Vikings … On My Mind

Vikings, on my mind, recently.

Germanic Norse seafarers.  Raiders and traders.  Radical warriors who hung out across the northern and the central parts of Europe, and parts of Russia.  Vikings ventured into the Mediterranean, and North Africa; the Middle East; Central Asia.  All of this happening in the latter 8th  century, extending  into the late 11th century.

http://www.wallpapervortex.com/tag-vikings.htm

Vikings were romanticized, mythologized, as noble savages … this spotlight of intrigue began in the 18th century; gained serious momentum during the 19th-century.  “Vikings, from historical theories, were at times quite violent, piratical heathens,  or as intrepid adventurers owe much to conflicting varieties of the modern Viking myth that had taken shape by the early 20th century.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings

So . . . 

Why the sudden interest  in the Vikings, emerging now … in the midst of a fairly peaceful transition from winter to spring?  Well, it’s like this.  When I went to high school, a few years ago, we had a mascot; and this is not uncommon.  Our mascot was, or were (to be more specific) the Vikings.  Someone drew an awesome picture of a Viking, before I came to be a high school student.  Although, there is much talk that Vikings did not really have helmets with horn.  But don’t despair, Viking fans: none of us really know, because … none of us were there.  But even though “we” were … and still are … the Vikings, why am I thinking of the Vikings right now?  Here is the answer.  I received a mysterious note from a guy I went to high school with, that there was some serious talk of a reunion coming up … as soon as October of this year.  This would be out of state for me.  In fact, I rarely get down there anymore, which is unquestionably a tragedy.  Now the matter has become less convoluted, yes?  It makes sense why Vikings are on my mind.  There is so much research done about different people groups from different eras, different regions.  I will always be skeptical when historians say Vikings were ” … at times quite violent, piratical heathens,  or as intrepid adventurers …”  I have no doubt that these guys lived in perilous times.  There were probably times when some mean people were coming this way, and it was a choice of either living or dying … and to live meant fighting.  Who knows what these guys were up against.  And maybe there was a wildman who figured out how to get a helmet, and attach some horns … and then he wore that wherever he went … especially at parties, and when he was riding in one of the longboats.  

In one source, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-viking-mystery-59648019/?no-ist, it was established that the Vikings were traders first … and when   economic times became bleak, they had give up trading … in the conventional sense.  

That is when they began going into different lands … And, yeah, things got a bit disruptive.  Well, I know this.  The folks I went to high school with were goodhearted people who were ready to fight for what was right, and they lived with zeal and vision.  The only complaint I have is that none of us ever received our helmets with the horns on the side.  Bummer.

http://www.bownet.org/vikingsexploration/FamousViking%20Explorers.htm

 

 

Fiction Fragment Series: Wilder Man & Cold

This post is part of the Fiction Fragment Series; this edition, “Wilder Man & Cold”

Colorado Backcountry Berthoud Pass / weknowsnow.com
Wood Stove
My wood burning stove

Around 5am he stumbled out of the sleep … somewhat like a man emerging from a heavily wooded forest … looked out the hut-window, saw night and snow.  His relative-friend, Melancholy, spoke to him from inside, triggered by darkness and cold outside.  He closed the old faded heavy wool curtain, shutting out the out, guarding the in.  The man was cold.  And the coldness he felt in his soul was … weighty.  His coldness was piercingly emphasized by the winter darkness, by the snow-cold.  The cast iron wood burning stove, immovable, was also cold, showing indifference with the man in this hut.    If a fire was laid, and started, then the stove would heat up, and give heat … to the man in this hut.  If there was no fire, then the stove would stay cold.  The man acknowledged the stove, in its indifference, and grabbed kindling, sticks, small log, and placed it all, intentionally, inside the stove.    Match, lit, its flame brought to a six-inch stick, and the man in the hut edged the burning stick was into the stove, to light the kindling, to bring about some fire.  His anxietous sense of urgency began to diminish.  He stoked the fire.  The warmth permeated his isolated, Siberian-like being.  A new urgency materialized, a passionate need for coffee.  With a similar focus, a sacred and fine tuned focus, the eccentric man in the hut began the detailed requirements for bringing an excellent cup of Mud to the appointed cup.  The cup was eventually filled with the nectar from coffee beans.  The man returned to the wood burning stove and tended to the fire; and then tended to his heart and soul.  The cold had lost some of its power.  But the battles would continue, until the other side of heaven.  And, he knew that.  He knew that all too well.

