Friday, April 30, 2010
Took a walk with my friend R., fellow RN, fellow Psychiatric Nurse and co-conspirator. He is one of the best Psychiatric Nurses I've ever met. I steal his material...
But we were walking cause we've gone and gotten ourselves in trouble again. We needed to process. Reflect. Learn to feel good about ourselves again.
Walking is good for that...
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Angel and I took a walk this morning. We are starting to train for our next big hike. In the process I am looking for a partner. I have one tentative "yes"---but seeing as his spouse is having a baby soon, that might not be good for his marital bliss.
So I posted this on Facebook:
Anybody interested in backpacking some of the ugliest parts of the Pacific Crest Trail from June 18 to the 23rd of June? I'm looking for a foolhardy, out of shape partner--who is clumsy and with unrealistic, grandiose ambitions...
No takers thus far...
So then I sent this out by e-mail to almost everyone I know, most everyone I don't know and their dogs:
I'm looking for a backpacking partner for June 18 to the 22nd. My foolhardy plan is to start on the Pacific Crest Trail at Belden, and then attempt to make it to the Lassen area (haven't fully researched the take out point yet). This part of the trail is our backyard. It is described as being very ugly: no views, very little water, logged over, lots of rattlers--in short, some of the worst the PCT has to offer. Which is why I want to do it!
J. and I have talked about doing it, but--seeing as he has a baby coming and all, it might be hard for him to take on this pursuit.
Anybody want to give her a try? Frankly, I am not in the best of shape. I will more than likely suffer terribly (like I did in Costa Rica)---but that is part of the charm of the experience. That which doesn't kill us (more than a possibility) makes us, well, I don't really know. But I want to find out.
Anybody interested? Or do you know someone (hopefully out of shape and with grandiose ambitions) who is? Feel free to forward this to anyone who might be interested...
My brother wrote that he is too out of shape to do it. Otherwise, there has been a loud, resounding silence...
Any adventurous Readers out there?
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
You see, we had quite a few visitors over the weekend, who braved the single lane gravel road to make it up to our Homestead. One of the visitors came down with a bit of Poison Oak on his ankle the next morning.
Yesterday we had some other visitors. Since I knew that on Friday, some visitors wandered into the stuff (and had a breakout), I showed them some Poison Oak and said they should avoid it.
You would have thought I just introduced them to Hannibal Lecter!
One of the visitors tip-toed from the car to the house, asking all the way: "Did I step in any"?
Me? I kind of like this wiley plant. Whenever I get a fresh break out, I just scratch it to smithereens until the pain over comes the itch. Seems to work (but I don't advise anybody else to do this). Kylie, who at age ten gets into everything--God Bless Her---breaks out terribly from the stuff. We try all the remedies known to humankind on her.
But Kylie has learned to avoid Poison Oak. No break outs thus far this year (keep your fingers crossed).
But the fore-mentioned visitor's fear struck me. How can a little plant, that doesn't really move, snarl, bite, scratch or claw--strike such fear into a person? I told them that the best remedy I know is to avoid it (leaves of three, let it be) and to take a bath after running about in their territory (not that I take my own advice).
I sometimes wonder if that isn't the reason Thoreau took his daily wash up in Walden Pond? To ward off Poison Oak's cousin Poison Ivy that grows on the eastern part of our Country.
Back to Poison Oak. No need to be frightened. Just as there really isn't any need to be frightened of Mountain Lions (and I intentionally capitalize creatures names---a convention I wish all would adopt), Grizzly Bears, Black Bears, Rattlesnakes, Bison and a multitude of other creatures that I hope we learn to live with and restore their right to private property! Yes, Animals have property rights!
With adequate caution, we can live with all of creation.
Where does this fear come from? We fear what we don't know. I don't think we will really turn the tide and create more wild space until the percentage of kids who come down with a Poison Oak rash gets to ninety percent and they learn to love and respect the plant. But I fear the kidly breakout percentage gets less and less every year, as the computer and the Xbox, Wii, Ipod, Ipad, Iphone, and Ipoison get more and more of our youngster's attention.
And what is the lesson of Poison Oak to a child? A rather good one. You see, if a child wanders into traffic, they are dead before they learn the lesson that that is something you should not wander in. But if a kid wanders into some Poison Oak, well, then they learn the lesson that there are things out there that can hurt you---but without the modern day lethality of our more uncivilized, civilized dangers!
Poison Oak can be our friend...
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I'm a part of four nurses (one pulling his special needs twenty year old son) who rode the FlatFlower 30 today. One step up from the ChildFlower (a ten mile ride). The FlatFlower was a flat (hence the name) bike ride through northern California's ode to industrial agriculture: the northern Sacramento River valley. Frankly, we had a blast!
