Thursday, December 31, 2009

Walk #366?!: A Stellar Jay End...

Trust me. There is a Stellar Jay sitting on a branch of the Oak tree.

I go through life being a bit of an Anxious Mystic. Anxious--because I know I can be wrong, but a mystic none-the-less. Specifically, I tend towards a bit of Animism: the belief that animals, birds, rocks, trees and nature speaks to our mundane lives.

So it is fitting that I saw a Stellar Jay on the last walk of the year. They are significant to Joni and me--as it was a Stellar Jay (or Steller's Jay--but I prefer to rename the bird) that gave us our name.

On our first date.

I was living close to Moab, Utah--and had asked Joni to accompany me on a hike. We chose to go to a red rock canyon called: "the Devil's Kitchen". As we sat and enjoyed our talk and the canyon, I told Joni about how much I missed the Stellar Jays that used to visit my home in both Truckee, California and Reno, Nevada.

Stellar Jays are not desert birds; they prefer woods and mountains. You don't see them in the high desert.

As we ended our hike, a Stellar Jay was on our path. Having Animistic tendencies, I changed my name to Stellar; Joni and I married by the end of that year.

I saw the fore-mentioned Stellar Jay while hiking the Long Loop with my backpack on. A good year ending hike. A good decade ending hike.

I spent the morning re-reading some of this year's posts. I like them. January's posts are fun (although maybe a bit stilted). My favorite post is probably about the Medallion I found last July. We were in the midst of protecting Joni's Guardianship of the girls and it looked like all was lost. The Court's report had recommended that the girls be returned to their Father in Colorado. We disagreed, but didn't have much hope that the Judge wouldn't terminate the Guardianship.

And then I found the Medallion. Gave it to Joni. Here's to mysticism!

At the last minute, the girls' Father self-destructed (we figured his character wouldn't change--and hadn't changed) and the Guardianship was maintained.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Walk #365? The Girls' Choice...

Hiking up a smallish hill...

Wearing the backpack filled with books...

My hiking companions...

Kylie and Angel...

Kylie and Jazzie had a choice. Go to the laundromat with Joni? Or go on the Long Loop with me? They chose to go with me. Nice to have some company.

So this is (somehow?) my 365th Walk. A whole year of getting outside at least once a day. A whole year of reading the Holy Trinity of Walkers: Muir, Thoreau and Abbey. What to say about walking?

It is slow.
Boring at times.
Lonely (most of my walks were solitary).
Mostly too short.
Sometimes wet.
Sometimes spooky.
Rarely uphill.

Did I lose weight? Around 17 pounds...but mostly at the end while training for the upcoming ascent of Mount Durika. I did get to watch the seasons change. I learned the flowers (as Snyder advises us to do). I got to know my ridge well. I got to know my neighbors. I got harassed by a few landowners in the Napa Valley. I drank lots of wine. I saw a mountain lion! Eagles! Hawks! Owls! Turkey vultures! Squirrels!

I met a monk. Visited lots of wineries. Had plenty of burgers after walking. And I sat down most days to write about the adventure. Sure was fun!

My family adapted. They would ask: "When are you going to walk?". I modeled for them the art of getting outdoors. And they joined me. Like today.

As they say in was a very good year. One more day...

Walks # 362, #363. #364 Let Those Legs Rest...

Sorry about that.

When I am at work, I usually will duck into an empty office and type out these things. With a new grand pooh-pah at the hospital, eager to assert his dominion and make changes, I have decided that it is best not to give any manager a reason to get rid of yours truly. Personal use of a hospital computer is considered grounds for termination.

My legs were bone tired. So I only took three short walks over the last three days. One around St. Helena. Another around the grounds of the hospital. And a short one with Angel when I got back to our Foothills home last night.

Looks like my numbering is off a bit. Was this a leap year? I guess we will end the year with 366 Walks!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Walk #361: Sophie Alstrom Mitchell's House....