 

The Boys are Asking Questions

Hey, Guys … I have wanted to write this post for a while.  This is for men; this is for the sons who need good men to be in their life; this is for women who can encourage men as they feel led.  And just as importantly: this is for the young people in our generation, in our lives, who desperately need something, like support, like a “Hello”.   Years ago, I worked with at-risk kiddos: both boys and girls; mostly adolescents.  I remember in a group we were having at the group home, one boy was responding to my words that his participation in the group without screaming profanity was very important to everyone.  His words were:

“Who Cares?!!”

Here is what he meant:

 

 

No One Cares Depression Overcoming Depression Quotes

 

The question, “Who cares?!”, I learned is not meant as a question, but a statement.  After the boy asked that question, I answered him: “I care.”  He looked at me, rolled his eyes, and said  “It wasn’t a question.”  There are two other questions that were “asked” often:

“What difference does it make?”

“So WHAT?!  What are YOU … going to do?”

These two questions were like the first one: statements.

Okay, my point is this.  One of the dynamics that was going on, and maybe the kiddo did not even realize it, was this … in my own description:

A boy throws out a question that is really a sneer,  another version of

“F _ _ _ Y _ _”. 

The question / statement is also meant as a dare.  My paraphrase, instead of “Who Cares?”, what is meant is this:  I DARE YOU TO CARE!  Don’t tell me you care, because I’ve heard it all before by mean people, and didn’t care.  You say you care, but I am going to go run from this place, and … guess what?  You’ll never see me again!  Do you know how many stinking counselors I’ve had since I was ten, when Social Services took me away from my parents?  No, don’t tell me you care.  I know better.”

I’m going to add one statement to those three questions:

“I don’t care.”

The big picture, guys, is that this area of discussion is a big mess.  Our society has betrayed our kiddos.  If you were to invest into a kiddo, one of your hurdles would be to give that kiddo a reason to care.  Another hurdle: to show that you actually do care ( in response to the question).  And it will probably take a while.  Another hurdle: get a handle on how you are going to answer the other question, “What are you going to do?”  If you say you are going to do something, then do it.

Don’t promise what you cannot deliver. 

For their question about “difference” … that’s a tough one.  Our kiddos today need to see the difference, because talk … is … cheap.

And, my last encouragement, guys, is this.  As men (not kids / adolescents) we have our own “stuff”.  Maybe some of you are saying to yourselves right now,

“I … Don’t … Care.”

If you do not care, then forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.  Let me rephrase that:

PLEASE …

forget about investing into the life of a kiddo.

If its your son or you daughter, that is a different story but the importance of caring is no less important.  If you are doing the “I don’t care”, then you need to … somehow … get your butt from the stagnant pool of toxic emotions where you are sitting in, to some dry ground, where you will stand firm, and stand in the gap, and fight for your son and your daughter.  You are needed now.  Let’s do this.  This could be one of your finest hours.

 

 

You GOT TO MOVE, Man!

Rolling Creek Trail, late afternoon.  The trail curved a bit to my right, which was south-west.  I started to hear the water.  After about 10 to 15 yards, the trail headed downward, and I could see Rolling Creek flowing from the west, moving at a good rate of speed.  I stopped when I reached the creek, took a knee, dipped my left hand down into the icy cold water, and splashed my face a few times.  I know that some fellas have their system conditioned in such a way that they can actually drink the water from the fast-moving creeks.  I don’t understand that; and I do not foresee that happening with me anytime in the near future.  But dousing my face with water from the Rolling Creek has never been a problem.

