People are People
I hate camping.
Actually, that’s not true. I enjoy camping.
I hate TRYING to camp.
Oregon is the home to many beautiful “lookouts”—old ranger towers that are no longer used to monitor the wilderness. I supposed they have new modern lookout towers—perhaps made of glass and steel—to keep an eye out for mischief in the woods. But I like the old ones. See fig. 1
The Oregon state park system has turned these lookouts to good use by renting them out to campers! How cool is that? See fig. 2
Reserving a lookout tower, however, is nearly impossible. See fig. 3
My family and I have been trying to reserve a tower for THREE YEARS. Any tower! Any time of year! Anywhere in Oregon! They are always booked.
Recreation.gov has a reservation system that allows applicable campsites and ALL lookout towers, to be reserved up to SIX months ahead of time. At any given moment, at any time of year, if you go to reserve one of these lookout towers—they are booked. These are the things I have done:
I feel like I’m trying to get concert tickets to Depeche Mode in 1984. See fig. 4
I have one more strategy. I noticed that the hours for recreation.gov were specified as Eastern Standard Time. I set my alarm for 8:55pm tonight. Maybe it opens at midnight EST and I can sneak in! One of the lookouts is available June 20th and I am going to try for it. Otherwise, I have to wait until December 25th and December 30th to try to book June 25th and 30th on two other lookouts. People keep booking out 7 days out so each time I miss out another week has to go by until I can try again!
Update: I logged on at 8:59pm and at 9:00pm I clicked on "Book These Dates". I received a new directive: see fig. 5
I've set my alarm for 6:55am.
Update: Epic Failure
I was there! I woke up and hauled my computer onto my lap at 6:55am in the morning! I refreshed at 6:59am AND 7:00am only for THIS to happen:
Suddenly, the 20th was X'd out as "No Longer Available". Not "Reserved" but just "No Longer Available". And it wasn't like that at 6:59am...
The 21st is a Wednesday and we can't go then because of work schedules. So my next shot is for Fivemile Butte (our first pick!) on December 25th. I'm going to set the alarm and try again...
Rock throwing is a human thing. I have, in fact, learned that this has been scientifically proven! Because we’ve evolved into bi-pedal creatures, we have the use of our hands in a way that it different from all other animals. Knuckle dragging and walking upright are light years apart when it comes to instinctual behavior.
So now, I can throw a rock at anything I want.
Chances are there’ve been a lot of rocks thrown at the moon…don’t you think? I mean it’s right there! Climbing up trees with nets, floating out on a log to the middle of a still lake—poised to pounce soundlessly on the slightly wavering round reflection of light…What the hell? Where is this thing? I still can't figure it out!
A King once caught it at night, in his cupped hands. A Raven stole it from a box. Coyote tricked into a fire and Rabbit walked on its silver road across the sea. Why can’t I do any of these things?
From the earliest age I can recall, I have wanted “out-of-here”. I’ve wanted to board some kind of ship or grow some kind of wings or build some kind of contraption that would propel me far from this planet. The stars, the moon, the whatever---the nothingness—those unknowns to me seemed more comforting than here; a better place. Life, it seemed, as we know it, is over-rated.
I learned pretty early on in school that I was not cut out to be an astronaut. My creative talents in both writing and drawing vastly dwarfed my aptitude for math and other hard sciences. So, both earning a place on someone else’s ship or inventing my own seemed unlikely. The difference between giving up on something and understanding my own limits was a lesson that came early to me.
But life is funny, even if it is overrated. Somehow, in my Gen-X Apathy/Depressive Alcoholic manner, I attempted to focus on my strengths and I eked out a formal education. Since my goal was to learn as much as possible while doing the smallest amount of work, I got a degree in Fine Art: a BFA. There were no math classes in Art School. (Actually there was one but I managed to avoid it.) I avoided anything too difficult (as much as possible) like anatomy or history —although I did write a Nihilist Manifesto, which I thought made me cool. I did voluntarily take ONE science class and in that class I made science my bitch!! Meaning, I took what I wanted and spit the rest out. Fuck everyone. (Hey! “Fuck everyone” is a synopsis of my Nihilist Manifesto! Happy accident!)
But as I got older, and craved some unknown thing, I turned first to knowledge and later to spirituality. I studied the arts, I pursued philosophy and theology, I wrote and I mused and I contributed. My passion for art and literature lead me further into science-fiction and futurism. My passion for the Unknown lead me into the Mysteries of life as conceived by those who came before me. These genres later fueled a new and different motivation for approaching those same sciences in which I had felt so inept. I started to see that what I loved and understood so easily was not that far off from those topics in which I seemed to have no talent. I read about physics, I studied quantum theology and string theory and scientific approaches to mythology and dogma. It appeared that the physical world and the metaphysical world were virtually the same thing: the same song sung in different languages. Finding this was also a Happy Accident!
I don't pretend to understand anything. but the pursuit of understanding has had value. But it wasn't until I let go of beleiving that self-knowledge would set me free, that beautiful and poetic things started happening in my life.
Update: Night Star
It was raining when I took this and one of the arms went out a little BUT when we delivered homemade cookies to our neighbors (That's right! Uh-huh!) one of them commented on how nice it was! Yay!
Bag o' cookies! Doing the neighbor thing!
Cat For Cat
We have cats.
They are volunteers—my favorite kind. We are like ships passing in the night—they live in the barn and I don’t. There were four, then there were three, then, briefly, there were only two, then there were four again (but a different four).
We have given them names, but not all of them have stuck.
