Tag Archives: Vacation

The Art of War

If you read my last post, you’ll know that a few weeks ago I visited The Wild Animal Sanctuary outside of Denver, Colorado.

A big part of what that facility does is to rehabilitate animals that have been mistreated, many of whom have been raised in isolation, away from members of their own kind.  The goal of the Sanctuary is for their resident lions to roam in prides as they would naturally, but many of these creatures must first be acclimated to the presence of other lions.

Toward this goal, one of the two enclosures where the residents are visible to visitors at close range is the purpose built Lion House, a roofed and climate controlled facility where individual cats may be kept temporarily in close quarters with their neighbors, until they are ready to join one of the many prides on site.

And that brings us to our little drama.

Access to the Lion House is via the same high catwalk as the rest of the facility, where visitors are elevated to a distance above the lions which is safe for the humans and non-threatening for the lions.

Unfortunately, no one appeared to have explained these rules to this pigeon.

Lion curious about pigeon

The interested lioness in this photo was very VERY invested in figuring a way to get that bird out from between the wire enclosure and outer wall of the structure.

Less interested in the avian intruder was this fine lady, who I think was just wanting a nice bit of a nap.

resting lion

Seconds later the exuberance of the one lioness sent her bounding into the personal space of her roommate, and for a few seconds all manner of hell broke loose.

Somehow, as these powerful creatures spun and rolled and leapt into each other, I managed to keep shooting, not knowing if I was getting anything at all, given the low level of available light and the sudden speed of action.

lion leaping into fight

And what I got definitely wasn’t something you’d see in National Geographic…,

two lions fighting

But honestly, I think these shots tell the story better than perfectly lit, tack sharp exposures could ever have done.  This is as much about what it looked like, as how it felt, when these two powerful forces of nature clashed.

No one was injured, by the way, except perhaps the pride of the pigeon hunter.

And maybe the pigeon.

I didn’t see him at all when we swung back by a couple hours later.


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Filed under Art, Nature, Photography

It’ll have to go.

I took twenty days away from work.

It wasn’t enough.

Or it was too much…, I’m still not sure.

I’d an entire list of things I wanted to get done in that time.

Instead, I found myself working off of someone else’s list.

So the time is gone and I’m back on the job.

But everything there feels uncertain.


Spoke to my mother this evening.

Wanted to wish her a happy Mothers Day.

Also, there was rough weather where she lives.

She was irritable, after having driven through the deluge.

She got a speeding ticket and money is growing tight.

Oh, and her favorite show didn’t record.

The whole universe is out to get her.


Sometimes the universe throws things at us.

Mostly, though, we just do it to ourselves.


When times get tough…,

Some people turn to the Bible for reassurance.

When I’m feeling down, I turn instead, to the word of the late Douglas Adams.

His is a scripture filled with more joy and truth than any holy text I have thus far encountered.

In Chapter 10 of ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’, he describes the people of the planet Krikkit, a world surrounded by a cloud of dust so thick that not a single star has ever shone in their sky.  They have lived lives of quiet tranquility, never wondering about their place in the universe because they had no reason to think anything at all existed beyond their own small world.

Driven, nearly mad by an encounter with something that seems to have fallen inexplicably from beyond their featureless sky, they build a ship and rocket themselves into the heavens.

They flew out of the cloud.

They saw the staggering jewels of the night in their infinite dust and their minds sang with fear.

For a while they flew on, motionless against the starry sweep of the Galaxy, itself motionless against the infinite sweep of the Universe.  And then they turned round.

“It’ll have to go,” the men of Krikkit said as they headed back for home.

On the way back they sang a number of tuneful and reflective songs on the subjects of peace, justice, morality, culture, sport, family life and the obliteration of all other life forms.

—Douglas Adams


The universe isn’t out to get us.

More often than not, we seem to be the ones trying to do away with it.

Small wonder we run into so much trouble along the way.

