Dozing polar bear, Indianapolis Zoo

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Now that I've posted the lizard

I can actually post the pictures Jennifer over at Under the Ponderosas asked me for two weeks ago. Here goes:

This is a still from some video I took when I climbed up behind the house on Christmas Eve last year.

This is from the road. This picture is four or five years old, before we owned it.

From the second floor in the solarium. That thing at the bottom is the hot tub cover.

Another view from above the house, this time of the valley. It's late spring in this picture.

This is the view from the living room. Those are the Cabinet Mountains.

All right, I'm whipped from packing, and I have to be up early to pick up my cork flooring at the Environmental Building Supply place before we go.

We're supposedly getting internet access at the house this time, so I won't be gone for too long this time. Raise hell, etc.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Our clothes were dirty but our hands were clean

Do you ever get those snatches of memory that neatly capture the perfection of a moment?

This time last year, we came off the Pacific Crest Trail in southern Oregon, smelly, hot and worn, limped into a trailside restaurant, drank a cold drink, and listened to a surprisingly good live cover of Lay Lady Lay.

Every time I hear that song I'm back there after 25 miles on the trail, feeling so good, so deliciously tired, and so content.

Please, please, please let that Sky Lakes Wilderness trip in August work out for me...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Summer? What summer?

I was just looking back and noticing that this blog was a good deal more interesting back in the winter. This is strange, because winter is not my season. Seasonal affective disorder has afflicted me since I was about ten years old. Around the first of March things get really grim. Ordinarily, this is when I take off in a southerly direction if I'm lucky enough to be possessed of sufficient time and fortune, because I simply cannot stand it another moment.

But this year was a little different. Mr. T had bidness in Orlando in early January, and the idea of my staying here alone with dogs and kid was untenable. So I went along and we tacked on an additional week of vacation so I could go to my favorite place in Florida -- the swamp. Beaches are fine and dandy, but the best place to be in Florida, other than the freshwater springs, is unquestionably the Everglades. Being in the swamp in January had two immediate benefits. One, this blog was more interesting, because I was able to post pictures of alligators in compromising positions and videos of anhingas eating exotic catfish. Second, I wasn't as much of a basket case for the rest of the winter, having had two weeks of sunshine in January.

June, on the other hand, has been disconcerting. I've had solid work for the last six weeks that, while it pays the bills, kills every creative impulse and keeps me indoors. Not that June is any great shakes in the Willamette Valley anyway -- I'd guess half the days have failed to crack 60 degrees -- but sickness and work have kept me indoors for the sunshine and warmth we have gotten.

Fortunately, July is nearly here, along with -- I hope -- a bit more time in my schedule to get out and enjoy the blistering heat I crave. I'm also hoping I can pry this blog out of the current ditch in which it resides, existing merely as a repository for my pissing and moaning.

In that vein, we're leaving for Montana this Friday. Good friend and occasional commenter Tony will be going this time as well, along with his three kids. I expect that his youngest son and Trailhead Kid will raise all sorts of hell together, as they tend to do when they are in each other's company for more than, say, two minutes.

Even the dog, Thomas, is restless. An hour ago, he tiptoed into my office and gently placed his squeaky hedgehog on my lap. He then cast me a plaintive look that said, "If I must be stuck in this suburban prison, would it be too much trouble for you to toss my hedgehog down the stairs so that I might run after it? It's a pale substitute for chasing deer out of the garden, but I'll take what I can get right now."

I couldn't help but sympathize, and I pitched the toy down the stairs for him until it got too slobbery and gross. He'll feel better next week.

Later on I'm hoping to get some pictures of the Montana place up. There's a screen shot of a video I want to grab, and that takes a few minutes for me to figure out every time I do it. It's difficult to do that in between reading cases on arcane corporate law issues, so I hope to grab a block of time later on.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

You don't think I can come up with a title, do you?

Zoinks, people, I need a vacation. For the last month or more I've been doing an extended document review -- something like 30,000 pages -- and now I have absolutely nothing to say to you. That is because document reviews take my brain -- which is ordinarily humming with ideas, concepts, dialogues and notions -- and wipe it clean. I wouldn't even analogize it to constipation, because it's not like there's something there that wants to come out but can't. It's just all gone. Zap, goodbye.


My mind, which is normally like Velcro, grabbing onto to things it encounters willy-nilly, has turned to glass. Nothing sticks.

I've been trying to get out in the backcountry for the last couple of weekends to see if I can relocate my gray matter, but we've all seen how that went. This has to be the most frustrating summer since I was pregnant five years ago and couldn't be out of the air conditioning for more than ten minutes without fear of passing out. I've been stuck for a month in front of this godforsaken laptop reviewing electronic documents, one after another, brain cells crying out silently as they die.

But like they say, it pays by the hour.

In ten years I'll have to break out the blackmail pictures to get this done

Rare is the day when I get some tangible benefit from parenting. That's not to say I don't love it, of course -- I do. Hell, the sheer hilarity of it is often reward enough.* But when you drill down to the very core of this whole deal, it just isn't about me. Parental satisfaction is almost always about the intangibles. So when the ordinary course of childhood intersects fortuitously with my own agenda, it's a cookie.

Trailhead Kid has developed an obsession with vacuuming.

And not just the easy carpet vacuuming that Mr. T and I don't mind doing. Nope. He likes to vacuum our hardwood floors with the attachments. Sweet.

And so I sit, on my underworked butt, typing up this post while the kid sucks up the dog hair downstairs.

This can't last long.

