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Dropping. . .And. . .Letting Go. . .


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Please Note: This journal contains a wide variety of stuff -- complete stories, bits and pieces, commentary, and who-knows-what else. As is always the case these days, the material is protected by copyright. On the other hand, I publish it here to be shared. Feel free to pass it on. Just give me credit. Fair enough?
November 19, 2014

Pack Creek Ranch - Moab, Utah
Mid-November, 2014
Clear and cold – icy snow left over from a weekend storm.
Roof still leaks, but not as much.

This is being posted a little behind schedule.
It seems there was a system-wide failure of the internet.
All of Pack Creek Valley was off the web for a day.
That’s OK with me.
It’s like getting an electronic snow-day.
The wide world is on hold, and I can connect to the nearby world .
Get out the saw and axe and get outside to restore my firewood supply.
Get online in my mind . . .

DROPPING. . . AND . . . LETTING GO . . .

Medically speaking, dropsy is another word for edema - an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the interstitium, located beneath the skin and in the cavities of the body – usually manifested as swelling in the legs and arms and hands.

That is not my problem – not the dropsy that concerns me.

Dropsy is also a colloquial term for a tendency to frequently drop stuff.
The cause is inattentive clumsiness and haste.
That I know about.
There are whole days when I seem to have an acute-but-unexplainable case of this form of dropsy.
As if my hands and fingers were coated with Teflon.

Kitchen catastrophes on days gone by come to mind:

I recall dropping these things:
a full quart of milk
a large jar of honey
a plate of deviled eggs
a bottle of olive oil
a whole pan of macaroni-and-cheese
a box of blue-berries
a skillet full of hot grease during doughnut-making
a dozen fresh eggs
and, of course, a jar of peanut butter.

You can imagine . . . or remember your own domestic disasters.

And then there are the mishaps in the bathroom:
Dropping small pills or even a whole container of pills.
Losing control of delicate parts of an unassembled electric razor.
Not just dropping a tube of toothpaste, but stepping on it.
And then there is the loose bar of soap in the shower dance . . .
Dropping soap in the shower is a sure way to feel like an incompetent fumble-fingered fool.
Soap-On-A-Rope as a solution.

Supermarket disasters come to mind:
I don’t even want to talk about this – you wouldn’t believe it.
One piece of advice – don’t take small children into the aisles where pickles and olives are within reach.
And it’s just morally corrupt to walk away if nobody else is in the aisle when you unleash the jar of salsa from the top shelf.

Some Dropsy observations:

1. Things dropped do not land directly beneath the drop point.
Pills and blueberries are “runners” - capable of long-distance travel.
Deliberately dropping these items to see their capabilities is instructive.

2. Small items – pills, screws, blueberries will always roll to the most inaccessible place available – start looking there to begin with.
Unless . . . you are operating over the sink or a toilet.
Sooner or later you will learn not to do that – maybe.

3. Try not to drop things in the dark. But if you do, and it’s glass, and it breaks, and you are barefooted . . . don’t move, call for help.

4. On the other hand, very large, heavy items will fall straight down -
- you don’t have to look - your toes will notify you.

5. If the container doesn’t break – no glass shards in the mess -
then anything dropped may be picked up or even scraped up and eaten,
especially if nobody else is around or the dog doesn’t beat you to it.

5. The contents of large containers of liquid will be distributed over a far wider area than you think – when you are cleaning up, always check the nearby walls and the next room for random splashes.

6. Unbreakable items will fall on other items that are not.

7. Remember that the law of gravity has not been canceled – things that are let go of will fall down - only balloons fall up.

8. For entertaining after-dinner conversation, ask your guests to finish this sentence:  “I never will forget the time I dropped . . .

When researching the word “drop” I learned that it is one of the 1,000 most used English words.


dropping in
dropping out
dropping by
dropping off

dropping the subject
name dropping
just drop it
just a drop

dropping the curtain
getting the drop on someone
shop ‘til you drop’
drop dead

drop the bomb
drop off to sleep
ready to drop
drop your voice

dropped from the team
drops of rain
eye drops, nose drops
dropping temperature
dropping the ball, a hint, one’s guard, one’s trousers, a stitch
and dropping acid

And metaphors:
A young acquaintance recently said to me, of a girlfriend:
“Her eyes were open but the curtain in her mind had dropped.”

Enough of that.