Rage Against The Sky

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Filed under Culture, Family, Literature, Modern Life, Philosophy, Religion


Sorry this post is late, I was elsewhere.

Sometimes you just need to take a step away from the everyday.

The brain needs, if not a rest, then to find something unimportant to occupy it’s attentions.  The body, likewise, grows every bit as weary of our daily routine, as the grey matter that drives it.  The muscles yearn to bend some other way, the lungs are wanting for different airs.

And so we leave.

We pack up the car and we drive until we find something that will take our minds away from troubles, chores, duties and drudgery.  We travel until the air feels different and the substance of sight and sound bring with them a hint of the unfamiliar.

We go elsewhere.

Elsewhere can be found in any number of places, but this weekend we found it in the woods north of Houston, at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Wait, why do I always end up looking like a drunken idiot in these pictures. The Sangria/Margarita Swirls notwithstanding, this is why I never want to “smile for the camera.”

Think of it as a vacation within a vacation.  I’ve taken two weeks off to deal with everything from Samhain festivities to chores that have run behind to getting a new start on some old remodeling projects that have begin to go quite stagnate.

Work, work, and more work!

However nice it will feel to be finally caught up on a few projects, I could not deny a deep need for some genuine leisure time.  And so, a hastily planned trip down to Lake Conroe and a day spent wandering around the Faire: eating, drinking, shopping, watching shows, and otherwise doing as much nothing as humanly possible.

Good music, assorted crafts and the occasional creepy living statue — what more could you want?

I promise, the ‘Ded Bob Sho’ (left) is among the best and funniest at the Faire. Hrothgar, son of Healfdene, however, seems unamused.

It’s been several years since I’ve walked those grounds and a lot has changed in my absence.  For one thing the Faire is open much later into the evening now and is capped off with a nightly fireworks show more impressive then any I have seen in some years.

The slogan of the place (or is it a motto?) is “Lift up your cares”.

I’m not sure about “lifting them up” but walking around those grounds, it is certainly easier to set them aside for a little while.  It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stuff of the everyday.  One thing stacks up atop another until you can’t see your way out.

My advice.

Take some time…,


MAKE some time.  Push the stacks of “stuff” over, step over the resulting heap (eyes front, don’t look down), and get away for a day or two (or more, if you can manage).

Find your Elsewhere.


The Fireworks at TRF

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Filed under Culture, Modern Life, Travel

Sunrise and the Forest Lord

Sometimes I think that we are, all of us, hunters of time.

We stand on some lonesome plateau, small temporary things with spears at the ready, and the moments go stampeding past us in their infinite multitude.  They pass us by without so much as a glance in our direction.  We are no threat to them.

They are forever, and we shall soon be gone.

Once in a while though, if we are careful…,

and quiet…,

and lucky…,

we may just take down a few of those passing moments.

I am taking a bit of a break from the blogging this week and instead I’m thinking back to my vacation to the Pacific Northwest back in September.  It is difficult for me to believe that it has already been a couple months since I was hiking those high trails.  Time is fleeting and the moments move very quickly this time of year.

I have yet to fully examine all the photos I took while there, but I thought I would share these with you.  Sunrise on the slopes of Mt. Rainier.

Moments stolen, which I am willing to share, but will never willingly give back.

And then there was this moment.

Finding myself face to face with a great elk and not more than a dozen yards of open ground between us.  He turned to look at me just as I released the shutter, capturing the moment but not the feeling of awe in my heart.

As I lowered the camera he held my gaze for a moment more and pawed at the earth, warning me to approach no closer.  Saying a silent prayer to the Forest Lord who’s very image seemed to stand before me, I backed away, quietly.

Moments like these are rare.  We must savor them while we can.
And then be watchful for those that will follow.

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Filed under Modern Life, Nature, Photography, Spiritual Journey, Travel

The Mechanics of Flight

Vacation time is upon us and my girlfriend and I have been caught in a flurry of activity as we prepare for a few days hiking in the Cascades.  The bills have been paid, house sitters are arranged and pets have been seen to, but there are still many things to do before we catch our flight in a few days.

