If your horse should suddenly fall apart one day, I
am likely not the first person you should call to help you reassemble the parts
into a horse again.First of all, I
might try to make a dog because I like dogs better than horses.Secondly, my knowledge of anatomy is limited.I know the end that eats and I know the end
that poops.That is about the extent of
I read that a horse has 205 bones.A dog has 319 bones.A human is comprised of 206 bones.We (humans) are actually born with far more
than 206 bones, but some of them fuse together as we grow.In the long run we end up with 206.
We (humans) also all start out in the womb sexed as a
female, but that is another story.
A deer has a pile of bones.That is…I found a pile of them yesterday
while on a long walk near my house.
Honestly, a pile.
Seemed to me that most everything was there
too.Big bones.Little bones.Bones that looked like alien spacecraft.Bones that might work on a machine used for extruding plastic blobs into
cups.Bones extruded from a plastics
machine. All in one spot.A bit jumbled.
With less thought than might actually be required
for such a thing, I removed my shirt, fashioned a kind of bag from it, gingerly
gathered most of the bones, and then stuffed the bones inside the make-shift
bag.I carried the bones for about a
quarter of a mile inside my shirt.I had
in mind the thought that I might reassemble them into a more deerlike thing in
a more appealing spot.
I did not mean for this to be an exercise macabre.I am not sure what I meant.Sometimes I am all instinct (maybe nonsense).
My apologies to the deer.
I have posted my efforts at reconstruction a
quarter-mile from my initial gathering.
Music leaks from the heavens as stars swish through
the night.To hear the stars, to decipher
the song, you must first capture the proper numbers in your hands and then cup
the numbers against your ears.
By day, the wind-struck trees hum and the walls of
the stone-canyons whistle softly.And
there is a song where eagles fragment the clouds as they pass through, where
insects flex clear wings against window panes, where white stones fall into the
green sea, where a single blade of awnless bromegrass sways against the first
full moon of summer.
There is music where the morning sun warms your neck
and forearm—that, the song you feel.
Today I am posting a photograph (an extreme
close-up) of a stump I discovered in one of the gullies near my home a few days
ago.For whatever reason, I had never
walked up this gully in my fifty-plus years of exploring the ranchlands.
The gnarled appearance of the stump amazed me.Some weird disease or genetic anomaly must
have struck the tree.But the tree grew
to considerable size.Two men would have
been required to reach all the way around the base.And the tree must have been of some use
because the tree was felled many years ago—long before my time.
And while one half of the stump was wholly rotten,
so much so you could poke a finger into the crumbling wood, the other half remained
fairly sturdy.Having been protected
from the elements, the sturdy side displayed some striking patterns and mixes
of color.Though I attempted a lot of
views, this extreme close-up pleased me most of all.
While the dangers of electric shock are widely
understood—or at a minimum feared—the hazards presented by arcing faults are
not fully grasped by those outside the electrical industry.Arcing faults become exponentially bigger and
more frightening as you approach the power provider supply lines and the
sources of electricity.
Most of us like to think of the danger presented by
electricity in terms of volts.When
someone suggests, for instance, that they are working on a 480-volt system, the
inclination is to whistle as an expression of respect or wonderment.But it is the amperage, the actual measure of
current flow that creates the blast at the point of a circuit fault.
And that is the point…we are talking about an actual
Fact is, you can be killed by an arc flash and never
receive an electric shock at all.
How can that be?
Consider the following facts:
temperature at the point of an arcing electrical fault can reach 35,000°F,
something near four times the temperature of the surface of the sun.
copper involved at the points of arcing will vaporize and expand to 67,000 times
the volume of solid copper.
will be expelled in all directions at a rate of about 700 miles-per-hour.
initial sound shockwave is nearly the equivalent of a 12-guage shotgun blast.
