Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 in images

Some memories from 2008:

(A rainbow in Color Country.)

(Wandering in Upper Box Death Hollow with Ellen and Pippin.)

(Burro Wash slot canyon hike.)

(Capitol Reef National Park covered in snow.)

(Ancient Fremont petroglyh in Pleasant Creek Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park.)

(Me and Two-Bit on Boulder Mountain, with Thousand Lake Mountain behind us.)

(Thanks to Dan C. for this one, taken of the monks at Hell's Backbone in Boulder, Utah.)

(Pippin meditating by the Fremont River.)

There are of course a million more images and memories I have of 2008...but these will have to do for now.

Happy New Year's Eve. Here's to remembering the old and yet also making way for the new (hopefully improved?) ahead of us.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

clearing the slate

That time of year is upon us. The time to reconcile, to reflect, to cast ahead into the murky future and wish fervently that it be so, so much better than the past year.

In other words, it's time to clear the slate of 2008 (hey, poet) and project wondrous abundance into 2009.

Here's what I plan on doing in the next few days to help me clear my own slate:

1) Gather materials for my 2009 vision board. This includes ripping relevant pictures and words out of magazines, corralling crayons and markers and perhaps glitter glue pens, and of course manifesting the perfect white board at my local Rite-Aid.

2) Reflect on everything that happened to me over 2008 by going through journals, blog posts, my own memories, and emails from friends. Oh, and Facebook, that keeper of milestones...

3) Light a candle or two on New Year's Eve and release everything that happened in and around my life in 2008. Meditate. Be calm and still.

4) Work on my vision board on New Year's Day. Drink some darn good coffee.

5) Enjoy my dog, my cats, my family. Take time to truly appreciate and be thankful for the little things.

There may be more, but for now, that's enough to occupy me! What are your plans for the New Year?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

happy holidays

Merry Christmas to all...Happy Solstice...etc. etc. for all the beliefs out there.

May you have snowy vistas to see, endless fields of adventure to explore, and a bright day to greet and always.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

oh, those activists

Thanks to faithful reader Chris for drawing my attention to this article in the Salt Tribune about a young activist's impassioned, um, actions regarding the land lease sale.

Check out this blog too, Another cool place for info!
And Tim DeChristopher will be interviewed by CNN today as well.

And finally, here's a press release from SUWA yesterday noting other action.

Cool beans, kid. Bravery should never be mocked, no matter what the final outcome.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does.” -- Margaret Mead


Friday, December 19, 2008

BLM Utah land lease update

Some recent info on the BLM's proposed Utah land leasing: an article in the Salt Lake Tribune about oil-shale, and the latest news from SUWA about the land leases and a lawsuit featuring activist figurehead Robert Redford.

And here is a Desert News article from yesterday, featuring BLM Director Selma Sierra defending the agency's decision to sell the parcels.

What does this all mean? Hopefully, more time bought for wiser, less greedy heads to prevail. And for the public to get its collective head out of the morass of economic doom & gloom (not to downgrade the importance of that current, grim situation) to realize that, without a planet and wild places for future generations to play in, the economy doesn't mean all that much...

As usual, we'll see what happens next.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

secretary of the interior nominee

So Ken Salazar is Oabama's official nominee for Interior Secretary (I'm watching the live press conference on CNN right now).

The question on many people's minds is, Is he a good choice?

Well, gosh, I sure don't know. But here's what I do know:

1) He's a Democrat. Okay, mild point for that. (Yes, still questionable, as it's not like being a Democrat grants one a golden halo--see Rod Blagojevich.)
2) He's a lifelong, multi-generational Westerner. 'nother point for, *we hope,* having a deep understanding of the multi-faceted land issues in the western states. This point is in contention, however.
3) He's Latino. Cool, another addition to the incoming Cabinet as being beyond the old white men club. Okay, mild point there.
4) He's a rancher, which makes me suspicious right off the bat (without doing any checking into his specific way of ranching--I'm just generally suspicious of most ranchers). Take away a point.
5)Comments such as this one give me pause: “Senator Salazar has been a champion for Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities, ensuring that the 2007 Farm Bill and our energy policy create food and fuel security for America.” Not sure what to do with my impromptu point system here. I mean, I live in a rural community, and I love it much of the time, and I want to see it succeed and get all the resources it needs. But some people here in my very own county think that the ranching way of life is the lifeblood of Wayne County--and it most definitely is not! Only four families in this county of 2500+ people still exist solely by their ranching. However, many of WC's political decisions are made by, um, those in favor of the ranchers (hello, biased County Commissioners)...hmm. Point left hanging between sides...
6) He's voted in line with some of my own environmental beliefs, not to mention other issues. Add point.
7) He apparently cannot be labeled an "environmentalist." Is he a pacification to the Republicans by Obama? Hmm...maybe. Which could be unfortunate. Take point away.
8) Don't know much else but this: No matter what, this will be an interesting ride to witness!

Some links to public thought on Ken Salazar may be found here, here, here, here, and here. All interesting reads, with of course links to lead you down many other twisty Internet pathways to yet more information...

So. Will Ken Salazar make a good Interior Secretary? The real question is, By whose standards? Can't please 'em all all of the time... Time will tell. I, for one, will be keeping an eye on him...

And on a final humorous note, here is an urban legend of a priceless dumb celeb quote to prove just how much some Americans know about their own government (although to be perfectly frank, this particular Interior Secretary probably deserved it). Even if it ain't for reals, it's pretty darn funny:

"You've done a nice job of decorating the White House." -- Jessica Simpson, upon meeting Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Monday, December 15, 2008

is that a lynx I see?

So a cool thing happened the other day. Visitors wandering Capitol Gorge in Capitol Reef National Park reported a dead bobcat. The Chief of Resources (Dave) and the Chief Ranger (Scott) went down to take a look-see, and sure nuff, there was a dead and disemboweled bobcat. Probably a mountain lion kill.

Well, in the process of checking it out, they noticed a collar on the little cat's neck, indicating that it was likely part of a study. Ooh, curious. And upon calling the number on the tag, these two Park employees were in for quite the surprise: turns out the "bobcat" was in actuality a lynx--a creature thought never to wander a desert environment such as this southern Utah section. Ooh, curiouser!

This particular lynx was part of the Colorado Lynx Reintroduction Project, which has been releasing the endangered animals into the wild from Creede, Colorado (cute little town), over the past decade. The cool project has its latest update here (August 2008, in pdf format), which is pretty interesting to read.

The lead researcher, Tanya Shenk, drove to the Park to pick up the cat and give an impromptu presentation to very interested Park employees the very next day. Everyone, including the decidedly unscientific me, was quite curious about this unusual event. Neat, neat stuff.

So there you have it. Can lynx be found in desert lands? Yes. Have they wandered around the mountainous areas of southern Utah? Yes. (We got to look at maps that track the cats via satellite and plane fly-overs.) Are they really beautiful little animals with enormous paws and tails that have a black tip, although only on the top? Yes!

This has been your educational tidbit for the day. Hope it was good for you... ;)

Monday, December 01, 2008

stop the insanity

Aha, she exclaims triumphantly! I have found me more redrock peeps: Red Rock Forest. Check them out.

And there's a call for comments about the bullcrap upcoming land leases in southern Utah. Check out here for the draft environmental impact statement and here for more info on making your voice heard in the rather endless battle to simply protect this gorgeous land. And here's an article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, just to catch you up on it all. :)

On a personal note, I am in moving and writing mania. Babcia is getting stronger, which is exciting. And life is still beautiful here in my own personal red rock nirvana. Can't ask for much more than that...

