Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Another Dream

Another "interesting" dream, for your entertainment, if you find those kind of things enertaining.....

I was trying to figure out how to get somewhere, walking down a street after losing my car somehow, and I see first one, then two, long missiles going down the street. They are dark army green, very low to the ground, and following the curve of the road and going about the speed of a car, but seemingly directed as if by remote control. The two join together, and then take off like a rocket into the sky. At some other time, in a park, the missiles appear again, and lots of young people are crowding around them, kind of running along side them, and I take pictures of the missiles as they go by. At my parents' house, I examine the pictures and discover they are really really good, and I have close-up images on them which shows English writing on them and blue stripes, and really close the outermost paint layer actually seems to be like papier mache with lots of Chinese writing both in Chinese characters and Roman script, and some American corporate logos like Walgreens. I post these pictures on Facebook and my blog and tell people to share them because I worry they might disappear. Later, I'm at a school talking to a student. He is showing me something he is eating which looks like part of a green pomegranate but I think it is a kind of hallucinogen. We both notice this guy who is bald on the top of his head but has long reddish-blond hair and a fat face, and he throws something that looks like a giant grapefruit toward me. I hold my breath but inhale anyway, and I know it is a gas or a poison and I am struggling to breathe like I'm having an asthma attack while the student is trying to drag me away to safety. Then I wake up.:)

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Every now and then I post about dreams - reading about dreams is always pretty crazy.

I had this dream last night that I was with a large group of people and we were camping in something like tents that were all connected right at the base of a very steep cliff. I woke up and looked out a "window" and saw that the wind was blowing like crazy and caused two natural stone structures, kind of like statues, to collapse on the cliff above me as I watched. No fear or alarm, though. Then, I left my "room" and was talking to this old cowboy who looked a lot like Sam Elliott and he was showing me how he had solved some legend that this secret place on a map was actually Dallas. I went back to my room and looked up at the cliff and now there was a long power cable dangling down it and sparking wildly as it swung back and forth. It ignited some dead leaves in scrub oak and then almost instantly that fire spread everywhere, down the cliff and into and beyond the camp. Sam Elliott in his cowboy hat was on flames and even as the call of Fire! went out, I realized it was already too late, and then woke up.

Then later I dreamed I was a long-haired teenaged boy mad at his dad because I was the only boy/man in the extended family who had not been allowed to race cars.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fountain Creek Regional Park Today

This is a wetland preserve just about two miles from my house. (Don't forget, you can click on the photos to make them big.)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Spring Break 2010

No complaints - got to start a day early because the district closed due to the forecast. Probably didn't have to, but that's alright by me.

Anarita and the Leaving

Anarita came home from school and saw that the big black box containing Dad's telescope was gone. But she didn't think much of it at first. Later, Alice came home and was making shells and cheese for dinner. She went upstairs to her bedroom and came down obviously upset.

She told Victor and Anarita that Dad's clothes were gone. Everyone cried, but Alice forced the kids to eat dinner. No one had seen this coming. Later that night, maybe around 11, Dad called. He was in Nevada, on the way to California, with a woman from his work and her daughter. He would sell his red Ford pickup and the telescope to start his new life with a new family.

Anarita was angry, bewildered, sad and jealous. She loved that red pickup truck and she loved the telescope; pieces of her dad. And why did that daughter get to be with dad but not Victor, Mom and she? What had they done wrong? The next day, Victor stayed home but Anarita decided to go to school. She sat on the swings and told her friend Julie that her dad had left. Her friend was sad, but Anarita thought, "This happens to almost everyone these days, what right do I have to hurt? It's normal." But she felt so sorry for her mom who would spend days and nights crying and worrying about how not to lose the house while trying to hide her worry from the kids.

Anarita and Victor were sent to a psychiatrist to talk about it, but neither of them wanted to talk. So sometimes they played games there, but Anarita thought that was a waste of time and money they didn't have. No one wanted to go anymore, so after a few visits, they didn't.

Some time later, Joe came back into town, but with the woman and her daughter. Mom took her and Victor to see him at their grandparents' house. Alice refused to go in, and so Anarita and Victor didn't want to go in either. However, they were told they had to go. Dad had 5 o'clock shadow and cried and hugged and kissed them and said things about missing them.

Anarita was dumbfounded. Why did he miss them, wasn't he the one that left? She met the other little girl who was about the same age as her, and tried to make the best of things by being friends with her. She was a nice girl. That turned out to be a mistake because Mom got angry when Anarita wanted to play with the other girl. She learned she wasn't supposed to be friendly with the woman or the daughter because they were the enemies, she should only just be polite. But as she saw it, they were in a worse situation than she. That woman had thrown the lots of she and her daughter in with Dad, and now Dad was back in town and second-guessing. They were being thrown around in the wind.

