29 January 2013

I don't have anything to say.

I feel like I should, but I don't.

26 January 2013

Beasts of the Southern Wild

I just watched Beasts of the Southern Wild. I recommend it. It's a bit hard, but mostly just hauntingly beautiful. It's an insight into a world not many people have seen.

I don't really know what to say about it other than that everyone should see it. It's what I'd call magical realism, having fantastical elements that don't detract from the truth of the story. It's always interesting to have some insight into a culture other than my own. And coming from a global studies and humanitarian perspective, it hit home in a very different way than many other similar movies have. In this film, the people do not want outside help. They don't feel connected to anyone but those in their community. They don't want to leave, they don't want anyone to come in. And that's hard to grasp from a humanitarian point of view. I just want to help everyone. I want to give everyone what they need. What was reinforced today is that some people don't want anything I have to offer. Some people don't need anything. They only want to be left alone. Something to think on.
Also the music compliments the film wonderfully, and the little girl deserves that Academy Award.

19 January 2013

because I don't know what else to write about

I think I've had food poisoning a total of three times in my entire life. Thursday night was one of them. Apparently the Indian buffet is no longer to be trusted. Bummer.

So I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night. And neither did the other three life forms in the house. All three would stir as I stumbled from bed every twenty minutes or so.

The cat snuggled me a lot when I finally settled down. She definitely knew I wasn't well. I wouldn't let her sit on me though, because it was painful, but she curled next to me and purred. Quite a comfort.

Interesting that when my body is empty and dehydrated I weigh about 6 pounds less than normal.

16 January 2013

on the ocean

So, before a week ago, I'd never been to the ocean. I knew I wanted to, but I didn't know what I was missing.

I loved everything about it, including its (very cold) temperature. I loved the sound. It is a soothing one to be sure. I can imagine myself falling to sleep listening to it. I even liked the smell, or at least didn't mind it. It doesn't smell salty. Or even so strongly of fish as I worried.

I loved walking in the sand and leaving footprints that would only last until the next high tide. I loved standing on the rocks and watching the waves smash into them and spray upward. I loved looking at the bits of shells and trash and other oddments that washed up on the tide.

I have still not swum in the ocean, I hope to do that at some point. I think I'm afraid of it though. I'm not a terribly strong swimmer (I nearly drowned in the wave pool at Water World when I was 14), but I've spend a lot of time in pools and lakes and rivers, so I'm sure I'd do okay.

Years ago, I had a dream of the ocean. It was a pleasant one. I don't recall it in full and I certainly cannot transfer what little I remember onto this page. There was a sense of peace. And rightness. And the same feeling returned as Liam and I walked to the jetty and kissed. I could hear and smell and see the ocean. In that moment, everything was okay.

15 January 2013

Air travel snipets

Airports are for people watching, or, in my case, shoe watching. Yes, I'm a gay boy, but I'm also into the types of people who wear certain shoes and if they wear them correctly, if that makes sense. I'm not expert, but I've done a lot of research about minimal footwear and how to protect one's feet. So I watch shoes. And I watch how people walk in them. And I judge them accordingly. You'd be surprised how many people heel strike even in shoes without much of a rise. It makes me cringe. I can pick out people who run, even if they aren't wearing any sort of running shoes. It's a strange hobby, to be sure, but it passes the time.
These most recent flights were spent at night and in a middle seat, so there wasn't much to see. But I did at one point catch a glimpse out the window of a field of windmills blinking in synchronization. I watched as a black field filled eerily with red spots.
I am the one who cannot sit still. I guess I've always been a bit fidgety, my mom used to get mad at me and tell me to stop tapping my foot or drumming my fingers etc. Being more or less trapped between two others on a 4 hour flight didn't go so well for me. Especially on the trip out because I wasn't as tired, just amped up.  So I moved around the whole flight. Knees on the seat in front. Head down on the tray table. One leg out, one bent. Lean to the right. Lean to the left. Sigh. Play video games on my phone. Listen to music. Watch something on the TV in front of me. Play video games on my iPod. Watch the in flight map. Never stop moving.

