Title blurb

"From one LIGHT come many colors." ~GJ Dürrschmidt

Sunday, March 27, 2011

NAS Key West Rec Center: My Writing Command Center!

While riding out the winter months here in Key West tent camping amid the pines at the Sigsbee RV Campground, I must confess, I've been fortunate to have an oasis, an escape from the heat, humidity, pesky insects, and over curious reptiles.

Every day, almost without fail, after stumbling out of the tent, and brewing a pot of coffee, I head off to the Navy Base Recreation Center/ITT Office to crank out some writing. Vintage van Go[gh] has been good about having to remain outside the whole time. I always do my best to make it up to him later in the day.

Also, almost without fail, upon entering the facility, I receive a cheerful welcome from the friendly and hospitable staff in the ITT office. This is where base patrons come to book and purchase tickets for the myriad of fun, recreational venues available here in Key West.

I try my best to avoid the well equipped exercise room at the end of the hall straight ahead. I prefer spend my available energy each day on thoughts of lunch ahead, and on that well deserved happy hour waiting for me at the end of each grueling day of writing.

But right now, I have to keep my focus on my primary mission, and continue straightway to my "Writing Command Center," which just happens to double as the facility's lounge.

The lounge is home to a collection of rent-by-the-half hour computers, comfortable easy chairs and sofas, and a big screen TV, to keep escapees from reality (cough, cough...like myself) semi in touch with the events happening back out in the "real world."

For those, like myself, who have their own laptop, there are cubicles to work at and take advantage of the free LAN, or Wi-Fi.

I try to be an early bird so I can seize the last cubicle to the right. Somehow, this one has always seemed like the right one for me, even though I tend to lean more often to "the left."

This is the spot! It is right here that check emails, goof off on Facebook, write my blog, write poetry, and occasionally even work on the book project I have been blaming this whole road trip on!

However, no matter how involved in my work I might become, I rarely stay too late. There is too much natural beauty associated with this charming island, to remain cooped up indoors the whole day.

Regardless where the rest of the day takes me, each always ends up at the same place ~ standing in wonder and awe somewhere along the shore, taking in yet another spiritually uplifting, creatively inspiring sunset!

So now you know where I'll be tomorrow morning, and every morning until the winds of change shift, and it's clearly time for Vintage van Go[gh] and I to set sail for the west coast. 


Saturday, March 26, 2011

WANTED: Closeted Hippies for Vicarious Magical Mystery Tour!

The unencumbered, simple life calls for simple blogging. I've a hot dog social to attend at the campground today, and I must go conjure up some potato salad. Consequently, unlike my homemade potato salad, this entry will be light and fluffy...

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, work your magic ~ take me away from it all!

If only it were that easy, right? Well, it just may be! Perhaps you're not at a place in your life where you can let your hair down and just walk away from it all. So, why not simply give in to fantasy by joining our upcoming road trip through the marvels of cyberspace!

In the comfort, safety, and security of your own space, you can ride along as Vintage van Go[gh] and I make our way from adventure to adventure, state by state. You'll be right in the midst of all the fun, and be there to help provide moral support, should we encounter an occasional trial, or tribulation.

Oh, come on...do it! Who are you kidding? You and I both know you have always been a closeted hippie ~ secretly yearning that total freedom, frivolity, and a devil-may-care serendipitous lifestyle. You're no spring chicken these days. It's time to quit living in denial!

Besides, just as Grimm says here...

After all, let's face it...the deck had long ago been shuffled, and the cards already dealt. 

So, let the sun shine. Let the sun shine in!

Peace, love, and orange tho'ts!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby Boomer, Are You a Late Bloomer? It's Never Too Late!

If you're a baby boomer like myself, what the hell are you waiting for...the Golden Years? Get real, these ARE the golden years! And if you're not already living what time you have left to the fullest, well...when do you think you will? There's never going to be a better time than right now. God knows, I sure waited long enough to wake up and smell the coffee. 

