But today was glorious...and everyday that goes by, we edge towards the termination of the rainy season.
Friday, February 27, 2009
But today was glorious...and everyday that goes by, we edge towards the termination of the rainy season.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The red dog is our neighbor's: Teddy, the golden retriever.
I made the mistake the other day of taking the neighbor's dog along on our walk. Teddy isn't tied up and spends as much time around our homestead than his owners. That's fine...except for when I want to take my dog for a walk.
Angel, my dog, and I try to sneak away. But Teddy has nothing to do all day but wait for me to leave with Angel. And because Teddy is such a good dog (and a great best friend for Angel), I haven't the heart to make him stay behind. I tried to yell at him once, but felt just too mean.
So I take him with me, which makes me feel a little like I'm running a doggy day care.
Teddy belongs to the ultra-fundamentalist, vegetarian, home-schooling, "off the grid", Tribulation Waiting, Jesus Is Coming Soon, 7th Day Adventist family next door. They are strict vegetarians and Christian right wing fanatics. This sect takes seriously the prohibition of graven images. They haven't stopped by our place in months, after seeing all the Buddhas, Taras, St. Francis and Goddess statues we have adorning our yard.
The other day I gave Teddy (the neighbor's dog) a piece of ham. He looked at it, and didn't really know what to do with it. After some hesitancy, he remembered his doggy instincts and quickly wolfed it down. I guess in 7th Day Adventist households, even the dogs are vegetarians.
How was your walk today?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
No denying it: Spring is on the way.
I am back at the Solar Compound. I took my dog for a forty-five minute hike. Temperature about 50 degrees with a coldish wind. Everything is damp. Rain is in the forecast for at least the next week.
But the Narcissus's are blooming. It is warm enough that I was able to sleep under the open sided Addition last night; out of the one room Cabin (ceded to the women of the family).
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The warning sign said not to walk alone, or at dusk; I ignored it and did both. Everyone needs a sense of danger in their life now and then. People are driven to hysterics by mountain lion sightings. Nothing in our lives seems to stir up such primordial and irrational angst. We have more to fear from domestic dogs, bees, rattlesnakes, bugs, spiders and deer: all of whom actually kill more people every year in California than the beleaguered mountain lion.
Monday, February 23, 2009
A rainbow was present when I went into the library (photos to follow soon). Promise. After checking e-mail and discovering that my link to Walk Magazine was blocked (it hardly seems fair that they can link to you, and when you link back to them--they block you; must have been my grammar!)--I was actually a little disturbed and saddened by that. What didn't they like? My writing? Did they come to their senses? Or maybe they are frightened of the Riff Raff who might be reading this?
Fear not, Walk Magazine.
This, believe it or not, actually bummed me out. Walking along, I found A Turkey Vulture feather. I assume it was one, as there was a Vulture flying above, and it had that grayish color. A huge feather. My spouse tells me that Feathers are an indicator of Spirit. That changes the way I see feathers when I find them out walking. My magical thinking takes over and I look for the message.
My literary hero is Ed Abbey. Ed wanted to be reincarnated as a Turkey Vulture. I often think of Ed when seeing Turkey Vultures. In fact, I wrote about one such experience which you can find in an on-line discussion of my original article at Mother Earth News.
Keep writing. Don't let them block you. Keep walking. Don't let life stop you. Watch for rainbows and feathers! Be idiotically persistent in your endeavors!
Sunday, February 22, 2009
I couldn't figure out why so many folks from the UK keep dropping by. A little sleuth work led to a discovery: This little blog about taking a daily walk, found it's way onto the website of Britain's largest Walking Magazine.
What an honor! Thanks!
Now I know that the good people of Britain created this English language. I hope they will be tolerant of my obvious misuses of the same. My poor spelling. Incorrect grammar. Punctuation Mistakes! Comma splices and clumsy sentence structure. I do know that my High School English Literature Teacher would be proud! And amazed!
Rain here today. Actually, it is more of a deluge. Five inches in the last twenty four hours has made the Napa Valley a treacherous place to be. The roads are flooded. All the little creeks and streams are nearing the tops of their banks. Floods are possible.
So I headed, yet again, down to Trustfunder Central. Been spending way too much time there...but I find walking in torrential floods is best done around people. Safer. Less danger of a tree toppling over on you.
Misery loves human company.
Of course, I forgot to pack my rain slicker (I split my time between working in the Napa Valley and playing at my "off grid" solar mountain home). I ended the walk early as my feet were soggy, my clothes wet--and my disposition anything but sunny.
PS I add photos later when I return to my mountain home....
