Skiing the Torne River, Kukkolaforsen to Risudden

The river valley: Tornedalen
The waters: 

Torneälven in Swedish

Tornionjoki in Finnish
The vast river

At the center of two lands
Is it

Dedicated to an ancient king

A king made myth?
Is it Tor’s River?

I feel a rooting in this valley unfamiliar to my wandering feet. Today passing through the town of Korpikylä I visited Hulkoffgården/Butiken på Landet on the banks of a bay at the base of the rapid Matkakoski. 
I skied in on the old railway line and coming in from the back I saw a big farm with two yellow houses and two red barns laden with snow. I was hungry and had heard that there was a country store, so I went in search of coffee and food only to find out that things weren’t so open and maybe the owners were out of town.


I was heading back to the rail tracks when the reindeer caught my eye, four gentle creatures in a pen, and while I was saying hello, Pia, an older woman with bright blue eyes came down the way. She already knew who I was, word having spread of the skier named Galen (which means “crazy” in Swedish) coming up the Tornedalen, the Torne Valley.


We took up conversation fast and Pia said that the reindeer are new to their farm being that this area is one of the only areas in the country where it’s permitted having them domesticated. Here and the Kemi River area, mostly in Lapland where herding reindeer is a traditional way of life. Pia and her husband also keep cattle, and she voiced proudly that they feed them only real good food, grass grown on the farm and some extra barley for protein.
Pia said that the place has been farmed and lived on by their relatives since the 1700s and has been occupied and farmed longer still, perhaps much longer. This reminded me too of Kukkolaforsen, where the Spolanders have been for many generations.


Pia took me inside what I thought was a second cattle barn, but how wrong I was. The ground level used to be a cattle barn–it was built by the generation before who handmade the bricks. Now it is made gourmet eating house with beautiful settings and a wine bar.


 I asked Pia why the business had two signs and she said “you’ll have to see upstairs,” beaming. We went up, and I couldn’t believe my eyes, a proper fashion boutique in rural Norbotten County with beautiful wool coats and furs, hats, knives and scarves and boots. Of course!! “Butiken” read the sign.


I immediately thought of my grandfather, Charles Willard Olson III whose friends called him the Swede. Our family, as did many Swedes, emigrated to the US sometime around the turn of the 20th century. This movement recalls how dynamic our world is, how people everywhere at some point have moved, we are not trees, we are a fluid culture. Standing there in Butiken På Landet I felt the power of my ancestors who left these lands to go to America, “the promised land.” Charles, Grandpa Chuck to me, was a very fashionable fella, he would have loved this store and this country. I told this to Pia, and smiling she brought out a Swedish “fika,” coffee and sweets. 


As we spoke she talked entrancingly about Tornedalen, among many other things. She explained her son’s deep interest in the history and mythology here and of the potential links between this area and Celtic peoples who came here long ago, long enough to see the receding glacier from the ice age which shaped these lands and to meet King Tor and contribute to the myths that are so enchanting to my wayfaring mind. Tor’s River, Thor’s River?, I thought, feeling the weight of this incredible story forming landscapes upon my mind.
I am curious about the veritability of these stories and how they can be added to. If you know anything about it please write to me, ghecht@coa.edu.
As I said goodbye to Pia feeling a profound sense of belonging here, I got back on the trail, floating the kilometers towards Risudden, my destination for the night. 
I thought of another enthralling conversation yesterday that blossomed out of an act of great generosity in Karungi just beyond Kukkolaforsen. As I was skiing into town, a snowmobile, here “snowskooter,” pulled up behind me and a girl hopped off the back waving. This was Victoria and her step dad Lars, come to greet me and Victoria wanted to ski. Just what I was hoping!! On top of that they brought me oreos, a beer, and a Norbotten hat! Reminding me that I am still in Norbotten, not yet Lapland, I’ll be there soon though.


