Recession Lessons

Lesson 101:  No one can repossess your future.

I'd love to claim credit, but I can't.  Someone had paid to post this message (paraphrased here on Single Shot) on a city advertising board in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle.  I saw it for the first time this past Sunday while visiting PG.



I think I'm going to become an alcoholic, destroy my liver, and die.  That way when everyone talks about it, saying, "At least he died doing what he loved," they'll pause and really think if that makes it any better.

Of course, if I die by becoming an alcoholic I'll probably alienate all my family and friends before then, so maybe not.


The Frustrated Artist - That's Me!!

Thanks to Facebook for giving an image to my feelings!


Don Music

Frazzled, frustrated, impatient, neurotic, but a true musical artist. You jump the gun... a lot and often exclaim, "Oh, I never get it right!!!" but of course you do within time. You appear to be a quitter, but there's something inside that makes you gather yourself and move forward (probably a hand since you are a puppet). Oh, you often have healing scars on your forehead from slamming it into piano keys.


From the Letters Section of the Reno News and Review, June 18 2009

"Those who surrender liberty and morality for security, have neither."
M. Holler
Silver Springs, Nevada



Never thought it would be like this.  Not after all the beers and stories, the dreams held in common, the inspiration you created.  Not like this.  I'll miss running into you randomly at some crag, hearing about you from mutual friends, reading about the adventures that you had.



- sticker seen on a car today in Arcata, California


Bishop, California



Between work, play, plans, school, clinical rotation, guiding, studying, Eureka, Lake Tahoe, Bishop, Bend, Seattle, climbing, skiing, running, training, writing, moving, traveling, and standing still, Patsy and I decided we didn't have enough to do.  So we went to San Leandro (just south of Oakland, California), and met Charlie.

Getting a second dog has been a consideration since last fall, when we thought Montana might have played with a friend.  But then he became ill, and we realized that any new dog would need to be excercised more than Montana could keep up with, and jealousy would immediately ensue.  So we put those thoughts on the back burner.

Then February came, and we moved up to the Lake, lost friends and family, and Montana passed away.

While we had stopped seriously considering getting another dog, it didn't stop us from looking.  Kind of like reading the personal adds more for the curiousity than any real intent of replacing your significant other.  Except Patsy found an Australian cattle dog rescue group, and a dog there she was interested in.  She called me up a few days later, pissed that the lady - Jen - refused her.  Jen didn't think that the dog Patsy was interested in would be a good fit for us, and Patsy doesn't like being told no.

But for the next two weeks Jen would send Patsy photos and links of dogs she thought would be a good fit.  Nothing really caught our attention until...

Patsy forwarded this, and a couple other, photos with the comment, "What do you think?  Oh my god Chris - do you think this could be him?"  Several phone calls and email conversations with Jen had warmed Patsy considerably, and we made plans to meet Charlie.  But just to meet.  Right.

So last Wednesday we piled into Patsy's Subaru and took the crow's line down Hwy 101 to the Bay and San Leandro.  Jen greated us warmly, had us sit on the back porch, and the let Charlie out.  I have to admit - for me it was over because he came running out and immediately shoved his face into my lap.  We still spent another three hours there, taking Charlie out for a walk to see how he dealt in the world, getting his history, and signing all the paperwork.

Charlie's originally from the Modesto area.  He was a stray 4-month old puppy delived to the county animal shelter and adopted out for the past 2 1/2 years.  But the family returned him in April to the shelter, saying that he was escaping too much from the back yard.  The shelter farmed him out to the rescue group Cattle Dog Dreams, where we met him.

charlie wouldn't hang out in the water
until we waded in too

There's more to Charlie's history than this.  Despite being 3 years old everything seems new to him - masses of people, animals, stair cases.  He chases cats obsessvely but doesn't know what to do about the squirrels, ducks and turkeys he's encountered while trail running with me and Patsy.  He has a healing wound on his left rear leg that is similar to a scar already healed on his right - and he immediately sits and cringes whenever a leash gets tangled in his legs - leading us to suspect that he's been tangled up in a tied rope used to keep him from "escaping."  He definetely enjoys running but also can't decide to be in front, along-side, or behind - a sure sign that he's never been run before.  He also has an obsessive desire to charge through opening doors - any opening doors - and refuses to descend into basement.  He had never seen the ocean or possible even water deep enough to swim in until we took him to Mickey's beach on the 10th.

Oh yeah, we took him home that day.  Jen said she usually did a site visit first but was reassured by our lifestyle and repeated offer of references.  She's been in touch ever since too.

Assessment?  We believe Charlie had been locked up in a backyard, garage, and basement.  Anytime the door was opened was only to let him out or feed him, so he learned that the door was something to escape through.  He was never given any toys - evident by how he is completely unaware of what to do with the stuffed animals and balls we've shown him.  Since he evidently wasn't worked in any way - though he is a working breed who needs mental and physical excercise - he started excercising himself by figuring out how to get out of his enclosures.  Eventually his owners resorted to tieing him up, which led to the rope abrasions healed and healing on his hind legs.

Despite all the negative in the last paragraph, Charlie is amazingly well-adjusted.  He gets on well with other dogs, and is currently living with Patsy in a house in Arcata with three competition-trained Shelties, who are teaching him all sorts of things.  He quickly became attached to Patsy and I, refusing to leave the room - even following us into the bathroom.  He often looks up for a voice or hand for reassurance.  One of my favorites is his habit of leaning into my legs when we're standing still.