Sophie's house

I drove down to the Napa Valley yesterday. Worked today. After work, I headed down to St. Helena in order to walk the White Sulphur Springs road. I was looking for an uphill walk. I was delighted to discover that this walk, that I had remembered to be uphill, was actually quite easy for me to negotiate. Even with my backpack on (loaded with thirty pounds of books), this road was not as much uphill as I remembered. Good news.

Of course, this is the walk that passes through the grounds of what some call a "white collar cult". White Sulphur Springs is amongst one of the oldest resorts in California. In it's heyday, beginning in 1852, 1,000 wealthy San Franciscans would stay at the resort. Now it is home to what EST has evolved into: "The Hoffman Process". Six thousand bucks for a five day seminar promises to heal all your suburban angst.

Sophie Alstrom Mitchell lived at this resort in a simple house from 1862-1882. She was a watercolor artist regionally known for her paintings of local flowers. An interesting lady, when her first husband died in 1882, she took up with a local Presbyterian Minister--seventeen years her junior. Sophie's artwork is on permanent display at the Napa County Museum.

Stepped on the scale this morning here at the hospital. I'm down sixteen pounds. I have two weeks to lose fourteen more pounds, as my goal was to lose thirty pounds before heading off to Costa Rica. At the current rate of weight loss, I'll only lose twenty-two pounds before our scheduled ascent of Mt. Durika. Twenty-two pounds in forty-four days of training ain't bad. But thirty would be better.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Walk #360: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas Stroll

Christmas morning. Joni and I awaken to the brilliance of excited children. Nothing like opening presents at 7 am! It was an austere Christmas, as Joni and I have had a number of setbacks this last year. You would never know it from the glee that Jazmine and Kylie had for their mound of mostly simple presents. I remember reading Laua Ingalls Wilder, where she is incredibly happy about receiving an orange for Christmas. I was reminded of that when the girls opened their simple presents.

And a mystery present. Someone left us a couple boxes of groceries on our doorstep yesterday. We have no idea who? Or why?

I took a light Christmas morning stroll with Angel. Sore muscles from yesterday's endeavor. Humbled by the excitement these girls had over some very simple presents: A ten pack of gum; little do dads; trinkets. And a camera for Jazzy and an MP3 player for Kylie. You would have thought they won the lottery!

Simplicity is underrated. When we forget how to delight in the simple, we lose much of the wonder and imagination of life. Even the simple act of taking a walk with the dog can be finer than eating at the best Yuppie restaurant in the Napa Valley.

Keep it simple. The richest man is the man who has the fewest needs.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Walk #359: The Canyon With a Backpack

The Sutter Buttes in the distance with fog on the valley floor...

The downed Oak (the turnaround spot)..

Down the Canyon this morning. With book laden backpack. This is a steep hike--but not steep enough for handholds. Angel, my dog, didn't even want to come with me. Too early for her, I guess.

It is about a mile from my house to where the path plunges down the Canyon. You walk with a sense of doom, knowing that for every step down, you have to take a step back up. It is sort of like making the condemned to be executed to sharpen the knife of the guillotine.

I didn't go all the way to the bottom of the Canyon. I turned around 3/4 of the way down--where a fallen Oak blocks my path. Don't feel like crawling over it. Or under it.

I start back up. My goal is not to sit down; I do stop and pant now and then.

Let's check my pulse: 196!

196 beats per minute is about 20 beats over the maximum heart rate of what a man my age should ever do. Any coronary blockage or weakness in a coronary vessel--and I will be dead. Happily, I live. Those coronary guidelines are for other people. Not me. It takes me 20 minutes to grunt up the steepest parts of the Canyon.

At the top of the hill, I take the long way home--getting in one more very long hill. Compared with the canyon, the hills of my regular loop are easy.

This hike took me one hour and thirty-three minutes.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Walk #358: Sans Backpack

A quick walk with the dog. Short. Sans backpack. Nice not to be carrying forty pounds of books on my back.

I don't know if I will have the time to get another walk in today. Joni is setting up the Church for our Christmas Eve service. I am going bowling with the girls. And there is still the problem of buying a few Christmas presents.

As we get closer to the end of this year of walking, I wonder what difference it has made? What has changed due to this simple radical act of getting out and walking everyday? Did any thing change? Things to think about as we close out this year. The short answer is "yes". But I'll get to that later.

