SNOW BREAK

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As we sprint along on the Discovery Trail, I often hear the words “that’s a working dog,” from those we pass. Shadow loves to pull. I’ve been fighting her for nearly two years now, as we walk. Finally, I’ve decided to relent and let her pull all she wants. It’s been a rush (or should I say Mush?) like nothing her or I have ever felt before.

who knew a dog would love to run full-speed with its dad peddling a recumbent trike in tow. More about this some other time. For now, just know she is enjoying a day off, laying in the frozen stuff she was raised in back in Wyoming.

Today the snow has found us under the sunny BLUE HOLE of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s keeping us off the trail for the time being, but hey, it’ll be gone in a few hours … and so will we.

Virtual Waste of Time?

When the newspaper arrived in the mail, I thought, What do we have here? What’s this oddly familiar bundle of pulp in my hands? It brought back memories when these things were everywhere. You couldn’t walk outside past your door, without having the world on your steps every morning (or at least on Sunday).

When my old pal and publisher of THE CONTRIBUTOR–Dan Abernathy, asked me to actually contribute to his newest pet project, I was perplexed. But why I thought … how post-middle ages of you Dan. It costs nothing to upload to the WEB, all we might have to share. And you don’t have to live with it. I know the internet is supposedly forever, but as far as I know, you can still go into WordPress and fix some ignorant spelling error long after the blog is published.

“There’s no undo key after this thing hits the curb,” I said. I could tell Dan wasn’t having no for an answer, so I finally relented, not knowing what I would write about.

The problem I was having, was trying to remember the last time I’d held something beside’s a cafe menu in my hand, with printed words on it. Hell, even half the stuff I order from diners these days, comes from a blinking touch screen or phone app. Seems in just the last decade, since these really smart phones and devices have made it into my hands, I’ve completely given myself over to the virtual experience.

I’ve become so cordless, that I’ve pulled the veritable analog plug completely–ouch–as I recall the loss of my vinyl records, books, and cassette recordings, all tossed a decade ago.

My Kindle pages flip side to side with the simple strike of my stylus. Paper receipts are replaced with paperless alerts and are saved on a server with no need for anything flavored manila to sort them in. Notes to dear ones, my spouse, and those I see in person every day, still get thumb-hammered out onto two-dimensional buttons. Alas, I guess that says it all. I becoming more of a 2D version of myself.

But knowing Dan as long as I have, it made sense once I gave it some thought, that he’d want to publish in hardcopy again–seeing as how we first met more than 20-years ago in (you guessed it) the newspaper business.1022004-2270

Back in the days when we journalists who wrote long-hand on large tablets, scrawled quotes in little note books, and wrote with black ink, the important numbers and dates onto the backs of our hands. We souped film, laid out stories with photos and text on primitive Mac towers, which once published and loaded by the bundle into trucks, was within hours sprawled upon the sticky, worn counters, of coffee shops, corner markets, hotels, and gas stations throughout the land. The photos were always fuzzy, the words always tenuous until proofed nineteen times prior, but once all else was said, done, and done once more, it was always a thrill to see up close and read (under the proper light) what an entire team has put together over the past month, week, day. 

Dan still scribbles in hardcover journals until filled, ultimately filing them side by side onto the decades worth of shelving next to his desk. He still buys stamps, licks them, and rubs their little hides onto the envelopes of cards and pages he’s hand-scribed his heart-felt sentiments on. They too, like his journals, house his original thoughts, typos and all the crinkled edges that surely his mind, and his tabloid will contain.

Like the sheen of a new tattoo on old skin, newspapers are always fascinating at first glance. They intend to attract the eye with an intentional hierarchy. Headline, photo, caption. Make it splash when it hits the street. Even though the printed word has been around for more than five and a half centuries, in some form or another, I feel compelled to advocate for its continued relevance, even now as I upload this to the internet.

Why newsprint? Because it smells like clean dirt. Organic. It’s crude, and combustible. It’ll fuel a fire with the help of a swift match. It’ll swat a fly, catch a crumb, scold a cat and help soften the bed-roll for a person living on the street.

The digital device on the other hand, has the inert fragrance of a scalpel. The emotional warmth of a key fob. It’s polished and usually too cold to warm your hands with–unless you pair it with a faulty charger and wait for the sparks. A Kindle Fire or real kindling? Which will serve you better after an EMP knocks out the GRID I ask you?

