RavenWorks Knives

Hello Friends! Been a while! ….but I want to share with you what I have been up to. Here is a link to my new “avocation”,  https://ravenworksknives.com  It has taken some time in the making and I am excited about it’s launch. As I referenced in an earlier post, I have been teaching myself the craft of making hunting knives and it has become a passion of mine now. Sure helps with the winter months of being dry docked with the “Bubble”. Set up shop about 8 months ago and have been buying blanks and billets, sometimes reshaping the blades and always “sculpting” my handles from different exotic woods and other unusual materials with the intention to form fit the hand like a glove. I am particularly excited about the subtle contours I have incorporated into the beautiful, ergonomically shaped grips on these handcrafted knives. See for yourself! It’s sort of like the Irish in me met up with the Italian that’s not in me… and as they say in New York, “a regula ‘MICKEY-ANGELO’ transpired!” In addition to handcrafting the knives, I have been working leather to make companion sheaths customized for each individual blade. All knives are unique and one of a kind. Check it out when you get the chance and spread the word to your friends and neighbors!

SLÁINTE!

Sticks and Stones and Ravens Too

There are two kinds of people in the world, those that think there are only two kinds of people and those who know better. I used to believe that, but lately I have been feeling differently. Maybe there are only two… “them that are busy being born and them that are busy dying.” Age has nothing to do with it. Age indiscriminate. Unrelated. Immune. It’s a choice.

In the Rocky Mountains, I did a solo hike one morning climbing 4 miles, 2,500 feet straight up in less than two hours, starting out at 9,000 and ending up at 11,500 ft. Feeling sort of full of myself, rather self-satisfied until I got to the very peak of the “evil” Twin Sisters. There I saw nestled in the crook of two outcropping slabs of rock, like it was nature’s own answer to the lazy boy recliner, balanced precariously and dangling half of his body above a three mile straight drop, was a man ten years my senior. I guess he got up earlier than me. Scars ran the length of both of his legs cutting sharply across both knees. As he looked across to Longs Peak in the distance he told me in two weeks he would be doing it maybe for the last time. It’s one of Colorado’s fifty three 14’ers and he and his wife would make camp at around 9,500. She would make him breakfast the second morning before he went on alone. He’d been doing it for 20 yrs. Said every year he would listen for God to tell him when to stop. But so far every year, twice a year, he’d been good for it. He stared calmly at it like you would look at an old friend while we talked and he told me about how this had all been a gift.

My father used to say that he’d rather die of exhaustion than boredom. Well, Dad you did it . . . and why not? No compromises. No negotiation. On your own terms, it is your choice. Your life. Lionhearted.  21st Century Solomon. I knew him, he was a friend.

Stopped by to see some longtime friends in Albuquerque on our way back. Life has a way of separating you from the things you love when you are out to make a life for yourself. Hadn’t seen them for years but the kind of friends with infinite hearts who don’t waste time with judgments. Not where have you been (?), so much as who are you now? They make their living as artists, they are fueled by their wellspring. Living in the illuminated shadows of the Sandia Mountains, they are alive in their art, daily they are fearless, constant rebirth, re-evolution.

Alive.

Living.

A gift.

Find something you love to do and do it with all your might . . . and just maybe, you will live forever.

but always, as you go down the road of life . . . remember this above all else:                                 “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.    Except for bears.    Bears will kill you.”

Sedona (yes again, didn’t get to do Bear Mtn last time), Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands, The Rockies, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. 4,120 miles. 3 wildfires. 1 moon.

Click below:

 

¡Cuba Vive!

Things have been wonderfully busy for me. Made a solo trip to the Ozark Mountains and hiked without seeing a soul for days. Mostly brown, (wrong time of year for pics to share with you, though I did get a few keepers). Also, been learning the craft of making hunting knives which has become a passion overnight. That and the usual;  working out, swimming, frightening the neighbors finding me out in their front lawns staring up into trees at all hours of the day ‘n night, (“Let me explain, officer.. just grabbing sound bites of the little birdies”), planning summer and fall trips for the “Bubble”  …overall, things have been good.

Then Cuba. “¡Cuba Vive!”

Webster defines the word “lovely” as follows; “having a beauty that appeals to the heart or mind as well as to the eye”. . . “of a great moral or spiritual beauty”. While not a word I would normally use and unaware of the specifics of it’s definition, for some reason it kept coming to mind both while in Cuba and on the return home. I know why. Everything about Cuba and it’s people is lovely. Cuba IS it’s people. Immediately they get into your heart and soul. Imagine being surrounded everywhere by beautiful textures, colors, warm and engaging people, and music as the backdrop anywhere you go, any time you go. You see it in their eyes. Prideful. You see it in their minds. Seeking. Curious. You see it in their hearts. Giving.

I am going to keep it short because the piece I want to share with you is a little longer than the usual and I know that this will be a better glimpse into the people who mean so much to me now that I have shared some time with them. I am very excited about sharing it with you.

