|What's with the Vaseline, you might ask? Coincident.|
The vacation part involved going with her down to a wedding in Marfa, TX, which is in the Big Bend portion down by Chihuahua. The drive involved a first leg haul from Amarillo to Ft. Davis, where we camped under the stars. And what stars! I haven't seen the Milky Way since Idaho 1975, and it never fails to impress. We were scheduled to attend a viewing party at the Ft. McDonald observatory Friday night, but we got off to late start, arriving around midnight, and so missed it. Maia and I went up to the observatory the next day. Hiking up to the domes, I mentioned I was strangely short of breath, and Maia pointed out we were a mile above sea level, which mitigated my alarm some...
Here is my obligatory geek shot of the trip and a more normal shot below with the 107 inch telescope dome in the background...
|Not my cowboy hat....|
|"I am here!"|
I'm glad I could make his day! One of the great things about being human is how so little effort can bring such great joy.
I've always liked the desert, and the high desert of the Trans-Pecos could not have been a better place to be. It's positively springlike with all the flowering plants and tan landscape and purple mountains in every direction. I want to go back and see all the things I didn't see there. Fortunately, rain came through, at one point pounding down like horses' hooves. Fortunately the luxury tent we stayed in at El Cosmico was waterproof.
|Rain on tent canvas creaking like a sailing ship, but we were fine.|
All in all, a truly, fantastic magical wonderful time!
Back to reality on this past Wednesday in time to close out the summer session. I was informed I should go visit Glen as his condition was worsening. (I've mentioned Glen in prior essay from a year ago. He had been diagnosed with Stage Four lung cancer and several tumors in his brain last May. He underwent chemo and radiation, which bought more than a year, but a month ago he told me he had had enough, and was going into hospice at home. I've tried to make it to the bar with him and the group from the college when we go out Thursday nights. Normally, this tradition takes a hiatus over the summer, but, considering...
So I was informed his condition was worsening, the brain tumors taking their toll, and should visit him while he was still lucid. My former student aide, soon to be graduate student at Wichita State University in Kansas, Scotty, and I headed over last evening.
We found Glen on a good day, and he, his wife, and his sister had a very fun time. He was active, alert and engaged, and I can only hope this lasts for awhile.
At one point, we were talking about smart phones, and the topic switched to Scotty's thesis. He specualted he might continue the work of his undergrad advisor in sustainable and waste fuels for wood kiln firings. I said "I know what you need to work on, developing tumbleweeds for fuel. They are a nuisance that should be used for something like that".
|Glen Reeser and I|
Glen quipped "John, call Katie!" (Scotty's girlfriend).
"KATIE!" I mock shouted.
It really was wonderful to see Glen sharp and in the groove for a change.