Because of this inability to get comfortable, I was reminded of when my class took a bus to Mexico. We basically had the whole bus to ourselves, so space wasn't an issue. However, I found the one unique and actually comfortable way to sleep. Upside down. Seriously. I put my bag on the floor and my pillow on it, then lay with my feet up on the top of the seat. Odd times. 
It's apparently a problem to be trans and fly. I haven't had to go through the full body scan until this trip. And both times, 'something' shows up in my crotch region and my chest region. I needed to be patted down and have my hands tested for whatever. Theory: if the scanners catch the sweat between my chest bits, surely it does the same for women as well. Is this just another ploy to disenfranchise women? And I'm sorry that my lower bits aren't attached. I'll get right on that...

14 January 2013

(I can never come up with any good titles)

I'm back.

I didn't really write on my trip, but I took note of topics to write about when I returned. So there will be a few posts this week regarding my trip. Today will be a general overview.

We took the red eye on Tuesday night, arriving in Boston just before 5 am. It was rough. I slept a total of 15 minutes or so. We took the train for quite a ways and then were picked up by Liam's brother to sleep more at his place.

Then, on to the Museum of Science and wandering around downtown Boston. It was grand. Perhaps I'm bias, but I think I like Denver's Museum of Nature and Science better, but Boston's was quite fun. I got to see the old State House (as recognized from Assassin's Creed 3), Frog Pond, The Commons, and Quincy Market. We ate a lot of fried seafood.

Old State House, Boston
Day two, we rented a car and headed north to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire where Liam spent a great deal of his childhood. It was cool to finally see all the places he talks about. Also, it was my first time ever at a beach. I've flown over the Atlantic about four times. I've been to the Persian Gulf and also to a beach on Lake Superior, but that was my first time at a legitimate ocean beach. I loved it. But more on that in another post. For dinner we had grilled swordfish and steamers. I had never eaten clams except in chowder before. It was odd, but good.

Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Day three (Friday). We went back to Hampton Beach and further up the coast to York Maine. Saw a light house. Watched the surf. Waded into the Atlantic in January. Took heaps of photos. We also went inland to visit the University of New Hampshire where Liam spent part of his undergrad. It's a very pretty campus.
Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine

Day four was another long drive, but it culminated in a summit hike. We drove to the White Mountains in New Hampshire and met up with a friend to hike a four thousand foot peak (how puny!) It was beautiful. Very foggy and snowy and the woods were dripping. It was novel to be able to breathe on a hike. It did get hard at the end, not just a walk-up as I might have assumed at that altitude. The summit was the only place we could see out of the woods and it was an amazing view. We slid back down the mountain on our butts. I guess it's called glissade.
Atop Mt. Jackson with a view of Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

Our last day was spent recovering and packing and eating amazing Lebanese food. It was nice to have a change from all the seafood. I like seafood, but I also like variety.

I have absolutely no complaints about my trip to the East Coast. It was amazing in all respects.

07 January 2013

Adventure Time

I'm excited! Tonight we're packing for a five day trip to Boston and New Hampshire. I've never been to the East Coast. Actually, I've never been to any coast. So this will be fun.

We intend to go to the Boston Museum of Science, hiking in the White Mountains and who knows what else. I love adventures. 

I may or may not be able to blog daily while I am away, but I will certainly make up for it when I return on Sunday. Also, trust that I will be writing with good old fashioned pen and notebook.

06 January 2013

A Horse Tale

My friends have provided a couple of decent prompts. I'm going to go with writing about something I probably haven't mentioned.

I love horses. I cannot remember a time when I didn't want one. When I was young I would pretend to be riding instead of hiking. I would ask Santa, not for a pony, but for a real horse. I wrote some westerns and stories about horses in general. I read all of the Black Stallion books and any other book about horses I could find. King of the Wind is still a favorite. I collected horse toys. Not just any toys: Grand Champions. They're elegant. 

This is not my photo, but I do have every single one of the Grand Champions in it. Still. 
My fictional horse was named Shadow, out of Queen of the Snow, by King of the Wind. He had five siblings, North Wind, East Wind, South Wind, West Wind and Dusty. West Wind was his only sister, she was feisty and unbroken. Dusty was the only grey, mixing his parent's colors. Shadow was black (as dark as horses get, because there is no true black horse.) He had four knee-high white stockings. When he ran in the snow, this made him look as though he was floating.

My friends (one in particular) and I had all sorts of fun with these imaginary horses. We were mostly just 'lost boys' living in the wilderness with our intelligent horses and the occasional other animal like my red tailed hawk and a chipmunk named Chuck.

