Reality check… Texas

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Another Facet of the Journey… The photos are from our neighborhood! Right and left and front and back… “Old Faithful” turns 200 today…

200 000 miles

Quote – “600,000 lost jobs every month in the US. More people taking pay cuts. Cities in the old rust belt collapsing. (Flint,Detroit). St Louis is eliminating half it’s bus service. Sacramento is opening up the state fairgrounds to people living in tents involuntarily. Things are changing and the easy living of the past two decades, on credit, has ended. The very wealthy are startled and the rest of us wait for the pink slip. Coffee table books? Coffee? Tables? You don’t need a coffee table book to live in a tent city. People write to me and tell me to make my blog into a book. I’m just glad my wife and I have jobs and can pay our mortgage and I have time to relieve the stress taking pictures of Key West, which has yet to feel the deep pain of this Great Depression. I’m also really glad we spent years out sailing and know how to live off the grid, a sentiment I’m sure you share. It’s 1930 Ara, and the worst is yet to come.”


sunset b

The words above woke me up this morning, a cold shiver, kind of, ran through my body and the reality of the above comment has just turned a page within my thoughts. “Wake up Ara” I started telling myself, feeling a bit “foreign” toward the words of my own last chapter. How true. Who in their right mind needs a coffee table book these days? The bare wall do not harm the eyes, but an empty refrigerator does. Who needs a photo hanging… it does not fill the stomach, only empties a wallet already hurting from this situation the country has rolled in. I don’t follow politics, neither write about it. I have not watched a television in centuries, but this seems to be more about survival right now. We are actually ourselves fortunate, reading above again, regarding our situation. Yes, there is no mortgage on the road, only the usual monthly bills such as Internet, phone, vehicle insurance, medication, fuel and such. But living on the land can be free. It is now just a matter of feeding ourselves, and sitting tight feeling deep for others in worse tribulation than us.

And yet, I see this as another challenge, one taken with a smile, one taken willingly. The prize is just too big to justify any other path in any other direction. I had this reply when I send the above to a Friend.

sunset a

Quote – Sorry, don’t quite subscribe to that view. This is not the Great Depression
redux. Instead, what you see is the inevitable retraction of the economy
following ridiculous exuberance and spending on all our parts. Stupid, short
sighted government policies allowing ridiculously bad loans to be made and a
general talking down of the economy during the last election cycle
contributed to the retraction. But, unlike the 30’s, this economy has decent
structure and will recover within months, not years. Yes, it will leave a
mark on everyone’s psyche, but that’s perhaps a good thing. Reality check

Anyway, those on fixed incomes can enjoy lower prices overall. Their
standard of living just improved. Others who are laid off not so much of
course. We’re at around 10% unemployment which is 4 to 5% over what you want
to see in an economy.

Yup, I’m a half full sort of guy but in this I think I’m seeing it pretty
clearly. Oh, and I’m still seeing people walking out of Best Buy and Costco
with large screen televisions. And my mother in law just bought a new car.
And a new art store just opened across from my office and they seem to be
doing a fair amount of business. Go figure. –


I am not posting this here for future rebuttal or any political/economy discussion, it is not the point, it is never my intend as I am sure the Internet is filled with Blogger’s on the subjects. It is just as I wrote above, an upcoming summon. It always has been, only more so today than previously. I stayed up late last night, I sat outside for a while, it was around past midnight, the moon was a thin crescent lowered in the horizon slowly putting herself to sleep. The air was cool, crisp, inviting and invigorating. The night time creatures were awake with sounds rarely heard throughout sunlight hours. She sank in and disappeared a bit as a sailboat would once the eyes could not discern it’s position. I felt the Earth move within it’s last seconds of appearance within this grandiose stage, a stage darkened by the moments and lit all at the same time by too many of the bright stars that makes me think so much as to who we really are and how humble we should be. I did not feel the above reality of Life I am reading going in either directions, good or bad.