So our plan has been to take him everywhere - leaving him in the car when we can't - and keep coming back to him.  We're taking him for runs and to the beach - his first experience with waves was a riot!  He reportedly is half ACD and haf Husky, and he has a thick, dense coat - even on his belly where ACD's are nomally pretty bare. He's going to be an awesome snow dog next winter!

So, that's the deal.  We're suckers.  Almost daily we notice that he's not Montana - and we don't expect or want him to be or somehow replace Montana.  But having Charlie with us suddenly makes our life feel more normal, more complete.

Special thanks to Jen and Cattle Dog Dreams - their website is here.


Eureka, California

I don't know if I should be bummed that I can't climb here, or happy that I couldn't be climbing from Seattle to San Diego to Salt Lake City...


Indoors in the Morning

I woke up this morning to a late spring snowfall.  Big fat flakes falling slowly from the sky, slowly piling up on my deck.  They encouraged me to stay inside, drink chai, read a big fat book.  Wrapped up in my blankets I did just that, until the sun broke out from the clouds and freed me from my quiet stillness.  So I got up and got dressed and squeaked across the snow covering my deck, leaving behind footprints to prove my industry.  There was work to do.


Yosemite Aftermath

A little too much food.
Way too much fuel.
Too much up.
Not enough down.

Worn out skins.
Holes in my pants.
Faded jacket.
Scratched glasses.
Burned gloves.

Pressure-rubs on my heals.
Bruise on my back.
Scrape down my arm.
Sun burn.
Wind burn.
Sore feet.
Sore knees.
Sore back.

Where did this come from?


Leaving for Yosemite

Too much
late night driving
truck stop coffee
half-hour naps
cold showers



Supposedly, I lead a full life. That's what I'm told by family, friends, colleagues, clients, and my neighbor's jack russel. I'm busy. I'm on the go. I'm always doing something.

But tonight, I'm not satisfied with what I've been doing. There's a fire burning out in the stove, dirty dishes in the sink from the dinner I cooked, and I should be sleeping already.

I need to get motivated. I need a swift kick in the ass. I need to be shaken out of my complacency.

I drove through Truckee yesterday and realized that all of town and the valley floor has completely melted out. That means the trails around town have completely. Melted. Out. I found a small climbing wall with dirt cheap prices in Truckee as well. And there's still two plus feet of snow in my backyard.

Its time to put up or shut up. My other blog is titled Climb.Ski.Run.Sleep.Repeat. I need to start following my own writing. I need to start climbing again, skiing backcountry again, running. Again. I need to start living my writing instead of writing about my living.

Sorry that you had to read this - but I'm starting to wake-the-fuck-up just as I am ready to go to sleep.

Tomorrow is going to be a brand-spanking-new-damn day.



What I Believe

It has nothing to do with Him.  Or Her.  Or whatever.

Unlike the Christians and Muslims in my life - and there are a lot of both - I don't believe that I have to believe to be rescued, redeemed, or saved.  I'm unconvinced that Mary and Mohammed were carried to heaven, or that Jesus was the incarnation of Him/Her/The Creator to experience life.  I'm still uncertain how being executed for trumped-up acts of treason qualifies Jesus of Nazareth to rescue us from ourselves.  And while its fantastic that his body vanished on the third day after his burial, and he started making poltergeist appearances to his closest friends, that's no more or less believable then the other miracles listed in other faiths.

Here's an interesting question:  What if the force of creation doesn't know how Itself came about?  After all - if Something existed before time, could It actually fathom Its own existence until It created a concept of then, now, and soon?

Assuming this might be the case, an experiment may be in order - to see if It can create the conditions that may actually be the foundations of Its own existence.  What if the soul is made in the image of God because we all potentially are God?  Obviously, one such universe experiment wouldn't be sufficient, so It would need to create an large - perhaps infinite - number of universes to test every tweak and twitch.

I can't lay claim to any original thought here.  Ann Rice wrote Memnoch the Devil, and Steven Brust wrote To Reign In Hell, both of which have given me pause and reflection.

But perhaps Sidhartha Budha has made me think the hardest.  Does belief or disbelief determine if our actions are good or bad?  Can we live a good life without a faith?  Can I work to become compassionate and enlightened, in effect rescue myself from myself, without needing divine intervention?

So right now, tonight, what I believe is that belief doesn't matter.  Its great that I do believe in a Creator - although I haven't decided just what that means - but my faith in that is irrelevant to my living a good, compassionate, right life.



There was never enough time.  He always won - everything.  But at the end, we all lost.  Everything.  Or at least, all that was important to us.


Moving out or moving on

This is all so overwhelming.  The house is full of boxes, lining a wall in each room, scattered across the floor half-filled, flattened cardboard bodies waiting to expand and fulfill their purpose lining the halfways.  Only the kitchen is untouched, a bastion against change, holding out until the last moment.  Until today.
Rolls of tape text books final bills receipts bubble wrap and stacks of newspaper cover the table.  The radio is speaking its last words and a cardboard coffin awaits the television.  The walls are bare of the photos and art that lived there to be enjoyed simply.
All too soon this will all be stacked away and become a memory until we settle down again in a few years.  We'll spend the next few weeks wondering where a book is - ooops it got packed.  Or wish we could have kept that stack of pots out.  We'll worry about the collection of bottled wine that we decided not to leave out for consumption, and if the dishes and glasses were adequately packed away in layers of newspaper and plastic bubbles. All to be free to move about.