Monday, November 24, 2008

new niche

Huh. I just found this article about slow blogging. Oddly enough, it sounds rather similar to what I've been doing with this very blog for the past few years! Ah, having a niche--labels can be so comforting. (I say this only slightly tongue in cheek, of course.)

Okay, I don't think I'm really a "slow blogger," since I like to keep abreast of and post current news about Utah's wilderness, and I certainly blog more often than once every month (or six). But I do also like the allowed possibility of not needing to post multiple times in a day or a week. It sort of seems like I've found the club I want to join.

As for readers, I know I don't have many. But I won't quit blogging on this particular blog for that reason. This one began as a sort of personal journal, and it continues as such at the moment, although I've been toying with the idea of making it much more strictly related to Utah wilderness interests, and leaving off some of the more personal information.

Of course, on that note I have to say that I am back in Utah, somewhat reluctantly, although I have concerns here that absolutely must be dealt with. And it is gorgeous, not all that terribly cold (though I hear rumors of approaching snow in the next few days), and just so much more spacious and fresh and clear and clean than Southern California.

Deep breath of the air here: aaaahhhhhhhh....

Babcia update: Still holding on. Another doctor floated another idea that she perhaps wasn't in so much pain the other few days (that was rather terrible to watch) but perhaps frustrated by how little she could communicate. We just don't really know, which is really frustrating in itself. All healing thoughts still welcomed...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

mama bears

So this is kind of cool: SUWA did a virtual "quilt" involving photos & the voices of women attesting to the importance of the Utah wilderness to them. It had a grand opening at the Salt Lake City Public Library (which is such a cool library! You really need to click on the link back there and see a pic of it), and will be on view there through December. You can also check it out on one of the local newscasts, I wish I could get up to the library myself and see it.

See? Women are indeed mama bears. My grandmother, the other day, looked at me and my mom and my aunt as we stood around her hospital bed, and after three tries she managed to whisper, "How are my children?" Meaning, of course, the women who came of her flesh who were with her just then, lending her our strength as she fights against her internal foes.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Red Rock Wilderness Act

So since I'm back on my "save southern Utah's wildlands" bandwagon, I decided to do a little digging into the subject today. First up is more information abut the number one piece of legislature that would be really cool to see passed one day: The Red Rock Wilderness Act. It's been in the works for some time now, and if you click on that link back there you can get more specifics on the history.

One great resource to have (for the diehard, probably) is the book Wilderness At the Edge: A Citizen Proposal to Protect Utah's Canyon and Deserts. Out of print, you can find a copy signed by Wallace Stegner (who wrote the introduction) at Powell's Books. (Again, I say diehard, because the signed edition is $350, and the book really consists of maps, which may look gobbledy-gooky to some.)

Some articles and other information about the proposed Act can be found here, here, and also in some beautiful words by Terry Tempest Williams (who is an amazing writer no matter how you slice it), from Utne Magazine back in 1996.

So many things in the world can make me cry. My grandmother, sick and failing and drugged to senselessness in her hospital bed. The homeless man at the farmer's market the other day who simply, quietly asked for fifty cents as he looked at a steaming hot dinner for sale at a vendor's booth. The puppy that was beaten to death by some sick bastard--the assistant chief of a fire department!--the other day. And, of course, the thought of all the gorgeous lift and fall and swell and shelter of the lands in southern Utah that are even now threatened. People who close their eyes, who close their hearts, who are too fearful to love and so therefore also do not live. I love that land with an abiding passion that dictates my moves and my beliefs and my actions. It's my something to grasp onto, to stand by, to call my raison d'etre.

I do really have hope that this administration will help. That it can listen, and respond in kind. And I'm going to do everything in my power to push along the idea that humans being guardians to this land is an important thing to do, an essential legacy to leave.

I leave you with this:

“The canyons of southern Utah are giving birth to a Coyote Clan—hundreds, maybe even thousands of individuals who are quietly subversive on behalf of the land. And they are infiltrating our neighborhoods in the most respectable ways, with their long, bushy tails tucked discreetly inside their pants or beneath their skirts...They understand that beauty is not found in the excessive but in what is lean and spare and subtle.”
--Terry Tempest Williams, “Coyote's Canyon” from Red


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

one step closer to red rock victory?

This article appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday. This is, of course, a spot of welcome news for anyone who loves southern Utah, or likes it, or visited it once and wants to remember it being pristine, wild, undrilled, unraped, and unviolated in our continuing quest for more more more in our super-sprawl world.

Now, let's get a few things straight here. I was not an Obama supporter. I was not on the Obama-mania insanity train. I did not, nor do I now, think he was the savior of all things American. He is a politician, he is imperfect, he said things in his campaign that were designed to get him elected, and he made promises that probably not even god could keep. I supported Hillary Clinton all the way (yep, she has warts too, but I liked hers better), but had to shrug when she lost the candidate ticket. Don't trust the guy. He's a politician, yo!

I voted Green. Big surprise, no? ;)

However. All that being said, let me then pontificate further and note that Barack Obama appears to be waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than that doddering, clueless old McCain and that hysteria-inducing joke of a running mate Palin--better, at the least, for the southern Utah wildlands. As the article says, the transition team is already aware of the public sentiment and action taken thus far on preserving this landscape, and the team seems to be interested in taking immediate action on further preservation. As immediate as they can, that is.

A few little things you can do to help:

-Go here and send a message (whatever you think of SUWA, that stirrer of hyped-up emotions, they can lead you to where you can take action);

-Check out the Obama change website to leave a comment about this situation. (Or, of course, any other situation that suits your fancy. Although for my purposes, you'll comment on the Red Rock Wilderness Act.)

-Go out and bop a stupid conservative narrow-minded idiot over the head and hope it encourages him/her to start thinking with his/her heart as well as head, rather than just pocketbook, party lines, or rigidly held and unquestioned religious beliefs. (Okay, don't really do this last one--but, hey, it's fun to dream, eh?)

*Babcia update: she's strong and tough, my grandmother. The pain is hard to watch, and they don't seem to know why it's happening. Can I note again that I am still not a huge fan of Western hospitals, medicine, and our stupidly tangled healthcare system? Too many cooks in her broth, so to speak. And I'm not convinced they're communicating clearly amongst themselves.

Monday, November 10, 2008

space to stretch

Being back in the vast, gorgeous (yes, it can be, believe me or not) sprawl of Southern California is interesting on a variety of levels. But most pressing to both me and Pippin is the amount of space in which we have to stretch. Or rather, the lack of said space.

This being a state of 30 million people, several million of which live in SoCal, there are leash laws, houses pushed up against one another, a mass of lights (my stars have just about disappeared), sidewalks, and just an overall sense of being squished. Pippin, being the good cattle dog that he is, needs LOTS of exercise. Lots! And he ain't getting it right now. So that means I have a spazzy puppy when we do go out. He needs to run, run, run, and play hard.

At the Arroyo Seco recreation area, this great little place of semi-wilderness in suburbia, one would think dogs are allowed off-leash. I remember always taking my dogs there and letting them romp freely. But no longer. Oh, sure, people still do. But I've warned in low tones of the cops who patrol and give out several-hundred dollar fines for the sin of being leashless.

And the main culprit is a bike cop, and bikes aren't even allowed in Arroyo Seco! Not cool.

