May, 2014 Archives

I’ve never been afraid of heights. Love it in fact…

Thum!  Thum!  Thum!  The whole tower shook when Billy was coming up to visit/check on me.  I was the young Forest Service lookout , or half the team.  Jane , my wife , worked the days I was down.  Dry Park Lookout tower was 125 feet tall.  The highest in the State of Arizona.  So high because  sitting on the Kaibab plateau at 9,000 foot elevation and all around were not prominences or hills or buttes but flat looking terrain.  “Mountain laying down”, the Piutes called it..Kaibab,  the north Kaibab sitting just next to the Grand Canyon.  Only when it rained and the fog and water dogs delineated the many ravines and washes of this forest could a lookout judge distance.  A firefighter needed to know how far away from the tower was the smoke, not just the azimuth; degrees from north.

Eight sets of stairs one needs to ascend to get to the little 8’X8’ box on top.  Thum!  Thum!  Thum!,  Billy, in his 50’s needed to rest every second flight.

“God Damn stairs,” he started after grabbing breaths and holding on to the window sill.

“Gotta fix ‘em some time.”  The stairs were old wood and painted battleship grey with sand sprinkled on them while the paint dried.  There were galvanized steel  2 inch hand railings along the flights and nothing else.  Billy Swapp stood over six feet not including his Stetson and cowboy boots.  Dark as an Indian he was 3rd or 4th generation Morman of the Arizona Strip; a cowboy with a “Good govment job.”

My wife and I and our daughter ,Maura were up here on the North Rim, summer of  ‘71’; our second year employed by the ranger district.  Maura was blond and blue eyed and innocently working on 2 years old.. toddling around a bit, crawling and staggering then finding her balance, running then falling down and laughing.  Billy loved her.  His job was to bring propane tanks for the refrigerator and heater and cookstove.  Also he arrived occasionally with a trailer of water for the cistern and candy for Maura.  A Jack Morman, ex alcoholic he needed his coffee and Maalox.  Gruff and stern and nonforgiving to me—he’s sit and chat for hours down blow the tower in our cabin with Jane, Maura crawling, climbing balancing about.

One day, the constant breeze, the sound of wind  thru the adjacent Ponderosa pines’ branches  and needles; stopped.  I heard a faint vibration and just  a  little  little shaking.  I put down the book I was reading; some Carlos Casteneda tome on being a “Man of Power”, and looked out the window and down down to the ground.  I saw no green FS pickup, no visitors’s cars, nothing.  Thum.  Thum.  I was sure I felt something in my seat; some small shaking.  I raised one of the four windows the tower had for walls and leaned way out holding on to the sill;  and down on the 3rd or 4th flight of stairs, coming up, determinedly was a little crawling blond haired girl just  chugging along upward.  There was no gate below at the ground and no fence under the steel railings over the stairs.  Just air.

“Hi, Daddy!”  She saw me looking down from above.  “I come!”

I swallowed hard my surprise and my fear and called out to my wife who was doing something or other inside the cabin.

“Jane?!”  My voice was now under control, barely.

“Jane.”  I said not yelled.

“Come out ,please.”  I was leaning again out the window looking, talking firmly to my wife to “Come out.”

She opened the screen door and looked up.  “Lunch isn’t ready yet, you’ll….” Then she saw Maura headed almost half way up the tower stairs, one knee up, one hand, the other knee up , one hand.

Jane walked to the tower as I began going down through  the heavy trap door that was part of the floor.

“Well, hey Maura, coming up for a visit?”  I squeaked out.

“Don’t move, honey, wait for Mommy.”  Jane was going up the stairs softly so softly and talking, cooing to her daughter now more than 50 feet up the steel  tower.
“ Hey baby, going to visit Daddy?”  She joked tightly while moving as quick and steadily up as she could.  I was moving down talking, chiding the little girl.  Both parents kept their tension,  the out right panic out of their voices and their minds.  Neither of us was going to sound scared or upset or angry to Maura.  Total calmness prevailed as we talked to our little 2 year old as we ascended and descended to her.

“Why don’t you just sit down and wait for Mommy, Maura?”

“Daddy will come down and get you.”

Jane was there first.  She got her scooped up and held her tight then instead of retreating downward the stairs, she came up to me and inside the tower, trap door shut now.

When Billy heard the story the next day, he looked carefully at us and demanded we repeat it.  He picked up Maura on his knee and said so sweetly while anger was in his eyes,

“We’ll just have to do something then won’t we honey?”

Three men arrived the next morning with chicken wire and built a gate at the bottom and fenced in the whole stairway—hand rail to wooden stairs.

I said to Jane, “I guess this is what ‘People of Power’ do when things need to be done.

Always loved this. Been in my archive “inspiration” folder for years. Figured it should live here too.  xomg


Dad rocked this one out. I think the Coen Bros should do this as a scene in one of their movies. Pretty awesome.

     I was staring at the mole in the middle of her forehead.  Pauline Whitesinger , Navajo elder and leader of the Big Mountain Defense League  stood  in front of me holding a rifle.  It was a .227 varmint gun, I believed, and maybe I was the varmint.

