Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Spirit of Christmas


Wow. Lock me in the house all day with pouring, driving rain lashing against the door, my camera, a pot of coffee, two hyped-up kitties, and – voila! Craziness ensues. Kitties crash and play and destroy things faster than a speeding train wreck.


Cats are marveled at for their grace, aloof independence, and serious hunting skills. But i love them for a different reason. After a hard romp through the house, they stop their play as i pass by. Little happy faces look up at me with bright eyes that say, “We know you’re different than us – but you can still come and play! Come on, won’t you play with us?” So off i go – forgetting my debts, my failures, my worries for family and friend – and i play. String. Ball. Choo Choo Train in a Box. What’s Under the Bag? Run Through the House – Just Because – I Can Run! All sorts of kitty games. It doesn’t matter how i play the game – for them – it’s that i’m playing. How can i be angry for long at their messes and sometimes destructive antics? They are the friends that never judge – i’m invited to play – even though i’m another race.






I bend over the sink to wash my face and a kitty bumps and rubs her head against mine; her eyes are closed in contentment and her soft purr fills my ears. I dry my face off and burry my nose in her fur and breath deep – kitties always smell good. I feel positively relaxed.



It’s a cold, windy and wet night. From a deep sleep i wake to find a warm furry body next to mine. I stir. A tiny warm paw stretches out and touches my face so delicately, “Isn’t this wonderfully cozy?”

I’m sitting on the couch drinking a hot cup of tea. The Christmas lights and candles are lit. I watch the night sky deepen as wind blows leaves all around the balcony. And two kitties nestle around me. All is still and quiet.

Some say we don’t, and can’t, speak the same language as Animals, but i disagree. We speak the language of happiness. Of togetherness. Of being. Of understanding. We speak the language of Living. What more is there? All else is unnecessary drama. This to me then is the real spirit of the season. What better gift, during this time of giving, than that of friendship and sharing the love of Life? It is both the gift we want to be given and the gift we want to give – all year long.

So to all of you, i wish you the great joy of friendship. May warmth and laughter fill all your days!


Be safe – Be happy – Be kind!


Peace!


We have different ideas of what playing is...obviously this is fun for me!  ;-)



"Merry Christmas!," says i.  ;-)  "Put us down and let's play!," says the Kitties!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The First Snowfall


The first snowfall never fails to make me smile. Crisp and white. Peacefully silent. So exciting! Nothing brings on that happy winter feeling like fresh, clean snow. One winter storm, and the next day, white bliss! The feeling is like having all the drudge, all the boredom, the old arguments, the sadness, the rudeness, all the loneliness, and mind-numbing routine of our lives, obliterated. For a moment the weight is lifted – we breathe – the ugliness we imagine our lives to be is wiped away and all the World is Perfect. Aaaaahh! So fresh, so pure!



With visions so delicate and lovely – it would be a shame to weigh them down with words. So enjoy the quietness of snow. My gift from me to you!


“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”










Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shoe Devastation!



Let me preface this post with a little back story. I’ve not been shopping on Black Friday since…well…i don’t actually remember. This year Black Friday fell on my birthday, and as luck would have it, i had a gift certificate to one of the stores in the mall so i thought i would give it a go. Now, i’m not into sales and drama and all the frenzy. My shopping is rather leisurely. I stroll – coffee in hand – from one shop to another. If something catches my eye, great. If not, no big deal.


I had spent the morning with some great friends then headed to the mall that afternoon. I figured the worst of the rush and chaos would be over and i could shop without hassle. But i wasn’t prepared for this. A war had broken out and hadn’t hit the 6 o’clock news yet. Or maybe an earthquake had struck. A tornado. The photo i snapped with my phone does absolutely no justice to the devastation i was witnessing. A disaster! Then i realized that this had happened EVERYWHERE in America. A National Disaster! Would Obama send us relief money for the clean-up?

I was standing there, mouth open, with a look on my face that said – i’m having difficulties registering what i’m seeing – when a clerk walked up. Amazingly enough, he wore a huge smile. I thought, either he’s insane or i am. So as the words, “can i help you find anything,” tumbled out of his mouth, we made eye contact – and laughed at the absurdness of the idea. Still chuckling, i shook my head, “no, i think you’re the one who needs help finding things.”