And I wonder if it has made any difference in those who drop by this blog (and thanks for stopping by!)? Did just the Author reap the benefits of a daily walk?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Walk #357: The Long Loop Again...

Joseph Krutch wrote:

"In nature, one never really sees a thing for the first time until one has seen it for the fiftieth".

So I did the Long Loop with book laden backpack one more time. Perhaps my fiftieth time? It took me 49 minutes and 35 seconds. That is two minutes faster than yesterday. Angel came along to provide comedy and companionship.

I thought about doing the Canyon, but I didn't feel real strong today.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Walk #356: Have Backpack, Will Travel...

In my favorite Ed Abbey essay, "A Walk in the Desert Hills", which is about a solo 110 mile hike through the desert in Arizona not knowing if there would be water along the way, Ed Abbey writes:

"Why do I do this sort of thing? I don't know. I've been doing this sort of thing for thirty-five years and still don't know why. It's not logical--it's pathological...."

I can relate.

I'm always looking to attempt the impossible. Build an addition out of straw and mud in two months? No problem. Survive the Sierra winter in a cabin close to Donner Summit--where nobody had attempted to do such? No problem. Walk across Wisconsin? No problem.

Never mind that a couple of these projects ended disastrously (and we shall see if I actually do complete this addition someday). I have more heart than common sense; more will than brains.

Ian was kind enough to e-mail a description of the Costa Rica hike. I read it briefly last night--ignoring the nasty bits. This morning Joni and I sat down and really read the description of the hike. It felt like my stomach dropped out of my body when I read about: "careful on the precarious bridges" and "handholds" and "cliffs" and the "green wall". The description doesn't mince words at just how dangerous and strenuous this ordeal will be. The hike starts at around 2,700 feet...and ends at over 10,000 feet---with two mountains to climb (it is silly to climb two, don't you think?). If I didn't feel led to do this hike (damned Jungian Synchronicity!), I would chuck the whole thing, open a bottle of wine and devour a plate of brownies.

Time to get real serious.

Raining today. So I put on the loaded pack and did the Long Loop. It took fifty-two minutes and twenty-five seconds. We intensify our efforts now. I might do the Long Loop a second time today.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Walk #355: Take It Easy...

I decided to take it easy today. Headed out on my walk, and all the neighbors stopped to talk. Bob the Libertarian stopped to chat. Then Art yelled hello--and wanted to show me the new wood stove he is putting in. Ended up just chatting for an hour with Art, my ER nurse neighbor.

An easy day today. Tomorrow we shall tackle the canyon with the pack.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Walk: #353 and #354: Progress!

Wearing the backpack loaded with books...not visible in this photo.

A travel day yesterday. Had to take care of some nursey things in the Napa Valley. When I got home last night, Jazmine looked at me and said: "You look different".

I told her I was wearing a new shirt.

She said: "No---You look smaller". I grinned.

I had already noticed that my pants were too baggy. And my belt is too big. I took a walk in the moonlight last night. Thankful.

This morning I dug out all my old clothes. A shirt that I couldn't button three weeks ago, fits fine now. I wear it as I type this. I've lost four inches on my waist line. I have a simple strategy: A glass of juice in the morning, one very small meal in the evening and a bowl of Cheerios before bed. No wine. No beer. Spartan as a Tibetan Monk.

Today I loaded up the backpack I will use with old nursing textbooks and various other hardcover books. Michael Pollan. Ed Abbey. Joni threw in a "Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom" on top of the pack (don't know why). I then headed out with Angel to do the Long Loop. Two hills on this walk. The first hill went fine; the second was tougher. It is a steep critter and at the top I felt the urge to heave (but only for a minute). All in all, it went great.

Tomorrow I shall attempt to tackle the Canyon with my backpack.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Walk #352: Hills!

Now that I've announced my intention (the CR trip) it is time to do the work. Angel and I ran the long loop. Then I cinched up my backpack and spent 1/2 hour walking up and down a couple of hills. I threw a few hardcover books into the backpack for weight. It is important to get used to carrying a backpack again. These legs are strong, but need to get stronger. And we only have 20 days or so to pull this off.