I'm traveling across country right now in a labor of love I fondly call Vintage van Go[gh] ~ a 1970 VW hippie love bus. Why? Why climb a mountain? Because it's there! In this case, making a road trip across country in an old VW bus is on my Bucket List. I never did it back when I was eighteen, for too many reasons. But none of those reasons exist today to prevent me, so no matter what others may think or say about the venture, I'm damn sure doing it!

Like my old bus, I should have bought in to the extended warranty plan back when I had the chance, but...oh well. Now, on any given day my joints hurt, I have less energy, I'm quickly developing cataracts, and I find it more and more important to always know where the nearest toilet is ~ you know, just in case.

Nonetheless, I want to see the Grand Canyon while I still can, hike through the tall Redwoods while I can still walk, hug a giant Sequoya just because it's there, and because I'm a tree hugger. From my years of professing college English, I have come to respect nouns as the most important to my life: people, places, and things.

I have to make this journey because, all along the way, there are exotic and interesting people I've yet to meet; great places, big and small I've yet to visit; and fun, adventurous things I've yet to experience. And, truth be known, none of it will ever happen unless I, with the help of Bayer aspirin (and a little medicinal brandy), don't MAKE it happen.

Ever since completing the Graduate Writing Program at Johns Hopkins, I've been wanting to write a fiction novel. I've managed to crank out magazine articles along the way, but never seemed to have the time to tackle a book project. The idea for the book presented itself eight years ago, and for eight years it's layed dormant. Well, on this trip, it's being resurrected, and I'm making the time. My goal is to complete it by this journey's end. I say "this," because I wish to leave the door open for the next!

If I can do it, you can do it; not necessarily taking a roadtrip and writing a novel, like me, but whatever YOUR longtime fantasy has been that you've been putting off for way too long. Don't die with the best part of your life's story still in you!

I would like to leave you with a poem, that kind of relates:

Late Bloomer

Forever and a day,
I regret to say,
I have lived my life
for others.

Not knowing why,
it was do it, or die,
sacrificing all my
own druthers.

If you were to ask,
take me to task,
I’d not been able
to answer,

who, or what I am,
the King of Siam,
Donner, Blitzen, or

Am I gay, or straight?
Is it ever too late,
to change once I
ever find out?

As far a preference,
I have no reference.
Perhaps you’d help
rid the doubt.


I’m a late bloomer;
it’s not just a rumor;
my mottos in life
are all new:

if it feels good, do it;
always pursue it; and
to thine own self
always be true.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Key West: It's Raining Reptiles!

Last night while preparing dinner, I heard a thump on the tarp overhead that I positioned to keep the steady rain of the Swamp Cypress tree debris off of my tent and dining area. With all those tiny pine cones, long needles, and oh yes, the prehistoric-sized moths swooping about, it's nothing unusual to hear a thump. But this thump was very close, and warranted immediate investigation.

Straight above my head was the shadow of a reptile, of sorts. Too small for an iguana, but certainly could belong to a gecko, or cameleon. Most evenings, when retired to my tent, I have often heard what I imagined to be small creatures dropping onto, and then scurrying across the canvas. Until now, I only imagined this to be the case. Now I had my proof!

I no sooner took this picture, when the little rascal crawled over to the edge and peered down at me. He seemed to be taking quite an interest, and not the least bit afraid. Can you make him out there, just above the metal loop on the brown tarp?

No? Well let me enlarge the view. There, now can you see his little green and white lizard head?

I moved out from under the tarp and raised my camera. With my moves, he very slowly turned away and froze in place. I guess he thought that by so doing, I wouldn't notice him.

Here's an attempt at a closer look. I'm using a Sprint Instinct 30 cell phone camera, which is somewhat lacking in clarity at times. Once I have accummulated all the VW bus parts one could ever imagine needing, then I might invest in a real camera.

As I inched closer to get a better shot, the little bastard turned into a magician! Please forgive me for referring to him as a little bastard, but the little bastard startled me! Right after I snapped this pic ~ presto-chango! ~ he turned completely brown! I was so amazed at this unexpected trick that I just stood there dumbfounded, and stared in awe. In a flash, he was gone, and all I could think about was how in the hell did he do that?  Answer: he had to have been a cameleon.