One day, Dad came back home. From that day on, everyone had to play a game that nothing had ever happened. No one was allowed to talk about the leaving, the betrayal. But it was always there, and it ate the hearts of all of them. It would drive Joe to depression,and being a mean drunk. It would make Victor hate his father for leaving and his mother for taking him back. It would make Alice have no self confidence or self love. And Anarita would spend the rest of her youth trying to be perfect so that she could earn her father's love that he had been so hasty to give away to strangers once upon a time. But being perfect isn't possible, and neither is pleasing a mean drunk.

Anarita and the Salat

She knew them as ordinary people, but when they bowed down before God, their foreheads prostrated in humbleness, they seemed to transform into something wonderful. Rather, the wonderfulness of their ordinariness became apparent when they worshiped the Creator.

It was a new kind of prayer to her. She knew the Prayer of Give Me, the Prayer of Want, the Prayer of More.

"Oh God, Please Give Me More Money,"
or "Oh God, I Want a Snow Day at School,"
or "Oh God, I Need More Time."

Sometimes, "Oh God, I Want My Mommy,",
or "Oh God, Save Me,",
or "Oh God, Not Again."

Maybe even, "Oh God, I'm Sorry,"
"Oh God I Hate That Guy,"
or "Oh God, Why???"

All the prayers of asking, complaining, pleading, conversing one-way. But now HERE was something she was missing and didn't even know she was missing until she saw it. A prayer of worship. A prayer of praise. A prayer of humility. And the motions mattered. The forehead in dust didn't just talk of worship and humility, it showed it, it felt it.

Anarita's heart leaped in her chest in joy and reverence as she bowed and praised, prostrated and humbled.

If there was a God, then this was right.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Anarita and the Feely Meely Box

Anarita loved kindergarten. One reason she loved it was because her mom had taught her well. Anarita already knew how to read. Her mom used to sit and read to her almost every afternoon, and then one day, her mom told her to read instead. It took forever and was very hard and exhausting (and she had plenty of help from mom), but that day she read her first book: Hop on Pop. "Up Pup Pup is Up....." She felt sorry for students who didn't know how to read yet and only had school to learn. If she ever became a parent, she wanted to teach her kids to read before they started school.

For her, school was fun. One of her favorite parts of kindergarten, and there were many, was The Feely Meely Box. At the end of morning, the kindergarten kids sat in The Pit. The Pit was an octagon with three steps down all around, where classes gathered to be read to, to sign up for morning attendance and lunch, and so on. The Teacher would grab a Kleenex box that had been covered in long, pink faux fur and googly eyes - The Feely Meely Box. If she thought you were good, you might be invited to stick your hand in the box, feel around, and pull out a prize. Maybe it would be a plastic ring. Anarita's doctor's office had her favorite plastic rings - they were Disney rings, white plastic with metallic red, green or blue paint on the faces of Pluto, Daffy, Goofy, Mickey or Minnie. But one day she got to stick her hand in the box and she pulled out the best thing of all - a pink butterfly magnet! She was too young to realize that what she really loved was praise and approval from adult authority figures, but at the moment she loved that magnet!

She went home and her mom placed it on the fridge. It was so beautiful. And it stayed beautiful until one day it somehow got knocked off the fridge and the dog chewed it up.

Anarita and the Little Jesus in Your Heart

Anarita had a little black and white TV that got fuzzy UHF channels with preachers on them. It even got channels between spaces on the dial that picked up half of cordless phone calls. She had never seen a cordless phone yet, but she eventually deduced that was what she was hearing. She spent hours playing spy, listening to one side of calls between people she didn't know, trying to determine what the other, inaudible caller was saying in the silences.

Many of the preachers kept talking about inviting Jesus "into your heart". If you did that sincerely, it was supposed to save you. People came on the shows and talked about how their lives changed forever when they were Born Again by this invitation. Then the preachers would put their hands up, palms out, as if reaching out to the people watching, and tell them to come put their hands on the screen and pray for Jesus to come in their hearts so they could be saved. The preachers would close their eyes tightly, and you were supposed to do the same, with your hand on the screen.

Anarita didn't want to go to hell, but this all seemed a bit silly. Still, she wanted to be saved and wanted to know and love God. She wanted that "relationship" those preachers always talked about it. So, she put her hand on the screen and prayed along, keeping her eyes closed except for those peeks to see if the preacher was keeping his eyes closed, too.

She had this mental image of a tiny Jesus, wearing a white or blue robe and having a long brown beard just like in all those Jesus wall pictures. The tiny Jesus came and knocked on her sternum, and it had a tiny door knob. He twisted the door knob and opened her chest cavity up, revealing an empty, red fleshy altar where the heart was expected to be. She had no heart, just a hole. A hole perfectly sized for the tiny Jesus, halo and sandals and all, to climb in and sit.