Other women were sifting through the debris like i was – both appalled and amazed at the mess. It was funny in a “we’re-sharing-the-same-thoughts” kind of way and several of us laughed at the craziness. But it occurred to me – how could people be so, so – rude? To leave such a mess behind. I mean, that’s what it boils down to. Being rude, thoughtless, disrespectful to your fellow humans. Just how bloody difficult is it to PUT THE SHOES BACK IN THE BOX when you’re finished? So what the clerk is too busy to get to them right now. It’s not their fault that 200 million people were out shopping today. Why are we so disrespectful to others? Why do we feel we have the right to treat others so poorly? The smiles, well-wishes, and warm hugs for the Holidays are the people we WANT to be. Which begs the question, who are we really? What justifications are we creating to excuse ourselves from becoming a better person? The answer is, there is no justification. There is no excuse. Let kindness be your legacy. All the time. Not just for the holidays. But every day. Let kindness and compassion be your inspiration. Let it be the reason, let it be the guide, to all your actions. Kindness and compassion are your greatest gift. It never loses its value. It never goes out of style. It is the best bargain you will ever find. Ever.





Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Giving Of Thanks


I give thanks for peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches. I give thanks for seeing my breath on a cold, frosty morning. I give thanks for being able to cry when a sad song comes on the radio. I give thanks to hear the songs of the geese. I give thanks to the power of the Moon. And the warmth of the Sun.

I give thanks for all the emotional hurts and pains that forced me to grow. And friends who make me laugh uncontrollably. I give thanks for strong winds that blow the leaves off the trees and send a chill down my back. I give thanks to all the unknown people who harvest the crops, who deliver my mail, who keep the water and gas and electric coming, and the hundred other jobs that seem thankless and forgotten.

I give thanks to whiz down the aisle while hanging on the grocery cart. I give thanks for getting so into a song on the car radio that people in the next car honk, whistle, and clap for me. I give thanks for beauty for beauty’s sake. I give thanks for the place of my birth whose salty waves are the heartbeat of my soul. And my parents who love me unconditionally. I give thanks for Mom letting me lick cake batter off the spatula – raw eggs and all. I give thanks for the tall ships whose billowing sails fill my dreams. I give thanks for my foe, who makes me realize myself. I give thanks for the smell of popcorn and fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.

I give thanks to run after a fall leaf the perfect color of red. I give thanks for my Dad and his unshakeable strength. I give thanks to our Mother Earth and to our Creator without whom we could not be so blessed. And i give thanks for Love. Unconditional and Everlasting.


What do you give thanks for?









November Rain

Sliding Across My Field Of Vision

April showers bring May flowers.  And November showers bring…December snows.  Uh…  Doesn’t rhyme.  But the late autumn rain creates its own beauty.  I love a dark and stormy night.  They are haunting and mysterious.  And dangerous.  Why some people – like myself – are attracted to that is its own mystery.  I was driving home late one night in this steady storm of fender benders and the squawking of windshield wipers.  I popped Snakefarm into the CD player, kicked back, and took these shots.  Delicious!  

Tears On A Windshield


Two Martians Come To Visit

    

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dancing A Prayer Of Thanks



There’s something very cool about going to a Native American Big Time & Pow Wow. Maybe not cool in the modern, mall-shopping, Xbox-playing, beer-drinking and watching football sense, but cool in that – they don’t care what anyone else is doing or thinking. They’re there to do their own thing – really to dance to the beat of their own drum.


Unless you grew up with it, the first time you hear Native singing and drumming, it will stop you in your tracks and raise the hair on your head. There’s nothing shy or apologetic about it. I believe it strips the masks and armor we wear – leaves us naked in the essence of what it is to be human. For many, this is frightening. We’re so comfortable behind our self-built walls. To have them destroyed so quickly and powerfully sends some people running in the other direction, screaming for cover.

I recently went to a Big Time and Pow Wow. It’s a great celebration. Celebrating the harvest. Acorn season. Celebrating the family. The Tribe. Celebrating Life and the freedom to dance. (And though white flour was a European introduction, eating a whopping big piece of Indian Fry Bread is my celebration.) At a Pow Wow there are all sorts of dances – Traditional, Jingle, the Fancy (or Northern) Shawl Dance, and all of them are beautiful. But i love to watch the Grand Entry, the Eagle Staff, the Flags, and the following Intertribal dance where everyone – including non-Native guests – can dance the Circle. This is something else the Native Americans are unapologetic about – everyone dances. Young. Old. And everyone in between. No one is left out. Elders are honored – not stuck in a corner and ignored. A father dances with his infant in his arms. Sisters dance side by side. Everyone dances. Everyone is honored.




There was one Elder that really caught my eye. He wore a sincere expression that i connected to – an intensity and honesty that showed in his dance. Very dignified. Very humble. Listening to the song, the drums, and watching the movements of this Elder – in my mind – they were creating a prayer. Now – i’m not Native. I don’t know anything. I didn’t speak to them and i’ve never had any of this explained to me. I’ve just observed and listened with my heart. But my heart, my spirit, said this was a prayer of thanks. “I’ve been here so many seasons. I’ve heard the geese singing their coming and going song. I’ve seen the children’s children grow. I’ve shared laughter and i’ve shared sorrows. And i’m still here. Dancing. Thank you.”