Saturday, February 21, 2009
So the walk was after work in Trustfunder Central: St. Helena. Driving down the hill to town I heard a disgusting song: "Country Boy" by Alan Jackson. It's been a downhill slide for songs named "Country Boy" since John Denver sang "Thank God I'm a Country Boy".
The Denver classic was about going back to the land. The new one by Mr. Jackson is about getting a girl, who is walking, into a four wheel drive Pickup Truck:
Excuse me ma'am, I saw you walkin'My affections remain with Seventies artists with Granny Glasses (John Denver never should have discovered contacts).
I turned around, I'm not a stalker
Where you goin? Maybe I can help ya
My tank is full, and I'd be obliged to take ya
I'm a country boy, I've got a 4 wheel drive
Pile in my bed, I can take ya for a ride
Up city streets, down country roads
I can get ya where you need to go
Cause I'm a country boy
Friday, February 20, 2009
I made the drive last night from my home "where the Sierra meets the Cascades" to where I work: the Napa Valley. 156 miles, or there abouts.
I took my walk right after work. No real goal in mind but to enjoy the warmth. Upper 60's. I've been looking for signs and symptoms of the economic downturn in the Napa Valley. I couldn't find any. The economic downturn hasn't affected the Richest of the Rich. They always land on their feet. Housing prices are still high. Wine prices haven't come down. Luxury cars are everywhere. None of the fancy boutiques have shuttered their doors, here in Trustfunder Central.
For the last thirty years the Rich have done quite well. They are taxed less than I am. If you live on a Trustfund, the money you withdraw is taxed less (much less!) than if you actually did something like (God forbid!) work a JOB for the money. Yes, that is true!
This offends me horribly (because I am not a Trustfunder)!
It's been quite the party for the wealthy since 1980 when everything changed. Why did that happen? I asked myself, as I walked.
Blame the Baby Boomers (of which I am on the tail end)! This is not a generation I am particularly fond of. They puff themselves up like they changed everything. Did they? And was it for the better?
Seems to me things got worse after the Baby Boomers entered the marketplace en mass. This generation has always been about maximizing it's own pleasure. So, of course, the tax laws and rates would change when this generation hit the workforce. They quickly bought into the "free market" and "lower tax rate" ideals.
They gave us Bill Clinton and George Bush. These guys will go down in history as the Baby Boomer Generation's Presidents. These guys certainly were not agents of change.
The Free Love generation, the generation of Woodstock and the Commune, didn't do anything for the poor and powerless in this country while at the height of their political and economic power. Nope, such ideals were left in the mud in New York.
Baby Boomers didn't end Imperial Wars. They didn't pass health care for all. They presided over thirty years of wealth transfer to the Rich. They made College unaffordable. They didn't relax any drug laws. They did nothing about raising CAFE standards; in fact, they bought the SUV's in horde. They didn't go Green. They abandoned Solar Power. They abandoned the ideas of having a Mass Movement to change society. They even raised the drinking age after they became parents!
After the volunteer Army was created, the Vietnam War ended, Nuclear Power was stopped and the Nuclear Freeze movement achieved some success--they just crawled in their Generational Cages and stopped caring. Am I wrong?
That is what I thought about in Trustfunder Central today.
How was your walk?
PS...photos will be added after I return to the Solar Compound next week.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Joni and I are both sad, as events have occurred that we may (yet again) find ourselves back in Court. For the past four years we have been raising Joni's Grandchildren. Essentially, we saved their lives from horrors that are too horrible to mention.
But every time we are vulnerable, we are hauled into Court for this and that. Seems that some Family members (who got a bill from the State for unpaid child support) think that living "off the grid", in a small structure--while you build an earth friendly house--is not good for kids. We beg to differ. But that is what the Courts must decide (yet again).
So I walked today with a troubled heart; walking is good for that. It gives perspective. A time to mull. And the brain processes things as you sway side to side. This bicameral brain action leads to creativity. Solutions. Perspective. Prayer.
I must now drive to Napa to earn a living.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
George and Paul recording "Here Comes The Sun":
And finally, the Sun hits our Solar Panels!
At long last a sunny walk! I couldn't get George Harrison out of my head. The soundtrack kept switching between the sprightly guitar in "Here Comes The Sun" to those wonderful booming guitars which lead up to "My Sweet Lord".
A George Harrison sort of walk...
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Along the way, I thought about a question Jackijo asks below. Of course, she chose to comment under the post for the ONE DAY I didn't walk at all! Geeesh! Since there have been a few more who have chosen to follow this Website lately, I thought a public response might be in order. And thanks to those who have chosen to follow along!