The Four Original Cats:
Mr. Tropogrosso (From an short Paul Bartel film called The Secret Cinema) (Gillian)
Bob (From Bob’s Burgers) (Rich)
Partridge (Rich and Gillian)
Mr. Tropogrosso departed within a month and we have not seen him since. We are hoping he was adopted by a family and not killed in some cat thing.
The Three Left:
Stripëd Kitty (formally Anonymous) (Rich)
Bob took off and we were unsure if he would go the way of Mr. Tropogrosso. We kept thinking we saw him—but we didn’t.
Grey Kitty (formally Partridge) (Rich)
When it started getting cold, cats started reappearing. We thought we kept seeing Mr. Tropogrosso but it was Bob. Both Bob and Mr. TropoGrosso are large black and white kitties. Eventually Bob came back to stay and a new one showed up.
The Current Four:
Boots or Bootsy-Partdige (formally Partridge or Grey Kitty) (Gillian and Rich)
Stripëd Tiger Kitty (formally Stripëd Kitty)
Opal is the first all-black and the first long-haired kitty. She has beautiful teal-colored eyes.
Bootsy-Partridge is the only one that comes running out of the barn when we drive up—she wants food and Rich feeds them. She is becoming the most trusting and courageous of the four and will get as close as 5 feet to us.
Opal has a sunny perch directly under the eave of the barn. She will regally cast her eyes at us and do the “slow blink” that Rich says means she’s content. But if we come right up to her shelf, which is 8 feet off the ground, she’ll beat a hasty retreat. Bob and Stripëd Tiger Kitty are super skittish and constantly on the move. Stripëd Tiger Kitty will run full bore down the road to get away from you and if you’ve never seen a cat run in a straight line for 100 yards at full speed, you haven’t lived. Bob just kind of melts into invisibility when he sees us.
I am allergic to cats-- so perching cats, skittish cats, running cats and melting cats are my favorite kind of cats.
Speaking of cats, I am reading a book called The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman). Often I will reserve a book on Overdrive (the digital library consortium) and by the time it becomes available, I’ve forgotten why I wanted to read it or what it’s about. This is a good thing--I like going in blind. That I was interested at one time is all I need to know.
This certain thing came up pretty early in the book—no spoiler alert needed—but just in case you’re a purist about these things, and you plan to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane, you may not want to read further. By my judgment, what I am about to comment on does nothing to compromise reading the book. (Caveat accomplished.)
In the book The Boy receives, from his father, a kitten in a cardboard box as a birthday present. The Boy is happy with his kitten—a small black thing. One month later the kitten is run over by a cab bringing a lodger to his house. The lodger, a gruff South African Opal miner, is appropriately contrite that the taxi that brought him to the house has killed The Boy’s kitten. So, when The Boy returns from school, there is the miner in the kitchen with another cardboard box (do cats come in boxes?) on the table, explaining quickly to the boy that he “disposed of the corpse” --not to worry-- and why not open the box? The Boy is just now finding out his kitten is dead but he opens the box anyway, and out pops a half-feral orange adult Tom-cat with a shredded ear, yowling and spitting,—it dashes out the kitchen door to spend the rest of his days prowling the countryside, chewing on living things, and hissing. The boy is horrified but tries not to show it. The miner tells him that the cat’s name is Monster and then he says:
“There you go. Cat for cat.”
Cat for cat.
For some reason, while I pondered “Cat for cat” I immediately thought of another book I read a while ago (I will not bother naming it nor will I be very explicit in my description). In this book an unusually terrible crime was committed by an unusually terrible person. For years many people actively sought the perpetrator of this crime—some dedicated their whole lives to it-- without success. The cast of characters in the book, those both affected by the crime and those who didn’t know they were affected by the crime, possessed a wide range of ethical standards. There was one unsavory young man in particular whom I loathed. In fact, every time he popped up I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to keep reading the book because I disliked his character so much—he really made me uncomfortable. But the book was so good. So I kept reading-- secretly wishing that that particular character didn’t exist.
Then there came a moment in the book, when we, the reader, became privy to information the characters didn’t: namely, who the Unusually-Terrible-Person was and where the Unusually-Terrible-Person hid.
But no one could find him. No one could see him. No one, that is, except us.
Until the Unsavory-Young-Man-In-Particular-Whom-I-Loathed had a run-in with the Unusually-Terrible-Person. After speaking with him, he recognized the language of a deviant scoundrel because he was a deviant scoundrel himself. Actually, more importantly, he recognized the language of a man pretending not to be a deviant scoundrel; a camouflaged villain—a Monster. The Unsavory-Young-Man-Whom-I-Loathed, more out of curiosity than anything else, then made a series of choices that invariably exposed the Unusually-Terrible-Person and, even though his motives were not exactly pure, he Saved The Day.
A Monster was necessary to see the other Monster.
That led me to think about Moses. From the Bible. Only Moses could have lead the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt (with some prodding from God, of course)—because Moses, a Hebrew himself, had been raised as an Egyptian prince. A reluctant anarchist, he rose to destroy the monstrous system of slavery from the best possible vantage point: from within. He knew the people, he knew the language and he knew the rules (and, of course, he knew his God)—everything he needed to take it down. And one of the more interesting points about that story is that Moses himself is not allowed to cross over into the Land of Milk and Honey. He is a deliverer only. And, if I remember correctly, what happened to him after the crossing of the desert is unknown.
I am still reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I am really hoping that Monster is going to come back to fulfill some destiny within the story. That his feral self will somehow, in the right moment, be an instrument of justice or, more succinctly, an instrument of balance.
Wouldn’t that be great?
I need all the help I can get when it comes to forgetting what I think I know.
Cat: Earl Swa
Scary People: Francisco de Goya
Moses: Moritz Daniel Oppenheim
Gillian Gontard wants a lot of things--she's trying to change that.
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