An approach to continuity

I’m doing my best to keep the ball rolling, hoping that continual momentum may help keep me going with the writing, sort like my old ranger when the clutch would give out.  That leads to me being right here, behind this screen, sipping Vida Mezcal with a dash of lime twang. I do my best to enjoy the night, to ignore the tasks for the next day, forget the tasks of this one and try to find the agave buried in the smoke.

I think about meals to plan, finances to be met and a camping trip at the end of the week, to a close but dependable destination. I imagine mesquite camp fires, the smell of fallen juniper berries and the rustle of a raccoon or ringtail, perhaps the yips of distant coyotes. I think of night skies that look like shattered beer bottles. But most of all I think of the silence in the mornings, among the yuccas, brush and Mexican sage. Where sound tends to be just beyond the nopalitos and only the conejos care that you are there.

I think of past trips, maravillias on las montañas, a view from a summit, high bear activity signs and registers. This trip won’t have those, but it will have familiarity, and sometimes that helps to really put me at ease.

In short I look forward to a night or tequila soaked melodies, food cooked over fire and conversations with friends, that, while maybe not deep, are some of the conversations I miss the most.

To familiarity,

-AM-

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An explanation of absence

Music: Alejo Sierra – Los Pinguinos Del Norte


Last year I started writing about my experiences. I mostly wrote about simple living, minimalism, and debt reduction. However, last Novemeber, with the election of president shit hole, I was too angry all the time with the barrage of constant stupidity to write about anything other than politics. This would be great if I were writing a political blog, but I did my best to shy away from that realm since politics already consumes a large part of my life.

That being said, my politics have moved further left, I have decided to write about the subject when I feel it necessary and completely understand if I lose previous followers. Politics is not what you signed up for. I have also come to a point where I accept the political reality for what it is and would rather focus on things that better my life.


Since I have been gone-

I have took on a few new interests or pastimes since I last wrote and they will be mentioned as I deal with them. Among them are a years worth of actually trying to learn Spanish (estoy aprendiendo, pero algo es mejor que nada, que no?) This has entailed immersing myself in music, tv, reading and speaking. I will being doing a great deal of reviewing my experience in learning.

I’ve developed a love for Tequila and Mezcal and Sotol, I will be reviewing them but only puros that are also blancos or platas. I really like the agave taste, not wood. I can, however, dig the smoke in Mezcal.

I have also, made it a point to dive further in to my heritage as a Mexican American while still staying true to my worldview in terms of growing up in rural West Texas. Mexican culture has always been a large part of West Texas, so none of this is mutually exclusive, but rather a shift in focus.

What that means is that I dig what’s going on the West Coast  and the Califas Xicano thing, but I don’t live there, and their experience in life are different than mine. Likewise South Texas has their own culture, and I appreciate all of them. There just tends to become a little rivalry, I don’t want to be a part of that, or to tell anyone that their experience is any less real. Just know this is my take and my experiences, not better, just different.

I’m sure there is more to come, but this is brief explanation for my future posts and my leave of absence. Content is changing, but I will still be addressing my attempt at frugality, simple living, and anything from the past just through a different and more nuanced lens.

I hope all is well,

-AM-

Daily Surprises

Music: Like Eating glass- Bloc Party


Today, much like any other workday, I spent my morning putting out the typical fires of switching back keys on laptops, answering emails and having conversations with students who were making no progress in self-paced courses. Around lunch time, things changed though, I had one of those experiences that truly leave you thankful that you’re a teacher.

I had a student ask if she could stay during lunch to finish a test that she had started online. I of course said sure and did my best to help her with the questions she had. She worked diligently, finished the exam and proceeded to ask about another assignment that was to be uploaded the next day. I walked her through the process and told her that the assignments for all the other modules were to be uploaded the same way.

She thanked me for my help and then asked me how her sister was doing in one of my other classes. I told her that she was doing well but that anything to spur more productivity would be appreciated. Here’s where the day changed, one of those unforgettable moments, where people lose their roles and simply become humans.

She told me that her and her sister hadn’t lived together for a few years. That her sister gets distracted easily. “She focuses on boys more than school. I wish she could see from my mistakes that it’s not worth it.” She proceeded to explain that her mother and father were divorced.

Her mother had tried to fight her and her sister sided with her, this had put a strain on their relationship. She told me she lived with her boyfriend because of the rift, but she regretted it and felt as though her boyfriend just used her for sex. She said that last spring she had had a miscarriage with him and that it had affected her school work.

She then explained that her father had just recently had a baby with another woman. Apparently there are 3 other siblings, all from different women. She said “I just wish he would focus on us rather than creating more children.”

I told her I didn’t have any quick fixes for such matters, but that there are resources in the community and I can help her find them. I told her that in my life I have had to distances myself from some family members and relationships due to their negative nature. That it hurts, but that being dragged in to more negativity is worse than the distance.

