The new year

I for one am not sorry to see 2015 slink off into the misty lands of tines past.  It was the worst year I’ve had in some time.  All of it due to hiking injuries to knee, shoulder and ankle.  I did read some good books, see some good movies and enjoy my Facebook friends.  So it wasn’t an utter waste.

And so, I wish y’all (I’m from the South part of Kansas) a great 2016.  And remember a little humor, a little tolerance, will go a long way in this here world.



Danilo and me

On Christmas Day, I did not recognize this as a part of my body.

On Christmas Day, I did not recognize this as a part of my body.

I have been measuring the progress of my ankle sprain to that of an NBA star, Danilo Gallinari of the Denver Nuggets.  Gallinari sprained his left ankle in a game on the 20th.  That’s two days after I sprained my same left ankle while hiking in a local urban park.

I hope to figure out how long I can expect to be gimping about.  I want to return to my hiking life as soon as possible without reinjury.  One to two weeks on most sprains is a rule of thumb.

Of course I have no idea about the severity of Gallinari’s injury.  I suspect no two injuries are ever really alike.  And is it a low-ankle sprain or the more serious high-ankle?  Is it a Grade I, II or III?  Neither the NBA nor the media go into details of injuries, particularly if they are just sprains.  So Gallinari’s injury is a bit of a mystery.

I am a great one for self-diagnosis.  That is not to say I correctly diagnose.  I just do it a lot rather than visit a doctor.

It is my belief that I have a Grade II sprain, low ankle.  The low-ankle injury, I read, comprises about 90 percent of the 25,000 sprains incurred daily by Americans.  A little more ligament damage than Grade I with “moderate pain, swelling and bruising.”  Not a complete tear with long rehab like Grade III.

I chose Gallinari because he is much younger at age 27 than I and has access to the most expensive medical staff and equipment known to man.  Since he is the Nuggets’ leading scorer, he will receive extra good care, and the team will try to get him back on the floor very quickly.  He is making roughly $11.6 million this season, a very good reason for the Nuggets to protect their investment.  Hopefully, he will not be rushed back too soon.

As of this date, Gallinari, in Day 8 of his recovery, is not expected to play in a game at least until Saturday, January 2, v. the Golden State Warriors.  Gallinari did not even suit up for last night’s game against the Thunder of Oklahoma City.  If he returns to the lineup against the Warriors, he will have missed two weeks.  Here I am on Day 10, and I am doing better.  The swelling subsides daily, the discolration fades and the pain has turned into soreness.  I feel like I’m ready for moderate rehab.  I’m guessing I too can recover in two weeks, maybe a little longer.

One thing is for certain, I probably will be following Gallinari’s career for a long time.  I didn’t even know who he was a month ago.


Descent into injury

Every hiker knows one of the easiest paths to injury is on descent from high places.  Ascents usually pose little danger.

Of my three injuries in 2015, all took place while hiking and all occurred on the descent.

Injury #1:  Tweaked my  right knee coming down a paved road from North Mountain in January.  No slip, no tripping on an obstacle.  Just walking.  I suspect the injury was actually the result of a weightlifting session I’d done earlier in the day.  Too much weight on the leg press, perhaps.  The injury proved minor and I soon recovered.

Injury #2: Wrecked my left shoulder in March coming down Daisy Mountain east of Anthem.  Traveling solo in an isolated area, I was lucky this one did not turn out even more severe than it did.  After reaching the top of Daisy, I descended on a rock trail with loose soil.  I made it OK to the saddle but on the descent from there, I slipped on loose rock and fell as if shot by American Sniper.  The elbow caught the brunt of the fall, but the pain shot up into my shoulder.  Think this injury was due to tired legs, Daisy Mountain being a long, arduous trek.  I did not see a doctor and allowed the injury to heal on its own. That took the most of six months.  Think I tore ligaments.  It certainly was more than a strain.  This one injury put a pall on my entire year.

Injury #3:  Sprained my left ankle several days ago coming down the Arrowhead Trail in Thunderbird Park, in darkness.  Only about 25 yards from the flats and safety too.  Stepping off a rock with my right foot, the left struck an angle rock the wrong way and down I went with pain in the ankle, shooting up the outside of the shinbone.  After lying there for a while and seeing if all my other parts were working, I got up and walked to the parking lot.  This injury was utter stupidity on my part.  I was at the end of a 6-mile hike, covering the last 2 miles in darkness.  I’d stopped at sunset to search my pack for the head lantern I usually carry.  Alas, nowhere in sight.  Recovery is still a work in progress here on Day 4.

