There has been a lot of rain in the news lately. In the eastern part of the country mention of rain, I would imagine, elicits groans. I was in Texas recently while they were entering their transition, in true Texas fashion, from big drought to big floods. That is one way to end a drought, but possibly not the best way.

Despite all of that, rain is still welcome news in the desert southwest. Last night we had (at my house–storm cells are very small here) between 3/4 inch and 1 inch. That was very good. That it arrived in little more than 30 minutes, not so good. I know that easterners, and now, Texans will pooh pooh that as being a trivial amount, as it is to them. But, not to us. It arrived and we are grateful for that.

I’ve never gotten used to the idea, but we have a monsoon season here. Every year there is a monsoonal flow from the Gulf of Mexico and from Baja California. The humidity in the air goes way up, and the heating during the day produces clouds and rain by late afternoon. Just when you think you can’t stand the heat any longer, a cloud forms and the temperature drops 10 degrees. A little rain, or maybe a lot, and it drops 10 more degrees. The temperature often stays down and the clouds hang around until sunset producing sunsets of amazing beauty.2010-07-15 20.32.50Part of the beauty of the sunset is its silence. The silence is a welcome relief from the noise and violence of the wind and rain, which was itself a relief from the oppression of the heat. It is as if God is helping you compose yourself for the sleep that is to come.



Prostate Cancer – 2

In the winter of 2006, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The rough indicator of this is called PSA, a measure of a Prostate Specific Antigen in your blood. Mine was elevated and going up—not a great sign. So I had a biopsy (look here for a description of how much fun that is). Biopsy showed cancer, so what to do. This is not an easy decision, but, for a variety of reasons I chose surgery. That isn’t fun, either, and has nasty side effects, but they are better than the alternative.

After recovery, your annual ritual is a blood draw and a visit to your doc. For me, this has now been going on for 8 years. Fortunately, the doc is a nice guy, and I occasionally run races with his wife, so I see him around. (he is always easy to recognize because of his scrubs). But, this year was the end of the ritual. My PSA has been 0 all these years,  and there is no longer a need to go see him. WooHoo. Cancer docs never use the word “cure,” but he used it. He didn’t say it applied to me, but he did say that if he was inclined to use the word, I would be one that it would apply to. Not a definitive statement, but one that makes me happy none the less.

in Paradisum

in Paradisum is an antiphon sung at the end of a Requiem mass as the departed is being removed from the church. It offers the wish that the departed will be welcomed to paradise by a chorus of angels. Through the centuries, composers have used this antiphon as a vehicle for tone paintings of their vision of Paradise. Some have produced pieces of surpassing beauty–I think, in particular of Fauré.

Of course, Paradise has a visual component as well as an auditory component. Over the last weekend I have been there and seen it. I didn’t have a near death experience. It was much simpler than that, but I can report that Paradise is sublimely beautiful.

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR

Cumbres & Toltec Scenic RR

My Muse and I went to Chama, NM to ride the train. We stayed in an RV park right on the Chama River close to the Chama Station. When we checked in, we were instructed that every morning we had to either  be on the train or down at the river  waving at the recently departed as it went by, so we did some of each. The C&TSRR is right on the New Mexico/Colorado border, and the route actually crosses the border 11 times in the run from Chama to Antonito, CO. The route was chosen by the Denver & Rio Grande RR in the 1870s, and completed as far as Durango in 1880. The track from Chama to Durango no longer exists.

Rocky Mountain High Country

Rocky Mountain High Country

This is high country. Chama and Antonito are both above 7800 feet and the track runs through Cumbres pass at over 10000 feet. The scene at the left is over 9000 feet. By this altitude, exercise is becoming difficult if you are not acclimated because the amount of oxygen in the air is less than 75% of sea level. But, if you are acclimated, this can be a wonderful life. Look at those beautiful yellow flowers. They are Dandelions. I don’t think there are that many even in your lawn.


Mountain ranch.

Mountain ranch.

Here is another view. I love these high mountain meadows; the broad, glaciated valleys; snow on the mountain tops and even at our level. The rivers, which seem to be everywhere, were running high. The snow pack was low last winter, but there have been several weeks of frequent rains. I like New York, too. But, that isn’t Paradise. This is.