Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flickring Continuations

I've placed a Flickr badge on the sidebar. It only has a few photos now, but I've found out how to use my crappy scanner. My wife's the technical genius around here, and she schooled me on it. So, this is the preliminary phase. More photos to come.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Kat and I are about to unplug from the great Web of Blue Words. We're closing on the house on Thursday, and we're going to do our best to move in on Sunday afternoon, with the help of many good friends and the aid of Taco Soup to feed this standing army. This means that, at least for a while, we'll be sans internet. It'll be difficult to get back into it, I already know, because any time I spend away from the World Wide Web (i.e., the Beast That Cannot Be Fed) only adds to my aversion to getting re-involved with it. Ah, well. I suppose I can't ignore my email forever, seeing as it's some folks' only way of keeping in touch. That means that, likely, I'll be writing here again whenever we get our big radiosonde beacon up and running, which could take a while. So, I'll be checking messages for a few more days, and maybe at the Apple Store at West Town for a bit after that, just to keep abreast of things.

The man stood up and walked across the floor. He rolled that last 'Goodnight' over his tongue again, perceiving its unapproachable pallor in the face of the silence to come. He let the music finish and turned off the transmission, chewing the cardboard flavor of the static-less quiet. The old red light outside the studio door was off now.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

5 Things About Jesus

So, Adam Feldman has tagged me into this thing. I might tag you, though I don't know if I've got five people to tag or not. Maybe two. But the rules (as cut and pasted from Feldman's site) are as follows:

1. Those tagged will share 5 things they dig about Jesus.
2. Those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers.
3. Those tagged will provide a link in the comments section here of their post so that others can read them.

Here goes.

1. Jesus was meek (a word often mis-defined), but not really mild. He held scathing and controversial words for many people, and he will go forth with a sword in hand to lead his people in the end.

2. Jesus was a carpenter by trade under Joseph. I love a guy who can appreciate the beauties of wood.

3. He wore a seamless garment. The symbolism in this is manifold. Read apocalyptic Scripture for cool details.

4. He's with me, wherever, whatever. That in itself is awesome!

5. Jesus wore sandals. I love to wear sandals. 'Nuf said.

Okay. In case they read this, I'm tagging:

Jared Lucas
Greg Adkins

I could only think of two folks to tag. Ah, well. Next time, Gadget...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The News in Brief

I guess I owe you an explanation of the radio silence, dear reader. Both of you, that is.

I spent my hope on the naive impression that summer brings with it a bit of relief from the scheduled insanity. Instead, June has stubbornly retained that graceful modicum of madness that characterizes the rest of the year. I believe (let me check my gauges and meters), yep, it has even increased.

To begin with, Kat and I have been looking for a house in Knoxville, and I think we've found one. God willing, we are closing on the 28th on a grand little place that was built back in 1950. It has a gorgeous red wooden door and the original wood flooring throughout most of it. I'm hoping to add a bit of a book-nook to one of the bedrooms. It also has a covered back porch with tons of potential, and a yard with space for a vegetable garden. Throw in an original cast-iron tub with a nice porcelain coating, and you've got a winner. So, if you're ever in town in the coming years, and you're not an axe-murderer, swing by and occupy the guest room for a while. It's going to be a great deal of work, but God has gotten us this far (including unheard of amounts of money and the blessing of friends with voluntary hands to work the whole thing through), and he will take us over the dusty rock-strewn mountain trails to come. I pray that we will be a house that serves the Lord, and that serves you, dear reader. May we have the grace and the opportunities.

In addition to this, we also went down to St. Simon's Island, Georgia, to Epworth by the Sea (a Methodist camp with a gracious commitment to John Wesley's history) to help with MDA camp for this year. Camp Love, as they call it, has been a summer tradition of my wonderful wife for about nine years now (minus one, when she conceded to marrying me in lieu of going), and she finally succeeded in dragging me and my anxieties with her. Most of the staff there has been part and parcel to the camp for several years at least, and so I was a bit worried that the cronyism factor would prevent me from being as involved as I wanted to be. This, plus, of course, the normal apprehensions of being around people who are wholly different in some way. It always tends to make one nervous in some respect. I was proved wrong on both counts, however.

Apparently, Kat spent her week last year playing up the legend of me until it teetered dangerously and at perverse angles. I didn't really know this until afterward though, so I was merely myself, around children and fellow counselors, which rather tends to be the out-of-shell version of me. And the staff attitude towards new counselors operates around the fact that you're there, not your tenure. Like weddings and funerals, the work to be done bound us instantly in the appreciation of each other's presence, and didn't stand for the limits of pretentious belonging. I can't really say that I had a good time, so to speak. There is a deep, welling gratification and joy of doing work (and work it was, make no mistake), but I can't imagine myself not going back. I can't see myself missing it next year, missing the people, the looks in their eyes, the smell of their clothing, the quirky, graceless way we all take compliments (me most of all). It has become an instant tradition.

