May 2008


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… the Rivers let me sail downstream where I pleased
more absorbed than the minds of children, I ran!
Sweeter than the flesh of sour apples to children,
the green water penetrated my pinewood hull
and washed me clean of the bluish wine-stains
and the splashes of vomit, carrying away both rudder and anchor….

…Resembling an island, tossing on my sides the brawls
and droppings of pale-eyed, clamouring birds.
And I was scudding along when across my frayed ropes
drowned men sank backwards into sleep!…

from Rimbaud’s Drunken Boat

Last night I dreamed that I was walking by a mirror and I didn’t recognize the chubby-cheeked reflection. It was me, but I’d inadvertently shaved my beard off. Unfortunately there’s real-life precedent for this. One hung over morning about a month ago I nearly turned one cheek into a goatee and mutton chop combo…

After I moved to Asheville in 2000 and went to Nepal in November of that year, I let my face grow long. That was a big time of transition. I didn’t really realize it then, but I’d finally put all the emotional mess from the divorce behind me and was ready to start again. Looking back I see growing the beard as an unconscious symbol of this change.

So in my dream I shaved it. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I think its important to keep in mind.

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Click the image above for the full gallery of photos

Memorial weekend was as full as I could ask. I went into the weekend with a list of about five things I wanted to get done. By noon Friday I was already behind. I started out adding a center stand to the bike so I can jack it up and change tires or work on the drive train while on the road. Well, the skid plate was too long to work with the center stand so I had to take it off and cut it down and then grind the edges so it won’t cut me when I fall. I also remade the tool kit on the front of the bike. I kept the 3″ PVC, but used compression caps instead of the screw-in end caps. The screw-in caps were hard to open and would vibrate off. I also used some all-thread to make a better mount than the hose clamps. I’m really happy with the results, but it took me all day.

Saturday I wewnt to Hendersonville to pick up some rail road ties I bought on Craigs List and then met Gabe and family for lunch and a little White Squirrel Fest. We had some great BBQ and the kids jumped around in the jumpy-tent. I had to leave a little early though. I had more work to do on the bike.

My nephews fourth birthday was Sunday in ATL and the only way I would go was if I could take Deseo, but the back tire was bald. With the new center stand I could change it myself and put on some 80/20 road tires I had. I jacked the bike up when I got home and commenced with the changing. This turned out be more of a challenge than I bargained for. After some serious wrestling I finally got the new tire mounted on the rim and then tried to get the wheel back on the bike. It wasn’t going back on! Covered in dirt and grease, I gave up at 10 pm, showered and went to Burger Meisters for a late supper. I sat at the bar and met Griff and Elizabeth from England and Ireland respectively. Really enjoyed meeting them and we had a good bit in common, but I lost Giffs email – so I’ll just have to wait till our paths cross again.

Sunday I was back working on the bike by 8 am and after taking the wheel off three more times and doing everything I could think of twice, I noticed that one of the break pads wasn’t aligned just right. That was it! I can’t tell you how excited I was. Almost 8 hours and I figured it out on my own. Very gratifying. I had the front tire changed out in 15 minutes and was on the road to ATL by 1.

Debbie threw a great party for Aiden with a yard full the cutest kids from 7 years old down to newly arrived. She had a slip-and-slide, a pool with a kid kayak, squirt guns - A perfect summer birthday. I got home about 11:30 that night and was totally spent.

Monday was all about relaxing – and cleaning the truck. I didn’t want to drive far, or put in a whole lot of effort, so I headed up to Skinny Dip falls. This place was really amazing. MM 417 on the parkway. I’d suggest it to anyone wanting a great place to jump into a cold creek. I had a little nap on a rock and then stacked some stones (the ones in the photo).

Great weekend.

Mike and Joni aspire to become film makers:

ganesh.jpgHindus have the best gods. Take Ganesh for example. There’s a few different myths about how he was born, but my favorite is that he came into being when his mom, Shiva (the destroyer and creator), laughed. What a great metaphor, and it gets better. She thought he was too alluring for this world, so she uglied him up a bit, giving him the head of an elephant, a few extra arms and a little pot belly. Best of all, this ancient Elephant Man-god gets around by riding on a mouses back. He’s depicted either reclining, dancing or threatening us with an ax – a party-boy till the hangover hits.

Guided by whim, your karma, and from my experience, a sardonic sense of humor, Ganesh deals in obstacles, either placing them in your path or removing them. I think I’m gonna make him my trip mascot. Get a little sticker for one of the side cases. I’ll have to balance him out with a Catholic saint though. The demoted St. Christopher is the obvious choice, but my family’s’ patron saint is St. Jude. He’s the forgotten saint and not much mentioned in the gospels. When I bring him up everyone thinks I’m talking about Judas, the MOST important saint, in my opinion, but thats a story for another day. But back to Jude – he’s the patron saint of hopeless causes and desperate cases, and thanks to Grandma Pomponio, he’s all ours.

Think about it for a minute. All our (Catholic) saints are remembered for their gruesome deaths. Getting their intestines wound up in the winch of a well, shot with arrows or skinned alive – where’s the fun in that? Wheres the joy and the celebration of life? Hindus have all these great tacky colors and smells, half man, half animal gods, and crazy myths about them. Their deities are playful and jealous, prude or promiscuous and they have epic stories to go with them. More than that, their devotion is part of their daily lives. They live their connection to the divine, its not a Sunday thing. For them, their gods live in the rocks, trees and rivers. Think about how that basic belief would effect the choices you make. How do you cut down a tree thats the physical manifestation of God, or pollute a divine river – and yeah, I know the Ganges is nasty. How much of that comes from millions of people “worshiping” in it and not understanding the bigger picture? Its being loved to death. There’s not an easy answer here, but it seems to me that you’d make very different choices if you believed the world around you was infused with living deities, instead of thinking that you’re the crown of creation and this life is a test to be endured with Heaven as the pay-off.

Don’t worry mom – I’m not turning Hindu any more than I’m returning to The One Holy and Apostolic church. I just really dig Ganesh, cherished pudgy elephant-headed boy.

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My Shrine on the Mantle

All humans are linked in pilgrimage, journeying to the same place. Like the Seven Dwarfs in the parade at Disney World, three steps forward, two steps back, arms swinging in perfect, absurd rhythm. Then in comic choreography, piling into each other, back to belly, drawing to a halt, …and forward again.

Paraphrased from “Aama in America”

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Brid putting some of Jerrys ashes in the Green river before the 2008 baddle. Afterwards we all floated flowers down stream in his memory.

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In the midst of the Baddle

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The Baddle ground. I don’t have final numbers, but I know we took in more than $10,000 for ALS and the Green River Access fund.

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An afternoon hike into Bonas Defeat confirms that Earl is a tourist dog – NOT an adventure dog. He prefers a mulched path.

and lastly…

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The Hillys first gig. We weren’t perfect, but we’re the only ones who know that for sure.