When I went out to chop wood while waiting for the internet to be resurrected, my mind eased over into another category – a relative of dropping, but deeper and wider:
Letting go.
As in “turning loose on purpose.”
Big difference.
For example:
Dropping a dish is fast and easy.
Letting go of love takes time.
And it’s never quick and easy.

Letting go always takes time – disconnecting from family, lovers, friends, spouses, children, religion, culture, country, professions, feelings, memories, notions of self, and ways of life.
All that.

In my novel, THIRD WISH, one of the main characters is in a major state of letting go. He is on a train leaving Paris for Barcelona:

“As the train slowly backs its way out of the station through the railway marshaling yards, Max-Pol leans back in his chair and sighs. It is as he wished it might be. The night train from Paris to Barcelona. Food of another place. Service of another time. And no one he knows has any idea where he is or where he is going. It would take Interpol to find him.

Exile. Deliberate exile. Affirmative exile. To leave home, work, friends, and culture - to surface somewhere else. Exile, knowing that a new life will have to be constructed mostly out of the remnants of the old.

Still, for now, exile. Not as one banished, but as one going the long way around to be at home again in his own skin. He is not going off to find himself. He knows where he is now. But for the first time in his life he hasn’t planned exactly what comes next.
And, for the time being, it doesn’t matter.

He recalls three sentences from the notebooks of Albert Camus:

“I withdrew from the world not because I had enemies, but because I had friends. Not because they did me an ill turn . . . but because they thought me better than I am. That was a lie I could not endure.”

Max-Pol takes out a fountain pen and his journal, and writes: 

“Letting Go is not the same as giving up.

Admitting you’re beaten is not the same as defeat.

Withdrawal with honor is not the same as running away.”


And I, Robert Fulghum, would add, from my own notebooks, some rules for letting go:

There is a time to let go.
And a time to hold on.
When you become old and wise, experience will have taught you which is which and what was the right thing to do at the time.
You will have scars on your soul to show for it.

You may have to let go to go on . . .
But never break or cut what you can untie.

link to this story

November 12, 2014

Pack Creek Ranch - Moab, Utah
Mid-November, 2014
Chilly mornings, cloudy, windy –
Storm coming, with rain and snow.

My wife says she hopes I have cows out of my system and will find something else to talk about.
Fair enough.
Now, for something completely different . . .

Here’s a collection of material without explanation until the end.
I do promise to explain, but read through first.
It’s enough to say that there is an intentional incompleteness and lack of context to the lines and paragraphs – your reactions may fill in the space before and after and in between the lines.

I thought of three titles for the essay – and decided to use all three . . .


My brain is becoming like a spider’s web – nothing small goes by without being caught and consumed.

It’s not hard to be happy – it’s just hard to make it last very long on a regular basis.

I’m saving up my good deeds to buy an expensive sin.

Sometimes you have to cut your life down from the tree it has been hanging in

I always hope to be taken by surprise

Why did Noah’s Ark sail without the unicorn or the dragon?

This never happened.
But I never got over it.
It’s hard to explain . . .
Is that the end of the story?
It is.

He climbed the walls
and found only the ceiling.

. . . the place where morning
gets up stiff from having slept all night on the damp ground.

I have been studying the difference between solitude and loneliness.

And the difference between possibility and uncertainty.

Today’s task is to stay alive and awake in the space between firm convictions and
soft ambivalence.

Lie down on the side of an empty street sometime
with your feet against the curb
look toward the sidewalk, nervously
lift your hands
and see if anybody will say “Don’t Jump!”

She’s been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil

We’re all attracted to the perfume of fermenting joy

The clichés of Blues singers:
“Woke up this morning.....
Looked out the window
The rain was falling down.
She left in the middle of the night.
Caught the train to Memphis.
Woe, woe, woe, woe is me.

A song I’d like to hear:
I slept in again – felt so fine.
Looked at the ceiling – no message there.
Outside, it wasn’t raining.
Looks like she left – her stuff is gone.
Hope she likes Memphis.
Going to be a real good day.

His job was freeing prisoners in love with their chains.

A noun’s a thing.
A verb is the thing it does.
An adjective is what describes the noun.
As in “This can of beets is filled with purple fuzz.”

I wish, in the city of your heart,
You would let me be the street
where you walk when you are most

A man standing at the bus stop
reading the newspaper is on fire.
Flames are peeking out
from beneath his collar and cuffs
His shoes have begun to melt.