I am also restricting calories. We worry more as we get older. Gone are the youthful will-o-the-wisp days when getting ready for a trip meant grabbing your toothbrush.

Wish me luck...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Walk #351: Costa Rica

Okay. I have to get serious. I bought an airline ticket for San Jose, Costa Rica today. Ian (who is in great shape and writes in the comments) invited me to accompany him to a village in Costa Rica--and also to backpack for four days and climb a 10,000 foot mountain in a nature reserve there. We will have a Naturalist along with us. This will be in some very primitive country that doesn't get many visitors.

My hope is to find a jaguar footprint.

I have said no, yes, no, yes to this trip...but what cinched the deal was that my passport came two weeks earlier than expected. And Joni wants me to go.

Exciting! But quite frightening. I wrote earlier that I wanted next year to be one of my most strenuous ever. This should be a good start.

Angel and I took a walk this afternoon. Hopefully, nearly a year of walking will help me with this endeavor. I'm down ten pounds---but will need to cut another fifteen or so to make this trip. Tis good to have a goal.

Tomorrow we train in earnest. Back on the diet. Gulp...

Walk #350: Home to Sanity...

Back home to our living room. And sanity.

Work yesterday. And then the drive across the northern Sacramento valley. Back to Joni, the Girls, the cat, the bunnies and the pup. Our two chickens have become coyote chow. Gone. God bless their memories.

A walk with Joni in the dark. Time to process the week. The last five days at work were quite stressful. Downright difficult. The emphasis is on charting at the moment. Never mind the intangibles: treat the chart! I have had 8 different managers in six years. Never had a problem. But now it seems that my values and therapeutic style is, more and more, out of vogue in my work environment. A new cadre of recent hires is perplexed by my "least restrictive" style; they aren't happy. Gone is the emphasis on a "Sanctuary"model. No more talk of empowering patients. The old psychiatric nursing paradigm of barbed wire, limit setting and "rules" has weaselled its way back into this unit--that for years has been one of the best (in my view) in the business.

Plus I was told that the newest uberboss wants to create a "corporate culture" in the hospital. This means a new emphasis on window dressing and no substance. I have been told to "lay low". To not express opinions. To wear nicer clothes. I was told I will not be happy. Can I keep my mouth shut? Is this what corporate culture is: Keep your mouth shut and wear your Sunday best?

So Joni and I walked. She feels better. Her Mom (who has been ill) has reversed years of decline on a medication that I suggested. Good.

My passport arrived in the mail.

Lots of decisions to make. Financial. Personal. Health. Recreational. Occupations. We walked and talked--not really knowing what to do, or what is around the corner.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Walk #346, #347 and #348: The American Legion

My friend (whom I call Hunter) holds a $90 bottle of Scotch that he shared with his friends...

The 1898 Naval gun outside the American Legion

Getting behind here. Still in the Napa Valley.

Saturday...a short walk before meeting a couple of friends--and then attendance at a Christmas Party Potluck. Notable items: Hunter brought a special bottle of single malt Scotch (Lagavulin!) for us to enjoy--which we did with gusto.

Sunday...a walk around the hospital grounds, after working and being out much too late the night before. Early to bed with Thoreau and Walden. I especially enjoyed the section of him describing how he built his cabin.

Monday: a relaxed walk around St. Helena. Came across an old Navy battle gun on display outside the American Legion. The gun is from 1898--the year of the Spanish/American War. Some argue that this war was a turning point in the American pursuit of Empire. It finally dawned on me that the organization: The American Legion--is named for the Roman fighting unit. A Legion was about 5,000 Roman soldiers. Seems fitting.

Now to more pressing questions: Do Republicans golf more or less than Democrats? And do Republicans buy more luxury mansions around golf courses? I suspect the answer is yes...but--as usual--I offer no proof. To my quasi-Marxian, class warfare, kneejerk Lefty brain, this answer seems self-evident. A priori.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Walk #345:Thrift Stores, Golf, Tiger Woods and Bowling

I'm in the Napa Valley.

