fire and brimstone

It seems I’m still having trouble adapting to moving away from my bike friends, whiskey friends, and computer friends. Plus, working from home (or the warehouse-office alone) all day doesn’t make it a ton better. Some days I see more chickens than I see people in a day. I ponder the stereotype of the hardy living out in the woods away from everyone else, and I wonder how much of that there is these days compared to “the way things never were.” I have to figure at some point isolation is a sickness.

We’ve lost a couple chickens over the last few days. I came home and found a dead chicken outside the fence, probably killed by a dog. That morning a bunch of them had wandered away when Kate opened the coop in the morning to check them. I started keeping count. We had 11. Then a day later we only had 9. Tonight I came home after dark, after picking up Dora from my grandparents. She looked under one of the cars with that look in her eye that there was something there worth chasing. I presumed it was a porcupine and ushered her into the house, but it turned out to be one of the missing chickens. Besides some loud clucking, I grabbed it with surprising ease and took it back to the coop. 10 chickens again!

Kate’s pregnant again, and due April 23rd. That’s soon, and exciting. Like much in my life, I’m living in the present and taking most of the tales of others anecdotally, as they are. Two new significant relationships in as many years.

I’ve been going to a local fire academy. I call it Fire Camp, because it’s one part fire academy and one part boot camp. I’m not thrilled about the second part, but the academy has been amazing. This afternoon we did wall breaches; breaking down sheetrock with tools and climbing through studs with airpacks on. This morning we did ladder rescues, carrying each other down ladders in a variety of ways. Yesterday was ladder raises, including extension ladders up to 35′. There have been mazes, rescue techniques including drags, lifts and various other magic. Also great presentations from fire marshalls and fire protection specialists. It’s hard to believe we’ve only had three weekends of class.

I wonder if anyone out there needs a pilot firefighter? Perhaps one also skilled with firearms, radios or repairing broken machinery? Should I list more unrelated skills?


Oh hey, looks like we tripped into fall a couple of weeks ago. The trees here in Maine are beautiful and I’m happy to have seasons again, it’s a very natural way to mark the passage of large blocks of time.

I used to write often about my troubles, and these past couple of years have had their share of troubles. I’ve considered in the past that it was mostly relationship troubles that triggered a deluge of words. It is a testament to that theory that while life has some sharp twists lately, I’ve had a solid relationship on which to stand. I’m not sure why I’m not writing more about the rest, perhaps it doesn’t seem so important to me as finding a partner was. I spent the last few years in Seattle honestly searching for someone to spend the rest of my life with. As it turns out, I found that when I moved home.

Since my last writing, we got married. Of course I’m still wading through that. How does this affect my plans and my feelings? Both toward our plans to settle down, to start a family, and other feelings towards past loves and future desires? Unsure.

I’ve been busy with work, the fair, the fire department, new friends, chickens, and… It’s shaping a whole new life.

Anyway. So much to do, I don’t feel like I have time to write but I wanted to mark at least a bit of occasion.


The last couple of days have been awfully hard emotionally. I haven’t been satisfactorily productive as a result, which doesn’t help climbing out of it. Having a laptop failure at the start of the week didn’t help. I’ve been dealing with someones anger issues, which has meant a lot of time thinking and talking about what to do about it. I’ve also been thinking about ‘the rest of my life’ which is an impossible timeframe. Usually ‘next year’ is about as far as I can look forward, so this is both hard because it always is, but also relative to my way of living.

And I don’t know, sometimes when you look over a cliff you can’t help but see the bottom.

On the upside, I found and bought another Whiskey & Co. album.

From wikipedia, “we are happiest when basking in the acceptance and praise of others.” I’ve been feeling bombarded and overwhelmed with implication that there is something wrong with how my relationships are shaped; that I’m not motived by getting to know someone specifically and that I simply like being around the people that I enjoy, and I’m okay with that. I don’t have any desire to figure anyone out and lean so heavily on what I would describe as my acceptance that the world, and people, are complex and often attempts are desired or made to make sense of them while I prefer to let them be as they are; liking them or not.

How much of a relationship can be built and had on merely liking or loving who someone is and their presence? How greatly is this tied to my interversion and/or independence? Is this calm peace or complacency? Does it matter?

It’s hard asking yourself questions that could bring a lot down.


Kate miscarried two weeks ago. I doubt I’ll ever forget walking into the bathroom to see her sitting on the toilet with a tiny fetus cupped in her hands. We brought it home and buried it in the small orchard.

I needed to pick up a couple pieces of equipment in Massachusetts and New Hampshire that Sunday, so we stayed with friends on their farm in Massachusetts that night. It was a night of strong sadness, watching over Kate’s emotional and physical health, combined with curing ignorance about the process of miscarriage and some comedic interlopers as well.

I suppose it’s been like riding a roller coaster on top of another roller coaster. As I’ve been talking to J again I’ve been spending more time thinking about change and how much of it there has been.