Anyway, Jackijo wrote (by the way, she has a most excellent website):
"I am intrigued by this blog. I have only started reading it. So what is the definition of a walk? How long does it have to be? Does each walk have to be different? I would like to do something like this."
Jackijo, I hope you don't mind if I turn your question into a public post.
When I started this blog, I did it in order to get ready for taking more hikes this spring and summer. Specifically, Half dome in Yosemite the first week of June. I knew that in my current shape (round and squishy), I would never make it up there. I challenged myself to take a walk everyday in preparation for this trip...and hopefully other hiking trips as well.
So what is the definition of a walk?
A walk is the time I take (intention) to move my legs in simultaneous motion without any other utility of such stated motion other than to give me time to be Allan. This means that walking at work, or to the battery shed or any other place doesn't count. This has to be my time; or my time to share with loved ones (most often of the Canine persuasion).
How long does it have to be?
I would like it to be at least thirty minutes long...or about the time it takes to watch a rerun of MASH. An hour is optimal. More is better. I would like to have at least one five or six hour hike a week--eventually (if it ever stops raining!).
The walk must be done outside. In the elements!
There might be times when I can't get out and walk (such as the post that Jackijo commented on--gosh darn her!). I at least want to think about walking during such rare times. In this case, it is the thought that counts!
Does each walk have to be different?
No. But variety certainly helps. And I want to have something new to write about once and awhile. But for the most part, I have a couple of "staple" wilderness routes that I take. H.D. Thoreau said (paraphrasing) that a lifetime of walks can be taken within twenty miles of a person's house.
I do hope others will join me on this endeavor. Walking is the activity that makes us Human. Walking upright allowed our brains to develop the way they have. And walking is the one aerobic sport that can be done half tanked on Beer!
Monday, February 16, 2009
You can't see it in this photo. You can't hear it over the net. But the winds and the trees combined to make a blustery, frightening, sodden and awful sound today. Something I haven't heard for quite some time.
It is a sound that makes you fear for your life; yet, you don't care. Pregnant. You wait for the crack of the tree branch (widow maker) that falls to Earth only to take your life. A sound of expectation. Trial. But also a beautiful sound.
I stop walking and listen. Some equate wind, breath and Spirit. I agree....
Sunday, February 15, 2009
We are in the midst of a big storm. The Sierra is impassable. Climb 1,000 feet above our Homestead and you will find a foot of snow. Six feet expected in the higher elevations.
We are just experiencing some much needed rain. And mud. We have had day after day of it; others are more tolerant of this sticky, cold, goozywoozy wet stuff--I just want to scream! Move to Tuscon!
If I had a woodstove (I don't), I'd sit in front of it and watch the fire; if the Addition was done (it isn't), I'd sit in our family room and look out the two picture windows at the howling elements; If I had a big screen LCD TV (I don't) , I'd sit in front of it with a bowl of popcorn, safe, warm and content.
So instead I took my wet walk, with my wet dog and will now light the oven (which serves as a heater for this cramped cabin) and hope that Joni makes that Apple Crisp she was talking about making. Probably watch the travel channel--hoping to find features on warm, dry desert locations.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Drove back from the Napa Valley last night. Traffic was slow, and I got up to the homestead late. And in a snowstorm.
All the snow quickly melts the next morning.
A few of the neighbors are burning their sticks, bushes and other organic materials. Everybody burns up here. The farmers in the valley burn their organic materials too. All this burning makes me uncomfortable. My neighbors would argue they are reducing fuels for the next fire season. But to me, it just seems like a waste of carbon. And we waste enough carbon.
Better to bury it. Chip it. Mulch it. Don't burn it.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
"Jesus ordered them to take nothing for their journey but their Staff "(walking stick). From the Gospel of Mark 6:7.
I dreamed of Walking Sticks last night.
I have a favorite. It is pictured above. It is Manzanita...which is a very hard wood. It resists Angel's chewing and has a reddish tone to it. The second photo is a collection of sticks we have gathered from the property. I have plenty to share.
In the Gospels, Jesus seems to be of two minds about Walking Sticks. In the Gospel of Mark, he commands his followers to carry one. In other Gospels he states to journey without a Walking Stick. Some have said that this is part Jesus's Mission of non-violence. To not carry a Walking Stick in the countryside of Galilee was a radical act of non-violence.
Personally, I think He used a Walking Stick (but was still non-violent).
