The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

The next day Karen and I went to meet Robert, our young, soon to be, long term therapist. The three of us had a brief discussion centered on our family issues. Karen went first. She came out later with red eyes, but smiling. I gave her a quick hug and followed Robert into the inner sanctum. I told him about everything, including my earlier aborted counseling. 

I quickly liked his laid back but direct approach. I gave a brief overview of what I had discussed with my first counselor back in Chicago, mainly my parent’s reaction to my perceived failure. I talked briefly about my journey and my relationship with Hanna. That took up most of the session, so other than taking copious notes, he didn’t have much time to give much direction other than encouraging me to get back to my journaling the had fallen by the wayside after I left the retreat center. 

He said, “When you write your thoughts and feelings down in black and white, they become real, concrete, we can look them as more real than simply internalizing them. It truly helps us to understand ourselves better.”

“I never thought of journaling in that way. Thank you.”

“So, that’s your homework. Also, bring questions. From what you have told me, you seem to have moved on a lot, but there are some family things we need to talk about. Can you come next week same time and day?”

“Sure. I’ll be looking forward to it.’

I found Karen reading a magazine in the small waiting room. She too had rescheduled for appointments the next week. Neither of us talked on our way to her house. Once parked, I asked, “So? How was it?”

La Plata Canyon Adventure

We started out Sunday morning with breakfast at Kennebec Restaurant, one of our faves, which rests at 8000 ft. at the entrance to La Plate Canyon. Afterwards we headed up the canyon, a place we hadn’t been in three years due to smoke from the fires, which now seem to be a regular summer time fixture in the west, and then last year, there was the influx of too many tourists escaping their confines in their cities, needing a taste of the outdoors. Couldn’t really blame them but, from all reports I got, they were overrunnung our mountain four wheel drive roads and there were even traffic jams in places. This year, now after Labor Day seemed a good time, and it was. Things had quieted down and there was the normal amount of four wheel drive vehicles and not that many ATVs as we remembered it.

So we ventured out the 16 miles up the canyon from 8000 ft. up to 11,600 ft. with the last four miles of gnarly steep, rocky slow going jeep road about two steps above the time when Olga Little ran her pack mule train carrying in supplies for the miners and hauling out silver ore some 100 years ago. It took close to 45 minutes in four wheel drive to navigate the last four miles of the 16 miles.

The view due north from the parking lot at the top of the road at 11,600 ft. Check out the little rain squall. The red in lower right is indictive of all the ferrite, or iron oxide, deposits prevalent in our mountains.
We did a 3/4 mile hike up to Kennebec Pass, to 11,800 ft. for the view to the northeast. Those are the Needles Range in the distance, about 40 miles away. On our hike we met one mountain biker whe was finishing his ride on the Colorado Trail which streatches through the mountains, 500 miles from Denver to Durango. He had 25 miles left and was pretty stoked to finish. We also met a young woman backpacker just heading out to Denver and two other backpackers having all but completed the trail and were heading to Durango.
Looking East from Kennebec Pass towards Durango.
More red cliffs from Iron Oxide that exists troughout The San Juan mountains.
Engineer Mountain, the bright one to the right center, a iconic well known 13,000 ft. peak with copious spring wildflowers on the plateau directly to the east of the base.
Looking to the sunnier south, less clouds and haze.

So, after delightful afternoon of high mountain beauty, we headed back down four miles of a steep, curvy, slippery rocky rough and otherwise nasty road, then thirty miles to home.

Sorry about the intermix of flush left and centered images and txr, but WordPress is priving to be stubborn.

THe Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

“Why couldn’t you be happy and be closer by? Are you still with that . . .  woman?”

“Yes I am and ‘that woman’s’ name is Hanna.”

“Where are you living? Surely not in that dreadful little car.”

“I’m living with her at her mother’s house outside of San Francisco.”

“You-are-what!? What kind of woman would let a boy stay in the same house as her daughter? You haven’t gotten married, have you!? I sure hope not! What about Dana?”

“No, we’re not married. And, Mom, Dana is history. She and I will never get back together. Please accept that.”

“I was hoping you might make up and get back together. I feel so bad about you two. Never did care for that John that Karen married. He was too slick, that one.”

“As I was about to say, we are staying here because her mother wants us to. She likes me and is happy Hanna and I are together. She is a wonderful person as is her partner.”

“Partner? What does that mean?”

“It means she and Frank live together as they have for the last twenty years, without being married.”

Kaboom. That set her off on a tirade about hippies, bohemians, antichrists, satan worshipers, hell and damnation, fire and brimstone and on and on. I set the phone down and listened from a distance until she calmed down.  Actually, a lot of what she was saying was true. I smiled to myself.

“And what about you Russell. I sure hope you aren’t ‘partnering’ with that woman!”

She was trying to push all my buttons, and since I wasn’t responding, it probably was making her even more agitated.

“Ah, you mean Hanna? I guess we are partners. We do everything together: we sleep together, play music together, eat together, have fun together, and so far I’m enjoying and loving every moment I’m with her. I am in love with her and plan on being with her for as long as she can stand me.”

There was silence. I could almost hear her mind churning, trying to digest all this information.

Sounding defeated and having given up, she asked, “What about Karen? Is she working? Where is she living? Is she eating and sleeping okay?”

All of a sudden, I felt an overwhelming sadness for her. This was way out of her league. She sounded like a mother asking if her ten year old was all right. This was not like her to be nice.

The Awakening of Russell Henderson

Every Sunday, I try to post an excerpt from my novel, The Awakening of Russell Henderson. Here’s another. The book is available at

Neither Karen nor I had heard from our parents until Christmas Day when I had a call. I reluctantly answered.

Merry Christmas, Mom. How are you?”

“Not very good. Donny’s in jail.”

“What?! In jail? What — ”

“He started drinking again a few months ago. He’d quit for a while after his last DUI. You know he can get real mean when he drinks. Well, he come home and beat up Alice pretty bad. Put her in the hospital. I guess she’d been in the emergency room other times to we never heard about. This time they had to admit her. She’s pretty beat up. Anyhow, the hospital reported him to the sheriff. I guess it’s spouse abuse, something like that.”

Oh, shit. That’s all this family needs. “How’s Alice? Where’s Zoe?”

“He’s not doing too good in jail. He’s not being to nice to anybody there in that jail. We got him a lawyer, but he don’t pay no attention to him. Just keeps mouthin’ to off the guards and stuff.”

It’s always about poor drunken Donny and no worries about his wife who he put in the hospital.

“I’m sorry, Mom. Really am.”

“Yeah. I’m sure you are . . . like everything else. Your father and I are worried sick about you two. We  never hear anything from you. Where’s Karen. I try calling but she never answers. I’m worried. I heard her house is for sale. Is she coming home?”

I stayed on point, “But, what’s going to happen to Donny? What about Alice and Zoe?! Is Alice out of the hospital. Where’s Zoe?!

“Zoe went to stay with her grandparents in Cedar Rapids. I think Alice is there now. She was only in overnight, a broken rib, black eyes, a few stitches and a lot of bruising. He really beat her up bad. We really don’t know about Donny. His lawyer says it’s pretty serious. He’ll probably go to jail. I guess it just depends on how long. This isn’t the first time, you know.”