.scoria.

I decided to head up to Mt. Tabor the afternoon of the 1st.

It was cold but sunny, and I hadn’t been up there in awhile. It’s the neighborhood I’d first explored when I moved here right after grad school, and I’ve always loved it. Sometime back in my previous years year, between 2004 and 2008, I’d seen a soap box derby race up there, and I think I’d played frisbee at the top of it, in the open area between the big Doug Firs.

I took Ruby, the 1972 Schwinn Continental I’d received here in Portland for my 30th birthday, on the train to the 60th Ave. station, then pedaled up to Tabor. I had to walk a few times, as my chain is slipping on the sprockets, and some of those hills kicked my ass.

I eventually parked Ruby toward the North end, then hiked up.

The path up toward the top loop was steep, and a good workout following my short bicycle ride. As I neared the top, the lay of the land started to return to me, as I remembered certain structures like the bathroom, then the playground area, then even the road and various paths that continued to the top. Memories of walking around there 10-14 years ago surged through me, and then I pondered just how long ago that was, and how much has happened since then.

Once I got up there, I noticed how many people filled the area, on a jog, or walking their dogs. Several people grouped in an spot facing West at what I saw was going to be an awesome view of a sunset — which was my reason for going up there by that time of day — and I walked around the top to wait for the actual sunset time, which was 4:37.

A few pine cones begged my attention, and I’m assuming these mice needed to scurry under rocks to stay warm in the 11 to 12 meter per second winds.

Walking from South to North, from the Harvey W. Scott sculpture, I glimpsed the setting sunlight hitting some Doug Fir trunks, setting one side of them on fire.

Then a forked set of trees presented sort of an iris, or a lens, through which the sun was focused.

I wandered back toward the paved road, then south a bit and down the slope to a trail, which presented just as good of a view of the pending show. On my way back to the clearing, even the sun through the branches was pretty astounding. Not as good as soft hemlock branches against a blue sky, but still pretty killer.

As I found a place to sit on the nearly 45 degree angled grass between the upper road and the trail, I heard some of the group above singing a little. Then a guy about my age, who was wandering up the trail, sat down a few feet from me, ready for the view. He laid on his back for a bit to admire the extremely blue sky, which I think took on an awesome sort of pre-twilight hue that I couldn’t quite get with my phone camera, but I tried.

Waiting for the minute the sun set, after which I knew I’d need to head back out, as it was going to be a cold twilight trip back, I looked around a little, since the light always gets very interesting at this hour.
A streetlamp up and to the left of me stood out. I felt like I was in Narnia.

Some more people strolled by in the meantime, including a couple people with dogs, and a woman with a 3-4 year old and what looked like almost a 2-year old, who was trying out his new legs. He glanced over at me in triumph as he took some mighty steps, and gave me a grin, and I grinned back. He kept trucking, pretty much the king of Mt Tabor right then.

As the sun set, I got some pictures, and the entire time I was up there, I thought of the fact that I needed to just holster my damn device and experience it, but I couldn’t help myself. I aim to enjoy more of these things With people going forward, which seems to be a great way to stem the flow of excessive picture taking.

Nevertheless, here it is: the last picture I took before bicycling down the hill, my fingers freezing, a smile on my face as I rolled through the curves of Scott Drive and all the nice homes with excellent views there.

Happy New Year, readers.

.3Nov17.

Ubers and Lyfts troll for tricks along old
Tanner Creek, above wetlands of the Pearl.
I saunter down Flanders, tent camps strewn
like breadcrumbs all the way home. How close
I am to them.
That.
Were it not for family, friends, I’d be
right there buried
in tarps and tattered blankets, zip-lock
full of change, mélange of piss and
cologne, echoes of Goose Hollow shanties.
As winter crawls in, a lady in doubled up knit cap
tidies her cart’s trash bags, considers me
through neon gloom.

.17Oct17.

Ponder of the bus and then decide on the walk,
air brisk, down in thickets of city
scurry of park block rats
been nostalgic for my late winter
start, earlier this year, the walks that
defined efficiency as a new mode
toward freedom
Never headphones in, rarely a phone call
eyes up, not engaging, ponder as I hit Steel
Bridge that walks through poverty and street
folk can render one downright inhospitable
Contrast of the trusses along the lift span
against convention center space towers, smooth
still Willamette, pace of my feet, beat

.October 1, 2017.

