Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hiking With Demons and Dr. Suess

Silver Lake 6/24/13

"On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face your problems
whatever they are."
-Dr. Suess

There were 4 adults varying in age and 4 dogs. It was slightly overcast, but not cold. 

Hiking is a very individual activity. You can't fake your fitness level.  You must dig inside yourself and mentally prepare to concur the mountain waiting before you.  The lure of a mountain top lake with possible snow on the ground in June, drew me in.

"And when things start to happen, don't worry. Don't stew. Just go right along, you'll start happening too."  -Dr. Suess

The weather changed from pouring rain to sun and back. The dogs found snow patches and they played like puppies. 

Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneaker may leak." -Dr. Suess

Where I am happiest is by wild water.

"You can get all hung up on a prickle-ly perch and your gang will fly on. You'll be left in a lurch."  -Dr.Suess

"I'm afraid that sometimes you'll play lonely games too. Games you can't win 'cause you'll play against you. "- Dr. Suess
I find hiking somewhat annoying. So many metaphors and cliches about 
climbing mountains versus attempts to achieve in daily life. It becomes clear that the more you over analyze and create self doubt about your capabilities, the slower you become as you proceed up a mountain. As is also the case in daily living. While on the mountain, there is a window of opportunity to acknowledge personal patterns and let go of the mind games.  I see transparent personalities with those I share this time with. There are the "go getters", the "stop and see everythingers" the "my gear is the coolest" the"OMG what was that sounders" the "This plant/mushroom is edible munchers",etc.
When starting out; I secretly dread the up hill climb as my personal battle. 
I am a "coaster." I like to roll with the flow, hang on the side lines and watch the world go by. I fly down hill, always on the flip side of life. I take my time and lean on diplomacy as my method of dealing in this world. I dislike confrontation. Fact is, you can't get through our society without a little juicy confrontations. Because if you don't engage, someone will inevitably run right over you. This is bad on self-esteem. This is not a healthy way to be and has the potential to flat line life progress. My personal demon.
Needless to say, I prefer reaching the goal of mountain top,(not so much the work it demands) the celebratory pride of getting there and the descent.
And here a dog finds her spirit. 

"So be sure when you step,
step with care and great tact and remember
that life's a great balancing act.
And will you succeed?
Yes, you will indeed.
98 and three quarter percent
Kid, you'll move mountains."
-Dr. Suess
Sir, you remain the earliest great teacher that a child (and adult) could have.

 Thank you, from my head to my shoe...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My Freaky Alien Garden, Trippin' with Sade and Saying Goodbye.

Spring has arrived here in NW Washington state!  As the sun stubbornly hides behind grey cloud for days on end, I have found strange alien-like life forms in flower blooms....

Yea, baby! 

And my new favorite....A blue poppy when the sky is blue.

P. Dog and I are about to head out on an adventure. And as we prepare for a 12 hour drive south to look for a new home, I think of Sade. The music has traveled with me through time, bringing  comfort in ways that I find hard to articulate.  Along for as many life travels as I can remember, and many of those times in deep solitude.  The place where I tend to lose focus.
Sade herself, like a member of my own family has always offered me a new prospective while effectively denying me the self-prescribed pill of black dog (or crow) that I tend to hardily swallow by the handfuls.  No, it's not like I feel I know her, but in some way I do feel appreciative just knowing she shares the planet I'm on...I imagine her life to be very different from mine. It's another reminder of how I think the "not knowing" may be better than reality.  But, sometimes I think it would be so cool to just sit down and have tea with her.  Even cooler if she would agree to go hiking in the forested Washington mountains with us.  Alas, she would probably be checking her watch for the next flight out of small town america.  (Maybe I'd have better luck with Sir David Attenborough for tea and a hike?)
As I pack my bags and some boxes, the rain begins.  I hear an owl calling across the field in the trees I helped plant so many years ago.  The quietness of the country side seems to pester me for the blues. The traditional style blues of which I have a nice collection. This time I bypass the urge and pop in the latest Sade CD to relax the tightening fibres of obsession over silly unimportant details. I laugh when I think of the crazy girl crush I had on the sax/guitar player, Stuart Matthewman back in the 80's. The couple of years of tenor saxophone classes I took to try to sound like him. In my rented living room where the neighbors must have been going crazy as I played one measure a million times...Over and over trying to figure out what notes they were. I did earn a seat in a jazz band....It's a good memory and I still have the sheet music.
Sade's outdoor concerts circa late 80's in California. Fantastic. I still have a program for the "Promise" tour in my treasure box.
wherever you are and wherever you'll be, please think of us too sometimes.  The tiny specks on the map whom you'll never meet. You continue to live on in their hearts.....Wherever life takes them.

And so we say "Goodbye"

To the fields in which we played, the mountains we climbed, the waters we swam, (and one time nearly drowned), the grass we ate, the beautiful state of Washington.  Crazy, beautiful, cool and windy. Many memories, but new experiences await.  The pets don't know the move is coming.  P. has had so much fun here in her 4 years of life.  I'll do my best to take care of everyone going forward.
Southern Oregon and northern California await exploration. Will write more as inspiration and time allows.               "Can she tame the beast that is her fear?"  -Sade

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Farmer Whisperer and a bird of a miracle.