I told her that she can only focus on the next right move and that mistakes are merely another chance to learn from our own experiences.

I also told her that I too have a hard time dealing with my own problems, and that that in no way minimizes her situation, rather that she is more normal than she expects.

Lastly, I told her that I lack the resources to do much, however, that when she’s in my class that I’ll do all that I can to ensure her success. Small successes become large successes over time and that our habits become our lives, focus on what you can control.

She thanked me for listening to her and said that she was appreciative that I’m cool.

I’ve been left sort of in awe for a few reasons. I tell people regularly to endure, but until now realize that I usually only consider life from my point of view and with respect to my set of problems and circumstances. This is an unfair way to assess other.

I still advocate for people to pick up and do the tough tasks that are at hand, however, there has to be more of us listening (myself included) to each other. Up until a year ago I was a pretty awful listener. My goal was always to have something to reply with. As I have made the shift to actually listening I find that not everything one says needs a reply. But that anyone moved to genuinely voice their feelings needs to at the least say their piece, even if just as a verbal catharsis.

Furthermore, I’m saddened and proud all at once that there are young adults, of any gender, that can and do, put such issues aside and make such hard decisions daily and are committed and driven to truly make a go at life despite the odds. (What’s more refreshing than to have a true protagonist?)

While reading today I thought about my debt as I was confronted with the idea of resistance as a motivator in life, a purpose, the reason we get up every morning. As of right now, debt is my resistance. I seem to function better when knowing or creating a purpose to struggle for.

For years I viewed the world from a political perspective–everything is a function of power struggle and since it is, the only difference is who is victorious. Perhaps this has something to do with my functioning as an adult. This young lady has identified her struggle and I hope she annihilates what needs to be in order to prevail.

Life, at times, is so incredibly sad, intense, beautiful, and beyond anything I could every dream up–I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful for these types of moments that pull me out of my own personal stupor and force me to realize that we all have struggles. I recognize that we are all so busy and I ask that you guys do the best you can to be understanding and patient, it’s truly an uphill battle for us all.

Endure,

-AM-

Thoughts as of now.

Music: My Kind of Woman- Mac Demarco


I finished Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry last week. I have been hesitating to write a review and instead have merely posted a few quotes that I really enjoyed, I say a few, because they continue on and on.

What I can say about the book, other than it is awesome and that I highly recommend it; is that for one, it takes place mostly in West Texas and Northern Mexico, and that it is almost an anti-western– it really kills all of the John Wayne archetypes associated with westerns. I can also appreciate a book where characters act out philosophical concepts rather than the work being an act of philosophy, to me it is just more believable. In short, read it.

Quotes:

“For one thing, he despised fancy gear. He rode a plain saddle, and all that he required in a weapon was that it was reliable and accurate.”

“The one thing he didn’t expect he would have to fear was a chill. The sky was not like the skies of home. It was vast, and instead of being blue, it was white, not with cloud but with heat.”

“In time, the great pig grew bolder. Sometimes it would walk through town, attended by a contingent of crows, who would flank it or walk ahead of it, cawing. When the pig stretched out to sleep in the hot sun, several crow would attend it, cleaning nits and ticks out of its hide. The poor people who worked in the sand hills feared the pig, they called it the devil pig. […] Sightings of the pig came from all points of the compass: from as far east as Abilene, as far north as Tascosa, and as far south as Piedras Negras. An old woman who lived near Boquillas claimed to have seen the pig go into a tunnel that led to hell.”

“’If he steals horses, then it’s better to eat them,” Billy said. He had always liked Joey. He thought that he was a good boy, but strange. Being strange was not something he could hold against anyone; after all, he himself was strange. ‘Life makes everybody strange, if you keep living long enough’”

 

“‘I don’t see it that way’, Goodnight said.

‘Well it wasn’t your ranch,” Call pointed out.

‘No, it wasn’t my ranch, but I hate to see you thinking like a banker,’ Goodnight said. ‘From a banker’s point of view, all of my ventures have been failures, including this one I’m venturing now, this Palo Duro ranch. The lawyers will take it away from me, before I’m dead. Lawyers and Bankers are like shit beetles. They’ll finally carry off everything I’ve built up, like they carried away your ranch up above the Yellowstone. […] ‘Bankers live by ledger sheets,’ Goodnight informed him. ‘They decide if you’re a failure if your balance hits zero, or you can’t pay your note. You’re a damn fool for thinking like a banker.’”


Projects:

I finally finished the table, distressed, antiqued, and sanded and finished the top properly. This project took me much longer than anticipated but was completely worth the hassle. I’m debating on whether to post it for sale or wait to get a few pieces and get a space at an antique mall with my wife, time will tell.

