A lifetime ago
laughing, talking on the trails
little did we know
A lifetime ago
A lifetime ago
laughing, talking on the trails
little did we know
Your mileage may vary, but today I find this perspective quite comforting:
Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people. ~ Carl Sagan
This morning I woke planning to run on the trails. Then I looked out the window and saw tree branches bouncing in the wind. Instead, I opted to hoop inside.
I haven’t hoop-danced in quite a while. I’ve attempted it a few times over the past months, but couldn’t summon enough oomph. This whole pandemic situation and the blatant desertion of working people by the political elite of both parties is exhausting. And infuriating, rage-inducing, horrific, etc. And did I mention exhausting? No dancing for this one.
Until this morning. People, I hoop-danced for 25 minutes and pretty much grinned the whole time!
Take that, you soulless ghouls. I refuse to be broken.
If you look closely
over and underexposed
but also detailed
Three years ago today, I arrived in Amsterdam. I was jetlagged and foggy in the head, but still remember the lift I got from the mounds of tulips blooming in a nearby park.
Such exuberant flowers, unruly in their passionate display. We should all live so boldly.
Glanced out my kitchen window and saw this guy using his quarantine time to acquire (or maybe, improve upon) a skill. It was great fun watching him.
I never popped a wheelie, but did grow up riding a hand-me-down bike with pedal brakes (which involved rotating the pedals in reverse), and by the time it’d passed through three older siblings and gotten to me, the brake action was practically non-existent. Riding downhill was always an “exhilarating” experience.
While this guy did wobble a few times in the cul-de-sac, he never laid it out flat the way I did with my bike once when stomping on the “brakes” as I went around a sand-covered curve at the bottom of our hill. I can still feel the burn of that road rash.
Fortunately, no gravel in this daredevil’s knees and palms.
It feels particularly cruel to lose a man of such empathy and wit right now. If there’s one thing the world needs more of, it’s people sensitive to the struggles of others. John Prine left us a catalog of songs that illustrate a deep understanding of people’s inner lives and the moments that often go unremarked. He was a treasure.
In the fall of 2002, President George W. Bush was beating the war drums (with the enthusiastic help of Democrats like Senator Joe Biden) in preparation for invading Iraq. During those months, I played “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore” an awful lot. It was my way of maintaining equilibrium during those days of flag-based jingoism. Because, no exaggeration, flags and flag decals were EVERYWHERE. My family attended anti-war rallies in Denver during that fall and spring of 2003, and I helped the boys make signs that expressed their sentiments. Here’s Zebu in the middle, holding his sign.
That sign was always a big hit at rallies because, once again, John Prine had nailed it.
Well, the U.S. ignored the millions of us around the world who over and over took to the streets to say NO WAR ON IRAQ, and invaded in March 2003 (with Senator Bernie Sanders voting against invasion and occupation). John Prine died on April 7, 2020, and minutes after I’d finally dragged my sad self out of bed this morning, I learned Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign.
Today is an especially hard day on the planet. Think I’ll put “In Spite of Ourselves” on repeat and sit in the sun.
When I was in first grade, my teacher sent a note home to my parents. Mrs. B was concerned I wasn’t taking time to color within the lines and included a worksheet as an example. I’d filled in whatever blanks were there with the correct words and then scribbled with crayons across each of the pictures I was supposed to color.
Maybe my fine motor skills weren’t that well-developed. Or, perhaps I’d already caught on to the busy-work aspect of school. Either way, I wasn’t interested in coloring inside the lines.
My attitude has changed. Today, I’m sitting in my self-isolating bedroom (upright in a chair, rather than in bed), and just finished this Sea Dragon picture from the coloring book I bought months ago. This time around, I found it very soothing to focus on staying within the lines. No time for anxiety while trying to follow the complex paths of green foliage! I suspect I’ll be coloring more pictures in the days to come. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend.
