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A personal event March 24, 2009

Posted by Jenny in memoir.
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When I created this blog, I did not intend it to be a a diary of my personal life.  However, something very important has happened to me and I want to share it with my blog visitors.

My longtime companion, Bob, told me two days ago that he wanted to end our relationship.  We met in 1994, and we have lived together since 1995.  You could have considered us more or less a married couple, except that, being unconventional people, we never particularly wanted or needed to have our relationship formalized.

There were, in fact, many unconventional aspects to our relationship.  Most striking, probably, was that I was nearly ten years older than him in a world that prizes youthfulness in women.  There were other oddities: he worked for UPS, while I’ve had desk jobs most of my life apart from a stint of landscape/ gardening work.  He did most of the cooking, and I did most of the yard work.

We met when hiking in the White Mountains, and we have climbed countless mountains together—hundreds of mountains, anyway.  That was our biggest shared interest, but we also skied, biked, and paddled canoes together.  We shared tastes in humor, in movies, and in music.

The reasons he gave me for leaving were perfectly understandable.  It wasn’t anything bad—he hadn’t met another woman or anything like that. It was more like a gradual loss of sparkle, I guess.  And maybe Bob just isn’t quite as interested in hiking as he used to be, though the outdoors will always be important to him.  He did say that he wanted to spend more time doing things like cookouts with his family.  I’ve never been much of a hang-around-the grill-for-the-afternoon kind of person.  I’m just no good at small talk—I always feel like I’m faking it.  Bottom line is, I get bored.

Sunday afternoon, after Bob packed up his things and left, I watched a DVD that I’d recently ordered because it had been mentioned on one of the Internet forums I visit.  It was about George Masa, a mysterious man who came to the US from Japan in 1901 to work in the mining business and eventually settled in Asheville, NC, because he loved the mountains of western North Carolina.  He had a photography business and took wonderful pictures in the Smokies and nearby ranges.   As the movement grew for establishing the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, he became a major force in that effort, exploring, measuring trail distances with a gadget made out of a bicycle wheel, always taking many beautiful pictures of the mountains.

Nobody ever knew why he left Japan.  He died nearly penniless in 1933, having no contacts with anyone in his native country.  Many years later, a peak in the Smokies was named after him in his honor.  Masa Knob, elevation 5685 feet, stands between Charlies Bunion and Mt. Kephart, the latter named after his dear friend Horace Kephart.

It’s hard to explain why, but I find the thought of George Masa to be very comforting.  It has something to do with his being a solitary soul, because I recognize that I too, in some ways, am a solitary sort.

George Masa

George Masa


1. kaslkaos (okay, this time, my real name too Ingrid) - March 28, 2009

You are interesting, you are great writer, your life has meaning. Blogging about nothing is boring, but this experience is hardly nothing, and a well written post is a window into anothers soul. Thank you for breaking format and telling us such a personal tale.

2. Jenny - March 28, 2009

Thanks, Ingrid, for your support. I find that I’m now making some interesting plans for the future, and that means things are going to be all right.

3. mike d - March 28, 2009

Because Bob was a big part of your life and therefore your blog, I knew you would have to address it somehow. Well, you did it very eloquently and in a way that is meaningful and real.

Also I like the George Masa story. I would love to check that out sometime.

4. DaffodilPlanter - March 31, 2009


News flash! An NC friend told me of this Asheville exhibit of Masa’s photographs–through early July 2009. Sounds like a reason for a trip to one of the best places in the world.

5. Jenny - March 31, 2009

Charlotte, great minds think alike! I had actually heard about this exhibit on a southern Appalachian hiking forum, and that’s how I got started on this whole George Masa thing. I will be going to East Tennessee for a week or so in mid-June, and it’s just possible I might be able to get over to Asheville. Thanks for thinking of me

6. Roon - April 1, 2009

Dear Jenny, revisiting your blog after a lengthy interval, news of your breakup with Bob upset me and made me want to give you a great big brotherly hug – though your willingness to share your hurt with others shows your ability to relate to it meaningfully all by yourself. Just don’t THINK of abandoning your highly entertaining blog for too long, that’s all I ask. I particularly enjoyed your latest wacky trouvaille, General Pillow. Your photo and remarks about your mother vividly recalled my meeting with her some 20 years ago. For the benefit of fellow-readers, here’s a typical short poem of which she gave me a signed copy. Though not as profound as her outreach to the cepheids you printed, it shows once more her rare gift for converting empirical impressions into scientific formulae:

A fur snake taken to be
wrapping around a sapling
and rapidly slithering
upwards is soon seen to be
three furry squirrels
scurrying up to the treetop
in teeth-to-tail-tip
scrapping, the spiral scramble
of chase an agile gyration
mistaken for snake.

May the Cepheids guide you, Sister of the Muse!

7. Jenny - April 1, 2009

Roon, I am especially happy that you like General Pillow. He is quite an amazing and delightful discovery. There will be some good descriptions of his antics in later posts.

The poem that you quote of my mother’s is so typical of the quick shutter’s click of her photographic eye on something invisible to most people. I had forgotten about that one–thank you for sharing it!

And thank you very, very much for your warm words.

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