Monday, January 4, 2016


nose to the ground
Early afternoon I went out the door with dog and new walking stick. She saw me pick up the stick and flinched slightly. It told me something about her past and her insecurity. I assured her the stick was not for hitting dogs. We don't do that here. I would use it to hit a dog attacking my dog friend, only then. Dog protects me. I protect dog. She's not yet saved me from a bear attack, but she makes it possible to walk in the woods again without concern for four-legged surprises. Dog would smell and see it before I would, and bark aggressively, alerting whatever it might be to leave primate alone. Primate has a ninja dog blood brother, in this case sister, who will die to protect him. The barking alerts me to look for what it is dog sees, most often a twig shifting in near distance, maybe a squirrel running for a tree after seeing a dog. She bounded with joy walking toward the road. She knew we were not going to the car, but beyond the car into walking stick world, paradise for dog's inquiring nose.
rhododendron walking stick
The wood for the stick came from an old rhododendron in the woods behind the barn, dead for so many years the wood cracked from the drying process. The bark was paper thin, loose and falling off. The bark under the exterior bark was fused to the wood structure. This layer of bark I carved off with the pocket knife. It takes several hours to carve the bark away and round the tips. The end that is the handle needs to be smooth as glass for walking comfort, sometimes in the palm of the hand. Also rounded the tip that touches the ground to inhibit splintering and splitting.  The wood has been dead for so many years the rotting process had begun. Rotting starts in rhododendron with black lines like drawn with an extra-fine-line pen running in abstract patterns with the wood's flow lines and some discoloration in abstract absence of pattern. It has the strength of the living wood, as dry as the wood can be before decay sets in. I think of the abstraction of lines and discoloring something like the patterns retained from memory of experience in the soul, called impressions and sanskaras. Mental impressions, mind tattoos, experience carried from lifetime to lifetime. This is my stick for the rest of this lifetime.
dog head and water flow
In my own personal symbolism, the stick represents the journey of the soul. I've never used a walking stick in the years I roamed the mountains following a dog. In this time of advanced age, I'm not as firm on the feet as I one time was. I walked over varieties of ground with the stick to get a feel for handling it over different terrain. It is good for balance, extra good for climbing a steep hill and walking down a steep hill, good for a sideways slant. The stick is a good brace for jumping from one big rock to another, a hand to hold. In the past, a walking stick became a nuisance I carried over my shoulder soon after starting the walk. I'm slower now and not so lithe on the feet. A walking stick makes a good assist. It is good to lean on during a break, standing still watching dog play in the water, run over the ground, up hills, over trails of the night people, following her nose like it's attached to a meandering rail.
lady in red
Early in the walk, I came upon a place to approach with attention to foot placement. Went within to my "center," just below the navel, focused balance there, instead of in my head, and balance came so naturally so quickly it felt something like shifting gears. I took an interest in photographing water flow over small rocks, over sand, over big rocks, channels of flow, looking to catch the lines of flow on the water's surface like the continually changing flames of a fire. Walking in the woods makes dog deliriously happy. It lifts primate's spirit as well. We will take longer walks as time goes by. Winter is a good time for walking in the woods. The serpents sleep in hidden places. I like not being concerned about stepping on a snake. Another thing I like about walking with a dog is they find snakes first. The dog alerts me to the snake and we walk around the snake. Dog's senses are hyper-alert out in the woods. I'm enjoying seeing a dog run free in forest, a dog only familiar with city life on a leash. It's how I felt in the beginnings of living in the Blue Ridge, let off the leash. I'm used to it by now, it's the grain of my life. Dog is refreshing foggy memory of wonderment in the first years of walking over these mountains. I review my own awe in the time of discovering these mountains were the terrain of my spiritual path of liberation from self by way of understanding, attitude toward life, allowing, and mere being.  

