The Unheard Hearing

Regarding the separation of church and science

October 8, 2018 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

By Larry Joseph Calloway

Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist, was a stranger in that strange land, the United States Senate, and so her impromptu response to the two most definitive questions by the Democrats was strange. 

When Sen. Feinstein asked how she was sure her sexual assailant was Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Ford responded: 

“In the same way that I’m sure I know I am talking to you right now. It’s just basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that sort of encodes — that transmitter encodes — memories in the hippocampus.  And so trauma-related experience, then, is kind of locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.”

And when Sen. Leahy followed up with the question, “What is the strongest memory of the incident, something that you cannot forget?” Ford responded:

“Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.” (more…)

83 Per Cent Eclipsed At Crestone, CO

Until the 17th Century the Universe was global

August 24, 2017 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

Writer Takes Refuge In “Nada”

My review of

March 30, 2013 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (3)

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Cloistered near Crestone, stranger in a strange land, sleeping or perhaps not, Beverly Donofrio suddenly feels “a weight on the mattress, a tug at the sheet.”  Then, in the words of her memoir, “The rapist hovers over my bed, and I wake myself screaming.” Her cell-size cabin at Nada, a Carmelite Catholic hermitage, is isolated. Nobody can hear. “For a while, evil remains a presence in the room as real as a gaping door you know you’ve shut.”

Her reaction, which might come as a surprise to readers of her first memoir, the bestselling “Riding In Cars With Boys,” was prayer. She prayed to her beloved Mary, and she prayed the sacred words that monks sing to open each of their  “hours” in Benedictine monasteries: ”God, come to my assistance.  Lord, make haste to help me.” She prayed for two hours until she was blessed with sleep.


Viking Press released her book in March with a long title – “Astonished: a story of evil, blessings, grace, and solace.” It comes at a time of worldwide focus on issues in the Church including the status of women in the patriarchy. It coincides with recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the women’s movement. But it not polemical. It is a heartfelt testimonial by a writer with the verbal sensibility of a poet and the storytelling skill of a crime novelist.



“Stand Up That Mountain”

Review of a book that’s not being reviewed

October 2, 2012 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

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I read slow when I get emotionally involved in a book, and “Stand Up That Mountain” by Jay Erskine Leutze was slow reading for me.  Released by Scribner’s in June, it has not yet been mentioned in the major reviews and that’s a goddam New York shame. But — what’d I expect? — it’s about mountain people.

Not your Everest climbers and that sort of high achievers with money. It’s the true story of a legal  fight to save a mountain in North Carolina near the Appalachian Trail from becoming a gravel pit. Mountain people? Appalachian Trail? Environmental law? Naww, the  reviewers have heard all that before (or think they have).

I never would have known about the book except for an alert librarian in a mountain town, Telluride, CO. (Yes, I know. We’re talking two different kinds of mountain people here. More on that later.) She put the book in the centre of a display rack of recommended new acquisitions. I went home to my own little mountain town and bought it on Kindle.

Three reasons this book took my heart away to those fertile mountains not half as high as mine here in Crestone:

  1. It’s good. Leutze is an artful writer and his story is personal. You can scan through it to find out who wins, but writing this careful justifies careful reading.
  2. It’s true — about a case that involves all the forces and characters in current American battles over conservation of wild lands.
  3. With a light touch, he does what I seldom accomplished in years as a state capitol reporter in New Mexico (a state similar to North Carolina in provincial corruption and legal idiocies): he  makes a complex legal dispute exciting as it makes its way to the appellate courts.
  4. He gives a voice to the people of the Appalachian Mountains, lets them speak in their own poetic idiom. They are my father’s people (see the post that follows this). My grandfather and grandmother both were at least the third generation of Calloways in the mountains around Mars Hill, NC, about 50 miles down the present U.S. 19E from the main setting of this story.

Environmentalists — and I don’t think Leutze uses this word — have adopted a cliche-ridden institutional style that matches their opponents’ news releases. Both sides are boring us into indifference. (As with reviewers who’ve heard it all before.) Leutze is authentic and original. He lived this story, is the protagonist here. We know how he felt.

But Leutze writes a fresh and fearless prose. In despair at one point he thinks the cause  is lost “because the legal terrain and the cultural terrain favors business over nature, the tangible, the measurable, over the experiential. . . . Leaving a place alone? Letting it be because it is lovely, natural, or simply because it functions in a coherent and perfect way? There is no market for that. No profit to show, no quarterly result to report.”

But he balances his own eloquence with dialog that comes from growing up with the Mountain idiom: “rurent” for ruined, “tar” for tire, “hits” for it’s.  The “stand up” in the title is Mountain for “stand up for” or “stand behind.”  Ollie, the self described  “mountain girl” who is a central character,  reacts to his use of a Latin legal term by saying, “Why don’t you people use regular words?” there is no doubt he agrees with her.

After Luetze graduated from North Carolina Law School, he chose nature over business, moving to a cabin in the woods in the mountains of Avery County near the Tennessee border. His life of walking and fishing, planting and foraging, was peaceful until the blasting began. His education became his weapon.

He is a new kind of mountain man, the sort you will find in Telluride, a small town with an assessed valuation equal to that of some cities. The new library where “Stand Up That Mountain” was promoted is, like the high school, a new stone structure that most cities would not afford. There were miners in Telluride 40 years ago, but they are long gone and the main mine has been “reclaimed” and its tailings subdivided. The community is so fiercely dedicated to conservation (and so wealthy) that it raised some $53 million to buy off a developer who had big plans for the pastures that border the last condominiums on the valley floor.

