When you lose a legend…

There are moment in your life when lose legends…death does not escape those that you view as legendary.  Death strikes us all.  This month I lost one of those men in Jack Sheen. Death sucks.  It’s been a reality for me since my class mate in 6th grade was struck dead in a car crash.    There are shocking deaths…a car crash…a violent death…pure anticipation.  There are less shocking deaths…cancer…a 90something year old…etc..  Shocking or not, what happens when you lose legend???

Three things happen.  1) the initial stun 2) assessment of impact and 3) plan to honor the legacy.

This month was not the first the legend I’ve lost.  About a decade ago I got a call that one of my closest scouting advisors had had a medical episode.  I called the hospital asking to speak to him…the nurse on the other end clearly interpreting my age told me things did not look good.  That life support had been ceased…it was time to say goodbye.  I sobbed and then…with reality setting in, made it my goal to drive any kid that wanted to to the hospital to say goodbye.  The stubborn bastard kept it going for a week or so before he passed. I made no less than three trips to hospital, each time less attached the actual happenings and more focused on  letting others say their goodbyes.  The stun was gone.

When i got the text about a week ago from a good friend that Jack had passed, there was less stun.  I had heard that he had previously struggled in health but I wasn’t quite ready, you’re never ready.  In this case I think it was most difficult because the legend wasn’t a singular legend..he came in a package with his wife and to think of a team split in two was harder to handle than just the loss of single man. It was always Jack and Pat, together, as a package.  Those two things, at least in my mind, could not be separated yet in mortality here it was, a splitting of un-splitable things.

Everyone has their favorite Jack memory,  My best friend Travis remembered Jack teaching him to light a fire without a match, even stopping by Travis’s house to help him figure it out.  Of all the memories that stuck out in my mind, one dominated.  In 2005 I traveled the country for Scouting.  in May of that year there was the annual BSA meeting in Dallas.  On registration day I was walking through the hotel mostly to get my barrings for the events ahead and I ran into Jack and Pat just after they had checked into the conference.  It  was a taste of home in the middle of Dallas in the middle of a year when I spent more time on planes than with Scouting in my own home.  He was a friendly face in a distant land, at that moment it was exactly what i needed.

His celebration of life was one of the few I would not have missed for anything. It was a damn reunion of my most formative years.  Awkward given the BSA’s current stance on homo adults? Yes.  But nobody gave a damn.  Because that’s reality, not policy.  I saw old Scoutmasters, Scouts I had helped turn into responsible adults.  Pat looked exactly as she did the last time I saw her; she was surprised but pleased to see me.  The celebration was a reminder of Jack’s propensity to tinker and his impact across the Scouting program…Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, OA, Day Camp, etc.  It was all there…an important reminder of the people who made me who am I yet keep me at arms length.

The stun, having worn off is done.  It was less stunning that other only because of the grapevine and other such means of keeping up with other.  It was still there but not a full gut punch.  Jack’s impact on me may be surprising to most but what I learned most from Jack and Pat is that you’re true match in life is out there.  It may take awhile to find that match but don’t quit looking.  There is someone who is the perfect match, just have patience.  How to honor the legacy? I can’t yet.  But some day I’ll be allowed to contribute the organization that gave so much to me and when I do so, it will be part of Jack’s legacy each and every moment I give back.  Anything less wouldn’t be honoring the legend that has passed, and I have no intention of forgetting his legacy.

News in the Rurals

I travel to rural Nevada quite a bit for work.  I try to keep up with the news from the local papers to keep a good pulse on the communities I serve and appear in front of.  Rural Nevada newspapers have varying degrees of user friendly websites.  Below are some of the ones I regularly read with notable stories recently that I think give you a flavor of what is going out in the rurals:

“Outhouse Races, melodrama among Wild West events” – Pahrump Valley Times

“Nevada Legislature: Panel recommends elimination of state workers longevity pay” - Nevada Appeal

“Body found in suitcase along I-80 in Utah” – Elko Daily Free Press

“Control of railroad could shift hands after upcoming special meeting” – The Ely Times

Itching to Be Outside

I’ve been negligent the last few years in getting enough outdoor time in.  I’m hoping to end the trend this year and get some good quality outdoor time in.  It used to be easy when I was younger, there was a Boy Scout event at least once a month that could draw me to the great outdoors.  Since that is not currently an option, I’m left to fend for myself.Hiking  I have some targets in mind including hikes around Lake Tahoe, the Black Rock Desert, the segment of Pacific Crest Trail I worked in with Arrowcorp 5 back in the day, and maybe out in central Nevada.

