mean it takes a longer time for them to catch fire. When they are big and old they are fantastic trees to see up close and personal. Walking in the forst among trees of such majesty can be a spiritual experience.

I’ve now spent more time in Arizona than any other place I have ever lived. Most of it has been great. When first moving to Arizona, every August I became extremely homesick for WI. I felt a pull to be among lakes, trees, and seeing the countryside I grew up with. Then I moved to the White Mountains of AZ. Have not been homesick since.

Arizona and I are now old friends. The area I live in feels more like home than anyplace I’ve been. It may be terribly strange to be 70, but…

I am grateful for your visit. Thank you.

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