Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Aloha, Sayonara, Arrivederci, Bon Voyage, See Ya...

Northern Idaho

I'm leaving tomorrow morning on my holiday. After heading north to my sister's to drop off the dogs, I'll be winging my way to Spokane, then a two-hour drive into the wilds of northern Idaho to spend several days with the BFF.

When I talked to her on Sunday, she'd already planned a six-mile hike up to a fire lookout that apparently has an incredible view of wilderness, lakes and mountains; close enough we can also wave to our Canadian neighbors.  And there will be bears.

We will talk and laugh and drink Glenlivet and reminisce about the good ol' days in Seattle and get maudlin about the passage of time.  Then we'll laugh some more and be thankful we've had each other through the thick and thin of our adult lives.

So, I'll be off the grid until sometime next weekend.  I've decided to take my Kindle--for the books--and my cell--for the bears--but for the most part it will be just the two of us, my camera and days of back-of-beyond freedom.  I can hardly wait for the adventure to begin.

Catch you on the flip side, peeps....

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Stocks and Scars

108 degrees yesterday, the humidity about ten times higher; 92* when I went to bed last night. Needless to say, very little sleep, between the sweating and the panting--that would be dog panting, I was more into whimpering as I tried to imagine the moment when this Hell is over and cooler days arrive.  It's like trying to imagine what it would be like to have wings, or walk on water.  Great in theory, but will never happen.


As I'm leaving on Thursday to head north on the first leg of my mini-holiday, I've had lots of chores and things to do this week.  I knew today was going to be the worst as I had appointments and several errands to run all over town, so I got up really early, not only because of my schedule, but also for the dogs to have a good walk at the park without collapsing from heat stroke.

So, we're about halfway around, lots of trees for shade and near the river.  The boys are off-leash as there is no one else on the trail, or even in sight. Ozzy is on one side of the path, Max on the other when I hear this rushing sound behind me.  I turn just as two moron idiot asshat cyclers come barreling around the curve.  This is not the bike path, that's on the other side of the complex.  The boys and I are on the walking trail.  I shout at the boys to "stay" then stand in the middle of the path to slow down the moron idiot asshat couple--a man and woman--who apparently feel it's perfectly fine to rip along as if they're training for the Tour de France.  They don't brake, but they do ease back slightly on their pedaling and weave around me.

Thankfully, when I growl "stay" in the tone of an irate Kodiak bear, the boys freeze like popsicles and the couple blaze through us without incident.  I wanted to throw rocks at them.

Still.  No casualties or altercations--though I was sorely tempted to point out they were totally in the wrong area of the park.

I turn back to continue walking, release the popsicle dogs, contemplate the crass disregard the couple have shown...and promptly trip over the hump of a tree root in the asphalt.

[Aside: There are several very old, very large trees along this part of the walk.  Their roots have burrowed under the path and buckled it in many places]

I try to keep my balance, but the root is a big one with a long split down the middle of the asphalt which catches the side of my shoe just when I think I've saved myself.  I land on my right knee and skid on my palms until I'm laying flat out on the path.

Suddenly, I am six years old.  I feel the burn in my hands, know my knee is cut, want to scream for my mommy.  Max dashes up, sticks his nose in my face--I guess to make sure I'm not dead--then wanders off to sniff the tall grass under the tree that has tripped me up; Ozzy doesn't even bother to look in my direction.

I roll over and sit up.  The blood is already running down my right palm, the skin is shredded, there are bits of gravel and dirt embedded and it stings like a million bees. The left palm isn't so was easier to pull out the debris and it wasn't bleeding too much.

My knee, however, is a mess. I spent most of my childhood with Band-Aids on my knees. Seriously. Back in the day, my mother should have bought stock in the company. I think the layer of skin might be thinner than normal from all the times I scraped both knees raw in accidents and mayhem.  Right now I have a two-inch gash in my knee that is bleeding profusely.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Throw in some camels and a few sheep.  And a donkey. Ow ow ow ow.

I get up and hobble back to the car, blood dripping off my fingers, and snaking down my knee into my right shoe.  I dig out some bandages from the first aid kit and gingerly grip the steering wheel to drive home.

There's just enough time to doctor my wounds before I have to head back down the mountain for the appointments and errands.  Once everything was cleaned and bandaged, I felt better, though now the right palm stings like crazy every time I wash my hands.  And my poor, ol' knee? It's already bruising around the gash and a bit swollen, and hurts in a dull, achy oh-yeah-I-remember-this kind of way.