After work I took two walks. Both in small towns. The first in Calistoga, on a hunt to find a couple of decent reasonably priced bottles of wine. I walked the downtown in the rain and finally stopped at the best wine shop in the Napa Valley for suggestions. They sold me three bottles, two for a party on Saturday night, and one for me to taste tonight to see what I'm about to inflict upon my peers.

Then I traveled to St. Helena to buy some soup for supper and stop at the Catholic Church's Thrift Store. Let me heartily recommend that no visit to St. Helena is complete without visiting the Catholic Church's Thrift Store. Especially now, when all the Trustfunders of the ruling elite of the Napa Valley are scurrying for every tax break for their coffers. And always remember that a Trustfunder pays less taxes on the money they never earned, than you do---who work hard for your money. It is called Capital Gains and that is the lifeblood of the Blue Bloods.

Raining in both towns. I got drenched. Forgot my umbrella...

I can't resist tossing in a diatribe against Golf. And Tiger Woods. Give a thirty year old male with a good swing and great hand/eye coordination one billion dollars and the guy is gonna cheat on any woman who comes in to his life. Even if it is a gorgeous Swedish model. Tiger was just living up to his opportunistic name.

But opportunism is Tiger's forte'. This guy has turned himself into a one billion dollar business. From golf?

Golf is a repugnant game which is best described by Mark Twain as a "walk in the woods ruined". This game of mostly the elite, has created land hogging, ugly developments all built around a bunch of over fertilized and over pesticized terroir. Golf is still a game of the elite ( I kidded a doctor today: asking him how he ever managed to refer a patient anywhere without playing golf?).

Build a Golf Course (and hire Tiger Woods or Jack Nicholas to design it) and then put a bunch of million dollar houses around it and you have something which can only be described as a over indulgent Caligua-ish use of land. These eye sores are nothing but a Republican boil on some of the best, most picturesque land in the USA!

My hope is that Golf will take a huge dive from this scandal and that Polo shirts will go the way of other elite fads. If you want to pick a good working class sport---support bowling! Bowling takes much less land, creates a real community and requires large amounts of beer drinking!

Down with Golf; up with Bowling!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Walks #343 and #344: Cold!!

It is so cold that the dog and the cat have given up their eternal war, declared a truce, in order to share a warm bed. If these two can declare a ceasefire, then there is hope for peace everywhere!

Three days and the snow hasn't melted yet...

"There is no bad weather, just bad clothes". I think that line came from the 90's TV show, Northern Exposure...and while true--there are times when you'd just rather go to Tuscon. Outside walks in subfreezing temperatures? They generally suck.

It feels like Jack London's "To Build a Fire" out there. Yesterday, an afternoon walk. This morning, a predawn walk with Angel (today is a travel day and I needed to get it in early). I look forward to a return to the balmy weather that enticed me to California in the first place.

Forget every criticism I've ever made of inside workouts and treadmills. I would gladly trade a frigid walk for a warm gym, on a treadmill, with an Ipod. At least for a day or two, after which, I would cheerfully return to coaxing this indoor culture to get outside.

But only if it is warm.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Walk #342: Thoreau's Evil Days...

An afternoon walk of the short loop with Angel.

I've tried to read Thoreau for years--with no success. I just couldn't make it through his text. I tried again recently, and now I can enjoy his style, humor, descriptive power. Specifically, I was reading Thoreau's essay "Walking" last night. This passage reminded me of something I wrote about once (and took a whole lot of grief for my views):

"At present, in this vicinity, the best part of the land is not private property; the landscape is not owned and the walker enjoys comparative freedom. But possibly the day will come when it will be partitioned off into so-called pleasure-grounds, in which a few will take a narrow and exclusive pleasure only---when fences shall be multiplied and man-traps and other engines invented to confine men to the public road, and walking over the surface of God's earth shall be construed to mean trespassing on some gentleman's grounds. To enjoy a thing exclusively is commonly to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it. Let us improve our opportunities, then, before the evil days come."