I wondered if Telluride might be the model for the future of the Appalachians of western North Carolina, once they are conserved.



When I was a boy one of my father’s sisters gave him a tree, a sapling, and we planted it in the back yard in Denver. He said it was a black walnut from the mountains of western North Carolina, which are practically owned by the Scotch-Irish, his people. That gnarly stick of a tree survived from winter to Colorado winter, growing a few feet a year in the rich alluvial soil of our back yard.


Baca Blog

August 15, 2010 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)


WILD RASPBERRIES: They  are  were red and ripening in the high country above Crestone-Baca, whole bushes of them. I have heard its the best season in years. This photo was taken Aug. 13 at 9,000 feet in one of  the canyons.

PRIMARY ELECTION: Saguache County Commissioner Linda Joseph narrowly defeated challenger Tim Lovato in the Democratic primary, 403-388. County Clerk Melinda Myers brushed aside challenger Christine Wilson, 505-256. The Democratic primary usually is decisive, although Joseph faces Republican Steven Carlson in the general election.

In the Democratic U.S. Senate race: Sen. Michael Bennett (the statewide winner) 315, Andrew Romanoff 455. Romanoff, the former House speaker, campaigned in Crestone.

Saguache Republicans voted with the statewide majority in the Senate race: Ken Buck (the Tea Party-backed candidate) 240, former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton 132. But for governor, Republicans in the county favored the loser, Scott McInnis, over Dan Maes, 225-136. Maes faces Democrat John Hickenlooper in November. (Hickenlooper, unopposed in the Democratic primary, campaigned at the Crestone Music Festival.)

(Results from the Valley Courier and the Denver Post)

HIROSHIMA-NAGASAKI: Maybe it was the most poignant song sung during the Crestone Music Festival weekend. A spontaneous group of Americans and Japanese visitors at lunch during the Shumei monthly sampai sang “Song of the Hibokaska,” in Japanese. There were tears. I was one of the singers.

Hibokaska is a word for survivors of the atomic bombs. Sunday fell between the 65th anniversary dates of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The brief outpouring was the synchronistic inspiration of Matthew Crowley of the Shumei International staff.

The synchronicity was this:  just after finding the song on a page in the papers of his late mother,  a nuclear protester in her time, Matthew read my re- posting here on the 60th anniversary. He gathered a few of us, we rehearsed briefly, went to lunch, then stood and sang. The 50 people at lunch stared  in deep silence .

The refrain: “Yu ru zu ma chi. Gem ba ku o.” Meaning, it must not happen again.

NO MORE YOGA BEAR: The Crestone-Baca Property Owners Association board is proceeding with its  campaign to make the Baca Grande Volunteer Fire Department more businesslike. An employees handbook goes into effect Aug. 15, the  personnel rules affecting not only employees but also volunteers (some of whom don’t like the way they were left out of the adoption process). And, the Kundalini Bear is being taken down, stripped off, chased into the woods, to be replaced by. . . well, the new (businesslike) logo has not yet been adopted.  What will go next? The “Village Witch” directional sign?

MORE BUSINESS: Ceal Smith sent this photo to her substantial email list.

Tower of power

Project proponent: SolarReserve  (see: Technology: 200 MW, PowerTower, 24 X 28 x 25′ high tracking mirrors with 656-foot tower in the center of each circle. Two circles eventually installed.  Heat storage from liquid molten salt solution kept in above ground tanks. Location: 6,200-acres on (or near?) Highway 112, about 8-10 miles northeast of Center, CO .  Water:1,000 Acre Feet per circle.


December 24, 2009 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

self photo by larry calloway, remote graphcs by colleen rae

Albatross, Bear Print, Broken Jar, Hermit, King’s Horseman, Empty Road

A year-ender on my lucky travels east and west, north and south in 2007

December 31, 2007 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

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Journalists seeking time off for the holidays file long summaries of what they covered during they year. The year-enders, as they are called in characteristically unimaginative journalese, fill space in the absence of news. But like long family letters in Christmas cards they usually attract only those readers who are mentioned in them. (more…)

Big Constitutional Confrontation On The Right Of Privacy?

Why Don’t You Guys Just Leave Us Alone?

May 15, 2006 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

President Bush said, in defense of his National Security Agency’s access to millions of phone records, “The privacy of all Americans is fiercely protected in all our activities.”

Right. (more…)

Faith and Reason, Reason and Faith

Ghost World II

April 4, 2005 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)

When John Paul II died the TV commentators breaking the news seized upon a fact in his biography that I had missed all these years: in his youth in Krakow he had done some stage acting, including courageous underground performances during the Nazi occupation.


Old And Crazy And Mumbling And Brilliant

Hunter S. Thompson, Ernest Hemingway

March 1, 2005 in THE KITCHEN SINK | Comments (0)


When Hunter S. Thompson died I thought of Ernest Hemingway, old and crazy and unable to write, who also killed himself with a shotgun in a gun-stocked fortress of a house in a little mountain paradise hell in the West. Charlie Rose and Tim Russert reran interviews with Hunter S. from 2003 when he was promoting “Kingdom of Fear.” Depressing. The lion of Gonzo was old and mumbling and incoherent. I thought how fortunate that Hemingway left no such records. (more…)