Geminid Meteor Shower in Northeastern Nevada

Quick post! I’m not going to pretend to be cool. When it comes to events like the solar eclipse, the conjunction of planets Venus and Jupiter, or the few good meteor showers we’ve had in the Northern Hemisphere in 2017, I turn into an astronomy fanboy. I’m not a super technical person, but I’ll read up, obsess, and gab to my co-workers about how cool these things are. When it comes down to it, I’m sort of like that annoying 90s kid back in first grade who liked Power Rangers. There he goes, attempting to roundhouse kick off the playground equipment again. Yes, that was me. It still is—minus the campy martial arts TV show. 
Last night the Geminids put on a fantastic display of shooting stars. My wife and I counted sixty-six meteors (and among them were more than a few fireballs) in a clear sky out in frigid December weather. Every time one streaked across the sky, we let out a “Wow!” as the vapor from our breath steamed in the night air. We stayed out  doors under forty-five minutes, opting to warm up next to our wood stove before we went to bed. I don’t have a sweet camera set-up so here’s a sketch from my pocket notebook.

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Dad Life: Lego Gun

This is a shout out to  sleep-deprived dads (and moms), especially to those who’ve been awake most of the night comforting a cranky baby or tending to sick kids. For parents with little ones, sleep is practically a barterable commodity. If it were possible, we’d all get together like a mountain man rendezvous, trying to trade a few packs of gummy snacks and dryer lint cash for a few hours of uninterrupted REM sleep. When I was a single man, I took sleep for granted. But I also wanted to eventually get married and have children. So on the other end of the spectrum, I understand there are people longing to start a family, and some who aren’t presently able to do so would give up a whole lot to make that a reality. Laying that all aside, I would go back and punch my bachelor counterpart in the face, give him an ice pack, then tell him to enjoy his good night’s rest. I now leave you with a verse of dad poetry.

A day off at home for a family man with six kids

Is probably different than a bachelor without a daughter or son:

On a quiet wintry morning the single man blissfully sleeps with closed eye lids

While the dad, in silent repose, gets jumped by a kid with a Lego gun.

Advent Ruminations: The Light Shines in the Darkness

I jotted down a few verses today as I was thinking about Jesus’ incarnation—the eternal God dwelling with sinful man. Forgive my clunkiness. Besides a few scant words in my pocket notebook, I haven’t written much during the past twelve months. Before the poem, here’s a little of what I’m ruminating on.
Every year right around the day after Thanksgiving, when most of us are still getting over pie coma, our thoughts turn towards the hustle and bustle of Christmas. And it’s often customary or, as in Christian culture, even obligatory to reflect on the “real meaning of Christmas.” While it is true that this is a cliché, I personally resist letting that get in the way of dwelling on Christ during Advent as well as the rest of the calendar year.

In his book Knowing God, J.I. Packer wrote, “The Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child. The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets. Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as this truth of the Incarnation.” As I ruminate on Christ again and again, I realize the nature of his birth, nothing short of miraculous, only sets the stage for his accomplishment on the cross. Still, his birth ought not to be skimmed over to get to the good part. The poem below is but a small result of my ruminations.

I turn to Packer again: “The Christmas message is that there is hope for a ruined humanity–hope of pardon, hope of peace with God, hope of glory–because at the Father’s will Jesus became poor, and was born in a stable so that thirty years later He might hang on a cross.”

We were dwelling in darkness, mired in selfishness within,

Reaping rubbished good, tasting the bitterness of our sin.

But in the midnight of our folly, a slough of our soul’s decay,

We saw, like Zebulun and Naphtali, a great light brighter than noonday.

 

Despondent in guilt and shame, still, we delighted in doing wrong.

The light shined in the darkness, convicting and revealing we needed Christ all along.

You chose us to be yours before you laid the foundations of the world.

Your Son came to seek and save us, and upon him our sins were hurled.

 

God of gods, it is only right to emphasize that you came to the lowest of the low,

To shepherds, fishermen, tax collectors, publicans—moralistic dead people—to show

Your love in the light you sent to us to who dwelt in darkness on this Earth.