I'd say I'm in good company with Thoreau. I don't think Thoreau would approve of gated communities and "No Trespassing" signs. His view: "to enjoy a thing to exclude yourself from the true enjoyment of it"---is so correct!

Thoreau got it right: we are in the "evil days"!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Walk #341: Snow...

Snow starts to fall...


Well, that was an interesting twenty four hours. I only had time to take a few "doggy walks" with my pup. We had a bit of snow this afternoon. This is about all the snow I really want for the winter. Looks pretty, but I've had enough. No need for a White Christmas in my book.

For those who might be interested: Joni is home---safe and sound. She feels fine. Extensive tests report there was no damage done. Gave us a bit of a scare though...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Walk #340: Just For Angel...

It got cold last night. Very cold. The sort of cold that got me to traipse down to our bus to find the sweaters, long underwear, long sleeve shirts and other implements of winterdom.

I decided to take it easy today. We've been working hard with this training thing. My legs are sore. My hamstrings are tight. Getting in shape has as much to do with your rest days, as your hard workout days. We don't improve if we don't rest.

So today's walk was just for Angel. She has been a trooper--running beside me. Taking long hikes down the Canyon. Last night she whimpered under our couch; her feet hurt.

I just let Angel sniff around as much as she wanted to. I went at her pace. For a dog, the world is one odiferously interesting place to be. Seems she just can't get enough nasal exploration. She could stop for ten minutes (and will) in order to sniff a plant, leaf, tree. What information does she obtain from doing this? I can't say...

But some days it is okay just to sniff about.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Walk #339: Can You Out Hike a 4th Grader?

Kylie (aged 9 and 3/4) was kind enough to hike down the Canyon with me today..

I showed her the bear track I found this morning...

And we hiked down to the bottom of the Canyon. Kylie said: "This is the best hike ever!"

Angel came along and had a swim in the Feather River...

And Grady, one of my neighbor's dogs, came along for a hike and a swim too!

We spent about an hour climbing the rocks on the bottom of the Canyon. We let the dogs swim. Had a rest...

And then we climbed the leg quivering, heart racing Canyon back to our home. Took 1 hour and 7 minutes to climb back up the Canyon. Not too bad, considering that the dogs ran off (doing doggy things and getting into some bear scat for a treat). Kylie was a trooper!

I told Kylie, as she huffed and puffed up the trail, that if you enjoy hiking, you will have one of the cheapest and most thrilling hobbies that you can enjoy throughout your whole life!

Walk #339: Black Tailed Deer and a Bear Track...part one

After the run...

Angel and I headed out this morning to do the Long Loop. My second day of running. We were rewarded for our due diligence with a nice view of a black tailed deer. A doe. She walked ahead of us as we ran down a hill; going up the other side of the hill, until she finally spotted us and bounded off...with her freak flag tail flying.

And when we got to the top of the second killer hill--a black bear track in the mud was our reward. I shall hike back later to get a photo of this. I've been looking for bear tracks since moving up here. It was nice to have this reward.

And my time? 39 minutes and 36 seconds. Almost a six minute improvement over yesterday. Hooray!

I take Angel with me as mountain lion bait. All the experts say that dogs attract mountain lion. I disagree--of all the mountain lion attacks over the last one hundred years in California, I cannot find one reference to there being a dog present during the attack. Besides, I like to think that Angel Chow is much better tasting than Allan Chow!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Walk #338: Or Waddle #1 and Consumer Militaristic Society

Time to get more serious about this training. Today I laced up my running shoes for the first time since 2005. I have many pounds of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Malbec, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Claret, Sangiovese and a few other varieties--to run off.

But we don't call it running. Or jogging. Those are much too dignified of terms for what I do. Now in my late forties, let's call it as we see it: Waddling.

Yup. I waddled.

The course. I have decided on two main staples to get into backpacking shape. The first one is the Canyon Hike. Did that yesterday. Today was my Long Loop.

When you live on a ridge, on a mountain, you can either go one of two directions: up or down (or down and then up). It is good terrain to get back into shape. The Long Loop consists of going down the ridge, with one deep plunge--followed by a killer hill; followed by yet another plunge--only to be beset with yet another killer hill and then a long, gradual incline back to the house.