The little lizards here don't bother me one bit. It's the big ones that tend to spook me from time to time, even though I know full well by now to expect it. They're right there underfoot by my bus when I go to get into it. And they quickly run away, as if mischieviously up to something...

They're big and brown, and suddenly pop out into the clearing behind the tent...

They're bright green, and quickly dart out from behind nearby trees...

They stealthily scale up surrounding trees, often going unnoticed, and watch as I lay unaware in my hammock, no doubt deeply thinking about the book. But, on this day, I was awake, andsaw him up there to my left...

They appear here and there, and inevitably inch closer and closer, watching, studying this interloper who has invaded their sacred, holy swamp...

Every day they come. On some days, more of them come than on others. But one thing sure, they haven't missed a day in paying their strange and curious neighbor a visit.

I haven't gone as far as assigning them names, though I have begun talking to them quite extensively, that is, as they present the occasion. The way they inquisitively cock their heads from side to side, and bob them up and down as I speak, at the very least, creates a convincing illusion that they are listening.

Thus far, mind you, I have intentionally avoided politics or religion,  as neither have in the past ever lead an intellectually stimulating conversation to a mutually satisfying end. I must confess, though frequent, these reptilian monologues fall far from being intellectual, or stimulating, or could even qualify as conversation, for that matter. On the other hand, they have been an enormous help to me in forming and organizing my thoughts.

God only knows what thoughts the reptiles crawl away with! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

GJDuerrschmidt's Key West; or, Life in the Pines

With roughly three weeks remaining before the scheduled departure from my winter haven here in Key West, and the continuation of my fiction-novel-writing, cross-country road trip, I've still a long list of things yet to accomplish.

Not on the list is reading Waldon, by Henry David Thoreau, but today I made the strategic error of pulling it off the shelf of my mobile library (shelves in the VW love bus) as I was waiting for the coffee to perk. Mistake, or manifest destiny?

I've been trying to read it for years now, but always seem to fall prey to distractions: the mundane routines of life, or allowing myself to become swallowed up by its meaningless minutiae. Yes I have a list of tasks yet to address, but I also have no real schedules to keep, no pressing personal responsibilities or obligations, and answer only to myself these days...so why the hell not read it!

My campsite in the pines, owned by the United States Navy, is no cabin in the woods like the one Thoreau built for himself on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, but it certainly has a unique charm of its own.

Thoreau's cabin was situated along the shore of Waldon Pond, walking distance from downtown Concord, Massachusettes. My tent is situated along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, walking distance from downtown Cayo Hueso (uh, that's Key West).

"Life in the woods" here, means being surrounded mainly by a gently swaying forest of the deciduous conifer: Taxodium, or Swamp Cypress. The trees produce long-haired needles that continually shed year round, creating a soft, brown carpet over the entire area. One hundred yards north, through the cyprus trees, is the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Ten steps to the south, the campsite borders on a fifty yard wide swamp filled with Mangrove trees, that then opens into the Gulf waters.

The morning after the first night of setting up camp here, and each morning thereafter, I noticed random spots on the ground where the needles appeared to have been arranged in neat, small circles, like something was nesting in the night around my tent. It took me two weeks to discover that the culprits were doves!

I simply loved the sound of their cooing in the trees at night. What I soon learned was that, once I retired for the night, the doves would  get up close and personal to the tent, and spin a blanket of needles within which to sleep. Now, I don't know about you, but I find this quite fascinating. Perhaps they experience a greater sense of safety being close to a human being in the dark. At least, this is what I have chosen to believe. I know that it has become a source of comfort to me each night to know they are out there.

Here on Key West Pond, I too have a makeshift nest. The doves spend the evenings in theirs, I find myself spending most of my days in mine. In fact, it is right in this nest that I'm reading Thoreau, and will continue to read Thoreau, until the spirit of Waldon has been woven into the very fabric of my being!