I woke up today hearing about the shooting in Las Vegas. I listened on NPR and watched some PBS broadcasts, stunned and sad.
Everybody wants answers, nobody knows what to say that will explain it. Maybe there is nothing to say.

The entire situation is unthinkable, unpredictable. The questions are put out there by the media, and by ourselves: “Did this happen because of mental illness, the shooter’s affiliation with this or that group? What was his motivation? Does this make more people re-think gun control legislation?”

Right now, not even 24 hours after it went down, some sort of response — however small and solitary — came through in a few texts with family and friends.

The only answer is love, is what I heard from a couple people.
And that is so simple and vague, so what do we mean by that..?

There is a gentling of the spirit that occurs, for me, anyway, in response to this sort of thing. Definitely puts a lot into perspective, right?
We’re not going to get rid of all guns, we’re not going to heal mental illness, and we’re not going to immediately correct political arguments and social unrest.
We can, however, change something within ourselves.

The brave men and women who were there, and involved in helping afterward… everything from other concert attendees who shielded and carried each other to safety, to a woman helping bring wounded individuals to the hospital in her truck, to the police, firefighters, EMTs and medical staff at nearby hospitals… showed the best kind of immediate love one can give in that situation.
So many stories have already come forth about people thinking of others and lending a hand even when stuck in a hail of bullets. It’s amazing.

Being the Helper, when thrown into a situation like that, is the best any of us can hope to be, and I’m proud of everybody who kept their wits about them last night and were able to do anything at all to help people around them, as the scene was not declared safe for emergency personnel to enter, initially, until some time after the shooting had started.

* * *

Many of us have emotional strife and other issues in our day-to-day lives that perhaps don’t bring out the best in us.
I know I am sometimes too combative — in my mind, and in my heart.
I am also too defensive, and combative in social and emotional ways — when I feel threatened, or frustrated, or exhausted.

I’m not always at my best, and in fact sometimes feel a tension in my gut that can manifest in being too mean, or grumpy, or plain old not nice, or selfish.

I sometimes try to check in with myself even while walking around on errands, ponder whether my composure is open, or whether my expression is kind.
Most of the time, I think I walk around with a big shield up, braced against the world.

When walking through some kinda seedy areas of town, I’m basically avoiding eye contact while staying alert in case of any danger. It feels like if I open up and allow engagement too much, in some areas, I get pestered with lots of requests for money, or simply invite strange statements and interactions with the poor and mentally ill that line the streets between my apartment and work.

But most of the time, there’s no need for that. That posture, and mental attitude, and expression puts me in a mindset of Me vs. Them, and it’s something I want to work on.

When I say that the only response for some of us, at this moment, might be simple Love, I mean I want to hold myself and others in a kind light, not in a negative light.

I’m no expert on meditation, but there is this phrase that came into my mind, variations of which I’ve heard at a couple of guided meditations. This one is from the Metta meditation website (a link is below):

“May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease. ”
And after a period of directing loving-kindness toward yourself, you can repeat that phrase of loving-kindness to others:

“May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful and at ease.”

This all may feel a little ‘floaty’, compared to the heaviness of the grim reality of events in Vegas, and other places in the world, but it’s a place to start.

May you be safe, readers.

– BonFireFly

http://www.mettainstitute.org/mettaarticle.html

providence cancer

Providence Portland Medical Foundation.

Please donate if you can.
Some coworkers were participating in the donation cause, and I’d thought I’d help — initially by donating to a member’s page, but now by expanding the hyperlink that is now how our society runs.

Click if you are able.

– Windwalker

https://finishcancer2017.everydayhero.com/us/windwalker

.Micah Fletcher.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2017/05/in_interviews_max_stabbing_sur.html

“The little girl who had the misfortune that day to experience what happened on that MAX, her life is never going to be the same. I want you to imagine that for a second, being the little girl on that MAX. This man is screaming at you, his face is a pile of knives, his body is a gun, everything about him is cocked, loaded and ready to kill you. There’s a history here with this. You can feel that this has happened before and the only thing that was different was the names and faces. And then a stranger, two strangers, three strangers come to your aid. They try to help you, and that pile of knives just throws itself at them, kills them.”

– Poet Micah Fletcher


https://www.youcaring.com/survivorsofthemaxattack-833557

.look for the helpers.

