Down by the River Merced I blog...

Yosemite Valley Rail Road at its terminal in Old El Portal

coming into Old El Portal; a one block wonder Sierra Nevada Foothill town :)

enroute on Foresta Road from Rancheria Flat to Old El Portal- my usual running route. Looking up into Yosemite Valley

WiFI central here at the El Portal Community Center

Saturday Nov. 4, 2017: The Yosemite Files

With an attitude adjustment, I find myself sitting on a ("my") rock in the Merced,  down Abbie Road, in the old NPS trailer court- one of my favorite spots to just stare out into the vastness. One is able to 'step through the portal', 'El Portal' in fact; the door extending, welcoming from where the Sierra Nevada Foothills expand, yet condense into the Sierra Nevada Mountains/Yosemite Valley. I love being a fringe-dweller.

I got up this morning, after a late evening reading, chatting with friends, wandering around the streets of Rancheria Flat in the dark of the night with my co-conspirator, lounging on the benches at the El Portal School, etc. I pondered this: What do you need to do to wake up and dial in your kaleidoscope to fit the initial images of the coming day?  Rain/clouds outside my window this a.m. Coffee comes first- or the ritual of the ceremonial preparations to drink coffee to be thoroughly enjoyed (grinding of beans, aroma, boiling, steeping in the requisite french press, pouring, anticipating, indulging, satisfaction.  That can happen alone, or with Da KineDa Kine pervades all moods.

This morning is akin to the typical feeling that rinses over me when having 3 weeks left in a place that I’ve called ‘home’ for more than a few fortnights. I love this state of mind- in a sense. Everything has been absorbed. I am already missing the place, yet still remain. It's odd & descriptions seen unworthy of this, THIS.

Dreary weather today, as with yesterday- perhaps more so today though- permeates my shell (not my outer layer shell that is shielding me- only me though as my laptop  lays buck naked on my lap, exposing to all the elements bombarding it. Runs like a champ too. I feel this relationship between my keyboard and fingers is very reciprocal- in some way that is unexplainable-  mostly because the absurdity of the words- if you just take them at face value, as only words…

Words-to- actions. Environment has a lot of do that that. Geography. Cultural geography. Mapping a landscape of Homo sapiens’ basic actions (to procure food, shelter, water- to this day, with some additional add-ons, of course). Anyway, how we go about doing this shit… man it fascinates me.

I love pondering these questions- wherever I am. Last night I took out my (still slowly-dying) iPhone to listen to some sound recordings (thanks "Mozart in the Jungle" seasons 1 & 2 for making me fall back in love again with ethnography-of-sorts; you know, for example, when I am out with friends, or solo, and casually make a recording of our conversation(s). All accomplished with respect and prior knowledge, of course. Only wishing to somehow immortalize chunks of my time span here on planet eARTh, solar system of the sun, and listen to them at various, random times- especially while in other countries. There is something endearing about it. The feelings that overcome me. The emotional output & revisiting some depth of beauty in that place. It keeps me close to people. I have that tendency to stray…

I digress… back to the story… wait? Nope. Can’t bring it back… Onward...

A wave of unease floats across my being. Actually it was when I first jumped into my car this am to head up to the El Portal Community Center to catch their free WiFi. Yes, with my roommate moving out of NPS housing  yesterday because her season was over, so went with her the coveted internet router…

I love the productivity of living without WiFi (she says this only 24 hours since WiFi being removed from her instinctual environment at this present time…)  The weather is cold now (just this week arriving), and I still desire to be IN the weather. It’s a good reason to get outside and still hold onto the outdoor experience here. Yes, I sit in my car, or at the picnic table (again, depending on climatic needs) and do my shit- wherever that takes me. This morning it was taking me to ‘the source’ so I could look up a bunch of notes I took while reading (all night) Arab Americans by Gary Paul Nabhan- a Lebanese-American fascinated with cultural landscapes spanning many continents, and their associated words for features. An interesting, whimsical experience in finding this book; it happened at work, in the office. One of my (3 amazing) bosses had let SaGra borrow it- years ago I think. I was in SaGra’s office talking to her one day (olelo hawaii), and noticed it, picked it up, casually read the back cover (while still engrossed in our conversation), and promptly said I was borrowing it. My boss had earlier mentioned that it is a book he buys fairly often- and gives it to people. IT moved him in some way, and I wanted to see that- THAT. I wanted that experience of… you know, when you read a really good book & can’t put it down, etc. It provokes you to ponder things bigger than yourself, and understand things happening contemporaneously, or chronologically as a result of the domino effect that is civilization.