Anyway, I generally try to be a law-abiding citizen, and I truly understand why leashes are a good thing. Dogs can be intimidating, they can bark and lunge when startled or threatened. There are also horses in Arroyo Seco, and I of all people understand the potential dangers of that combination.

But damn, it's so hard when I have a dog who needs to run lots and hard, and he can't! I'm trying to find a nearby dog park. I heard there's one at the Rose Bowl, so I may check it out. He needs to wrestle hard and tumble freely with another dog.

I too am missing my wide-open desert spaces. I haven't been able to yodel, or run like a maniac, or dance freely in the moonlight here. I suppose I could, but wow, does a crush of people intimidate! Being here right now is lovely in so many ways, and the energy of so many people is immense, and the warm air is pleasant, and there are men I don't actually know who flirt with me--such a novel concept! ;) But I also feel the need to stretch, to move, to shift my muscles underneath my skin and let them breathe. Sitting for hours in the hospital probably hasn't helped either.

Perhaps the lesson here is to make my own space to stretch? Even while in this place where rubbing shoulders with others happens just by inhaling deeply. Hmm...I think Pip and I have to go out now and find our place to stretch and run among the millions here. :)

*Babcia update: holding steady. She was moved to a step-down (less intensive care) room last night, which is really a great sign. But, of course, we are still guarded in our hopes. But still accepting prayers of all sorts...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

calling all healing prayers

The unexpected parts of life make for good plot twists in books. In reality, however, they can suck.

My grandmother's in the hospital, has been for about two weeks now. I came to California about 12 days ago to support my mom and see my grandmother as much as possible. It's been really hard. Babcia's hanging in there after two major emergency surgeries, because she's damn tough, but the ultimate prognosis leans toward her passing on to whatever comes next. But it's so damn hard to say, because the multitude of docs (she has a specialist for every part of her body, and then some) each seem to have differing opinions and attitudes. Which is confusing and leads to see-sawing of emotions in the family members.

Anyway. I want to get back to writing here regularly again, and trying to normalize other areas of life, while at the same time continuing through this process and allowing self-examination flow. Do let me note, I never want to be hooked up to tubes and be flattened on my back in a hospital bed for so long, drugged out of my mind with the pain meds. Especially not as an elderly person. I firmly believe some of the nurses and perhaps doctors too do not give elderly people as much of a chance. Everyone expects them to die anyway, right? (Me, sounding bitter.) A family member, mostly my mom, has been in my grandmother's hospital room almost every second, just keeping an eye on things and being with her, whether or not she's aware of it. Someone who loves her and knows her medical history needs to be there to advocate for her.

It's been an eye-opening journey thus far. God, we are so hung up on the young, the vital, the fresh, the new, the pretty. Anything but age, please! That scares us so in this ridiculously puffed-up culture of ours. Especially out here in Southern California, La-La Land, home of the fake and the eternally young. (Me, sounding bitter again, not entirely fairly. This is a diverse place. I just have a touch of myopia right now.)

So, all healing prayers are accepted right now.

In other news: Pippin is having a challenging time adjusting to co-existence with the cats at my mom's place. He has this ingrained need to chase them, if only they would run! But he is also quite respectful of their strong claws and scary hisses, which they use to excellent effect when necessary. Ah, my little Pip. He's growing up! And I still have strong hopes for his future career as a movie dog. He is a darn cute thing, as random strangers often tell me. And being out here galvanizes me to take some action and get him to an audition or somesuch. (Look at me, jumping on the young-and-cute bandwagon after my earlier diatribe. Well, she says in defense, he's a dog, so it's different.)

Will keep you posted on all events...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ahh, fall mornings at 7,000 feet

Fall has been descending on Wayne County in fits and starts this year. The colors appeared on the aspen trees up on the mountain—ooh, aah. Very pretty, of course. But one could still view them while hiking in shorts and a tank top. Nighttime temps dropped a bit, of course, but days were still gorgeous. Then we had our wild winter storm a week and a half ago, in which the wind went crazy as it is wont to do here, it snowed, the clouds scudded through the unforgiving sky, and the wind made that eerie, hair-raising moaning sound when it forced its way through the cracks around one's doors and windows.

Then the temps shot right back up, the wind left, I lounged by the river in shorts in a tank top and was rendered almost comatose by the drowsing sunlight. The sky was crystalline blue, the rocks were glowing red, the air was blessedly still. Loved it.

Then yesterday the freaking wind again. I'm very serious about the WC wind (locals sometimes call it Wind County). It can be horrendous, ridiculous, a howling fiend that knocks over enormous trash cans, rips your car door out of your hands when you open it, and brings flashing images of Kansas and Toto and a little girl in a blue checked dress on her way to the land of those kind of creepy munchkins. I stayed inside.

This morning, my little atomic radio clock read 65.8 degrees F at about 8am. When I stepped outside the house, it definitely felt quite a bit chillier. (Although, thank goodness, no wind.) So I put my trusty little clock outside and left it for about a half hour or so. When I returned to check, it read 35.8 degrees F.

I quickly retreated indoors again. Hooray for warm houses and coffee! Pippin quite agrees, as he is flopped out on his favorite blue chair right now:

Aahh, fall. I must say that 35.8 degrees outside bodes well for my writing this morning. That said, I'm back to it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

plump moonrise

Wow...I was outside at about midnight last night, letting the pup out for his last pee before bed. Got to see the moonrise, which was spectacular.

First, we noticed a 5-point buck (mule deer) and some does standing stock-still in the middle of the dead frozen garden. Pip pointed for a moment, then bolted after the creatures. They bounded away in enormous leaps, of course, having freaking Slinky springs in their legs or something. Pip made sure they were safely gone from "his" property before returning, tail up high. It's deer season right now, so all the smart ones have come into town where they cannot be hunted. Gorgeous.

Then I was treated to the sight of the half-moon rising, hanging low and full and glowing orange-gold on the eastern horizon. So, so beautiful. Classic view, streaked by dark clouds and all. Aahh. I did a little dance of appreciation for getting to see such beauty.

Shiver of joy. These are the moments I truly adore living here! If only I could take good nighttime pictures. That would have been a shot to share. Alas, you'll simply have to imagine it...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

chickens everywhere

I'm housesitting right now. Part of my duties include tending the chickens (plus three ducks and a turkey, which apparently will be someone's Thanksgiving dinner this year).

Chickens are interesting little critters. There are about 20 or so of them here, and they seem to run the gamut of chickendom. There's a crazy-looking one with wild feathers coming out the top of its head and flopping down over its eyes. A rooster that faithfully cock-a-doodle-doos in morning, even if it's still in the little chicken-house because I haven't yet stumbled out of bed to release them into the rising sunlight. There's a very sweet orange-red-creamy-colored one that rushes right up to me whenever I'm in their pen and looks up at me adoringly. Perhaps it's just hungry and wants to see what sort of treats I may have brought. But it's still very sweet in its attempt to communicate with me via Chickenese.

I get to benefit by having as many fresh eggs as I want, warm from sitting under little chicken butts all night long. Pippin already enjoyed one (an egg, not a chicken butt) mixed in with his dry food this morning. Of course, I also have to guard against marauders, such as the rather pleasant-appearing little cat that was just in the pen. The chickens (and ducks and huge turkey) actually didn't seem to mind the cat. I wouldn't either, really, since this particular cat is on the small side, and it really didn't seem at all interested in committing any feline mischief. But just to be on the safe side, I deposited it on the other side of the fence.