So now that Jesus was in her, she expected to be changed like those people on the TV. But she felt exactly the same as before. She must've done it wrong. So, she tried again and again with different preachers on different shows and different channels. The preachers were weird, a little creepy, maybe. And what was that tiny Jesus doing sitting in her heart hole all day anyway? He must've got out to go do stuff, and that's why she was the same old Anarita. Or maybe he was never really there at all.

Anarita and the BLM Land

Anarita walked down the side of a sandy gully and up the other side. In the span of less than 50 steps, 50 breaths, she had passed from "her" land to no man's land, or rather, BLM land. No fence, no post with pink flag, nothing that she could see marked the boundary. The boundary was a figment of imagination, just as was the idea that one side of the gully belonged to her family. It was only a delusion that people with sheets of paper and exchanges of money all agreed to together. Enough people or powerful enough people agreed there was a boundary where clearly none existed. What would the world be like if no one agreed to such things? Who was the first guy who came up with the ridiculous notion of owning something that had been there before him and would be there after him?

Her parents would own the land by the BLM land for a few years, via payments. For a few years, the family would camp there, gaze at stars, and watch the dogs run around. It was magical; it had petrified wood, free-range cattle would wander onto it, and a few times the Christmas Tree would come from it. But for Joe, the magic ended when he left a small trailer there with a few board games, camping gear, etc., and it was broken into and robbed. He sold the land that people agreed to imagine somehow belonged to him, and so they stopped imagining it.

The BLM land felt hotter and wilder than the other side of the gully. It had a faster, noisier wind. It had lots of holes in its loose dirt next to more Yucca than on "her" side. She heard a buzzing sound in the wind. She looked for the insects, but saw none. She examined the holes, and decided some animals had made them, but maybe not - they could've been dug, as if someone were looking for something, prospecting.

But the buzzing sounded more like whispering or chanting. Who had walked here before? Where they speaking to her now, threatening her for being on the wrong side of the gully? Or inviting her to stay and listen to some important message? A dust-devil jumped up a short ways ahead of her and then evaporated. She could see the dancer in the dust, encircling her. The haunting mesa was spooky but she didn't want to leave - she wanted to stay and listen, to solve the mystery, or become part of it.

Anarita and the Gray Fleece Jacket

Anarita had a gray fleece zip-up jacket that she loved. She picked it out on the annual August back-to-school clothes shopping day. Once a year, she got somewhere between $50-$100 in new clothes, and hand-me-downs from Victor, Alice, and Joe. She especially liked wearing her dad's old clothes. Over the years, she would accept his old jean jacket, Carhart jacket, flannel shirts, and hiking boots. Many Halloweens she wore his Hunter Orange, because half the time it snowed on Halloween anyway.

The gray fleece was carried from class to class in the junior high halls and worn on the walks to and from school and at lunch. Perhaps because she carried it around to so many places, one day she lost it and never found it again. When her dad found out, he was furious. At the dinner table, he yelled at her for a long time for losing the jacket, after already yelling at her for leaving her book bag by the door. He fumed for the rest of the evening, because once something set him off, there was no shutting it down. He yelled about irresponsibility and money and "How many times have I...." Maybe even something about earning money to buy a new jacket from her allowance, and probably 10 other things that she had done wrong in the past few years.

So she rechecked every place she could imagine that it might be, but to no avail. However, a few days later, her dad apologized to her at dinner. He said something about how she was usually responsible. Mom must have said something to him at a time when he was able to listen. But it was awkward and uncomfortable. It wouldn't undo the past days of her feeling guilty about losing it. No, she would rather he didn't apologize, because she still preferred the hard-fought and well-prepared fantasy that parents are always right and always know what to do. An apology did not fit that perception. Plus, he wasn't good at it and never would be.

Anarita and the Jungle Gym

Anarita Eleanor has no memory of when her parents bought the jungle gym. Presumably when she was a toddler, they bought the set with bars, swing, rope, etc., and her dad "did the job right" by pouring concrete around the posts so it would be sturdy. It wasn't a lousy plastic one that falls apart in one season. It was metal, with jangling chains almost like the ones on the swings at the elementary school. The chains sounded like summer even in winter.

One of her earliest memories, (sometime around '78/'79) is this: she is in the back yard sitting on the swing trying to make it go, but not remembering how to do it without having someone push her. Her brother Victor Cedric and his friend Jason are playing football. Those two, and many other neighborhood boys, spend hours playing football in the backyard. They seem to spend as much time developing a complicated but glorious playbook (all in their heads, not on paper) as they do playing "real games". Anarita asks her brother to help her swing, and he says something like, "In a minute," or "Later on, we're busy."

But, she hears him say, "Pump your legs back and forth." So that's what she does, and soon she is swinging all by herself! How did she hear just the right thing? Is it a Jungle Gym Miracle? Or was she just remembering a lesson temporarily forgotten?