“Catch our flight?”

It seems like such a casual way of describing one of the true miracles of the modern age.

It is astounding to me sometimes, the things we take for granted.  We are captivated (however briefly) with the features of the newest smartphone but the ability to transport ourselves across landmasses and oceans has slipped almost beneath our notice.  No destination is too remote for us these days.  We’ll just “Catch a flight.”

We act as if we can simply will ourselves into the heavens like Kryptonians under the light of a yellow sun.

Have you ever wondered if this guy gets bugs in his teeth?

It’s not that easy.

There are some very real mechanics involved in the magic of flight.

Rituals, oft taken for granted, which must be followed.

“On a day Fotis came running to me in great fear, and said that her mistress, to work her sorceries on such as she loved, intended the night following to transform herself into a bird, and to fly whither she pleased. Wherefore she willed me privily to prepare myself to see the same. And when midnight came she led me softly into a high chamber, and bid me look through the chink of a door: where first I saw how she put off all her garments, and took out of a certain coffer sundry kinds of boxes, of the which she opened one, and tempered the ointment therein with her fingers, and then rubbed her body therewith from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, and when she had spoken privily with her self, having the candle in her hand, she shaked parts of her body, and behold, I perceived a plume of feathers did burgen out, her nose waxed crooked and hard, her nails turned into claws, and so she became an owl. Then she cried and screeched like a bird of that kind, and willing to prove her force, moved her self from the ground by little and little, til at last she flew quite away.”

—Lucius Apuleius – Metamorphoses

Of course, Flying Ointment is harder to come by these days and transforming into a bird still leaves one with some pretty serious range limitations.  At least when we board an airliner we know that we can bring along a change of clothes in our carry-on luggage.

Why pay $10 for an inflight meal when mice are free and plentiful?

In lieu of arcane transmutation, we shall observe the modern rituals required for flight.

We begin with the indignity of the security pat-down from the ill-tempered man with the blue gloves.  This is followed by the headlong rush to the gate, only to discover that our flight has been delayed.  Soon thereafter will come the moments of trepidation as we watch other passengers boarding, wondering if we’ll be stuck next to the large sweaty fellow who has no concept of personal space, or the mother of the incessantly bawling infant.  And finally, we shall greet that moment when blood flows prickling into our legs once again as we walk on our own numb feet out of the plane and into the chaos of an unfamiliar terminal.

The ancient gods of Ireland are said to have arrived on a mountaintop in a white mist. Likely this is because they knew better than to try and navigate their way around Dublin Airport.

These rituals, however burdensome, are very necessary.  Should we fail to observe these rites and protocols, we would have almost nothing to say about the experience of flight at all.

It is not as if boarding a 150,000 pound aircraft with a 112 foot wingspan and being rocketed 30,000 feet into the air by engines producing more than 25,000 pounds of thrust is actually boring.  We simply “choose” to be bored by it.

Perception is reality and the reality in this case is that we WANT to be bored by flight.  The best kinds of flights are the uneventful ones where we never have to actually think about the insanity of what we are doing.  We do better when we focus on the tedium and leave the mechanics of flight to the pilots and engineers.

We are not birds who may take to the skies with so little effort.  For our kind, flight requires a blend of science, ritual and the communal effort to alter our perception of reality just long enough to arrive at our destination, sanity intact.

The most revealing moment of any flight comes after the plane has landed and taxied to the gate.  The seatbelt sign clicks off and everyone lurches upward as quickly as possible, wedging themselves uncomfortably into the isle.  The truth of human flight is exposed in that simple moment when all your fellow passengers reveal just how desperate they are to get out of that contraption.

Now, if you’d all please fasten your seat belts and return your seats to the upright position.  Thank you.

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Filed under Magic, Modern Life, Travel