*Except for the days when both Mr. T and I are violently ill and the kid thinks it's a good idea to climb all over us.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Because no holiday would be complete without some dreaded plague

It's Father's Day, and I began throwing up at 6 a.m. Mother's Day was fun too.

One question, people: What the hell is wrong with me?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I wouldn't want to follow this guy

I'm a little late to this party, but I absolutely love this for all the expected reasons. But mostly because it's a pleasure to watch this happen to someone.


He won the whole damn salami:

Yay! I'm a fan. I just want to hear more of that voice.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Dead lizards and blue toilets

Most of the people who read this blog know that my husband and I bought his dad's place near a small town in Montana last year. The house is on a steep road that winds up a mountain, through our gate and around some ponderosas and deposits you next to a woodpile. It's an interesting place to have a house and I still can't figure out why anyone thought to build it there. But so they did, along with our neighbors' place down the road.

It has one small claim to fame. Holly Hunter, I am told, stayed there in the 1980's while she was filming the movie Always.

I wonder what she thought of the orange carpet.

I've been planning a green remodel of this place since before we signed the papers. It's not merely that it sports decor that would frighten a baby. It's that things are starting to fall apart. Which secretly pleases me to no end, because now I don't have to feel guilty about replacing the bright blue toilet and the mauve sink. This is an architecturally interesting home, with rooms placed in counterintuitive spaces, a crow's nest on the top and a solarium pulling it all together. But I really can't stand the blue carpet with the brass track lighting. It taunts me.

My father-in-law lived there during the summers for six years and the atrocious decor didn't bother him a bit. Of course, neither did the dirt. The epiphany that my father-in-law is oblivious to his surroundings arrived when I pulled open the front door last fall and found, lodged in the doorjamb, the perfectly preserved skeleton of a chameleon who'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time. When that wrong time actually was is anyone's guess, but I'm betting on at least two years.

So it falls to us to rid our mountain space of the reptile carcasses and orange carpet. I was reminded of all this by a post from Redneck Mother on her imminent green bathroom remodel. This reminded me that I have Things To Do before our next trip over the Fourth of July, and I scurried off to gaze at wool carpets, cork flooring and composting toilets.

She got a couple of chickens to ease her anxiety over her remodel. What do I have but a dead lizard?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Oh, no!

In his latest column, Jon Katz reveals that Henrietta, Chicken of Mystery, has died.

Curses. Henrietta was cool.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Trail #132 to Leigh Lake, Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, Montana

Trail #132 in the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness begins at the end of an atrocious, crater-filled road that winds through a logged area for about two miles. No, "road" is too generous a word. A road is what we turned off of two miles back -- an unpaved gravel affair, but nothing too dire. This, on the other hand, is a two-mile ribbon of unforested space covered in large rocks, pitted with gigantic holes, and actually strewn in places with fallen trees. This cannot be called a road so much as an obstacle course.

I've been on some bad roads. We once hauled a canoe along the Inside North Fork Road in Glacier National Park, and I think I have some residual brain damage from that ride. Though I'd thought it impossible, this one was worse. What I'm trying to say, in my customary delicate manner, is that one really ought not to attempt to reach Trail #132 to Leigh Lake without an extremely sturdy vehicle, or at least a healthy dollop of idiotic bravado. Both would help.

But if you get there, it's a treat. First hikes of the season have always been misery for me. I get all soft and flabby in the winter, mentally and physically (even softer and flabbier than usual), and hauling it all up a mountain is kind of a challenge. The hike to Leigh Lake is only 3 miles round trip with an elevation change of 1,000 feet each way. (I was also carrying a full pack and tripod.)

It wasn't hot, but it was warm enough that we became hot as we climbed steadily up to the lake. Large patches of snow lingered off trail, and we could hear the constant sound of snowmelt rushing off the mountains. After about an hour we arrived at a sheer rock face deluged in a seasonal waterfall. I placed my hands on it and let the ice cold water run over my wrists. Thomas, our year-old dog, had a drink.

At length, I turned around and saw this:

Hmm. Not bad. So I turned back around and kept going. Once you reach the base of the waterfall where the lake spills over into the valley, the trail forks and you have two options. One is to the right and one is to the left. The trail to the left is supposedly well-marked and not quite as steep, while the one to right involves scrambling on a scree-strewn trail that braids often and is easily lost.

So naturally we never found the left fork. Scrambling over the rock I was amazed to see that the alpine wildflowers were in full bloom, even though it was only Memorial Day weekend. Once we clambered up over the lip of the cirque, we could see the trail to the lake winding through a carpet of glacier lilies.

To me, an ascent is much less painful than a steep descent. Sure, it's harder on the lungs, but it's infinitely kinder to the feet and legs. Maybe it's my center of gravity, but I have to make a steep descent low to the ground. This produces what my husband calls "machine-gun leg," or the staccato quivering of muscles that have been overworked. The insult continues on a normal but still descending trail, as one's toes jam mercilessly into boots with every step down.

But it doesn't last long, and it's all part of the game, and it still beats the living hell out of any other day parked at a computer. We made it down, though we were slightly dehydrated from a mistake calculating our fluid needs for the day. We went to the DQ on the edge of town and I sucked down a root beer float, which solved the problem immediately.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Festival of the Trees 12

Arboreality has the latest edition of the festival.

Money quote:

"Amid the bombastic cries in the media of “Go Green” and “Stop Global Warming,” it can be easy to overlook the power of our individual relationships with trees to help change the way we (as a species) interact with the Earth."