When I tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
I have so little to say

What good is one shoe?

He wasn’t good at listening, but he was brilliant at noticing.

Poetry is philosophy’s sister – the one that wears makeup.

A poet takes words and thoughts and feelings out of the orphanage for a day on the beach.

Poetry is tightrope walking with words.
If I tried to be a poet I would be dead by now, having fallen off the wire.

Standing around in the poetry section of a used book store you meet
people like you – it’s embarrassing sometimes.

He was too busy making new memories and making life memorable to dig around in old memories. He wanted to be a practicing magician, not an archeologist.
A starter of fires, not a coal miner.

Three great acts of life – birth, coitus, and death – all of which usually involve lying down.


To explain:

When reading, I mark lines and words and ideas that jump out at me.
Like being prodded with a sharp stick.
It’s not that I wish I had said that – I just think “That’s good – that’s cool.”

Later, I go through the books I’ve marked like a beachcomber – looking for things I passed by going up the beach and now picking up small things as I go back down the beach on the way home.
I often empty my pockets before leaving the beach because I know when I get home the odds and ends won’t mean much – the best part was being on the beach on a fine day and having my mind stirred up.

I’m not into plagiarism.
A fisherman would call my reading process “catch and release.”
It’s not about the fish.
It’s just being out there fishing that counts.
And having a story to tell later.

Most of the lines and paragraphs I’ve shared in this essay came from poetry.

I read poetry to provoke my creativity – I let it flow in and out like breathing.
It’s no good trying to get meaning by driving a poem into a corner and beating it with a club until it confesses.
Good poetry simply unclogs my mind and frees me to think my own thoughts and produce my own lines and paragraphs.

Or, I admit, I sometimes add my own twist to the word recipes of others – like a cook adding a little seasoning of their own to a stew.

When I’m in this mood, I want to say to someone else: “Look at this!”

That’s where you come in.

link to this story

November 10, 2014

Pack Creek Ranch - Moab, Utah
Second week in November, 2014
Chilly mornings, clear and warm and windy days

This posting is short because I have two days to patch my studio roof before the next chance of snow.
The local roofing wizard came out to inspect and showed me all the small holes.
The good news is that I don’t need a new roof – this one can be patched.
The bad news is that the wizard doesn’t have time to do the job.
The interesting news is that he thinks I can do it myself - with his instruction.

My first response was “Sure, how hard can this be?”
And my second response was “I remember the last time I thought that.”

One caution is that the caulking goop is so strong that if I kneel down on it while it dries I will leave part of my pants and knees behind, stuck to the roof.
But no fear – I have the equipment, the goop, the will, and the instructions.
If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll know I not only rested my knees on the super-goop, but rested my hands on it, too . . .

To keep my mind off the roofing experience, I’ll tell you about cows . . .


A small herd of a couple of hundred cows have been milling about in Pack Creek Valley for the past week– snow in the high country set them in motion toward winter pasture.
Cowboys have come to push them away from the houses in the lower valley because the flowers and lawns and vegetable gardens attract the gourmet side of cows – better than wild grass and weeds.
Not every home owner welcomes the cows.
A certain amount of hysteria is unleashed every year when this happens – provoked by the noises the cows make at night, the calling cards they leave behind in yards, and the desecration of the flower beds..

So the cows and cowboys and dogs get tangled up with the residents.
Add the county sheriff and his deputies into the mix – and you’ve got a raucous rodeo.
I always look forward to the entertainment.
Besides, I like cows.

Some believe that the spirits of human beings often get reincarnated into cows – as part of their transition around the great wheel of existence.
This is called samsara.
It’s an essential premise of Hindu theology.
In other words, cows have human beings inside them.
They don’t say much – it’s a little embarrassing coming back as a cow.

When nobody is around, I spend time with the cows.
And talk to them.
(It’s a little crazy, I suppose, but then think of the things you do when nobody else is around. If you have pets, you know what I mean.)

Just this morning I paid a visit to the herd now gathered around the shipping pens alongside the road into town.

Here’s what I said:

Good morning, ladies – good to have you here.
Just want to say hello and thank you for all that cows do.
Especially your cousins who work in the dairy division.
I like milk, cream, butter, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream.
And consume as much as possible.
As for your contributions to my diet, I admit that I am a carnivore, and, well, it’s awkward - you know what that means.
I eat beef.
But we don’t have to go into that.