Our mortgage is more than I would like to pay (not unmanageable, but why pay more, when you can pay less?) and since it is, I would like to move in to something smaller and more maintainable when the time is appropriate. However, one thing that hit me hard this last time we moved was how my shop has been in disarray for two years.

My solution, which is not a new idea, is portable infrastructure. All of my benches, large tools and tool stands are being converted to moveable pieces. The idea came from Joel Salatin and his mobile farming methods. He argues that infrastructure is the costly part of farming and that more options exist when small farmers can move to leased land and allow land to rest when becoming exhausted.

I can’t allow a shop to become more fertile by resting it, but it is definitely easier to clean and maintain this way, it also allows for quick on site set up, if the need ever arises.

Debt:

With respect to debt and my never ending struggle to escape its chains I have developed a system where I pay at least 20 additional bucks each week to student loans on the principal. On the low end it looks like 160 bucks a month. I’m doing all I can to shrink this one as fast as possible.

I’m also contemplating selling one of my shotguns. I’m too afraid of scratching it,(see Call’s quote on gear) I have another that is more portable, does all the same tasks, and really I don’t feel that the pretty one serves a need anymore, but is now a liability.

Minimalism:

I’m doing my best to get by with the least of everything. I read about purchasing only consumables and I’m really trying to stick to this idea. Basic necessities: toilet paper, soap, unprocessed food. But only what I need for the week and no impulses. I’ll write an update as time goes on.

Photography:

In order to create a better blog and to also capture small moments of life that I appreciate I have decided to focus some on the quality of photos that I take. My phone takes awful photos and it sort of just seems lazy, these were taken with my wife’s Canon. I tried my hand during my weekly hike at the state park yesterday. The sky was so vibrant so it is kind of the theme of these. img_4713img_4715img_4668

The learning curve is steep with respect to understanding how to truly bring out the depth of objects in pictures. Hopefully this blog will be a testament to my development as an amateur photographer as time passes.

Endure,

-AM-

A Different Kind of Content.

Music: I’m your opposite number- Strike Anywhere


This last week has been lean on the posting end due to the beginning of the first true work week. Monday kids walk through the door and the year begins. To me this always feels like it did to be a student, anticipation and the want to simply know how these new relationships with people will be. I have enjoyed going back to my routine, however, one part has been irritating for the past two weeks now and it is the absence of my weekly hike. Due to rain (which, in West Texas, it also means lightning) every chance I have had to go stretch my legs has been extinguished.

I have a love/hate relationship with rain. I know that I need the rain for the garden, I know that it is necessary due to our obnoxious need to grow grass in places it was never meant to be, and of course, for pretty much any human function from eating to shitting. What I can not get around is being inside all day, the numerous flying assholes known as mosquitos, and humidity, boy do I hate humidity.

I always talk about what we can do with problems rather than simply pointing them out. When I comes to rain, it is time to organize, get projects done and do a little wood working.

I started the weekend by cooking some fajitas for the in-laws and in order to do so, noticed I needed more wood for the pit. When needing to split knotty mesquite logs I have found it is necessary to opt for the splitting maul (one of my restores). I have fought a constant battle any time I have cut wood in the summer months due to some other freeloading bastards known as wood bores. Last summer I cut these logs and have noticed the larvae of these welfare queens every time I split a log. It really irritates the hell out of me. I also have a great deal of fire ants in my yard, but given that I don’t step in their beds, whatever, live and let live.

While splitting for the fire I just threw all the pieces in a pile near my pit until I was done so that I could then pull the bark (the easiest way to screw up a good meal with mesquite is to use the bark, pull that shit off, if it doesn’t come off the wood isn’t seasoned, the green wood is even worse). Getting ready to pull the bark I noticed the fire ants were swarming the wood, I was confused until I saw what they were after, the larvae. The fire ants and I are now allies.

wood bores sentence

I  also thought that it would be a good time to begin on the restoration of furniture and making the shop less of a mess. I had built a rack to hang all of my Axes so that the handles wouldn’t bow, you can see the mess in the back ground. axe rack

The shop is now more organized (maybe I can get a pic up in the next post) and I focused my efforts this weekend on a few efforts. I finished filling in all the holes in the veneer of a bedside table with Durham’s putty, you mix it yourself. I usually opt for Minwax but I have had a can of this Durham’s for like two years and I really wanted to see if it works for the 3 bucks I spent, it does and it doesn’t go bad like pre-mix. I got the first coat of paint on the table last night and hope to do the second today. If all goes well I will distress and stain it this evening and post it for sale tomorrow. Here is the project so far.first flip

I also focused on a toy box for my son. My wife’s friend had found some old gun crates and gave them to her. For about a year the crates were my bedside tables. My wife finally put her foot down (I got tired of not being able to sweep and mop around them) and they sat under the car port for the last month. They lacked a top door so I knew I would need to build them, they’re pretty heavy so I knew they needed casters and they are an odd shape so I knew I should join them.  I had some casters sitting on my work bench, some newish pickets that I had picked up for real cheap to join it and realized I had hinges and the hardware to do most everything.

