Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Home For Christmas

I woke up early on Saturday morning, threw a change of clothes and my toothbrush in a bag, and started the trek across the desert to my Mom's. It's a four hour drive across some of the most beautiful desert in the world. Much of the way follows old route 66 through abandoned towns, and valleys of cactus and creosote that fall away as far as the eye can see. I've made this same journey maybe thirty five times over the past seven years. This time would be the last. I'll most likely drive up I-40 again, but I'll never have the same destination in mind. I'll never pull up in the same driveway again, expecting to be greeted by same smiling faces. I'll never again sit on that porch in the evening, talking with my family over dinner while the sun sets behind us.

I arrived around noon and helped them pack the garage. All of the remnants of memories and dreams that made my family who they were and are. The half-empty scuba tanks, the old red flag my Dad had made for paintballing, the hammers and saws that had built many a backyard project and assisted in countless home improvements, the ski-rope that towed my brothers and I behind the boat on our river adventures. So many little odds and ends that spoke of daring summers long past. They tug to the surface memories that would otherwise be forgotten. All of these things covered in dust, undisturbed for the past two years.

I never lived there, but it has still come to feel like home. It even carries those familiar scents which I associate with my childhood. So much has happened over the past seven or so years since my family left California, and today my Mom and my youngest brother left Arizona for good. They've left that house where we spent Christmases and Thanksgivings together, where my father died and my brothers became men.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Snow Trip
Originally uploaded by empyrean_squire
With finals bearing down on me, and projects due which had been put off until the last possible minute, every other leisure activity, including blogging, faded into the background. Actually, they didn't really fade into the background. Instead, as I attempted to banish them from my mind and focus the whole of my attention on my studies, the things that were not my studies became much more pronounced. I was actually kind of worried that the sheer amount of writing I had to do for my classes would so tax the wellspring of my mind that I'd never feel like blogging again. But here I am, as of last night I'm officially 24 credits closer to my BA. It's really nice to have this little bit of respite to catch my breath.

Some of the highlights of this last week have included:

Reading - It's been along time, maybe a year or more, since I've really gotten into a good book. It's easy to find things to read that are interesting, or informative, but once in along while a book comes along that is utterly captivating. I've had to read so much for my classes, and while it's usually good material that I enjoy reading, most of it isn't exactly enamoring. A friend of mine (Natalie) gave me The Princess Bride for my brithday last week (after a year of pestering me to read it) and the day before yesterday I pulled it off the shelf and started in. I'm already half-way through it. I can hardly put it down. I even took it to work with me today so that I could get a few pages read while driving between pool inspections. (I want to clarify that Tony was the one doing the actual driving, just in case anyone had developed mental images of me reading behind the wheel. I've tried it before and it's just a bit beyond my multitasking ability) It's nice to be able to read something so enjoyable without deadlines, or expectations, or the need to analyze and develop an opinion worthy of a college paper.

Hiking - A bunch of my friends and I decided to hike Mt Baden Powell last weekend. We'd planned the whole thing out, and on Friday a cold front moved in, complete with rain, wind and ice. On Saturday morning when I woke up I checked the weather report for Wrightwood, and the forecasted high for the day was 36 degrees with the windchill dropping it another 10 or so. We went anyway. When we got there, we discovered that it had snowed the night before, and the icy wind coming off the snow had an edge on it that would cut through the heaviest jacket. Instead of heading for the summit we decided to take the more sheltered trail around the mountain to Big Horn Mine, where I took the above picture. (I'll admit that this whole section is just an excuse to show off this picture which I've very proud of)

New Filter - I got a polarized filter for my camera on Tuesday. It's interesting how some cheap little accessory can completely revitalize one's enthusiasm. I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but coupled with the photography guidebook that Stephen gave me for my Birthday it should prompt several exciting adventures in the very near future. I was riding my bike up on the aqueduct on Tuesday, shortly after purchasing the new filter, and as I rode along, feeling quite pleased with myself, I started to think of all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) pictures I would now be able to take. (as if simply owning a polarizing filter would greatly improve my standing as an amature photographer) Suddenly I was jerked from my daydreaming by the silhouette of a man about a half mile down the road. He was standing perfectly still, and had this strange protrusion coming from his face. He stood there, very straight and concentrated on whatever it was he was looking at. As I got closer I realized that the protrusion was actually a camera. He was taking pictures of the ducks and other aquatic fowl that were paddling around in the aqueduct. He was in his late 60s, a little stooped, and wearing a khaki safari outfit. His camera was a Nikon D80, and he was sporting this beast of a telephoto lens that could easily have been confused for a rocket propelled grenade launcher. (It probably cost more than my truck) I greeted him and commented on his camera. He responded in broken English laced with a bit of German. He was very friendly, and even let me snap a couple photos with his lens. Needless to say the excitement I had been feeling earlier disappeared entirely.