All of this in a fraction of a fraction of a
second.And sometimes, the arcing event
goes on and on.I have posted a video of
a substation melting-down to illustrate the awesome power released at an arcing
I got to thinking about my father.My father took a baseball line-drive to his
face while just a boy and required false teeth for the rest of his life.He never swore in front of me when I was a
kid—not even when I became an adult.Later in life, he met women (yes, more than one) in smalltown bars and
And that was his downfall.
Not the women.
My father’s downfall was rooted in his need to have
at least three or four last drinks at the end (and eventually at the beginning)
of each day.
Today, I have posted a copy of a photogram I
produced while attending a photography class at Montana State University.Photograms are produced by placing objects
on light sensitive materials and then exposing the objects and sensitive
materials to a limited source of light.
In the case of this photogram, I held a 60 watt
light bulb against a sheet of 8 x 10 black and white photographic paper and
then exposed the paper to the light from a photographic enlarger in a darkroom.
Black and white art.
Well, a certain amount of chemical development was
also required to bring forth an image on the paper.
At one time I had darkroom equipment and all the
fixings to develop my own black and white film and produce my own images.But today I am digital.Though reluctant to give up my old SLR film
camera and all the associated equipment, the ease of digital photography and
the scarcity of film stock pushed me to the electronic side.By 2009 even Kodak stopped selling 35mm color
I am happily here today, but still retain a few of
my negative shadows.
This afternoon I stepped outside to take a break
from working.I stood out in the sun and
the new green grass thinking of how your laugh sometimes feels like cool water
pouring over me. Soon, two white butterflies began to waltz all around me.Martha, there is nothing in this world that
needs to be added to that to make it any better.
The yellow glacier lily ranges from Alberta and
British Columbia to Colorado and Utah in the Rocky Mountains.Glacier lilies are the first of the prolific
flowers to emerge along the meadow and forest floors at my cabin.While admiring a patch of the flowers along
the roadside yesterday, one in particular caught my attention.I thought, “Hey…that looks like John Travolta
I have posted pictures for your comparison.You decide for yourself.
A raucous rainstorm drove me and my wife under the
half of the house I had finished sheathing only a few days earlier.We stood there in the semi-dry watching a stiff
rain drive down through the open trusses on the half of the house I had framed
but not yet roofed.The plywood decking
on the floor there quickly puddled with water and floated sawdust into occasional
islands.A summertime chill brought my
wife and me into an embrace as we watched the bruised sky and the rain.The air filled with the scent of damp wood
and exposed earth come wet.
“Will the rain hurt the floor?” my wife asked me.
“No,” I answered.“The house will survive this.”
We had been married for almost six years that summer.We spent that entire spring, summer and fall
building our own house.And inside the
framing of the very wall we stood next to during that rainstorm, I tacked some
photos, some paper money and some trinkets just before the drywall went up.
All of those artifacts are still there.And the roof truss signed in carpenter’s
pencil by me and my buddies as a birthday present for my wife is still standing
firm where we set it place above the living room.Only my wife is gone—gone on this very day
two years ago.
How could we know then, as we embraced during that
storm, that in that very spot where we huddled together against the
chill—nineteen years later—I would hold her hand as she faded away?
photograph Uyen took of our house a few days before the rain in 1991.
You might think that I would tire of driving by Lake
Helena almost every single day on my trips to town.You might think I would tire of taking
pictures of the same subject over and over again.But you know what...not now, not ever..
After working with my computer and developing
training related to the National Electrical Code for the
better part of seven hours here at my house, I decided to take a long walk
along the various connecting roads and deer trails in the open range
surrounding my home.About a half-hour
into my hike, I came upon what turned out to be the end of the trail for a deer.
I paused there at the scene of one more crime.
I snapped a photograph with my Droid.
As I walked on a little more, the thought occurred
to me that, in less than a fistful of days, I will reach the exact two-year
mark since the passing of my sweet and ever-calm wife.I reflected on how her stupid body would not
even allow her to sit up in bed, thought she really wanted to.I thought about those last days when I made
her comatose with drops that I placed like precious jewels onto her
tongue.I remembered how I squeezed at
her fingers as she expelled her very last breath and let go. And then I thought about how I looked over to
our daughter, standing there on the other side of the bed, and said, “She is
Two strangers came in the dark of night and took my
wife away from me.