I use one for a number of reasons. First off, there are the wild critters. A couple of summers ago I had the misfortune of stepping on a Rattlesnake (he didn't like that). He didn't strike me; he just bolted away directly at Joni. Joni danced out of the Rattler's way (I must say that she shrieked!). I never knew Rattlers could rattle their tails while not being coiled and slithering away at a rapid clip. Ever since then, I carry a Walking Stick as a way to redirect any Rattlesnakes I encounter.
I also find the Walking Stick to be helpful for propelling my ample self up hills. Give those legs a little upper body assistance while climbing! And where ever I go out here, when you live on a Ridge, going up and down hills is inevitable. Which makes a good argument for Walkers to move to the flat lands of Kansas. Or Nebraska.
A Tripod is more stable than a Biped. Simple physics. Call it a human body design flaw (with apologies to the "Intelligent Design" folks). I am less apt to fall while hanging on to my Walking Stick. It catches me when I trip, or am clumsy. Seems the older I get, I'm less resilient to gravity and falls. I've fractured both arms, a toe and a rib in the last five years.
How was your walk today?
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
I had to make up for the "15 second walk" yesterday. And I have lots to think about. So I took a long walk with my dog.
Walking is good for that: Thinking. Mulling. Stewing. Pondering. Considering. Contemplating. I consider myself semi-retired. The idea was to move up here and to take things slower. Enjoy life. Work part time in the Bay Area and enjoy this homestead. I love it! It seems to be working out!
But I read an advertisement for a Head Honcho, Mucky Muck hospital administrator job that sounded like a fit. The Ad was looking for something different. Someone who is creative and a risk taker. It sounded like me.
So I applied (although I am way under-qualified).
The past few weeks, I've been answering questions from this local, large hospital. Sending out avante-garde resume's. Writing radical hospitally stuff on applications.
I am now one of two candidates for the job. I have a whole day of interviews coming up the first week of March with this hospital. I'll interview with MD's; Staff; Nurse Managers, CEO's, Vice Presidents and the Director of Nursing.
I wasn't really planning on looking for a MuckyMuck job. My intention was to slow down. Take it easy. This application was just a fluke! I just spouted out some ideas like: "If you want to ruin a hospital, make sure you hire someone with a Masters Degree in Hospital Administration to run it!"
From radical ideas like that, I'm getting a look see to be in a very important position in one of the largest hospitals in northern California.
That is what I mulled over on my walk. Do I want this job? Is the universe leading me to this job (since I have no clue why they are interested in me, and I have no experience?). Should I wear blue jeans to the interview (No!)? Do I cut my hair (Yes!)? Where is my Tweed Jacket with the patches on the elbows?
It does feel good to be asked to interview. And to be one of two candidates they have narrowed it down to. The scary thing is: What if they offer the job to me? I have a good thing going right now.
I left work late (I've been filling in as a Social Worker, or as I call it: "A Socialist Social Worker", for the last week). That means my hours are more of the Banker variety. Nurses start early; social workers don't. When in Rome...
Monday, February 9, 2009
On days I don't want to walk, I give myself permission to just do a little bit. Today was cold. Rainy. Miserable. My throat remains scratchy (all of us at work have seemed to have picked up this bug that lasts forever). My lazy, lethargic, slothful demons work overtime to tempt me with doing nothing.
So on days like this, I give myself permission to do a little bit. A short walk. It is more important that I walk---rather than how far I walk
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Despite it being a glorious day with the temperature near 70 degrees F.--I just didn't want to take a walk. So I toughed it out by walking through the vineyard behind the library.
Why, on such a warm day, did I have no desire to walk? Was it work (which wasn't that rough)? Slothfulness? Laziness? My dance card was empty--no obligations to anyone or anything.
Just a stubborn refusal to walk.
"Just Do It"--- saith Nike (the company, not the god). OK. But not for long. Just a gentle stroll through the vineyard.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
A nice walk in Trustfunder Central: St. Helena. I started in a small park that has a walking path. The path leaves the park, and much to my surprise, passes through a pedestrian friendly development. A wonderful little hamlet, the cars are safely sequestered away, leaving cute little cottages with sidewalks and front porches. No cars allowed. In the middle of the development, a fairy circle of Redwoods comprises a small bit of public space. And at the top of the tallest Redwood: A hawk sitting, surveying the land.
The path leaves this surprising little gem of small houses and meanders here and there emptying out at a vineyard. A path through the vineyard (not advertised as such) dumps you out at the railroad tracks and the old depot.
From there I walk the tracks. I haven't done this since I was a kid: memories. I get lost in the nostalgia and walk as far as the tracks will take me. These are the tracks for the opulent Napa Wine Train. For a considerable amount of cash, you can ride this train and (of course!) drink wine and enjoy a gourmet meal. I've never done it. But I have walked the tracks now.