Lars laid down some ski trail with his skooter, an act he does for the community as well, laying ski track around an island in the river. Then he headed back to his duties as a firefighter for the town, but not before he told me that Karungi used to be a booming place because it hosted the post office where East and West met during and after World War two. Now it’s a quiet little place, but before tens of thousands of letters came through everyday.
Victoria and I skied away talking about all sorts of things like her wonder at how the USA is not going through upheaval and revolution (which I think we may be, and not just the USA, more on that later). She also told me about her work in Norway with the outdoors as a follower of “friluftsliv” which translates roughly to “fresh air life” and exists in conjunction with the “freedom to roam” laws in Sweden, Finland, Norway, and many other countries where wandering about the countryside is permitted pretty much anywhere that is not obviously private.
Friliftsliv is a way of living with nature and respecting it without exploiting it economically, and it is founded in outdoor recreation and exploration. I asked how she would describe it best, and she replied “basically what you are doing, living in nature.” I was moved to hear this, and hopeful that it is true, also very excited to know that this school of thought is vibrant here. In some ways friliftsliv and freedom to roam maintain the common lands and waters as commons to be explored and appreciated in the ways that they have been for centuries, and it thwarts land greed to some extent as well by providing equal access.
Victoria turned back after some kilometers and left me feeling pensive and alive, curious and calm, hopeful for something I cannot describe. I was so grateful to this place, and I felt at home, wading through snow. 
Galen Winchester Hecht

My name
Charles Willard Olson III

My grandfather

Passed on now

But made of Swedish stock

Northern blood 
In these the Norbotten woods

I feel as I am meant to feel

Wake as I am meant to wake

Brother of the frozen brooke

Son of the tireless snows

Wondrous with birch and fir
I think I will add to my name
Galen Winchester Olson Hecht

Skiing the Torne River, Early Days

Starting the Journey — Haparanda/Tornio to Kukkola



Morning

A thousand suns

Of Ice

Glinting

All about

Look at the map of northern Sweden and Finland. Find the point the where the border meets the sea, then look closer still and you will see the borderline do a wild squiggle between the towns of Tornio and Haparanda. For the most part, this border was drawn through the Torne or Tornio River and above it the Munio River along the line of deepest flow, but the town of Tornio, west of the main river channel was taken by Russia as a strategic trading point when it annexed what is now Finland from the Swedish Kingdom in 1809. In 1917, during the Russian Revolution, Finland gained its independence, this year celebrating 100. 


This border in many ways is as fluid as the rivers that mark it. I crossed many times in the last days, never noticing until in a shop or looking at the time. On one side of the river there are Swedish Krona and on the other, the Euro. On the Finnish side it is one hour later. But people on either side of the line usually speak both languages well, and often Miän Kieli (meaning “our language”) is spoken, a tongue that resembles old Finnish with lots of Swedish mixed in. 

Along this borderland, I have relinquished my own borders, and I am taking on the role of wandering story-collector. What a wonderful way to get to know the snowy north of Lapland, traveling by skis and meeting the locals to share stories. 

To do such a trip requires much equipment, some good contacts, and also some wits about the woods. I was very fortunate to get in touch with Lars Munk, of the Heart of Lapland, an organization that coordinates tourism and adventure travel throughout Swedish Lapland. Lars is an outdoorsperson himself, an avid fisherman, and he is interested in storytelling about the people and the landscape as a means to bring tourists to this place and support the locals. Lars generously offered help and guidance on my journey including occasional stays in some of the lodges along the route. 

The day before I was set to leave, Lars recalled a man named Per Johansson, who has an intimate knowledge of bushcraft and the Lapland nature. I was camping outside of Haparanda/Tornio testing my gear, and arranged to meet Per in town on Sunday. I skied into town with a bit of equipment, ready to get the final few items necessary for my journey. I was just getting to Natur Kompaniet, a nice outdoors store that helped much with my outfitting, when Per pulled up in his car. I guess he knew where to find me. 

Per stands very tall, perhaps 6’3’’, and has the burl of a woodsman. We stood in the parking lot for a while discussing my equipment and the journey, and which maps to use. He then took me down to Riekkola just south of Haparanda to show me around the woods. Per has worked for many years in the Swedish Military and teaches winter warfare to trainees. He now he runs his own adventure company, Rimfrost Adventures, where he takes people out into the wilderness to learn skills and experience this place. 

His knowledge, clearly abundant, would take years to learn, but none the less, he gave me good tips about how to warm up in serious cold, a nice model for my winter bivvy setup, and advice on what firewood and tinder is best here in winter. We also spoke about travelling on ice, which is far and away the biggest risk of my adventure. River ice is not consistent, and extremely dangerous because a plunge through could sweep you under the ice sheet. Per informed me about the snowmobile roads, which are my most likely option of safe travel through the Torne Valley, and I left feeling at once grateful and glad that there are people who are so dedicated to learning and sharing the hard skills of life in the woods. 