Somewhere on a trail not far from the end of the
line for that deer, a great sorrow overwhelmed me.I stopped walking and began sobbing outright
there in full sunlight.I cannot explain
the depth of the sorrow I felt.I can only say that the weight of it eventually
dropped me to my knees.I covered my
face with my hands and wept, and wept, and wept until I could weep no more.
I just wish she had been able to go beautifully.
I have plans to make new of all the old relics that
crashed in my old life.My sorrow for
then does not diminish what I feel for others now.I am still whole.I have room to grow.But sometimes, when I am pulled back, the
sorrow is overwhelming.
After my episode of sadness, I pulled myself upright
and started walking again through the blue grama and sage.A meadowlark trilled from a nearby juniper
snag.And I had not gone all that far
before a pretty stone caught my eye.I
picked up the stone and rubbed at it.
Lovely.Smooth.Rainbowed with colors.Both ancient and new.
I thought about how, as third-grade boy, I invited
my very first “girlfriend” over to my house so she could see my rock
collection.I recalled how my daughter’s
husband won her over with the presentation of a pretty rock he found on their
first hike together.
I walked on, rubbing the stone in my right hand and
enjoying the completeness of just that one small thing.
Yesterday morning, I found the Helena (Prickly Pear)
Valley in half-light as I drove from my house into Helena to have a cup of
coffee with a friend.Here is one of the
images I captured before I dropped into the valley and crossed to the far side.
As a longtime electrician, I have come to have a
pretty reasonable understanding of the men and women involved in our craft.Electricians tend to be a bit shrill regarding
issues such as job-site conditions, safety, rushed schedules and that sort of
thing.They also have an inordinate
amount of opinions (usually expressed in the form of objections) about nearly
everything.Mostly, they do not like to
see changes in the way things are done.If, for example, you try to teach a standard issue electrician some new way
of bending a conduit offset (other than the way he has done for the last
umpteen years) the standard issue electrician will either laugh at you with
derision or immediately run you away from the vicinity.
Quite often, the electricians of today might be the
second or even third generation of their family involved in the craft.I am such.My father was an electrician.Many methods of performing tasks pass down from generation to generation.Apprenticeship—that is, learning directly
from someone who has years of practical experience—also tends to “institutionalize”
methods and ideas.
One change, however, has been eagerly adopted by
electricians.This change has to do with
the best methods for resuscitating someone following electric shock of some
other worksite calamity.I will not trouble
you with the preferred method of today.But here is the method once prescribed in The American Electrician’s
Handbook published by McGraw Hill in 1942:
RESUSCITATION FROM ELECTRIC SHOCK By Frederick Koliz, MD
1st. Lay the patient on his back, 2 Move the tongue back and forth in the mouth
by seizing it with a handkerchief or the fingers, while working the arms to
induce respiration. 3. Don’t pour anything down the patient’s throat. 4. Try
to cause the patient to gasp by inserting the first and second fingers in the
rectum, and pressing them suddenly and forcibly toward the back. 5. If
possible, procure oxygen gas, and try to get it into the lungs during the efforts
at artificial respiration…
I was told, just the other day, that I do not eat
beautifully.I bite my fork, which will
eventually damage my teeth.Biting my
fork also sounds like a car crash in miniature.As a bottom line on this, I make un-food-like noises as I eat.
I suppose that I am a workmanlike in my intake.
Retrieving foodstuff from my plate, I tend to go
about it (as a friend refers to any unorganized activity) like a man killing
snakes.I swoop in from all angles.I roll morsels around on my bowl willy-nilly.I clash my utensils against the plate and indelicately
scoop things up.I drop bits of this and
that to the table.On occasion, salad
might be flung far and wide.Often, I
wear splashes of my food for the rest of the day.
I do not eat beautifully, but I am reasonably normal