Saturday, June 30, 2007

Pacific Crest Trail interviews (Part 3)

Pacific Crest Trail interviews (Part 2)

Digital dork

I bought a laptop last week, a Gateway with 160 GB on its hard drive and Windows Vista. I have been spending most of my free time (and well into sleep time) exploring all of its many functions and organizing files.

I bought the laptop to use as a teaching aid, but also as a key component in a home recording studio. And, as already shown, I will store video clips of Jonny and publish many of them on this blog for family to enjoy.

Because I can now compute at home, look for more blog entries and, in the not-too-distant future, audio and/or video clips of my original music. I have spent the last couple hours putting together interview clips from the 2004 hike Esther (Sisu) and I (Raru) took from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Here is part one:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Jonny video

I recorded this video of Jonny at Esther's place. Normally, he wears a shirt, but it was too hot. I particularly like near the end when Jonny pouts his lips like a rock star and it is a triple image because Jonny is standing in front of the television showing the video as its being recorded.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Northern Exposure quote

From Northern Exposure season five, the episode titled “Rosebud.” Leonard and Chris are talking at The Brick, the bar and restaurant in Cicely, Alaska. Leonard is collecting folk stories from white people to find out how they use mythology to heal, but all he’s heard so far are urban legends about hooks on cars and wasp nests in beehive hairdos.

LEONARD: I simply can’t find any healing properties in these fables. White people don’t seem concerned at all with using mythology to heal themselves. In fact, they seem intent on making each other feel worse.
CHRIS: I mean, you know, there’s gotta be something to be learned from this. Maybe – maybe it’s just indicative of how threatened we feel in the wake of the Industrial Revolution.
LEONARD: How is that?
CHRIS: Well, you know, it’s just not the clock maker and the clock anymore. Everything’s rolled off the assembly line, you know. We feel rattled by the anonymity of our possessions. Hey, where’d that come from? Who’s this guy? Who can I trust? Mass production gave rise to capitalism, but it undermined the individual, which in turn killed God, and we as a society have filled that vacuum with fear and paranoia.
LEONARD: How does the rise of capitalism explain the one about the young woman in the Volkswagen?
CHRIS: Oh, yeah, right. The uh, drive-in movie, Spanish fly, gearshift deal. I don’t know, brother, you’re on your own there.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You're invited!!!

I am posting my schedule of outdoor activities for the rest of the summer. If anybody would like to join me on any of these hiking, biking, canoeing excursions, I will be glad to provide food and transportation (though offers to chip in for gas won't be refused). E-mail me at or call 815-505-5680 if interested.

June 30 --Canoe Rock River -- Dixon to Sterling (approximately 8-9 miles)

July 1 -- Canoe Rock River -- Sterling/Rock Falls to Prophetstown (11-12 miles)

July 7 -- Bike the Pecatonica Prairie Path (18 miles); also including a trip to Seward Bluff Forest Preserve (a long-time favorite nearby. Dolomite cliffs!).

July 21 - 22 -- Canoe Rock River from Prophetstown to the Mississippi River at Rock Island. (approximately 30 miles).

August 5 -- (Chicago weekend!!) Canoe the Salt Creek of the Des Plaines River (11 miles); evening bike ride along the lakeshore.

August 6 -- Bike North Branch Bike Trail (approximately 20 miles).

August 18-19 -- Canoe the Pecatonica River from Trask Bridge Forest Preserve to Macktown (approximately 30 miles).

More later, including, hopefully, a fall weekend backpacking trip or two. YES! Rarity of rarities, I may attempt to backpack in my home state. Also, this schedule may change if something more interesting comes up.

Father's Day

(click on the picture for more)

Gary Snyder poem

I like this poem by Gary Snyder because it is masculine and intimate, a rare feat of emotion. I also see an all-knowing, accepting look of wisdom ("How intelligent he looks!")in Jonny's eyes when I change him. At least when he's not fussing and trying to get away.

From Axe Handles:

Changing Diapers
How intelligent he looks!
on his back
both feet caught in my one hand
his glance set sideways,
on a giant poster of Geronimo
with a Sharp's repeating rifle by his knee.
I open, wipe, he doesn't even notice
nor do I.
Baby legs and knees
toes like little peas
little wrinkles, good-to-eat,
eyes bright, shiny ears,
chest swelling drawing air,
No trouble, friend,
you and me and Geronimo
are men.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Latest ramblings...