It’s hard to separate all the change up until Kate getting pregnant with the change thereafter. I’ve wanted children for a while and I remember talking to H about it years ago. We’re still planning on having children soon enough, perhaps once things settle back out. I suppose at the end of the day it’s just hormonal programming to reproduce, but I suppose everything is. Still, I want to be a father, and I want to be a good one.

My body is fighting me. It’s pretty terrible. I’m having terrible migraines brought on by putting pressure on the back of my skull, most commonly from rolling onto my back in my sleep. My rectum itches madly, probably from a fungal infection like candida but I don’t know. The medical profession has been effectively shrugging at me. The only test they’ve run is an ultrasound on my neck to check out a nodule, but no CT scans or rectal samples. I’ve been trying to get a second opinion, but it’s really hard to get an appointment with a doctor here.

I once had another medical problem. I knew what it was, and went to a doctor for it. I thought it was cured, but it wasn’t. I went to another doctor at a neighborhood clinic who looked at my disheveled appearance, decided I was homeless, and decided it was something else. My symptoms didn’t go away, so I got an appointment with a specialist who told me what they were all doing wrong and solved the problem. The process of getting an appointment with that specialist was so easy, I just looked him up in my insurance company database and made an appointment. Now, all the doctors “aren’t taking new patients” and I have no idea how to find someone to help me.


I bought a Chevy K3500 Chassis-Cab with a 9 foot rack body recently. Dad’s Ford F150 plow truck keeps wanting more work and the plow is a bit residential for me. The Suburban doesn’t get much use except as a tow vehicle. Living in the country again and driving every day, it makes more sense to have a car for moving people and a truck for everything else. That said, we currently have two cars (Subaru Forester and a Honda Civic) and four trucks (Dodge Dakota, Ford F-150, GMC Suburban and Chevy K3500). The Suburban and F-150 are going to be replaced by the K3500. There’s some shuffling to make all this happen though. I got the Ford online for sale this week.

I’m building a radio tower. About 75′ next to the garage to get 2M, scanner and 2.4ghz antennas up over the tree line. This is a huge project.

We currently have 21 chickens and 3 guinea hens, provided our 1 dog lets them live. I still haven’t finished fencing the coop, but I did go out and cut cedar posts in the woods and drag them by hand up to the cut road. Now I’ve just got to go get them, if I can find time between everything else.

There’s also other projects around the family land, yet to begin. I’ve got to finish working on the IH 3616 tractor so we can use it to tear down the old Ice House and also to get a garage bay back.

And then there’s work.

And having a child!


Kate and I are having a child this year. The other night she listed off many of the big changes in the last year and it was a longer list than I expected. This is a big one.

After a lot of mourning I emailed Burning Man and told them I wouldn’t be coming back this year. That was hard. I had made working perimeter part of my identity. Alas, I’m working on reducing my commitments, realizing I’m over booked and that I should be prioritizing projects on the homestead. I hope friends from the northwest come and visit. I doubt many will though. If they do, a nice surprise. I actually got an email today from someone I knew from Seattle who is in Boston for a spell.

When I got back from my trip, Kate showed me ultrasound pictures from about week 10. Hands! It has hands! So crazy. Yesterday we had another doctors appointment and got to hear its heartbeat. It has a heart! We are both so very emotionally invested in this. We had been planning on it, but not right now. Alas it is now, and the surprise has not stopped us from becoming immediately focused on caring for something that hasn’t been born yet.

I’ve been running lately and tracking it on Endomondo. That month of traveling broke it all up, but I’m focusing on it again. Having the data of Endomondo helps me build a bigger story for myself. I recently read In The Long Run. The author uses a runners journal and a goal of the NY Marathon to encourage his running (as well as being an overweight alcoholic with personal issues. We all have many demons). I think I’m using graphs. I’m getting into it though.

I almost emailed a book review last week to L, but remembered I said I wouldn’t contact her again and convinced myself not to. Running reminds me of her as well. Clearly this feeling will last a really long time, but I’ve made my peace with it. I’m happy with my life, and with this feeling.


I’m returning from a trip to Seattle and staying at my grandparents in Naples for the first time this year.

There is a photo of my father, a great photo of him in his pilot uniform on a jetway, that nobody knew existed until he died.

Captain Barry D. McLellan

We all have copies of it on the wall now. It hangs in my fathers bedroom here. I settle down and thumb through his bible.

I never thought about my father having a bible until they asked if I wanted it.

As I’ve been collecting oral history from my grandfather Wilbur, I’ve been thinking about my physical being in the same place as my ancestors. As I wander from project to project with him I get little stories about my father, pointing out the support they had built over the bulldozer for working on it.

I can’t picture my father working on a bulldozer. I never saw that. M used to give me a hard time about ending up like my father, which was selfish, harsh and unreasonable in retrospect. But ironic now, as I see how much I am like a father that I never knew.

I don’t mean as much as tragedy, really. Most probably never know their parents that way except maybe through stories by their friends.

In the morning I sit upstairs at the familiar table looking out over the lake. I remember sitting here silently with my father on similar mornings.