Outside my window it’s cold, wet, and gray. So right now I’m focusing on bright memories, such as a hike last July with my pal, Laura. It was a beautiful day at Centennial Cone Park and the wildflowers were out in all their glory. Here’s one:
(Confession: I just spent 15 minutes trying to identify this alien-like flower with it’s two budding tentacles, and still have no idea what I’m looking at. But I guess all that matters is the cheery yellow perked me right up. Take that, January drear!)
Thank you, stranger. And welcome to Earth.
Wildebeest made this paper mache sculpture in elementary school and it sat in our storage room for years. I finally cleaned out said storage room this summer and took a photo before disposing of the body. I texted the photo to Wildebeest.
Me: Cleaning out storage room. Saying goodbye to your pirate!
Wildebeest: That’s just horrifying.
Me: The pirate? Or saying goodbye?
Wildebeest: The pirate. Get rid of it ASAP.
Now I’m kinda wishing the sad, old pirate was around to commiserate. I think he’d understand.
Today is Wildebeest’s birthday (which he shares with his cousin…Happy Birthday again, James!) I haven’t yet talked with Wildebeest today because he’s out doing fun stuff with his camera and friends. But here he was 20 years ago, making a wish before blowing out the candles.
I don’t know whether that particular wish came true, but I do know that today my son is happy and healthy, which means my wish came true.
Happy happy birthday, Wildebeest!
Today I finally, finally cleaned out our storage room. It’s been on my radar for years, but every time I went in to start I’d immediately feel overwhelmed and quit. A huge part of my problem is that it’s SO HARD for me to get rid of perfectly good stuff.
For example, what was in that box from 1996? The label read “Scratch paper.”
An entire box filled with various types of paper: loose-leaf notebook paper, stationary, index cards, note pads, scratch pads, the LOST DOG flyers we made for a friend’s dog who disappeared on our watch, old lesson plans, brand new folders, labels, classroom handouts, etc.
I’d never been able to get rid of it because every time I peeked inside that box I thought about the woman who taught in the room next to mine telling me about traveling to another country where paper was so precious people would smooth out envelopes that arrived in the mail and write letters on the insides. How could I recycle all that perfectly good paper?
Well, today I got tough. Probably not as tough as I should’ve been (because I kept about one-quarter of the paper), but it was a fine start.
I’m in the process of deleting gazillions of emails from an old account and just came across this photo. I’d forwarded it after taking the pic with my phone. It’s not a great photo, but it reminds me of the anticipation I felt as we arrived in Stockholm.
The next day we’d be seeing son Zebu who was studying at Uppsala. Oh, happy day!
Milkweed plants conjure up many childhood memories. Striped caterpillars with black antennae. Green chrysalises. Monarch Butterflies. Sticky “milk” on my fingers. Splitting open pods to reveal the silky seeds. Throwing said pods at my brothers.
I was so happy to spot this plant and only wish a Monarch Butterfly had also been present to complete the tableau.
I wore this shirt while camping this week. Its message is just as timely today as it was when I bought it during war criminal George W. Bush’s presidency.
The back reads:
What is the Downing Street Memo?
On May 1, 2005, The Times of London published a July 2002 memo from the head of British intelligence, who had just returned from Washington, to Prime Minister Tony Blair. Written seven months before the war in Iraq began, the memo says that President Bush, contrary to what he told the American people, had already decided to go to war and, even worse, that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Meaning, the Bush administration was intentionally fabricatinng evidence linking Saddam to WMD and terrorism in order to trick the American people and Congress into going to war.
The more things change the more they stay the same. The greedheads/warmongers of the military industrial complex can’t ever get enough.
I just came across this photo of a young Wildebeest that was trimmed by my mother-in-law. I mean, this has to be her doing. I’ve never had the patience for such intricate scissors-work. I must admit, though, that bib on his head is the perfect framing device for his cherubic face, so good on her!
I smile each and every time I look at my son’s expression.