I have secretly wished for a lifetime to be someone like Thoreau: a naturalist, an environmentalist, someone into communing with the natural world, as he did. But in our society today, who can afford the time? Well, I have nothing but time now ~ time to kick back in the ole hammock, time to slowly sip and enjoy hot java, time to absorb Thoreau's words, and all of the natural world around me.

And, just a footnote. Being so blessed with such plush tree to tree carpeting, who needs shoes?

Besides the occasional Nature call, the only other time I might put the book down, is when I feel the urge to go inspect the avocado seed that's been soaking in a cup of water for more than two weeks now. I have high hopes of it eventually becoming a tree, but this will take time. While waiting, I believe I may have stumbled onto what might possibly be a heretofor unknown theorem of Nature:

A watched avocado seed does not germinate!

Well, I have immensely enjoyed this visit, but I really must be getting back to my book.  There's only so much reading time available each day before the lights go out for the night, and the doves once again descend along the shores of Key West Pond.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Key West: A Professor's Hammock Reflections on the Plight of the World

Stretched out on my hammock, thoughts of the fate of mankind fill my mind as I rhythmically rock and sway back and forth, staring up at the tree limbs overhead. I had earlier attended an afternoon pool party, the outcome of which continues now to haunt me.

I met a gentleman who, during our conversation, asked if I was involved with The Venus Project. I told him that I had no knowledge of such a project. Based on the topic I had been discussing with him all along, he found my response to this question incredible. He said he would have bet good money that I was heavily involved with the project. 

In short, he informed that the project was attempting to educate, as well as promote action concerning the need for the world to convert from a profit-based economy to a resource-based system, in order to better provide for the needs of the growing world population. This immediately struck a chord with me, bringing to mind a recent personal experience that I went on to share with him.

In 2008, I had the pleasure of teaching an introductory course for the Business and Technology Department at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore campus; one, that in the process, widely opened my own eyes, and taught me more about the present condition of the world than I had previously taken the time to notice.

The course, Society and Technology, explored the impact technology has made, is making, and will continue to make on society and the planet. It presented the possible perils humanity would inevitably have to face, if no grand scale action was undertaken now to help reverse, and ultimately stave off the all-to-real negative consequences that "the wheels of progress" have placed in motion.

Shy of two weeks into the semester, my students were quick to voice  that the course material was causing them some serious concern. It was not my instruction, but the subject matter that was such a downer. It took extra self-motivation and convincing to muster the mental fortitude for them to attend the class. They admitted feeling "bummed out" the whole day afterward.

I assured them, that I too, was equally bummed out, if not more so. After all, I was having to prepare the lessons, which required extensive reading, forethought, and gobs of personal energy. And, I had to deal with all the pensive looks on their faces during class. It distressed me having to field their very valid questions (and there were many), most of which I could offer no satisfying answer. They were damn right the stuff was depressing!

Every class they heard information concerning how the world population was growing at an alarming rate; how the planet had limited resources; and, that its biophysical carrying capacity had already been greatly exceeded. Furthermore, from an engineering perspective, the maximum sustainable population for the United States was just over 100 million, and for the world, just over 3 billion. Both had already exceeded double that amount. Oh, and then there were the issues of increasing air pollution, water pollution, and chemical contaminants in our processed foods ~ all the result of technological progress. God! They had me convinced not to come to class!

Over the weekend, I paced and pondered over what to do. The answer: get them involved! We spent the next class session in discussion, debate, mediation, what have you, to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution. I needed the job. They needed the credits. We all needed to survive the semester.

The exchange was very lively. It pleased me greatly that they actually all showed up, and that they were so sincerely and deeply engaged. I reminded that I had told them in the beginning that the course was about their world. They didn't create the problems, but they were going to have to use their young, fertile minds to come up with the solutions. The fate of their futures, their children's, and their children's children would depend upon what they did from now on as responsible citizens, independent of their majors, and regardless what directions their careers took them.  I reminded them that being forwarned was forearmed, and that a good offense was better than a good defense. I stressed that ignoring the issues, regardless of how distasteful and depressive they might be to deal with, would not make them go away.

