Solstice

Location: Sparks, Nevada

monrise-sunset

Today is the solstice and our first wedding anniversary, and there was a wonderful full moon last evening.

Looks like a good time for new beginnings.

A Moment of Solitude

Location: Walker Lake, Nevada

I have been spending a few days in solitude at Walker Lake, Nevada.
Here there are no other people and few distractions.

It is a chance for me to focus, read, contemplate and work.

I’m also taking a break from news and social media.
The recent waves of political energy have shattered my image of America as a rational and tolerant domain.

Taking to the Trees

Location: Tahoe City, Nevada


Some of you may remember my adventures a few weeks ago plunging down the water slides.  Just to show that some people can’t leave well enough alone.

I decided try out an treetops ropes course.

This is where you climb up twenty to fifty feet up and ride zip lines, climb cargo nets, walk tight ropes, and walk on a boardwalks. Except the boardwalks are free swinging boards and logs and platforms.

Treetop Course

Perhaps I was a bit too ambitious and should have started on the beginner’s course, the one where they allow five year olds. But I naively took the advanced course.

I am not saying I was out of shape.

I am in perfectly good shape for a social security dude waking on flat ground, and heck I have no real problems with stepping on planks that are not moving under my feet.

But I should have started training for this a bit earlier…say in 1996. 

I did make it through some of the courses, but only with the help of my younger coworkers. Some groups do this for team building.  I think in my case it was more of a rescue mission.

I would come to an impasse halfway through an obstacle they would shout things like, “It’s OK, James. Take your time. Rest for a bit,” and I would say, “I will. I will. I think I’ll rest here until next Thursday.”

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They say wisdom comes with age. I looked around me and figured that I was at least twenty years older than anyone else on the course. I think the wiser elders had enough sense to stay away.

Nonetheless I tested my limits, and I survived, and except for the times I spent whimpering, I had a fabulous time.

Father of the Bride

Location: Incline Village, Nevada

Today my role was Father of the Bride.

A Lovely Bride.
A Lovely Day.
A Lovely Wedding.

Me with my top hat and she all dressed up as the bride.

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Walking her down the isle and presenting her as the bride…
It was one of the proudest moments of my life.

 

Does life have its ups and downs?

Location: Sacramento, California

Well, it certainly does on a water slide.

I experienced my first water slide today as part of a birthday treat for my eight year old granddaughter.  We both had a great time.

She had a bit of fear about the slide down.  I had a bit of fear about the climb up.

Ah, so many steps. It is a good thing that I have been practicing climbing Mayan pyramids.

I am still not sure if swirling around at great force in a dark wet tube is not insane. I can claim in my defense, that I had no idea what I was getting into when I first climbed the tower and sat at the top of the slide.

But, how can I explain my climbing back up and wanting to do it again and yet again?  The hardware in our brains that creates an overlap between pleasure and terror is still a mystery to me.

Paying homage to an old friend

Location: Half Moon Bay, California

I have just attended a life celebration for my
dear artist friend, Arabella Decker.

I feel that the world is a lesser place without her. She was passionate about her art, and her art was full of passion.

There is a hole in the world where she used to be.

Do you have any primordial desires?

Location: Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Dozens of them, but two of them in particular are awakened in Tulum, Mexico.

First of all there is the primordial need to photograph sunrises. My mind tells me that the world already has an adequate supply of sunrise photographs, and there is no need to produce any more. But once I am here, I always wake up at dawn, grab my camera, and head out to capture the sun, the clouds, and the sea.

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Secondly, there is the urge to swim in the ocean. This is a sport that requires very little equipment (or none at all if you are selective.) But this was complicated this time by the huge bulk of seaweed that is currently in the water just off of the beaches.

Swimming becomes almost impossible and I feel like I have been given an exfoliation treatment by the combination of ocean waves and churning seaweed.

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As I leave the ocean, the seaweed in my grey beard and hair make me look a bit like Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the sea.

I say good morning to the Mexican beach keeper, and he waves and gives me a look that translates into, “Gringos, who can understand their mysterious ways?” Who indeed, as I shower off and leave more plant material around the drain than I find in most salads.

Yet my needs are now satisfied, and I can go off on my next quest, to find decent art among the tourist crap.

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The best Defense is a good rock fence

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

Private property rights are respected in the Yucatan, but as as with most rights they are only respected if you defend them.

The most common excuse for trespassing to to say, is to say, “Oh, I thought this was open land?” or, “I didn’t think anybody would object.” This is called the law of inherent permission. If nobody seems to mind, then I can hunt, wander as I please, or maybe even plant crops or set up a homestead.

The usual first defense against trespass is to set up a fence.

It does not have to be an insurmountable fence, but it has to be obvious enough so that folks can not say, “Gee, I didn’t see any fence. I must have wandered off course.”

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Here the most popular fences are barbed wire and/or stone walls, and most of our property does have stone walls and/or barbed wire. But over time the rock walls can fall down in places, the fence posts can collapse, and the wire can break.

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In these cases, the wanderer can say, “Yeah, I saw the fence, but I just assumed that the owner abandoned his claims some time ago.” This is not an unreasonable defense.

We have dozens of walls criss-crossing our property that served their purposes decades or centuries ago. So, one our first actions with our property is to mend the fences and to put a perimeter trail.

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This says, “This is private property, and yes, the owner does care, and if you want to be on this land, it would be a good idea to get permission first.”

Ah, the joys of being a land baron.

Can you give us some trash talk?

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

There is very little trash on the streets of Santa Elena, yet there are very few trash cans. One can only conclude that they do not litter the streets and that they carefully dispose of their trash.

One of the popular trash disposal locations is to just throw it out the car window. The jungle does a good job of hiding the rubbish, so it is a win – win situation

…unless you own property by the side of the road.

If people see a rubbish next to the road, they conclude that this must be a good spot to add more. So, if you wish to discourage the practice, you need to clean up the trash that is already there. This sends a subtle message, that the land is under new ownership and that the new owner would really, really appreciate it if you put your rubbish somewhere else.

And should a subtle message not get this across, it doesn’t hurt to put up a sign.

Do you ever think dirty thoughts?

Location: Santa Elena, Yucatan

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Why yes, I love thinking about dirt, playing in the dirt, looking at the dirt.

We now have two and a half acres of unplanted farmland. They have cleared off the brush and burned it for the ash, just as they have done for thousands of years. But now we have modern tractors to come and till the land.

Nothing says potential like seeing a vast field of rich red dirt. Now we have set up the irrigation and decide what to plant.

I know we want to plant corn and watermelons. Our Farm Manager wants us to grow peppers, tomatoes, and squash to take to the market.

Looking at the field again. Many, many dirty thoughts.