As has been happening every night since my return from India, I dozed off maybe a few minutes before midnight, slept pretty good for awhile and then woke up at about 1:30 AM, unable to really sleep any more, although I stayed in bed and tried pretty hard and did manage to pass in and out of a state of semi-sleep. Before I went to bed, I had already determined that no matter what, I would have breakfast at Abby's today.
I came out of one of those semi-sleeps at 5:45. I thought I might as well get up and instead of Abby's, go to Mat-Su Family Restaurant, because they open at 6:00 and Abby does not open until 9:00. I hadn't seen any of my Family Restaurant breakfast acquaintances since before I left for Arizona and India, so maybe it was time.
But no, my stomach was set on Abby's. Plus, things are pretty tight right now and I couldn't really afford to go to Family, but Chris and Arlene Warrior are still buying me breakfast at Abby's once or twice a week as their thank you to me for photographing the wedding of their daughter, Aurora, to Robert Standifer.
So I did not get up until about 7:30, then, feeling groggy, headed to Abby's.
Shortly after I set down, Tim Mahoney walked through the door. "Hi Bill!" he said, then sat down at my table. Abby brought him the cowboy cup she keeps just for him and filled it up with coffee.
Tim had come with his grandson, Wesley, who just turned six. Wesley ordered pancakes and eggs. Grandpa, who dotes on his grandson, cut them up for him.
Tim asked me a bit about the Arizona part of my trip and where Margie was from. The words "Apache" and "Arizona" inspired two stories in him. The first was about a time when he drove through the Mescalero Apache reservation in South Central New Mexico. Like the White Mountain Apache, the Mescalero live in high country where elevations ranging from 5400 to 12,000 feet.
Tim was so impressed by the beauty of Mescalero country that he felt like he just wanted to stop his car, get out and go lay down on the earth - "lay down on my Mother's breasts," was how he put it.
Once again, I was reminded of the painful fact that this life is just too short, for I, too, felt the sudden desire to go back to my wife's country during certain times of the year when the sky above the highlands is so deep and blue, the air cool but not cold and to just lie down upon the breasts of Mother Earth. So many places I want to go, want to see, want to spend time in - including every place that I have ever been. I want to linger in those places, to know them intimately as a baby upon his mother's breast knows his mother intimately - and all the while to better get to know Alaska, top to bottom.
But there just isn't time. Life zips by so damn fast. Inside me, I still feel that I am a young man; I believe I am a young man; I picture myself as young man, I have the goals, desires and ambitions of a young man, but I am on the very cusp of becoming an old man. There is so much I still want to do, so many places to spend time in. It can't be done.
Thw other story was about a man, a finisher, half-Apache, half-African American who Tim worked with on a construction job in Kasilof. The man was the fastest finisher Tim had ever seen. After the concrete had been poured into the form, he strapped trowels to each of his knees, took two more trowels, one in each hand, then got down on the unset concrete on all fours and smoothed it out with such speed and finese that Tim and the other workers could only gape in amazement.
He also had a story about Wesley, who he told me has an innate sense of direction unlike anything Tim has seen in anyone else - kind of like his own internal gps system. Tim told me how they had driven down to a place in Kasilof over a year ago. Then, a year later, they drove back to that place. As they drove, Wesley would tell them to turn this way here, that way there, right to the place.
As for this valley, he knows the way back to any place where he has ever been, Tim said.
"If I took him up north," he spoke of the Arctic Slope, where he has done much village work, "I would never get him back." He explained that the people would love him because no matter where he would go, be it sea ice or tundra, he would always know where he was, where he had been and where he was going.
Abby took a look at the teeth that chomp through her pancakes.
Wesley got up and roamed around for a bit as I listened to more of Tim's stories. The stories were interesting, so I was not really paying much attention to Wesley. Then I noticed that he was very interested in something beneath the next table.
What could it be?
It was Wesley's toy truck. It had gotten away from him and disappeared beneath the table. Wesley crawled under to retrieve it.
Wesley recovered his truck. Abby's Home Cooking. She named her restaurant well. Abby's HOME Cooking.
Soon it came time to leave. Tim helped Wesley into his jacket.
Then Abby gestured for a hug. She got it, too - but one thing that is really aggravating about this camera I am using most of the time is that the knob that controls the shutter speed continually changes it when I move around and it rubs against something - me mostly. For some reason, it most often changes the speed downward.
Then I shoot without realizing and get motion blue, because my shutter speed is at some ridiculously slow number for fast, hand-held, shooting - like 1/15 of second. Despite the blur, I use a lot of those pictures, anyway, if I think they still tell the story, but sometimes they are blurred beyond hope.
The hug was blurred beyond hope, but be assured, Abby got her hug.
Now, I know that there are some people in India who must be growing very impatient with me. They wait to see my pictures of Sujitha and Manoj's wedding, and of the other stories I shot there. And there is a master chef on the White Mountain Apache Reservation who is probably also getting a bit impatient with me.
So, beginning with the master chef, whose story I plan to post before this day ends, and then moving straight back into India, I will return to my travels. I am struggling with this a bit, because I shot a lot. I had hoped to have done a preliminary edit of the entire take by now, but I have taken a first, quick, look at less than five percent of the India take; maybe 60 percent of the Arizona take.
It is a monstrous task. I shot over 500 gigabytes. How the hell do I deal with that? Especially when it is a struggle to keep my eyes open. For example, it is 6:21 PM right now. I actually started to edit the pictures for this little story at about 1:45 PM. By 2:00 PM, I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer, so I went and laid down on the couch, where Chicago joined me for a nap. I didn't want to take a nap. I wanted to keep working, but I had no choice. I HAD to lay down and if not to really nap, to at least close my eyes. My body refused to let me do anything else.
Then I had to struggle to get up and go get my afternoon coffee at Metro before Carmen closed at 4:00. So this is the kind of thing I face. But I have many things to do and must get it all done, so that is what I am going to do.
Master Chef Nephi Craig, son of Vincent Craig - you are up next - before I go to bed tonight.* After that - back to India. I will try to make at least two posts every day, one from here in Wasilla, one or two from India/Arizona, until I am done.
And I've got to launch my store. I don't know how to do it, but I've got to do it, if I am ever to begin to figure out how to make this blog the foundation of my livelihood - a seemingly impossible task that I must do.