New Years Resolutions 2017

For Us, and this is the Imperial “Us,” last year was a full-fledged, no-holds-barred goat rodeo. Lots of famous people died, even more, not-so-famous people passed away, and then we elected the first Ompah-Lompa to the highest office of our country. And let’s not forget that 2016 is expected to clock in as the hottest year in more than 136 years of direct atmospheric measurement.

Despite the fact that we could be looking back at the burnt and tangled wreckage of our cluster event that’s not what this post is about, is it? Nope! We’re looking forward, because gosh darn it, 2017 should be better.

So, without further adieu, here are a few of my New Years resolutions.

Take Aral Backpacking

Have you any idea how troublesome it is to locate appropriately sized backpacking gear for a six-year-old? Seriously! As a result, I’m banging the rust off some of my ill-used sewing skills. Our first box of supplies showed up yesterday, and I’ve opened up the Pfaff.

I’ve read a small collection of articles lately that all center around the “problem” of young people staying indoors too much. First, this makes me feel old, namely because now aged enough to see two generations of young people growing up under my branches. For instance, this article in Outside — “The Outdoor Industry Has a Millennial Problem” — posits a number of causes for the drop in younger people being involved in Wilderness, but my older son Justin recently informed me of the only reason that really matters.

In a recent phone conversation, he told me that he doesn’t really know “How to plan a bike tour.” In his possession, he’s got some of the best gear for this purpose ever constructed. He’s been on a couple of nice long ones, enough to know that a bike tour is largely just an exercise in improvisation between disparate locations. I about sprained my eyes rolling them, but I listened all the same. That’s what old people are supposed to do.

It seems that I may have made some mistakes raising the first one. Go figure. I let him labor under the misunderstanding that getting outside requires precision planning and forethought. It doesn’t.

Rather, what you need, he has in spades. An ability to learn from your mistakes, an abundant sense of wonder, and a warm jacket. Alright, maybe some warm socks too. But seriously, that’s the bar of entry to this and many other outdoor endurance sports.

Aral and I have been walking a lot. He just completed a 4-miler (long for him at 6) without even noticing that it was indeed longer than most of the walks he’d previously done. He finished with a smile on his face. So, Mr. Thyer, how to you teach a kid that he can pass the bar-to-entry for backpacking. We’ll you put a pack on his back and march him up the trail.

Continue Primal Lifestyle

I probably need to write up a review of this, but yeah wow, I’m doing so much better. Last Septemeber started a “diet” which essentially got me out from under the consequences of the Standard American Diet. I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’ve kept this weight off too, but even better, I’m not always inflamed. My face, my foot, my sinuses, even my fingers are significantly less bulky. My joints move easier, even when they’re cold.

Tess bought me a pressure cooker for Xmas, and she’s been saying that she wants to join in the fun. Now all I need to do is teach Aral to like eating nuts.

Recover and Publish Short Stories

John Hancock's Recovered Short from Immortality Chronicles

John Hancock’s Recovered Short from Immortality Chronicles

One of my favorite things about publishing through Windrift Books is that after a pretty short period of time all rights revert to the author. Amazon’s relentless expansion of lists means that there’s a place for short stories. Great Stories In One Sitting breaks down reads, based on their length, by the approximate time it will take most people to read them. A lot of Samuel Peralta’s authors have been floating to the top with stories they’ve published previously through him.

GOAT (“Greatest of All Things,” in case you didn’t know) was my contribution to the acclaimed Doomsday Chronicles. It’s gotten great reviews next to the other PA fiction in that collection, and I had the best time writing it. Consequently, I’ve begun to develop one of the supporting characters from that story by writing more about him. Murray Biyaal is a sort of MacGyver hero of the Navajo Nation in a crumbling Western future.

I’m going to start with GOAT and plan to self-publish a whole series based on this cast.

 

Kindergarten Practice

There are roughly twenty-five days of summer left for A-bear. Once they’re gone, he’s going to Kindergarten. This is a big new experience for our little guy, and so I’ve been examining our options. The duel questions — how can encourage him to be excited in anticipation of this new experience (even though it sometimes seems overwhelming and scary) and how can I, in parallel, continue to carve out enough time for me to write, has been riding on either of my shoulders.

Aral_lunch

Practice Lunch

Today we woke up sorta late, but that’s okay because practice Kindergarten didn’t open until 10:00 AM. Our Island Library is librarian-ed by late risers apparently, and that’s not a bad thing because practice Kindergarten should allow for late summer mornings.

