Tuesday, December 31, 2013

andrei spy spoof, don't publish

Released temporarily from his duty to educate minds and mold character through the rigors of water polo, sleeper agent code name "Tinko" slumbers peacefully until shudder is followed by vibration. The large jet bumps and bounces along the runway before taxying to a stop.  He yawns and settles back into his seat, betraying only the barest hint of a smile--he is now connected to precious earth of the Ukraine..

He has to set things right, or at least try to, but is limited by time.  
Grey and dreary, the Kiev airport stares oppressively back at him from the other side of his window, and he thinks momentarily of booking an immediate flight back to the US.
"Nyet!" he vows as his facile mind effortlessly orients itself to the required lingua franca.  He would not forsake his compatriots, all of them willing die in order to push a beleaguered nation into a modern economy and fight indefinitely against the entrenched puppets who inhibit labor, stifle growth, and the national prosperity that would result from joining the European Union.

No longer drowsy, his every step across the causeway linking airplane to airport, infuses him with both energy and the happy anticipation of meeting with the activist leaders who wait nearby.  Will they agree to his plan? Can he make it all happen before the thirteenth of January when he must return to the California and resume his other life?
"As God wills it," he says quietly to himself and follows the signs with their Cyrillic characters that seem odd but comforting.  It's late night in this time zone and he draws little attention from a few jet-lagged travelers who trudge from sign to sign until arriving at the place where he will retrieve a single but crucial piece of luggage..

He thinks about the sun, the warmth that blessed his face on a far away beach.  Did he make the right choice? His elderly parents in Fresno will worry about his absence. Those friends along the coast might miss him.

"Cause is all," he tells himself and reaches for the carefully packed suitcase. 

No more kissing the poisonous tit of Mother Russia, he tells himself.  The Ukraine will rise from its knees and embrace the future.   
Then a few more of his lanky strides, and he is beyond the airport's final doors, exposed to a chilling wind and the embrace of a half dozen strangers.  Are they friends or Yunukovic spies?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Eve Surprise

St. Nick would soon be climbing down chimneys to drop off presents.  St. John (the patron saint of lost rocks) just wanted to climb down to a beach unharassed by the DFG (Department of Freakin' Grinches).  Not to mention some unfinished business, rocks abandoned in a fit of law enforcement paranoia (see "Buzzkill Epilogue" for backstory).

And all went well at first.  I located my stash of rocks, and along the peaceful shore that afternoon things were jolly.  I rescued many a homeless rock, some unusual mixtures of common minerals.  My bag grew heavy.

I sat down and used my rock hammer to cleave a piece of fruitcake, a well meaning gift from an unnamed relative.  By heaving a goodly portion of this seasonal delicacy out amongst the waves, I paid tribute to surf, sand and sunny skies. 

Just a routine outing, I hoped, nothing that might inspire another blog entry.  Lately I've longed to branch out into fiction.  But I feared that made-up stories with modern or local settings would cause the two or three people who actually read my crap to decide that it was all BS.  And it's not, the basic events of every story happened as they did.  Oh, occasionally, I alter a few minor details but only to enhance the narrative, not change it.

I considered science fiction.  Perfect!   A topic so fantastical that it could never be confused with my real-life escapades.  The sun was warm, the waves hushed, and I must've slipped off into a creative trance.

The main character is Jase Michaels (unusual name but it pays off later).  He's 15 years old, a military brat stranded on a remote outpost three parsecs from Proxima Centauri.  He hates the place, has few friends--that is until he meets a strange old guy down in a canyon--who collects rocks of all things!
The old guy shares his wisdom and eventually teaches him about "The Keystone," a magical gift  from a bygone people (The Prime), which is a rock that once found and used judiciously, has the potential to save humankind from its destructive folly.

He gets along well with his space jockey father who takes him fishing on a planet slated for destruction (supposedly for ecological cleansing but the planned demolition of this planet is part of a much bigger plot).  His father and he are both trying to recover from the death of Jase's sister and mother who were killed in a traffic accident returning from a cross-planet shopping trip. But that's just the official story.

Jase's father is bitter knowing that the accident was caused by a military FUBAR.  Eventually we learn that the old guy in the canyon, a former master chief in charge of space craft maintenance, is also aware of the cover-up.  Jase doesn't know anything about this cover up but suspects there's more to the story.  Struggling with anger and confusion, he has been diagnosed as "asocial and unpredictably violent" because he nearly killed a couple of "Primies" (fellow students and religious fanatics) who tried to pressure him into joining their cult after they suggested his mother's faithlessness was the cause of her death.

Then there's his ex-friend Strella who he lost track of until a transfer brought them together again at another base school--but it was awkward.  In the interim since he last saw her, Jase and his family had been assigned to so many deep space missions that now she had breasts but he was still essentially a ten year old. 
Extended periods of near light speed travel does that to people, you know.

I looked out and was shocked to see the sun a mere finger above the horizon.
If I didn't leave right then, I was going be late for a soiree in San Simeon.

Hefting my bag onto my back, I struggled up the rope, hoping that law enforcement would gift me with a holiday pass.

My head surfaced and my heart nearly stopped.  My knees buckled against the cliff as my mind tried to make sense of it all.

There were four cars parked directly behind my Element and two more on the opposite side of the highway.  A crowd of at least fifteen people, maybe twenty, were all looking at me.

They all held something, which I decided were cameras because of the rapid fire of flash units.
What in the fresh Hell...?  Had I committed an infraction so heinous that the paparazzi had been invited to record my take down?

After a few more seconds, my brain came back on line.  First of all, the six cars were different colors, passenger types that lacked any hint of an agency decal.

Second, my audience was composed of men and an equal number of women, none of them in uniform, most of them dressed like my parents did when we went to church back in the 70's.
All of them were dark haired and, judging from the comparative geometry of the cars behind them, a little less than average height. 
Combine that with the ubiquitous cameras--and my brilliant mind made a quantum leap!
Japanese tourists!  A gaggle of oglers.

Pulling myself up over the ledge, I walked to meet my smiling admirers.
The flashes increased in tempo the closer I got.  For some unfathomable reason, I was Sally Field at the Academy Awards: "You like me!  You really like me!"

Swinging my leg over the fence, ready to sign autographs, I saw the sun...a dissipating silkscreen explosion now all but engulfed by the horizon.  Truly a Kodak moment.  Well, so much for my five minutes of international fame.