When I lived in Alaska I went to Denali National Park a number of times. You can ride one of the old school buses through the entire park (80+ miles) to the end point which is Wonder Lake. The vistas are magnificent and there’s lots of wildlife to be seen along the way. Moose and Dall’s sheep, maybe a lone wolf galloping along or a brown bear with a cub or two. Ground squirrels and scolding marmots. One of my first rides on the bumpy dirt road was in the company of another visitor who became quite animated at the sight of some moose. There was also a group of park workers on the bus and one of them scoffed at the visitor’s excitement and said something like “You’ve seen one moose, you’ve seen them all.”
I remember feeling bad for that worker and hoping I’d never become bored by what I saw. And so it was in that spirit that I photographed these two squirrels in Kapok Park earlier this month.
I watched in delight as they chased each other around a tree trunk before jumping to the ground where they began to forage. There are certainly more “exotic” creatures in the park such as alligators and anhingas, but these feisty squirrels also caught my attention.
I hereby declare “mundane” be reserved for chores like dirty dishes and suggest that squirrels be viewed as Great Fun! Who’s with me?
And yet, when I came across this forgotten selfie on my phone I immediately fell in love with it. Because the photo took me back to where it was taken: on our Rustler’s Gulch hike in Crested Butte last July. Zippy and I’d climbed the trail at the end of the valley to sit on a huge outcropping to eat our lunch. Everywhere we looked was absolutely glorious. Up, down, side to side. Blue sky, fluffy clouds, wildflowers, stream, trees, mountains. Nature at her very best.
But this selfie isn’t just a reminder of the natural splendor we witnessed on that hike. Our expressions are also documentation of how very happy Zippy and I were that day. The poorly framed image and those nostrils only add to the good memories.
I unearthed this document while cleaning out a drawer. I’m the “T” and Wildebeest is the “F” in this exchange from his elementary school years. (In case you can’t read my scrawl):
T: For someone who didn’t want to go to the Lakewood Heritage Center, it sounds like you had a swell time.
F: (nodding vigorously) I got cheered up after the front of the bus caught fire.
Late this afternoon I crawled back in bed. Despite the fact that I’d taken a brisk 2-mile walk around the neighborhood, I was sad and depressed. I slept for a bit, but when I woke I still felt blue-blue-blue. I decided I’d stay in bed until tomorrow morning. Screw this almost-last-day-of-December. I’d had enough.
And then I remembered Wildebeest’s car. I’d borrowed it last night and discovered the floors behind the front seats were filled with trash. Receipts, wrappers, water bottles, etc. As I huddled under my covers I thought about that finite amount of stuff in his car. I could do something about that! I would see instant results! I got out of bed, put on clothes, and went outside with a garbage can plus a bag for recyclables.
As I unearthed layers of stuff from the floor I came upon what appeared to be a whole lot of bird seed. That’s odd, I thought as I continued excavating. Wildebeest doesn’t share my bird love. Why would he be feeding birds? Then I reached under the seat and pulled out a flattened box. Rice A Roni. In fact, I eventually found two destroyed boxes of Rice A Roni in his car. But the real treat (not to be confused with the ♪ Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat ♫ ) was a clump of fossilized dog poop that’d clearly come off a friend’s shoes as said friend rode in the back seat. (You’re probably thinking I’m rude for publicly calling out my son’s slovenly habits, but he came by them honestly. When I was his age I was a smoker who wasn’t good about emptying the ash tray in my car and sometimes the filled-to-capacity ashtray would start smoldering when I put out another butt in the gigantic pile of butts. I know, I know.)
Wildebeest’s car was a dumpster on wheels. Oddly enough, I was quite content as I cleaned and vacuumed the interior and then wiped down the dashboard. Instant results, baby. Tangible progress. A job well done.
I’m pleased to report my blues are gone for the time being and that I’m not getting back in bed for a good long while. Wildebeest’s mess + my unorthodoxy = WIN.