Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Aww, dammit, Castaneda!!

the_dark_legacy_of_carlos_castanedaI’ve loved Carlos Castaneda's books since I discovered them 20+ years ago.  To get more “info” about him and his ideas, I even read books by his female followers. I recently got his last book as a gift, one that I wasn’t aware was published, although apparently it had been out since 1998. So yeah… I guess it had been a while since I really was “into” his books

Well, yesterday, I finished that book… and I just felt a little disturbed.  I guess the fact that the book is prefaced by a note that he died in 1998, coupled with the fact that in his books, his premise was that his ending was going to be very different, kind of bothered me. It’s all kind of fantasy ,“way out there” stuff anyway, although some of his first novels actually do read like an anthropologist’s journal. Somehow, though, in the back of my mind, I guess I hoped some of the stuff about spirituality and energy was true.

So… I Googled him this morning and found this article. The dark legacy of Carlos Castaneda. Much darker than I would have guessed.

Its not so much that I believed everything he wrote was true, but that to be such a favorite author of mine and then read about a truly dark and somewhat insidious past kind of pulled the rug out from under me.

Awww, crap!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

“What’s new?” you ask

I see some exciting new things on the horizon. 

2012-08-25_06-49-53_6822012-12-25_18-14-28_723A cook book, a catering business and a restaurant.  It’s all in the works, some of it in the near future, some of it a little further out there. At the moment, I daren’t say more, because there are things to take care of yet. I’m sure you all will be the first to know when things take off, so stay tuned.

2012-10-15_21-38-49_29I’ve picked up my pencils, paints, pens and other artsy tools lately, and have begun playing around putting the doodles in my brain on paper.  If I had a natural talent, drawing and sketching would probably be it… I just never practice or think to do it, so my creations aren’t necessarily Art-in-the–Park worthy. Not that I do them for anyone else but me anyway.

GuitarI’ve been playing a bit more guitar, not necessarily a natural talent, but it is something that I love to do. 

cien anosI’ve put a little work into re-learning and studying more Spanish. Here again… not even close to a natural talent, but I love that language! Who knows… maybe someday I’ll even get good enough to speak to someone other than myself in the truck.

DSCN0207It seems like it might be time to brew a couple batches of beer too.  Something hoppy, something delicious.

And finally… I’ve started applying for Licensure as a Land Surveyor in a couple other states, Vermont & Massachusetts. I’ve been licensed in New Hampshire for 14 years. Getting the first license is the tricky part… it takes a 9 hour SIT exam, years of gaining experience and building a portfolio, 6 hours of the National exam and 3 hours of the State exam.  I’m just a number of months and a 1/2 day State exam away from being a licensed Vermont surveyor…hopefully.

So there is is… a bit of what I’m up to. I know what you’re thinking…. not much of a blog post really … but I just felt the need to play with blogger and I’ve got an hour to kill before I pick up my daughter.  

Goof

Monday, January 14, 2013

Winter

SnowflakeI wish it would just show up… at least for a month. I remember snow storms that dropped inches and inches of snow that buried cars. Snow forts, snow shoeing, skiing, winter camp fires, snowball fights, 3 day snow days from school.  I hate to think that winter around here  will be one of those disbelieved stories we tell our grandchildren someday. Its January 14th and 52 deg. F outside right now and what little snow we had is quickly dissipating.  

Remeber when...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Childhood Influences

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The other day, I was asked by a friend of mine if I could contribute something to The Benchmark or The TBM, which are both publications of the New Hampshire Land Surveyor’s Association. On the drive home from work, I muddled around in my head some different ideas and topics, but nothing really struck me. There are a lot of guys out there who write really great articles, involving important professional topics, or interesting surveying life experiences. What could I contribute?

I began to think about surveying in general, and what I love about it. A lot of what I do in the Surveying profession incorporates so much of what I have always loved to do. I spend a lot of time working and getting paid to play at my interests and hobbies. Then it dawned on me that most of what I do… what I really like about surveying, came from childhood experiences.

clip_image002So first of all, there is being out in the forest. Most of the early childhood memories, that I have any clarity about, involve hiking out in the woods with my Dad. Maybe it's just because that is all I remember, or maybe it’s because of the big impact being outside had on my life.

And it wasn’t all hiking, but more like time spent outdoors. I can recall so many hikes and outdoor adventures with Dad and the family. A lot of the memories are winter-ish, where we had camp fires, hot dogs or venison, cocoa or coffee, and usually my brother and grandfather were involved. clip_image003The smell of tobacco was delicious on the cold winter air. On many of the hikes we had interesting stories about the history of the places we visited.

Huntley Mountain, in Marlow, where my family settled in the 1700’s was a popular hike. There were old family residences, wood frame houses, long abandoned, that were in various states clip_image004of decay. In a few spots, only cellar holes remained. We would hike to these places, explore the ruins and listen to the stories of who lived there. A few hikes were plant gathering missions to dig up heirlooms; lilacs, lilies, iris and rhododendrons to landscape our home with “Huntley” plants.

