Spring Snow

The flower's bloom is frosted white,
The sky now cloaked with gray,
Frigid air came with the night,
And stayed on through the day.

Warmth has paused to take a rest,
Giving winter one last fling,
Putting people to the test,
Before the summer conquers spring.


Rock climbing with the scouts

The Lord has a sick sense of humor…  I have a long established dislike of scouting (that’s probably too mild of a word, but I’m trying to be positive), and have recently been caught expressing my feeling that the only calling in the ward I would like less than being Bishop would be as the Scout Master.  About six months ago, while I was passing through Amarillo on my way back to DC after an unplanned and very short return to New Mexico, I got a call from the stake Executive Secretary asking if there was any way I could meet with the Stake President before I returned to DC.  The Bishop had been in the calling long time, and the talk was that it was time for someone new.  Seeing as how I had already left the state on my way to DC and wouldn’t be back for six months, the appointment never happened.  About four months later, they called a new Bishop…  Bishop Johnson.  I joked that it must have been that other brother Johnson they were looking for.

When I got home, everybody teased that I had dodged a bullet.  My response was generally along the lines of… “Yeah, so long as they don’t call me to be the scoutmaster instead.”   Fast forward a month or so, and lo and behold, exactly that happened.  I actually contemplated going inactive for a few years rather than accept the calling…  As a more positive alternative, I opted to accept the calling, and am still working on getting my mind wrapped around the fact that I have to have anything at all to do with the BSA.  I have been firmly in the camp that believes the church should cut ties with that organization, and have been disappointed every time the decision has been made to stick with them.   When I accepted the call to work with the young men, the Bishopric agreed that there was no need for me to dress up in a stupid uniform, and that I could make the program what I wanted it to be.  So… we’ll have a bunch of young men’s activities, and help the boys that are interested to earn rank/badges/whatever on the side.   That aside, I am now decidedly affiliated with scouting.

The first activity we’ve done (aside from one weeknight teaching boys to handle/throw/tie ropes) was a camp-out and rock-climbing.   Of the more attractive aspects of this almost God-forsaken city is that it’s a relatively short drive from here to some of the most beautiful ponderosa forests and  high-deserts you’ll find. As a consequence, there are a wide variety of people who rock-climb, hunt, mountain-bike, hike, show-shoe, and almost any other outdoor activity you can find.  With several avid climbers in the ward, the scouts have done an annual climbing trip every year for the last four years.  All I had to do was show up with a truck to haul all the boys gear and participate in the fun.

Weather here has been gorgeous lately, with temperatures near eighty, and overnight lows only dropping into the fifties.  Nobody thought too hard about the fact that the place we would be climbing would be several thousand feet higher elevation, so everyone was shocked when it had dropped down near 20 by morning.  I think I was probably one of the only ones who was comfortable (I never rely on scouts to plan and pack for me…  I keep what I need to be comfortable in my truck toolbox pretty much all the time).   It was a chore to peel the boys away from the fire to get camp broken down, but we succeeded and were packed up and headed to the rock-face by seven thirty.

Of the boys and leaders, everyone but one of the young men went up the rock face at least twenty feet.  A few of the boys made it to the top of the most difficult route (I only made it 1/3 of the way up that particular one before realizing pulling my 200 lbs another 40 feet up that route wasn’t something I was going to be able to finish).  I was proud of all of them.  Of the croud, I managed the worst injuries with just some skinned knuckles and a little road-rash on an elbow (on that last and most difficult climb), so the trip met my criteria for success — nobody in the E.R. and everyone tired and happy on the ride home.  Pictures below:



Cannot stop and fingers fly,
Mind is spinning round,
Heart is racing, hands are shaking,
Novel thoughts abound.

Looking 'round my cubicle,
The reason seems quite clear,
Soda cans and coffee cups,
Are piled to my ears.

But tomorrow looking back,
I'm sure that I will find,
Caffeine had confused my thoughts,
And distorted my mind.

Taste of life

In Santa Fe the only way 
Is everything with green
In San Anton' my one-time home
Mesquite smoke takes the throne

Ketchup mixed with mayo
Is a Utah kind of thing
Sausage made of Caribou
The Fairbanks waiter brings
Cincinnati chili
Is Ohio's favorite dish
Po-boys stuffed with crawfish
Make Louisiana rich

Food defines the taste of life
'Bout everywhere we go
Adding different flavors
To the path on which we go.

The Well

The well refills at a trickling flow,
Though steady and sure it's painfully slow.
When allowed to recharge and refill complete,
It's waters are cold and clear and sweet.
It refreshes and wets the dustiest thirst,
To hydrate and quench from last to first.

But draw out too often in quantities great,
The recharging waters will flow in too late.
And grasping for more sirs up silt and mud,
Which makes the dark water thicker than blood.
Losing its power to refresh and cool,
Nothing remains but a fetid dark pool.


Cloaked in spines just under skin
Ready to break out at the slightest touch
Itching to break free from below.
Frigid with hard bony edges
Other's touch highlights the cold
Recoil at feeling the warmth.
Knowing that touch is important
That others need to feel me
Suppress the urge to withdraw.
Know too that I need to be touched
To be human, to be happy
To keep the spines under the skin.


The clank and clatter of steel on steel,
The squeak and squeal of heavy wheels,
The muttered curses of tired young men,
The rumbling engines fill silence and then,

The thud of explosions just up ahead,
The unspoken fear that friends are now dead,
The cackle of rifles so very close by,
Men screaming for corpsmen in agony cry,

With no real idea what it's all for,
Beyond a vague notion we've done this before,
Results that profoundly were painful back then,
Resurface and teach the same lessons again,

We came here to liberate and to make free,
Naivest of hopes that will never be,
Sent here by those who don't understand,
The traditions and culture of this foreign land,

Or compounding costs in broken down souls,
Once brightest futures snuffed in dark holes,
Ideals and potential by profligates spent,
Even though none of them ever went,

Millions and billions of dollars are gone,
Turned into mayhem, destruction, and bombs,
Cities are leveled and homes ground to dust,
Bridges are tumbled and left there to rust,

Why did we do this? I can't understand,
Leave our blessed home for some foreign land,
How is this worth it? I really can't say,
I just want to leave it and go on my way.