Sunday, May 21, 2017

More Impressive Scenery from the San Luis Valley Landfill

Don’t worry, you won’t see any trash. Okay, maybe one piece.

The City of Monte Vista sponsored a citywide cleanup over the second weekend in May, in which locals were encouraged to bring their accumulated winter refuse to dumpsters in the Ski-Hi Rodeo Arena. My wife was sick, and I was distracted, so we missed the opportunity to dispose of the remains of my wife’s bathroom remodel from the autumn, which included a toilet and a lot of wood trim with nails sticking out. There were also some large pieces from her kitchen remodel, many of which have yet to make it out.

Which means I have more photo opportunities to come. As long as the load is “covered,” as in, inside a trailer, underneath a pickup truck flatbed topper, or inside of a minivan, you don’t pay much more than five dollars U.S. to throw out whatever you need to throw out. It’s nearly ten miles out from where I live, but US 160 only gets prettier west of Monte Vista.

The San Luis Valley Regional Landfill is at the very end of Rio Grande County Road 44, which goes a mile or so due south before cutting east behind the bluff that conceals the landfill. Let’s ride.
Driving south through a flat area between ridges on Rio Grande Country Road 44.

The cellular phone tower on the ridge to the right is a landmark I use to inform me where to turn from US 160. 

This is as far as I could zoom in on the mountain in the southern distance. I need to get a topo map of the area and look up its name. I like how the power line poles march away alongside the road.

A view of that same mountain, not zoomed in, as the road now runs east to the landfill.

Continuing our trek east.... 

Just before the gate, now looking back the way we came, at a line of San Juan Mountains visible between the ridge the cellular tower is on, and the one south of it.

Zooming in on those San Juans. Note the other power poles bristling up among the long hills.

I would certainly look forward to the ride a lot more if it didn’t terminate in a stinking landfill. That said, they do them right here in the scenic San Luis Valley.

No more photos past this point. Just pay the lady, drive in, throw the stuff out, and hit the road.

Looking west out the gate of the landfill towards the way we came in, The road runs west behind the ridge before swinging hard north back to US 160.

I photographed the ridge that blocks the view of the landfill from US 160 to get a look at the local ground cover. I didn’t realize until after I’d uploaded this shot that part of the ground cover included a plastic bag. Ironic? Coincidental? Nah. Just figures.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Final Convulsion of Winter into Spring

I realize it’s long since been spring in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere, but here towards the middle of the San Luis Valley at 7,600 feet (2,316m)—as with most of Colorado—the seasons run a little different. A “spring storm” means any given snowstorm between March and Memorial Day (last Monday in May for my non-USA readers), characterized by being heavy and wet. Colorado Springs, at 6,000 (1,828m) feet on the sunrise side of the Front Range, got hit with a good one this week. Here, it just got a little chilly, with a hint of rain.
Newly budded aspens and Lombardy poplars.

As newcomers a couple of months out from completing our first full year in the SLV, my wife and I are relieved this winter was so mild. Our last really gnarly snowstorm was on 5 April. Since then, it’s been mostly rain. Anything to help grow the potatoes and barley, and maintain the river we drink and wash from.

These photos are from Tuesday evening, 9 May. It looks a lot more dramatic than it all turned out. 

After this weekend, our temperatures trend upwards. After next weekend, it’ll be until October before we’re feeling chilly, maybe November before we’re chilly enough to fire up the wood pellet stove again. 

Little by little, this place is feeling more like home.

Monday, May 15, 2017

“Do You Really Want to Die on This Hill?” one oft-unheeded rhetorical question goes. 

Fun fact: Towards the summit of the world’s tallest mountain are the corpses of climbers who perished during their climb. As Everest is one of those mountains that requires pickaxes and rope and such to get up, trying to bring those bodies down would likely only result in more dead bodies. 

The ground is too rocky and frozen to bury them, and the atmosphere is thin, dry, and cold all year ‘round. There are no animal scavengers, not even insects to break down the cadavers. So there they lie, right where they fell, from starvation, exhaustion, hypoxia, whatever. They will likely lie there until the end of time or someone gets really irritated with the idea of them being there, whichever comes first.

The latter is not likely. Many of these dead bodies near the summit have been there so long, they’re used as directional markers for climbers. So they didn’t die entirely in vain. They now serve as frozen meat signposts, which is probably more useful than they ever were in life.

This brings to mind another popular aphorism, “You can either serve as an inspiration to others, or a warning.” Or maybe just a frozen meat signpost. Again, useful.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

What’s the Story, Spooky Glory?

See a spooky picture, choose your spooky adventure.

Are they rising into the gloom towards...I dunno, death by hypothermia and asphyxiation once they reach 20,000 vertical feet or so? Or are these strange humanoids descending from a dimensional portal above the clouds, the fog isolating us from all outside help while muffling our screams as they spread terror and misery throughout the population? 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to go to sleep and see how this movie turns out!

A Hungry Witch Takes ‘em in Batches

Investigating the disappearance of a student film crew in woods rumored to be haunted by a 300-year-old witch, all that was left for the next batch of intrepid investigators was the remains of the second group’s vehicle, its decay curiously accelerated for what was reportedly a well-preserved antique when last seen in Burkittsville, Maryland, six weeks ago.

No film footage was found, which is unfortunate, as it was presumed to be mildly amusing, with many surprise celebrity guest stars doing the voices in the woods. Some say they should have taken Batman along, but I’m certain the Darknight Detective would understand the substantial difference between dealing with the psychotically insane Joker, who can at least be physically confronted, and the psychotically evil Kelly Edwards, who only shows herself when it’s already over for you. No, Gotham City is far, far safer than these woods near Burkittsville, Maryland. Those meddling kids and their stupid dog were on their own. This is all that’s left. And now the lesson is yours....