Ah, life in the boonies. I need not worry about drive-by shootings, commuters insane with traffic-induced rage, or smog. Nope, all I have to concern myself with is keeping the chickens safe. And then eating their eggs. Bon appetit!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

that dratted mercury retrograde again

Damn, have the past several weeks been wild and chaotic, or was that really just me? One good thing about NOT having any money in the stock market is that I didn't lose any. However, my other money flows have seemed a bit dry. This particular Mercury retrograde was the biggest, craziest one of the year, and it's a good thing it ends tomorrow. (Though beware reverberations for another several days or so!)

Mercury rules over communication, travel, finances, and mechanical things, among others. Be careful when it retrogrades, because things usually go haywire (see world financial markets as a glaring example). Here's my story from this one:

I ordered a jacket and a pair of running shoes from an online site back in August. I hadn't ordered anything from this site for several years, but they were having a killer sale, 50% off their outlet prices. Couldn't resist. My new goodies arrived promptly, but the shoes, alas and alack, were too large. After waiting around for a few weeks (typical me), I finally boxed them up in early September and sent them back for an exchange. And I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The first week in October (the retrograde began Sept. 24), I emailed the company and asked if they were going to exchange my shoes ever? They immediately replied, just about falling all over themselves with their "sorries." The shoes would be mailed right away.

Fabulous, I thought, and went about my week.

However, no shoes. Again. Then, oddly enough, I received an email form the company asking me how my shoes were! Interesting. What shoes, I wondered? So last Thursday, I checked the UPS tracking info (love that), and discovered that they had been delivered to "front door" on Monday the 6th.

Huh. I looked at my front door. Nope, no shoes there. Asked the landlords. Nope, no shoes up there. Wow. Bizarre. See, the local driver, Russ, knows everyone around here (not hard considering how small the area is). He certainly knows who I am and where I live. Russ, however, has had some time off and there's been a sub driving.

Aha. I then got even more clever and called UPS to see where, exactly, the substitute driver thought my front door was. And lo and behold, the package had been mailed to the correct address, all right--that is, it was correct about five years ago, when I last lived there. Which was the last time I'd ordered from that company. Meaning they still had that address on file, apparently, and someone got very, very confused (um, a little "retrograded," perhaps?).

Luckily, I know who lives in that place now, so I called them up. Well, plot thickens again. Some years back, when the state got all GPS-happy and mandated street signs for every single dirt road in Wayne County (I kid you not--there are street signs on little dirt roads that lead nowhere, ending after about 200 feet), they also discovered that some of the addresses folks had had for a lifetime were off. So the place I used to live, 4150 1/2, is now 4200. And the other house up that road is now 4150 1/2, and that's where my package ended up.

Still luckily, I also know the people in that second house (yet another benefit of small town life). Mark was surprised to see a package for me--he hadn't looked at it too closely and assumed it was for his wife Mary). And after even more time, I finally ended up at his house and retrieved my package. On October 11, almost two months after I originally ordered my shoes.

And the shoes fit. And I am happy. And that, dear folks, is why Mercury retrograde deserves a wide berth. Because if it can fuck with you, it will.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ancient pack rat poop

Maybe I just have a thing about poop lately, but this is actually kind of cool on a few counts. First off, a little discussion about pack rats. They apparently are rather intelligent, quick, resourceful, and quite adaptive, considering how long they've been around. They're also the subjects of scientific studies. Little creatures, being picked apart (so to speak--hopefully not literally, unless they're already dead) by highly-educated human minds. We are interested in the strangest things, aren't we?

I've rarely seen the little critters around here--but let me tell you, they are definitely at home in the high desert Southwest. How do I know that for sure? Big, unmistakable piles of pack rat poop, crammed into the nooks and hollows of the rock walls. Like this:Yes, that is a pile--a wet, totally gross pile--of pack rat shit. Interestingly enough (to me, at least), I often find it very near ancient settlements. This pile is dripping from the rocks right by this handprint:
Curious, no? Well, according to my biologist friend Dave, pack rats are known to poop in the same spot their ancestors did--as in, for the last 10,000 years. So the new poop is on top of very old poop, practically fossilized by now.

The mind boggles.

So the next time you're out and about and come across one of these impressive leavings, look around for ancient corn cobs, pottery shards, and rock art. I'm sure the resourceful pack rats lived among the humans for the easy food access, and habit kept them there centuries after the people left. Guess it's better to have one toilet rather than hundreds scattered about...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

homeland, again

On the topic of home again. I ran across a fun article today, from Inside-Outside magazine, a little rag I read all the time in Durango, but which I have not found out here in the back of beyond. The article is about Hanksville, UT, one of the little Wayne County towns. Hanksville is home to--well, read the article and you'll find out. It mentions Mesa Farm Market, a little organic farm with lots of heart in neighboring Caineville. Mesa Market is run by a playful man, who is also a musician, named Randy Ramsley. Several friends work on the farm, including Beth and Tim. They had a hard spring, and there's a Harvest Benefit being held for the farm next Saturday, which I am excited to attend.

There is so much to be said for community--especially when said community is in such a small, isolated, wild area! Pulling together in times of need is so damn important. I am feeling a part of this place again, and I love it. It's odd, actually. I've been a bit of a hermit all summer long, not fully participating in community. Feeling so busy between day job, writing, and personal goals that demanded a lot of solitude and contemplation.

But this is still home. I am home, in my community, no matter how I have been (or not) interacting.

What is home for you? What makes it home? Is it place, is it people, is it ritual and ceremony? Is it familiarity?

Part of home is, for me, a certain knowing that simply makes it so. This is home. And I just know that.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

moon dancin'

The moon is almost full, folks! Dance madly! I love the almost-full moon. It's a sacred time to me, from my vision quest last year...and it's pretty damn cool anyway. I mean, the moon. Amazing.

So dance, everyone! Just go outside and flap your arms and wiggle your butt in the moonlight. If nothing else, you'll feel silly, and therefore laugh (even if it's at yourself). And generous laughter is always a beautiful thing.

I'll be doing it too, so you won't feel too lonesome or too silly. ;)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

private sojourn; or, can I please poop in peace?

Okay. This is a bit of a rant. You are thusly forewarned.

I have loved the wild spaces since I was very little, and I have done many things in the mountains and deserts over the years. Ogle great views. Nap under pine trees. Camp for days at a time. Cook. Clean dishes. Attend to bodily functions. Now, this latter can be somewhat horrifying to those city folk who must have their toilets and flushing conveniences, but for those of us who wander at will, the great outdoors becomes a comfortable place to do what a bear does naturally in the woods.

This is a situation to which I have been accustomed. Need to go? Find a private spot, dig a hole, and there you have it. Certain rules are followed (don't leave tp behind, cover it up, don't do it near water), of course. And honestly, I'd rather use a clean natural spot with a gorgeous view than a stinky, disgusting pit toilet, as are commonly available at the outdoor places frequented by humans.

But I digress.

This summer, people have descended upon Wayne County like flies. In some respects, this is of course a good thing. The local economy needs them. My tips depended on them. But wow--were they everywhere! I felt surrounded by my kind as never before. On one day off, Pippin and I went exploring up on the Velvet Ridge, this gorgeous redrock cliff that runs east-west to the north of Hwy. 24 between Torrey and Bicknell Bottoms. We drove up early in the morning, midweek, and had a fabulous time marching across the land, looking for arrowheads and the like. I found an old, dried deer shed and, of course, petrified wood. We took in the view. We avoided a few ATVers. On the way in, a boy who appeared to be approximately 12 was driving a tractor behind a truck as they tooled up a two-track road, presumably to grade areas flattened by rushing waters after all the rain we'd had. Folks, that's a lot of people out there.

