Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pep talk

Listen, I love you.  Tomorrow will be a better day.

Have a warm drink and go to bed. Try to imagine you are sleeping in the passenger's seat.

Go play outside in the sunshine tomorrow, and get as many hugs and laughs as you can.

Everything will change.  Have sweet dreams.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Picture this

I am an etch-a-sketch
and you're the knob.

I could use a good shake

In the dark

I got this thingy last year, as the days were growing shorter, to try to help me negotiate with my morning darkness. It's a programmable timer and dimmer that you can hook up to your own bedside lamp, so it will slowly turn on and gently wake you up in the morning, a la sunrise. Most days, it is surprisingly effective, and will wake me up almost instantaneously, or within a few minutes. With that in mind, I don't know why I set the thing to light up at 5:15, though I suppose I didn't expect it would work so well. This morning I was awake even before it was, though I waited for my alarm to go off a half hour later, plus a few extra minutes, before getting out of bed.

I've never been a morning person. Some of you may recall that I actually used to be a morning demon, but I've mellowed in my old age and now I mainly have to contend with a) being just way too tired and b) feeling completely without hope in the morning. It's just a thing some of us non-morning/non-sleeping types have to get used to, not a big deal. But sometimes it's a bummer.  Like today. Lately I've been served up a plate of doubt, disappointment, and deception, and it's not been sitting all that well in this well-rounded gut of mine. So I found myself under the covers this morning, trying to hide from the ugly light of my negative and unkind thoughts, and fears, and wondering what I could do to change that.

Not care, was the solution I came up with, as in "I could not care less".  The problem with that mantra is that, if you repeat it even once, you realize that it could be logically re-stated as "I am incapable of caring less", which has some different connotations.  Whether it's true or not, it doesn't make a very good mantra anyway, for obvious reasons. I mean, why would you go through life not caring, when you could just not give a shit instead?

Kidding. Sort of.  In any case, the sun has displaced the darkness, my car is running, and I have a lot more to do and worry about than thoughts and feelings, so I better get this shit show on the road.  Good morning!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Date Night!

Ha ha, now let's be serious.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Simply Super Supper

Salmon filet, finger-brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and freshly ground black pepper, baked in steel at 425 degrees for 10-20 minutes (as called for by size)

Squeeze with 3 sections of Minneola Tangelo that were left sitting on the counter all day and also on the table the whole day before, and drizzle with drippings from the pan

Serve with cauliflower florets, steamed or briefly blanched, placed head down on in the juices

Accompanied by a glass of Picpoul de Pinet

Followed by a small chunk of Sartori Bellavitano Gold and two spears of pickled asparagus good enough for me!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Just lovely.

Goodness Gracious, it's been some time since I've held my camera like I meant it. I miss it so much that I can scarcely even remember it.

What a beautiful past few days, with some of the best people I know. Seriously sweet, restorative, relaxing, rejuvenating, (en)lightening, hilarious, thoughtful, and enjoyable. I really do have the best friends, two of whom happen to be my sisters. So happy to share this world and this life with the bunch of you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Where the heart is

Coulda sworn it was around here somewhere...

Maybe it's on the other side of that swamp?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

There always is

So, I just returned from my first winter camping experience, and I have to say, it was pretty awesome.

The anticipation was in some ways more "exciting" than the trip itself; it had been quite some time since I've looked forward to anything so very much...I was almost giddy in the days leading up to our departure.  My companion put a great deal of time and effort into preparations, including construction of two pulks--a very fine, expedition-worthy one for himself, and a cheaper yet perfectly adequate one for me. They performed beautifully, in my opinion, as did most of the rest of our gear. I had no prior frigid-weather experience upon which to draw, or with which to compare, but for a first/trial run, I'd say it was a success. No one lost any fingers or toes, there were no catastrophes (aside from a spilled meal which was more of an annoyance than a disaster) and, despite the numbingly cold temps on our first night out, the weather was good, the snow was nearly ideal , and the woods were wonderfully quiet, tranquil, and beautiful. I wish I'd had a camera, but the pictures in my mind, of tall pines and spruce draped in snow, and my dear intrepid friend leading our way across the frozen expanse of the southern edge of the Boundary Waters, will remain fixed in my memory.  I only wish we'd been able to stay a bit longer...I often attest that it takes three days to actually get to where you are, wherever that might be, and except for a few very brief moments of reflection between worrying about keeping going and changing layers, I feel I missed out on really being able to take it all in, and be fully present in the beauty through which we traveled.

We left rather late on Thursday morning, and arrived at our departure point on Sawbill Lake at mid-afternoon. The drive up had us both wondering about what conditions we might encounter--the temps were above freezing and there was little snow on the ground much of the way, but once we left the shore and drove up into the hills, any worries of warm weather and lack of adequate snow were left far behind us. I might go so far as to say that we entered a Winter Wonderland, but perhaps that perception was only due to the stark contrast with where we'd come from. Winter has been a bit of a dud here this year, so to encounter even a foot (or two) of pristine snow was a true delight.

