The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness

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As John Muir said… so many things. The world is big, and I want to take a good look at it before it gets dark. In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world. I could go on, I do go on, but really, the man said most of what there was to be said about why we should go outdoors.

Going to the woods is going home. Which is why, even though it was going to be over 90 degrees and humid this past weekend, even though work has been knocking me on the ground and kicking my ass, even though carrying a 30 pound pack over rocky terrain in 90 degree weather is like a checklist of everything a lady in my “condition” isn’t supposed to do, Raven and I filled our packs with clothes and snacks and gatorade powder and pursued our favorite mutual pastime.

And it was worth it. It was worth learning that hiking is harder now than it has ever been, worth being drenched and dizzy and exhausted, worth the several dozen mosquito bites that are now making me feel a little crazy, because when we set up our tent in that little glen and laid down, muscles weary, everything was better than it has been for months. I felt more like myself and more inside myself than I have in months. So that was nice.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also got to watch the above-pictured snake slither out of the woods and across the path at ludicrous speed to snatch up a frog in its jaws. I’ve never seen a snake catch something before, and I’ve never heard a sound like the squeaks that frog made. I didn’t love this, but it was fascinating. Nature, red in tooth and claw. You guys do your thing, and I’ll try not to feel too bad about it.

If it had been a human, I’d have yelled at them. But snakes is doin’ as snakes do, so what can we say to that?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’d like to say that next time, I’m bringing a bathing suit to jump in one of those lakes. But we all know that isn’t true, because next time, I’ll be far too “condition”-y to even consider letting the world see that much of me.

Even if “the world” is just the odd hiker or two.

And hikers can certainly be odd.

 

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America! Hell yes!

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I haven’t been around here much, but I haven’t been around much of anywhere. I just checked my camera, and I haven’t uploaded any pictures I’ve taken since the beginning of May.

Today was different – I was here, I made watermelon aguas frescas and we played croquet, we went to the carnival and reclined in the grass and watched fireworks. It was, in short, a perfect day.

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Living the dream

If I posted my dreams as if they were blog entries, this place would be so much more interesting. For example, from last night:

You guys! So much to tell you – I don’t even know where to start. So for some reason, I decided to get a job working retail at [chain of music venues where I used to work] again. Who knows why – it’s not a lot of extra cash, but somehow, the place was always really compelling. Anyway! I was heading to one of my first few shifts, and I was kind of running late. (There was a backstory to that which involved dropping my dad off at school, but that’s not really all that interesting, anyway…) I was supposed to be there at 1, and it was like 1:05 and I was just a couple of blocks away. No big, it’s a low-pressure retail job! I don’t know why I didn’t care about being on time – that’s the exact opposite of everything that happens in my daily life. But then my phone rang, and it was a manager I hadn’t met before, and she was kiiiiiiiind of losing it because she was expecting me at noon, not one.

“No way,” I said. “I saw the schedule. I’m supposed to be there at one!”

“Maybe it changed, but it’s your responsibility to know that. Get here, now.”

So I did. I got my bank, and headed to the store to set up, but it seems that there may have been a reason the schedule was change. Madonna was giving an afternoon concert for, like, 50 people. Maybe they were contest winners? Anyway, instead of working in the store, I was going to be doing coat check for those special few invited to the concert.

I made way down to the club, where production was in the middle of sound check. It was a rather perfunctory sound check, and since the Great Lady couldn’t be there herself, the head of production was hum-singing “Material Girl” into one of the microphones. 

And that was when I noticed that about 10 of the audience members were seated on stools, holding signs. They were women, mostly in their mid-30s, and they were dressed up as Madonna crossed with a My Little Pony of their choice. On the sign was written their cultivar – “Madonna x. My Little Pony” (Unfortunately, my brain didn’t know any My Little Pony names, so these were all entirely made up. Madonna x. Slutollata. Madonna x. Flygirl.)

“What rare flowers,” I thought as I breezed past them. “What beautiful birds.”

They all checked coats. They were all terrible tippers.

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Based on the well-established premise that food tastes better outdoors, we set up some summer food outdoors on our tiiiiiiiiiiiiny picnic table. (We were going to grill said food, having ordered a grill from The Internet, but that grill showed up broken and we had to content ourselves with steamed corn. THE HORROR.)

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Having eaten a fair amount of reconstituted backpacking food and peanut butter under the sky, I have had plenty of opportunities to think about this whole food-tasting-better-outdoors thing. However, there have not been nearly enough meals made up of real food (well, as real as veggie burgers can be said to be) out in mosquito territory. This summer, I aim to fix that forever.

It’s not exactly “bucket list” territory, but it is definitely a goal. Here’s to citronella candles, blue skies and more grilled corn than you can shake a stick at. Summer, I’m gonna get you!

 

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Another World

Before a couple of years ago, I really never thought about yard sales.

Never. Really.