“No pain here, no dull empty hours, no fear of the past, no fear of the future…Drinking champagne water is pure pleasure, so is breathing the living air” – John Muir

The wilderness is cure-all.  Mountain air is always better than city air.  There is a freshness and purity of just breathing in the wilderness that makes the stress of whatever was left behind stay behind.  The quietness amplifies all sounds as you walk along the trail, more aware of breezes and birds and your own footsteps.  I’m itching for the mountains and the weather is just about right to lace up my boots, grab a map, and start walking…

Beer Me in the Biggest Little City

Reno’s beer scene has grown up pretty significantly in the last few years.  There used to be essentially two local brewers, Great Basin and Silver Peak. I always usually preferred Silver Peak over Great Basin primarily because of Silver Peak’s tasty and potent Red Roadster and a better food menu. The two old guards have some new kids to keep up with.

Folks in Reno wanting to find craft beers to buy and take home would primarily have to rely on Rogue from Oregon  or outfits like Lagunitas out of California.  Today, there are more local breweries than I can keep track of at times.  The closest to my apartment is St. James (housed in an old bottled water distribution building) which along with their amazing rustic food selection has become one of my favorites.  Some of their more popular beers (Red Headed Stranger and Daily Wages) can now be found in grocery stores around town and on taps all over the city.

Along Reno’s old industrial 4th Street, a trio of breweries have popped up.  Pigeon Head, Under the Rose, and The Depot make for a kind of a “brewery row” along a street more famous for shady prostitution than anything else.  Throw in the tasty local brews at Brewer’s Cabinet (in what was an awesome local florist’s shop back in the day) and Reno now has a full line up of local brewing talent and tastes.

The local brews and explosion of popularity of microbrews in general has also allowed created a boom of beer related businesses pumping delicious beer and creating jobs in Reno.  Craft is a liquor store / bar that focuses on craft beers.  Most of the bars that line Midtown and Downtown (excluding the casinos) feature lots of local brew selection.  Just in the last month or so Reno’s first beer bike tour business has popped up.  Just down the street from me a growler filling station has opened its doors to those who prefer to get beer 64 ounces at a time instead of a pint.  Just last night I went out to a local bar that caters mostly to the older college / young professional crowd and the happy hour includes local brews only.

With summer coming and with most expecting it to be a long dry hot one, the readiness of frosty pints dotting the city with locally crafted flavors is certainly a welcome development.

Some Spring Cleaning

I’m in the middle of doing some serious spring cleaning and organizing in my apartment. Life since graduation from law school has been less than really stable.  Jobs and living arrangements have been fluid with Pahrump being the longest place I’d stayed in one spot since law school and that was only 19 months long.  Upon returning from Oregon, I lived back at my parents home (while they lived in California) for about a year or so then to Pahrump then back up to Reno in 2013.  I stayed at one house in Reno for about six months before moving into my current apartment.  While some items were left behind each move, I haven’t had a real chance to sort through boxes of stuff in quite some time.  Now that I’m quite settled into my current place with no intention to move for another year or more, it was time to clean up a bit.  I was finally in a mindset where I could figure out what I still needed and what I didn’t as opposed to just moving and living from boxes.

My guest room had become the storage place for all sorts of boxes of memories, junk, and just about anything I didn’t want to deal with at time or immediately need.  Cleaning it out was a two weekend project.  Papers, trinkets, packages, and other items filled boxes and the closet itself.  A large amount was Scout stuff that five years ago seemed important to keep but now was simply junk ready to toss.  There were notes from undergrad classes at Nevada, newsletters, wristbands, travel documents, and more that filled bags and bags of checks.  Hundreds of checks with various addresses and different banks needed to be destroyed; cords for technology long past obsolete were bagged up for recycling.

It was not all junk.  With each box there was  rush of nostalgia…photos and paperwork from my Eagle Project including letters for congratulation from Senators Reid and Bryan, a journal of my travels at Northern Tier, gifts from friends, patches and patches and patches from Scouting, framed certificates and photos that someday may have a place on walls again but for now should be put out of the way, political posters not limited to Kerry/Edwards, Obama’s Texas Two Step, and Titus’s run for governor, political pins, a drum, hiking gear, etc.

After sorting through items that could go and those that should remain, I made great progress is emptying the guest closet (now guests can actually hang stuff up in their rather than in the laundry closet).  It is amazing how good it felt just to go through it and get rid of all that clutter.  I still have quite a bit to do.  I need to go through my clothes and see which ones can be passed on to someone else and which should remain.  Some work shirts are ready to be retired.  I would like to get a better handle on some of my important documents (both paper and digital) and tackle my kitchen tools. But for now, I feel settled, sorted and halfway spring cleaned.