The stabbing at Hollywood Transit Center, on the light rail here in Portland one week ago, has generated a lot of news coverage, as well as much discussion about issues at a national and global level, part of which is playing right now on Oregon Public Broadcasting as I type.

The morning after the stabbing, I received texts from loved ones, asking me if I had heard anything; I hadn’t, so I looked it up and was horrified by what I read.

At the same time, and more importantly, I was impressed by the courageous actions of Army veteran (of Iraq and Afghanistan) Ricky John Best (R.I.P.); recent Reed College graduate Taliesin Myrddin (R.I.P.); and poet Micah David-Cole Fletcher (who survived his wounds) all of whom stepped up to protect the two young women who were being insulted and accosted by a man who was later apprehended by the police.

This morning, June 2, I hopped on the TriMet’s MAX Light Rail Red Line, near where I live, to the Hollywood Transit Center (TC) for a Dr. appointment, and to hit up the Trader Joe’s that’s right there.

I knew that stop was where the event occurred, and I’ve caught the train there often for various appointments. There are unhinged, muttering, aggressive, mentally unbalanced, drunk, drugged out, and downright scary people all over this city, so I really don’t attribute what happened to any particular area — it just happens to be where something happened recently.

As I walked up the steps from the train stop, then north on the pedestrian bridge, and down the steps past some Portland Police (who were there to maintain a good, preventive presence, as there are supposed to be some demonstrations there today), I was blown away by how much was there in tribute to the two men who are now gone.
The chalk messages, flowers, candles, and other items left in the area were mostly loving in nature, and had me in awe.

I checked it out a little on my way to the doctor, then spent more time on the way back, walking slowly up the concrete ramp to read the messages and look at the flowers. One older woman was walking it as well, crying, and several people were checking it out in general while some kind folks set up a Free Donut station with some coffee nearby.


One part of the messages was an excerpt from a quote by Mr. Rogers.

“I was spared from any great disasters when I was little, but there was plenty of news of them in newspapers and on the radio, and there were graphic images of them in newsreels. There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.”

– Fred Rogers, in a quote from 1986

I’ll refrain from politicizing this right now, myself, although it necessarily IS political, because I’m inspired by the writing of James Sissler, who was a friend of Taliesin.

https://qz.com/996115/remembering-taliesin-myrddin-namkai-meche-portland-stabbing-victim-to-honor-his-death-dont-be-too-quick-to-politicize-it/

During a tragedy, “Always look for the helpers,” good readers.

Better yet, BE A HELPER.

– BonFireFly





.flora colossus.

mossy ribs

I walk into the office, which is well lit, the afternoon sun pouring through the large pane windows.

My therapist greets me at the door, and gestures to the easy chair. He remains standing in the corner, assuming a serene stance, his usual approach. He simply waits for me to speak.

I exhale and begin my litany of concerns, fears, pending problems.

“Yeah, so, I’m about to leave for a place that’s familiar, yet not so familiar, you know? I think I’ll be fine, and comfortable, and I just don’t know if I’m going to realize my full self unless I head out there. And I don’t know if I’m just imagining my affinity for the place, or if it’s real. Things change. People change…”

My therapist listens, nodding slightly, and says only, “I am Groot.”

“Right, you’re right. I’m over-thinking it. So, I’ve spoken to lots of friends and family, and everybody agrees that the area will suit me, will help me to grow and develop the way I’m supposed to. But I don’t even really believe that I’m supposed to do anything — I mean, I don’t believe in pre-destiny, y’know? I just want to make sure I’m not feeling so…damn…alien all the time.”

Continuing to listen, my therapist lays a branch on the windowsill, stares into the sun, pondering, then continues, “I am Groot.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” I say. “It’s easy to think that we need to become something, or need to fit in with other people, but in the end, I really just need to do my thing, right? Just settle in and figure out my own groove, not overextend myself, and just keep on keepin’ on, right?”
I search my therapist’s face desperately, feeling like he’s really onto something now, and is helping me figure out a way forward.

“I am Groot,” he says, with finality, lowering his arm…or his branch…or his…stick-arm, back to his thigh. I can’t quite make out what I’d call a mouth, but I feel like I see a faint, peaceful smile appear on his face.

“Right. Right, man,” I exhale, relieved. “I’d never thought of that, really, but I think it’ll help me a ton, to try that approach. I’m going to focus on a new way to interact, maybe work on my pace of life a bit, hell, even change my expression to be more kind, more open. Maybe slow down and not try to multi-task so much. It’d never occurred to me, really, until you put it that way.”