I also know that all of you are a reincarnation of a human spirit on its way from one stage of life to another.
So you can safely talk to me.

Two of the bolder cows decided to chance it and break silence.
They came over to where I was standing by the fence.

“Hi, said one, “Thanks for coming – we do get lonely.”
“I’m Darlene, a former Baptist church secretary from Dallas.
And this is my friend, Mildred – a cosmetologist from Wichita Falls.
We didn’t expect to become cows, but it’s what you get if you lived a secretly loose life on the side and need an interim experience to humble you a bit before you get to the next stage of being reincarnated.

Mildred is in a grumpy mood because she lay down on a cactus last night and her udder will never be the same – maybe you heard her bellowing about three a.m.?
If I told her once, I told her a thousand times – Mildred, keep your titties out of the prickly pear, but she has to learn the hard way.

We had a good time up in the high country.
There was a bull up there with us who really knew his business.
Fred – an accountant from Amarillo.
All we did was eat, sleep, and get laid – great summer.

But we knew what was coming.
Mosey down here, play tag with the cowboys, tourists and sheriff, and then our yearling calves get taken away to the feedlot to get fattened up, slaughtered, and turned into hamburger, stew meat, and steaks.
So it goes . . .
I guess part of our karma is to experience a little grief before moving on.
We won’t be cows forever.
We’ve both got a request in to be ballerinas next.

Here comes the feed truck – gotta be moooving on.
Hope we’re not here next year, but if we are, say hello.”

With that, the cows headed for the hay and I headed for the roof.
(see cow photos on my Facebook page –

link to this story

November 03, 2014

­Pack Creek Ranch - Moab, Utah
The first week in November, 2014
Stormy Sunday – an all-day cycle of wind, thunder, lightning, rain, hail.
And fresh snow on all the mountain peaks.

Sunday is Random Day for me.
Deliberately so.
A day of respite from schedules, obligations, and things-to-do lists.
Moreover, Daylight Saving Time began on this particular Sunday.
An extra hour to sleep in more or less set the tone of the day in Random.

And when I sat down to write this, I hit the Random button on my CD player.
There are 200 albums in there, and I’m always pleased to hear music I had not listened to for a long time, or else don’t recall ever hearing – surprise!.

At this very moment I’m listening to the great Irish folksingers, The Clancy Brothers – a song entitled “They’re Moving Father’s Grave To Build A Sewer.”
I remember the lyrics and can sing along.
Which means I continue writing in an unexpectedly upbeat mood.
Imagine me with a smile on my face as I join the Clancys while writing
and using the Random setting of my mind:


Last week’s journal concerned time travel.
And my thinking continued in that vein all week.
It must be that Halloween provokes nostalgia for one’s youthful past.

I remember a story my dad often told me.
When he was 14, he and his father saddled horses and rode twenty-five miles from their home out in the east Texas piney woods all the way to Nacogdoches to see and to ride on the first mile of paved road in their part of Texas.
That was one hundred years ago.
My father grew up without electricity, running water, or indoor plumbing.
He had his first bath in hot water from a tap in a bathroom lit by electric light
in a hotel in Dallas when he was 19.
Hot water on demand, an indoor flush toilet, and light bulbs astonished him.

If I could travel back in time only a hundred years ago, I would like to saddle up and ride cross-country with my dad and my grand-dad to see the miracle mile.

I wonder what I might take along from now to then as a gift to impress them, and at the same time not strain their credibility – something they could imagine and use.
After much thought, I concluded that rolls of toilet paper might do.

At the end of last week’s essay about going back 1,000 years to Chaco Canyon,
I made the flippant remark that I should remember to take my tooth brush.

The next day I ran across an add from Oral-B for the latest in dental hygiene.
It’s an electronic tooth brush with built-in Bluetooth technology that connects it to an application for your smart phone while you are brushing.

You can program the device to monitor your brushing goals – the number of strokes, the number of times a day, how hard you’ve brushed and how long, and if your brushing habits have improved over time.
The device will report your results to your dentist for comment, arrange appointments with your hygienist, and remind you of your appointments.

I am not making this up.
Go to and see.

Am I going to get one?
No, probably not.
It would be like having my mother in my toothbrush.
And the idea that my toothbrush would fink on me to my dentist . . . well . . .