O that the God who made the Universe came down to man through a virgin birth!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIELD NOTES: Stationary for Those Who Aren’t

Pictured: Field Notes’ 36th Limited Edition, “Dime Novel”

If this blog has a theme, it would probably have something to do with transience—hence the words “wayfaring” and “pilgrim” in the header—perhaps in the spirit of the hobo culture of the 1930s and 40s, when working people went wherever and did whatever they had to do to make ends meet. We may not be in the Great Depression now, but the same tenacity back then has been passed down to many of us now. No matter what our vocation, we strive to do our best because we care about what we do. 

The folks at Field Notes reinforce that ideal with quality notebooks and accessories such as pens, pencils, and leather notebook covers (all made in the USA). They make a quality product because they care about what they do. So it’s no surprise to find that they have a generous selection of notebooks marketed with the working person in mind. At their page you can find great notebooks, which generally come in 3-packs, such as their Original Kraft memo books , Utility, which comes in graph or ledger and a flip-out ruler to boot, as well as a host of other cool editions. Their design team is top notch, creating notebooks that salute the pragmatism of yesteryear while contributing stylish subtleties like embossed letters (especially in their newest edition, Dime Novel) and a ruler printed on the inside back cover. They make notation a pleasure for hard-working people in the field.

Which brings me to the meat of this post. Having a pocket notebook was at one time a common necessity—not just a small part of a subculture today. Not only for writers or artists, pocket notebooks were largely utilitarian, used for practical purposes by people in job sectors such as agriculture, transportation, and trade jobs. My late grandad would often carry in his shirt pocket a small composition notebook to check off each stop on his water softener route, write out a lumber material list, or jot down tasks to be completed. I worked on drill rigs for drillers who would keep their own shift logs in addition to the ones they were required to keep in the rig clipboard. 

As for myself, I keep a notebook to sketch, make quick notes, log how many cords of firewood I’ve cut (see what I did there?), or scribble out a poem once in a while. For me, the folks at Field Notes have tapped into an unpretentious mixture of blue collar durability found on the job site and literary creativity found in a corner booth at the local coffeehouse. A real win.

A Sketch: 33rd National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

It has been a while since I’ve jumped in the blogging saddle, so here is a sketch of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada—home to the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. If you’re a fan of folk music and you’re unfamiliar with Elko, the Gathering, or with the concept of cowboy poetry, do yourself a favor and look into it. Going on thirty-three years, the multi-venue event runs from the last weekend of January through the first week of February. On the last night of the Gathering this year, my wife, kids, and I met Don Edwards, a cowboy singer from Texas, during a meet and greet held at the Elko Convention Center. We also met Montana-based poet, Paul Zarzyski, who inscribed “Spur the Words Wild!” beneath his autograph in my Moleskine notebook.

To Those Just Passing Through

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Rambler, rover, stranger, soldier—
Roll on, roll on!

Spite the pagan road.
Traverse the heavenly highway.
Glory in the Master Cartographer—
Rambler heart, roll on, roll on!

Desert springs will sustain thee,
Tho’ the villages disdain thee.
And while you bid them adieu,
Leave behind the dirt on your shoe.

Rambler, rover, stranger, soldier—
Roll on, roll on!

Mount Tenabo

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The summit of Mount Tenabo, in Eureka County, Nevada, sits at 9154′ above sea level. Cortez Hills Mine, owned and operated by Barrick Gold, rests at the base of the mountain venerated to some extent by the local Western Shoshone tribe.

While out on an afternoon family excursion, my oldest child and I scrambled up a ridge in a canyon nearby. We both had fun, and he revelled in exerting some energy by climbing rock ledges and boulders. We found a simple cairn at the top of the summit.

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It was a good diversion, nothing crazy, but it was a good bonding moment with my boy. Love to make these kinds of memories.

Paintbrush in the Edna Mountains

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Another sporadic post. It has been a fair length of time since the last one. Life has been busy. This photo was taken on my HTC Desire 626 (super technical way to say phone, haha) on a whim. The wildflowers are exquisite against the high desert plains, hills, and mountain slopes this time of year. The grass hasn’t caught up with the flowers in this part of Nevada, so the colors very much contrast with the sagebrush.