I remember a professor who said this, my paraphrase:

“I would much rather my students drink from a rushing creek, than from a pool of stagnant water.”

What he was talking about, when I first heard those words, was his integrity as a teacher.  “Prepare for the teaching you will be doing for your students.  They deserve nothing less.  If you do not come prepared, they will know it, even if you don’t know … that you are ill prepared.”

The moving creek, versus the stagnant pool.

We have to keep moving.  No way around it.

Bear Conflict … Resolution???

I was not looking for any trouble.  ‘Serious.  But, I did try to sneak one in … through the wildlife neighborhood.  Tuesday nights I get the trash ready for the pickup on Wednesday morning.  Throughout the winter I brought out the heavy-lidded containers Tuesday night, with a great appreciation for this “hibernation” thing that bears do.

Summer has crept in, as I crept out with my trash containers each Tuesday night.  As of last week, “so far, so good”.  But tonight, my daughter came to me with some sparkle in her eyes, a mischievous smile, “Dad … I think there is a bear out there.  Stash (dog) is going nuts out there on the big deck.  I think I heard something down by the road, beating up on your garbage cans.”

I drove down in the jeep.  As soon as I saw the can laying on its side, its contents spilling out, I saw a black shape move behind, looking at me with his glowing eyes and his bear-smirk, and then he tore off through the trees. The plan was to get out, get the trash container back together again.  The bungee chords didn’t seem to be effective.  As I sat in the driver’s seat, looking around through the trees, my courage had an apparent deficit.
*I did not get a picture of the bear, but I went on line to find one that I thought might be similar … So, the picture below is NOT the bear that came to bother me last night; only a picture of a bear.

I had a tall metal red stick with me.  I have no doubt, whatsoever, that the stick was worthless, for this situation.  Finally, I stepped out, gazed into the trees.   I thought I would see Bear, peering at me through the trees.  Its  probably best that I didn’t see him.  Bear would be laughing, or posturing.  I knew this was ridiculous to drag my feet getting the can upright.  Once the garbage can was all set, I got back in the jeep, drove up the road looking for Bear.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

A remote-control camera captured this image of a black bear at Tonto National Monument in 2009.

http://cronkitenews.asu.edu/assets/images/11/08/24-bears-tonto-full.jpg

 The home up the road, two houses down, had the evidence of Bear’s visit: two garbage cans, with much more of a mess than what was the case with my two garbage cans.  I turned around, drove back … homeward.  When I came over the hill, heading down, I saw the same trash can down, Bear walking away, not running … No, not running … just walking away toward the woods on the other side of the road, looking right at me.

This time, I jumped out of the jeep with my tall red stick, sprinted toward the bear, jumped on him, grabbed the hair of his head, and bit his ear.

HA!  Can you imagine?  No, I didn’t do that.  But I wanted to.  I was really ticked that the jerk came right back, less than 10 minutes later.  No, that’s not right.  This time my wife came up with a good idea that I had forgotten about: ammonia.  Yessss!  I went up to the house, procured the ammonia, came back, served a good helping, and I won’t know if it worked until tomorrow morning.  I’m not going out there again tonight.  As for “conflict resolution”?  No, I’m not interested.  But, I may have to re-think the whole garbage-can situation.

 

 

 

Cuppa Coffee and a Ponderosa Pine

Yesterday morning, with coffee, surveyed the forest, stretching back and upward along the slope of the mountain.  I studied one tree in particular, a Ponderosa Pine, one of several I have sized-up countless times.   It goes up around 75 feet; 14 inches in diameter.  I have known that the tree needs to come down, but its a beautiful tree, or a handsome tree, one or another.  It is a large tree for my eyes; stands like a bull in a china shop.  East, ten feet away, is the roof.  North, fifty feet, is a power line.  South, twenty feet, runs the phone line. That leaves west.  And even then, the phone line on the south and the power line on the north converge, at an angle,  at the pole (west).

