Accidental Capture

birds in snow

iPhone 6s Plus shot w/digital zoon, tweaked in Photoshop

All I was doing was taking a quick shot of why I was about to go out and feed the birds, and then this happened. Look carefully!

Basically what I did today was try to keep the birds fed, can you imagine? And watch the news—I found a couple sites where I can stream MSNBC for free on my laptop or my phone, of course, which means I can put an itty-bitty teevee on the counter while I eat my lunch. Just ask me anything.

It started snowing at 3:00 a.m., I’m told, and went on for twelve more hours. We ended up with about a foot on level ground, if you can find any, and quite a bit more on the lee side of the hills and such. It’s a serious snow. I’ll be shoveling tomorrow to make a path to the vehicles and try to get out with the Dakota.

Seven Thousand Feet

Taos winter scene

Seven degrees two weeks ago. It’s snowed much more since then.

My brother dropped a bomb on me a month ago. We were texting back and about the old man, gone now over thirty years, and I realized he was gay. My brother might not go that far, but suddenly the walls came down:

We’d been replacing the sewer line in summer Houston (mom was in San Miguel I think). Dad was shook and dehydrated at the same time. Done for the day, Dad got real drunk, told me and my friend about a young man with an apartment in town who befriended him and his friends. They would ride bikes to his place where there was reefer and maybe too many “tickle fights,” wink, wink. A town scandal apparently never mentioned.

This was on the very rural Eastern Shore of Maryland in the 1930s, mind you. My father attended a two-room school with just ten grades in Sudlersville. (The venue might have been there, Millington, or Golts.) Reefer? Woo-hoo. “Tickle fights”? Good Lord, the whole of everything explained. It doesn’t matter whether he had thoughts or acted out or witnessed, the results would be the same. How could I have never seen it? The tension was always there, especially with topics tied to sex or his relationships with other men. The lack of physical affection—was he scared to touch me?—his fierce defense of nudity and what he thought were liberal sexual mores, the constant womanizing, “proving,” pushing… But most of all, the fear.

My brother is nine years younger than I am. I never heard anything like the following, although I surely wish I’d known:

[continue reading…]

Christmas Crash

Xmas in Taos

A fine Xmas in Taos, New Mexico, 2018: I am a very lucky man.

Originally published 16 years ago on a now-extinct blog, I remembered this today and read it out loud to my wife, who’s been weepy all morning as a result. It’s a sad story, in other words, a trip back in time to when I was barely 12 years old in darkest West Texas and really, really wanted something for Xmas. Very introspective and revealing. At least I’m still drawing breath (the others are dead). Where do they hand out survivor medals, I wonder? Because I surely deserve one. – JHF

© 2002

(In the Abilene fall of ’58, a catalog arrived. Inside was a color picture of a ready-to-fly gasoline powered plastic model plane and Johnny went beserk…)

I’d always wanted one, though plastic planes were new on the scene. Oddly enough, my Air Force dad had never encouraged me to build a powered model, but he knew a thing or two about balsa wood and paper. He’d shown me once how to anchor and dope the outer covering so it drew taut and shiny. But those were gliders, lesser projects, things we could afford. The raspy, snarling powered craft were not the sort of thing I dared to covet openly. My allowance didn’t reach to buy an engine, and he was never interested, or so I thought.

Whenever there were air shows or fairs around the air bases where we lived, he and I would go to watch the modelers compete. I liked the smell of burning fuel, the noise, and the excitement of the handlers working furiously to get their planes up in the air. Most of the events involved flying tethered models counter-clockwise in a circle. The planes always seemed to fly much faster than their scale would indicate. I feared and envied the responsibility of the lucky few who flew them.

For years I pored over model airplane magazines whenever I could get them. I learned the different brands and types of motors, the sizes and kinds of propellors, the prices and features of all the kits and accessories. I especially liked the replicas, the finely-detailed, complicated kits that if faithfully assembled resulted in a perfect miniature P-47 or Messerschmidt Me-109. My fantasy world of flying models never materialized, but there were static wood and plastic equivalents, so I eventually built up a large collection. The motorized variety, the “real thing,” was always just beyond my financial and technical ability to manifest, so I kept mum. And the the catalog appeared.

[continue reading…]

Where Have I Been?


Well, you know. Sometimes you have to come at things in a different way. It isn’t easy. Take the firehose of negativity at 4:00 a.m.—where does this stuff come from? I sort of know by now, of course, and this week came across a chunk of solid proof. But that’s not where the effort lies.


black and white sunset view

Looking east, the sun behind me

Sometimes at sunset on a cloudy day, the sun sinks below the level of the overcast in clear air to the west. For about fifteen minutes everything’s on fire and explodes. The afternoon that pulled the hammer back is gone.

The other day I thought I sensed them. They or it or what that wants to help. There was an image of me focusing energy with my hands. I knew that they’d be there if the result was meaningful, if I were giving back, acknowledging. The next morning I transferred money out of savings for an implant and a crown and didn’t even blink, much less blame shiny Volvos for a goddamn thing. Long white clouds ripped past Lobo Peak as I looked out the window from the dentist’s chair. I cried a quiet tear. Afterwards, the air outside was clean and chilly with the wind that shook the sagebrush by the parking lot. A raven squawked atop a lamppost. The Dakota started with a rumble and away we went.

My wife has taken lately to putting her hand on my upper back. This startles me because it feels so good.

The arc is so important.

Clear air to the west.


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