But I affected my most cheery smile and addressed the assembled group, "Merry Christmas!"  More smiles and that deferential nodding (almost a bow).  Several times I have been disarmed by this curious behavior and I always wonder, "These are the people who ripped us a new one at Pearl Harbor?"
But given the limited English of the average Japanese tourist, I could've said "Eat my shorts!" and received the same heartening response.
I threw my bag into the back of my sleigh.  Ho, Ho, Ho...  But I'll say this for Japanese tourists. Though slow to perceive insult, they're quick to spend money, a comparatively prosperous group of people and boon to our local economy.

Too late and several miles down the road, a memory.  For three days, about sixteen years ago, I worked with a Japanese businessman and his crew filming a documentary about Sequoia National Park.  Erik, my superior (and 25 years my junior), was chagrined to find that Ranger Richardson was the only nonessential employee available those three days. Reluctantly, he assigned me this task knowing that it had international incident written all over it. But I did okay.
I mean nobody declared war, right?

Anyway, here's what I learned about Japanese etiquette those three days (and wish I'd known beforehand).  At the conclusion of a transaction there must be a gift, if only a token.  In my case, I was solemnly handed a flaming pink ink pen with attached neck cord.  Engraved on this pen were the words, "Field Worker," a faux pas word choice considering I live in an area where "farm labor" is a sensitive issue.  But not having any return gift, I kept my mouth shut.

More important than the concluding gift (and another aspect of my cultural ignorance), is to begin any potential arrangement with the exchange of business cards.  The producer and various members of the crew handed me at least seven of them--but I didn't have one to give back.  I dropped the ball on another social ritual, probably no different than shaking hands, but of equal importance to the Japanese.

Halfway home (and too late) I imagined myself standing before my roadside audience, nodding, smiling and passing out business cards left and right from the local shops that buy and sell my stuff.
"AH SO, my samurai-hearted friends! Pleased to say Santa helpers work hard, polish special rocks, commemorate this honored visit to our humble coast.  When shop, please to mention my name, "Richard-Sahn"--get special discount.  Ariagato, Sayonara and Mush-Mushi!"

Sadly, many people lack international language proficiency, like me.

Sleigh bells rang in my ears.

Science fiction?  Bah! 
Who needs fantasy with experiences and thoughts just a few degrees short of the North Pole? 
On Vixen, on Bitchin, put it away Flasher, and light speed ahead--straight on 'til boring!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Near Heart Attack on Christmas Eve

Exhausted after finishing the Buzz Kill Epilogue, I wondered if had enenergy another rock collecting encounter. But somewhere out there were my rocks all carefully  chosen and then abandoned along the road in fit of parnoia (see Buzz Kill Epilogue).

More than the rocks, I was looking forward to an aimless and relaxing afternoon on an empty beach.  Collecting moonstones? Well, only if they crawled into my backpack on their own.

All went well, my but my pack got heavier somehow with conglomerates,  rocks that were odd mixtures of common and unfamiliar minerals.  I sat down and paid tribute to the surf, sand and sky.  Cleaning up the epilogue post had cost me a lot of sleep and I was no mood any adventure today that would have me pounding on they keyboard beyond midnight.

The quiet afternoon surf lapped in and out, hypnotically, more like lake than ocean and my mind took off...

Switch to fiction, maybe a novel I thought, especially science fiction or fantasy.
Before long my mind took off.  Switch to fiction, especially fantasy/science fiction.  Lead off with the words of an ancient manuscript, The Rocquerian Codec, some proverbs and prophecy as a pre-story.  Working title:

          Stonequest Idles

Seek not the rock of absolute clarity
The clear spaces within empty
as the souls of men who buy and sell gems.

The most precious rock is mystery
Amongst little clarity is much matter
And to study such rocks
is to peer into the universe itself.

Precious beyond all is the Key Stone
left to us from times beyond past
from beings beyond imagination
a final gift before their transcendence.

Rockquarria, codecs I, II and III

Before such ideas as time and place, cause and effect, light and dark or even the void itself, was The Prime, both three and one.   Before departing to a higher plane, they foresaw how their imprint on the void had spun out the very seeds of our existence and the coalescence of all matter that had preceded it.  Emergent life and its sad and halting evolution was a high contingency for which they had prepared.  Rather than leave us to eventual destruction, they left behind an impossible sign, a terrible enigma, and our last desperate hope.  It came to be called the Key Stone, firmament bound, and left for a life forms sufficiently risen, that if found, might push back the darkness of their own creation.

Some say it has already been found--and lost.
Others say it never will be.
Come near the Key Stone, it is said, and experience harmony.
Share it with others and mankind hurtles light years into the future
Not to perish but to ascend.

Introduction: Legends of Stone, St. Michael

The most precious of rocks
reveals the greatest mystery.
Clarity lacks meaning
until mingled with matter:

The Rocquarria, codec four

Chapter 2

He hated this dusty fucked up planet.  More of an asteroid, Jase Michael thought, and certainly the worst place his star jockey father had ever been stationed.  The favorite complaint of  mil-brats was "never staying long enough to find the crapper."   And in the case of this toilet of an outpost, that would be fine with Jase.  He would throw a party the day his father got orders anywhere else in the known universe.

Not that he a had a lot of people he would invite.  One or two maybe.  Don't get to close, was a helpful axiom, because the might just might see them again on another base.  Former friendships became awkward when you've aged a year but your friend has gained three.  It all depended on whose sky jock father got the most deep space transfers.  Relativity was a bitch and traveling near light broke up a lot families and friendships.

Strella now there was a fission scaled fuck-up.  He remembered accidentally bumping heads with her during a par-sec-cheesi game after school in his bed quarters.  For a second, he and his nine year old friend might actually kiss.  But his mom came in with snacks and the moment was over.  The next time he saw her was when he again bumped into her, this time in a crowded school hallway on Proxima C.  He looked up, trying to move his eyes beyond her breasts, and to her face, making sure it was his childhood friend. 

And he must've been pretty slow doing it because his last memory was her shaking her head and walking on to her class of probably disgusted at being detained by a mere freshman.

And so much had happened, he wasn't sure he was capable of being friends, well, except maybe for... Brushing a finger along his temple, he opened an aud and picked up another rock while he waited.  A vid
second later, there was Danny on his retinal display, mouth open as he lay shirtless on a bed, staring off looking at Prime knew what.  Hey Jase, he said finally.   I accessed some of my Dad's special vids, want to me to send a link?  You gotta see these bithches.
I'll pass this time Dano he said greatful that it was a close vid and not wide one.  "Up for seeing who can he saw  touched his temple and brought up Danny.  He was

He kicked a stone watched it disappear into a canyon below.  Looking up from its edge, Jasy watched one of  the Centauri suns racing its quick arca above the horizon.  He smiled. Just watching it sometimes made new-landers puke for hours.  The sky is spinning.  The sky is spinning!