All it takes is a half-spilled cup of coffee to kill the average laptop. But dump a pot of hot Joe on your favorite newspaper, and after some drying time, there’s a fair chance that the same inherent content will be there–albeit with maybe a wink of ancient patina added.

You may only read or skim over the pages once before tossing them out. But at some point, you’ll find occasion to cut out a square of some pale yellow page before tossing the rest. Maybe returning to that sacrade swatch every time your Bible of choice is opened, or the visor is lowered in your auto. The image of an otherwise lost thought, a moment in time that THE PAPER found worthy enough to print, pasted there before you, recanting your child’s moment in the lights; that special ceremony; the group happening; or maybe that time when that someone special passed; wrote that quote; made that moment worth printing. Clippings endued with sentiment, gummed by sweaty hands or tinted by spilled tears, simply become more tangible than any virtual posting I can imagine.

So wrap a fish. Underline your parrot’s perch. Rest your wary coffee mug a page in Dan’s new publication THE CONTRIBUTOR, and watch while a new ring appears around any random paragraph you happen upon. Here’s to Gutenberg (Google him) and the printed word. Print on people, and beyond that, keep on reading.

 

Happy End of Last Year!

Most of us have never known any sort of difficulty in terms of human suffering … we’ve avoided war, death, sickness, etc. It’s true. The average person only hears of such things. Google it.

We may lose a loved one. We may fail a major exam. We may know, or have heard of someone close, who lived a life of suffering on par with those from the Great Depression, or some World War, but on average, if you have a laptop, or some smart something and have the audacity to subscribe to such a frivolis blog as this one, odds are you’re one of the average lucky ones who’ve lead a relatively safe existence.

My prayer and wish is that you and I continue thusly. For those who have known the worst that this world has to offer, I beg that you forgive me. Please know I don’t pretend to know what you’ve been through. I likely will someday. I do feel it coming.

But for now, I’d rather wish us all, a coming year that is all of what last year wasn’t. May we know some true peace, despite the daily calamities which seem to persist.

May we hear what isn’t always spoken, and hold our tongue when it goes without saying.

Thank you for reading what I usually never utter much as well, Love and peace to all.

-D

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Operation Jolly

Once upon a midnight fare, and for the first time in many years, I decided to really think about trying to send out cards for Christmas. I hope all of you who should have received my very special thought, knew that the card you didn’t get was from me.

Truth is, I’ve become analog retentive. It’s shameful. Too damned digital. I just wrote a column for a real newsprint newspaper that came off a hot press and smelled like a fresh tattoo and everything, and I almost panicked when I first received my copy of the folded up thing … seems the publication lacked any USB connection for downloading its contents to my phone. I had to actually peel apart every page by hand–both thumb and forefingers at work. Seems the actual swiping of pages is an old craft indeed. Can you imagine reading anything in the days before it was all back-lit, zoomed into, and pinched just right?

It’s been a strange year. I uprooted my family and left a home of 22-years to make a new go of things in a far off land where we had but a few known friends in the region. Alas, it’s been a welcomed joy to grow in friendship with so many new people in our lives; but regretful that so many close friends are now a good distance away. There’s new jobs, new bike paths, new dog-parks to pal around in and a vast sea of opportunity literally all around us now.

I miss the sweet scent of sage, but the transition to the salty mist of sea air is a welcome change.

At the same time, the world feels a shade more grim than ever before. Between fear of the common cold, the new cold war and the so-called cold-cuts sitting out on the counter too long, it becomes imperative at some point to just breathe, relax, leap, land, and roll with it all so you can get back up on your feet quickly, to try another leap.

Much of our family and friends are getting up there; loved ones are passing; some are becoming homeless; and as the system fails them, we have front row seats. My focus has grown more near-sited as I age. The reach seems more slight. The steps less sure, so no need to try to be home for Christmas anymore, but to just stay there in the first place seems more the ticket.

So, I said all this to explain why maybe my Christmas card design this year looks like a poster for some post-apocalyptic steam punk film, made on location in Beijing. We are what we doodle I suppose, so just chalk it up to a precarious year at best for not knowing what lay around the next horizon.

Here’s to the next chapter. May it be warmer without affecting the ice caps; may it be brighter, without causing a rash of any kind; and may all your Christmas’ be white, if you like the snow, but without any misconstrued  notions about race being an issue in any way. Group hug to all, and may my next year’s Christmas card be a bit more jolly and bright. If you’ll forgive me, I think I’ll start working on it now …sketch1481482980827blank