Yesterday with the help of two pots of coffee, a jig saw, drill, miter saw, some wood chisels, and two pod casts of Coast to Coast AM I came up with this.

toy box

It opens sort of like suicide doors, so that you can access things while keeping the other part closed. He’ll  also be able take them apart and use them separately in the future if he wanted or, perhaps, when he is a grown man, it could be a pretty cool coffee table with a story.

I can’t help but think that some things work out like they should every once in a while. I have plans to build a rolling base for two of my heavy tool boxes and hope to have them done before the end of the month. I look forward to posting them.

Endure,

-AM-

 

Where Literature Took Me.

mcmurtrywork

I remember the summer right after I had graduated high school vividly. It was a time, initially, of hope, beautiful young women, warm summer nights that seemed to lag with respect to our ability to measure time, but most of all, it was a time that I truly began to read. It was the first time outside of a classroom or educational organization that I attempted to make sense of the world.

One of the first books that I had decided to read was Brave New World accompanied with Brave New World Revisited, both of course, by Aldous Huxley. I remember that the story of the first was dystopian, but it wasn’t until I had read the latter that the totality of the work sunk in with me. Before I had graduated I shied from fiction literature. What was the point in wasting my time on stories when there was factual information to take in? Brave New World Revisited was the companion piece for such an arrogant know it all.

I remember doing my best to get through the fiction portion on a warm patio of a coffee house, and then a beautiful young lady striking up a conversation with me simply because we were both reading it. Maybe fiction wasn’t so bad? Obviously this was much better than Sir Gawain, Beowulf, and The Canterbury Tales. For one, I could thumb through the pages and understand any sentence, and also that I actually cared about the subject mater.

What I did find was truth, the type of truth that shakes you to the core when you are hopeful and assuming your generation can do better than the last. I was never all that optimistic in matters, but I don’t think I had grasped just how the world operated, or more importantly, which obstacles were to be faced because of the way the world operated. I had read the fiction portion, a fine story, but everything came together and crashing down all at once when I read the first chapter of revisited entitled: Overpopulation. What I had read was:

“The problem of rapidly increasing numbers in relation to natural resources, to social stability and to the well being of individuals–this is now the central problem of mankind; and it will remain the central problem certainly for a century, and perhaps several centuries thereafter.”

All of a sudden globalism made sense, governmental restrictions, but more importantly the novel itself now made sense. Not only was it possible for fiction to show me, just as much, if not more information and analysis than non-fiction work, but what I had read showed a very bleak future.

I remember a friend of mine came up to me right after I had read the last page. I closed the book, walked outside and hopped on the trunk of my old Crown Victoria and sat down. We talked for a few moments and I remember saying “I don’t know if I want children. This world doesn’t seem to be going in a great direction, and I’m not sure that anyone can stop the direction it is headed.” This of course was pretty crazy to say when you’re 18, he called bullshit (was correct) and pretty much just dismissed the whole deal. What he didn’t realize was that my worldview had collapsed. I had to adjust, my way of looking at the world would be changed for a long time, and today is still impacted by this work but in a different way.


Later that year I discovered Cormac McCarthy. The way that humans were always at odds with their own dark nature seemed to fit how I was seeing the world. Like in Blood Meridian, it seemed like sodomy crazed scalp hunters still existed, only in suits. I had seen how society can turn the lower rungs of classes in to monsters like Lester Ballard in Child of GodAll The Pretty Horses, had much more depth as a book because I could see the politics of a failing Mexico in the 50’s. I could also see the romance that a place that wasn’t rapidly clinging to industrialization holds. I was especially fond of that romance as I watched Texas turn, more and more, in to a huge suburb (overpopulation all over again).

I had watched No Country For Old Men right before I had moved to Odessa, TX. Up until this point, I had lived, and now, live again, in a part of West Texas that borders the southern part of the Panhandle and morphs in to the Cross Timbers region, just north of the Concho Valley. Odessa, however, is indisputably West Texas, while it may sound crazy, I thirsted for this. The wild I missed from my childhood was there on those trash filled, dusty plains of mesquite scrub and yucca plants.

The people were not refined, the roads were rough, the food was hot, the music was loud. To me this was paradise:, mariachis, cold beer, constant grilling and kinship. But with all that I was enjoying came violence. The old west lives on in the Permian Basin and Trans-Pecos areas. It is in the attitude of roughnecks and convicts, cattlemen and a general people who have just been unwilling to become domesticated. I admire this, however, it does not mean that the majority or the population is intelligent.