Our first night out on Alton Lake was a cold one, much colder than either of us might have guessed, by the reading on the little zipper thermometer that hung on the vestibule... negative 10 degrees, by morning.  But we stayed warm, bundled in our sleeping bags and cuddled together in the pitch darkness, for more hours than anyone could wish to spend in a tent, except in order to escape such deep cold.  After traversing a wind-blown lake and crossing a relatively long portage through untracked powder, we spent another, considerably warmer night on the shore of Wonder Lake. Unfortunately, condensation got the better of us, or at least of our sleeping bags and the tent, and our fuel reserves were already running low, so we skied and snowshoed our way back on Saturday afternoon rather than go any further, or stay out for another night. My sled carried forty-five pounds, and his was easily fifteen pounds heavier, and pulling such weight was, although easier than I had been anticipating, a tiring endeavor. I was fairly thirsty, and he was pretty sore. Better to get out while the getting is good.

A few lessons learned: Isobutane doesn't perform well if at all in very cold temps. Water takes time and fuel to make from snow and readily returns to a frozen (i.e., undrinkable) state. Well-insulated xc ski boots would be a very good investment. Don't not bring your gaiters. Everything has the potential of getting wet even if it's well below zero. Zipping sleeping bags together is a better idea. Wool is excellent. Weight makes a difference in the long haul. Warmth and the potential for it is critical. Booties are helpful. Seeing wolf tracks is cool. Summer sausage may be aptly named. Snowshoeing isn't easy. Don't put your supper in your pocket and forget about it. Treats are nice. Silence is bliss.

On the way back we crossed paths with an otter, running and sliding its way across the lake out ahead of us--a big first for me. Is there any more delightful animal? A light snow fell in perfect crystalline form, and the air was pleasantly free of biting winds, as we skied the final stretch back to the car (that being my new one, the black Volvo, sweet machine that it is). We took the long back roads back down, stopped off at a little bar in the middle of nowhere, and enjoyed a beer or two before continuing the descent on the snow-covered gravel, back to the blacktop, to the highway, to the towns and cities and the busy interstate and finally, into the big city.

It was a somewhat sad return, for me, coming home to the responsibilities of house and home, the realities of city life and a job that I wish I could more easily abandon for a different life, at a different pace, in a different place... One day, perhaps, I'll have the courage to relocate further afield. For now, I am comfortable and secure, at least in some ways, if not fulfilled... but leaving the sweet peace of deep Winter and returning to the ugly noise of urban existence is not, by any stretch of the imagination, one of my favorite transitions. 

Tonight, there's a light snow falling here, big fluffy flakes drifting down slowly in the stillness, as if to soothe my wistful soul... I hope, I dearly do, that I will return to the white woods soon, sooner than later, at least once more before the snow begins to change, and give way to the next season. There's time yet for another adventure. There always is, isn't there?

Monday, January 19, 2015

I love winter

I love my new pac boots
I love my sleeping bags
I love big fat warm booties
I love watching the otter run and slide across a frozen lake on the edge of the Boundary Waters, in the middle of the day, in the depth of winter
I love winter camping
I love how cold it can get
I love the perfect snowflakes falling on our packs while we eat ice-laced meat log and cheese bagel sandwiches
I love waiting for next time
I love winter

Thursday, January 1, 2015

All right, I'll do it

Be less fat. This sucks and I'm sick of it. Dropping the weight will necessarily entail working out more and drinking less, and reducing stress.

Learn a new skill, art, craft, or activity--for pleasure's sake, not just for utility (i.e., learning how to replace my toilet doesn't count). 

Spend less time alone. This is of critical importance. Lack of adequate time spent in physical proximity to people is damaging to mind, body, heart and spirit--and it shows.

Spend less money. On everything, all year long. Save twice as much as last year, if not more.

Polish my resume, etc. and apply for new jobs. It's long past time. (And that's polish, as in make shiny, not Polish as in sausage.)

Become modestly familiar with, if not mildly adapted to, various forms of social media. Then resume disregarding them, unless there is a compelling reason not to.

Read more. Fiction, non-fiction, news, opinions. This has to be a top priority. I need to be smarter and better informed in order for other goals to come into the realm of possibility.

Help more. Seriously, give a little more. Money, time, labor, ideas. Contribute something, for god's sake.

Rescue a puppy. Just kidding, although sometimes it really would be good to have a dog around for purposes of unconditional love, and obedience training.

Practice, practice, practice, and improve.

Stop the negative self-talk and expect better of others. (I sense these two go hand-in-hand.)

Sleep better. This should be number one on the list since everything else probably hinges on it, in a number of ways.

Take a photography class, or at least learn how to use my camera(s).

Take a trip somewhere new, possibly somewhere well outside my comfort zone.

Be more vulnerable, and more forgiving.

Floss more. 

Sing more

Stretch more

Play more

Do more

Love more.