And back at the truck, I stepped behind a bush for a pee.

When I was done and stood up, I heard someone walking along the ATV track on which I'd parked. Someone walking nearby. Someone walking away from me. As in, the person had passed by me while I'd been peeing. Apparently, peeing visibly.

Okay, you say. You were a little too close to the road, Julie. Got what you deserved, if someone saw you peeing and quickly walked away!

I politely disagree. First off, it's not a road. Second off, who the hell are all these people invading my land? (Grr, the adoptive local snarls.) Third, what the hell in general? I leave for about two years, and this place is overrun.

Can a person not pee, poop, or whatever in peace out here anymore?

I know, I know. I am ranting, as warned. And of course there are miles of areas where no one roams, and people poop outside often. But I like, need, and crave the open spaces here. I'm a southern Californian by raising, one who took to this area with an eagerness that likely befuddles most who live in the smoggy area my family still calls home. I want it to be open, empty, little travelled, private.

Things change, of course. And look at me--this summer, I work for an outfitter and actually take people out there to the sacred, secret spots. (Well, not all of them, that's for sure!) But even so. The wide spaces seem to keep shrinking. I know more people will visit here, and more people will live here, and that's fine. That's expected.

I just ask for a little more space, a little more privacy, a little more solitude. Especially when I'm out answering the call of the wild, in all its forms, out in the deserts and mountains I call home. And that's all I have to say about that. (For now, she says in dire tones...)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

thunder and lightning, oh my

Ooh...big storm rolled over us today. I thought with some trepidation about the guide and guests out on the mountain, clearly in the thick of the sturm und drang! Pippin cowered in the bathroom and shook at the sound of the sky rumbling and spitting. And the surprised visitors flocked in and asked about roads, weather forecasts, what to do when faced with this unexpected deluge on Labor Day weekend.

What to do, indeed. If you had my life, today you would have taken a group of very fun people out riding this morning (pre-rain), and then spent the afternoon in the dry comfort of a building.

Much as I love weather, and have spent many, many days and nights outside in the hearty wildness of it, all year long, I am also quite grateful for the indoor life we humans have created for ourselves. Hooray for warm and dry indoors!

And on that note, now that it's stopped raining, I'm venturing back outside...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

lost 'n found

Again, I bask in the beauty that is southern Utah. I mean, really. This place is stunning. See the pics from my latest discovery, a place called Lost Lake located high up on Boulder Mountain. Look how clear the water is!

A very satisfied puppy with his big stick in the sparkles:

And there's Eli, with that jewel-colored water behind him (this one's for you, Chris!):

On the way downhill (don't they look like they're about to fall off the edge?):

Me on my favorite guy (Two Bit) with the view that never fails to take my breath away:

This place is full of amazing secrets and yodel-inspiring vistas. Quiet contemplation and joyful abandon. Can't get enough of it. Ahhhhh...

I watched the Hillary Clinton speech at the DNC the other night at a friend's house. Very refreshing to watch Democrats speaking while I reside in this vastly Republican state! Anyway, when I drove home about 10:15 or so, the stars were simply crowding one another in the moonless sky. The Milky Way was abundantly spilling forth, and a summer lightning storm was flashing in the sky to the east. I just had to pull over and park in the desert to watch the show with Pippin (he seemed more interested in disappearing into the dark than sky-watching, of course).

Using my truck's hood and windshield as a sort of chair, I leaned back and took it all in. The lightning, conducting from what seemed to be a single, huge cloud, was of the sort that would produce a ferociously huge and perfect bolt that shot to the ground and stayed there in crisp relief for long seconds before vanishing. The clouds lit up, the sky was revealed, and since I was many miles away, there was no threat to life and limb. What a treat to enjoy. The desert is truly the best place to watch the sky shake and shimmy and dance. I loved it with every fiber, and watched with eyes that just want to take in the whole world.

And this night, I saw the undersides of the clouds above the Velvet Ridge glow in tandem with the rocks from the sinking sun. The light leaves earlier and earlier...summer is closing.

So I need to go out and do as much as I can before winter descends!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Benedicto: peace

It has been so gorgeous here in redrock canyon country the past week or so. Clear, sunny days. Cooling at night--fall is coming! It's been the perfect time to explore the mountains. Today is a visit-the-river and bask in the sun day, later in the afternoon. The sky is a solid, unbroken bright blue. The cliffs and mesas and hills and mountains are crystal clear and unbelievably sublime. The air wafting in the open door and windows is clean and gentle.

In a nutshell, it is one of those days that makes this place, my chosen home, so utterly wonderful. I am quietly at peace, thrilled to be here. The immensity of the land, the solitude of the spaces, the neverending beauty of all that surrounds me, everything nurtures and nourishes and succors my very being, my soul.

Ah, it's great to live here! At this very moment, I am completely happy and in harmony with my life. And really, what more can we ask than that?

I leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes, "Benedicto" by Edward Abbey:


May your trails be crooked,

winding, lonesome,
dangerous, leading to the most amazing


May your rivers flow without end,

meandering through pastoral valleys

tinkling with bells,

past temples and castles and poets’ towers

into a dark primeval forest where tigers

belch and monkeys howl,

through miasmal and mysterious swamps

and down into a desert of red rock,

blue mesas, domes and pinnacles and

grottoes of endless stone,

and down again into a deep vast ancient

unknown chasm

where bars of sunlight blaze on profiled


where deer walk across the white sand


where storms come and go

as lightning clangs upon the high crags,

where something strange and more beautiful

and more full of wonder than your deepest


waits for you—

beyond the next turning of the canyon walls.

Edward Abbey


Thursday, August 14, 2008

fallin' in love again...

...with southern Utah. This place is just so beautiful, it can still steal my breath. My good friend Ellen just visited, and we went to two places we had not seen before: Singletree Falls on Boulder Mountain and Box Death Hollow in Escalante.

In a word, wow. These spots are part of why this area is so special, so in need of mindful growth, and just so emblematic of how vast and sublime this world is. See for yourself.

So Singletree Falls is found east of the Singletree Campground, an easy 1/2 mile hike with a view of the desert almost the entire way. And what a view that is. The desert is a jaw-dropping spectacle no matter what time of year or day. Pippin the cute wonder-dog enjoyed the view as well.

Box Death Hollow wilderness near Escalante, UT, is also fantastic. We drove 150 miles round-trip for a four-hour hike, and it was so, so, SO worth it! There's a lovely road called Hell's Backbone (also the name of a restaurant in Boulder, UT) that we drove over--amazing views, which were also somewhat dizzying. And then the wilderness itself--we hiked down a canyon that made it seem as if we were in Oregon, no joke. Staggeringly high walls--up to 1500 feet of sheer sandstone beauty--a very clear running stream (Pine Creek), and wild raspberries--yum. It was the hike that had everything.

Enjoy the photos...visit the places...and remember that our voices are what save these gorgeous spots on earth for many, many future generations to cherish as well.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

let it rain

So the last week was pretty much a long Pacific Northwest moment out here in the desert. Rained...and rained...and rained. Then it rained again. I think I'm moldering.

Now, rain is a very good thing here, don't get me wrong. We always need it, out here in the land of little water and much hot land. But really. There comes a point when enough is enough, and I reached that point twice: first, a corner of my living room got wet (from pipes, not the rain) and both the carpet and the wall got moldy. Black stuff grew on the white wall, and weird fungus-y mushroom-y things grew from the carpet.

