The end of Angry August

I’ve always been interested in all of the nuances of working summers up here in the Great North. The novel that I am working on explores some of these quirks, one of which is referred to as “Angry August.” After working and living together for several months, tensions often build to the boiling point. By the time August rolls around, the shit hits the fan. People fight, they quit, and some say “fuck it!” and head home. Read more

The Dog Days of Summer

A few days ago, I headed out for my daily walk along the McCarthy Creek Trail, and  I heard someone whistle for their dog. I instantly turned toward the whistler, then realized that I had turned before it had registered in my brain.

“I’m a good dog,” I thought to myself, with a measure of pride. “I come when I’m called.”

McCarthy is a town quite devoted to its dogs, and it’s rare to find a dog who isn’t happy, but as I continued my walk it occurred to me that comparing one’s self with a dog is typically an insult, and then I recalled my recent red-eye flight to Anchorage, a flight where the flight attendants and passengers alike were a bit cranky and out of sorts. Read more

Smokey lake on a brisk Alaskan fall morning

20161005_084110.jpg

Coldest morning of our camping trip in the Kenai. The weather has been good to us, despite how late it is in the season. By Alaskan standards, snow can fly at any time in October, so we were pushing it to try to squeeze in one more week, but the weather has been fantastic. I’ve have been in McCarthy since March — not even so much as a trip to Glennallen (the closest town, four hours away) in the last seven months — so it’s been enriching to me to get out and explore! This pic is from a campsite in the Kenai Wildlife Preserve, Kelly Lake, where we were the only campers. Fog in the early morning makes the lake look smokey and mysterious.

Vanlife

Taking a few days to tour the Kenai Peninsula. The weather has been amazing, especially here in Homer, where the bright sunny beaches make me feel like I’m already back in California. This is the view from our campsite in Homer (out the back of our rented mini-van), where we can see the Pacific Ocean spread out before us in a campground we have all to ourselves.

20161006_102459.jpg
#vanlife

The sign of the prophet Jonas

I’m on a train, public transportation in the South Bay area, i.e., Silicon Valley. Typically it’s a fairly dull ride with the typical variety of office suites and manicured bushes passing me by. The passengers getting on and off are, by and large, heading to their tech jobs, Macbooks on laps, buds wedged in ears, and phones at the ready.

Read more

Rugged McCarthy Road gets upgrade amid outcry over public process

image

Here’s an article that tells you a bit about my little corner of the world. Someone in the article calls McCarthy the last frontier of the last frontier.” (Alaska’s state tag line is “the last frontier.”)….But just to clarify, I don’t know where the article gets their numbers for a summer population of 25k:  “The McCarthy area has a permanent population of about 45 but swells to about 25,000 with the tourists and workers of summer, according to the local newspaper…” I haven’t seen em….Note: The above photo was taken some time in the middle of the night.

http://www.adn.com/article/20140802/rugged-mccarthy-road-gets-upgrade-amid-outcry-over-public-process

Free markets: a grain of truth

Back from Africa. Here in Alaska. So far. So good. So great, in fact.

The job is great. I am in a new place, working as the office manager for a small, independently owned business. The town of McCarthy. Year round population: 22.

I’ve been doing a bit of research for the purpose of doing a bit of writing for the purpose of a six day writers workshop here in McCarthy. The workshop promises to be promising, with some talented folks collaborating to lead the dance. So I’m trying to pull together some good pieces. They will, I hope eventually wind up in the book I’m writing.
Read more

Jambo! My journey to Africa

Jambo! Greetings to you using a common Swahili salutation. Friends, I find myself in Tanzania, Africa, 11 time zones away from Alaska, where I spent my summer. For many of you, my friends and family, it might come as quite a surprise that I am in Africa, on a long term volunteer stint. And honestly, I can hardly keep up myself these days. So, here’s the story of how I wound up in East Africa. Read more

The Road Rises

On Sunday I was “received” into the Episcopal church. Although I have been a life-long Christian, I was raised non-denominational, so I have never been a member of a denomination. Because of my desire to go into ministry and become ordained someday, I’ve been searching for the last few years for a denominational home. With the blessing of the Bishop of South Dakota, I officially became an Episcopalian. Read more

Gimme Shelter

I couldn’t sleep Friday morning, in eager anticipation of the drive to come. Instead of toss and turn for another three hours, I just hit the road at 2am. I was on my way back to Indiana, one last time, to pick up some of my material possessions held in my storage unit and attend my good friend Nicole’s wedding. Read more

Sparse and thirsty

Where I go I just don’t know. I might end up somewhere in Mexico. When I find my peace of mind, I’m gonna’ give you some of my good time. – The Red Hot Chili Peppers

This is my first day back within the tangle of the world wide webs. Sorting through emails is always quite a task after ten days of being outside of the reach of wi-fi.

Camping in south Texas was good. Time in the silence of the desert is its own kind of thing. I am most familiar with camping in the mountains, in the forest, or near bodies of water. These are the spaces of nature that are full and rich. The desert is poor and sparse, dry and dusty. A solitary person in the desert faces his or her own inner poverty. It is a lonely landscape that leaves you with nothing in the surroundings to hold the space for you. This, along with the beautiful silence of the land, creates a unique environment for introspection and spiritual reflection.

I read from The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton. “To fly into the desert in order to be extraordinary is only to carry the world with you as an implicit standard of comparison.” When Christianity became the dominant religion of Rome, the primary Christian sacrifice of martyrdom no longer existed. Some felt that Christianity had been cheapened by mass Roman endorsement. The so-called “Desert Fathers and Mothers” went into the desert to create a new way of life and cultivate a way of purity and holiness.

Merton’s book is a collection of sayings. While the desert does not make one extraordinary (in the ordinary sense of the word!), it did bring one’s soul into contact with our precious ordinariness. “Whatever you see your soul desire according to God,” says one Desert Father, “do that thing, and you shall be safe.” In other words, much of the spiritual life is trying to understand the desires of our soul, our true wishes apart from the myriad ways in which daily life with its demands pulls us apart from ourselves, from the sacred stirrings within us that we wish to be faithful to.

Travel

So, there is much travel and time for mourning and reflection in the coming days. At the moment, I am at my brother Matt’s place in Temple, Texas. My niece, Camille, keeps pushing the button to reply “Jingle Bells” on one of her toys. Infinite repeats!

Today I catch a bus for Tucson, with a three hour layover in El Paso. I’ve never been. El Paso is a boarder town. On the other side is Juarez. It will be a nice spot to do some walking and stretch before riding across New Mexico and Arizona. The west is so spacious. So big.

The memorial service for Aeyn is Sunday. So, I will have Saturday and Sunday with Aeyn’s friends and family. I really look forward to that.

Monday morning, at 1:55, I catch a train back to south Texas, Alpine. From Alpine I will hitch the 80 miles or so down to Big Bend National Park. I’ve heard it is very beautiful, and I can’t wait to hike and camp. It will be a bit bittersweet, because my friend Aeyn was originally going to join me for a few days. My brother, however, will be meeting me the next weekend, and I am really looking forward to spending time with him in Big Bend.

From Big Bend, I’m hitching up to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tamie’s Christmas present to me this year was to register me for a Richard Rohr conference, Loving the Two Halves of Life. It will be a spiritual retreat-type weekend.

After the conference, it is a train ride to Chicago, then flying out with Tamie back to Kodiak, Alaska.

Much travel. Good time in solitude.

Your prayers and thoughts are appreciated for myself, Tamie, and all of those who loved Aeyn Edwards.