The next morning I awoke at dawn after a night of fresh snow, my thermometer read -23 Celsius. Seven inches of the fluffiest snow imaginable blanketed the birch stand where I was camped north of Haparanda on the riverbank. I packed up my camp and set off to go back to Riekkola to see the mouth of the Torne River where it enters the Bay of Bothnia, before heading back up towards my pulka (sled) and on into the north. 

On the way back from Riekkola, feeling elated at having begun my journey, I stopped in at the Haparanda Bladet, the local newspaper. Lars told me that it would be a good idea to see about a story in the paper, and that way, people in the valley could know that I’m coming and what I’m doing. Perhaps this would lead to some nice meetings, and it did, immediately. The journalist Pirita Jaako who speaks the best English wasn’t in the office, so Örjan Pekka, the editor invited me to lunch. 

Over a big meal we spoke about his job as editor and also his new part time occupation guiding people aboard a real icebreaker ship with the company Nordic Lapland. He showed me some photos of the big red boat and people swimming in the sea in immersion suits. Then he showed me a photo of an Israeli man drinking the seawater (yes, it is that fresh and not salty that you can drink it!), and how this man was astounded at the abundance since Israel is fighting over water. This story touched a nerve with me, because it reminded why I am on this journey in the first place, to get acquainted with our water world. To learn about relationships just like this one on our blue planet. 

After lunch Pirita Jaako and I did a short interview and I went on my way back into the woods. 

I had left my pulka full of equipment behind near my camp. Skiing without the pulka is really quite easy and free and the woods are no problem. But with the 80 lb pulka in tow, the woods are another story. Imagine drift racing a car in mud with a laden trailer hitched on. 

My struggles through the woods relented when I pitched camp just a small distance from some houses, remembering Per’s words that the law in Sweden allows you to be anywhere in the woods as long as it’s not a personal garden or some restricted area. The night was bitter cold, and in the morning I awoke ready to move to get blood back into my feet and hands. 

Lars arranged for me to stay at a place called Kukkolaforsen 10 or 15 kilometers upriver, so I hitched up and started hauling my way north. Along the way I saw a magpie, loads of snowshoe hare tracks and their light colored droppings that I initially mistook for dogfood. I felt immense awe for the creatures that winter here, how tough they are to survive such long cold without a pulka full of equipment.

I skied along the willow banks of the river, at times trying to make way through the forest only to be astounded by the difficulty of hauling the pulka there. I passed through a little hamlet of which I don’t know the name where I saw many charming houses on a long meander. A kind man was out front of the last house and though he didn’t speak English, we communicated with sign language, and he showed me where the river ahead would be safe to ski.

Just after the hamlet, the river ice got very rough in the middle of the channel and began to deteriorate in broken sheets, an odd chaotic geometry. Soon enough the middle of the river was open water, warning of what was to come. 

The water in the opening was fast moving and rough, a reminder of the living seething power of the water under the ice. The open channel got wider and wider as the rush of whitewater began to sound from above. Soon enough, Kukkolaforsen, the Kukkola Rapids came into view, a beautiful descending torrent of water surrounded by thick ice. On the western bank sat the lodge that shares its name, my destination for the night. 

Kukkolaforsen — Rooster Rapids

Outside the window

A torrent of water

White as the ice of the bank

Steaming fury in the winter cold
Inside the smell of coffee

And cloudberries over muesli

Cool music of morning

And hushed chatter

Skiing through Kukkolaforsen, I was feeling very good. The small red huts looked warm and cozy and there were many saunas. At that I nearly melted with happiness having slept at -28 C the night before. There was also a museum, two old flour mills, and a smokehouse for fish. 

The reception area is warm and overlooks a beautifully set restaurant with a full on view of the whiterapids out the front window, bright against the black river sailing away below.

On entering the warmth of the main hall, I sat down for a cup of tea with Kevin, a fellow traveller. He came to Lapland to see the northern lights. Here the Aurora Borealis is as strong as it gets, home of what people call the “dancing lights.” I have yet to see them, but my hopes are high with so many days of my trip ahead. Before dinner I went to my little cabin room, and unpacked some gear to dry.