In this area McCarthy was more a reporter than an author. The true story of border violence was usually much worse and more senseless. However, the violence is captured well in The Counselor. I soon realized that McCarthy was more philosophical in his points than the narcos are. A lesson was being taught in the writing while unbridled, materialistic, machismo was going on in practice. The writing of No Country For Old Men now made sense, I was feeling like the sheriff more often than not, it felt like the moment I had closed Brave New World Revisited.


Towards the end of my stay in Odessa I became homesick, missing water, mesquite trees rather than bushes, the yellow flowers on the nopales, and the ability to simply grow a tomato, and my family. My world view, again, began to change.

However, during the last part of my stay I had read a great deal of Larry McMurtry’s work. McMurty’s work (even just the movies) are a huge part of any Texans life. Ask why Lonesome Dove is awesome and see what the answers are. Ask an older generation about The Last Picture Show and watch the immediate embrace or disapproval of depicting both life and legend in Texas. I couldn’t understand the point of Texasville as a child because it too closely resembled everyday life.

For a long time I’d argue that McCarthy was a better author, I was wrong. I started to see the error of my ways my last year of college. In my survey of the American West, we were to write a comparative analysis where we compared a fictitious account of the West that was a movie and a non fiction book about on the American West. Obviously the findings should be how things are vs how things are depicted. I used Lonesome Dove as my movie and McMurtry’s Oh What A Slaughter as my non fiction piece(one of the only non-fiction book he has written). What could be better than to compare works by the same author, surely this would make for good reading and consistent analysis. After reading Oh What A Slaughter, which is a compilation of accounts of everyone pretty much massacring everyone, my world view as an adult became established. No one in the west has hands clean of blood (at least Whites, Mexicans or Indians) and at some point, we have all worked together and for a long time.


I went down the rabbit hole of The Last Picture Show series. Duane became a character that could be anyone in Texas. As you get to see his character in different points of his life, one point stands out the most to me. Rhino Ranch, the general comfort that Duane’s character gains becomes one I aspire to be like– denouncing racism, shooting the tires of meth heads, picking up trash along the road because it should be, living in a cabin and drinking whiskey at his leisure while reading Proust with a dash of hopeless romance. This is a series of modern day, small town, Texas.


In the last year, though, I felt it was appropriate to finally read the Lonesome Dove series. With this series I feel like I  have become older and maybe slightly weary every time I come to the last page of each book. I don’t mean this in a bad way, more like when you have accomplished a hard task, the reading isn’t complex but the themes, man and his place in the world, a world that isn’t necessarily the one he should be in, that is some food for thought.

Each book is a master piece in its own right and can be read without reading the other ones, but each makes the other a richer story. As of now my favorite in the series is Comanche Moon, the character of Inish Scull alone makes it one of the best books I have ever read. For Instance:

“See this page of paper? It’s blank,” Scull said. “That, sir, is the most frightening battlefield in the world: the blank page. I mean to fill this paper with decent sentences, sir—this page and hundreds like it. Let me tell you, Colonel, it’s harder than fighting Lee. Why, it’s harder than fighting Napoleon. It requires unremitting attention,”

The parallels to the history of that time, as well as historical characters (Charles Goodnight, Dick King, Quannah Parker) make it truly remarkable.

I started the last book, Streets of Laredo yesterday, within the 1st hundred pages I was hooked. This story is bleak and takes place, mostly in far West Texas, but more believable than something like Blood Meridian. I look forward to writing about it once I am finished reading it. I’ll end this post with my favorite quote so far.

“In Call’s view, there was an obligation stronger than those, and that obligation was loyalty. It seemed to him the highest principle, loyalty. He preferred it to honor. He had never been exactly sure what men meant when they spoke of their honor, though it had been popular during the time of the War. He was sure, though, what he meant when he spoke of loyalty. A man didn’t desert his comrades, his troop, his leader. If he did he was, in Call’s book, worthless”

Endure,

-AM-

A return to wanderlust.

Observations:

  • I’m always thinking about things I’ve read, that I like. I feel like I become suggestible when I read something I can really sink my teeth in to. I’m still referring to Wild Mama.

 

  • Never try to salvage carpet, it’s worthless, has no place in an area with so much dust or anywhere where people want a clean floor. Walking around barefoot has never been so nice.

Music: I.T.I.a.L.S.-One Man Army


My posts have been centered around whatever it is I’m thinking about that day. Today is no different, however, with a name like westtexaswanderlust I feel like this post would be a good one to focus on travel and some things that make it easier.

