Month: September 2016

The Memory of Beauty

If you don’t visit beauty often, you forget it. It was time to get out of the ugly. I hadn’t been hill-stomping for weeks.

At 0:Dark:30 my car headed for the hills through a mizzling rain. I turned into the trailhead parking lot and my headlights caught a sign that read, “Day Use Only. Sunrise to Sunset.” It was 6:04. The sun wouldn’t rise until 6:34. Beautiful.

Fuck ’em, I thought, as I pulled in and parked anyway.

Must cogitate over my crime now. What would I tell a ranger if confronted on the trail? How about, “Gosh, hasn’t the sun already risen behind the clouds?” Yeah, that’s it. Acting ignorant would be a beautiful excuse.

A light rain pelted on the brow of my hat as I slipped on my jacket and donned my daypack. At 6:08 I pushed through the fading gloom and made my way up the trail to beautiful Hidden Valley.

Hidden Valley is one of the most popular hikes in Joshua Tree National Park. That’s why it’s best to visit it at 6:08 in the morning, on a weekday, in the rain. I was the only soul out there, and had the beauty of the whole valley to myself.

A short climb took me over the rocky rim and into this granite-strewn wonder. At this point a loop trail takes over. And at the start of the loop is a sign, directing hikers to walk clockwise through the loop. I went the opposite way. When the world travels clockwise, I prefer widdershins. I believe it beautifies the human spirit to be contrasuggestible and contumacious in the face of officious rules.

Such beauty I encountered, walking widdershins! I had forgotten just how majestic these towering rocks could be. Tragically, I left my camera at home. But I already had plenty of photos from prior visits. This would have to be a day for absorbing beauty through the natural senses, without the fuss from including a glass lens.

These are photos of Hidden Valley from a prior visit. This rock seems to have eroded below faster than above, producing a strange curl formation.

This photo of Hidden Valley, and the rest, are from a prior visit. The rock pictured here seems to have eroded below faster than above, producing a strange curl formation.

One of my natural senses–my cognitive sense–became especially active. A beautiful inspiration struck me, and I reached for a different kind of recording device. A device I had made absolutely sure to bring along. It was a device for recording those reflections from the cognitive sense, that are too easily erased by time.

I reached for my pen.

And that’s when I realized I had forgotten to bring paper. Beautiful move, moron! Goddamn me!

The palm of my hand would have to serve as stationery. So I recorded my sensory experience, ink to hand.

A wide view of Hidden Valley. Notice there are no people? Notice the long shadows? If you want to beat the crowds, you have to hike this valley while everyone else is still in bed.

A wide view of Hidden Valley. Notice there are no people? Notice the long shadows? If you want to beat the crowds, you have to hike this valley while everyone else is still in bed.

The rare desert rain steeped the sage, cheesebush, and wormwood, releasing their stored-up aromas. Here was beauty for my osmic senses, I noted just below my thumb.

I paused to listen to the silence. It was there. A cottony vault of beautiful nothingness, for my otic senses. Then, one-by-one, delicate sounds crept through the cotton. The sough of my breath passing softly through my nares. The distant caw of a crow rattling off the rocks. And the susurration of thrumming engines from an airliner high aloft, above the clouds.

Here's a hunk of granite that looks like one of my teeth after a lifetime of too many sweets.

Here’s a hunk of granite that looks like one of my teeth after a lifetime of too many sweets.

About halfway through the counter-clockwise circumambulation of this loop trail, my bladder sent me a tactile sensory message. There were no other hikers around, so I searched for a spot to perform an illegal act in private. Pissing outdoors may be against the law, but in the wilds it is primeval beauty for our nostalgic senses. It connects us with our ancient ancestors, who also pissed in the wilds. And in much the same way.

This escarpment is called "The Great Burrito" by rock-climbers. A few years ago a cragsman fell to his death at this very spot. Perhaps he should have opted to climb "The Little Taquito" instead.

This escarpment is called “The Great Burrito” by rock-climbers. A few years ago a cragsman fell to his death at this very spot. Perhaps he should have opted to climb “The Little Taquito” instead.