I left them on their own to discuss what outcome they felt would be to all of our best interest, what would make them continue coming to class, and what would help them get the most out of the semester.

The debate that ensued was loud and high spirited, but surprisingly remained well focused. They reached a working solution with minutes to spare. It was agreed that the subject matter was a bitter pill to swallow, but that, in the end, they knew they would be better off facing the issues head on.

I praised them for having done an excellent job, and that it was my wish that each class be conducted just like the present session. I would introduce the topic as listed on the syllabus, and they would come to class prepared to openly share their thoughts and opinions in an engaging fashion, but keeping it as civilized as possible. I've never had a more satisfying teaching experience!

Now, slowly swinging here, back and forth, I cannot believe that I had never heard of The Venus Project prior to the pool party. Had I been living under a rock? What a great response having known would have provided to their challenging questions. What a difference it might have made in some, if not all of their lives. What a difference knowledge of it might make on the future of the world!

I strongly recommend everyone's taking a little time to learn about The Venus Project, if for no other reason than pure personal enlightenment; and of course, to arm oneself with a better answer than the one I had, if ever asked the question at a pool party. Either way, I'm convinced you'll be glad you did.

I don't know about you, but in a world filled with so much pending gloom and doom, it's comforting to know that there may be a working solution...there may still be hope.

~GJ Duerrschmidt

Here is the link if you'd like to check it out now:


Monday, March 21, 2011

Cold Feet? Dare to Explore!

As I prepare to head out across country in my vintage VW bus, to write a long overdue novel, I've begun soul searching, and re-evaluating my motives for doing so; especially with gas prices being what they are. In all honesty, I suppose I'm getting cold feet ~ those last minute road trip heebee jeebee's.

Reflecting, I realize that one needn't embark on a journey over hill and dale, mountain and valley, hither and yon, to gain insight into the mysteries of life, or for new self-discovery. One may very well experience such things right in the home of one's parents, grandparents, great aunts, uncles, or even that old eccentric neighbor down the way.

Great gems of knowledge might just be lying in wait in musty, dusty basements, attics, garages, overgrown living rooms and studies. And, these treasures of the mind are right there for the taking, if one would only dare to explore.

Dare to Explore

Have you thumbed through
the myriad of magazines
scattered in piles
here and there
on the floor?

Have you carefully studied
the plethora of paintings
hanging on walls,
room to room,
door to door?

Have your fingers run over
the titles of books
crammed randomly
upon shelf,
after shelf?


in exploring more deeply
that which is me,
you’ll more deeply

~g duerrschmidt

This having been said, I still feel the need to: see the Grand Canyon; bask in the lights of Tinsel Town, and take a chance at being a big winner; walk up to and hug a giant Sequoya; see the Redwood forrest; camp in and explore Yosemite; stop in Seattle to see the 1969 Woodstock drummer of Santana playing in a local jazz club; take a cruise to see the glaciers (while they last); experience the Aurora Borealis; witness Old Faithfull at Yellowstone; gaze up at Mount Rushmore; drive through the Grand Tetons, across the Great Salt Flats, yadda, yadda, yadda!

If only gas were still 30 cents per gallon. If only my eyesight wasn't failing. If only my joints didn't hurt so much. If only I were younger, richer, more handsome. Wait a minute. More handsome? Well, I have to give myself that one. Looks is one thing I do have. Oh yeah, that, and a great sense of humor!

Bottom line: I'm going on this road trip and writing the novel, come hell or high gas prices, cataracts or arthritis, mechanical, physical, or mental breakdowns!

This is my final answer!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Key West: Vintage van Go[gh] Gets a Roof Rack

This is certainly an exciting day for my hippie love bus, Vintage van Go[gh]! Here he waits with great anticipation this morning for the FedEx truck to arrive.

Finally the long awaited moment comes!

The driver dissappears momentarily, then emerges carrying a large box. I wonder what's inside. Hmmm.

Back at the camp site, I'm ready for a cup of coffee and some breakfast, but...NO!  Vintage insists I get right to work and assemble the roof rack.