Like a number of you, I subscribe to the idea of frugality, and for me, just plain being cheap. My wife and I love traveling, but I hate fast food and I’m really not a fan of expensive meals every time that I get hungry (which is pretty often). Before the birth of my son I would go on camping trips at least twice a  month. My past camping trips have made me much more practical when it comes to meals. I’ve had people ask me in the past how I would afford it, they would also ask what my most important piece of camping equipment was.  Today’s focus will be on that piece of equipment-the vacuum packer.

In my true cheapskate fashion I shopped for a vacuum packer for at least 30 days. I looked at Cabela’s, Target, Food Savers website, Academy, and finally settled on an 80 dollar Zip-Loc version that I found for sale at Walmart for 50 bucks. I don’t get any kick backs from Zip-Loc, but I will shamelessly take them if they manage to find this post. vacpac

I try to mesh all of the things that I’m in to so that my life reflects all of those things in an effortless fashion. I love camping, and may choose to go on a trip any Friday, however, it is incredibly hard to pull off if there is not food and ice ready to go at a moments notice. I love to cook my own food, however, it is too tempting to eat out if the meal prep isn’t done before I get home. I love the idea of having food set back and prepped (meat especially) in the event that financial hardship happens, or just if I decide to throw a party. My vacuum packer has allowed me to be ready for all of the aforementioned at any point in time, for any reason.

Back to travel: There are multiple reasons I love vacuum packing food for camping, but there are two that really keep me buying 14 dollar rolls of bags. I used to just freeze meat in bags, put them in the cooler, then end up with soggy meat and a bloody cooler. (1.)My coolers stay much more sanitary now, no blood, and it seems like ice keeps better.

I’ve mentioned that I love to eat real food and it is hard to do that without spices. I used to take up a bunch of space in my chuck box with a ton of spices. (2.) Now I spice the meat I want, vacuum pack it and the meat is not only mess free, but marinated and the chuck box has space for other staples.

In order to cut down on the amount of ice that I buy I also gather as many reusable ice packs as possible, this leaves the normal ice for beer or cokes which go in a separate cooler in order to keep meat longer. Usually I keep the meat cold enough through out the trip that, if some is not used, it can go straight back in to the freezer. I also buy meat in bulk and I only vacuum pack what I eat. This turns my freezer in to Pandora’s box of comfort food.freezer

I spent this morning rolling tortillas from scratch, cooking bacon, vacuum packing a load of meat that I picked up at Sam’s, and putting on a pot of beans. It took  me a good 4 hours to get everything done but was completely worth it. I don’t know if we’re taking off tomorrow, but I do know that I rest better at night knowing that I have that option, should the want arise. tortillas

Let me know if you guys have a special item that helps you get outdoors or on the road more often. I’m equally as interested in items or practices that you use in order to have meals more readily available.

Endure,

-AM-

 

Parental Evaluation

wild mamaObservations-

  • I feel really stupid for not taking bigger items to my local dump. I went yesterday to take all the carpet I had ripped out plus trash that has been waiting in a pile in my backyard for the opportune moment that there happens to be “room” in my trash can. It was incredibly cheap and took maybe 25 minutes to weigh in, dump, then weigh out.

 

  • I’m also really happy that bands are now capable of staying together and writing lyrics that appeal to adults who were once kids listening to their first albums. I remember being an angry young teenager and wishing bands would sound like their old albums. I can happily say that, as a guy who does not want to stagnate with his music taste, it is refreshing to hear new music from people I have always listened to. A few albums come to mind: Stormy Petrel-Leatherface, Magnetic Bodies- Maritime, Metropole-the Lawrence Arms, Depression Cherry-Beach House, Texas & Tennessee-Lucero and the list just goes on and on. It seems like bands used to just split up or enough members would kill themselves that they were forced to disband.

 


Music: Belly Dancing Stoat-Leatherface


 

My wife recently finished a book entitled Wild Mama by Carrie Visintainer, she said I should read it. In the past few days I have read a few chapters and concluded: it is awesome. I’ve really only read a few books from a woman’s perspective (Loop Group…Sarah Plain and Tall?). Seeing as this book addresses the difficulties of being a first time mother all the while grappling with being a person entrenched in wanderlust and a love for the outdoors, it hits pretty close to home for me at this time in my life.

In the introduction of the book Visintainer talks about how many mothers lose a great deal of their identity by focusing large sums of time on their kids alone and putting themselves on the back burner. She does not make an either or case. Obviously you can care for yourself and your child, however, what resonated with me was being intentional about both.

You’ll read this over and over, but how do we apply this? What is the solution? In my case I’m going to borrow from the Wild Mama and, have set weekends for myself, my wife (by herself), my child and I, my wife and my child and my wife and I. I’ve spent a great part of my last year focusing on intentional living and I can’t think of anything more intentional. I also don’t feel like it is right for either my wife or myself to become so immersed in our roles as parents that we stop flourishing as individuals.