Back in the main hall I was greeted by a plate of beautiful crackers topped with a diversity of spreads. Local salmon cuts and whitefish salad and roe to name a few. Before digging in, Johannah, a daughter of the Spolander family that started this place came over to the table and introduced the appetizers and the main meal to follow which was an extraordinary plate of local salmon. She agreed to meet with me in the morning to tell me more about the place. Before sleep I took the treat of a woodfired sauna and then sailed off in a warm bed. 

In the morning after breakfast Johannah and I sat down to talk. She told me that her family has lived in this area for five generations, and she and her brother Mathias now work the family business that was started by their parents. Kukkolaforsen means Rooster Rapid and the rapids outside the window define this place in many ways, and they sure do sing. Just up from the building are two old flour mills, both originally run by waterpower, and then there is a fish museum, smokehouse, and processing area where remains were found from people fishing here as long as 400 years ago.

Kukkolaforsen is known for a peculiar and unique style of fishing, where the villagers build wooden bridges over the rapids held together by gravity and lashings, and not a single nail because the shaking of the fast water would tear the iron from the timber. They then build steps down to the water where boats are tied, and the fishing happens with a six meter long pole that has a net on the end. As much as 8,000 Kg of whitefish are caught in the Kukkolaforsen each year, and Johannah told me proudly that 5,000 Kg are used right in the kitchen at the lodge. 

As much as for fishing Kukkolaforsen is known for its saunas (here pronounced sa-oo-nuh in a singsong way). There are 15 saunas right here at the lodge including smoke saunas, an enormous community sauna, a round sauna, a tiny sauna, woodfired saunas, traditional sweat houses, and electric saunas. One local man told me that this is the sauna academy, and Johannah says that there are ten more being planned. The most brilliant part is that there is a sauna museum, but instead of just looking at an exposition, the sauna education comes with real experience in one of these heavenly hot rooms. 

In the back of the museum is a small display about the lifecycle in the sauna. It consists of three ceramic scenes displaying a birth in the sauna, a young man coming of age by going to the sauna with the men of his family for the first time (a real scene about Johannah’s father), and a death of an elder in the sauna. Leaving I was so moved with the importance the people here place on saunas. In the bitter northern winter, it makes sense that a place of such warmth would inspire such reverence. 

On the door was a poem about the sauna as a meeting place for the four elements, a place of inner fulfillment to inspire warmth in the nordic winter:

On I go up the river. Follow my ski at https://share.garmin.com/GalenHecht

 

 

Peaks–Sand–Snow

Floating on cloud trail

The snowy peaks landmarks

On blank sky


Leaving Nepal I watched the Himalayas descend into the earth and the Karakoram burst up only to fall away again into the sea. Over Pakistan I thought about everything going on below and the Indus River, tumbling away to the south. I wondered if I would ever go there. 
As the Arabian Peninsula neared the plane, out the window a straight corridor of lights appeared. The road linking some of the United Arab Emirates blazed in the sandy night, giving an eerie, sci-fi quality to the earth below. 
A few cars danced their steady, linear choreography along the asphalt, and the plane went lower and lower to the ground.
A place forsaken by fresh water

Made inhabitable

By a ceaseless flow

Of gulf oil

Compressed dinosaurs

Rich as rich

Generous enough

To buy everything

In the Emirates
My trip to the UAE was surreal in many ways. My dearest friend Lucas Olscamp was offered study at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus four years ago. He was admitted as a theater student, and his prowess in this art amazes even his closest friends. One day I blurted out that I thought he extroverted himself well. Explaining my words with words, I said that he shapes the world around him in beautiful and inspiring ways, even the spaces of his friends minds. And this is true.
Studying at NYU Abu Dhabi means travelling the world and working with professors and practitioners at the edges of their fields, people doing truly extraordinary work. The campus is just outside of the city proper, and like everything in the UAE, it rises out of the sand and sea, a futuristic island of cement and glass, light and grass that punctuates the abyss around it. The Louvre is building a satellite museum nearby and the Gugenheim as well. Across the water the sky rises glisten in the Arabian sun and the turquoise water laps quietly.