"Git'r done," he says, "and then you're free for the rest of the day."Sheesh! What I don't do for that old bus!

Knowing just how moody he can become, I immediately open the box, and inventory the contents. Surprisingly it's all there.

An hour and a half later, I have the wooden slats afixed to the frame.

An additional hour later, and the roof rack is fully assembled!

"Now, coffee and breakfast?" I mock.

"No," he responds, "you've come this far, just a little longer and you'll be completely done."

"Okay, mister smarty pants,"  I snap back, "how do you propose I get this thing up onto your rooftop?"
"Oh, come on..use that remarkably creative mind of yours," he comes back with. "I have faith in your abilities." That cunning old bastard! He knows just how to stroke my ego.

I position the rack by the bus, along with a small wooden stool. I climb upon the stool and get my balance. Then I slowly, and very carefully lift the rack up over my head, all the while steadying my balance. I place the three legs of one side into the rain gutter on the bus, and then with great care, lower the other side down into the gutter on the opposite side. Ta-da!!! It went right in! No scratched paint, no dings, and more importantly...no pulled muscles!

Mission accomplished, I clean up the mess, put all the tools away, and put a pot of water on for coffee.

"Hey," Vintage calls out. "How does it look, huh?"

"Stunning," I assure him, adding, "Here, let me take a pic."

Now tell the truth. Is this ole hippie love bus beaming with pride, or what?

The rack is the cherry for the top of the sundae. Vintage and I are now ready to begin making preparations for our targeted mid-April departure from our winter hideaway in Key West, and the long awaited road trip westward.

It's been wonderful being here, but we have people, places, and things yet to experience, and a novel to write!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Hark! Make Ready the Ark! The Road Trip Cometh!

If you've been keeping track, you know that I arrived in Key West back in December, the first stop on my cross-country novel-writing adventure, and had the stellar intentions of collecting data for the novel, and making final preparations on the hippie love bus. What happened? Well, what do you expect might happen when a handsome, well-seasoned stud muffin, suddenly finds himself smack dab in the middle of Sodom and Gomora? You guessed it...PAR-TAY!!

First came New Year's Eve...then came the novelty of this tiny island's 24/7 carnival atmosphere...then came pouring in the college crowd for Spring Break! I mean, what's a hedonistic, pagan to do? Sit in a tent day and night and write?! Well, hell to the no!

Things on the party scene were going strong, until recently, when a heavenly voice spoke over the sound of reggae (mon), the clinking of Bud Light bottles, and the gentle rustling of coconut palms:

"Prepare ye swiftly thine chariot, you not-such-a-spring-chicken, sinner man. The sand in your hour glass wans, falling faster with each passing day. The Great Road Trip draweth nye!"

So, I immediately fought off the daily lure of Happy Hour, the late night naked dancers, and the droves of hot, horny college students. That would all have to wait. I realized that I had become a backslider, had momentarily lost my way. But, now I saw the light ~ and it wasn't a Bud Llight ~ the love bus needed me. We have a road trip to make, and a book to write!

I set things into motion, beginning with an ordering frenzy. First came the cream colored spare tire cover and shiney chrome hubcaps...

Next came the front side reflectors and rear side light assemblies (to the undescrimminating eye, the pic looks much like the previous one, but look more closely at the sides!)...

Still can't tell??? Well, here...try this...

Next, I cleaned "house," straightening and organizing ~ a place for everything, and everything in it's place. A place for my dulcimer...

A place for my wooden Indian flute and deer skin drum...

A place to sleep (hmmm...and hopefully recreate!  = ) ...

A place to store stuff...like my most important books, some gourmet snacks, my magick wizard's staff, and, of course, my Qi Gong mystical marshall arts bamboo exercise pole...

Yes indeed...with a little self-discipline, and a whole helluva lot of personal restraint, things are now progressing nicely. Tomorrow marks the arrival of the long-awaited roof rack ~ the cherry on top of the sundae. Oh, you can bet there will be pictures posted of that monumental happening!

Stay tuned...