I joined my therapist in looking out the window for a minute, resting a hand on the windowsill, feeling the warmth of the sun.
I then realized I’d been worried about nothing this entire time. I pulled out my cell phone, noticed the time, and realized the session was over. Without a word, I gave my therapist a nod and a small smile, and walked out of that office to embark on my next adventure in the galaxy.

lil’ groot
groot

.coniferous ent.

Took a walk at Paul Lange Arboretum and other parts of the Comus Lake area tonight, a place I’ve gravitated to at different times over the past year and a half.

I usually head straight for the Ben Dibble trail, a rougher trail in the woods that provides a break from the wind.

Partway down the trail, all the familiar landmarks greet me. There’s the little forts that people have made with fallen branches, the tree that is bent out into the water, the sign at the end that announces private property beyond that point…

It’s been cold lately, so I braved the ice, walking out to finally get a 180 degree vantage point on the trail.

Ben Dibble trail from Comus Lake

A little past where I would normally need to turn around due to the private property, there is a marshy area, with a hunting blind set up, which looked pretty cozy. During my walk toward it, I saw some tracks that were either muskrat or raccoon.

hunting blind

The tracks looked like freaky little baby hand prints.

muskrat or raccoon prints?

At one point, I saw either fox or coyote prints that crossed the raccoon or muskrat tracks. It did not look like they were there at the same time, or I imagine the fox or coyote would have been chasing the muskrat. Instead, I’d say that the snow allowed me to see the predator tracks that I’d guess were older, maybe from last night, whereas I supposed the muskrat or raccoon tracks looked crisper, more fresh, maybe from this morning.

two separate tracks, crossing paths at different times

Walking back, some geese were heard overhead. They proceeded West, in front of a waxing crescent moon about halfway through its journey across the sky.

geese proceeding West for mid-winter…

I decided to get off the ice for my return trek, back on Ben Dibble trail, noticing that somebody had completed clearing some of the fallen brush I’d started to clear myself a month or so ago. There’d been some branches blocking the path, so I cracked and bent them back. Over the past year or so, I’ve also tried to collect whatever garbage I can from the trail, such as plastic bags or bottles, to do what I can to contribute.

As I got back toward the Paul Lange Arboretum area, where I always take the loop East toward the water to complete the circle, I looked up and saw the moon had gotten brighter, clearer, and a planet sitting a little west of it shone bright. I always presume it’s a planet, when no other stars can yet be seen. I’m thinking it was Jupiter (from looking at my Skymap app) but could be wrong.

I’ve been thinking about Swamp Thing lately, and how to best incorporate my similar character in my story into the bigger picture of Leon and Brighid’s undertaking.

It didn’t occur to me until I was bracing against the now-freezing wind, toward my car, just how many forms he can take.

just standing there

I’d had a dream Friday night that I was in a large cabin in the woods somewhere. As I approached the back door, there was a tall, hulking figure standing in the doorway. It wasn’t menacing, and it didn’t move. It was just there. My immediate thought was it was Sasquatch, or Bigfoot. I just knew that’s what it was. I turned to go get my axe, unsure what my intent was, but knowing I should grab something, and after I grabbed it and turned around, I saw the figure was gone.

When I awoke, I was able to remember the dream so clearly; the image stuck with me for several minutes.

Sasquatch wasn’t there to hurt me, and I shouldn’t have felt I needed to grab the axe. He was there to see me, or to let me see him, and then he was gone.

Off to a new chapter tomorrow, but I feel like I can melt through the planet like Swamp Thing, pop up in marshes wherever I want, or perhaps appear in a forest in coniferous form. You can’t track me, you can’t identify my species. I am able to blend, to take the form I need to in order to survive. I can travel at speed of thought, be at your doorway one second, then gone without a trace the next.

used the ice to finally obtain my perch on the horizontal tree

They’ll make an X-Files episode about me someday, ha..!

Til next time (from a place further West), kampers,

– Mossy

.animal legal defense fund.

I was just listening to Iowa Public Radio on my laptop, as I tend to do while working on things.