One day he got so bored that watched a vid that was pre-trilinneal vid, and alone in his room laughed crazily when he heard at the last bit of aud:
Tomorrow is another day! 
Not on this butt-hole of planet, lady.
Tomorrow is just fifty-five minutes away.

But it did have the raw materals to synthesize an atmosphere.  I liked being out of the compound, on his own, but doubted he would enjoy trapped inside a dmn buble suite.

modified sports, lost interest in 35 minute hocky

Key scenes and characters and plot direction
Bad character tension...who?  base commander?
still want him to have a pet?
Can the pet be connected to the rock, a kind of guardian?
Is it worth all this, disaster on base, stars come close they escape just to have a chance to use the phrase void fucked and have family stranded?  and the frog learning bianary?
What about his mother...is she the bad force?
Does he have a sibling that matters to plot? boy, caine and abel or sister.
How are they antithetical to Jasy
How can I make his family seem real to teens and adults? who,s in it?

lazy drug friend chapters
Strella's bad love interest
kid you looked at breasts first in class why trying to get homework solution
"No, I don't think so" verses encounter with Jaysie  jesus st. Michael? the warrior angel
looked up from breasts but kept eyes locked, recognition dawning on both
Dad doing job
fishing trip with dad
hermit his teaching comes back later in pieces
The dark has nothing more fearful than your own heart
The most fearful thing in the dark, is your own heart.
setting, background introduced in small units and and right time.

Strella and her bra
finally get it after suggesting it to mom
takes her shopping...remember dress when wore it.
Tell one of your close friends but don't tell anybody
By the end of the day everyone knew.

And it got worse the next when I passed Jasy
All he could do was chest level.
consoled by teacher then after some jerk kid says well ah! like a magician.
teacher sees, assigns detention (before kid knows it)

Later, Jase (St. Michael) transfers into her school, his astonishment, the awkwardness and
teacher helps Strella with her feelings again.

Bad guy is Dad's commander who perhaps has another motive for sterilizing the planets, three of them which coincide with three of the planets slated for destruction, three they must visit to find another rock.
Father will die...maybe his mother and sister?
  Each will coincide with one of the ailing aspects of humanity, father son, spirit and the threesome might have to split up to purse their separate tasks
Father beneficent guidance, rules preventing disaster...maybe prep for war
Son forgiveness, learning to love enemies (preventing war)
Spirit the indwelling, the ascendence through love
They are the new prime.

father tries to call him at lake don't make me deploy skytraclers!  but he has to go back for the pyriamid rock
Just like father's boss spotted him in the canyon and warned him against going there.
boss's motive, greed? one will be a plantation slave planet, or industrial but lucrative sweat shop, one a testing sight for effective ness of certain weapons, harsh control of species considered a danger?

Geezer?  ex scientist for military who quit when learned about peripheral species sterilaztion procedures, the third planet to be destroyed.
(or skip other 2 sides of pyramid)

Do they develop skills realated to their facets?  Jase forgiveness because of mother's suicide after sisters death?  or is he st michaek the avenger. 
what gifts, strella insight, understanding, mental healing?  old man, clarity of purpose and necessity of yielding to rules, goals at all coasts--a super teacher,

The creature who come to named Pete after the loud noise he makes.

Was the plan to lure another intgelligent race into the system and blow them up, only they arrived early having also learned of the key stone?

So somehow the geez jasy strella end up in a shuttle, void-fucked, having enter stasis while the frog refuses and sits on the main consel, using its bianary language to either signal help or make a single light jump.

They wake up after several year of constant exposure to the rock.  And they are changed, physically, and according  a single facet of the pyramid.  They are the rock, now, the birth of a prime unit, the key to mankinds ascendency though they don't know it yes.  celebrity survivors that capture media attention.  They also know the truth of what happened and why...both species searching for key-stone.  Need new bad guy now, maybe someone who recognizes their potential.  ills geezer hence st michael

decimating all life forms on the planets was just shortcut to finding the stone.  Doing it moved up the time table and tactics of the enemy fleet.

forgive father's death (never was mother sister after space accident?)

The frog died having every ounce its power into their rescue.

Key Stone legend:
seeding the universe
the stone that will promote harmony

the young boy stuck on an asteroid
hates it no friends and if he was reunited
they'd be as old as his parents.
tomorrow is another day,
no tomorrow is 15 minutes away.
Kids at his school use it as time reference
for quarters when playing competitive sports

Walking bored then meets
the strange creature that insists on befriending him
loud screaches when tries to stomp it and leave it.
then the sign language which evolves as a
relationship develops

Father a pilot who must  protect potential stores
of CompressedTri-Uranium CTU
a pea per year per world and will
enable everyday people to travel through light jumbs

The creatures efforts to communicate,
loud screams
compressed hands after pointing digits.

Saves his family from being "void-fucked" a
main swear like I'll be void fucked, or up the creek without a paddle.
And the word he uses but has more meaning
like he and his family are stranded during a deep space transfer.

previously boy thinks the frog/whatever
after pointing, you me, then undulating
compressed palms.
Holy Gates!
The frog wants to fuck me.

Ultimately the story will lead him to discover the key stone, harmony and hope for mankind


Its okay to lie n the spirit of truth

All writers lie about facts. The good ones do it in the spirit of truth.

Though darkness has  more appeal, light has more power.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Starry Night

Leaving a Cambria restaurant tonight after sharing good food and better conversation
I heard someone say, "Hey guys, just look at those stars!"
Just casual talk among friends, I thought at the time.

Further considering her last four words, "look at those stars," I was reminded of a link emailed to my son last night:


If you're not in the mood to wade through this mildly technical but laughably stupid justification for our lack of scientific knowledge, here's my interpretation:

Science, circa 1300 AD:
Leave a pool of fresh water and come back in a month.
You will find algae, pond scum, tad poles--maybe even frogs.
Because the knowledge of the day has no way to account for this event (and because the human mind cannot abide the unknown much less tolerate any phenomena without perceivable cause and affect), you give it a name: "spontaneous generation".  And you do so because anything that can be named or labeled is less threatening and, therefore, more controllable.
Good enough for the middle ages.