flowers a

The mighty dollar is so much part of everyone’s Life including ours. I so much wish there would be another currency replacing it. Maybe bartering as sometimes we do in this part of the country, maybe Love, maybe just nothing, just us giving back and forth to each other the necessities that allows us to live. How naive… isn’t? But how beautiful it would be. I wonder if it would eliminate the ugly “greed” that drives the mainstream toward this present stage that has suddenly appeared. What could I trade for this new tire that I need to keep us rolling? What could I give for these few gallons of fuel necessary for us to get there from here or the little food our bodies need. Would ever my vehicle Insurance Company or Telephone Carrier send me a “Thank You” note in exchange for reading these words and maybe feeling fuzzy about the photos? I know… in my Dreams only. There is no regret, there is no fear of the fear. Spirit and I have survived much and as the expression says “this kick in the pants…” well, the future will only be an even more smiling variation of the past.

flowers b

We are gladly going to do, make do, with even less than before because truly the Journey is FREE. I have within me whatever needed, it is already there, the awareness does not need a diamond ring or even the new clothing with no holes in it. We will strip ourselves even more than the bare necessities that have been around us in the past, more so now than ever as “less is more”, less will only bring us even closer to that texture of the red rock I might have not felt just a few years back, or the smell of the dew build up within the dark hours of the night suddenly steaming up by the warmth of daylight.

steamer a

Quote – “Great web site. It is really interesting to read about his travels and the impact that the people and environment have on him. I have traveled in all 48 of the continental US and have not seen things the way he has.”

The above was an interesting comment posted just a few days ago. I think it ties it all together. It is the difference between the blurred vision and senses I started with, compared with today awareness of my surrounding with more steps ahead of us as I feel always the Journey has only began. Locked doors will not enable me to reach those steps, the more peeled the layers surrounding me are, the more I get closer to my faithful companion “Mother Nature”. I look and play with Spirit, he comes to me and licks my face, he smells me for his own assurance maybe that my Love for him is unconditional as his is for me. He is carrying what he was born with. He runs, he eats, he sleeps, yes… he does pose for the cameras, but he also has always been on that step above mine, probably the last step that I will always try to reach, the step that is named “NOW”.

La Harmonia

fuel pump  

He is not subjected to politics, neither economy. He was subjected to much abuse within his first year before our eyes met, him behind the bars of this waiting room  and myself searching for a buddy to share my Life with. Those ugly days are over for him, my own ugly days have only been left now with shadows tucked away that I try to confront with a better awareness. We are a team and truly in the scheme of it all, he is the true Leader of this Journey as without him my path would not exist as such. He is the definition of the total pure being living a Life I can only aspire toward, only wish for as it is the “Pure” one, unencumbered and empty from all the greed and evil that still remains in the bowels of this short passageway which is taking us from birth to eternity. 

steamer c

steamer e

When maybe so many would trip and fall, we stand up even taller today to embrace the coming times. As a fine meal served on a silver platter maybe in the distant past, today, that meal is even finer, the paper plate replacing the precious metal will be and is just fine, and if no paper plate is available we will just use our hands, yet the best tool we have ever been given. One less barrier between us and the gift of Life.

sunset c

Twenty nine months of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun. Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order prints, all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload them on the Galleries.

Maybe your reading the Blog is worth $1 a month…

Be well…

Ara & Spirit

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8 Responses to “Reality check… Texas”

  1. Ginny Says:

    I hear you and understand everything you are saying. I’ve felt these same things for a long time, but never have the kinds of words to express them the way you do. Great picture of the snake btw! I’m thinking it’s a rattler…but what kind?