The home page had an article about Iowa’s ranking in animal legal protection that was very sad to see.

http://iowapublicradio.org/post/iowa-ranks-second-last-animal-legal-protection#stream/0

What is sadly interesting, but not surprising, is the unfortunate connection between neglect and abuse of animals, and treatment of humans:

“…those who harm animals are five times more likely to harm humans as well.”
– Lora Dunn, Interim Director and Senior Staff Attorney of the Criminal Justice Program at the Animal Legal Defense Fund

I love animals, and have many friends who love them as well, ranging from those who consider our fellow Beings who have 4 legs as important as people, to those who believe in the Do No Harm to any Creature ethos. All respectable.

I am a meat-eater. And I respect responsible hunting; I admire those who hunt in a sustainable way and try to achieve their kill as cleanly as possible, but I have always felt disturbed by people who beat, kick, neglect, or otherwise abuse their pets, or any animal.

I did not see anything in the article that was a call to arms, but the Animal Legal Defense Fund seems to be one place to start, in terms of gaining information and ways to act.

I believe this cat is the one in charge of the whole program.
I wouldn’t mess with this cat.

Kitty version of Matt Murdock / Daredevil ?

http://aldf.org/

.bryophytes.

How many times did I hike Oneonta, Triple Falls, Multnomah area and elsewhere, giddy from the sights and smells, the pure oxygen?

PCT at BotG

How many times did I tell myself to just stay on the trail, mid-hike, and melt into the underbrush?

I sent moss back to people, put moss in my pockets, hand-carried some back, selected samples of different species to compare and examine.

mossy ribs

I’d hike out until dark, not yet at the waterfall or the viewpoint, darkness falling, not caring.

I heard somebody practicing the violin, once, near the Pacific Crest Trail, their exact location impossible to discern amid the damp foliage.

I met a nice slug.

I did pushups, took waterfall showers, did some extreme fartlek hiking, took … too many pictures.

I hope it is all still there.

Along one trail, I ran into Alex Olsen, who educated me on a few things:

“Bryophytes are the oldest of all lineages of land plants and are believed to be a vital link in the migration of plants from aquatic environments onto land. A number of physical features link bryophytes to both land plants and aquatic plants. Two distinct adaptations have helped to make the move from water to land possible and forged the way for plants to colonize the Earth’s terrestrial environments. A waxy cuticle covering the soft tissue of the plant provides protection and prevents desiccation of the plant’s tissues. The development of gametangia provided further protection specifically for gametes.

They also have embryonic development which is a significant adaptation seen in land plants and not green algae. Connections to their aquatic ancestry are also evident through their dependence on water for reproduction and survival. A thin layer of water is required on the surface of the plant to enable the movement of sperm between gametophytes and the fertilization of an egg.”

…sexy…

Until next time, Readers.

– Mossy

.you do not have actual voting power.

http://www.fairelectionsproject.org/

“We oppose partisan gerrymandering, and are working to ask the courts to implement a standard that can measure when there’s too much partisan gerrymandering, violating the Constitutional rights of the citizens of a given state.”

Check out this site if you would like your political power, through a vote, to actually have any weight.

Right now, it does not, when we look at the combined way our individual power is watered down by both the electoral college and rampant gerrymandering.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/559c1a7be4b0a2650c6c39b3/t/559d3d13e4b055d80315b489/1436368147493/Exhibit+1.pdf

The way I see it, I had more actual power while voting in the Primaries, but then the way the conventions work, any new or non-mainstream voices are pushed to the side.

When districts are re-drawn, that is the politicians choosing their voters, instead of the voters choosing their politicians.

If we take a look at how a state like Iowa handles redistricting, it really sheds light on how many other states have it all wrong.
As it says in the article, their process ensures that “The mapmakers are not allowed to consider previous election results, voter registration, or even the addresses of incumbent members of Congress.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2013/12/08/iowa-redistricting-takes-partisanship-out-mapmaking/efehCnJvNtLMIAFSQ8gp7I/story.html

It is not just the recent election via our republic (not a democracy) that should frighten us. This has happened five times before, where the popular vote does not count. The idea is to prevent ‘mob rule’ but at this point, all it seems to do is take away the meaning, and power, of our individual votes; help lobbyists to control the outcome of elections by working the system to achieve the electoral win; and ensure that the Corporate States of America are alive and well.

We are not in a democracy…not by any means. What can we do?

We can start by waking up to the actual system we’re a part of, and by helping our fellow citizens, and our representatives, to wake up and drive toward a change.

It all starts with being informed.

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