Science today:
You can't account for the way billions of stars and galaxies behave the way they do--unless the universe contains 80 percent more matter than can actually be observed or measured-- so you give this discrepancy a name: "Dark Matter".  

And doing so makes the scientific community, physicists especially, feel better. 
I wonder if the word "magic" might do as well. 
It was, after all, good enough for the middle ages...

But sometimes, I look at a starry sky and think "God" works even better.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Moon over Miami draft



My ass was suspended in space. 

Definitely puckered.

My right shoulder leaning toward the inside of the trial.

Random boulders had guided my quad Atv right to edge of the trail.


I slammed on the break.  Engaged the emergency hand break and took a breath.

I was not going another inch until I corrected my course which if continued would send me down sailing 1500 feet to a canyon of the San Joaquin headwaters, splattering my innerds all over rocks and shrubs.

Not  ready for that yet.  And because of the rocky boulder strewn trail up to Shuteye lookout, not sure my arms still had enough strength for the course adjustment.


So I took a deep breath, shifted into park, and took in the view.  Incredible peaks 40 to 50 miles in the distance.  A deep gorge awesome as Kings Canyon to my left and I wanted to make sure I still had enough shoulder strength to correct my course.


I needed to turn my handle bars fully to the right, butting them against a the vertical surface of a ten inch boulder, pop over it, retain control of the bike and bring myself down on the other side.


One couldn’t die with less beautiful view before him.  I released the break, swithched back to 2 wheel drive because the front lift over the boulder would raise my rear wheel into the air, and the only traction I wanted was from my rear left wheel which would hopefully drive me toward the inner bank of the trail—and not out into 5 seconds of fresh air followed by oblivion.


And as my ass gradually unpuckered, I knew that I had just catalogued another nightmare that would haunt me in the future, along with black widow spiders and the time I walked in on my grandma while she was getting out of the shower.


It worked.  I headed up the trail toward Shuteye Lookout, 8300 feet, and according to my friend Bob who had suggested this “trail” a twenty minute jaunt before we went back to camp for lunch in the Miami Creek off road vehicle area.  It had been twice twenty minutes and I suspected we weren’t even half way.  Like the old Gilligan’s Isle themesong, just a “Three Hour Tour”.


Bob was ahead of me, I could tell by the density of his dust and I eventually caught up with him.  We both admired strange rocks, massive monolitihs over 50 feet high like someone had stacked pancackes haphazardly.  We continued around these marvels, happy to be alive, regretful that we had not thought to bring a camera.


After another 30 minutes or so we still hadn’t sighted the National Forest Fire lookout but saw movement ahead, the last thing we thought possible.  A green truck, labeled “Super Duty” heading straight down toward us.  We pulled to the side rather than be knocked off the trail.  When the driver got to us his expression looked a little strained.  I wondered what to say and “how much longer was at the top of my list.

He spoke to Bob briefly then rolled on toward me.

“Nice smooth, relaxing drive, eh?”

I laughed.  Nice tension breaker and he eased carefully by me.


And on we went.  More unbelievable rocks, even more fields of homicidal boulders until eventually we reached a plateau and saw the lookout, on top of the world and providing a view clear to the ocean according to the forest service worker who blithely recommended this route.


There was actually a person in the window looking down on us.  Would he/she be friendly?  Would we be allowed to scale the tower and tour his perch?  Would be able to see to the shores of Japan?


I couldn’t wait to take in the view on a stationary platform, never realizing the horrifying nature of what we were about to see.  No wonder the platform was named “Shuteye” lookout.  There are some views where it would be best to just shut your eyes.


At first all seemed good.  Giant boulder pancacks led up to a large sign “Visitors Welcome”


I crawled up toward the sign still out of breath.  Was it the altitude (8300 feet), my being out of shape, or shear breathlessness because I had survived to live another day?


I gripped coarse granite and heard snatches of conversation above.


How ya doing? (Bob)


Okay except I injured my butt.  In fact , I think I I may ha e torn my ass.


No comment from Bob.


I finaly reached the metal catwalk surrouding the tower.  What a view.  I tried to slow down my breathing as I walked the permimeter of the lookout.  Vaguely, I heard Bob introduce himself to a man named Bob.  About our age, grey, stubbled beard slim but something about his mouth said bitter.


Are you guys hunters?

Now this pissed me off.  The third time in a two days thaty someone had asked that question.  We weren’t carrying guns.  Was it because we were over 60 riding atv’s and onlyt hunters would be up here this time of the year?


Nobody ever considers we might be riding bikes because thagt is in itself fun?


So I answered quickly, “No, we don’t hunt.  We get on these bikes and drive them to improbable place simply because we don’t feel good about ourselves unless we occasionally scare ourselves shitless.”



No answer from John, our host, who had already launched into a condemnagtion of  

His coworker. 

“The guy had brain tumor, inoperable and terminal.  I now have to work 10 on 4 off just because of him.”

“What happened to him?”  Bob asked.

“He died of course… but he didn’t tell us about it until a week before his funeral.  How rude is that?  Now here I am, too late to hire a replacement, working 10 and 4.  God that pisses me off!”

And another thing that pisses me off is people who had vehicles gthe did not clean or maintain.  I mean where is the pride?  MY service vehicle would be spoqtless.?


I walked around and away from this converstation, hoping bob would fill me in on the gaps later.  The wind was brisk, the view magnificanct.  I could see a small fire in a disgtant canyon, naked peaks thagt were probably the last range before the Eastern sidee and Bishop, andforested ranges b efore that were probably the wilds of Yosemite.


When I came around fiull circle, trying to be social, our host went back to the injury issue and told bob ghag he had slipped while unloading his gear from the truck tht had brought him here, (probably the one we saw on the way down, the good natured rager who was gtrying to get himself safely down the mountqin.


“Yeah and you know, I don’t like that guy.  There’s something kind of weird about him.”


“And because of his damned sloppiness while unloading my water and gear, I slipped.  I fell.  And my legs did this ballerina split and I felt something rip.

My anus.


I decided to continue may walk around the tower and looked now toward the valley, blanket by haze, probably because of the rim fire., I thought at the time.


When I came back around they were still discussing his injury.


“Would you guys mind checking it out, making sure everything’s okay?  I mean, I’m not going to show you my asshole—I already checked that.”


Bob tentavively said “yes” having no clue about what was to follow.


And Bob and I stood there amidst this glorious top of the world view while our ranger host began to pull his pants down.  And I mean all the way down.