  2. A Lady's Life Says:

    I always said we needed to go back to basics. Have small businesses. Sitting at home, the credit companies keep bugging you to get more and more cards to charge on and fraud on these cards is terrible. The ID theft problem is huge. My Mother had alzheimers and no cards, and they even sent her a bill on a card she did not own. And no one wanted to hear that it wasn’t her card unless it came from her mouth and that wasn’t going to happen cause she was deaf too. lol. They had to be told clearly. OK you’ve been told the card is fraud. You want to continue accepting charges, its your money.
    Even the utility companies don’t have good computer security. Computers don’t help. They add to the problem.
    People are not the same anymore. Companies hire people to be telephone hit men and not to solve problems.I also try to stay away from the news these days.
    Its not very comforting to hear whats going on out there. Being on the road is a lot more fun. Changing scenery is fun but you know, when you get back home, you will like that as well. lol You’ll find you missed it after all.

  3. Randy Says:

    Companionship, friends and The Arts are right up there with shelter and food. They help make us Human. Your work is sustenace for me.

  4. Zelda Says:

    Dear Ara, Spirit and All reading this,
    Yes, economic times are hard for many, affecting the very well being, food, shelter and family welfare of those hit by layoff and foreclosure, through no fault of there own. There is an ironic element of luck that has affected everyone differently, without regard to whether he/she deserved to “come up smelling like a rose” and collect his/her bonus money, lose his/her house, or be somewhere in the middle, safe for the moment. Comparisons to the Great Depression find their way into the news occasionally. Since I am not an economist or a knowledgeable person in these areas (who is?) I do not pretend to forecast the future of how these times will play out for us. I would like to point out that even during the depths of the Great Depression, there was a little money, both public and private, and support for artists, writers and photographers to pursue their art, which is treasured today. Indeed, it has become an important part of our history and culture. Your art is particularly applicable today. Your posts in pictures of nature, people and animals celebrate riches not measured in dollars, that are free for the taking, if we only respect and care for them in return. Your resourcefulness in your day to day life of a vagabond provides a lesson for all of us in what is really important, after all. Some of us, for practical reasons, cannot lead the life of a vagabond as you do, still feel enriched by nature and friendship of ordinary people after following your day to day adventures through your blog. We feel we get the “best of the bargain” and we hope, help make it possible for others to share in your journey, when we contribute what we can to your journey.

  5. Living Off The Grid Says:

    Great article, thanks.
    Our family lives a bit different, but you are truly living off the grid

  6. Christine Says:

    I grant you that the market for a big coffee table book of pictures may not have as large a market – but your story does (with accompanying pictures). Just finished reading “Breakfast at Sally’s” I doubt that author expected anyone to be interested in his book originally, but I expect we will hear more from him. The art of words, the art of pictures…those things that capture our hearts and lift up our spirits when times are confusing or dark or…….sometimes we need reminders of what is important….sometimes we need to remember that we are not alone in the journeys that do so often seem lonely……. There will always be a need for important stories to be told. But, as I think you once wrote, if you succeeded, would you and Spirit be able to do the traveling to the places that your wider world would request of you (marketing, meet and greets, etc…)

  7. conchscooter Says:

    The point of my comment was for Ara to cut back and not get into debt for a project of dubious returns at a time when the basics are getting too expensive for many people to buy. Even though Ara is coy about his money supply he makes it plain this is a shoestring operation and I for one would be sorry to see it go. Frankly I would be sorry to see it expand into a “marketing operation.” Because that is precisely the sort of expansionist economic thinking that landed us in this globalized economic shit storm in the first place. If you want an artisanal world you have to keep reminding yourself to think small and enjoy the moment. The simplcity and intimacy of the blog is what draws us to it. The desire to see it grow is what kills the initial closeness. But hey, like I always say, free advice is what it’s worth and no one ever takes advice anyway! I still would like to see a few pictures of one plate cooking in daily life rather than abstruse thinking, but I set a terrible example! Cheers Ara and don’t forget the sailboat option (we haven’t). Back to the womb.

  8. joe Says:

    Congrats on the 200k. I poached the pic and commented on your achievement on my blog.

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