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Glass Buttes, Oregon

Soul sickness counts for a sick day, or should.

I have not called in sick for over six months, since I started my job, and I do not receive paid vacation. So, I am going to lie tomorrow morning to my boss. I am very stressed over this, and wouldn’t do it unless the stress of no break were worse. If I had to guess, I’d say he won’t mind, since I’ve earned the time. And anyway, I’m away over the mountains to this place in the High Desert, and much too far away to get back in time tomorrow.

Janet and I are in the draw that separates Glass Butte and Little Glass Butte. The sun has gone behind Glass Butte, and there is twilight on the sage and juniper covered hills that surround us.  As I came up through the draw, I saw some other campers,  so I continued on to where the land opens out, and what do you know, Phone says four bars. So I can call in sick properly in the morning without having to drive forty miles to get cell service, which I thought I would have to do. They have clearly installed A LOT of cell towers recently, as a man behind me at the gas station mini mart in the east part of Bend told me that AT&T has a dead zone for about 45 miles between Brothers and Riley. I remembered that from when I drove through here in 2020. Eh. Conspiracy! But everyone seemed glad to talk with me, so I must have a good vibe going. The young guy pumping gas said “Do you want to hear the joke of the day?” I said yes. Of course. “Why do they have a hard time getting up in Athens?” “I don’t know, why?” Because Dawn is tough on Greece [grease]. It took me several slow seconds to do that translation, and then I laughed.

Earlier, a tall old guy behind me in the checkout line in the Springfield Safeway was kind of a jerk, I thought. He brusquely told me to pass him a divider stick thingy, so I pretended I didn’t know what he wanted until he did it himself. Then the checker, a rough-looking man who was prematurely greying, asked me how things were, and I asked him if they sold chopped onions. Because I had just realized that I had forgotten to get them. I have previously noticed that no vestige seems to have remained there of the way grocery stores used to operate, but he says, “Let me look!” and runs off to find me some. I stood there, quite pleased with our anachronism, and the tall old man says sarcastically, “Did he go to lunch, or something?” I said no, he was getting me some onions. Well, the old guy suddenly remembered he too was raised in the days of manners and started talking to me politely, about the news, etc. He said Eugene was finally getting rid of its homeless people, because of a big international track meet they’re having at the newly revamped Hayward Field, (Phil Knight’s legacy obsession from his one moderately useful time of life which he can never relive: helping to sell Bill Bowerman’s idea for a running shoe to the money people.) I said “So NOW Eugene doesn’t like them.” He said yep, and I said it was a good reason for all of us to laugh at them. Us meaning Springfield people, who have never let homeless people camp everywhere, and who have been put down as selfish, nasty people for it.

He and the checker, who had come dashing back with two chopped onion selections, both agreed with me. Laugh at them. I chose the chopped red onions. And thanked him profusely for the wonderful, old-fashioned service.

Just getting up and over the mountains made me feel more light-hearted, much more so than the last time I got out, last May. I did enjoy that very much, but the bar has lowered in the last year. It has now become a grind. All of it.

This is so great, looking out the windows at the deepening dusk, and just seeing nothing. Hills, sagebrush, rocks. I guess these buttes are almost pure obsidian, a volcanic glass, and we’ll see what that means soon.

And yet, knowing that in one easy swoop, ‘they’ can end all this fun by cutting off our gasoline and propane and no doubt frying us all with microwave radiation from these cell towers that are allowing me to be in communication with anyone, even here. I paid about 85 bucks to fill Janet–it was always about 45–and there is no reason at all for it. Except for ‘their’ nutty agenda, which will have to run its course.

So wide open country and easy free travel, except not really. Great. One more thing that is an illusion.

It is nearly dark, so I must carry on with setting up my night camp, with curtains, lights, and a bed. It is very clear, and I want to step out to look at the stars.