Resolutions for next year do not include a halt in hiking, however.

One thing I will try to do better is 2016 is this.  Monitor how tired I am of body and mind.  Tired legs, I believe, lead to injury on slippery slopes.  Tired minds lead to bad decisions.


Winter Solstice 2015

The Winter Solstice, my favorite among the seasonal benchmarks, hit Arizona moments ago at 9:49 pm.  It is partly cloudy here in Phoenix with a temperature of 43 F, humidity 58%.

It is officially Winter and my favorite because it marks the return of the light, the sun again appears to head north, and the days will get progressively longer.  The sun is visiting now south of the equator.

Someday on this solstice I will have the party in the driveway I’ve long talked about.  No party tonight.  I celebrated with Nebra.  We stepped out the back door for less than a minute, took a deep breath, said a few words to the Sun  and stepped back in.  To all of you, though, a happy Winter Solstice from the arid lands.

’tis the season

A tattered American flag blown by the right-wind.

A tattered American flag blown by the right-wind.

People that believe deeply in something continue to befuddle me.  Our obscure little planet in the far reaches of the Universe hides more than it shows.  Can we be sure of anything?  I don’t think so.

My great befuddlement continued recently when I reached the summit of small Cholla Peak in urban Thunderbird Park.  The park is located in one of our westside suburbs called Glendale, a very conservative place.  It was up there on this little peak I saw remnants of our mania to believe in smoke and mirrors.  In this case to believe in patriotism and Christmas.

Some patriots have planted the American flag in a small pile of rocks.  The flag is a sorry-ass specimen.  It is faded and the lead edge is frayed.  A few stout winds from now and it will likely flutter in shreds.  This flag has gone up in the last several months.  An older one flies above a sister hill to the southeast, Arrowhead Peak. Soon I suppose an American flag will hang above every one of the park’s half-dozen peaks.  Eyesores and a slap to the already well-slapped face of Mother Nature.

No, these flags in Thunderbird Park are political statements by right-wind, or is it right-wing? dreamers who impose their values on the rest of us.  Not every American is proud of the U.S. these days.  Certainly not when it comes to foreign policy, the proliferation of guns, our record of domestic terrorism and the racism which has reared up again after years of suppression.

There is no place on public property for personal decorations.

There is no place on public property for personal decorations.

Christmas.  Near the flag, two young palo verde trees, bushes really, sported ornaments.  Again someone has decorated a piece of public ground with a personal statement.  Christmas, if no longer about Christianity, is certainly good for business and the U.S. economy.  Maybe China’s too.

In any case, not everyone thinks Christmas is a good thing.  Crowds of shoppers, nothing but sentimental Christmas music playing in stores and restaurants and the stresses of buying gifts.  All that is a downer to me.

I would like to see these superficial symbols come down off the peaks.  But, in Glendale, you can bet only a shout from God would goad the city’s government to act.

And maybe not then.  Not even the gods dare touch our misty dreams of how the world works.


Terrorism in San Berdoo or not?

I haven’t bought in to the “terrorist” theory in San Bernardino.  I haven’t done so even with the new information that the two married shooters were Muslim and the  husband, Syed Farook, may have been radicalized.  But why the Inland Regional Center, of all places?

The Center is said to serve people with developmental disabilities.  It’s hardly a place where the killing yesterday of 14 people and injuring of 21 would be admired by Muslims anywhere.  The Center certainly isn’t a typical western target for I.S.I.S. or Qaeda.  Way too soft and it doesn’t strike at the heart of perceived American decadence.  To the contrary.

My idea at the moment is this.  It was personal.  You can be the most radical terrorists in the world, but if you go after a person or organization for personal reasons is that always terror?  To my mind it isn’t.

America’s right-wingers want to believe the shootings constitute terror.  It goes with their agenda.  They are hawkish and want war in the Mideast.  The GOP presidential candidates love “terror.”  They believe it can get them the nomination and possibly the presidency.

The left-wing focuses on new gun control laws.  Whether terror or personal vengeance, it will be politicized.  Nothing new there.