From. The. Carpet. Which is not, and should not be, organic material from which more organic material should sprout.

That is just wrong in a desert environment. It reminded me why I decided not to live in Portland, OR, many years ago, after I visited to check out the law school to which I'd been accepted (I had a fellowship and all). Because it rained the entire three days I was there, in June, and this Southern California sunflower just about drowned. I skedaddled home south and never looked back.

Anyway. Second time this week I realized I'd had it with the overabundance of wet: because the corral where the horses I work with live became absolutely mucky, icky, and filthy with a lovely combination of wet mud and horseshit. Ever try walking in that to catch horses who aren't sure they really want to go out into the rain with wet tack and people wearing flapping ponchos and loud thunder and lightning?

Oh, yes. There is a reason I live in the Southwest, and it involves rain at a beautiful modicum. I love it when it rains here, and strongly brings out the scent of the sage, and the earth itself. That is beautiful and stirring. But rain every day? For hours? For an entire week? No. Uh-uh. Ick.

Do we need the rain here? Of course! Am I happy it rained? Uh...sure. Mostly.

Just ask me again when I've dried out. Until then, my thoughts are too soggy to be intelligible. I need the hot desert sun to bake me back into life.

Friday, August 01, 2008

rivers run through me

I must first begin by asking what happened to July? Time = weird.

But on other matters: rivers. I realized some time ago that rivers define me, surround me, soothe me, call me, and offer me sanctuary. I've always been drawn to rivers. The gurgles and rushes and trickles, the rumbling sound of boulders and rocks being moved along the streambed, the meditative quality of the endless play of water against the earth--aahhhh. It's lovely, it's filling, it's soothing, it's invigorating.

Many rivers have rumbled through my soul over my lifetime. The Fremont River, of course. The Animas River in Durango. The little stream that runs briefly and then dries up through Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. Countless others. Carcass Creek. The river that runs off Mt. Baldy. The Merced River racing through Yosemite Valley.

Oceans are great. Lakes are serene. But really--give me a river. And it's not that I fish, or run rapids (shudder), or canoe or kayak or even tube float all that often. I just like rivers. Simple. I sit by them, I read, I dream, I write, I nap, I stare mesmerized into the flashing waters, I cry, I laugh, I splash water at friends, I skip stones, I watch my dogs play. I live my life by rivers, in a sense.

And how beautiful is that?

Monday, July 28, 2008

lil' bighorn

So I led a ride down Pleasant Creek in Capitol Reef National Park today. This particular section of the creek is in a beautiful canyon, with huge sandstone walls towering overhead and plenty of petroglyph (rock art pecked into the rocks by ancients peoples who lived there) panels throughout. The creek meanders along in lazy manner, and the multi-toned hues of the cliffs against the intense blue of the sky invite quiet introspection.

I love that canyon, its beauty, its accessible remoteness (hmm, oxymoron?). We encountered no other humans on our little jaunt, which of course made sense, as few venture deeply into the more desertlike areas in high summer. And it did get warm, into the low 90s. But the with creek at our side or underfoot the entire time, and with the early afternoon clouds shadowing us, we managed just fine.

My favorite part of today's particular trip was our bighorn sheep viewings. We saw sheep twice. The first time two of them (females, we thought) burst out of some bushes lining the creek when we were in the cliffs above them, looking at petroglyphs and apparently making threatening noises. The way they leapt up the cliff! It was amazing. They must have super-sticky stuff on the bottoms of their hooves. No, really, you have to see it yourself to truly understand how these animals simply--glide up the rock face. As if it's nothing, as if gravity does not exist for them, as if they are walking on flat and level ground.

The second sighting involved about seven or eight of them, including two little ones, one of which was quite curious about us and peered down from her aerie perch, perhaps trying to determine what sort of foreign sheep we were. I wish I had pictures...but alas, I left my camera at home today! Oh well...memories of the cute lil' bighorn will just have to sustain me.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

fire season

The skies have been very hazy here recently. We have had fires burning over in Escalante and on Boulder, but the majority of the smoke is from the NoCal fires, which helped push all fire activity in the U.S. to a level five, which apparently is rather a challenge, as continuing fires might strain our nation's firefighting resources.

As if we don't already have enough going on!

(Hmm, I sense messages from the ether. Um...stop screwing with the environment. People, get educated. Pay attention to our (dwindling?) resources. Live more wisely and with less waste. Etc. Etc. Etc. Sigh. Yet it seems to be in our nature to deny, deny, deny--until we can no longer deny because it's all blown up in our faces. Sound about right?) ;)

My body notices the smoke here too. My nose and throat mostly, which have been more irritated than usual. And my eyes, which have been demanding eye drops almost daily.

Yet we still have plenty of people visiting our little corner of the Earth. Smoke or no, high gas prices or no, faltering economy or no. Which of course is good from a business standpoint, and certainly helps my pocketbook.

Although on the 1/2-day ride I took out yesterday with the boss, up to Blind Lake on Boulder Mountain (must put some pics up here, it is SO gorgeous there. Always been one of my favorite lakes), we got stiffed on the tip. And, interestingly enough, we both chalked it up to the fact that the family was Mormon. Now, that may be unfair of us. Yet it is also within the realm of each of our experiences, so I see a connection.

Life. Neverendingly interesting and unexpected. Who knows what shall happen today! Hopefully for me, a nap is in the works this afternoon...supposed to be 95 here today. Icky. Icky. Icky. And not conducive for being outside!

, but very conducive for writing in the coolness of one's lovely basement apartment....

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

a little morning musing

So far this morning, there's been

-a gorgeous red sunrise (does that mean weather later on today?)
-a black dog trotting purposefully through the yard
-a very cute little skunk walking right past the strawberry beds in front of my door (nervous moment for me, Pippin, the landlady's cat, and the skunk, all at once)
-journaling on the outside steps with my coffee, the sunrise, and the dog & cat playing chase and "spit" (as in, the cat does that unique feline spit/hiss/leap when the dog gets too close to her)
-the anticipation of taking 24 people riding today...eek
-yoga, yoga, how I love my muscles love thee
-being connected to the online world right here at that
-the wonder of what else this day may hold

And it's not even 8am yet! Cool.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Dual Reality Shuffle

It's kind of scary-looking over the Boulder this morning. There's a fire over by Salt Creek, and it may have been playing with creating its own weather system (weird, I know). Or it could just been monsoon season, threatening to begin early, as funky and wild as the weather patterns all over the world this year.

I am flipping back and forth today, feeling discombobulated and restless. And tired, natch. Sigh!

I went to southern California all last week to visit family, whom I hadn't seen since last fall. It was odd to be there at first—hot, icky, trafficky, smoggy, really hot, crowded, intense, alive, and did I mention hot? While a good visit overall (my apologies to those I did not see while I was there!—too much going on), it made my life here in Utah seem so distant, so removed from reality. Did I dream this place? Does it really matter? Do all the petty incidents and little life dramas of those here in this one spot matter?

(Okay, must insert that I am slightly steamed at the moment—from precisely one of those petty life incidents around here. Grrr....)

And then when I am here, in this place, I consider southern California, Durango, and other places I have spent time, and I wonder if those were dreams...because they seem so, to me.