But then it occured to me that enough people have rained their uric acid upon the rocks of this popular trail. There was no urgent need for me to add more, so I decided to hold it in. For me, this was a beautiful beau geste. But I hope my ancestors weren’t disappointed.

If the Chinese had built their great wall out of something like this, perhaps the Mongols would have stayed to the north.

If the Chinese had built their great wall out of something like this, perhaps the Mongols would have stayed to the north.

No rangers stopped me before sunrise. The light rain felt refreshing on my face and skin. The boulder skyscrapers impressed again, with all their forgotten glory. And the trail remained untrammeled throughout the hike, because nobody else dared brave the wee hours and wetness of this morning.

That’s how beautiful this day was.

The hills have eyes.

The hills have eyes.

I drove home to the beautiful vibes of Duke Ellington on the radio. The light rain intensified to a downpour. Seemed the hour I chose to hike in this storm was beautiful timing. And now I had fresh in my mind that one thing all souls thirst for, as surely as the desert landscape thirsts for water from heaven.

I possessed the memory of beauty.

This rock is waiting for the right moment to topple over upon an unsuspecting hiker. Which is why people really should stay away from Hidden Valley.

This rock is waiting for the right moment to topple over upon an unsuspecting hiker. Which is why people really should stay away from Hidden Valley.

Blogging in Paradise

FIRST DRAFT! KEEP REVISING. DON’T POST YET.

So you want too be a blogger?

Theirs nothing harter than writing a goddamned post. 1st you got to spell things rigth corectally. Than you got to corect all the grammer. Otherwise the spelling Nasis and Grammer Nasiz will be all over you.

The wurst thing about riding a post is all the reriding. It take me about a 100 drafts to get it rite.

Blogging is all about removing your bra unbosoming and revealing the inner depths of your heart. Its about telling spreading propagating you’re personal take opinion viewpoint — ah fuck this, check the thesaurus — weltanschauung to the world utilizing simple, easy to understand language.

Then, after youve’ composed a whole danged article, you now have to compost a title. And it better be good, otherwise noone will read or like the post. It doesnt not have to have anything to do about the actual article, but it batter be creative.

I try to follow the examples set by other bloggers, such as

Note: Change names to avoid a lawsuit.

Goober, A Lease, Vick’s Toe, Joneses, Mr. Hatchling, Smile Alarm, and Trench. There stile has inspired me manny times.

So iff ewe want to try blogging, just understand how difficult hard it can be. Hours and ours of labor go into it. You must polish, polish, Polish. Other bloggers rarely like wat you right the first time. What you write.

But if you get just one like, even if its just you’re own. Than its worth it.

Down and Out

My down comforter has leaked feathers for years, gradually losing its amazing thermal insulating power. I didn’t want to endure another winter of freezing my unmentionables off, so I went online in search of a new comforter.

That’s when I discovered something very discomfiting.

Bald geese.

A goose that has been live-plucked.

A goose that has been live-plucked.

Bloody, bald geese. Geese that have been live-plucked for their downy feathers.

There’s a movement afoot to discourage people from buying down products. Animal rights activists claim that most of the down we get from geese is harvested using a method called live-plucking. You can read more about it by clicking here.

A goose is held down and sometimes tied up, and then it’s feathers are plucked until the goose is bald and bleeding. Often the flesh is ripped open from the plucking, and then sewn back shut with a straight needle. No anasthesia or pain killer is given the poor, suffering goose.

If you’re not too squeamish, and have already eaten breakfast, try watching this video produced by PETA. It shows live-plucking in action.

IKEA and Patagonia are two businesses that no longer use down in their products, due to their opposition to live-plucking. But many companies continue to use and sell down products. I wonder if they’re hoping the general public won’t catch on to the animal cruelty we finance when we buy their feathery merchandise.

The good news is, there are plenty of excellent synthetic alternatives to down.

My research discovered the best substitute is Primaloft. Primaloft was developed by the U.S. Army in the 1980’s. It possesses nearly the same insulating power as down, and retains 96% of its insulating capability when wet. Down, on the other hand, is useless when wet.

Primaloft is also lightweight. But I must concede, it does not seem quite as lightweight as down. Just the same, it sure can take a heavy burden off your conscience.