Friday, May 12, 2017

“As ye FWONK! so shall ye BLOM!”

In which I begin mining my Facebook posts for material to keep this blog going while I get more and more absorbed in the writing of my third book. Another reason not to bother following me on social media. I stink at this.

The wacky spelled-out sound effects have always been one of my favorite things about comic books. To this very day, I assign my own to various noises I hear. And I say them out loud, much to the bemusement / annoyance of family members around me. I do not know why I do this. Heck, I’m a mystery unto myself most of the time.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Get Off My Lawn, Søren Kierkegaard!

Dear Lord forgive me, to think I’d have cheered such a quote as an Angry Young Idiot in my 20s. Now, as a 55-year-old man who is just getting a handle on who he is and what he needs to do after decades of bouncing around the North American continent with his US military wife and raising children to adulthood, I say, “Ah, shaddap, ya whiny @#$%. No wonder the great unrequited love of your life who inspired the bulk of your writing wanted nothing to do with you.”

As swiped from the Disturbing Quotes Facebook page. No idea who really owns it. Don’t drink and Internet, kids.

However, Regina reportedly did read Kierkegaard’s impassioned love letters aloud to her boyfriend for laughs. So they had that much going on between them. Moral of story: keep your love letters to yourselves, emo boys. Women only say they like that stuff so they can weed out losers like you.

If I sound overly harsh, it is because I have been that sinner. Ex-smoker syndrome, and all that. To end this post on a positive note, I will note that I find my accumulating years a great comfort—as in, insulation—against all the idiocies of my youth. It’s good to be old, if only because I’m no longer That Guy.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Signs and Portents (The Music Must Change)

State of a real apocalypse of sorts in my life. Nothing bad, mind you. Indeed, I’m counting on it to take me somewhere else, and fast.

That I haven’t posted in over a month is a sign in and of itself. I wish I could say I’ve been busy, but that’s not entirely true. I’m just doing what little I do in a different way.
Like Luna Toonie here, I could keep this going for just so long.

My attitude towards things has evolved over the past few months. I’m no longer content to throw together a photo essay of my cats just to make a post. I’m abandoning plans to write their bios. Whatever this blog is—and I’m still struggling with that—it’s not a cat blog. That much I’ve figured out.
That’s not snow, but hail. The sleet and snow did follow later, with thunder and lightning. April in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Whoop-whoop.

Also, how many photos can we do of the same mountains we see driving US 160 in central San Luis Valley? Or the view hanging out of my second-story dormer window? Views of the unresolved squalor in my just-hanging-in-there small farming town in Real America, USA?
This photo of budding aspens was taken on 20 April. These San Luis Valley specimens are budding nearly two and one-half weeks ahead of the schedule in Colorado Springs, where they don’t begin greening up until towards the end of the first week in May.

I can see me doing a few more of those from time to time. There’s a really nice late afternoon shoot I did of the railroad through town that I’ve been sitting on since last summer.

I’m just not feeling it now.
May I interest you in some food porn? Like these gothic-looking nachos here, of which all I’m allowed to eat now is—everything but the chips! Grains are contraindicated by the keto diet I embarked upon the first of May. Wanna hear about my new diet? Wait, come back, I’m kidding!

I realize this all reads as very depressive. Ironically, these attitudinal shifts are a result of years-long depression cracking against years of resistance. I suppose I could bore everyone to tears with that sordid tale, as if every blue-haired, morbidly obese monster with a Tumblr account didn’t have their own list of self-diagnosed mental and social deformities with which to excuse their laziness, irresponsibility, etc. Alas, the narcissists have ruined it for us more honestly disturbed. No use crying about it. It is what it is.

My adventures with semi-functional alcoholism might be worth a few write-ups. I have some great stories that go against Flaubertian “received wisdom.” When I get around to that, that is. 
A bottle of beer, a glass of wine, a shot of tequila. Yeah, it was getting out of hand.

The upshot of all this is to keep pushing. I’ve ripped vast swathes of my old CD collection for Frank Zappa and old Cocteau Twins to replace the Led Zeppelin and other “dad rock” that have been my musical meat and potatoes for a decade now. I’m rediscovering music that excited me back in the days when music could still excite me.

As much as I’m trying to shock myself further forward, I’m also preserving those old songs I’ve been playing so long that I’ve risked bleeding all the joy out of them. If I still enjoy “Stairway to Heaven” for the masterpiece it’s always been, it’s because I’ve had the sense to cut the radio off when I heard it coming on. The recent Led Zeppelin remasters have been all over my playlist in the last year. Putting them to bed now, I can enjoy the thrill of rediscovery for another day.

Ironically, I’ve had to remove this and all the other Who tracks from my music playlist in keeping with this precise sentiment.

I’ve even forced myself to finish reading some books. Even if they were e-books, I’m at least taking an interest again. This evil spirit called Anhedonia is getting cast out, in the name of...well, I’m working on that too.

Bottom line, tl;dr: I’m still here, still pushing, still figuring it out as I go along. The third book in the SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER is coming out, and the remasters of the first two books are spiffed, shined, and very nearly ready to take their places as evergreen classics for the ages, at least as far as zombie post-apocalypses go. 

I won’t release those until I have the third book ready to go; I might yet change things in the first two books to better connect with what I’m doing with the third.
All right, out of my chair! This is NOT a cat blog!