Hello, Mr. Fulghum, your toothbrush has reported that you are not brushing correctly after every meal, and are not flossing correctly.
Please report to this office on Monday at ten.

Busted by my toothbrush!
Imagine. . . .
Could I program it to give the dentist my usual ambiguous answers about my dental hygiene habits?
Would a toothbrush lie on my behalf?

And if I carried my smart phone and electronic toothbrush to show my Father and grandfather, would they believe me?
If my descedant from a hundred years in the future time travels back to visit me,
what would I show him-or-her something that excites me now as much as my ancestors were excited about a mile of paved road?
Not the toothbrush, for sure.
But he-or-she would probably not only be using the toothbrush on a regular basis, would have an app on his wrist phone that monitored his-or-her sex life . . .
(Think about it.)

Speaking of Bluetooth, I admit ignorance – so I looked it up.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances - using short-wavelength UHF radio waves.

Ah, but there is more – giving me a deep connection to Bluetooth.
As background, genealogists in my family have traced our ancestory back to a Danish king named – wait for it – Harald Bluetooth.
I quote directly from Wikipedia:
The word “Bluetooth” is an anglicized version of the Scandinavian Blåtand/Blåtann, (Old Norse blátϞnn) the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald Bluetooth who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom, according to a legend, introducing Christianity as well. The idea of this name was proposed in 1997 by Jim Kardach who developed a system that would allow mobile phones to communicate with computers. At the time of this proposal he was reading Frans G. Bengtsson’s historical novel The Long Ships about Vikings and king Harald Bluetooth. The implication is that Bluetooth does the same with communications protocols, uniting them into one universal standard.
The Bluetooth logo is a bind rune merging the Younger Futhark runes (Hagall) and (Bjarkan), Harald’s initials.
Ha! I am a Bluetooth man!
Maybe I’ll get the toothbrush after all.

Now it’s just after daybreak on Monday.
After a stormy weekend, I expected sunny, clear skies this morning when I got up.
That’s what the NOAA weather service predicted.
But no.
Right here where I live.
And that’s a wonderland treat for me.
But I wonder how the weather bureau feels about their forecast.

The nearest reporting station for me is called HWYU1.
Harm’s Way Utah 1.
An electronic set-up nearby on the slopes of the La Sal Mountain – sending signals to the NOAA headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.
(I must say I like being in the Harm’s Way unit – having lived in harm’s way most of my life.)

I wonder what it must be like to be a professional weather forecaster.
I don’t mean the weatherwomen and weathermen who do the daily weather dance on TV – that’s show business.
I mean the real deal – the trained scientists who have to take all the incoming technical data, make sense of it for the short and long term, and put it out there to be considered by the public.

If I worked as a weatherman I would keep my job as secret as if I was a CIA agent.
If people knew I was a weatherman, that’s all they would ever talk to me about.
And I’d get a lot of grief because my predictions were always a little iffy.
Everybody is an expert on the weather.
I can imagine the comments:

I could go outside and look at the sky and do better than you do.
You guys should open a window and look at the sky once in a while.
Why don’t you just flip a coin?
Why can’t you be sure – why always a percentage of chances?

I’d probably never admit to being a professional weather forecaster.
I’d say I have a government research job, but I can’t disclose it – top secret.
I wouldn’t even tell my children or my wife what I do for a living.


Yesterday I made chili con carne – my finest dish.
We’ll eat it tonight – guests coming for dinner.
Chili has to be made at least a day ahead of time so that the ingredients can marry – set up, coagulate, and achieve a low level of radioactivity.
It sat out on the porch all night in a big pot.

What’s in my chili, you ask?
Another secret I won’t reveal – I’m a Chili Pro.
I’m a member of the ICS – International Chili Society (check the web to see)
And we’re very coy about the contents of our chili.
You can assume the usual basic ingredients – meat, beans, chili peppers.
Beyond that I won’t go.
Except when people press me I always say that my special ingredients include cigar ashes, red ants, dried lizard tails, and some dirt imported from Mexico.
They don’t believe me.
Little do they know . . .


This is a commercial advertisement.
Something you’ve never seen in my web journal before.
It concerns the elimination of mice and pack rats.
For years I’ve been plagued with invasions of rodents here where I live in Utah half of each year.
I’ve employed all kinds of traps, baits, and even poisons.
On ongoing hassle.
Lots of mess and bother, and several banged up fingers from touchy traps.
But up to now not much consistent success.
Until I bought RAT ZAPPERS.