“Do you see anything, a mark, any bleeding?”


After an astounded pause, Bob dutifully answered, “Well, there is tan spot, probably just a birthmark.”


“Where?” our host asked in a tone of near panic.


“Well, kind of left ofq, uh, cheek.”



“Well, actually a little to the right.”


“No, down a little.”

He moved his hand deeper into the valley…

Meanwhile, my mind had blanked out to this spectacle, protecting itself from implosion by imagining what it would be like to stand on the most distant highest peak, far, far away from “Shuteye Lookout”

And damn it!  Why didn’t I the sense to just shut my eyes?  Here was another moment to be catalogued in my list of future nightmares.


But the moment would not end.

Finally, I said, “You know, I don’t see anything abnormal and I’m a trained EMT (trained in the sense I took and passed the classes is all, never done it.)

And then he pulled up his pants, thank God.

“Well good because if I start bleeding from my rectum, I’m going to get on the radio and they better get me the hell off this mountain immediately.”

“All this haze to the west, just smoke from the Rim fire, right?”  I was desperately wanted to quit talking about his ass.

“Hell, no!  That’s from China.  The most poluteted nation in the world?

“China?” Bob asked.

“Of course, didn’t you know that 17 to 29 percent of our pollution rolls in from China?”

“Really, John?” I asked.  Why are so many weird people John?  I tried to counter this argument.

“You’d think all that distance over the ocean would disperse it by the time it got here.”

“Guess not or they wouldn’t being wearing face masks, even when visiting the states.

Affable Bob weighed in, “They are kind of quick to wear those things.”
I took another circuit around the tower, breathing deap, not realizing that it was a deeper circle into Dante’s Hell.  When I made it around the conversation had changed

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Rocquerian Annals, known or in the vulgate as "The Rock Bible"
Chapter 1
Seek not the rock of exceptional clarity.
The vacuous spaces within are empty
as the minds of those that buy and sell
precious gems.

The most precious of rocks
reveals the greatest mystery.
Clarity lacks meaning
until mingled with the opaque
precious is balance.

Key Stone legend:


Monday, December 23, 2013

Epilogue to Buzz Kill, Part Five of Fish and Game Series

I stewed all the next day about my conversation with Warden Meyer
(see previous entry, Buzz Kill)

NO, I couldn't collect rocks here because it's against the rules, he said.
DON'T do it or your illegal behavior will be punished by a big fine.

He had to be wrong.
He had used two words I've hated since childhood.
He had better watch out because, even as a child, I was a very dangerous...

The detested "N" and "D" words above played a critical role in my childhood development, starting when I was about five.  At the time, my mother would occasionally drop off Little Johnny (me) to visit Aunt Ruby and her family, all very much against my will. She had two daughters, one my age and another several years younger.  I couldn't understand why my aunt decided to have a girl, let alone two.  For that matter, what was my mother thinking when she abandoned me there, sometimes for several days at a time?

Truthfully, it was more like a few hours but seemed much, much longer.  Girl cousins--really?  They were nice enough as relatives go, but at the time they suffered from a bizarre attraction to dolls and make believe mommy/daddy scenarios.

Now Aunt Ruby (actually a cousin) always made me feel important, as if she could've been my best friend were she not for some strange reason my mother's age.  I've often told myself it was never my intention to hurt her or my cousins, Kimberly and Karen, and wish that over the years there had been opportunities to spend time with them.
How could they know at the time, they were dealing with Johnny "Bad Seed" Richardson?

Bored with girl pursuits one day, I discovered a strange device in my aunt's hallway.  It was small box mounted halfway up the wall and made me think of gadgets I had seen in science fiction movies.  I was jumping up, trying to touch this thing when I noticed my aunt watching me from down the hallway.

Instead of yelling at me, she called us all to lunch.  I  was learning that Aunt Ruby's family had "rules".  Well, mine did, too, but none so perplexing and challenging as my aunt's. For example, we had to carry our dirty dishes to the sink after lunch and rinse them.  The girls were dismissed that day to do more girl stuff, but I was asked to stay and help dry the dishes. Not a problem.  I had spent many fun hours washing dishes, laughing and goofing off with Sharon, my adopted sister (also my cousin and, NO, the Richardson's are not all inbred cousins).   Finishing off the dishes this time somehow seemed not so much a chore as a punishment, or a prelude to one.  I must have broken some other rule.  And sure enough, as soon as we finished the dishes, she asked me to follow her.  I was going to be spanked here, now, and probably a second time when my parents found out my infraction, whatever it was.  But  I followed without protest as my aunt to lead me down the hall.

"See this box, Johnny?" She pointed toward the mysterious box.
"Yes, Aunt Ruby."
"Don't touch it, ever."
"No, not ever"  
"Why not?" I  asked.
"My Aunt's eyes widened.  She had yet to experienced the "joy" of having a "boy" and was perhaps unaccustomed to fielding that kind of question from her two girls.  And I certainly don't blame her for what happened afterwards.  Who among us has not resorted to hyperbole?

"Why shouldn't you touch it?  I'll tell you why not, Johnny... because the house will blow-up!"

Threats of violence, destruction and mayhem weren't new to me,  a combatant in an ongoing war with a spiteful older sister and annoying little brother.  What really fried my baloney sandwich was her use of those distasteful words, "NO" and "DON'T".  A bad mistake, though Aunt Ruby could never have known it, because those words always brings out the worst in me.

So I pondered my aunt's words for a long time, at least several visits, thought hard about her explosive prediction--and plotted.  I was hopelessly fixated on that strange box with its black and red numbers and, worse yet, was the enticing lever on the bottom which cried out for me to flip it.  Later in life I would learn it was a thermostat, a device unfamiliar to my less progressive Okie we-all-gather -around-swamp-cooler family.  I was mystified and intrigued by this new thing and implications of playing with it.

Really?  The house will explode?  No way!

Looking at my dilemma with the box another way, nothing can be true until put to the test.  The lesson of Adam and Eve, forbidden fruit, and their subsequent punishment?  The necessity of disobedience.

Only by breaking the rules can we prove we have autonomous nature and prove the existence of free will.

Want to be certain that your child will eventually insert legumes into his nostrils? 
Just say, "Don't stick beans up your nose!"

 Obedience has no savor (or meaning) unless one has tasted the fruit of disobedience, an ongoing cycle of development that plays itself out in the mind of every child, generation after generation.

