Taoist mythology, Lanna history, mythology, the nature of time and other considered ramblings

My Photo
Location: Chiangrai, Chiangrai, Thailand

Author of many self-published books, including several about Thailand and Chiang Rai, Joel Barlow lived in Bangkok 1964-65, attending 6th grade with the International School of Bangkok's only Thai teacher. He first visited ChiangRai in 1988, and moved there in 1998.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

at my high-plains home

The 40s, aka Alpine Ranchos, in a checkerboard area of Coconino National Forest, square miles of private land alternating with square miles of protected park, is redolant with ancient volcano-core hills, mostly gently sloped with rounded tops. Low scraggly juniper trees abound, with occasional Ponderosa pines and pinon. The snowy-capped SanFrancisxco Peaks grace the not-far-off distance. Pastel pinks, purples and light-yellow weeds adorn the 2-lane road to the Indian Rez, but not the dirt tracks wandering around on either side of it - washboarded and rutted, with just a few light green plants to the sides. Wild-wheat-like fescue grasses predominated long ago, but grazing reduced that - it takes a long time, here, for things to grow back. Short, thorny "goat's head" thistly weeds are now common; clumps of foot-tall or so desert plants also abound, but the red and black volcanic cinder and fine, almost lifeless light-colored dusty soil is sometimes denuded, depleted by grazing now (thankfully) quite limited.
Pipelines and power-lines cross through, but the private property is graced by no connecting utilities. Solar power is popular, as is a water-pumping station; there are also wind-generators. Not many outhouses, though and no storm drains. When it rains, it frequently pours hard; canyons and washes can fill quickly, moving vast amounts of almost sterile soil. The grasses of a century or more ago may return, but almost white tumbleweed bounces around until it gets caught somewhere, creating potential fire-hazards. Some yucca and prickly pear remains, but not a lot.
The methamphetamine epidemic may be losing steam, but there's rumor of something new: croww-dressing. And rubber dolls. Lipstick on lonely wannabe cowboys without horses, and a dearth of actual women. I've seen only a total of three out there in almost two weeks.
It ain't like Snoopy's brother in Peanuts, idly leaning against a saguero (they're rare here, common over 50 niles to the south). There's work, then more work, total intoxication (not for me any longer though), work left undone and driving off to do this, that and the other. Always needing something else, always fixing something, and always in need of a wash. A fine state to be in for crossdressing, but I haven't seen it (yet, anyway), so I'll forbear further comment on that.
I had to return to clean up after a nephew who I knw to be more than a bit off (but failed to recognize how far; roots in Aspergers bi-polar disorder, hayperactivity, attention deficit disorder, ADHD, HADD, ADD, who knows (treated with Ritalin and who knows? prozac, xanax, similar stuff, for 10 years), and what could I do about it anyway? That he claimed to be a "Master Sadist" I just shrugged off - at 11, when I last saw him (10 years ago), he'd clearly been quite harmless. But once here, he augmented several knives he regularly wore (which apparently kept him from entering Canada at least twice) and desperado clothes, with a sword. Avowedly a MC and DJ at clubs, he apparently aspires to be a bad-ass vampire with radio-control over a zombie army of "collared girls". Or something. I've avoided gathering most details. He did e-mail me, a year ago, about his lightning-quick capacity against even guns. Hardly a big guy, he speculated about applying to be abouncer at our local bar (only 10 miles off), an occasional site of biker brawls. I was hoping that hands-on experience with fundamental realities would clue him in better. Who knows - maybe it has some...
At any rate, he'd decided to rebel against me, the only "authority figure" he had left to revenge himself against... despite that all I asked of him was to do some jobs for me, for pay. He preferred to spit into the wind, tie shoelaces from one shoe to the other, and generally shoot himself in both feet and both knees, to make a statement, I guess (aggravated at not recieving all he vehemently feels entitled to). Human shit adorned my floors, my clothes and bedding (among lots of other things) were all gone... there was nothing for the matress but to burn it.
Nevermind. I lost some stuff, some reference to my distant past - it happens. Especially out here. But the house stands - as it were (it's mostly underground). As ever, though, it demands work.
As does every aspect of life here: friends and neighbors are mostly rowdies, rodents abound, water needs hauling, and excrement (not only that of my nephew and his young playmates) dealt with. I had a Saturday-night poker game; two of the guys couldn't stop giggling, the bearded one of long mustachios telling the much younger blond one that he loved him and they should go outside and fight. I'd say it was a quarter to him, pay up or fold, and he'd reply he'd take two cards. Even play was work.
But it's beautivul here, and exshillarating. I pick up Amerind hitch-hikers, spot a huge rabbit so unlike native ones I know it must've descended from Angoras I once kept... the early-morning skies are fascinating, the clean air and over-mile-high altitude the best. And my house is almost naturally temperature-controlled.
Biggest similarity to Thailand: propane use (mostly for cooking, but I use a heater with a small cylinder for about 10 minutes before getting in bed). A big difference: radio. I like the Hopi station best, but not for the pow-wow music, which I find a bit boring. Fun to hear Hopi language sometimes, but not always.

What else of interest? How expensive Flagstaff is, like at the Central/Robinson that just opened in ChiangRai - if you have to ask the price, you can't afford it. Often, anyway. Folk at the WellsFargo Bank have been very nice and helpful, students at NAU give directions gladly and well. THere are still bookstores, but only a couple places sell music CDs (in all northern Arizona!). A cop pulled me for speeding (65 mph!) and I found my driver license missing (left at the band). No prob, no ticket, just a warning. And I got a Pendleton blanket for $30. Not as nice as the one my nephew left with, but that one was about $100!
Oh - and the best Thai resturant - Dara Thai. Way better than almost anything in Thailand, certainly than in ChiangRai. Three different dishes so far, all common back home but uncommonly good, indeed excellent, here.
Today it rained, tonight will be cold, maybe below freezing. I sure hope my visa comes through in time, but still don't know that it will. Wrote to the LA Thai consulate, so far no reply... and I don't even remember my new passport's number - it was issued this year, never used til now, and sent to that consulate... ah me.



Blogger thomas said...

A nice post, and totally different in style - it works well (not that the others don't! ) - I look forward to the major opus proof-reading project we discussed, on your return from the high plains drifting. All the best.

7:37 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home