Other places that stick out in my memory are the channel up in Marlow, where a bridge had once stood, now long gone. The Old Airport, in west Keene, with a hanger and pieces of old planes still scattered in the winterberry and dogwoods at the edge of cornfield. You could always find treasures to bring home. The old Forestry where Dad played and made forts as a kid, and where he worked when he was older. The Forestry is now completely overgrown and “lost”. The cellar holes on Highland Hill, where we mined a few chimney bricks from the ruins to make a small brick walk at home.

clip_image005When I was 10, we moved to Westmoreland, where we had endless woods, fields, marshes, ravines and swamps to explore, right from the back door. We were always outside. We explored countless places in the woods and checked out so many cellar holes and ruins, and wondered, who lived there and what happened to them.

It was about this time that I started reading two of the authors who clip_image006ended up being a big influence in my life.

The first was Eric Sloane. Aunt Chike and Uncle Bill bought me a set of books by Eric Sloane one year for Christmas. He wrote wonderful historic narratives and filled the pages with fantastic pen and ink drawings of early American colonial life. I learned how the stone walls came to be, what farms may have looked like, and why cellar holes and roads were arranged the way they were around our rural town from these books.

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I learned about all the of the tree species in our area, and what their wood was used for historically. The trinkets and treasures that we found in the old cellar holes and stone walls took on new meaning, as I understood their historical context and importance.

Gardening, farming, herbs, building and creating things out of wood, 1830’s life and places like Old Sturbridge Village became a passion, as did something else… drawing, especially with pen and ink. Drawing pictures and plans for farms and gardens in India ink. Ink that was permanent. Plans that I still have today, 30 years later.

 

 

clip_image010clip_image009The other author that I discovered was J.R.R. Tolkien. If you don’t know who HE is, well…Where have you been? He is of course the author of The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, The Silmarillion, among other books. He is, in my mind, the founding father of the fantasy novel. His novels are full of dragons, goblins, elves and men, great cities and faraway lands and all kinds of maps and descriptions of these places.

My brother & I spent hours upon hours, days on end, making paths and roads through the woods, with outposts and kingdoms. We built walls and forts. We figured out the boundaries of our lands, and the land of the neighboring kids, and had mock wars. Our arrows were apples from the old clip_image011trees along the borders and our shields were 50 gallon trash can lids.

There were hot disputes over where the borders between our lands actually were, and we spent hours drawing maps in pen and ink, on paper browned with coffee to look like parchment, so it could be ancient, and thus have the weight of truth. We surveyed all our lands, and mapped all the roads, the forts, the wet areas, the gravel pits, the resource areas and danger spots. We hid treasures throughout our kingdoms, treasures which could only be found again with these maps. Our kingdoms were documented for posterity, and again… many of those maps still survive today. My kids like to pull them out of my foot locker and look at the “ancient documents” some of which are written in Runes or Elvish script and that need translating. A few of the clip_image013treasures they mark are still there, waiting.

So here I am, 36 years later, a Land Surveyor and a Wetland Scientist. I get hired to do a survey, and start off on another adventure or quest. It’s rarely the same job twice and there is usually something new and interesting to find out or see. I travel to other towns and walk properties I’ve always wanted to explore. I go to the town halls and registries and spend hours pondering over historical documents and maps, trying to find written evidence about the location of lost boundary corners, old stone walls or trees long since rotted… the hidden treasure.

More can be discovered at historical societies, libraries and the State Archives. I get to visit all these places and dig into ancient tomes and browse antique maps, searching for clues to the location of the hidden treasures.

clip_image015Some days I spend hours walking through forests and swamps, trying to find the treasure that the deeds and plans reference; that hidden stone post or iron marker buried beneath the forest duff marking an ancient property corner. The treasure could be a set of triple blazes on an old beech tree or a stone wall that once marked a border of a pasture and a mowing. Or perhaps a stake and stones on some barren cliff surrounded by hemlocks, inaccessible and maybe not seen in scores of years. It could be the bar way in a stone wall that some ancient deed refers to as the beginning point of the “new” division line. Any these might be the treasure that I seek, the treasure that will solve the mystery of where the property boundaries that I'm looking for lie.

clip_image016Once I’ve found the evidence and markers, I buckle on my machete (sword), put on my surveying vest (armor) and gather my surveying tools and jump in my truck (valiant steed). I may spend days measuring (adventuring), noting all the evidence of human occupation; physical boundaries, lines called for and occupied, and the roads and travelled ways by which these places have access.

clip_image017When I come back to the office, I draw maps and plans of all these places. My plans show where the walls lie, where wetlands are located, where houses are built. They delineate the roads and paths and tree lines and springs.

I print my maps on Mylar, with permanent ink, and record them at the County Registry of Deeds, so that someday, a hundred years from now, someone can look at my ancient documents and know what was on the ground and where the boundaries were at that time. I am happy to say that I discovered an occupation that involves most of the things I have always loved to do and includes many of my hobbies.

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I've talked to a lot of guys that when asked how they got into the profession, tell you they went to surveying school, or got experience in the military or picked up a job with a surveyor when they were young. Me? I blame Tolkien, Eric Sloan and my Dad. Best job ever, thanks guys!