The answer of course is that our current reality is always the most present, the most real, the most pressing. The green grass outside my door (yep, water-waster, but that's my landlords, not me), the cliffs and mountains in the distance, the Henrys behind their smoky haze off to the east, the quiet sounds of rural life, the wide open door and unlocked everything...this is my present reality, and it is as damn real as anything else.

As real as the wild green parrots of the San Gabriel Valley, the traffic on Colorado Boulevard, the nattering newscasters, the cement that paves so much of the land of the Angelenos.

Wow. My head is kind of tripping with the duality of it all. Do I really want to lead this sort of dual life? Combining city/civilization pleasures with rural/wild adventure?

Yep. Sure do.

(Last note: I have now discovered the wonders of the wireless aircard, and I LOVE IT! A most helpful thing to have out here in the boonies. I am connected at home—everywhere I go that I have cell service, in fact. Whoo-hoo!)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Darwin Rules; or, The Demise of the Terminally Out-to-Lunch

In my varied lines of work throughout my lifetime (outdoor guide, editor, camp counselor, restaurant server, temp worker, program director, horse groom, among many others—the usual laundry list of a writer!), I've had the opportunity to encounter an equally varied sampling of humans. Many of those brief interactions have been quite interesting, even fascinating. Recently, I was able to spend the better part of a day ferrying around a client for a hiking trip who hails from Jerusalem. His grandson's bar mitzvah is coming up, and he and his wife had inquired as to the soon-to-be-a-young-man's interests so they could provide an appropriate gift. He likes animals. I imagined they might plan to get him a dog. Nah. Way too simple. Instead, they are taking him on safari to Africa later this year. Lots of animals out on the savanna.

At any rate, this particular man impressed me with his world view and life acumen—that is, his eat-or-be-eaten outlook (though I put that a little more savagely than this man seems to actually be). This guy is a survivor. If the climate tries to do us in or the world order as we know it implodes, he'll make it.

Then consider the sweet family I took riding yesterday evening. We went later in the day so as to avoid the blasting summer heat (90s all week). It was a gorgeous ride, with the slowly sinking sun painting the rocks even redder than they truly are, a snake gracing us by hurriedly crossing our path, and the cool air a relief. The couple was older, and their young son was alternately interested by his surroundings and apparently quite superior to his parents' inane utterings. (Oh, to be 13 again. No thanks!) But I did have to agree that the folks, who seemed kind and well-intentioned, are the sort who just Will. Not. Make It. if the world suddenly tilts on its axis, startling the hell out of the population living upon its whirlingness. They were kind—and they were just not alert, if that makes sense.

Is this the sort of complacency, the cluelessness, born of a people who have little to fear or worry about in the greater scheme of things? Of course there are many who struggle in this country. But there are many who don't—at least not on the basic survival level. To keep it all in perspective, I often marvel at the comforts of my own life. Clean running water whenever I want it. Electricity that works 99% of the time, give or take the occasional power outage, which is then quickly corrected. Good food, easily accessible and affordable. A roof over my head, and spacious living quarters that I share with no one (except a very cute little dog named Pippin and, soon, two cats). And, I must say, some of the most scenery in the world literally just outside my door—really. (See photo!)

It takes some effort, I think, and perhaps a dose of reality to realize what we have. Those who don't are the ones I fear for, in a sort of detached way, if the crap really hits the fan someday.

This all seems a bit maudlin and Chicken Little-ish. But every possibility must be considered when contemplating this world. We live in a bizarre place, we have a bizarre history, and never say never. You just don't know. Anything can happen. Wah-hoo!

I'm not sure why my thoughts turned to this today. It's lovely out, already quite warm (ah, I am also blessed by my very cool apartment, which since it is surrounded by the earth stays beautifully temperate!), and I am well-rested, despite running around the house like mad with my active little pup at about 6:15 this morning before collapsing into bed again to beg another hour or so of sleep. (Pippin did not approve of that at all. My purpose in life right now, it seems, is to play with him. All the time.)

Off I go to seize the day. I wonder what sort of people I will encounter on today's journey...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

little blessings

Today it is windy. Very windy. My eyes are hurting at this moment. It has also been sunny and quite warm. Ah, the weather here. It informs one's personality at times, I think.

I have a new dog, as yet unnamed (formerly Jasper, but I had a cat named Jasper, so I think this dog has a new moniker awaiting). He is darling, and daring when in a protective mood, and calm, and gentle, and excited to have such a lavish of attention upon him. He came from the same place my horse lives and is your typical little Wayne County cowdog mutt. Perfect! I think I may love him already. Of course, I am a softie. And he seems to get on well with cats, if one encounter can be judged, which is course necessary, considering the cats in my life.

Writing is going well for me, in some ways. My deadlines threaten to overwhelm me, on top of this job I have taken for the summer. Drama and chaos surround me in my jobplace, and I steadfastly refuse to allow it to engulf me completely.

If only we could remember all the time how petty it is to be petty! How short and sweet life is, and how we should honor it and cherish it and love it.

But no. Not all think that way! Phooey on them, I say. And yes, I do get petty and short and childish and mean myself at times still. But I like to think it is fewer times than before, and will be even fewer times in the future.

My new dog is quietly curled by my feet, guarding his newfound human companion as we sit in the wind. What a blessing a dog is. And a horse. And cats.

And, of course, hummingbirds! (That's for my mom.)

Anyway. I feel blessed, for sure. And I'm just fine with that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

watching out for mercury

I am reminded strongly that Mercury is in retrograde right now. How is this visible? Take a look at the technological thingies in your life--yes, I mean your laptop, ipod, cell, tv, etc. etc.--as well as the toaster, car, garage door opener, and light switches. Are they going nutty? Not working up to par? Then there you have it: Mercury in retrograde, at your service.

I have thus far escaped any particularly tricky issues, but other problems raise their icky little heads, such as miscommunication, nasty tempers, and general confusion swirling around.

It all comes together. Really. The general response usually is, Run! Or, Hide! Both work well when M. swivels around backward, as it were.

On the bright side for me, at least, it's an excellent time to retreat and write, write, write. Oh, and read, read, read. Two of my favorite things, of course. And otherwise, I lay low.

Anyway, I hope your Mercury retrograde issues are of little concern. Remember: keep your head down, take care of yourself, retreat to your sanctuary if you must, and most of all, chant the mantra: This too shall pass.

Amen to that! ;)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

on movement

I moved in yoga class tonight. Stretched, held, breathed, grunted, made faces, and, here and there, felt flow. Movement, breath, thought, non-thought, and simply being in that space, now, are what yoga is all about.

After class, the teacher told me I had a good practice. She said it was good to watch me.

I have new movement now: that of confidence, recognition, gratitude. My goal of one day doing yoga teacher training in India, of being a yoga instructor myself, seems to have that extra iota of validation that of late it (and I) was lacking.

Tomorrow, I am moving in another way. I am returning to the landscape I love so deeply, the red rocks and brilliant sky and wind-tousled pines of southern Utah.

In addition to excitement and curiosity, I feel trepidation, dread, and sadness at this movement. I see my pattern. Escape. Movement. Reaching toward something, and perhaps running from something else (what, I have yet to decipher).

Fear grips me and sends forth a volume of tears, some of which I attempted to stifle during practice tonight. During the movement of yoga tonight, I cried. The tears were for me, for this place, for confusion, for lack, for love, for loss. This place has been good to me, it has been challenging, it has been hard, it has been unexpected. It has grown on me. Am I giving up on it too soon, yet again? Or am I simply returning to what my heart knows is my deepest truth?