We went with one of Lucas’ courses on a short kayak through a mangrove forest. The beauty of these seabound flora being their unique adaptation to saltwater environments. In the UAE they are some of the precious few spaces abundant with plant life and are increasingly threatened by rising salinity in the waters, for like nearly all of the gulf states, the UAE must desalinate its drinking water. Without need to augment the national income selling salt, they dump it back into the sea. Next to the salty mangrove rises immense smokestacks from a desalination plant.
The country has a vaguely Las Vegas like aura to it, with loads of lights and a spectacular presentation that ignites the hearts of visitors and stirs up a curiosity and foreboding that always accompanies me to the desert. Visiting Lucas, I saw how entangled are the arts, money, oil, environmentalism, and all sorts of institutions, even the most well meaning.


I recalled the many Nepalis I had met who worked in the gulf, in Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi, or the UAE. I thought about the irony that in the USA we call these countries oil rich, and in Nepal they call them rough countries.
I left from my four day layover elated at having seen an old friend and his good work, confused by the contradictions of the world and the value of wealth and resources.
I flew away over Iran, Kazakhstan, Eastern Europe and the Baltic Sea to Finland. Arriving in the winter world of Oulu at 65 degrees North, I met another old friend, Sanni Kuutti, who is studying intercultural education at the University there. 


Sanni hosted me for five days of furious preparation for long my ski through Lapland as I gathered materials and made plans. Over meals and in the evenings we talked about education in Finland, about how the country is dealing with newcomers, people who need homes, who have left theirs out of necessity. How can the education system help weave them into society as welcome neighbors? How can childhood learning inspire dramatic changes in a whole nation? What is the power of experience and exploration in learning?
I ask these questions about my own journey to. Today I am on a bus with a sled full of food and supplies and ski equipment. I am heading to ski the Torne River, 500 kilometers of Lapland, from the Bay of Bothnia to the mountains that divide the Baltic watersheds from the Atlantic ones. In cooperation with the Heart of Lapland, a local office promoting this area, the ski will be an exercise in place based storytelling as I collect tales from people along the way to bring out the rich heart of this north country.


I am nervous for what lies ahead, and I find solace in the epigraph from the book I just finished, The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen:

Letter Home 2

Crisp

A page in a book

Fractal ice

Percussing

Under trail footsteps

The sound of a bell

At sunrise

 


 

I am nearing six months in South Asia. Three and a half in India and two and a half in Nepal. I am also halfway through my Watson year. Time for another letter home to the Watson Foundation. I will include excerpts of my letter here in a larger essay.

 

 

I am sitting on the warm concrete roof of the house where I live in Kathmandu. My Nepali friend from university, Porcia Manandhar, and her family lent me a room here, and their invitation allowed me to find my earthbound footing again.

 

Just north of the house is the Hanuman Dhoka, a five-story pagoda palace at the center of Basantapur Durbar Square; the uncountable bricks of the palace are held in place with ornate teakwood carvings of deities and serpents. Abutting it is a colonial palace built by Britain a century ago in thanks for Gorkha soldiers who served in the Great War. The façade of this white, Romanesque elephant reveals most conspicuously the scars of the earthquake that happened two years ago; cracks glare through the white plaster and the walls are in a stunted tumble outward. The rows of collapsed balconies are poised at skewed angles, ready to fall. A whole story is missing from the top of the pagoda. Walls around the square are bowed in S shapes, miraculously still standing with help from braces and scaffolding. Whole temples disappeared to leave only a pedestal, standing empty.

 

What do we invest

In the everyday?

In the understanding

That around the corner

Life will appear as

Yesterday

And tomorrow

 

Do we feel

That the places

We invest our spirit

Will protect us like a mother?

 

A lovely thought

 

But what if it tumbles

And in a cloud of dust

Becomes rubble?

 

What is there to do?

 

With the people I have encountered in Nepal, I have found remarkable compassion. Nepal is a nation plagued by bad politics; bullied by expansionary imperial neighbors north and south; in utter disrepair from the earthquake in 2015; with streets and public works disregarded by the government; a capital city with black rivers and poor air; a country still recovering from a civil war. It is hospitable here because of the heart of the people.

Looking beyond Durbar Square, I can see the Langtang Peaks, gazing down at the urban oasis. The sight of their quiet presence brings me back to the weeks I spent in the mountains when I first arrived here.