Note: Photos to follow when I return to the Solar Compound.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Today on my walk, I admired the colors of the Manzanita, which becomes even more fiery red when wet. Beautiful. This tree burns hot, in fact, folks tell me you shouldn't burn it in your woodstove. A dense, dense wood. Slow growing and well suited to this climate.
We ran across five or six Black Tailed Deer today. I was a bit concerned that Angel (my dog) would give chase to the next County. But she just gave them a perfunctory run, before turning, stopping and waiting for me (when I called her). A good dog. She was smiling as she waited for me. Excited about the new fauna we just encountered.
Some would say we shouldn't let dogs run. I agree. We certainly shouldn't let them run in packs, unescorted by human beings. Wildlife is harassed enough without having domesticated pets retreat to their Wolfey selves. In this instance it was no different than if I had surprised the deer. Angel just chased them long enough to give herself the thrill of the chase; she was looking to make friends (as always). And there is no traffic to chase the Deer into out here. No other hazards, other than the normal wild kind.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
A visit from another Nurse friend and his girlfriend led to a fine dinner on the barbecue. Ribs, baked potato and salad--combined with copious amounts of wine, led to a short walk tonight.
One of those walks where you walk just because you said you would do 365 walks in 365 days. But worth it. A fine moonlit night made the path manageable. Even fun. Might I say delightful?
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Something exciting in the air.
I stopped several times to just listen. And smell. And look. I can't put my finger (eyes? ears? nose?) on it, but something seemed different. Something I can't explain. Obviously, the dog's behavior was different. She was wild. Not timid. Certainly not overly concerned about where I was, or that she was misbehaving.
Could it be spring?
Monday, February 2, 2009
A friend of mine writes:
I've been walking occasionally - does the treadmill count?????
"Do treadmills count?
Why in the world would anyone want to be on one of those things? I've used one...but it just seems much too hamsterish. Everyone in their own little world; Ipods on--sort of like driving on the freeway in your own car, only walking.
I think that is how anti-social our society has become. We don't enjoy being together even when we workout together."
But I must be realistic. I've used gyms (and I was considerably thinner). There have been times when a Treadmill was easier on my knees. So I used it. Treadmills are great when the weather is not very inviting. And then there was the time I worked out next to a Hall of Fame Baseball Pitcher at the hospital I work at. He was on the Treadmill next to mine. When he was finished, he brought me a towel---which I saved.
I know there are times when it is too cold, rainy, snowy, blustery and yucky to be outside. And there is the social component of working out together. People watching.
Still, for walks I'd rather be outside. I've never spotted a Deer track from a George Jetsonian Treadmill. And I never looked good in spandex. Give me my walking stick and my hiking shorts. Give me fresh air and solitude.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
I've noticed a pattern. Sundays the Rednecks are out in force. Although they don't prefer to walk--they drive either ATV's or Pick up Trucks. Both can kill you.
In fact, it isn't the Mountain Lions or Rattlesnakes that scare me walking out here: it is the Redneck. Specifically, the intoxicated Redneck barreling along a country road at something approaching light speed. Brave from their liquored up breath, they show no regard for life or limb.
Sundays are their day. And just like Ed Abbey used to, they toss their beer cans and bottles on the road. You find them everywhere. I suppose they are worried about getting tagged with an "open bottle" violation.
But for these harbingers of motorized madness, the weekend means wilderness access. And not with their legs. Pick up trucks I can handle. The ATV's I find most obnoxious. As they drive past me, I notice that they always have a cooler strapped on (hence the beer cans in the most remote of spots) and also a Plastic Gas Can and quarts of oil. The only thing they take back home with them is the extra Gas Container. Should their ATV need oil, they add the quart---and leave the bottle for posterity on the side of the dirt road.
Rednecks can't be avoided in the rural areas. They are as numerous as Yuppies in the Financial District in San Francisco. Both sets of populations seem oblivious to the world around them. The Redneck with their hell bent desire to ride their vehicles everywhere; the Yuppie with their desire to out snob everyone.
Which group do you most trust, Rednecks or Yuppies?
Depends where I'm at: every good Redneck can fix almost anything (or attempt to); a Yuppie is more fun to talk to. But sometimes I wish the two populations would trade places. Let the Rednecks run our financial world (given the financial crises, I think they'd do a better job); let the Yuppies do the work of the Redneck: mechanic, welfare warrior, tree feller, welder, pot grower... etc etc.
It would be good for both populations...