Because I lived in rural Colorado, there was no shortage of actual horses nearby. There were several in a large pasture across the road from my house. I would often go over and feed them handfuls of the greener grass on my side of the fence. I would talk to them and stroke them for hours.

I was twelve when my dad took a job remodeling a huge ranch house. Often my summer job was going to work with my dad and cleaning up job sites. That summer, I sort of ditched his remodel because it was horse ranch. Instead, I worked with Karen (look at me using names!) who owned all of the horses. I helped her feed and do all the menial little ranch chores. I was eager to learn how to care for horses. After only a short while she let me help her exercise them.

Saddling a horse involves a bit of work. And some tricking of horses. First, you brush the area where the saddle will sit. It's bound to be uncomfortable to have something pressing a clump of mud or burrs into your back. After a thorough brushing the saddle pad is placed. Then you must put the right stirrup and cinch over the seat of the saddle so it doesn't end up underneath. You place the saddle over the horse's back from the left side. It sits quite far up on the withers. After walking around the horse and gently putting the cinch and stirrup down, you have to connect the pieces of the cinch and tighten. Here's where the tricks come in. Any horse that's ever been saddled before knows to hold its breath while the cinch is being tightened. So you leave it for a bit and adjust the saddle. When the horse is more or less unaware, you must come back and tighten the cinch. The bit is pretty easy. The bridle is held in the right hand and the bit in the left. Left thumb finds the corner of the mouth and opens the mouth behind the teeth and in slips the bit. They'll chomp around until it's comfortable. Untacking is pretty much the exact opposite, including the brushing. Add some oats as desired.

At first, I rode behind Karen and she told me proper body postures (heels down) and how to use the reins correctly. Most horses are trained to neck rein, this means that when they feel the reins on one side, they turn to the other side. Occasionally more force is needed to actually pull their heads a certain way.

It was while working for Karen that I met Raindrop. She belonged to Karen's farrier (horse-shoer). He was short a pasture and was boarding her at the ranch. Raindrop was a quarterhorse; short, slightly stocky and very Western. She was sorrel in color, and technically a paint because her back socks went up past her knees. She had only one front sock, and a wide blaze down her face. Karen and the farrier let me ride her and take care of her that summer. I learned that she was a ignoble around other horses, loved to eat and was for sale.

So of course I begged my dad to let me pay him back if he would buy her.

So I got a horse when I was thirteen, finally. Raindrop came to live on our six acres for about five years. In that time, I took her to 4H and county fair twice. Went on a three day trail ride. Rode in the public lands near my house. Raced between windrows of hay. Chased her down the road. Was bit by her. Was thrown by her three or four times. And I didn't ever own a saddle.

Now, for some of that stuff I borrowed a saddle, but much of my time with RD was bareback and barefoot. I grew to love the smell of horse. It's strong, but not sour. I find it natural and soothing. I learned that she was incredibly ornery and the only things she truly loved in life were food (especially molasses oats), my dad, and chasing sheep.

Then I was a senior in high school and had plans to go away for college. I pinned some for sale notices in the feed store. But in the end my dad traded Raindrop for a sprinkler system.

Sadly, I don't have any photos of Raindrop on my computer, as she existed pre-digital for me. Someday I shall scan some photos in.

For now, here's a photo of horses I took from our barn. After trading my horse in, my dad rented the pasture out regularly.

05 January 2013

Once again, I have no idea what to write about. I know that I must. Just creating sentences is cathartic, but I have no topic. I have one or two ideas for fanfictions, but no plot lines. And all the blog prompts I've googled have been rather lame.

Right now, I'm just feeling a bit off and very, very dry.

Anyone want to ask me questions? Give me prompts? I promise I'll write about whatever is sent my way. I just need a little nudge out the door, so to speak.

03 January 2013

Mission: Possible

I could hear the wind in the trees, muffled slightly by the low clouds. It was just below freezing and not long before midnight. Our boots crunched on the old snow as we moved quickly into the ravine. It was an irrigation ditch, drained (mostly) for the winter. It was our as-the-crow-flies route. In order to get from A to B by more conventional means, we would have had to follow a winding rural road to an overpass across the interstate. This waterway was direct: under the four lanes.