The units are the size of a small loaf of bread, battery operated, dog food as bait.
Turn it on, put it where rodents operate, and leave it overnight.
The rodent goes in for the dog food, gets electrocuted – ZAP! -, and a red light blinks telling you the deed has been done.
The next morning you shake the rodent out on the ground - no blood or ugly signs of cruel death – you only see the body of a small rodent - just a deceased creature welcomed by the birds or coyotes as breakfast.
In 6 weeks I’ve eliminated 23 mice and 3 pack rats.
If you have a rodent problem, you won’t after you use a Rat Zapper.
Go to the web.

(I wonder if there’s a Blue Tooth App for my phone so that the trap can call me and tell me it’s done the job?)

The Moab Folk Festival happens this week. (go to the web and see.)
Small town, small venues, small crowds – just the right size.
But the feeling in town is Big – music is in the air everywhere you go.
The Moab Folk Camp is in progress, too.
Talented amateurs come to write songs, improve their instrument skills, and play music together at every chance.

I’m grateful for the appearance of the musicians and songwriters.
It does my heart good to know that for all the madness in our world, people are still composing songs and playing acoustic instruments.
In the midst of the mundane there is still the human yearning to express joy and sorrow, laughter and solemnity, from deep within the human spirit and creative imagination – and to share that.

For all the ugly, sinister, frightening news of the world, we folks will take time out to make music in Moab this week.
And I will be there in the front row of the audience, filling the cup of my life to overflowing, blessed by the best in human nature.

As the postcards often say, Wish you were here.

(see my Facebook page for photos.

link to this story

October 29, 2014

Pack Creek Ranch - Moab, Utah
The last week in October, 2014
cool, windy weather – overnight freezing with morning frost.
Cattle are still wandering down the valley from summer pasture.

Please forgive the long lapse between postings - and thanks for the concern
expressed by those who have asked where I am and if I am OK.
I’m back safe and sound and in good spirits after a truly fine trip into New Mexico – all is well – too well, in fact. I’ve not posted anything reflecting on the adventure because my mind has been flooded – the streams of thinking have overflowed their banks.

This regularly happens when I’ve become overwhelmed by too much information about something that commands my interest, and it’s tempting to tell you far more than you ever wanted to know.
It’s hard to find a balance between understatement and overstatement in response to large ideas and experiences.
I’ve been writing at length, actually, but editing has been a challenge.
My rational mind says cut, cut, cut – condense, summarize, focus!
But hitting the delete button on brilliant-but-useless paragraphs is painful.
Do-it-yourself editing is a trap that my enthusiasm excels at avoiding.

But the thrashing around in the deluge must come to an end.
So I’ve done three things: practiced flood control on word overflow, provided some images that say what words cannot, and included links to sources of information if you want to expand knowledge of the topic on your own.

Here’s the result, entitled:

MYSTERY AT 107 degrees 57 minutes 30 seconds MERIDIAN

Suppose that time travel was actually possible.
Where would you go back to - and why?

Ask that provocative question at your dinner table or around an evening campfire, and the conversation will likely go long into the night.
The idea of time travel is an old and ongoing fantasy fueled by human imagination and curiosity.
It’s a mental excursion I’ve indulged in for the past week after a visit to Pueblo Bonito at the World Heritage Site at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.
Here’s how Pueblo Bonito looks now. Here’s how we think it looked once upon a time.

Located far out in the emptiness of the San Juan basin of north central New Mexico, Pueblo Bonito is the center of a complex culture spread over thousands of square miles of high-and-dry canyon-scarred desert. Nearby are hundreds of significant remains of buildings that are unique in human architectural history.

Pueblo Bonito, the best preserved of the Chaco Great Houses, rose four stories tall, held more than 800 rooms, and covered more than three acres (3 football fields.)
It’s ambitious stone construction is structurally sound, aesthetically pleasing, and complex in purpose.
Its builders had no beasts of burden, no wheeled vehicles, no special tools or equipment or construction materials.
Just a lot of small stones and mud buttressed with wood.
The wood for building came from sources more than fifty miles away –
thousands of logs and poles were carried by manpower alone.

To this day Pueblo Bonito defies explanation.
There’s not even agreement on how many people lived in it or used it.
But when you stand in the middle of the main plaza and look around, you know that something amazingly beautiful and powerful once existed here – at the center of what we have come to call Chacoan Culture.
A culture so exceptional that we can only look at it with astonishment.
One’s first question is “Why here?” – out in the middle of empty nowhere.