And yet somehow, life has evolved in such a way that last summer, Raven and I went with his family to Madison-Bouckville Antique Festival (for multiple days) and I will occasionally look inside a junk shop and finally, tipper of toppers, we just spent Memorial Day weekend working on the annual yard sale that Raven’s mom and stepdad put on every year.

It’s part of a Thing, apparently, a big, coordinated effort by the towns in the area. It involves maps, and listings, and lots of people showing up ready to bargain. Bargaining terrifies me, because I’ll never say no. SURE, TAKE IT. I CAN DO IT FOR LESS THAN THAT! Thankfully, I wasn’t left in charge of answering anyone’s bargaining proposals for very long, or we would have all just given our crap away. Correction: I would have given everyone else’s crap away.

HOWEVER! It very nearly didn’t happen at all, when Saturday dawned windy, rainy and 38 degrees. Thirty. Eight. Degrees. On Memorial Day weekend. In upstate New York. And not only did it stay windy and rainy and right around 40 degrees, there was also sleet. On Memorial Day weekend. In upstate New York.

So Saturday was a bust, and we spent the day playing games and drinking tea, which is really my kind of weekend, much more so than yard saleing. But I am alone in that, because the compulsion is strong in everyone else in that family, and so we hauled ourselves out of bed at 5:30 (ok, 6) again on Sunday, and deemed the day decent-enough-to-sell-junk.

It was still cold, but less so, and so we stood outside and sold stuff (more stuff than they have ever sold at this annual sale – the take was over twice what it has been in previous years, so maybe there was a benefit to be reaped from the terrible weather on Saturday. SLEET!!! In MAY!!!) and the greatest benefit was from the people watching.

My favorite people was a boy, about 10, who is clearly going to spread his wings and leave Sullivan County A.S.A.F.P., and (we all hoped) head down to the city to be a theater major. He was wandering around with a friend, who didn’t seem as impressed by the things for sale, and told that friend “you clearly don’t know what AWESOME is.”

He fell in love with a little rose-gold and brass heart locket in the jewelry display, and when his father tried to buy it for him, I refused his money. “Please take it,” I begged, even when he continued trying to hand me the dollar. “Your kid is awesome.”

 

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Doctors of Domesticity

I spent a while yesterday trying to figure out where the past few weeks have gone, and I realized that they have been a blurred haze of unbounded domesticity. Moving into a new home – a real home, for equal partners with equal footing and equal floor space – has been mind-blowing.

For the first time in my life, I want to come home at the end of the day – and when I get home, I find myself doing things to make the house better. This must be what normal people feel like!

And Raven, well, he is thrilled. He is thrilled about the house, and about all of the reasons we moved into it. He has worked – hard – since last summer to make things stronger between us, and I see where he has changed.

It wasn’t a result of that, precisely, that led him to choose to do this, but it somehow meant a lot more than it ever has when he sweetly and thoughtfully bought something for me. For us, really, because we both bake, but intended as a gift for me. For our house, to mark this next stage of our lives together. I saw the clarity in his gift, and the fact that it comes from joy rather than something… less fun is the best part of it. It was incredibly generous, and it is incredibly shiny. I’m in love. With it, and with him.

Mix!

Here’s to better baking, gestures that are truly heartfelt, and eating all of the cookies I can possibly fit in my stomach. That is really the only outcome of having one of these in my house.

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La Vendetta

I have what a psychiatrist might call very minor focus issues. It’s probably just the tiniest touch of the familial ADD coming through, and it manifests most in extreme distractibility. If we’re talking outdoors, I might stop in the middle of a sentence to listen to a bird chirping nearby. I’m often incapable of ignoring background noises, so other people’s conversations have a tendency to drive me to… well, distraction.

This also means I can’t listen to music while I work. This is terrible, of course. Everyone should be able to listen to music while they work. But I end up spending half my attention on the music and half my attention on the work, and nothing is done well. And I get frustrated, and no one likes She-Hulk Kelsi. They just don’t.

However.

However.

I now work in an open office plan, and share a large cubicle with someone who is a… mutterer. More than a mutterer, a talk-to-him-selfer. A talk-to-him-selfer who is full of general rage at the world. This means that all day long, we have full voiced narration of his day as he goes, responding verbally to emails as they come in with expostulations and frustrations and it is making. me. bonkers.

BONKERS.

In a fit of seething (my fits are low-key and mostly turned inward,) I pulled out my ipod and tried to figure out the least distracting music that I can use to drown out his ferociously loud negativity. The man even types loudly, I don’t even… I just…

So, I’ve narrowed it down to instrumental music that can be enjoyed at low volumes. I have a ton of Mozart and a good amount of Beethoven, both of which are appropriate. (Mahler is too crazy to listen to while working, and I’ve eliminated opera by virtue of the fact that words are involved and even though they’re not in English I will be trying to understand the words… so…)

Anyway. Internet! Do you have any good ideas for what I should be listening to that fits into the category of soothing instrumental music I can use to avoid a fit of seething turning into something more dangerous? Please advise!

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