A good Primaloft comforter also costs less than a good down comforter. I bought one for about $150.

I used it for the first time a few nights ago, when winter got into a battle with our late-summer weather, and sent us a crushing cold front. I slept cozy as a coyote. In fact I had to stick my legs out, to keep the prickly heat away.

Down is down and out, on my shopping list. I can’t get the image of bloody honking geese out of my head. But at least I can sleep better knowing that perhaps a few less geese will be tortured, due to my recent buying decision.

News From Town

This here's a replica of my town.

This here’s a replica of my town. The fence is our most prized feature. It’s very tall, and keeps people out who make us feel uncomfortable.

Once in a while I write a letter to my mother, who’s in prison. I speak the language she remembers from the outside, and let her know how things are going in our town. I thought I might share this one with you, so you can enjoy the quaint character of our tiny rural hamlet:

Dear Ma,

Not much been happenin here lately. But here is a few tidbits for ya’ll to chaw on.

A meteor shower drenched our town at two in the mornin. Most of the population slept right through it. But a few unfortunate folk who was outside at that godawful hour got soaked in stardust. They came home pretty lit.

Mrs. Curdle went to our local bakery last year, and caught a yeast infection. A few weeks ago she gave birth to an eight pound loaf of bread. ‘Course we all held a breadcrumb shower for her. She seemed right pleased with the gifts, even though most folks jist gave her a toaster.

A few days ago I kilt me a cockaroach in our house. I done lassoed it, wrestled the critter to the ground, then tied all six of its legs together. Then I jugulated and butchered it with my bowie knife. Our freezer is packed now and, boy howdy! Looks like we folks’ll be enjoying roach steaks for the rest of the whole danged year.

Toothbrushes have went on sale at our local drugstore, and the line outside the store must have gone three blocks, if it weren’t a country mile. It’s not that folks here are addicted to hygiene. It’s just that they’s some mighty curious to know exactly what a toothbrush is.

Well, that’s all the news for now. Oh yeah, we’s all in good health, an’ we hope ya’ll is too. ‘Cept for those 27 stitches I got where I was gored by a horny toad. An’ the missus sprained her ankle slippin in the shower. She was shore surprised when water shot out of that round thing up there with all the holes in it. But ‘sides from that, we’s fine.

Love ‘n Sweetcorn,
Tippy

Soap Sudstitute

(Adversetisement)

The FDA has banned antibacterial soap. They say it doesn’t do any better at cleaning your hands than plain soap, and in fact may do more harm than good.

My wife and I disagree. We’re sanitary people and have laved our hands with antibacterial soap for many years. But rather than whining and complaining about government overreach (“Take your stinking paws off me you damned dirty government!”), we have chosen to view this as an opportunity.

Okay, we whined and complained a little bit. In fact we both spent hours and hours in the bathroom washing and rewashing our hands, while crying into our antibacterial suds. “You’re just the best soap in the world, and we’re going to miss you!” we sniveled.

But then we bucked up. We walked it off. We put our heads together. And we decided to show the government a thing or two. We determined to develop an alternative to antibacterial soap.

Now we are very excited. Because after many months days weeks hours minutes of experimenting and planning and testing chemicals, we have invented a very sanitary system for expurgating germs from the hands. We hope to patent this system soon. And then we will become rich and famous! Thank you FDA, for making this opportunity possible!

The product isn’t out yet, and we don’t want anyone stealing our idea. But we thought we’d offer you a sneak preview. We’re sure you’re going to be just as excited as us, and will go around telling everyone about it. Who knows, you may even submit a pre-order.

So take a peek below, at Tippy Gnu’s New, Revolutionary, SOAP SUDSTITUTE System for Cleansing Hands:

Pre-Order now and receive a complete cleansing system, with instruction manual. (Dog not included).

Pre-order now and receive a complete cleansing system, with instruction manual. (Dog not included).

If our business is successful we may expand into a dish washing product line. And we could even venture into a substitute for toilet paper. Think of all the trees we can save!

Meanwhile, the video below indicates that antibacterial soap is still popular in Pakistan. Why can’t we be more like Pakistan?