Apparently, Chacoans had a sophisticated understanding of astronomy.
They designed and aligned their buildings with respect to the annual movements of the moon and sun. And they placed their major buildings along the same meridian, long distances apart, without any engineering survey equipment.
The title of this essay is that north/south meridian: “107 degrees 57minutes 30
seconds” – a ritual road was built along it – 30 feet wide and 40 miles long – in a true, straight line – and how that was accomplished remains one more mystery.

(As an aside, I learned that contemporary believers in New Age thought see an
elaborate statement of spiritual understanding expressed by the Chacoans.
It is thought that they built on points of intersections of lines of power, and that fundamental universal vibrations remain viable in Chaco Canyon.
So much so that the National Park Service finds itself plagued by those who wish to connect with astrological forces by placing personal mementos, fetishes, crystals, and the cremated remains of loved ones within the Great Kivas at Chaco.
More than once the ceremonial locations have been closed to the public while a collection of ashes have been cleared from a site. This explains the surprising signs posted by the NPS.

I’d like to travel back in time to Pueblo Bonito 900 years ago when the Chaco civilization was at the height of its expression.
Specifically, I’d like to be in the Great Kiva on the night of the full moon in October, when a spiritual celebration was in progress – to see the procession of the dancers and hear songs driven by the throbbing drums – and be utterly entranced by the first-hand experience of what we only know now as a great mystery.

Even after 150 years of scientific investigation and archeological exploration, Mystery remains at the heart of almost everything we’ve learned about Chaco.
Why? and How? and Who? and What For? frame every question we can think of.
Most of the answers are inferential or speculative.
Many of the conclusions are contradictory.
We don’t know – and can’t ever know – unless time travel becomes possible.

For days my mind has been absorbed by the notion of time travel to Chaco.
The practical implications churned around in my brain.
I said to myself: OK, you’re going – get real – now what to consider?

Would I be exactly who I am now when I got there back then?
If so, what affect would I have on the people and situation already there?
Who’s the weird old dude who suddenly appeared in the back row in the kiva?
Robert Fulghum from the 21st century would appear as an alien creature.
Perceived as a god, maybe – and even worshipped, perhaps.
Or I might be considered an evil spirit, ritually sacrificed and even eaten.

(But . . . .no . . . not killed or eaten, because I have to show up later in history.)

My mind ran wild - questions flooded in:
What would I be wearing to blend in? – I don’t know how they dressed.
Could I speak their language? – I don’t know what it was.
How would I behave? – I don’t know their cultural protocols.
How long would I stay? – and if I was around for a while, where would I sleep? What would I eat?
What should I pack for the trip?
Should I bring gifts?
What would I bring to them in the way of knowledge or experience?
Would they want or appreciate what I could offer from the 21st century?

Complications mount up.
Maybe I should plan on being invisible – but time travel is difficult enough without having to figure out being un-seeable as well.

More concerns arise:
What would I bring back – because it must be a round trip, right?
Would I return with the answers to all the questions we have about Chaco?
Would anybody believe me or be pleased by what I reported?
Would I be satisfied by what I learned?
Or would the size of the Mystery only be increased?

Sigh . . . maybe it’s just as well that time travel is not possible or feasible.

Last night I awoke around 4 a.m. and went out on the porch to stare at the stars and planets – a time travel trip of its own – since some of the light that reaches me is from extra-terrestrial sources that may not even be there now because the light takes so long to get from there to me.

I thought about Chaco and Pueblo Bonito.
And felt content that such mysteries exist – provoking my curiosity and my poetic fantasy – even my dreams.
I can only imagine – and I will settle for that.

If I want Mystery, my life in the 21st century sometimes seems mostly Mystery.
Like a fish in the ocean, the sea I live in is Mystery.

And when I looked in the mirror at myself while brushing my teeth this morning, I realized that what I saw was about as much Mystery as I can handle today.

But still . . . if time travel becomes available, I’d sign up and risk going to Chaco.
I must remember to pack my toothbrush . . .

* * *

If you want a wider, deeper view of Chacoan culture, go to “Images of Chaco” on the web(, and consult “Chaco Canyon” on Wikipedia. Or better yet, go see for yourself . . .

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