So, now we're caught up. Kat's still hovering over the Florida-Georgia state line with family and friends. She put me on a plane Thursday to fly back and continue winning bread for the family. Andy and Nathan picked me up at the Tri-Cities Airport after a pleasant flight with some folks who seemed to be believers (though we never quite came round to talking about it) and had a panic-stricken teenage girl with them who had never flown before. This appealed to my sadistic side, and I'll leave the rest to your imagination, but she is now an initiate. It was all in good fun. I stepped off the plane with my newfound friends to a brilliant rainbow plowing down out of the eastern sky, and met a dear lady named Hazel who had been dandled on the knees of local legend Cas Walker as a child, when her father had known him. The man who sat beside me, Winston, is also one of the last of the Clingmans, for whom Clingmans Dome is named. The short trip across the tarmac held a confluence of warm stories between us.

So, for the last few days, I've been carless, staying with friends and riding my bike to work when I can. Bless my dad, who has now let me borrow his truck while they're going out of town. I can't wait for my wife to get back and get settled back down again, because that'll happen.

Monday, June 04, 2007

To Tread the Spine

It was June 2nd. I drove east up 441 towards the towering Continental Divide, listening to Garrison Keillor on the stereo. Stopping at Newfound Gap, I stared at the thickness of the air, beset with smoke from the fire in south Georgia. Making my way to the southern side of the gap, I found the sign: Appalachian Trail. Seven miles to Clingmans Dome, past Mount Collins. Five more after that to Siler's Bald. That's twenty-four miles round-trip for the day, give or take. It was already 8 o'clock. I couldn't make it that far, so with some dismay, I drove the spur out toward the highest point on the Appalachian Trail, wondering if it was actually worth it. The gloomy morning brightened a little when a large bear lumbered up into the woods from the road with surprising agility as my car blew past (somewhat above the 30mph speed limit, I must confess, as I am used to mountain roads). I stepped out of the car into the nearly empty parking lot (so odd to see at the top of a mountain), and walked up the road to the tower at the top. There was nobody around at all, and I loved it. I climbed the ramp to the concret viewing platform, which rather resembled a WPA project, and stood in the eerie quiet. A host of skeletons of Fraser Firs kept sentinel watch from the top of the mountain, and gave testimony to the swiftness with which this world is passing. I thought of Ezekiel.

Son of man, can these dry bones live again? You alone know, O Lord.

Plaques at the tower told me how transplanted insects and acid rain had devastated the evergreen forest. I walked down and began a long day's journey into the woods.

When you walk along a footpath clearly left by human steps, and you don't see or hear anyone for several hours, it becomes either pleasant or unnerving. In my case, I can't tell you how much I enjoyed simply walking in the quiet. And as I told Kat later on, it wasn't really the absence of people that made it wonderful. It wasn't the miles of nothing but green canopied tunnels and wide ample patches of blueberry bushes and blackberry brambles that would feed the unseen mouths of bears later in the summer. It wasn't even walking the spine of the land, with a vastness on either side that I wished I could leap into like a falcon. All these were wonderful in their own rite, but they weren't the beauty of the trip. It was the simplicity of the thing. Once you're on the trail, you have but one goal: to walk. Your only care in the world is forward motion, punctuated by the occasional drink of water. There are no phones to answer, no cars to drive, no errands to run. There is only the one directive: go forward, or go back.

I got to Siler's Bald around 11am, after about two or three hours of hiking, thinking to myself with slight dread about how much I had walked downhill in the past morning. Eventually, I would have to walk back, but that was not a worry for now. As the morning had progressed, I had passed a few thru-hikers heading north from Siler's Bald shelter. They all carried the same story about the ridiculous crowding at the shelter the night before. As I sat on top of the bald and ate my lunch (a pop-top can of cold Spaghettios), I hoped to escape the crowd (given the hour) and the gnats (given the roof) at the shelter. The gnats were the first to oblige.

I found five folks left at the shelter when I got there a little after 11 o'clock. There were two moms, their daughters, and one daughter's boyfriend, who didn't take off his headphones the entire time I saw him. Sitting and talking to them as they were packing up, I found out that, for the most part, they were from the Knoxville area, although one of the moms was originally from the UK, so we enjoyed a bit of conversation. Then they wanted me to take their picture together with all three of their cameras, which I did (although I prefer a manual 35mm as opposed to a digital camera). It was interesting though, since, standing ten feet away from me, they conversed about me in third person while I was setting up the shots.

"He looks Amish."
"No he looks like a farmer."

I laughed to myself and felt like saying, "He's also standing right in front of you," but I didn't. I took the pictures, they packed up, we said our goodbyes, and they left. Then I began to pick up kindling and such to coax the smoldering log in the fire-ring into a blaze again, since the wetness of the trail had reduced the lower half of my jeans to a soggy mess, thanks to my lack of gaiters. I got the fire going, and the shoes and socks came off to dry. Eventually moving the fire into the fireplace in the shelter, I sat down in a forgotten chair in the silence to read.

Friday, June 01, 2007


I've joined up with Flickr to publish some of my photographs online. This will become a permanent link in the sidebar---> and a growing fixture of this blog (given that I can get along with my scanner).

You can see the humble beginnings here.