I feel that Visintainer, addresses a problem we tend to have a great deal of the time, and it is one of all or nothing. We’re either the selfless parent or the dead beat, the hero or the villain, or whatever dichotomy you decide to use. We should, as adults, know better. Life, more often than not, tends to be an infinite palette of grays, and almost never, black and white. Those of us capable for seeing a situation for what it is understand that there are usually more variables at play than just the results; that there are push and pull factors, and that the only real way to address the situation at hand is to change the variables.

Essentially, our problem solving method is the basic structure of any social science, however, social science never appropriates for the individual to be an independent variable. Any behavior outside of the norm, can just be considered “abnormal” or deviant. Being intentional, at times, feels like being a deviant because so many people seem to be there to tell you that if you’re getting a goodnights rest, if you spend time away from your child (or too much time), cloth diapers (Visintainer gives great incite to this debate), whatever it may be, you’re simply not a good parent–deviant.

I know there is always someone to, smugly give their opinion, “If it were me, I’d just do whatever n the hell I want!…Pilgrim” The parental John Wayne, the unbelievably self-righteous rugged individual. Well, to that person, good for you, but I feel like you’re full of shit.

I look forward to the school year to begin, so that routine may ensue. Once I’m back in the swing of things, it is my plan to implement our new parenting/personal growth weekends. I look forward to letting you guys know how things progress and what needs to be tweaked. If you have any suggestions on how to continue growing, be it as a parent, spouse, individual, or simply as an intellectual I’d be more than happy to hear them.

Endure,

-AM-

 

Enduring

consayIt does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop. -Confucius-

Today I’m going to skip observations because the few I’ve had really lend themselves to the post in general.


Music-Collar bones: Maritime

I seriously didn’t know they released a new album last year. I’ve been listening to the album on constant repeat this weekend.


Yesterday I awoke to my son making noises that can only be described as sounding like the raptors on the first Jurassic Park movie. While entertaining, the noises were also very annoying due to the amount of work put in the day before, the late hour at which I went to bed coupled with the early hour he decided to roar.

My first impulse was to give him a pacifier, roll over, and sleep until I felt rested. I chose to get up instead, remembering I had told my wife that I would go on my weekly seven mile hike the night before. I slowly grabbed my pack and trekking pole out of my closet thinking that it was already later in the day than I wanted to go. This also meant it was hotter in the day than what I cared to hike in, but I chose to do so anyway.

My weekly hike usually occurs one of three ways: with my brother, with my brother and a friend, or by myself. Typically I hike with my brother, and this week was no different, it makes for a good time to catch up and bounce thoughts off of each other.

The conversation this week was not without very familiar topics friends, music and of how crazy politics are: Does Sean Hannity really believes the dumb shit he says? Do the racist Southerners with confederate flags understand that Trump is the archetype of an arrogant Yankee carpet bagger?, so on and so forth. However, we moved past making fun of the likes of both Herman Cain and Rachel Maddow to finally come to the topic of the difference between being a man and being male. I thought I would share the general idea of what came to be.

Men have an obligation to do things they don’t want to do and do so consciously. I immediately thought of getting up that morning to meet him in 98 degree heat. Hiking aside, the conversation went to the idea that success is truly personal, therefore in order to attain the type of success we typically want(whatever that maybe), we must continue to do things that sound fun, but a lot of the time, in application, are not. For instance, a number of people say they want to get fit, but it’s incredibly easy to skip days working out or dieting; then discouraged, simply quit altogether. As simplistic as it sounds the idea that you suck it up and endure was the solution we came up with.

Despite the thinking akin to a gorilla that was aforementioned we came to question failure and what that means also. I truly feel that failure has to become acceptable, at least personally. What I mean by that is that in order to learn anything you have to fail, then fail better. This is problematic for a lot of us though because it is so normal to try hedging any possibility of liability or vulnerability (giving props to my girl Brene Brown again). In my opinion this is unhealthy. If I constantly tell myself I am awesome at something, I never give myself the chance to improve and more importantly I’ve created a pattern of lying to myself. This creates a comfort zone we never want to leave, it creates social circles we never deviate from and thoughts we never challenge. More importantly, the lack of challenge and struggle makes for a lack of victory as well as a lack of experiences.

My writing is pretty predictable and rather flawed (on a good day) but there is something that matters more to me than misplaced commas and run-on sentences (both of which I am working on) and it is that I force myself to do things that are uncomfortable. There is an anxiety that comes with opening up my thoughts to the would. There is definitely a fear of grammatical judgment that comes with presenting your writing to the world, but I remember that my writing won’t improve unless I fail more often than not. My style will stagnate in absence of crafting words like I should have been doing for the last 8 years. But I can do that now and that is what matters to me.

I wish you all a great week, and I urge you to do one thing out of your comfort zone simply for the sake of doing so.

