Thursday, October 27, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Strix varia

Harbinger of autumnal wisdom.  Or, I guess, bringer of silent death if you're anything smaller than a possum.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Unexpected, (expect)

This has been one of the only solo motorcycle trips I've taken in a year.  It was just three days, which used to be the time I would use to get from Utah to Tennessee.  Three days was a matter of course among weeks of unplanned moto wandering.

Now it's a boomerang to West Virginia.  One day up, one there, one back.  Like someone tied a rubber inntertube to the back of my belt, put a stake in the ground in Chattanooga, and told me to run.  When you get the rabbit in your blood, improvisation works better than planning.  Glad it didn't go smoothly.

I popped a throttle cable at 75, winding it up on a strip of federal shipping lane on the state line.  Just so you're clear, the Interstate Highway system only qualifies as road in a few places.  When they started making bikes for it, we got all our metal covered with plastic.  Because at around 75, the wind feels great when you're alone, poor when you're in the slipstream of an eighteen wheeler.  Once a mile.

Decided to do surgery roadside, stashed gear in the woods, ended up with a handful of cables, thumb out.  Got a ride all the way to a vault of a million Honda parts, none of which I needed.  Was directed to a bicycle shop.  Got dropped off there.  The bicycle shop tells me to go back down the road to a man named Henry.  The taxi woman took me to Bristol.  I found him sidling up an aisle of pre-1960 Triumphs, a BSA, two Nortons, seven Hondas and an above-average collection of mirrors behind a window painted with the word 'Henry's.'  He was wearing a grey jumpsuit embroidered with a red 'Henry.'  I was pretty sure this was the guy.

Henry's is one of those places you could search for.  You might only find it by accident.  "I don't advertise," he tells me.  The best don't need to.

He soldered a new barrel on that cable.  Gave the pickup truck ride back to my bike, told race stories, talked about prize metal horses, spoke this language of shaped ore and controlled explosions.  Told me nine different ways I could have dealt with the problem.  "There's always something."  Ask if it will hold for Fayetteville and back, he says "Don't wring it out all the way.  Maybe."

Google actually just offered to write this post for me.  There's a new utility that helps you choose your next word.  I went to college for that.  Now, your computer (actually, the probability of your similarity to other thoughts in Google's hive) can guess the next word you're likely to type.  So far it has suggested a string of mediocre malapropisms, apparently boilerplate in the cloud.  As planned.  Here's to the unexpected.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Fire and rust.  The rusting leaves, the burning oil.  All oxidizing in a brilliant flame.  Leaves and petroleum, the rocks speak.  The autumn leaves blaze and burn, and a motorbike surfs among the confetti zooming tiny explosions of forgotten trees.  Bringing the present to life, burning the past.
West Virginia this weekend, through a flaming forest forged in the Pleistocene.

Friend John sends a tiny text message from the North Slope of Alaska.  Finding more - faint black all powerful sunblood from under the rocky hood.  Stethoscope to the ground.  "Up all night talking to the slope.  Drilling a well, hit an unseen fault last night at 2am.  Chaos.  Awesome."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011


When is something just right?  It's too hot - you're naming what is there.  Too cold - you can name what is not.  Just right: that's its only name.  If only it were as easy as porridge.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Leaves like solar panels make laden vines.  This year was great for muscadines, scuppernongs, fox grapes and their ingenious corollaries - jelly, juice, wine, cordial, and grapa.  Every autumn in Tennessee these puppies start to drop off all over the forest, primates plucking away, drunken bees swirling around as Ann says.  Here's her recipe for juice and jelly.  My Dad's classic grape brews have been circling campfires for years, Mom's jelly rainbow is in full bloom and Kelsey's first run of grapa is already famous.  Muscadines always mean fall, the waning sacrament, the prolonged delicious last rites of summer.      

Sunday, October 2, 2011

North Chick

Chickamauga is a funny name.  TiVo is a funny invention.  Like playing outside, but worried about all that television you might miss?  Nothing a rattlecan can't fix.  The future is for you.  Some rock glyphs here from the early Anthropocene - sure to become a classic.

The Crust

Map it all you like.  The fabric of this planet, bent, folded and riven with a thousand kinds of riddles and pockets, cloaked in vastness, drenched by time, layered in paradox, woven over with water and blasted by the sun will never, ever fail to mesmerize me with its mystery.  The rock speaks.  The geostoke abides.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Wurzel is starting it off right.  The clock strikes midnight, 56 degrees at LRC.