Cuba Lives!

West Texas, Sedona Part Two: Sedona

Terlingua (base camp for Big Bend country) and Sedona (day hike capital of America) are uniquely beautiful but opposite in every way. If Terlingua bodes the menace of hot sauce emblazoned with a label featuring skull and crossbones, Sedona foreshadows the frightening prospect of a projectile olive emanating from a martini as a golf cart hits a bunker in the fairway. Musically speaking, Terlingua is “Tito Y Las Tarantulas” (and yes, ‘tarantulas’ in English or Spanish . . . same thing), while Sedona is the sound track from “Hamilton”. “Poncho weather” VS “Sweater weather” (one’s cashmere cascading around shoulders and neck in reckless abandon and sleeves tied loosely in front). Cinematically, “The Good The Bad and The Ugly” and, well, . . . “La La Land”. You get where I’m going. Before you even get to Sedona you must be diligent in your efforts to avoid the perils of making a very wrong turn and going down the dreaded “Carefree Highway”, (some have never returned quite the same, ref. Odysseus… just sayin’ folks). Seriously, see above “unretouched” photo, I can’t make this stuff up!

Sedona hiking is an absolute beauty and a mecca for hikers even in the winter months. Full of wonderful vistas, technical challenges on icy slip rock, stunning scenery, and my favorite, the contorted Juniper tree, a living piece of art, twisting and bending into individual art forms each one different than the next. Hidden ancient kivas featuring pictographs/petroglyphs, if you can find them. The people of the area have wisely kept them secret and hearing of them we scrambled our way off the beaten path through cactus and briar up a steep incline to find them. As we sat and had lunch, frustrated by our attempt and looking a little cartoonish with cactus and briar sticking out from EVERYWHERE, unknowingly missing our goal by only 500 meters, we had the very good fortune of meeting up with Rob, http://wildernessvagabond.com who got us back on track. We spent a wonderful half day with Rob, a man with a plethora of knowledge about the indigenous people, Puebloan ancestors of the Hopi, commonly, but mistakenly referred to as the Anasazi, (actually an adversarial label of the Navajo meaning “ancient enemy”). It is truly magical to stand in front of the pictographs painted on stone so many years ago. Big shout out to Rob, check out his site if you get the chance!

Another we’d like to say a big thanks to is “Hike Mike”, thehikehouse.com. A great resource and a very cool store for hikers in Sedona. These guys really care about your hikes and Mike took the time out to plan some exceptional loops for us. Hikes I’m sure even “Hootis Skunkfoot” would bless with 5 stars! The generosity of time and spirit just from these two people alone is a great example of the area’s many good vibes.

Check out the new video below and put on your headsets if you have them. I’ve been playing around some more with my audio mixing… if you’re having a tough day it’s guaranteed to relax you!

West Texas, Sedona Part One: West Texas

West Texas was good, caught some elevation hiking Big Bend, climbing the 3rd highest peak in Texas, Emory, (the other two being in the Guadalupe region of Texas, i.e. “El Capitan”). Confessionally speaking, I sort of struggled at first seeking to find the physical beauty of it for some sort of documentation photographically. About the third day in, on the way back and forth from Terlingua to Alpine, (six hours that day just in search of a 30-20 amp tandum breaker that went bad in the “Bubble” and getting to know the border inspectors REAL well, “Hey, there’s Dave again!”), it finally dawned on me.   West Texas is a feeling.

A landscape within and without, the physical and emotional topography of it an amalgam that exists in it’s inhabitants. Cowboy existentialism. Mysterious, barren, minimalist, a quiet enigma, the will to live despite the harsh terrain. A place where an honest day’s work doesn’t need to be acknowledged by a survey at the end of it wanting to know “how we did?”, just for doing your job.

Expansive and quiet, the wind at times the only sound, not needing anything from me, I exist or I don’t, I started to get it. With the same bold independence of the mountain ranges rising up out of the middle of the flat and arrid desert, these good people are strong and quiet and go about their daily work, no complaints no gripes no grievances no protestations no whining, none of the emotional debris that we have gotten a little too much permission these days to luxuriate in. My father was a child of the depression. Stoic and hard working, a lion hearted man with a generosity to others unmatched by anyone I have known so far. Always drawn to the Texas landscape for what reason I never understood until now. His cowboy hat is always with me on these trips in the backseat. He liked this trip.