It's early afternoon. A storm's brewing. There's a sneeze on the breeze, something wicked this way comes. I've been putzing around online. Now it's time to do a little self-serving reflection on life in transit. Or, let's call it "the restless ramblings of a wandering minstrel prince;" "or the rugged, esoteric musings of the outdoorsman;" or, more accurately, "the measly pinings of an academic at a second-tier state school."

I am all caught up and up-to-date on my teacher certification portfolio. I met with Dr. Callahan early yesterday afternoon after spending all morning fine tuning the last elements of my evidence (mainly revising and adding materials to my five week unit plan for Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game). That's a HUGE hassle taken care of.

I met with Ms. Fontana Monday. Due to a change in scheduling, I was dropped from my original assignment at Eisenhower Middle School, much to my worry and chagrin. I thought my placement in the teacher cert. program was in jeopardy. But the change in plans worked in my favor.

Instead of having to live with my parents this fall, I can stay in my current DeKalb digs, close to Jonny, close to NIU, and a less-than-10-minute walk commute to my new assignment at Huntley Middle School. I have a long history of substitute teaching experience at Huntley as well, and have subbed for Ms. Fontana's class in the past. The students and staff know me already. That's a big plus in my favor.

Today I picked up my textbooks for Upward Bound instruction, which begins June 18. I have to write two syllabuses before I leave Saturday on a weeklong canoe trip down the Rock River.

Yes! Saturday morning, barring catastrophic flood and mayhem, I will re-embark down the Rock River and, hopefully, a week later, will end up at the Mississippi River in Rock Falls. The storm will no doubt make the going a little faster, and the Rock is wide enough I don't have to worry about blowdowns. I'm going to be brave and bring my camera, despite losing two cameras in the past to canoe dunkings. I'll double bag the camera and keep the bagged camera in its zippered, water-resistant case, in a third freezer bag. That oughta be failsafe, unless I drop the camera when taking a shot or tip the canoe trying to extract the camera from all those bags...

A week on the water... herons, carp, cicada buzz, the gentle tug of the current, the fecund, septic smell of the bottomlands, mosquito haze, industrial effluence, impressive escarpments of St. Peter's sandstone, the occasional shore trip for ice cream, beer, a restroom to wash off the mud, sweat and DEET, a lazy afternoon reading under the shade of a riverside willow, naps, a line in the water, drifting, lazily steering, morning mist hangs low over still waters, frog chorus at bedtime, the mighty artery carry me to the delta. This trip will fulfill a childhood Huck Finn fantasy.

Last week I bought a used canoe from an ad in Craigslist, and drove out to La Grange to pick it up. Unfortunately, Baron, my red Pontiac Bonneville I bought late last year for $75, is having radiator trouble, so my grand plan of carting the canoe by car is nixed. I will need to spend more money than I probably paid for the canoe to outfit the truck (Blackie) with a canoe carrier.

Yes, in a nod to the habits of my former-in-laws, I have given silly, somewhat ironic names to my vehicles.

One week of grace coming up, then it's a fairly easy schedule of teaching four hours a day, a trigonometry class at Kishwaukee Community College Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and in the between times more creative writing (I'm working on a couple short stories and culling the best of a surprisingly large body of poetry to possibly put together in a chapbook) and songwriting. The extra time I've had on my hands lately is spent on more time with Jonny, scheming cool adventures and, yes, putzing around on the guitar enough to compose a couple new songs. I may dig deeper into debt on a laptop so I can load videos from my camera online, have an easy resource for teaching, and record my own music.

I'll sign off with a couple quotes from Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert:

"He thought less of her as he grew accustomed to living alone. The new delight of independence soon made his loneliness bearable. He could now change his meal-times, go in or out without explanation, and when he was very tired stretch himself at full length on his bed."

"Because lips libertine and venal had murmured such words to him, he believed but little in the candour of hers; exaggerated speeches hiding mediocre affections must be discounted; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest metaphors, since no one can ever give the exact measure of his needs, nor of his conceptions, nor of his sorrows; and since human speech is like a cracked tin kettle, on which we hammer out tunes to make bears dance when we long to move the stars."

Genesis, "Los Endos," 2007

Phil is best when he's behind the kit. The rest of old geezers can still jam it out too.