And this is the kind of crap I like to tell myself when I think about the tragic potential when I made my choice back then...
After one particularly trying afternoon with my cousins, I lurked around the hallway to make sure nobody was watching.  Ready, set, go!  I dashed down the hallway to the mysterious box, jumping up and down until I managed to swipe the lever all the way to one side.  The bomb was ticking now. I sprinted through the front door (already open because young psychopaths know the importance of thinking ahead) and then straight out into the street where I was luckily not obliterated by a passing car.

And with my hands cupped over my ears, I waited...
And waited. 
And then I waited some more.
Nothing! No bang, no explosion.  Eventually, I lowered my hands in disappointment.
But my life as a rebel had begun...
So did my growing realization that adults did not necessarily tell the truth,
And a lifetime haunted by the knowledge that by the age of five, I was capable of a triple homicide.

"No?"  "Don't?"  Yeah, right, said a new and very jaded voice from the dark recesses of my mind.

And all of this Freudian angst brings me back to yesterday's encounter with Warden Meyer .  Or was it Dwyer?  Maybe, McGuire?  Or liar?  No, not that.  The man was so professional and confident!  Misinformed, possibly, maybe new to his job but definitely not a liar.

But he did basically say,  "No, don't collect rocks--any kind, anywhere?"  This was a problem.

By late afternoon, I had a plan.
I got in my car and headed up the coast.
As hoped, I located a Fish and Game vehicle on the side of the road.  The occupant, who I assumed to be the aforementioned warden, was talking on his cell phone.  Averting my face and swooshing past him, I tried to imagine his conversation.  Maybe he was talking to county dispatch, signing off and heading in the same direction his vehicle was already oriented, south.  Then again, he could be talking to his wife, apologizing because he would be late due to some last minute paper work. And after ending the call, he would cruise south to Cambria, Mozzi's or West End Bar and Grill maybeand put down some cool ones with fellow wardens. 
But I couldn't count on either possibility. There was too much at stake.

I watched as he disappeared in the rear view mirror.  No sign he recognized me or my coastally ubiquitous Honda Element. Still I slowed down, making sure he didn't "light 'em up" and make a dusty last second U-turn.  He didn't so I sped up and tried to put some serious distance between us.  After all, he might be wily...

But not as wily as me.  I parked away from my actual destination, gathering my gear and dropping quickly into a shadowy ravine.  I deployed my rope but didn't go down it. Instead I went further south where I could scramble down unassisted by a rope.  From that point, low tide would make it possible to pick my way over several reefs and arrive at the actual collection site.

Once there, I quickly finished unfinished business and afterwards allowed myself to explore.  More good stuff.  Thinking that enough time had elapsed since I'd last seen Mr. Warden for me to be featured in the viewfinder of his scope, I used my new misdirection trick:  pick up, feign throw, palm and pocket. A paranoid perception of being watched persisted, so I decided even more wiliness was in order: I traveled further south until I found an arroyo and climbed the cliff's above it.  Tentatively, I poked up my head, remembering an old arcade game which I used to play with my kids, the purpose of which was to hammer down prairie dog heads that popped up in unpredictable places.

I would be the one to get hammered in this case and by a multitude of federal and state fines--possibly even arrest. As it turned out, the coast or at least this section of it, was clear.  But if my warden friend crested a nearby ridge, I would have zero time to eject my geological contraband.  And if caught, it would be hard to claim slack-jawed ignorance after our lengthy encounter just the day before. So I discharged the contents of my pockets in the brush along the fence.  A  small bush across the highway would serve as my landmark, I decided, and with empty pockets returned my backpack to the car.

I congratulated myself on being so devilishly tricky.  But dusk was coming too soon so I hustled to nearby cliffs where I retrieved my "red-herring" rope, after which I ambled south along the edge of the road until parallel to my landmark bush and the memory of where I discarded my booty.  It was gone!  I walked up and down that section of fence cursing the weak winter sun, the similarity of bushes, and chlorophyll life forms in general until complete darkness and a dramatic drop in temperature overtook me.  Time to give up, I admitted.  Sure, I could get a flashlight from my car and continue walking the fence.  But along that notorious section of the coast, I might as well swing a neon sign: "Disabled veteran and marijuana smuggler.  Will trade panga boat for ride."

I went home, a little down, but telling myself that the rocks would still be there (and much easier to find) in the morning.  Only coyotes on the prowl would come near my stash.  I got busy the next day, however, and had to leave for Visalia the following morning.  My rocks were still out there, I told myself.

But I sure outsmarted that warden!  Nobody tells me "NO" or "DON'T".

Epilogue to the epilogue:

Since my encounter with Warden Meyer that day I've done extensive research on the question of  whether collecting rocks in that particular area was in fact "breakin' duh law" as Judas Priest might put it.  I combed the internet for the next few days, studying every code and regulation that might enlighten me as to the degree of my criminality. Next I called people from a multitude of bureaucratic agencies, asking for names and some confirmation as to whether my interpretation of all this legal gibberish was correct.  Finally, I was ready to call the dark side, California Department of Fish and Game, and report my findings.

I was surprised to learn that people of the D of  F&G were helpful, polite, and called me back in a timely manner.   Call on a Friday, get a call-back on Sunday of all days.  Call someone higher on the food chain Monday morning and get a response by 4:59 pm of the same day--in this case by Warden Don Wells. When I professed my astonishment at receiving a call so close to when most of his department must have been packing it in he chuckled, "Just half way through my fifteen" (whatever that meant).

Anyway, after I provided my new friend Don a summary of the codes, subsets of codes, and all amendments relevant to the "taking" of rock in protected sanctuaries and the areas adjacent to them (and providing longitude and latitude numbers to delineate their boundaries), Uber-Warden Wells conceded that it was unlikely I had broken any laws, rules or regulations.  He also promised to further research this issue on my behalf and get back to me.  And I expect he will.

In the meantime, I'm ready.  Should  I again be stopped by a representative of the California Department of Fish and Game, I will produce a stack of printouts, all carefully highlighted and sorted by federal, state, and local jurisdictions.  I might even drop the names of a few superiors and highly place bureaucrats.

 But if all this fails, I will resort to a deadly solution learned in childhood:

"If you're thinking about writing me a citation, Mr. Warden, DON'T!  Bad warden--NO! NO! NO!"