The connection between this book, him, myself, Yosemite area, and the Middle east is an interesting one. He did field excavation/research in the past in...Armenia I think (we discussed the Republic of Georgia & vicinity briefly in the YOSE YAO hall). So there's that, plus being archaeologists with a strong hankering for the cultural background research that goes into the physicality of archaeology itself, me living/working in the vicinity for the past 8 years, them (my bosses) actually reviewing my CV & finding it interesting/unique to give me this chance to come to Yosemite for  5-month stint & share knowledge/love of what we lust in doing. Blah, blah, blah- as the story wanders.

Anyway, the author is Lebanese-American & looked into place names for water features from the deserts of Arabia to the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona/Mexico. His historical background takes us to The Middle East, the Alhambra in Spain, the expulsion of Moslems from Spain in 1492, and the Crusades, coming to America & settling in America’s southwest & Sonoran area.

Anyway, he weaves this marvelous journey. I am wandering right there next to him, with him. He mentions Freya Stark- my Halloween nom de plume this year., and yes, there is this sort of romanticism’, that people call it, but I don’t have another word that better describes it. I think it is more about the times, and understanding that all the shit of today was still occurring then, but what is the difference? Population controls? Something, and I don’t necessarily know. I only know that I am addicted to see into this past, and with a solid writer providing the backdrop, it is exquisite.

So, my toes are freezing (yes, again no socks. It must be 60º out). My coffee is inside my car, waiting for me. I guess this diversion to go straight from home to the community center to do all this electronic shit was hijacked in the best possible way. I NEED this shit; sitting in THE Merced River on a rock, surrounded by water on all sides, overcast skies, gradations of gray/white blanket the landscape, but these brilliant yellow foothills towering down to the rocks at the river’s edge… OMG the beauty. Pockets of diaphanous fog linger in the shallow canyons, not yet wanting to disappear. The scrub brush clinging onto its yellow edge- damn this is beautiful.

I am somewhere near the old Hennessey Ranch property. I love coming to this spot (usually when running, wanting to do some yoga, or doing my laundry up above) and looking at the land forms and trying to re-imagine the past. I LOVE Sierra Nevada foothill history, honestly. It’s a new love I’ve developed since I arrived. It gives me such pleasure to think that I can still have this bond with America, even though I have given myself to the world- so to speak. Coming back home & experiencing what specifically makes America captivating, for me, gives me hope for our future here. I have hope.

The sun is trying to poke through in the east- in Yosemite Valley. Perhaps this day won’t be as dreary as forth told by the weather oracles. Foresta is towering above, and then the utility lines precariously hanging onto the cliffs edge- heading down to the chain link fence area above Rancheria Flats. I will think about this view often.

What a day it's been. I didn't yet post this blog. I was wanting to go for a run in this weather, so I did. I went down Incline Road- my favorite run here. As I rounded the corner and Dry Gulch Campground came into view, I was happily accosted by some trailer park girls! Soon enough in an alternate universe (you know the one- exactly opposite as the one I was on moments before- being in the running zone and all the endorphins that come with that, making it an exceptional experience that one always wants to experience), complete with a Bailey's and coffee and sweet chatter. I am envious, a bit; they are living the life in their mobile dwellings at the river's' edge. Again, I feel like I continue to find my tribe as I flitter around the globe. It takes some time, and energy. It's nice to experience this feeling. Morning turning into afternoon, soon enough I was on my merry way again. That last 1.5 miles was a bit more difficult, but my smile was BIG!

...And I'm back at the community center parking lot. It's been an amazing day today. As Bob Ross would say about learning how to paint, I turned that mistake (this shitty, overcast, on-the-verge-of-downpour day) into a magical tree, or cloud with one stroke of the brush (attitude adjustment). I'm a big fan of attitude adjustments, and quite a professional I might add...

Now, time to morph into my night owl phase. What does tonight have in store for me? Well, let me tell you, it involves ritual, culture, and dance and listening to the masters speak through their bodies, natural surroundings, soundscapes and seasons. That's all imma say about this coming evening.

That's all I've got folks...