New Blog for My New Obsession

I am not retiring this blog. It still will serve as a place for me to post about life in general, when the urge hits me.

Until then, please see my first post on my new blog. It tells the story of how an obsession of mine started, faded, then rekindled with a passion.

The only thing set in stone on the blog is the topic. I have not made a final decision yet on the name or the theme.

Click the post title below to read:
A Pedaler’s Tale

The First Buffalo National River Trip I Planned

Foggy Morning Restaurant View

Last summer I returned to one of my favorite places — the Buffalo National River, and five friends from Texas joined me. At age 44, it would be my first time on the Buffalo with anyone other than my family. When these guys originally asked me to get a trip together back in May, I was pumped. Then they said it had to be in August. Not much of the river usually is floatable in the middle of August without a lot of getting out and dragging the boat.

You might think that it’s difficult to get lost when floating down a waterway that only leads in one direction. I managed it easily, but that comes later.

(click any image to enlarge it)

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Caress of Steel – Rush

Recently, a friend of mine was tagged when one of his friends asked a few to name 1970’s albums that are good for a full listen, end-to-end.

I was a child in the 1970’s, but in the 1980’s I was exposed to much of the previous decade’s music. Many of those bands, of course, still were making music well into the 1980’s, and beyond.

After reading through several comments suggesting Led Zeppelin, Yes, ELO, Pink Floyd, and others, I realized there was no Rush in there yet. Back in 1988 or so, I was made aware of Rush’s Caress of Steel. I listened to the cassette in my car and at home. That particular medium made it difficult to skip from one song to the next, but this particular album didn’t contain very many tracks, due to the length of the final two, a theme containing sections fast, slow, wild, and controlled.

It’s beautiful. It rocks. It’s original.

The music is the result of the hard work and artistry of musicians who spent countless hours becoming good at playing their instruments. They didn’t take shortcuts nor sample someone else’s work. Every note, every lyric on the album is theirs.

Instead of being remembered by the masses for work like Caress of Steel, Rush will be the band who recorded the hit “Tom Sawyer.” That song is great, for what it is. I’m not trying to detract from the effort, talent, and skill it took to make that and the rest of Moving Pictures.

Sitting here listening to Caress of Steel, not on a cassette this time, but from a high-quality YouTube version of it, I just felt inspired to put in my plug for this album. It’s truly an accomplishment.

Link I used (no guarantee it still works):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxUAzTvcoTQ

Thanksgiving Then and Now

I remember a coloring book page from gradeschool. Newly-arrived Europeans sat at a picnic table with Native Americans seated beside them, with ladies from both ethnic groups bringing freshly harvested items to the table — corn on the cob, potatoes, and other foods that have become staples in the Thanksgiving tradition. A plump, golden roasted turkey waited patiently on a plate to be carved. A cornucopia sat at one end of the table, spilling more vegetables, presumably freshly picked from local plots.

From my 64-color Crayola Crayon set (sharpener built into the back!), I carefully selected warm, earthy colors and brought the scene to life. Staying mostly within the lines, I got fuzzy feelings of cooperation and human kindness, oblivious to the near genocide that followed.

When my family gathers, an adult might crack the occasional cynical joke regarding the holiday’s origins, but it never comes up in the conversation. Discussion of Europeans or Native Americans would result in a fight with ourselves, because our flesh and blood are comprised of both. For the most part we enjoy food crafted by our mixed-heritage hands, remember stories from our childhoods, and make new memories with our own children.

Despite that my generation already met 40 and waved goodbye to it several years ago, we still go outside to play while the older generation stays inside to talk. We even let the 20-something couple join the fun.

Sometimes we stroll through the hilly pasture to see the ramshackle forts the children built near the creek. In a sporadic tradition, we pile into a few vehicles and drive a couple of miles, then make the short hike to a breathtaking waterfall.

Through it all, we enjoy the outdoors, the indoors, the food, and the family — kind of like Native Americans were doing when they saw the first Europeans step off the ships.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to have someone invade the area and, at their most generous, tell us we had the choice to either adopt their culture and their religion or leave. Feeling less forgiving, they would indiscriminately enslave and kill us.

So, while I cannot regard Thanksgiving like a Pollyanna picking the perfect hue for a coloring book page, I am glad that we have each other and still enjoy and appreciate the land as our ancestors did. I can only hope that it isn’t too optimistic to trust we can learn from history rather than repeating it.

Finally, Frost Flowers

I had never seen frost flowers anywhere besides pictures.

Wednesday morning on the way to work, I thought I saw paper trash wadded up in the freshly mown stumps of roadside weeds. I wondered who might have… then I realized that it was the first morning of temperatures significantly below freezing, directly on the heels of days that hit the 60’s.

It wasn’t trash — it was frost flowers, and lots of them.

(click pic to enlarge)

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