Saturday, December 14, 2013

BUZZ KILL, Number Five in the Fish and Games Series

North coast bound and Van Morrison coming at me from all four speakers:

I can hear her heart beat for a thousand miles
And the heavens open every time she smiles
And when I come to her that's where I belong
Yes, I'm running to her like a river's song

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love
She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

Temperatures were over 70 with an afternoon devoid of wind and plenty of time before the low tide and maximum collecting conditions.  I was "feeling good" like James Brown said I should, anticipating a great afternoon of sun, rock gathering, and maybe some downtime with the novel in my backpack.  

Gear had been unloaded, and I was already across the barbed wire when I realized a music induced endorphin rush must have caused me to pull over at the wrong arroyo.  I was in the process of putting everything back into the car when a kelly green pickup pulled up behind me. 
What, my game warden friends wanted another chat?

There was the usual friendly but well practiced greeting.
"How you doing today, sir?"
"Great, except I pulled over at the wrong place.  I'm going to have to move about a hundred yards down the road."
"What's in those bags?"
"Nothing much, just my collecting gear.  And I haven't even been down to the beach yet."
"Is it okay if I take look in those bags?"

My fine day was taking on an ugly and unexpected turn. Besides a lost afternoon, this might be the time I finally end up in jail.  But Van was still a presence:

Shes got a fine sense of humor when I'm feeling low down
And when I come to her when the sun goes down
Take away my trouble, take away my grief
Take away my heartache, in the night like a thief

"Absolutely, let's take a look," I said, responding to his not-really-an-option request since game wardens do not need cause or a court order to perform a search.  I waited while he approached the back of my vehicle. My choice of the word "absolutely," it seemed to me, was so very close to the dyslectic syntax of Yoda: "Asshole-you-be".
Yet I obediently begin another tour of my personal belongings.
"In this bag I have my windbreaker, the tow rope to get down the cliffs around here, sun tan lotion, a couple beers and a rock hammer."
"The other pouches?"  
"This one has my wallet, a camera, a can of sardines and a small pocket knife."
"Anything else?"
"Well, there's this plastic container filled with band aids.  I bleed easily. Long story there."
"What about the other bag, the orange one?"

Ah, take a breath now, I thought.  Think before you answer.
"Well, it's just glass... a bunch of empty bottles."
"And why do you have them?"
"Whenever I go to a beach, I like clean up some."
He proceeds to undo my bow tie knot and paw through my booze bottles: large wine, small wine, big gin, little gin, lots and lots of beer bottles, some blue, brown and green. A merry lot.
"Where'd you get all this?"

My buzz and the hope for this fine afternoon began to fade. But Van's words still echoed in my head, and I  thought of my wife:

She's got a fine sense of humor when I'm feeling low down
And when I come to her when the sun goes down
Take away my trouble, take away my grief
Take away my heartache, in the night like a thief

Show time.
"Where did I get all these glass bottles? Uh, let's see... two turnstiles down.  It must have been a big party."  
"Oh you mean the (something or other) creek access?  
I nod hesitantly, trying for all I'm worth to look casual.
He digs deeper into my farming supplies.
"Seriously, all this from just down the road?  No kidding it must have one heck of a party.  I'm having a little problem with this."
"Well, actually it was collected it over the course of several days."  (You idiot--never change your story midstream!  But I pushed on, appealing, I hoped, to his ecological mindset).
"I like to leave places cleaner than I left them, you know?"

"Do you recycle?"
"Of course.  Money for doing the right thing... Those are all deposit bottles, I believe." 
And I thought to myself that I actually do recycle (in ways I hope to God you, Mr. Warden, have not yet figured out).
"I do the same thing, actually," he revealed with some pride. "but why the rock hammer?"
I pause a moment and think how to put this, not wanting to sound smart assed...
        Question: So why do you have a tooth brush? 
        Answer: Obviously, to brush toilets, dumb ass!
Instead I say, "Because I collect rocks" hearing an odd sense of shame in my voice.
"What kind of rocks?"  
Hmm...is he a geologist?  Metamorphic.   A gemologist? Chalcedony.
"Moonstone, I say, just agate, as you know, and an occasional piece of jade--though local experts lsay it can't be found this far south, pretty sure they're wrong."  The "shut-up" sensors are now flashing red in some part of my mind. 
"It's illegal to collect jade anywhere along this coast except for Jade Cove."
Oops! Another of my TMI moments

"Really?  I hadn't heard that but good to know."   I decided not to complicate matters by explaining the difference between true jade and jadeite, a more accurate explanation of what I had actually found.

"In fact, it is also illegal," he continued, "to collect anything at all along this part of the coast, including rocks, all the way to a point north of San Francisco."
"Really?  I hadn't heard that, either." (and now I know why my wife says I tend to repeat myself)
"But I don't understand why," I continue with wide eyed innocence.
"Because this is a protected marine sanctuary, PMS."
"Oh yes, I've heard of that zone.  It starts at the cypress tree two miles south of here, right?"  (Shut up, shut up about PMS jokes, don't go there!).

"No, it starts at a point south of Cambria."
I was about to answer with another "Really?" but instead asked, "Are you sure about that?
Hard to argue against stone-faced certainty, especially when coming from a young, grim, and holstered ex-military type.

Still, I was pretty sure he was wrong about jade collecting, having read many texts recommending beaches north south of jade cove.

"I always thought the purpose of marine sanctuary was to, you know, protect marine life.  You know, living stuff in the water and not on the land," (hence, the designation"marine" but I withheld this last part).
"No.  This area is controlled both on land and sea by two jurisdictions, one state one federal."
I couldn't help myself this time, "Really?"
"Yes, and if one of the federal guys catches you with rocks, he will assign you a fine right there on the spot."
What federal guys?  What kind of vehicles do they drive?  I had been through this drill two times before with Fish and Game officials and made a point of mentioning the name of the previous warden.  The response from each person "interviewing" me was always a blank stare: "Never heard of him/them."

Stay focused.
"Hmm... And the fine you mentioned will probably have to go straight to Fresno, right?  I was having doubts about the depth of his local knowledge and wanted to see if he knew where the nearest federal court was.  A facial tic suggesting I was right--but no real acknowledgement of his ignorance.

"But you know, that's strange," I slid lightly along a knife edge separating challenge sincere curiosity, "because I've been detained and searched by two other law enforcement agencies besides your own, and they had no problem with my rock collecting" (maybe because they weren't just bored like this guy and more focused on their jobs: catching poachers and marijuana smugglers).  I decided not to pursue this point and risk any perception of being "uncooperative".

