February 18: Another clear day

Today was another exceptionally clear day. It was also an uneventful day save for the lunch get-together with my siblings. That started the day off nicely. I got to hear about what they were reading and about how their book clubs worked, in terms of what kinds of things they talked about.

There was also some chat about our upcoming family reunion in July. Eureka! continues to have Lady Face Blind Ambition for $4 so I couldn’t resist having one (and then another one). These kinds of family outings don’t last too long, no one’s prone to linger or talk about anything too amusing, so I was on my way home by 1:30, just in time for a quick hike.

Like I said, it was very clear day. Lots of folks were heading out at once so I decided to take a connector trail towards El Escorpion. Once there, I picked up a trail that I was pretty sure would link back to the Victory side. I was right, but the last third of the trail was brutally steep. Had it not been for the light, cooling breeze it may have been too much. But I made it and then found my way to Bible Rock before heading back to the main trail and my car.

Those two beers were not my friend on this hike, but I was happy to have made it out for a couple hours.

I’m getting a little antsy about the book. It’s feeling ripe and ready to publish. I’m ready to move on but circumstances won’t let me quite yet. It’s also a time of anticipation. There are always technical issues, most commonly with the EPUB or MOBI files used for the the Amazon Kindle Version.

It’s rather like the feeling of dreading impending traffic that you know you’ll hit, simply because you’re in a hurry. It makes you wonder why you’re in a hurry and then you remember.

There’s time enough but none to waste.

Tonight’s writing soundtrack is another LP. This time it’s an oldie and a scratchy one at that. It’s Paul Desmond’s That’s Jazz. It’s from 1961 and it’s pretty much the epitome of California Cool. Desmond’s playing is impeccable as always. There’s never been anyone better at this kind of stuff. His tone and articulation were effortless and he was rhythmically faultless and nimble to boot. Still, in some strange kind of way this LP reminds me that I really don’t much care for jazz anymore. The best jazz was universally played in the past and if you can’t find a reason to look ahead toward even the possibility of new and better days, a genre can really become mundane. It’s always amazing to me that these straight-laced looking guys like Desmond and Bill Evan were relentless self-abusers, Desmond with booze while Evans favored heroin and later cocaine. It makes their music perfect time capsules of another era when jazz was perfected and before its inevitable entropic decline.

Thanks for reading.

That was Jazz
February 18: Another clear day

January 26: Victory

I’m still on the idea of hiking from home to the Conejo Valley. There’s a chance I’ll need to Uber it from the end of the trail to the hotel, and most assuredly to the bar.

Right now, it looks like a 3.2 mile walk from home to the trailhead and then between 11-13 miles to the destination. The weather today (windless and 70 degrees) would have been perfect. Though I am hoping we’ll get more rain, the forecast for the next 10 days is for clear, clear and still more clear.

I’m not hiding from the fact that the whole idea is predicated on the need for a minor vacation and an even more minor adventure. But more than anything, I want to stay focused on goal after attainable and foreseeable goal. And this winter seemed like a good opportunity to explore and learn more about the many trails of the valley of my birth and to do something fun and unusual.

The trails west of Valley Circle have one significant quality in common. They look, at least I think they look, very much like the area must have looked 150-200 years ago.

That’s a long time, for a place on the westernmost edge of the City of Los Angeles.

Looking west from the end of Victory

At this point, I am anticipating that 3 mile road-walk I mentioned earlier to the Bell Canyon trailhead. Then, I imagine a southward traverse to El Escorpion, then another southwestern transition to the Victory Trailhead. At this point, I am still not sure where I’ll pop out in Thousand Oaks or Westlake but I know there will be a good Old Fashioned within walking distance. Here are a couple pics I grabbed today. More about them and the trail conditions tomorrrow.

By the way, tonight’s writing soundtrack is Industry, the 1997 record by Richard Thompson and Danny Thompson. Tonight, as always, I especially enjoyed Sweetheart on the Barricade.

Thanks for reading.

January 26: Victory

January 6: Recovering from Angst Day #1 of 2022

My recovery from angst day #1 of 2022 is complete and I’m relieved there appears to have been no obvious follow-up to the attempted insurrection of 2021. Thank God for small and large favors. Things were better today. I took delivery of a new-to-me watch and I also took a hike and I also took a slice of pizza and an excellent blood orange IPA.

How can you go wrong with any, let alone all, of those?

The weather was doing an excellent impression of summer and the trails were empty save for a few hikers and even fewer mountain bike guys. Anyway, part of what made today better was the self-reminder that changes and transitions are inevitable whether or not they are known or anticipated. Come 2023, I will be doing something different than what I’m doing today. But, really, that has been true of every year of my life since I’ve been a substantively different person each new year, even though my finger prints have stayed the same. What is really at issue is the question of one’s response to the unknown.

Mine is Ok so far. I see a lot of ways for things to be just fine a year from now even though all of the typical existential question marks are right where they always are. In the end, I have just enough ego to like my odds and just enough appreciation for the world around me to enjoy the ride, whether it’s smooth or bumpy. I’ve done some bumpy before as I may or may not write about in a future installment.

A quick story. Right before I learned that our firm was moving toward closing I was busy surfing used watches on the web. My finger was poised over a message making a solid offer on a Sinn UX, one of the only quartz watches I’ve ever lusted after (the other is the Omega X-33 Skywalker).

So I’m sitting there, ready to make my deal when one of my bosses comes into my office and asks me to join him and my other boss for a closed-door chat. The mood in the room was heavy. I knew they’d both been taking at length but I didn’t know what was up. That was when I found out one of my bosses had a nasty case of prostate cancer. At that point, no one new how well he would respond to treatment or how soon, if ever, he would be able to come back to work. The decision was made to let our lease expire and gradually close things out. I was pretty damn surprised. I knew something was up but it’s rare news that combines someone’s health with the cessation of a business that provides your employment. It was a lot to take in. The three of us talked for about an hour before I was back in my office, the message about the UX still staring me in the face. I closed the window without sending it. It was a hard time to think about a watch, no matter how desirable it was. That was way back in the summer of 2015.

And another thing: Don’t read any Charles Dickens while you’re getting ready to publish your own book. It’s not good for the writer’s psyche and ego, I can assure you. For some reason, I’ve been reading A Christmas Carol. It’s a very conventional story and the sequences are readily imagined, nearly predictable. But, the descriptions are so rich and creative that it’s a continual amazement. I cannot imagine creating anything like it. I would have to spend an unimaginable amount of time on a myriad of simple descriptions of routine things and places and people. And, even if I did I don’t think I could match Dickens’ mastery any more than about 5% of the time. It would take me decades to write what I’ve done in a couple years. Talk about sobering. Then again, maybe the experience should be telling me something I can’t yet grasp. I can read contemporary novels, even ones that sell well and have attained a degree of critical acceptance, and not be so taken with the fundamental art of what’s been accomplished.

Geez, this got more than a little long and meandering.

Sorry about that but be sure to check back tomorrow for more of the same.

Thanks for reading.

January 6: Recovering from Angst Day #1 of 2022