Endure,

-AM-

Work and the proverbial hamster wheel.

Observations:

  • The totes that people use to store stuff make for cheap composters.
  • I’m thinking those totes will also make awesome worm farms (next-ish project)
  • Sulfur does well in West Texas to keep mammoth sun flowers fungus free.

Song of the day: I’m throwing back to my first years of college; No I in threesome By Interpol


“Fear of the mob is a superstitious fear. It is based on the idea that there is some mysterious, fundamental difference between rich and poor, as though they were two different races, like Negroes and white men. But in reality there is no such difference. The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit. Change places, and handy dandy, which is the justice, which is the thief? Everyone who has mixed on equal terms with the poor knows this quite well. But the trouble is that intelligent, cultivated people, the very people who might be expected to have liberal opinions, never do mix with the poor. For what do the majority of educated people know about poverty?”
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London

The past few days have been ripping up carpet, pulling out tack board, cleaning adhesive, turning compost, watering with the few hours of sunlight left and going to sleep truly exhausted. Some would be angry about the constant go of this pace, but I’m not. To me this is simply a return to the days I’d split logs on til my hands were nearly raw from the handling of bark, or the days where I’d dig post holes till my hands would kind of vibrate on their own. Not unlike a strenuous hike, there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with real (honest) work that has always made me rather content.

I’ve been feeling incredibly content lately, and also pretty sore. I feel like the concept  that is real work is something that we have gotten away from as a culture (some are returning though). I’m not talking about orange politicians talking about (hiring people) doing work. I’m talking about the men I remember of my childhood, most who have passed, who would build their own stuff and do their own chores. Men who could handle and axe and knew how to sharpen it to the point it would shave. Men who refused to have another person touch their truck, who grew their own food, who slaughtered their own meat. Men who worked hard, but at the end of the day enjoyed life and judged others by their ability to contribute not how much of an asshole they could be to someone simply because they disagreed with them. I’m doing my best to make a conscious decision to live like those men who are now so hard to find.

I write about this because I feel like, at times, we rely way too heavily on a system that is rigged to keep us supporting it, all the while never giving anything back to us, except hatred and a scarcity mentalities. You don’t need as much money when you can trade services, when you can do your own work, when you can choose to work less rather than continue buying cheap inferior products.

I feel like this proverbial hamster wheel keeps rolling for a few reasons. We’ve become weak as a people, I mean this in a few ways. We’re incapable of dealing with the sun, bugs, blisters, soreness, the inability to not act on our impulse, as well as a lack of patience, the ability to do without and most importantly, the inability to be friendly towards others who see the world differently.

We’ve become (predominantly) a society that worships business and the wealthy and I don’t know why. This is especially true if you’re not wealthy. What is the point in buying clothes that are so expensive that you have to work a job you hate to pay for them?  What is the point of owning a car so shiny that you’re afraid to drive it anywhere? What is the point of having a house so big you can’t clean or maintenance it yourself? Furthermore, why would you pay to live in a neighborhood that fines each other for not being uniform enough? Wouldn’t it be easier to just help your neighbor make repairs and go easy on the dick headedness?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for people not to own anything or not to own nice things. But I feel like cars would be designed a lot different if everyone fixed their own, the same with houses. The essence of what I am asking is: Isn’t is easier for to you find an equilibrium where there is enough? I mean is it necessary to always make more profit than the year before? Math isn’t my strong suit, but if you continually make 10% over the last quarter and there’s only 100% in the whole, at some point the model is unsustainable.

I’ve mentioned that I work as a teacher, but I really don’t consider it work. At times it is challenging because some kid is being thorn in my ass or there is some benchmark to give. But talking about societal relations and how history affects that is something I would do anyway. I love my job, but work it is not. I appreciate that I am not out in the cold when it is freezing or the heat of the summer when it’s 102, but I haven’t forgotten what it is like to be in those conditions.

I have a number of students tell me they would be content with a job that would just provide for their family. That perhaps college isn’t the route they want to take. You know what, maybe it shouldn’t be the route they take. Perhaps 40,000 dollars to attain something that may make you 30 a year isn’t necessarily for everyone, and it’s not place to make them believe that it should be. However, I can ensure that they will be ready to compete with the best of them on any campus and that they will have the ability to be a true citizen and informed voter when that time comes.

I’ve talked about it in past posts, that anyone can bitch, but what can we do about our problems? The simple answer is to be nicer and create your own systems of trade and barter. However, my more methodical solution is to find at least one thing a week that you would buy that is a luxury and do without. Find one thing you pay someone else to do, especially if it is a corporation, and do it yourself. And lastly, find someone who needs some help, and help them, be a decent human.

I wish you all cold beers, smoky pits, home grown produce, and plenty of time with family and friends.

-AM-