I will cut this Ponderosa Pine six feet above the ground and it will miss the lines that come together at the pole, in theory.  I will use three guide ropes.  One is a tow chain.  The guide ropes will pull the tree downward, into the four-foot space between two aspens, in theory.  After I tie off the guide ropes, I go inside and sip some coffee, tempted to stop this insanity.   I consider this venture risky for an inexperienced woodsman. I drink more coffee, review, reassess, and consider these factors:

  1. A professional tree service?  Too expensive;
  2. The tree is too close to the house, and must come down;
  3. I want to get this done, as painful and as intimidating this may be;
  4. I have everything covered, as long as I cut the tree down correctly;
  5. Finally, I am a wilderman, and wildermen all over the world are depending on me to go for it (sounds a bit grandiose).

There is another slight complication: my chainsaw it not running well, and I cannot depend on it until I get a tune-up and a new chainsaw blade.  Therefore, I will be using my axe and my wedges.

After the fastidious, slow, axe-work, front and back, it is time to go to the ropes.  I begin pulling with a slow, rhythmic, technique, increasing the force, the ponderosa pine swaying further and further, until I hear the first “CRACK!”.  My heart is beating a bit faster, and I wonder if I am about to die. When the tree snaps, there will be less than five seconds before the tree slams against the ground.  I will run at the right time, in the right direction, to the right place, without tripping.  The tree is swaying with more intensity now.  I listen as I continue to pull the tree, and .

“CRACK!” . . .

 An ominous sound it is.  The tree is coming for me.  I sprint northwest, twenty feet, crouch behind two Ponderosa, and watch the mammoth tree, seemingly in slow motion, collide with the earth.  Dirt and needles and branches are flying.  The sound is powerful.

I come to the conclusion that, amidst my thankfulness that there has been no property damage nor injuries, I will seek the assistance of some other seasoned wildermen woodsmen if I have another tree experience so challenging.  I go back inside and I make some fresh coffee.  And I will use three guide ropes.

 

 

 

 

You Are … Here

When I was a kiddo, my parents took me and my  brothers to a place on the vacation circuit called “Six Flags Over Texas”.  WOW!  Amazing.  It was magical.   I suppose it was a small-scale similarity to Disney Land / Disney World.  There was so much to do.  There were maps posted throughout the park.  On every map there was an arrow and a caption that read “You Are Here”.  That three-word proclamation made it a bit easier to get to where we wanted to go.

“You Are Here”

This post comes about from a mix of thoughts:

  • Taking action;
  • Being realistic about where we are and what we are dealing with;
  • Authenticity required to fully embrace the “here-and-now”;
  • Battle with ourselves, with our world we live in (at times);
  • Encouragement needed for us to keep pressing on, to “be here”.

Well, that is a partial list.  Another thought is … that because you are in the bloggers’ realm, you are a writer of some sort.  What goes along with writing?

  • Sacrificing some socialization for the craft of writing;
  • The courage to be still, and think about ourselves, what is important to us, what is painful, what stirs up emotions;
  • The potential for discouragement, because … good writing is not easy.

Again, a partial list.  In my adventure, and in my desert, there is a great tension: being “here”, versus moving forward.  Stagnation stinks.  Metaphorically, the stagnant water on the side of a creek stinks.  One college professor stated that he wanted his students to sip from the clear, fast-moving water of a creek, as opposed to a dark and murky pool of stagnant water.  His point?  That he always wanted to be prepared to give his students something worthwhile, as opposed to something stale, and mediocre.  So, part of my “here” is knowing that: my laptop is getting old and will need replacing; we have to get down the mountain into our little town 20 minutes away through the deep snow on the roads so I can get some gas for my snow blower; and then at some point come back afterward and get the old beast cranked up and snow blow for an hour or so; and I’ll end this list with … my own battle of self versus my Seasonal Affect Disorder.  That’s the way it is, for me, during winter.  But, it is “here”.  And we have all heard these words: “Its really good to be here, folks.”