For months now , this summer of 77 I had been driving a rented red Ford F100 pickup.  Rented long term from Flagstaff’s own Babbitt Ford.  Rented by the NHIRC; Navajo Hopi Indian Relocation Commission.  Our job was to move Indians impacted by the Federal Court ruling in San Francisco of Judge Walsh.  A huge area,  hundreds of thousands of acres of high country desert in the north quarter of Arizona had been cut in half by a zig zaggy border line, an area that previously had been available to both tribes to use; to graze, grow crops and settle.  Thousands of Navajos, some having lived on this land for 5 or more generations were being pressed to move out.

My job was to inventory buildings and improvements of each family required to move; those that found themselves on the wrong side of the line.  I was an appraiser’s aid.  I walked off cornfields and noted  steel or juniper fence poles and how many strands of wire.  I measured sheep and cow and horse corrals to figure their worth , by the size and quality of construction.  I counted basketball poles and sweat houses, toilets and storage sheds.  I wrapped my long tape around many hogans and stone houses, noting their roof designs , windows and flooring.

I had been around old weather beaten WWII vets who understood but would not speak English.  I’d been offered coffee and kool  aid.  I’d ridden in their vehicles and mine as we reached remote summer cabins or abandoned corn fields-reverted- I called them; 5 acres of fenced rabbit bush and grasses.  But this was different.

My boss had taken me on a small plane flight above the Former Joint Use Area..FJUA.  There had been demonstrations outside our offices in downtown Flagstaff.  Threats had been made.  Field workers, Navajos themselves, had been cursed and driven out of the Big Mountain area.  Teesto—no problem.  White Cone, Pinyon—no problem.  Low Mt. and Coalmine chapters—no problem.  Hard Rock… that was the Place.  Germans had come to herd sheep to show their support,.  Reporters wrote of the 2nd Long Walk.  Public opinion was against us..’Genocide’ they called it.  We were going to scout this ‘hot area’ by Cessna.  Only after returning to Pulliam Field airport did I notice that Dave, my boss had placed a bullet proof vest under his butt on the seat.  “Protect the family jewels from rifle fire,” he said apologizing that he only had one vest.

Near a big deep sandy canyon was Pauline’s place.  We saw it, down below, with many trucks parked nearby.

I was being sent into her camp to ask to inventory her ‘ improvements.’  If I could appraise her stuff, many other families would fall in line.  I was a point man, expendable.

Fortuitously, I had gotten the flu the day before.  I left the motel in Tsaile that July morning sweating even with the air con on.  I was feverish and light headed as I drove the dirt roads to northern Hard Rock chapter on an empty stomach with water bottle in hand.  I drove up toward the parked trucks surrounding the dirt covered hogan and peaked roof stone house.  “Nice stuff,”  I thought as I waited in my vehicle for a minute or two to show respect.  A woman in strong brown leather shoes walked out of the house.  She was dressed in dark blue velveteen blouse and dress with several petticoats underneath.  She was not sweating as she stood near my truck .  I walked over almost swaying in my fever and noticed she carried a gun.  It was cradled in her arms and pointed away from me.

“A good sign,” I thought.  “ Boy am I hot.  Boy Howdy, look at that mole on her face.  She’s a good looking traditional woman”.  I was running on inside my head when she stopped it with..

“How would your family feel if you were dead?”

“Well,”  I began.  “My brother who is an Army Ranger would be fire hot angry.”  Going on I continued “My sister?  Well, maybe she wouldn’t care so much.”  Deciding to roll out the whole family, since Pauline asked, “My mother would cry and cry again, swearing at whoever ended my life.”
Finishing I concluded, “My father, a military man, retired but still straight up and down- he would close his lips and hold my mother.  My wife would shake her head, looking down thinking of the 2 fatherless children, bite her lips and perhaps say ‘ Karma’.  The children would have no idea.”

I looked at her and smiled, so sick now I couldn’t prevent the weaving back and forth of my body standing so close to this woman whose anger had dissipated and had a perplexed look on her face.  She turned around abruptly and walked away.  Stopping she turned-

“No appraisal!  Go away!”

“OK, “ I responded sliding into my red Babbitt Ford and drove on to the trading post where I really needed a cold cold bottle of coke.


Wayne in front of the NHIRC headquarters.

Met these guys at the NSS show. Arts District Printing Co. I like this piece. Because it’s true and it’s not true at the same time. I feel like who I was this morning when I woke up is different than who I am as I head off to bed for the night. And all those moments in between now and then, and before and soon to be after, mix around in a soup of who I was, and who I will be. I do believe as our bodies are regenerating cells and shedding hairs that are filled with memories of what happened while it was part of our body, that there remains a core base of who we are that is untouchable by this constant evolution and change. We (hopefully..if we are doing what we are on this earth to do) are sharpening our consciousness,  learning more about our place in this world, and what humanity is, and what love is and heartbreak too, and climbing ladders and falling down holes,  but who we who we are. When those boulders become just grains of sand from decades of enduring life, they are still a rock, a refined, weathered, experienced, rock. Right?

Had a dream last night about a situation that felt very much like this.

August 18, 2012

The downstairs neighbors are fighting, have been for an hour or more… The pain, fear, frustration of their words comes up through the floor. It makes my heart hurt, my skin numb.

Well the last one wanted me to be the dominate one. This one wants me to be the submissive one. For the record… I never agreed to be discreet with any messages I warned..


And that’s ok. Because it’s not so bad.

Todays dating update…

Messaged by a cross dressing male, whose profile picture is him in stiletos and fishnets, who thinks I’m beautiful, and “blown” guy comes back for more rejection…..