 

I believe that a section of our hearts and our minds is shaped purely by the landscape. In Buddhism the virtues are linked to the sun, earth, air, sky, and water. Looking up at the pinnacles of Machha Puchhre and Numbur Himal, the holy peaks, this is no surprise. Their majesty instills at once a humble disposition and reminds us that we are but fleeting visitors on an earth itself growing and falling. The rivers, thousands of them, are arteries pumping life and power into the land as far afield as New Delhi, Kolkata, and Dhaka. This landscape—its majesty, its forbidding heights, landslides, avalanches, floods, earthquakes, high passes—has shaped a nation of hearty, reverent people.

 

My awe has come most in these past weeks. Rather than assign myself directly to a river, I decided to spend my days working with a group of papermakers in Kapan, a region in the northeast of Kathmandu that is home to a number of Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries. Kapan also abuts Boudhanath, an enormous stupa where thousands of people daily go to walk in circles around its glorious point, pray, and empty themselves.

 

The papermaking workshop is called Tibetan Handicraft & Paper. It began in 1995 as three cousins, Nimto Sherpa, Nima Sherpa, and Samten Lama, decided to create a business that would allow village people like themselves to sell paper at higher dollar. Instead of having to travel for days with a small load of paper to the city only to return from the expensive journey with little or no cash, the process and transport could be organized and made more efficient and more profitable. This was their motive, to help the people.

 

The business began with help from some American friends including Tom Leech, a dear family friend and my printing mentor. Tom is a prodigious papermaker and marbler, and he has been to Nepal and Tibet various times to make paper. He told me about Tibetan Handicraft with high regard for their good nature and generosity. One of Tom’s beautiful prints adorns the walls of a café next to the factory.

 

The paper for Tibetan Handicraft is mostly made in villages around Nepal. It is made with bark from the Lokta Plant, a bushy flowing thing that looks a bit like a mini rhododendron. After harvesting the Lokta, wait a few years and the one plant that was cut becomes five new plants. The bark is stripped and dried, then soaked, cooked, pounded, pulped, and made into sheets. The paper is phenomenal. It is very strong and it doesn’t dissociate in water so it can be dip dyed. Fine paper can be printed on with an ink jet printer, and the sheets have a wonderful deckled edge and very fibrous appearance.

 

After the paper is made, it is brought to Kathmandu for dying, printing, cutting, sorting, and so on. The Kathmandu facility employs nearly 100 skilled workers, primarily from discriminated castes and mostly women. In their hands the paper may become a box, a journal, a set of prayer flags, or take on a new life with silkscreened designs. The finished products are sold to clients mostly in Europe and North America.

 

The profits from the company are worked right back into the community. In 2006, after Samten Lama passed away, Nima and Nimto started Samten Memorial Educational Academy. Currently 410 students study there and many receive scholarships, including the children of the company’s employees. Nima and Nimto also support education in their home village east of the city and chair the Himalayan Regional Welfare Association.

 

Their humanitarian interest is really striking, and while it is extraordinary, it doesn’t seem uncommon here. Many of my Nepali friends, those I’ve met here and those I’ve known from the past, practice this spirit of giving and sharing.

 

In times when politics seem so spoiled and the news provides nothing but grief and worry, we must invest in each other. We are all family after all, somewhere down the line. Living with Porcia’s family, working in Kapan, making many new friends, I am reminded of how we find family, even when far from home.

 

Life together

 

It’s as though the void of the everyday

The spaces in between

Melt

Melt through the hallway rug

Melt through the kitchen table

 

Living together

Feeling certain we know

Everything about the other

 

Only to find out

We know nothing

 

The depth of human spirit

 

Where appearances

Are bathrobes and flipflops

 

Its humbling

Baring it all

Even the heart’s doldrums

 

As I prepare to leave Nepal for a long ski up the Torne River in Finland, I am left with a keen sense of the moral obligations I want to carry with me through my life. I want to hone my discipline and develop a thoughtful demeanor to approach situations as I have seen people here do—with care, resilience, patience, grace, hard work, and compassion. How can I do that? How can we do that?

 

Thank you again, for setting my feet walking.

 

Galen

Formatting

Dear readers,

now i am deeper into my year and writings, and it has come to my attention how the formatting of many of my posts has been less than ideal. I have written almost exclusively on an iPhone, and my amateur web skills have not helped much in dealing with formatting problems. I just ask that you bear with me, accept the mistakes and odd bits as random acts of nature and enjoy. 

A new post coming soon.

Galen

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