the same place maybe 3 seconds apart

photos by tj worthington



Saturday, January 2, 2016


trees in the rain
An image of John Lennon just now ran across the movie screen inside my head. I recalled seeing a headline a week or so ago of his son by his first wife telling the world John Lennon was not a nice man at home, that the kid never saw any love in him. John wrote songs about love, but didn't live the love he wrote songs about. Therefore, he was a hypocrite. What does that have to do with anything? King David wrote the most beautiful songs about love ever, period. He was a rogue. John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace, was a slave trader. I read in John Berryman's Dream Songs and see video of an interview with him, I don't see all his poems in him. I see just a man whose mind pieced together with words and rhythms some amazing compositions. I don't see suicide in his poems when I read them. I don't see suicide in Robert Lowell's poems either. How they ended their lives is as irrelevant to their art as the brand of tires on their cars. I felt a degree of sorrow for the kid who tried to be a star with his daddy's name and it didn't take. He sees his half-brother, Yoko's son, bathed in luxury, privilege and wealth as son of John Lennon. Julian was left out, never made it to stardom and evidently turned bitter. What a dreary old man he might be, "I'm the neglected son of John Lennon...he was a sorry-ass hypocrite," in the pub night after night.
The last two evenings being year's end and year's beginning, another turn around the sun, I decided to see my favorite movies. Last night's choice was Hero, a film by Chinese director Yimou Zhang. Hero is at the top of the list of the most beautiful films I've seen. This was the fifth or sixth viewing. It is billed an action movie starring Jet Li. The action is choreographed martial arts ballet in flowing clothes of colors that sound like a Chinese violin. It is an historical drama given a touch of fairy tale. Then today I chose to see another favorite film, King of Masks, a Chinese film by director Wu Tianming. A good Chinese story, a gentle roller coaster ride of the emotions, of an old man and a child he bought in the market to be his heir. He was the last to carry the traditional art of the mask, an entertainment of changing masks seemingly by magic. He needed an heir to pass his art form to and bought a little boy. Turns out he was cheated, the boy was a girl and he did not want a girl, the art could only be passed on to a boy. From there it goes round and round to a tear-jerker happy ending Chinese style. A story of everyday life realism with the sense of a fairy tale. Exquisitely beautiful photography in both films. 
Didn't do anything else to acknowledge the change of calendars. Haven't even put up the new calendar. Aimed to walk the dog today. Justin stopped by on his way to his deer stand and brought some hay up from the barn in his big pickup. He advised staying out of the woods today. Jan 1 is the last day of hunting season. Everybody was out. I said we'd stay on the road, in that case, and he advised blaze orange if I want to walk the road. Decided to let it go. Lead won't be flying in the woods from Saturday onward. A week ago, Justin killed the big bear living in this area. He estimated it 425 lbs, said the "cape" was 150 lbs. He wants to make a rug to hang on the wall. For a hunter, it's a good trophy. This was the bear he'd said earlier was going about in daylight. He said it means the bear was getting brave. A good one to cull from the sloth. I saw it on the back of his pickup within twenty minutes of being shot. I have a hard time with killing. I have no judgment of hunting. It's necessary, I know it, just don't care to participate in it. I also know my attitude about not killing is a minority of one. Justin knows I'm not a killer, he also knows I admire his skill with a bow and a gun. He brought the bear down with one shot. He said the bear came into view just as it turned dark, "A black bear is hard to see through a scope in the dark."
I've known Justin since he was a baby. We were friends in his childhood the same as I am friends with his baby, Vada. Vada is a feist, just like her daddy was. It's like the same kid, one a boy, one a girl. Vada is becoming a rowdy little kid. She and her daddy play rough and she loves it. It's in her horoscope. She got in trouble in pre-school; when she fights little kids her size, she hurts them. Her dance class had a recital a few weeks ago I'm sorry I missed. She ruled in it. Vada was the star performer and did it like she was born to the stage. Crystal told me after their trip to Disney World, Vada dressed up as Elsa was to walk behind Cinderella around a big circle of people clapping. Not Vada, Crystal said, Vada doesn't follow anybody. She walked around the circle holding Cinderella's hand. I would so love to see Vada grow up. She'll be out front in whatever she does. She is a balanced blend of her mommy and daddy. And her daddy will go crazy when he sees her drawn to rowdy boys. By the time she's in high school, she will have as many deer kills as the best of the boy hunters. She'll make all A's, be head cheerleader, play baseball and be homecoming queen.
photos by tj worthington

Thursday, December 31, 2015


the road ahead
A lifetime of habit patterns around looking back on Dec 31 at the year gone by, I woke this morning thinking about what has come to me in the year and what has gone away. I don't remember a time I did not think New Year's Eve anything but another night before another day. Every day is New Year's day. It's like naming a dog. I feel like dog is best without a name, a name being something imposed on dog from outside by the human mind. Yet I don't know if the animals have names for each other. They're not telling. I've seen a gathering of about twenty raccoons in a picture taken by trail camera. I imagine they all knew each other, an extended family. Crows live in extended families unto tribes. They know each other as people in a small community. Surely they know one another by position in the hierarchy, by relationship, and subtleties humans don't see. I'd guess Mama has a crow equivalent. Brother, sister, seems like these relationships being known, they would have an identifying sound or thought for each one. I find behavior in the animal and bird world similar to ours, as it would be, considering evolution.
I've no problem with the word evolution. First, I'm not selling anything and am not a missionary for any agenda. People who have an issue with the word, evolution, don't read. There's the long and the short of it. Somebody who doesn't like a word I use can either tell me about it or not. I've seen contention over word usage all my life. In childhood, black people were known to white people only by nigger and colored, sometimes darkie. Of course, it's all demeaning, coming from a subconscious belief among white people that we're superior in every way, therefore privileged. In the late Fifties, a cry went up for white people to call black people Negroes, while Negroes went on calling each other nigger unto this day. But it's not ok to say it and be white. A white man is outright forbidden to refer to a woman a bitch or a cunt. It's totally ok for women to call men assholes or dicks in coffee shops, in print, on tv and radio.
Somebody black calls me a white motherfucker and it's ok, but not ok for me to call him a motherfucking nigger. For myself, I approach it with understanding that white man is, historically and present tense, the oppressor of black people, women, etc. White man has traditionally been the privileged demographic. That there are no restrictions on names minorities and women can call white men tells me political correctness is aimed at the white man, to bring white man under control. It's ok because arrogant white man believes himself superior from birth onward, thereby goes along oblivious to names he's called. White man is on a fast downhill run in this time on greased skis and he knows it. White man mind, not all white men, but the mind, has come together in one political party that represents half the population. We have devolved politically, from 1980 unto this year soon completed, 2015, to the clown bus of a dozen white man pretend candidates with a token black man and a token woman spewing white man unreason, strategically appealing to ignorance in the American people with the propaganda of fascism.
The shocking part is how well it works. The most cynical minds of all thought up this strategy and set it in motion. The republican party today is an illustration of the white male belief system, a branch of the patriarchal belief system, crumbling before our eyes, reduced to denying reason, intelligence, knowledge to maintain power. We're learning upfront that democracy has become a threat to white man. We've already learned through Southern history the white man will happily throw off democracy to hang onto power. I have stopped paying attention to anything to do with the clown bus. They've taught me what they're about, which is of no interest. Curiously, Trump has turned out to be the trump card in the political/media bridge game going on. Throughout my life I have attempted to understand people not me, from foreigners to everyone I know. I am my own political correctness cop open to understanding others the best I'm able, receiving every individual in my life as he or she is within themselves. Another way of saying I go in peace. I don't use any of the disrespectful names, except for the humor of irony with close friends who understand where I'm coming from. Like you. And this comes from a basic ethic to regard others with respect if I want respect in turn. Respect boomerangs. Disrespect boomerangs. It's my choice in every moment of every day. Happy New Year.
photos by tj worthington

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


black dog in waterfalls creek
Dog and primate had a successful day. We went on a spontaneous walk into the woods. I took along the walking stick that will be my own personal stick, not to be given away, the one to accompany future walks. Carried the pocket knife, stopping from time to time when dog found something of interest to hold her attention. I'd open the knife and carve more of the old bark from the stick. The wood is rhododendron, dried out long ago so dry it developed a long crack down its length. The crack does not weaken the wood, rather it adds a nano-bit of spring to the stick. I'm carving a knob at the top of the stick, a smooth half of a sphere about the size of a pingpong ball for the palm of the hand. Carving completed, I'll go over it with sandpaper, smooth it to the touch. It will soak up the tung oil such that the first two coats will vanish overnight. I'll give it probably five coats, maybe six. The wood is light like maple. The tung oil changes the color to honey. The tung oil dried unto cured, then lightly gone over with oooo steel wool, the stick is smooth as silk. The tung oil keeps dampness from seeping into the wood, preserving it.
dog in spin dry shakes the water off
Dog and I had a good time on our walk. We communicated well. She walked in the creek frequently, followed her nose everywhere she went on land. She strolled on deer legs through a paradise of scents for a dog nose excited as Vada at Disneyworld meeting Elsa, Anna and Cinderella. Walking with a dog is entertainment all the way. I'm not one to set a stride and power walk to lose pounds or whatever. I'd rather roam along watching the dog explore and follow scents along the ground, while I stand in one place, carve on the walking stick, watch dog splash in the water. I look forward to walking with black dog in the snow. Snow landscape frames the tree trunks with their colors and textures, lichen, moss growing on the bark, almost invisible through the other seasons. Dog is in perpetual motion in the woods, not easy to photograph. I'll have to find the way to photograph her explorations. I point the camera at her and she comes running toward me, changing focus until all I'm able to get is a picture of her happy eyes looking up at me.  
we are gods to the dogs
Farmer's Hardware had a good selection of collars and harnesses for dogs. Found a blue harness. At home, dog was so patient while fitting the harness, dealing with tightening and loosening the straps, it seemed to tickle her to have primate hands binding her. It shows me how domestically she has been trained. None of my dogs in the past even liked me to put a collar around their necks. I used to let my dogs live as much in the world of the wild things as at home. Circumstances are different now with a paved road and a subdivision half a mile to the west and one a half mile to the east, both of them out of sight. Mowed lawns, paved driveways, garages, and in between, "that place where nobody lives," trees grown up, rhododendron, rocks and ferns, messy. And fear them donkeys, smelling like a farm, could lower property values.
dog's nose follows a scent
Cat and dog grow closer by the day. Dog walks up to cat and they touch noses. Cat only runs from dog tempting her to play chase. Indoors, cat's curiosity about dog feels more confidence by the day the big bad wolf does not eat cats. Dog not yet ready to play appears a little more inclined each day to feel less that the cat is a threat. I'm glad for balance the smaller cat has seniority the dog honors. Dogs, being pack animals, have hierarchical minds that defer automatically to seniority. Though, sure as I say this, somebody else has the opposite experience. I grew up in a world of adults talking in sweeping generalizations. Having used my adult life to teach myself not to speak with so little meaning, I cringe when I say something like dogs have hierarchical minds. This includes everything from a Yorkie to a Mongolian mastiff.  Dog genetics and behavior have been so altered by the human mind, I doubt any one thing can be said to include all dogs. I say dogs  are covered in hair, some dogs are hairless. I say dogs have four legs, and recall amputees with three legs. I still tend to make generalizations according to interpretations of experience, and they continue not to apply. Connecting dots by trial and error.
all dogs have tongues