I've never participated in a group ride like this before. You could start anytime between 6 and 9 am. Adults could choose from one of four rides: The FlatFlower 30; The FlatFlower 60; The MildFlower 65 (very hilly); and the WildFlower Century (quite hilly). We chose the easiest ride.
People go ga ga over these events. It is a whole sub-culture I've never experienced before. Most were dressed in their road racing finest. R. chose shorts (with padded bike pants under the shorts) and sandals. I chose shorts (without padding), a t-shirt and my worn out hiking boots I wore to Costa Rica. M. looked at my shoes and said: "Are you going to replace those soon?"
Breathe and Ride. Breathe and Ride....
Taking a break to stretch....
Afterwards: a really good California Cuisine type lunch and Beer!!!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
I have no problem setting my sights a bit lower. I originally had planned on doing the WildFlower Century. Then I decided that maybe I should do the MildFlower 65. Then I got sick, didn't train, got lazy and I haven't been on my bike since February.
So a couple of my peers from work decided we would do the FlatFlower 30. As the sign says above: No Hills! I'm hoping there will be a bar along the course that we can duck into. It is always more fun to combine your vices with your virtues....
Friday, April 23, 2010
I finished Mckibben's Eaarth last night. Quite good--mostly. I liked the first half of the book much better than the second half. And of the second half, I mostly liked it.
Greentangle has written of his reservations about the book. Mainly, that it is much too human centric. I agree.
A couple of other things: First, I would have liked to have seen more than a page on the role of the US military---mainly, that we cannot afford it anymore.
Secondly, I think Mckibben pooh poohs the role of big government too much. You'd think the guy was a Tea Partier!
I stand with I.F. Stone--who believed up until his death that government can make big changes--fast! Imagine a Solar Panel program modeled after the Student Loan program? Zero percent interest with twenty year terms to anyone who owns a house! That would make for a quick change!
Green social planning by the Federal Government, local food, local economies, decentralized energy, sustainable building and more space for wilderness are not mutually exclusive. The Whole is always greater than the Sum of its parts.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Too bad the camera didn't work. The first California poppies are blooming. As are the Mariposa lilies. This past week has led to an explosion of Flora on the Ridge.
And Fauna too.
Angel caught a baby jackrabbit the other day. Luckily, Angel didn't know what to do with the thing...and the bunny escaped!
I came home to a shipment of books from Amazon. Being that it is Earth Day--I read most of Mckibben's "Eaarth" (yes, that is the correct spelling) last night. This is an important book in my view. A must read! Mckibben adopts the view that we have created a new planet, hence the new spelling. Climate change has created a whole new era; things don't look good.
More when I finish the book... Happy Earth Day!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
On Sunday, I will be riding a bike (if they got my registration in time) in the "Flatflower" in Chico. Only a thirty mile ride, to be done without any particular training. My friends R. and M. will be joining me. R. will be pulling his twenty year old son behind him in a trailer. That should even things up a bit.
R. and I decided that we just might have to stop at every bar that we pass on this ride. Make things a bit more interesting...
And plans are being made for another major backpacking adventure in September....
Monday, April 19, 2010
I decided to ship a few bottles to someone special for his birthday (and you'll be getting them soon!). Late, of course. Didn't stop me from tasting their marvelous wine. They have a white blend called "Maximus" which is unusual and quite good. They also have a red blend (also called "Maximus"--guess they ran out of names) which also is almost always unusually good. And they had a 93 point Syrah (and priced to go along with the rating) which was memorable. I bought a bottle of the white Maximus for my supper, finished my walk and headed back to the Monastic Dorm. Fell asleep by Seven pm.
Sunday. Tired. Just a jaunt around the crowded, upscale town of St. Helena. Tourists everywhere, flaunting their designer sun dresses and starched short sleeve shirts usually with a horse and rider insignia on them. California Yuppie Casual. Ducked into my favorite restaurant for a burger and a couple of Anchor Steams on draft and then back to my room. Fell asleep at Six o'clock.
Slept til three am this morning---waking up feeling disoriented; not knowing what day of the week, nor what time of the day it was.
Friday, April 16, 2010
I read last night that Rousseau's best work was one on walking (I believe it was his last book--gotta put that on my reading list). Some have credited Rousseau with starting the modern environmental movement. He was a walker.
Rousseau walked. Thoreau walked. Muir walked. Abbey walked. Leopold walked. Krutch walked. Mills walked. Can you name others who either wrote essays about walking, or entire books?
It is a grand enviro-literature tradition.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
If there is such a thing as purgatory, I am in it.
Another cold day with intermittent rain. A friend told me that we are having a "normal" year as to rainfall. That Paradise, the town--which is about 1 1/2 miles away across the canyon as the crow flies, is at 100 percent of normal for rainfall (with 60 inches of accumulation). By the way, they calculate rain fall totals beginning on July 1. So a season goes from July of the previous year to June 30th of the next year.