"So how do I know which of the two sanctuaries I'm in and which rules apply?"
He explained at length, evoking boundaries named after other obscure creeks and arroyos not even delineated on Google Earth,  I know, having tried at length to get this kind of information for another blog entry.
"Out of curiosity," I asked,c "how much would the fine be... something steep, maybe around $300?
"Well beyond that, I'm sure."

"Ouch! I sure appreciate you telling me all this.  I don't have the money to pay that kind of fine.  And to think here all along I've been operating on the fifty plus one per day rule."
No response.  A blank stare.  
"You've never heard the phrase before, have you... fifty plus one per day?"
I waited the teacher obligatory four seconds.
One, two, three...
That's when I decided that Officer/Warden Meyer was FOS (the first letter stands for "full," followed by "of" and you know where I'm going with the next word.

I covered my astonishment by rambling on, as if nothing significant had transpired.
"I mean it makes sense, right?  You wouldn't want some guy taking tons of rock from the beach to decorate his front lawn.  Not sure why they phrase it like that, though.  Fifty pounds of rock, give or take one, per day."

And this revelation was a puppy I decided to let be, further proving  that I must be dealing either with an idiot or someone very new to the area.

"You know officer... was it Nilmeir?" (I once had a student so named).
"No, Meyer."
"Oh, right.  Well this is all very new and confusing to me, and I'm not sure I've got it all straight in my Alzheimered brain. Could you suggest someone I could contact that might be able to explain all of this to me again so I don't accidentally violate some very expensive laws?"
"Yes.  Go south to the pier across from Hearst's Castle.  There's a trailer," he started to say then corrected himself, "actually a building called "The Discovery Center."
I waited a beat. Trailer bigot! 
"Oh, yes, I think I know where that is." (Duh)
"They should be able to explain it all to you."

"Well, thanks again, officer Meyer and would it be okay if I went on down to that cove I mentioned... just to clean up any trash?"
"Of course."

"Thanks, officer." (I should probably have addressed him simply as Warden God but decided his actual title was more likeky to be special agent--and why aren't there any "not so special" agents?).  But then maybe this guy was just new to his job, ignorant, and arrogant.

In either case, I wanted to assure good-will in case we met again, and deflect any interest in my quasi-legal hobbies.
"Oh, by the way, good work on that bank robber arrest.  We're you the one who took him down?"
"Yes.  Well no, not me, but one of the members of my unit."

Wrong on several accounts but not worth explaining if you haven't been following local news.  Also a fibp if I've ever heard one.  His choice of words: "my unit"?  Obvious military phrasing, not what would one would expect from an employee who draws a check from a department in our state.

"And out in the boonies," I continued with my ass-kissing, "it's always the warden that gets the call, isn't it?
Then in the interest of further good will, "And most of the time you guys patrol alone, totally without back up, don't you?"
He nodded.  And I hoped this last part would not be prrceiced as a threat.  Safety under the radar.

Yet here I was, picnic supplies, libations and a good book. No way I was going to let this unanticipated interrogation ruin my mood and thought again of Van Morrison lyrics and my wife.

Yes I need her in the daytime
Yes I need her in the night
Yes I want to throw my arms around her
Kiss her, hug her, kiss her, hug her tight

"FTS," I said to myself (the middle part of the acronym being "this".  Again, you can figure out the rest).
So I moved my car south and parked at the correct ravine this time, watching the green pickup head north toward Ragged Point. Before long I was throwing out my rope and sliding down a muddy cliff. Though I had just been there just a day before it now seemed different, like I had planted my feet on a new beach: sand and kelp, all piled in new locations.

Everywhere I looked there were agates, jadeite, and other interesting jasper/flint conglomerates.  The earth replenishes and abides, I thought.  I hesitated to pick anything up.  Then I remembered the warden driving off.  It would take him at least five minutes to circle back and pull over.  Then he had to cross a field and set up his scope (possibly a Redfield with Zeis optics unless his agency, whatever it was, lacked the funds to spring for the best).

So I picked up some moonstone/agates with exceptional clarity and slipped them into my pockets--not my backpack, oh no.  "Go ahead and search my bag," I imagined saying to anyone I met on my way out. Of my four previous encounters, only one had resulted in something so invasive as a weak pat down.  I left my other bag, filled with farming supplies, back in the car.  Too hard to explain why all those bottles had disappeared, nearly five pounds of glass, no longer to be found edcept by future collectors of beach glass.

Before long I knew enough time had lapsed for my law-enforcement friend to be ready and watching, maybe even taking photos through his scope.  And wouldn't you know it? Forbidden fruit and all, I kept finding some real beauties.

I picked up some of the more promising rocks and made an exaggerated display of tossing them aside.  Other times I would palm them--not even a Redfield scope, I reasoned, could detect a stone thrown from my hand.  Then I started to pick up two rocks at a time, actually letting go of one while keeping the other until I could casually pocket it.

Some of the rocks were a bit large... yet interesting enough that I decided to cram them into a back pocket.   This kind of hurt my butt, but my eventual plan was to put everything in my pockets into a baggie before I climbed the cliff and be ready to jettison it all.

Everything was ruined, however, especially my mood.  No peace. No reveling in the sun.  No sense of being master of all that I surveyed. Certainly not when suspecting I was being observed.  I ate some crackers and drank a soda. Seriously, just a soda.  Federal custody is serious shi--stuff.

The climb to the highway was tense.
To what length would this guy go to apprehend a heinous collector of rocks?  Each wavering shrub and cascading rock unnerved me. Eventually, I poked my head up over the brown grasslands, ready to duck down and throw out the illicit contents of my pockets.

My car was to the left.  Check.  I ducked back down, counted to five, then popped my head up and looked right.  No green pickups, no sign of rangers/wardens/or whatever waiting to intercept me. Check again.

And along the way home, I did stop at the Discovery Center and talked to an elderly gent (meaning my age, I guess) and was handed a list of government phone numbers, bureaucratic agencies that on a Friday afternoon were about as likely to respond as dialing 1-800-Hey-God and expecting The Man Himself to pick up.

Strange how I kept running into wardens with names that were unknown to my local contacts.  And what gave them the right, whether DEA, Homeland Security, or FBI, to misrepresent themselves and drive around in those nice Fish and Game pickups?

"Keep things in perspective," someone I love often reminds me.
I tried to do just that.  And after a few quick miles, I was home.

When I'm returning from so far away
She gives me some sweet lovin' brighten up my day
Yes, it makes me righteous, yes it makes me feel whole
Yes, it makes me mellow down into my soul.