I can walk the Long Loop in 60 to 65 minutes. It took me 45 minutes and 31 seconds to Waddle it.

And so now we have my base line times for both the Canyon Hike and the Long Loop. From here we shall monitor any improvement---and this should be a good indicator as to whether I can survive two very strenuous hikes in January.

Lest this blog become too aerobically oriented, let me quote from an e-mail exchange I'm having with a friend from high school that I have recently become reacquainted with. The subject is whether the United States is an empire or not.
All politics isn't local. All politics are moral. Our worldviews shape our politics. And our environment, class, faith system, family and on and on--shape our worldviews. Even if you say you aren't political, you are.

My premise:

We live in a Consumer Militaristic Society. This is the best way to describe American Society since the Second World War. This is not a sustainable system and should be opposed on all counts.

This Consumer Militaristic Society has not led to happiness. In fact, the Earth cannot tolerate this type of society. Witness: global warming, species extinction, desertification and the like.

Since all politics are moral, we need a change in morality. A new world view that is opposed to the current Consumer Militaristic system (which seems to be cracking all on its own).

We need to bring back new values--amongst them are:

1. Egalitarianism.

2. A devotion to the right of all species to pursue happiness (both flora and fauna). Deep Ecology.

3. A total rejection of both hyper-consumerism and militarism.

This is the lens that I use to perceive the world...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Walk #337: The Canyon...

The path to the bottom of the Canyon.

Today I applied for a passport. I have a big trip planned for which I am desperately working on getting back into backpacking shape. More on the trip as we get into shape...

Step out my front door and you can take a path down to the bottom of the Feather River Canyon. I don't know exactly how deep it is. Some say 500 feet--others have said 1,500. So I'll split the difference and call it 750 feet deep. It is deep enough anyway.

The path that takes you down there is steep! Leg quivering, lungs bursting steepness! It took me exactly 45 minutes to hike to the bottom (at doggy sniffing pace). It took me 61 minutes and 28 seconds to hike back up. Back up the hill in Concow Death March fashion.

I have a ways to go to be ready for this planned hike in January (that requires a passport)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Walk #336: Ibuprofen...

The older I get, the more I appreciate the wonders of Ibuprofen. Or Vitamin I, as Joni calls it.

With just two drugs, you can treat almost anything: Ibuprofen and Benadryl. Actually, at my age Aspirin might be a better choice...fewer cardiac risks.

But I needed the Ibuprofen. Take 800 mgs one hour before exertion. Then climb, run, walk, bike or build.

A walk with Angel on a sunny December day....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Walk #335: A Full Moon Walk...

Stepped on the scale this morning; down seven pounds...beginner's luck!

Worked all day and drove across the Sacramento Valley with a Full Moon on the rise. Home! Angel nosed me for a Full Moon walk; I obliged her.

A friend of mine celebrates each Full Moon with a "night hike". I like that idea. Full Moon hikes are rarely done and are terribly underrated.

Tonight the moon did a nice job of illuminating the walk. The air crisp and clean. Woodsmoke in the air. Fragrant! Exciting!

Walk #334: Mustard Blooming?

Napa Valley Mustard blooming on November 30th?

And the red, red leaves of a grape vine...

November 30th, and this is the earliest I have ever seen Mustard blooming. Calistoga has a week long event (The Mustard Festival) which is held in March. Joni tells me that early January is early for the Mustard plant. But November?!

Climate change?

After work, down to the library and a walk around my favorite (in town) vineyard. I stopped off at the optical store to 1. try and fix a broken pair of glasses (no, they don't weld itsy bitsy frames); and 2. to get my eternally crooked glasses straightened.

One of my imperfections is a set of ears that aren't symmetrical. One of these ears (and they seem to be getting bigger--and less effective--as I get older) is lower on my head than the other. It makes for some tricky fitting in the glasses department.

So why not get contacts? Because I will never, ever touch my eyes. Too clumsy to put the buggers in. And secondly, I like wearing glasses. I feel bookish. It adds an ornament to my face. I can hide behind them.

As for laser surgery? No way!