That jungle gym was a purposeful and wise investment for her parents Alice and Joe. It was a tool to keep the kids in their own yard instead of unknown, unwatched locales around the neighborhood as much as possible. For probably a decade, Anarita and Victor, but especially Anarita, would play with neighborhood kids on the jungle gym. They swung, jumped, swayed, climbed, attacked, conspired, imagined, hung, tickled, kicked, and pulled there.

Slowly it decayed, losing its appendages one by one until all that was left were the bars. Then, the bar in the middle developed its first hole from rusting away, and she and her friends got to work picking and prying at the bar's weakness. Alice didn't want the kids to do that, but they persisted until the first bar was broken and gone. It was only the first; others followed, and then one day the jungle gym was dug up and grass seed was planted in the bare spots where children had played the grass to death year after year. Some of the bare patches would persist for a few years in memory of the jungle gym. The yard was so big and empty without it. But, it had done its job and served well.

Anarita remembered the gym and mused, "More kids should be so lucky as to play on jungle gyms."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hiking 3/13/2010

Yesterday I went hiking with my new hiking buddy (yay!) at Gold Camp Road up toward St. Mary's Falls. We didn't make it all the way to the falls before we decided to turn around just from being tired (trudging through all that snow uphill is a good workout!) and wanting to get back before dark, as we didn't start out until mid-afternoon. I'd like to go for walks like this MUCH more often. Anyway, here are a few pictures:

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Pluto Files

Another good episode of Nova: Neil deGrasse Tyson explores the history, meets the people, examines the science, and ponders the controversy around the status of Pluto - planet or not?

My vote is for dwarf planet. Alan Stern, the scientist who made the case for the classification had the most compelling arguments, in my opinion. What about you?

The Pluto Files online.

Turkeys at Cheyenne Mountain State Park

I was hiking at Cheyenne Mountain State Park on this beautiful day with a friend and we came across three wild turkeys around the top of Blackmer loop. The trails were very muddy in places but it was great to be out! The birds didn't mind us at all. (Click on the pictures, they get bigger.)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Vain Talk

That music is a drug
You're addicted to that ear bud
It makes you lazy and distracted
You've been thoughtless in your actions

Show you what to wear and how to speak
You think you're cool but you're really weak
Easily controlled and manipulated
Practically uneducated because you're fixated

You sit in class, but can't listen to the teacher
Gotta get your fix, gotta rattle that speaker
You disrespect the sources of wisdom
"Entertain me, or I'll die of boredom!"

Don't want to concentrate or learn how to focus
You think that your future will come by hocus-pocus
No room in your brain to ponder the sad state of affairs
Idols on TV, who's gone next - a replacement for your cares

You can Name That Tune in just one note
but it was too much of a hassle to get out and vote
You can sing all the lyrics to 20 albums by heart
But to learn a new ayah of Qur'an you'll never start

Silence makes you suffer because you gotta face the fact
That you don't know how to think or even how to act
Are you so gone, so horribly addicted
that you don't even know that you've been afflicted?

Turn off that noise and face the world without a crutch
Let a little thing control you and what you lose is much
Have some self-respect and live up to your potential
Become a human being instead of something bestial

You'll never change the world with that wire in your ear
You're a slave and no free thinker while they dictate what you hear
A believer is better than the mind-numbed masses
But vain entertainments help keep people in their classes

You're hyperconnected, but to all the wrong things
Turn off and tune out and instead build your dream
The Right Path is the ultimate connection, the singular message
But you've been drowning it out with meaningless verbiage

Can you go for a week without a multimedia hook?
Examine your soul, give it a deep, hard look
Your soul will not perish if you miss an episode
But if you died today, what will you have sowed?

If you want to be liberated, if you want to be strong,
You can find your new beginning by admitting you were wrong
Sit in the silence and learn to think for yourself
Take the dusty Qur'an down from the top bookshelf

Think and ponder so hard that you get very tired
Know yourself and the Universe and you will have conspired
Against Satan and his allies who have easily beguiled you
By making evil so fair-seeming that you always failed to argue

Stay away from whatever makes you unmindful of God, the Sublime
That which makes you careless about morality and wasteful of time
Do not idolize or imitate the Materialists or the Capitalists
If being friends of the Ahlulbayt (as) is really what you wish

Peace of mind and purity of heart are not unattainable
If you will remove from your deeds whatever is blameful
Replace them with a pleasant demeanor and a gentle disposition
Soon to that vain talk you'll no longer desire to listen

A sad substitute for profound and beautiful words
Written by great thinkers as opposed to famous drunkards
Or to your own reflections and concentrations
That inspire you to love your God and to always be thanking.

That music is a drug
You're addicted to that ear bud
It is time to set yourself free
Undistracted, who knows, you could be someone mighty