I was in our local Tom Thumb yesterday idly thumbing through their vast array of Dr Scholl’s shoe inserts for men knowing, but refusing to believe, that the Simple brand clogs that I have had for years were on their way out and this was only going to be a temporary patch. I get attached to things. Just recently coming off a month long hiking trip in the mountains of Big Bend, Tx and Sedona, Az, things became especially alluring when I started reading the variety of options available. Should I go with “Air Pillo” (the font italicized suggesting a flow of comfort). Or maybe the “Massaging Gel Work Insoles” “massaging”. . . ooh that sounds nice, “work”. . . not so much. Could it be the “Dr Scholl’s Odor-X Odor Fighting Insoles?”, not wishing to encourage a full scale war in the lower extremities of my body, I moved on to the “DreamWalk Comfort Insoles”. Aaaaahhh… “DreamWalk”, perhaps little clouds for my feet suggesting a possible somnambulant barrier to the more challenging realities of life these days. All my “dreams” come true for the low, low price of $8.99. Seriously, does it get any better? Maybe I’ll buy a case of these things and gaff tape them to my entire body before I leave in the mornings.

So as I headed confidently toward the cashier with my “DreamWalk Comfort Sole Inserts” in hand, I wondered, which Dr Scholl’s do they prefer in West Texas?

Check out the video below, next up posting will be Part Two: Sedona, Az.

 

It’s Christmas! Call the cops.

It’s Christmas! Call the cops.

I was catching a ride to pick up the “Purple Beast” from a recent repair of having sway bar bushings replaced before the next trip. My Dad’s truck. Undaunted by a mild case of color blindness in the magenta/blue spectrum, I don’t think he ever knew what color it was. GMC. Texas Edition. Dark Brahma Jewel. Good. (I think it was the “Brahma” that got him). Anyways, back to my story. So, I’m passing through one of our “nobler, upper crust, 1%(er)”  neighborhoods in Lakewood and a little bit of Christmas ornamentation catches my eye. Getting to be dark outside I see there’s this little glittering rocking horse tied to a tree in a front lawn. Sparkling with happiness it beckons to me to come visit. I honestly, don’t know what it was about this little guy, but sure enough, I was powerless but to retrieve the truck, head home, pick up my camera gear and head back to document.

In a trancelike state, succumbing to it’s charm, I get my tripod set up at just the right angle and while shooting some video, this “noble 1%er” walks up, complete with drink in hand, and asks me just what do I think I’m doing? So I explained that I was taking some pictures of this neat little rocking horse Christmas ornamentation, from the sidewalk, “which by the way, IS public”. Apparently, he felt that 20 minutes was way too long to be taking pictures of said rocking horse, (everbody’s a critic). Looking “suspicious” (me), could I be “casing the joint”?

Seriously.

Completely baffled by this, the only reasonable response to this inquiry I could see was to pull up the bottom of my pants, flash him my festive AND holiday appropriate attire of official Rudolf socks equipped with the required Duracell CR2032 1.5 volt battery stitched into the lining, dry clean only, thank you very much, featuring the familiar ‘Rangier tarandus’ in all it’s glory projecting himself angularly upwards and diagonally across the wool (and my shins), with his obvious and easily identifiable blinking red proboscis, sniffer, snoot, snuffer, whiffer, schnoz, . . .all ablaze. I assured him not to worry, that everything was all right and that could he keep a secret(?). I was actually “undercover”, fine tuning my GPS because I had “lead reindeer” tryouts later in the week.

He called the cops.

Merry Christmas.

Ghost Trees

Ok, so truth be told, it wasn’t my usual trek into the wilds.   Hardly.
I think it’s called “Glamping”. The only elevation gain to be had was getting up from my chair after staring at the tree canopy for an hour to get another cup of French press coffee. Second night in, steak and lobster. Two, count them, TWO mornings in a row it was blueberry pancakes and bacon. Most of you who know me may find that hard to believe but let’s be civil folks, we are not animals! I did cook all meals outside, so that’s something right? In my defense there was no real hiking to be had in Caddo, mostly sort of a bayou area. So what else is there to do but adapt! We did canoe a couple of afternoons and advice to you all out there, take the back of the canoe! The person in the front cannot see you as they are VERY busy paddling and if they turn around you have enough time to put your oar in the water and make rowing movements. I must say Cindy did a great job! (All together now… “you little s*#t”).   Thank you.   Well, somebody has to steer right? (I think he is called “the captain”).
I did manage to squeeze in a couple of hours of photography on two different days and put together a little still/motion assemblage for you. It’s a short one, but I found the Bald Cypress trees with their spanish moss to be mesmerizing, ghostly. There is a real quiet sort of calm that overcomes you when in their presence. They seem almost like bearded old souls collectively telling their stories to each other unaware of our intrusion. But if you listen closely, sometimes you swear you can almost hear little murmurs of wisdom shared. As you weave in and out of maze-like side passages things become more and more a mystery. A little deeper in you start to separate out the individual voices.
“Go Back, Go Back…! You are out of beer AND bacon and the stores are closing in an hour!” Oh, the horror.
All right, I promise next time to be a little more adventurous, Glacier, Montana is in the wings and I am putting something together to share with you soon.
I’ll let you know when I do so you can check back in!
Best to all, my friends! Miss you!

Click on Video below to see the still/motion: