Very Well Then

Contradicting myself, always contradicting myself

Archive for the ‘You're My Favorite Thing’ Category

The title of this category comes from the Replacements’ song not the Julie Andrews thing. Mr. Westerberg was talking in the singular (bar nothing) and about music (you’re rocking real bad), but I’ll expand it to anything I please. I think big, once in a while.

You’re My Favorite Thing – The Canyon Lands

Posted by verywellthen on March 28, 2010

While waiting for baseball season to hurry up and start – I slipped away to the canyons of Southern Utah – a place I try to get to every couple of years.

Top of Barrier Canyon, Maze District, Canyonlands National Park

I just returned from explorations of a few canyons in Southern Utah.  In this trip:

  • a hike down Horsehoe Canyon, to see the glorious rock art of the Great Gallery;
  • the up-and-down funhouse of the slot canyons of Bell and Little Wild Horse Canyons in the San Rafeal Swell;
  • walking among the gobbledygook of Goblin Valley;
  • up to the heaven-eye view toward the Navajo Knobs on the cliffs above Capitol Reef National Park.

I am in awe of the canyons of Southern Utah and all the sandstone layers of the Colorado Plateau.    So much that I’ve dropped hints around my family that I want (at least some of my) ashes carried to Southern Utah to be scattered in the canyon lands.

Do you recall in the Larry McMurtry novel where Captain Call is burdened with fulfilling the wish of Captain McCrae to be buried back at Lonesome Dove, Texas?    Captain McCrae inconveniently dies in Montana (by poison-tip arrow), but Captain Call is determined to see the task through.

I kind of think my youngest brother (and maybe others) has enough of Captain Call’s belligerent  (i.e. blind, stupid) loyalty to trek my ashes out to some remote almost-unreachable place just because I happened to mention it in a blog entry way back in 2010.

So listen up, you Captain Calls.

The place I choose for my ashes is the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.   When I first descended into the district so many years ago, I felt the contrary feelings of being more alive than I had ever known and feeling more insignificant than even the fullest night of star-gazing could ever bring.   When I looked up one of the uncountable canyons of the vast plateaus that lined the many horizons, I could see a dozen side-canyons, maybe more.  And I imagined each side-canyon to hold to a dozen more offspring canyons of their own, and on into infinity.   In a few trips back I’ve explored just a few of the Needle’s canyons, each possessing variations on impossible wonder borne of the permutations of sedimentation, compression, uplift and erosion.

My current election for the specific place within the Needles for my ashes is a place I have yet to make it to myself, Angel Arch.    The name is perfect, of course – it might even help to get this plan past my Very Catholic Mother who a) is armed with dogmatic knowledge that frowns upon the scattering of ashes and b) has so much life-enthusiasm that she will likely outlive me, and therefore be able to monkeywrench this plan.

Angel Arch is also extremely remote – which largely explains why I have not yet been there.   Most of the year there is no water and the hike is a distance greater than you can comfortably carry enough of your own water.    (There may be 4WD tours that can bring you closer – but that’s cheating, Captain Call.)

Or just get them to an easier hike nearby, maybe Chesler Park.  (Mom, I won’t even suggest Druid Arch.)  Or seal them in a marble urn and bury them in a road-side field for all I care – after all I will be gone.   The living’s wish of burial place is more a statement to self-identity than it is an unbreakable covenant.    Just nod your head, Captain Call, next time I ramble about where I want my ashes.

“Yes, Captain McCrae.   I’ll be sure to do that.”


Posted in The Heart on My Sleeve, You're My Favorite Thing | 3 Comments »

You’re My Favorite Thing — The Dog Electric

Posted by verywellthen on February 25, 2009



There is nothing more boring than a person writing about their dog.    I own a dog.  That special thing between a human and a dog – I get it.  But I can’t stand reading or hearing owners go on about their little special one.  Even reading about it, you can hear the baby talk.  There are free magazines here in town dedicated to dog owners – I don’t pick them up, and I’m their target audience. 

So don’t read this.  No matter what I tell you, not about the five thousand miles of running we’ve done, not about the time I had to brush hundreds of yellow jackets off of her back,  not about how she barks at street lamps,  not about how her eyes will glance up at the top of the refrigerator where the dog treats are any time you pay her attention in the kitchen, not about that back-of-the-knee nook of my fetal sleep-position that she burrows into when she jumps up on the bed on cold winter mornings, not about how she barks at paragliders, not about the time she stepped on the power window button in the backseat of the car and when the window started rolling up on her neck she panicked and stepped even more firmly onto the window button, not about how she’s outright cruel to Takoda – her first dog friend – but submissive to every other dog on earth, not about the time I tied her up outside a store and came back to find her gone, not about how she barks at overhead tram cars,  not about her hound-dog howl, not about her fear of swimming, and for godsake not about her love of beaches or  snow or the woods or her focus on cats and squirrels…No matter what I tell you, you rightfully will dismiss it as the banal tripe that it is.

No matter how I tell it, it’s a boy and his dog story.  That’s all it can be. 

Posted in You're My Favorite Thing | 1 Comment »

You’re My Favorite Thing – The Jerries

Posted by verywellthen on January 4, 2009

william-h-macy-as-jerry-lundergaard12“Jerries” are all my friends from the Fargo-scape.

Jerries are named after Jerry Lundegaard, the delusional passive-aggressive schemer in Fargo played by William H. Macy.

Jerries are my friends from high school or from the college days at good ole Jerry State University.

Maybe I’ll have more about the Jerries sometime down the line.

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    You’re My Favorite Thing — Posterisks

    Posted by verywellthen on December 10, 2008

    Kansas City never hit my radar screen as a place to live.  But when I discovered Joe Posnanski’s baseball-ish blog, I wished I had been reading his Kansas City sports columns for years.   His tales of childhood in Cleveland make me nostalgic for it, though I’ve never even been in Ohio.  He isn’t old school, he respects the modern stats, yet he’s been around enough to anchor them with necessary caveats and a human basis.  His touch is light enough to stay well above the frequent baseball-blog tone of ridicule.

    And damn he’s funny.  I get most of his references and his jokes seem just a more advance and adroit form of humor that I feel I’m almost capable of.

    I don’t know if he pioneered his use of footnotes, but he’s self-promoted his style with the name Posterisk. when he’s lost on a subject that I don’t have much emotional involvement (such as writing about the KC Chiefs), I’ll scan what he’s dubbed the Posterisks.  It’s sort of like David Foster Wallace footnoting, except that you’re led to the footnote by an asterisk, the footnoted section is typed in italics and resides just below the paragraph that originates the asterisk*.    It’s easy to read in computer scroll text.   And nothing makes me smile like a good tangent.

    * And he will even embed Posterisks**

    ** I need to think of something Posnanski-style funny to put here.  ***

    *** Okay, here is the Posterisk that first pulled me into the almost daily musings of Joe — much to the loss of my professional productivity.  Scroll down to the third italic segment for his imagined pitch to the TV producer for Gilligan’s Island.

    Posted in Minnesota Twins and Baseball, You're My Favorite Thing | 2 Comments »

    You’re My Favorite Thing – XC Skiing

    Posted by verywellthen on November 12, 2008

    When it rains here in Blue Heron Valley, it can sap one’s soul.  The clouds diffuse the already weak winter light, the wetness makes you shiver.   My strategy to stay sane in all of this is to think, if it’s raining down here, it’s snowing up there.

    Up There is the Cascade Range.  Within a 90 minute drive of my house are several skiing areas.  Most winter weekends will find me heading that way for my favorite of all outdoor activities — cross-country skiing.  

    I’ve downhilled.  I’ve snow-shoed (is that the present perfect tense verb of shoe?).  I’ve skate-skiied.  I’ll take an xc tour any time.  Workout, range, efficiency of snow travel, it’s adventure, fun, invigorating.  It’s also a fading sport.  Snow shoes have given a no-learning-curve option to snow exploration and few take the time to learn the basic skills of xc.  It’s not all that tough, but it takes a few outings to figure out a balance to at least trudge along.  I’ve been doing it over a decade and am hardly graceful — especially if you throw in some downhill.  