I'm about to share a story with you.  A story captured with pictures.  I was at home alone when out of the corner of my eye, I saw the cat run by heading for the bathroom where he released his occasional mouse offerings. I knew he'd drop the item in the bathtub and it may be in various stages of consciousness.  So, I grabbed my trusty mouse container and prepared for possible live capture.  Only this time, it was not a mouse. It was a tiny and fragile hummingbird.  My heart sank to see it laying upside down and only shallowly breathing.  I removed the cat, closed the door, and opened the bathroom window.  I figured I'd give it some time to collect it's barings and hopefully fly out on it's own, if it was able to.  However, at first glance, the situation seemed hopeless to me. 

Then farmer C. arrived. I mentioned the event unfolding in the bathroom.  He disappeared from view and then I noticed C. sitting outside with the hummingbird held tenderly in hands.  Something quiet and peaceful about C.'s concentration and this little hummer.   

Something told me to keep watching. Something special was happening.
I suddenly realized that the contrasts in this scene were
inspiring me. The size of man vs. tiny bird. The roughness of the farmer's hands vs the fragility of this soft bird. The sacrifice of compassion vs the will to survive. 
I stood in my hidden spot, watched and waited....

And waited.
And watched.

Until I couldn't watch anymore.  I left and came back periodically to check on them.

It was almost as if C. was trying to heal and encourage the bird.  Giving it a safe and warm place to gather the confidence and allow the life it had before. 

A private whisper for bird
from man.

Then after about 20 minutes just after I took this picture

It buzzed off!  A miracle!
Overjoyed, I ran outside and told C. how I had been inside taking pictures all along and how fantastic I thought that the hummer flew off, when I noticed C. had tears in his eyes....
I didn't mention it again until a few days later.  I asked him what had occurred between him and the bird during that time.  He only said, "I was concerned." I knew he had been a black belt martial arts teacher years ago and asked him if that's where his concentration was learned.  "You could say that." He replied.  "Was it a male or female?  Do you know?"  I asked.  "It was a male."  Hmmm, I thought. Maybe he was so mysterious because it was some sort of male bonding thing?   I'll never know...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Inspirations, Dreams and recipe for Po'man's soup

When the world is ice cold and seems to push against her; she just puts a smile on her face and gets out there. 

Be sure to check out both sides of the fence and choose your side with care.


According to R., we are living in the age of "peak everything".  In a nutshell, the planet can not support the population with it's limited resources. "The fallout has already begun." He tells me.
"The ship is sinking. We are on a speeding train heading towards collision with an unknown date."  He points out examples of raising gas prices and food costs, corporate takeovers, political corruption,environmental degredation, on-and-on. 
"If it is already too late", I asked him. "What can we do about it?"
"Get prepared.  He replied.  "Pare down your lifestyle.  Learn some basic skills to survive the rough. times ahead."  I listen to R.'s recommended radio shows with authors of books who were former college professors or scientists who back his words as if by order.  They also push their books in subliminal ways and in the same breath tell you how making money will be of no use in the future. They go on to say that all our interactions will be limited to a local level using mostly a barter system and integrated community support.

So I begin to commute by bike. In my sleep, I have dreams of designing an enclosed rainproof cover to use my bike more as I do a car.
The chicken coop.  We can always eat eggs and <gulp> chicken and share them with others...The coop will be ready for spring chicks.  I wonder if I can hang with some cute chicks and not think of them as friends, but as a source of food.  It would be odd indeed to think of eating something that shot out of your new friends' backside. I suppose that's better than from a complete stranger.  

Hmmm. This brings us to the next episode of

Dispatches from BFE To The City, episode two
Today's topic:
"Please sir, can I have another treat?"
Presented to you by: Dog Tired Times and Naptime Productions
                                (A sustainable, local and all-around lazy company)
So, you don't have anything in the fridge?  Do you have an onion and garlic clove? 
Dice and Stir fry onion and garlic in oil to your desired texture and crispness.
Add water according to how many people you are feeding.
Any leftover meat or bones?  Add.
Add any vege(s) you got left over from your fridge in order of density and bring water to boil. (carrots, root veges/potatoes in first)
When these begin to soften, add frozen/or canned veges, if you have them. Add beans or left over pasta if you have it
Add fresh veges and/or
go to your yard and pick some dandelions or other edible green weeds. (Remember, you'll need to know before this situation arrives which ones are edible)
Basically, add anything you got at the right time...
Add spices from your kitchen herb garden, remove the bones if any in there and voila! 
A Po' man's soup, to warm your soul. 
And as we look due south, a silver lining...
Until next time......

Monday, February 25, 2013

Windy Winter Antics /Awwww, take a walk.

 A day off and I can not afford to skip a walkie with the boss.   She demands this of me no matter the weather.  So off we went this morning into gale force winds along the coastline of Washington state.   It was my bright idea. I thought that because it was a little windy that the two of us would enjoy a quiet empty trail... I was right.  We saw only 1 other person because everyone else knows YOU WOULD HAVE TO BE INSANE TO BE OUT THERE!  