Aral_train

Fire Train

Right now he’s happily working on a rather complicated maze and deeply engrossed in the activity. Unlike the iPad I have to stop what I’m doing from time to time, but the interactions are all part of the process. It’s just going to slow things down for me a tad. The library is an optimal place to do this because the expectation is that he will moderate the volume of his voice. There are rules as well as social expectations here that he doesn’t necessarily encounter elsewhere, and learning to live (if not thrive) within these confines is going to be one of his chief challenges once school begins.

Via a convoluted path, I suppose, this all gets back to empathy. Teaching children the ability to imagine themselves in a situation, one in which they comprehend how other’s think and feel, is a HUGE challenge. It’s also a skill that they have to practice to perfect.

In a little bit, we’re going to head out to the adjacent park and eat lunch and play with the other kids. An obvious reward for working so hard this morning. I’m pretty excited to see what we can accomplish together in the time we have before school starts.

Picking out some books to read

Picking out some books to read

Birthdays and Milestones

 

IMG_20160125_173208

A-Bear and T-Mama like chocolate

 

Yesterday we celebrated the birth of the best woman I’ve ever met. We went out on the town, as a family, and even though we didn’t get to visit SAM (Tess’ original desire) we enjoyed each other’s company and a rare adventure in the city.

Tess, thanks for being there for me, for your son. Thanks for pushing me in the right direction when I needed a shove. Thanks for being my first-best reader. Thanks for being my friend.

Speaker for the Dogs

“Dad, what does Bender say?” he asks me, fully expecting an answer.

I want to break into the chorus of “What Does the Fox Say,” but the coffee cup is already at my lips and I simply struggle to swallow. A-bear asks of me the impossible, fully expecting I’ll have the capacity to deliver. The possibility that I might not have the answer to this or any question never enters his mind. I am practiced at this, I can make up the difference.

My first boy, who is nearly 18 and soon on his way to college, wasn’t so much this way. With him I could do no wrong. At a time in my life when I made so many mistakes and failed so miserably my reputation with him remained golden. I couldn’t be tarnished and looking back that far I know that the reason I stopped screwing up had a lot to do with living up to his expectations of me.

“Bender wants your table crumbs, he says ‘give me all your cinnamon roll,'” I reply after chocking down a hot mouthful of java-juice. It burns on its way down, so I have a little trouble imitating the begging Bender, who table-sharks our local coffee café, with the appropriate element of Scooby Doo.

“No he doesn’t,” Aral replies with indignation, “he says, ‘Rut row, give me all your cinnamon roll.’ Ah ha ha ha ha!” He’s got his Scooby down, which is surprising since he’s only ever heard it from my mouth.

“You’re right, little cub.”

Time enough …

Last night I went to bed intending to get up early. I wanted to do some yoga. Maybe sit for a peaceful moment, listen to my breathing or the rain. I went to bed early and then didn’t sleep, staring out the window at the clouds, backlit by the city, as the rolled their way north. When I did obtain some slumber I had anxiety dreams. Seems even I don’t think I deserve a house on the island, because last night, while in the moving truck crossing the Sound, the ferry went down with all hands. And this morning there I sit, at the bottom of the Salish Sea, amongst all our household goods. Notably, my dog sits next to me on the bench of the moving truck.

Dreams are creepy sometimes. I don’t even know why I was in the moving truck. But the most lasting effect of that little gem is that this morning when my alarm went off, I simply turned it off and rolled over snuggling under the down comforter.

A-bear has asked me several times just this morning what dogs are saying, he expects that I’ll interpret their body language and translate this into words he can understand. Pepper jumping around at the front door? “Errrrmahgerd, I have’ta pee!” The Maltese walking down the sidewalk with its owner? “Can I have some kisses, please? Just little kisses.” The guy walking this dog wasn’t impressed. And Bender at the coffee shop, who perpetually orbits under the table sniffing around for a tasty snack.

My leitmotiv seems to be acting as Speaker for the Dogs. For this I am thankful, life couldn’t have blessed me more. And so, sitting at the café sipping my favorite cuppa, I’m going to give myself permission let go of my house buying anxiety. I’m going to, at least for a time, forget all my self imposed deadlines and write for the joy of it. I’m going to talk like Scooby Doo and make my youngest son squeal with glee. I’m giving myself permission to simply be that guy. Not the idealized person I imagine I should be, but the guy I actually am. The person the moment calls for.