Another soggy walk.
Mental note: take two vacations during the rainy season. One in January and a second one in March.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
These reports are from the subterranean military and energy intelligentsia who have finally been unearthed by a much more enlightened press corps than what we have here in the States.
8. Climate Change legislation is dead.
Monday, April 12, 2010
This made me look up the weather in Tuscon, Arizona. 80 degrees. Sunny. Which prompted me to comment to Joni that I'm tempted to just hop in the car and drive there. As in now. ASAP! Like the little Gnome in the Travelocity commercial: "I gotta get out of here".
And then the sun came out.
Respite for just a brief amount of time. I took advantage of this reprieve from the rain and put on my soggy boots; slogged through a walk with Angel. All the while, dreaming of someday escaping the mind numbing rainy season of northern California in order to enjoy the winter warmth and sun of Tuscon.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
We had to get out of it, so it was down to Chico to Calskate for some roller skating. Part of our pantheon of activities when you just can't stand the rain anymore. The other activities are the library and bowling. We don't go to the Mall much; in fact, I can't remember the last time I went to one. Depressing places: I'd rather stay home in the rain.
But Angel and I did manage to stumble out for a walk. All the while contemplating an op/ed by David Brooks of the New York Times. I read the thing yesterday after a friend recommended it to me. It is supposed to be "optimistic".
I found it disconcerting.
What Brooks finds as optimism, I find to be bad news: Increasing birth rates amongst Americans in their twenties (they are having larger families!); increasing immigration; a population increase of (at least) one hundred million by the time I'm scheduled to exit the planet (in 2050--I'm being optimistic given my poor health habits!). This is all bad news.
Of course Brooks minimizes the perils that might befall us. No mention of Peak Oil. No mention of the hazards of monoculture. No mention of climate change. Ignore the man behind the curtain please...
East Coast Well-Educated Token Republicans writing for the New York Times forget one thing: Nature Bats Last...
Saturday, April 10, 2010
The forest falls apart in sections. Yes, an occasional entire tree falls, but mostly the trees break off from the top down. Half the tree still stands, while the tops fall and decompose.
This Chevy pickup was in pretty good shape. No motor though. You have to be a little careful bushwhacking; pot farms and meth labs are in the area. Supposedly they sometimes booby trap their camps. I very gingerly approached this camp (and then had Angel go first!). A couple of my neighbors never go hiking without a side arm. I think that is more Concow Bluster than anything really necessary.
Enos Mills never went hiking with a gun. Sniffing around the Monastic Dorm's library I found this book from 1919. The book (The Grizzly) interested me because California still had a few Grizzlies in 1919. The last California Griz was killed in 1922.
Simply stated, this book is wonderful! It is a compassionate plea for the conservation of the lower 48's Grizzlies (obviously, the plea was not heeded).
Enos Mills was the founder of Rocky Mountain National Park. He lived in a cabin in what was to become this National Park for forty years. He was a bit of an itinerant and a nature lover. The story goes that Enos wanted to see the Pacific Ocean. He made his way across the west and when he got to the ocean he went to a beach. Perplexed by Kelp, he stopped a stranger on the beach to ask him what it was.
That stranger was John Muir.
This synchronicity started a lifelong friendship between the two. And Muir's influence on Mills writing is evident. Approachable. Descriptive. Kind. Eloquent. Passionate. Informative.
Mills didn't consider the Grizzly to be a dangerous animal. Hence, he trailed Grizzly Bears for days on end, without carrying a weapon. He also believed that the Grizzly Bear's solitariness was an adaptive feature that the bear did in order to survive the wide spread slaughter of his species. Before hunting, Mills believed that Grizzlies were much more social.
Maybe most people are glad that the California Grizzly is gone. We have way too much fear of anything that can kill us (although the Ursus' diet consists of mainly small mammals, roughage and insects). After reading this eloquent book, I am sad that Mills' peers didn't have the foresight to save this creature.
I think the Griz and I could have learned to co-exist on the ridge.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Kylie said: "I didn't know you could play basketball". I went on to tell her about how much I played as a kid. About how we would spend hours at the park shooting baskets.
Kylie then said: "But you are old now"...
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Today, Angel and I wandered off to a meadow. I wanted to see if any new wildflowers were blooming. Nope.
But it is good to be home. I now have eight days off to fight off this virus and maybe get some work done on this house.
And the good news? Seems that the hospital is reconsidering their decision to close the Monastic Dorm to those of us who need a place to sleep now and then. It seems that the Powers That Be had no idea just how many employees use the building as a place to crash. That gave them pause--and, for now, it remains open to us.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
A Nurse friend got fired today. This hospital certainly has no problem with terminating someone. Psychiatric Nurses tend to be an odd breed. They tend to be a bit on the irreverent and anti-authoritarian side of the ledger. They also tend to get fired at the hospital I work at. Seven Nurses fired in the last year--many had been there five years or more.