During the movement of yoga tonight, I also had an epiphany. I can always come back. I can dance with movement this summer, with abandon, and enjoy every second of every day (or least make my best effort). I can walk in the land I love, and marvel at its unending beauty, its ruggedness, its deep simplicity. I can be in the moment, and I can stick to it and realize it.

There is a freedom in movement, after all. As there also is in staying still. The latter of which may still be the lesson I most need to learn.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

sand canyon journey

I went with a friend to Sand Canyon a few weeks back. What a beautiful, remote, quiet, immense place! Lots of history there, most of it now blown away into sand and dust.

We saw relatively few other people there, and there was thankfully NO SNOW! (After a winter like this last one, you must forgive me if I rejoice particularly so at the coming of the spring. Of course, just as I write this, the clouds are dropping a slushy rain/snow.)

We explored, challenged ourselves on slight grades of slickrock to navigate, and imagined what it was like to live here, centuries ago.

Take a look and see what you think yourself.

What do your sacred, loved, or even merely once visited but never forgotten places look like?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) budget cuts

Just found out about this proposed cut (thanks, Bush admin.):

President Bush Eliminates Funding for Reading Is Fundamental’s Historic Book Distribution Program Serving 4.6 Million Children
Statement from Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO, of Reading Is Fundamental

"President Bush’s proposed budget calling for the elimination of Reading Is Fundamental’s (RIF) Inexpensive Book Distribution program would be devastating to the 4.6 million children and their families who receive free books and reading encouragement from RIF programs at nearly 20,000 locations throughout the U.S.

“Unless Congress reinstates $26 million in funding for this program, RIF will not be able to distribute 16 million books annually to the nation’s youngest and most at-risk children. RIF programs in schools, childcare centers, migrant programs, military bases, and other locations serve children from low-income families, children with disabilities, foster and homeless children, and children without access to libraries. The Inexpensive Book Distribution program is authorized under the Elementary & Secondary Education Act (SEC.5451 Inexpensive Book Distribution Program for Reading Motivation) and is not funded through earmarks. It has been funded by Congress and six Administrations without interruption since 1975.

“Since its founding in 1966, RIF’s programs have played an important role in improving literacy in this country. The U.S. Department of Education has shown that the number of books in a child’s home is a significant predictor of academic achievement. In addition, RIF programs also support academic achievement by involving hundreds of thousands of volunteers and other caring adults in encouraging children to read for fun. We urge all Americans to contact their Congressional representatives and ask them to reinstate funding for this important program.”

Go to their website to read more and take action.

Obviously, as a writer and reader, I think this is tremendously important! I hope you do too.

writing at home vs. writing in public

Okay, I've mentioned this before, but it bears noting again, probably because I'm currently at a coffeehouse and am SO distracted by the music, the people, and the generally fascinating things about the world that I am not writing. I am , however, cruising my favorite sites on the Internet, naturellement.

Writing in the privacy of one's home can be terribly distracting as well, of course. The books...the TV...the radio...the neighbors...the family...the roommates...the pets...the backyard...the underwear drawer that just must be cleaned out. Immediately. And everything else that we love about our homes! I distract myself quite well at home, I freely admit. But I am having the hardest time right now, out here at a Durango Joe's, waiting for my truck to finish up her appointment at the car doctor. I had high hopes for myself today. Copy due tomorrow, which I had only barely begun and planned on doing a brainstorming session on here, which usually works for me very well, being one of those brilliant-but-stresses-under-deadline people. However, my very sweet "handler" (as I call her, lol--she manages the freelancers) emailed me earlier to tell me their office is closed tomorrow for Good Friday and my copy is not due till Monday. So now I don't even have that pressure available for me to write right now! I also have self-imposed deadlines/reminders, as well as a network of family and friends reminding me, on my personal writing.

What is it about deadlines, self-imposed and otherwise? How does the human brain work that way? Why can't I hold myself to my own deadlines and my own plans sometimes (um, most of the time)?


What about you? Writing at home: bane or blessing? Writing elsewhere: perfection or horror? And how do you deal with deadlines? (Or how do they deal with you, heh heh heh.)

Inquiring and mildly despairing writers want to know! Okay, back I go to...well, to be honest, surfing the web. Help me.....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

land rape updates

I know that's an eye-grabbing and potentially shocking post title. But it's true. There are many, many people out there who rape the land we live on. lists one meaning of the word as "4. an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation: the rape of the countryside." That about sums it up. Thankfully, there are also many, many people out there who are working to save the land we call home (i.e., our entire planet, folks).

My beloved red rock country has been undergoing violations for years. I've witnessed much of it over the time I've called it home. Two recent developments (not so recent, actually) are, firstly, the Utah resource management plans (RMPs) being sussed out by the BLM. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) has great articles and actions you can take to get informed and help. They've also teamed up with one of my favorite artists, Greg Brown, to provide a limited edition CD you can get for a $50 donation to SUWA. Pretty cool.

At any rate, seems our current D.C. administration is rushing to get certain things thrown back to earlier, less-informed eras--such as overturning Clinton's 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule. See this link for a cool timeline chart too, in pdf. The BLM (Bureau of Livestock & Mining, as it's very sarcastically yet quite accurately been called) likes to muck things up, as any good government agency does, to confuse us all on the matters at hand. Here's a not-so-funny quote that just sums everything up:

What Is a BLM Roadless Area in Utah?
Let’s start with this: The term “BLM roadless area” is a SUWA creation. The agency, opting for confusion over clarity, uses its own unwieldy construction:“non-Wilderness Study Area lands with wilderness character.”


Horrifying, no?

The second piece of news of note: Another coal-fired power plant, proposed in Sigurd, Utah, which is near Wayne County, home of the gorgeous photo on this site. There are hearings on it happening this coming week, and concerned citizens will be commenting. You can see more about this here, and here (this one has the original documents about it from 2004, in pdf format), and here.

Sometimes it's just depressing. But that's part of why I write about this land, and will be writing more and more over the years. It takes writers/agitators like Ed Abbey, and individual citizens who care, and public awareness, and a feeling of community and connection with everything and everyone in order to create positive change and to truly recognize what we all are doing. I mean, if we don't give a damn, who will? Our mutant little descendants, crawling around in the rubble we've left of this planet, cursing us with their every gasping breath in the foul air?

Let's not let it get to that, eh? I know there are doubters and naysayers (the eyes-shut-tight crew, as I think of them) who complacently believe everything will go on as it always has. I disagree. Love this place? Then do something about it, even if it's a little tiny thing like writing a blog that not many people read! What do you think?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

the endless fount of ideas

Interesting little tidbit I noticed on this morning about a writer who parlayed an article in a NY Times column into a book deal, which also became a movie deal and just a big deal overall. She wrote about how animal training can help with love training, or finding, or something like that. (The article is from 2006.)

The most interesting part of this story to me (well, the literary fame and fortune are pretty cool too) is how she positively plumbed the depths of the Modern Love column in the Times, to the point of manually counting the words in several of the articles. She did her research. And it paid off. In spades. And her idea came from a previous book she'd written called Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched, about people at an exotic animal training school. Bit of a leap, no? But a fascinating example of how to find and breathe life into ideas. It certainly made my head start to whirl with all the possibilities that I can wrestle out of the primordial stew of ideas and plunk onto paper (screen).

Where do your ideas come from? How do you string them together, make connections? Most importantly, I suppose, what do you do when the ideas seem to dry up?

Okay, enough expounding. Time for me to go find my ideas and drag them into the light...