I always felt and believed that was our connection, we could occupy space together with an ease that felt perfect.

My Dads friend and roommate Stan had tried to get me to move back in once, before Seattle. It wouldn’t have been right. We were living different lives. Still, that was when we were perfecting this ability to be.

I was one of the reference birthdays in this family. Great Grammie Mae would have been 100 this year, Grampie Bud is 80, Dad would have been 60, I am 30, and my cousin AJ is 20.

2012 is mostly definitely a new year. I have lived so long waiting for life to start. Looking at my gray hair in the mirror in Seattle I was thinking about my health and how I’ve lived. I’ve lived so much in this last decade.

Now, with Kate, I think we are ready.

time and traveling

When I got off the plane in Seattle, I put on my headphones and played Radiohead’s The Bends. I walked through the crowd sorting both the emotions of stepping back in Seattle and having recently moved on from a life, and the memories of doing the same in airports years before I moved to Seattle.

I can’t remember specifically where I was traveling to. I made a few trips with Matthew, but almost always flying by myself and meeting him somewhere. One or two trips were made for vacation with a friend. I was a teenager when I started going to

Mom and I try to recall my travels to Defcon in Las Vegas. I think I went in 1999, 2002, and 2005. The last time I flew with Matt H., Jason, Brett and Heidi. The first three I was trying to run a consulting business with; Heidi I was dating. Before that Matt B., Jason and I drove my USPS truck. The first time I flew out alone. Was it really 1999? I thought Panax had paid for the hotel. Was I really barely 17 and getting someone to pay for me to attend a hacker conference?

I rounded out my resume for those years, ending up with working at Panax 1/2000 – 12/2002 and Crow 1/2003 – 8/2005. But that leaves out LN Networks the mash of working part time doing everything I could.

I was thinking the other night about the possibility of a trip up to the James Bay in Canada sometime. The James Bay Road is in the same class as the Dalton and Dempster highways in terms of service area free remoteness. I mentioned it to Kate and while she’s interested in a motorcycle trip, she wants to go somewhere that is special for a reason other than its remoteness. Trips are definitely a rare opportunity for me to stop, which I rarely do.


I stopped by the grandparents house this morning on my way into my office. I drank a cup of coffee while chatting with my grandfather. He mentioned Fort Eustis, where he was stationed during the Korean War for most of his two years and how he ended up there teaching in the Transportation School there. At one point he mentioned his race car and ran off to get photographs. He came back with a book of photographs from around 1955, a few of which were of a car he had raced in NASCAR at the time. He had stories to tell about that as well.


growing up

A week ago it was over 80 degrees outside, and now there are a couple of inches of snow on the ground. I wondered the other day how this will affect plants over the next twenty years, in a post-apocalyptical way. No, I’m sure like The Lorax, capitalism will find a way to make money then.

I’ve had dreams about my father lately.

I recall feeling like I knew and respected how he lived and I that I was one of his defenders. That feels like ages ago now.

A few weeks ago I was talking to Kate about organizing my history into three lives; growing up, Seattle, and returning home. I was thinking about the great chasm of instability in these transitions and recognizing that I’m still adjusting to this most recent change. Moving to Seattle, I recall feeling like M was giving up less than was. In retrospect, true or not, I did not have the wherewithal to judge such things at the time. Now I can recognize and measure the change much better. Less important is how different my life was a year ago, more how I thought about it differently. At the time, settling down and having children was something I planned for in the foggy “someday.” I have lacked a ten year plan most of my life and had no desire for one. Now there are, as Kate says, a smaller number of infinite possibilities.

The big reason for moving home was to spend time with my Grandparents. This is one of the most fulfilling decisions I’ve ever made. I realize the other night that once Grampie and Grammie McLellan return for the summer I’ll be visiting them on weekends without Kate as she’ll be deep in farming activity. Still, this is important.

We started watching Due South recently. I laughed at vast canyon between the shows I used to like and what is on network television today. The main character’s father works for the RCMP, as did his father. After his father is murdered, he begins realizing how much they had in common despite being mostly separated.

I have no memories of my father driving a tractor. Maybe the Case Loader/Backhoe. I can faintly remember him splitting wood at the field near the Maggie Camp. Often my grandfather tells me about spending time with my father laying hardwood floors, or working on the bulldozer. I didn’t know that person. He had grown much older than his age by the time I was in my twenties.

We burned a cord of wood this winter. Not that we needed to, the oil boiler works fine and I make plenty of money to pay for the oil. Part of it is probably nostalgia, that comes heavy when you grow up in a house with a cookstove. While interviewing my grandfather yesterday as part of an oral history project, I asked him about how often he used to go to town when he was young. He said they would go to the village, about eight miles away, a few times a week. But they very rarely went to Ellsworth, which I call the city. It was a different time, one where the village had a half dozen stores to its two now, one of which I believe opened new last year. When I was working from home I found myself a little stir-crazy if I hadn’t left the house all day, but I think that I don’t mind if I don’t leave Surry all day. I love the woods behind our house and I treasure our family heritage here.