Whilst driving around town, groaning as I got in and out of the car, I couldn't help pondering the vagaries of Fate.  What if I hadn't gone walking so early? What if those moron idiot asshat people had stayed on the real bike path?  What if I'd been looking at my feet instead of glaring at the bikers?

Thing is, there's nothing more senseless than asking what if.  And I've got the scars to prove it...

Monday, August 11, 2014

I'll Take What I Can Get...

Yesterday.  Clear skies.  Supermoon.  Camera ready.

I'm out back watering the garden, thoughts meandering, settling on nothing in particular. The sun has set by the time I'm rolling up the hose, the air colored with shades of pink and orange and yellow, across the valley the mountains are turning blue and purple in the gathering dark.

Here, let me show you...

I'm taking some photos, thinking how lovely the colors are against the clouds from the setting sun...



Shit!  Clouds!!

No no no.  There haven't been clouds for days and now they show up when there's a Supermoon rising?

About every half hour or so I went outside, hoping the clouds would break, but the most I managed to see was an occasional indistinct glow.  I was really disappointed, though somewhat sort of not really consoled myself with the half moon shot I took last week.

Later, close to midnight, as I was walking across the dark living room on my way to bed, this silvery beam of light suddenly crossed my path from one of the skylights.

I hurried out to the front deck with my camera, but damn the moon was already hidden. Still, the ethereal glow from the clouds was beautiful and I stood there for a bit admiring the monochrome effect in a world usually filled with color. Then, just as I was turning to go back into the house, the moon graced me with this--in a perfect, brief moment--before disappearing into a dark band of clouds.

So, I might not have been able to howl at the moon, dance in the moonlight or get the photograph I wanted.  But I did get an unexpected moon blessing, and that totally works for me...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moon Magic

Tonight is the Supermoon, the biggest moon of the year.  Last week I took this shot of the half moon, mainly because it seems every time I want to capture something celestial, the clouds appear out of nowhere and ruin the view, though perhaps not tonight since it's been clear and hot all day. The Perseid meteor showers begin as well, so I'll pretty much be spending most of my evening outside. Living on a mountain with no lights or neighbors has its perks, for sure.

In pagan lore, standing in the glow of a full moon, three months in a row, while imagining true love...will bring it into your life. This would be a perfect moon to start such a enchantment. Throw your arms wide, lift your face to the night sky, and open yourself to the possibilities, dear readers.

The sun bakes and burns, a merciless but necessary evil, but the moon...ah, the moon. Soft, gentle, empowering. And always beguiling...

Friday, August 8, 2014


Back in the days when I sailed the South Pacific, I spent some time in the doldrums, that bizarre confluence between north and south where nothing moves, nothing happens and as you wait for escape, you begin to question not only your sanity, but reality itself.

In college whilst studying the English Master Poets, I fell under the spell of Coleridge--specifically The Rime of the Ancient Mariner--though in an abstract way because at that point in my life, I didn't have any experience with the deep and endless ocean.

Until a few years later...and his words held more meaning than I ever could have imagined:

All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon,
'Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, no breath no motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean

I wonder sometimes, looking back at that twenty-something girl, why I wasn't afraid, didn't think about what could be lurking in the becalmed nothingness of such a foreign seascape. Instead, I took the night watch. The loneliest, darkest watch, where specters came alive in the phosphorescence and strange echoes rolled across the flat, featureless water.  Oh how I loved the solitude, the quiet by myself.

Five nights of imaginings and ponderings under an immense bowl of stars arcing across the sky.  The Milky Way seemed close enough to touch, somehow more real than the teak deck under my bare feet.  I remember musing on my life--anticipation and dread in equal measure--as fanciful possibilities bloomed in my mind.  Some nights the overwhelming vastness of the sky and ocean made things feel surreal, otherworldly and disorienting; being human was meaningless in the grander scheme of the cosmos.

On the sixth day, early morning, a soft breeze began to whisper and by late afternoon we were once again on our way.  It was wonderful to feel the wind, to move, and though the rest of the crew was jubilant, I couldn't help feeling a bit sorry that the experience was over, my solitary vigils at an end.

This week I've been in the other doldrums, the mental ones.  I have felt motionless, no sign of a breeze to fill my sails.  I go about my chores, read books to escape the heavy weight of ennui, struggle to see the beauty in our world, not the ugliness of cruelty and despair. Mostly I fail.

While I was eating breakfast this morning, Ozzy started growling out one of the front windows. When I looked, there was a young buck, one I have seen before, though not this close. He's missing an antler on the right side and has scars on his flank, side and around his face. And he's always alone. None of the other deer will accept him, or tolerate him anywhere near them.