I could see my breath in front of me, but I was well prepared for this mission. Perhaps I’d even layered too much.

It didn’t take us long to reach the tunnel. It was concrete and it was only about four and a half feet tall. Inside was a sheet of ice. We hadn’t really expected this, but both of us were wearing waterproof boots anyhow. I tested the ice and sure enough it cracked under my weight and I crouched in about four inches of water and some inch thick shards of ice. Slogging through the ice-choked water while crouched double made the journey an arduous one. Occasionally we’d stop and crouch instead of stooping. There were cobwebs on our hats and on the backs of our jackets.

It seemed like hours before I saw the pale night light shining from above and ahead. When I reached it I could stand. It was a drainage grate set between the directions of traffic. Half way there.

When we finally splashed out on the other side, we lay against the snowy bank and breathed and stretched. Then we continued onward, becoming quieter and moving furtively as we approached our target.

It was a slightly sprawled red farmhouse. Some lights were on and the windows shone brightly. We crept near to one and sure enough, there were her parents, watching TV.

Mission complete. Now we had to backtrack to my house and go back to bed.

02 January 2013

The Furry Friends

Oh feline with silky fur so soft, come and warm my chest. Your purrs will heal my soul. Your white breast. Your striped sides. Your caramel cheeks. Just stop yelling. And don't you dare flick your tail at me.

Oh floppy-eared dog. The one with the goofy, gap-toothed grin. Your coat so sleek and dark. Your eye-brow spots. Don't sigh around the house. Don't lick incessantly. 

These animals I live with, I tell you, though they are not mine, I do really enjoy them. I especially like that I don't have to care for them or clean up after them. They are great companions and honestly, superb specimens of their kinds. Zorro is such an easy-going dog. He's usually quiet. He howls when he sees we're going outside. He also barks at dogs at the park because he's a cattle dog and has to boss everyone around. He is very fast learner and knows his place at the bottom of the pecking order. I do feel bad about his poor, sensitive paws though. I intend to make him some booties.

Chance is queen. We do her bidding. She is not like many cats though. She loves all forms of attention. She seriously likes her tail pulled. She talks a whole lot. She greets people from the stairs. Yells when she's hungry (she needs company to eat.) If we've been gone and she hears us coming home, she sits in the window and cries. Occasionally she forgets when we're home and yowls so loudly until we call her. She also comes when called. Almost always. Often she hesitates first, in order to make it known that she wanted it all along.

he's scared of her. she knows it.
Because of my job, I was reluctant to live with animals. I tend to get overdosed. People often ask if I just want to take them all home. And no, I don't. Not even a little bit. Not even to foster them. Anyhow, my roommate got a dog last year and I was unsure of it. It worked out. Then I moved in with my boyfriend and he just recently got Zorro. I was again reluctant, but I realized that he was a necessary addition and since he's a good dog and not a messy, undisciplined puppy, I can handle it. 

So now I have animals again. Sorta. They're not actually mine.

01 January 2013

Fresh Start

I promised to write and so I shall.

Today, I'm going to describe our brief snowshoe trek. I got up late, and a little groggy (New Year's after all.) We packed up and drove westward. I watched the car's thermometer drop from about 29F. By the time we reached Georgetown it read 18. We began to slowly drive up Guanella Pass. It was a bit icy, and the temperature continued to drop as we climbed. The day was beautiful though, with so much bright sunlight, it was hard to believe it was actually 10 degrees and still dropping.

We got the the trailhead just after 1:00. The thermometer said 6, but the sun still twinkled off the fresh snow. We got out the snowshoes and prepared to set off. Then, disaster struck.

Zorro whined and picked up each of his four paws in turn. The snow was too cold for his poor little feet (keep in mind this is a 75 pound Rottie mix we're talking about.) We found two socks in the trunk and I cut them up and tried to duct tape them to Zorro's feet. The duct tape was incidentally frozen and didn't stick well, but the makeshift booties worked well enough for most of the short hike. Once we got going, Zorro seemed to forget he was cold and just enjoyed being outside. He seems to really like snow when it doesn't hurt him.

The cold wasn't a problem as we were walking, because moving kept us pretty warm. However, our camel bak tubes began to freeze. Oops.

It was a short trip for many reasons, but it was a very nice breath of fresh mountain air.

Happy New Year.