    I take beginners up to the mountain as often as I can.   I endure the slipping and falling and the simplest of paths, so that others might engage in the sport.   I’m finding fewer takers.  

    My one constant, never complaining companion is the Dog Electric.  She’s been amazing all these years doing double digit miles in deep snow without the benefit of skis.  She’s getting old enough that the hip pain sidelines her for days after a deep snow or long day.  If it’s both a long day and a deep snow, there can sometimes be trouble getting her home, and painful-just-to-watch gloom of seeing her try to get around the house the next day.  But I don’t want to stop taking her.  The joyful motions in the wayback of the WAYBAC machine when we hit snow line and the unbounded joy of her first hitting the snowpath means she loves it.  

    I learned long ago that things to do that make my dog happy, make me happy.

    Posted in Blue Heron Land, You're My Favorite Thing | Leave a Comment »

    You’re My Favorite Thing: The Replacements

    Posted by verywellthen on September 23, 2008

    Even more than half way into my college life, music was defined to me as FM radio, in a format that would later be called “Classic Rock”. I would even say that my life philosophy was pretty much what was broadcast to me. Then someone loaned me Tim. Stupid title from a band that had played in town the weekend before. I had an offer to go, but it was $8 and I didn’t know them from Adam Ant. I would never see them as a group — they didn’t play the midwest college towns much after that and I went away to a forgotten Mountain town for the remainder of the Replacements’ time together.

    Still, if the Clash was the only band that mattered, the Replacements became the only band that mattered to me.

    And what caught me on that first listen was the vulnerability. Alternative music (called “College Radio”) in those days seemed to me to be about the geo-political anti-establishment — I couldn’t relate to the Sex Pistols raging against the queen. But I could get “if being strong’s your kind, then I need help here with this feather.” And that was my inroad to exposing one’s feelings and trying on a little attitude to make it seem acceptable.

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    Reading and Drinking Alone in Public Places

    Posted by verywellthen on September 23, 2008

    It was Friday afternoon a week ago and the weather was only beginning to retreat from hot to a comfortable warm. I had my book. I had my dog. I wanted sun and I wanted a beer. I chose the brew pub not too far from home that had an outdoor patio full of picnic tables.

    Being a beautiful warm Friday afternoon, everyone else had chosen this place too. But everyone else who had chosen it, had chosen it with friends. There were no open tables, nor any open “halves” of tables. But there was a slot in the middle of a table, right between two conversations. I asked politely left and right if the spot was open and got permission to settle in.

    Going out alone to a social place can be difficult. I’m probably in the lower percentile of conversationalists, though I’d gladly have joined any one in the bar that afternoon. But conversations tend to be closed circles, invitation only. But I like being out – somewhere besides my empty house. I like seeing new places, drinking from the many fine taps of my town.

    So to get myself out there, I have my defenses. First, is my dog. I am not alone, I have a friend. From the masses, she gets affection. I get some conversation. In college the start up conversation was: name, hometown, major. With a dog the start up conversation is: name (of dog), breed, how old? Seldom do the humans exchange names.

    The second defense is the book. I just don’t have to stare off into space or try to wedge my way into a conversation that I’m not invited to. I have a task: to read. A task I enjoy. That day, I was three months (or half way) into Moby Dick. The open air was filled with noise. The clamor made reading difficult and Melville is (was, will always be) obtuse.

    The couple to my left waved over a friend who had just showed up. The newcomer sat across from me, and it dawned on me that if more people were joining this couple, I had over-encroached upon their space. So I sought re-confirmation of whether I should be sitting there.

    “If you can read Moby Dick in this bar, you can stay right there.”

    Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. But sometimes you don’t get that. So take a dog and a book and you can stay right there.

    Posted in Blue Heron Land, The Heart on My Sleeve, You're My Favorite Thing | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

    Categorical Definition – You’re My Favorite Things

    Posted by verywellthen on September 10, 2008

    The title of this category comes from the Replacements’ song not the Julie Andrews thing.  Mr. Westerberg was talking in the singular (bar nothing) and about music (you’re rocking real bad), but I’ll expand it to anything I please.  I think big, once in a while.

    Posted in You're My Favorite Thing | Leave a Comment »