He's eating my lilies.  I usually go out on the deck and gently shoo the deer away, but I hesitate this morning, then decide he can eat what he wants.  He's already had a hard time of it, judging by his body, and rejection from the herd.  I took a few photos through the window, then left him to his breakfast.

As I watched him, I felt a slight shift in my mental doldrums, an imagined breath that just might grow strong enough to blow the stagnate air away, if I let it.  Being kind to the animals is a start, I suppose...

Monday, August 4, 2014

Chit Chat

All day yesterday the sky was a sickly yellowish-orange.  If malaria was a color, all feverish and diseased, the sun was that very color.  Everywhere it touched--car windshields, the streets, faces, plants and trees, my living room--it altered the natural color of things.  It wasn't until later in the evening when the pages of my book turned red that I realized what it was.

Sunlight through the smoke of forest fires.

As it set, the sun glowed a deep blood-red, burning through the thick layer of smoke like the Eye of Sauron.  I tried to take some photos, but when I downloaded them, they were creepy and distorted and not...right.

[Sometimes I think Stephen King should live on my mountain]


After dinner, the alien sun finally dropping behind the mountains, it was time to drag myself out to water the garden.  I had just a few chapters left in my book, it was hot, it was Sunday, and I didn't want to do it.  I actually whined out loud like a kid--"I don't waaaaannnntttt to...!!"

Then I had a small epiphany: I live alone (never mind the dogs), so who bloody cares if I water tonight or tomorrow morning?  If I want to shirk my responsibilities, well, then...I can.  I smiled, made myself another glass of iced tea and settled back down to read.

And here's why my mother was such a martinet and never let me or the sibs whine ourselves out of what needed to be done today, not tomorrow: You. Will. Pay.

I forgot I had stuff to do this morning.  It was a busy Monday with several errands, and after a grueling morning spent hopping in and out of the car in 100 degree heat, I got home, unloaded everything, fixed the boys their lunch...

...and had to water the garden in the scorching heat of high noon. Believe me, I realized the error of my whiny ways as the sweat dripped and my brain fried.


Lowe's was one of my stops, the only place in town that carries the micro-organisms that I feed my septic tank every month.  Another reason living in the city appeals, peeps. Because I live on a mountain, I have a septic--no easy just flush and forget it city sewer system for me--that must be kept happy or bad, bad things will happen.

[Seriously.  Stephen King]

Anyway.  I drive clear across town to buy two little boxes of septic joy and a new shrub for the front garden to replace one that died in last December's two-week freeze.  I found a really cool Ceanothus (California Lilac).  It has variegated leaves and will have white flowers that the butterflies will love...and it has a great name.

El Dorado...

As I was going out the garden center exit, I saw this amazing display of Foxgloves.  I love these exotic, colorful beauties but have never seen anything like these. Needless to say...

...I couldn't resist. I don't know where I'm going to plant this lovely thing--it will have to be somewhere in the back garden so the deer don't eat it--but for the moment, I'm just mesmerized by the stunning beauty and will worry about its new home later.

Friday, August 1, 2014

And So It Goes

There haven't been many good sunsets lately; clear skies are very boring. But last night really made up for it.

I was fine-tuning the latest installment of the serial when I glanced out the living room windows and saw the most incredible sight.  I grabbed the camera and went out to the middle of the road to get the widest shot I could between the trees...

I don't know when I've ever seen such illuminating bands of light.  It was like a scene out of a sci-fi film just before the aliens burst through the clouds...though even more beautiful because it was pure nature and not annihilating space vehicles.

I didn't go to bed until well after midnight, and as I was brushing my teeth--in the dark as I am wont to do--this sudden flash lit up the bathroom.  I straightened, toothbrush dripping, and wondered if I'd imagined it, or was possibly having some kind of medical emergency. When nothing happened, I went back to brushing, but the minute I bent over the sink, the room lit up again like an old-fashioned flashbulb had gone off.

I finished brushing--counted three more flashes--then decided to go out on the back deck to see if I could figure out what was going on.  It was hot, steamy, stars twinkling overhead.  And totally silent. No people, no mysterious fireworks, no explanation.  I was just going back in the house when the whole eastern sky lit up--for a nano-second--highlighting a bank of clouds on the horizon.  I waited for the growl of thunder...hoped for it because thunder means rain, right?  And doesn't thunder follow lightning?

Not always as it turns out.

The silence was eerie.

I stayed outside for a long time, watching heat lightning streak across the sky, the light show equal to any manic rock concert.  Except for the complete absence of sound.

Yesterday's sunset was a pretty spectacular way to close out July.  And a wild, dramatic lightning display seems an appropriate way for August to begin. We should be celebrating these last days of Summer, after all...