This is how it went. I made sure I had the proper gear on, (please see the new, "Dispatches from BFE to the City" adventure series starting at end of this post)and we headed out.  I felt like the wind was literally going to sweep my legs back and I would take off like a kite.  What was the boss thinking of this wind? I looked over at her with her blown inside-out ears.  She had a huge #$%&-eating grin on her face.  Truth is, she really doesn't care as long as she's outside. She is a total outdoor enthusiast and she only puts up with my expletives because she loves me......Nice to be loved. 

Sometimes I think I'm not enough of a back woods, thrill seeking mountain adventurer for her.  I'm always huffing and puffing after a 10 mile hike.  She comes home and says, "Ok, what shall we do now?  Come on, at least throw the ball awhile.  PLEEEEASE?"   She never worries about her "do" or chapping her lips or looking cute....She just is what she is and does what she does. 
We put up with each other. It feels kind-of like the odd couple sometimes.
"Who's the cat,(or dog in this case) that won't cop out,
when there is danger all about?
Right on!
And we can dig it! "
-Theme from "Shaft" 
By: Isaac Hayes, the coolest
Dispatches from BFE to the City , episode one
Today's topic:
presented by: Getting Some Tail Dog Walking Services
P. Dog and I stood near the cliff, not too close to the edge because we were at least smart enough to know that a gust could blow us over the side.  Sand was blowing up and over the ridge from the beach below. I could see the granules accumulating on P and felt them hit my face.  I unzipped my jacket pocket and slipped the BALACLAVA over my head. No, I did NOT say "Baklava".  A Balaclava is a ski mask.  It is used to protect the face and keep the head warm.  This protective clothing item has a long history with the military and police as either part of a helmet system or concealment of identity.  Mine is polar fleece and I wear it over my entire face, only exposing my eyes.  We walked on to an area with a long straight-away and that's when I saw him.  A guy running towards us. He stopped dead in his tracks and I realized that I was essentially wearing men's clothes and a mask that has a reputation of being worn by criminals during acts of illegal activities.  I shouted to him that I was ok, er a girl just walking my dog and er, a nice person.  As he ran by me, he smiled an awkward smile and I giggled like an silly school girl.  Can't be too careful these days, I guess.  And uh, what in the world was he doing wearing shorts?  Here is what I was wearing:
                                               (sorry girls, this is not a fashion show)
Tops: base layer: not cotton.  This is not your mama's long underwear.  It's what the big boys wear.
Short or long sleeve shirt to wear over the top base layer. This can be stripped off if needed.
Wind breaking/water resistant, fleece lined jacket.  For days like today.  Hoods are good.
Bottoms: I'm not going to tell you what type of undies to wear, you figure that out!  Next base layer tights. Mine are fleece lined.  Sometimes I wear them under dresses.  Love them in winter! If you are hiking in the mountains wear shorts over these.  Today I needed rain pants over them, looked like rain.
Socks: light poly socks for wicking away moisture and keeping hiking socks in place. And a good quality hiking sock and water resistant, not too bulky hiking boots....Make sure everything fits right or you will suffer.
Gloves: You will regret it if you forget these!  Fleece for holding the leash.
Did I forget anything? 
Oh, yes.........
Tha Balaclava:
This is me.  Be careful where you wear these.  I hear they are illegal in France.
 Note: Fleece alone is not good protection agaist wind.  In fact, wind goes right through it. Sometimes you just have to use what you have.  This mask helped against the blowing sand, but then my face got too hot.  This hat better suits lower temperatures.  Also, the quality base layers come in temperature ratings and different weights.  In winter here, I usually use the med. weight ones.
My frozen street in winter 2013.

As I write this, the wind sounds like it is pulling the roof off the house.  Wind at 30-40 mph according to NOAA.  Me thinks it's more than that!  May lose power tonight.  Time to set up the wood stove.

And a

winter sun worshipping skinny feline

Thanks for visiting....

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Big Picture: Mountain Love/Winter Muse

Look around you where you walk.  Listening, moving forward, smelling and thinking. Where have you been that allows you to open your senses and be at peace with simply being human?  And what time of year would that happen for you?  
The above photo is from a summer hike in the mountains close to where I live.  Pictured here is the time and one of those places for me.
On this day in winter, Robert Frost has been gone 50 years. His vision of nature was his own. During his own time.  What will the rest of us leave behind? 
As I write this, the clouds lay over our town like a lid closing over us inside an unforgiving grey box. Dark. Undecided if next comes rain, wind or snow. 
The cravings begin. 
 For the fire in the wood stove, raging hungrily as a wild starved animal fed continuously with dry cedar, then roaring with delight.
For me, it's the smashing color and the remembrance of spring and summer. 
Like the feeling from an instant crush as the clear-eyed saxophone player winks and sends a cool breeze through my opening heart from across a crowded room tinged in blue. 
And I see it now, but only in my mind.
I listen and wait for your return.

Yet another winter time muse whispers from the player of imagination.  Freeing my captive boxed-in soul if just for the moment...