Simmer Down Now

Okay, now that that last post is out of my system it’s time to simmer down. And there is good news, today Aral and I realized that Planes Search and Rescue is available to rent or buy on iTunes. Booyah, AC/DC Thunderstruck. Aral is bouncing on the couch singing TS. I am cleaning, thinking of new and interesting ways to hurt characters in my latest story, dropping our lighting load by an order of magnitude (more on that later), and cooking something scrumptious.

That and it is blowing outside. The sunset tonight, oh man! We were enveloped in clouds that turned sepia in the long light of the evening.

Update

Today I got my groove back on, oh yeah! I’ve been sort of wallowing in something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike self-pity. I’ve been underwhelmed. Distracted. I’ve let my discipline slide a little. And, as anyone who taps keys for a living knows, that’s when your word counts start dwindling.

This evening, however, I was able to get the baby to bed at a reasonable hour (although it did require a great deal of rubbing his back to get him to slip off into a slumber deep enough for me to leave his side). Once that was done, I brewed a second cup of tea, broke off a chunk of dark chocolate, and poured a generous slug of Cazadores Extra Añejo into a tumbler. Then got my stale ass into gear and began to twiddle my absolutely fabulous keyboard. Corporal Okeke is now more than just a contributing actor in my tale.

Also, and I say this in the same voice as a lover of app badges, I broke 40K words tonight. UP SLOPE is now a novella, which was my original goal, but the story isn’t done and I can’t imagine completing it before it hits novel length. So, yeah, I’m behind schedule just a tad, but the end product will be a full 200+ pages. And my delay is probably a good thing anyway, Jeff is currently on an extended spring break in Thailand and based on the photos I keep seeing on Facebook it’s unlikely he’s got much time to work on cover art.

Push Jeff, push!

So, march on, march on. In other news, this week I broke 40 miles of running. Standard aches and pains, nothing noteworthy there. But I’d like to point out that while pushing my child up the Grand Mesa earlier this week I was able to work out a great deal of the literary jumble for UP SLOPE as well some outlining for two other projects that should be close on its heals. Get your pencils ready Jeff, lots coming down the pipe.

The running has been very good to me. Aral seems to mostly enjoy it too, and I’m coming up with new and interesting strategies for making it fun for him. Plus I’m very much looking forward to running with friends later this spring. I can’t wait to have some company that does not periodically require diaper services or a pile of toy trucks to be happy.

Epic Run Day

Not everyone wakes up in the morning and says “Damn, I need some miles today,” but today that is exactly what I needed. After a yummy breakfast at Main Street Bagels I set my sites on climbing up the Grand Mesa. Conventional routes were out. Seriously, too much traffic and not enough space for the bulki. So instead we chose a seasonally closed route known as Land’s End.

It’s a mostly dirt scenic by-way that climbs up a west face of the big flat-topped mesa on the east end of the Grand Valley. If you’ve ever visited here, you can’t miss it.

The route traverses several biomes common to the Colorado plateau as well as multiple geologic formations so unlike climbing up the Colorado National Monument (south) or the Bookcliffs (north) there is great variety as you make your merry way along the road. And, probably the best part of this ascent is that the road remains closed until June 1st (although there has been recent road maintenance work completed).

Stone Crop

Near the top, while I was feeling very strong, I was also keenly aware of two things. First, that I was running critically low on water. The first two-thirds of the ascent there isn’t any, and while there is near the top still some snow and plenty of run off, I neglected to bring water treatment. I had about six more switch backs to reach the brow of the Mesa. Bummer.

Second, near the top shaded spots still have snow and there is lots of mud. The road surface was very soft in places and this was requiring me to really push the hell out of the bulki. So I saved the top for another day. It’s melting fast and drying quick. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

I am particularly proud of one thing above all on this run, and it is not its length or elevation gain. When we left the parking area near the gate Aral was in a foul mood. He was trying everything and anything to get me to turn around. By the time we got to the first series of switchbacks (maybe two miles in) I had him cheering me onward. Nap time occurred on the way back down after ample time playing in the dirt.

So far I haven’t written a word, but plenty of kinks got worked out in 20 miles of running. I plan on knocking out a few tonight and then some more tomorrow. The little guy is out cold, which is what happens when you mix ample amounts of sunshine, fresh air, and play time into their diet. I’m tired, but not devastated. Honestly, I haven’t felt this fit since August of 2009. And this go around I’ve been spending a lot more time and effort trying to recover which is helping.