So does this stop me from rabble rousing a bit given the loss of my housing? Nope. I carried the fight through channels today. One by one going up the ladder. The Director of Human Resources has promised to "look into the situation" and to "get back to you". Sounds like a blow off.
My position: Create a Hostel for the three to five Nurses who daily use temporary Hospital housing. The hospital has the empty houses. Seems like a good PR move for them. We shall see.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Called in sick for today as I continue to wrestle with this demon bug. Jim Beam is no match for it.
Much fear and gnashing of teeth here at the hospital. Quite a few Nurses and other health professionals stay at what I affectionately call "The Monastic Dorm". No more.
When I arrived at my room, I discovered that it had new carpet (really ugly), new artwork (unbelievably bad) and fresh paint (much too dark). The Powers That Be have decided to increase revenue by turning this old dormitory into an outpatient residence for people in recovery from substance abuse.
Which means that I will no longer have housing. They gave us all of two weeks notice.
Of course, many of us have complained. Since the hospital owns some 70 houses in the area, my proposal is to create a Nurse Hostel for those of us who travel. And also for all those Nurses who double back and don't want to risk the highways in an exhausted state.
Oh, there will be some rabble rousing around this! Probably to no avail. I have asked Security where I could pitch a tent for the summer (and since one of their employees also is affected by this)--they were sympathetic and will scour the grounds for my campsite. My own homeless camp.
Or will I sleep in my car?
Will the hospital decide that a 130 year tradition of housing Nurses on the grounds come to an end? Will a few upstart RN's affect the closing of one of the more compassionate aspects of this hospital for its workers? Stay tuned.
This could be interesting...
Saturday, April 3, 2010
It snowed last night. Snow! Meanwhile, Vermont is having 80 plus degree weather. Massachusetts is underwater, after two non-hurricane induced, once in a century storms within a couple of weeks. Minnesota didn't have any snow in March (for the first time in 150 years). And Washington DC got more snow last winter than anybody could have predicted.
As Joni says: "It is called Climate Change". Yup.
There is no normal with the new normal...
Friday, April 2, 2010
I took my dog and my virus for a walk today. A short walk along the bulldozed fire trails (which has become my new thing).
Still sick (called in sick for tomorrow too), it is time for drastic measures. Since mucinex, benadryl, ibuprofen, emergen-C and chicken soup aren't working--time to change the approach. I drove down to the dome store and picked up my new flu fighting weapons: potato chips and Jim Beam Black.
Jim Beam Black is aged an additional four years. Eight years total. It has a more mature, smokey look to it. I'd like to say what it tastes like, but unfortunately, taste buds don't operate with this amount of sludge in the nasal canals.
My Nursey reasoning to this approach? What is bad for the body, must be bad for the bug! This should kill most anything preying upon my system.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Today would normally be a travel day for me. Not today. Still struggling with this feisty bug, I called in sick to work for tomorrow. I took a short walk with Angel on some of the bulldozed trails from the fire of 2008.
Joni and I have both been ill over the last week. Two middle, middle aged people sharing both our viruses and this 350 square foot cabin. We get out of the house to fill the water buckets and to walk the dog. These activities generally lead to a two hour nap.
And we watch TV. Joni opts for the Criminal Minds type shows (I've never watched the show before--but now I can say that I've seen at least 24 episodes); I like the usual Lefty Egghead stuff: Free Speech TV, Democracy Now, MSNBC with just a dash of the Food Network for some spice. (Although I'm so stuffed up I can't taste anything). Torture!
When not sleeping or watching the Tube, we read. Joni is reading Michael Pollan's book on building a cabin.
Last night I finished "The Year of the Goat" by Margaret Hathaway. Put this one into the I-think-I'm-gonna-be-a-Homesteader-and-raise-goats-and-children sort of book. Homesteading literature.
The book reminds me of Joni and myself, if we were twenty-five years younger. Margaret and her boyfriend (and soon to be husband) Karl, while living a Yuppie lifestyle in New York City, somehow get it into their heads that they want to live in the country and raise goats.
So they spend a year traveling the country to learn everything they could about goats. There is a fine line between having a hobby and having an obsession. How to determine the fine line is a matter of whether you are the person with the obsession or not. This couple became obsessed with goats.
But the book isn't really about goats. It is about the people who love goats. It is Hathaway's gift to describe these people with kindness and verve. The journey changes her.
The book is a good read. Urban, Farmer's Market loving, Solartopian types love to dream about having a farm. This couple did it--and wrote a decent book about their preparation for the experience. This is an approachable couple who even have a website about their experience. With their invitations for visits and their website, they remind me of Scott and Helen Nearing's hospitality.
I'm planning on reading their sequel. We too, would like to have a goat or two running around.