Thanksgiving is just around the corner. May we give thanks to the Great Creator for all that we’ve had. For all that we have now. For all that we will have. Find your own way to dance a prayer. To dance your thanks to the Heavens.







Monday, November 8, 2010

Andy Irons - We Will Miss You

AP Photo

July 24, 1978 – November 2, 2010


There are so many sports in the world, one for every talent and aptitude. We love sports. We are drawn to competition and the need to push the limits. Some of us are drawn to the winners and others to the underdog. But no matter the sport or favorite hero, all of us are mesmerized and nod our heads in respect to those who – despite the hype, paparazzi, the emotional highs and lows, and pressure – never under any circumstance surrender their will to mediocrity. Time and time again they rise – worn and hurt, frustrated and angry – and out-perform, out-maneuver, every competitor. And not just the one that stands toe-to-toe with them, but the competitor inside. The one that paces relentlessly when the performance is less than the best. It is a love affair. It is an addiction. A spirit like that needs the internal competitor – that restless beast.


Andy Irons was a true competitor. He was the best of the best. Amongst surfers, he was a warrior. A gladiator riding the wave. For non-surfers this may seem a bit absurd and some may wonder if surfing is even a sport. Dudes hanging out, looking buff and tan, drinking beer, watching the bikini clad girls vie for attention. Hardly seems like something to honor. Those who don’t surf cannot imagine the strength and endurance it takes to fight the Ocean for hours on end, day after day.


Pretend you’re standing on a narrow, slippery board that violently – and often unexpectedly – shifts in all directions, roll, pitch, and yaw. Drink a few gallons of salt water. Have a couple of your best friends grab you by your shoulders and shove you underwater till you’re gasping for air. Get them to do that for a few hours at random intervals. Grab a few jellyfish and rub them in places you wouldn’t want a jellyfish. While you’re at it, grab a handful of sand and put it in your shorts. When you’re standing in the shallows, dive into the bottom face first – no hands allowed. Let the Sun bake you to a nice apple red. Push, pull, and contort your muscles and body in every position possible. Now do that while barreling down a 12’ wave on a surfboard. And just when you thought you’ve wrestled body and board into some semblance of control, your fellow surfer is there to cut you off and steal your wave. This will give you just a taste of the difficulties of surfing. When the heat’s are on, it is in every sense of the word, a sport.


But more than that, surfing is a calling. A religion. Andy Irons was a priest. A man of the Wave. His congregation – the fans, the media, and his fellow surfers. The bond Andy created between man and wave was beautiful to see. No one watching him could deny his talent. Thank you Andy, for sharing this grand gift. For giving us a vision. You will be sorely missed. Aloha.

ABC Photo Files

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Gift


I’ve been given many wonderful and thoughtful gifts throughout my life. From lovers, best friends, co-workers, family, even strangers. The gifts have come in boxes with bows but some of the best have come with no box at all – movie tickets, dinners at an expensive restaurant, a zipline adventure, personal art, carte blanche shopping at the mall, a day at the spa – the gifts have been as different and unique as the givers. And i’ve treasured them all. But there is another kind of gift. It comes without warning. Without asking. With no expectations. They are the Gifts of Living. Waking to a beautiful morning. The laughter of a friend. Birds eating out of your hand. Being alive. Being healthy. Being loved. What a joy!

Just the other day i received a gift. A very special gift. I was giving a tour to a large group of 3rd grade children. I was about half-way through the tour when something magical happened. We were sitting outside on a wonderful Fall day when one of the children asked a question about the place we were sitting. Instead of answering, i asked a question in return. There was the briefest moment of silence. Then the questions started tumbling one over another. First a trickle, then faster and faster, like the first thaw in Spring, gathering momentum and speed. And i sat transfixed. Rooted to the moment. They were connecting the dots. The information morphed from fact to a knowing in their minds. The questions became paths of understanding. As one child questioned, another would voice an answer. That thought would be picked up by yet another child, who carried the flow of logic to another level. Soon the whole class was building a story, a reasoning, and they were doing this together – as one.

Beautiful. Magical. Like watching a new-born fawn struggle to make its first steps; they wobbled and fumbled their way until, with amazing speed, their minds built a solid foundation of reason they could stand on. I said very little, only nodded encouragement now and again. I was witnessing the best of what it is to be human – the birth of thought. What a precious gift. I have been blessed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Unsung Lime


(Check out the recipes at bottom!)



I have a real affection for limes. Maybe because i’m from Florida and dreaming of tasty slices of key lime pie has skewered my emotional bias. I’m talking real key limes – the tiny, tangy, extra-pucker-power variety that are actually from the Florida Keys. Florida is a citrus lover’s heaven. Driving down the state in spring, you’re engulfed in the blissful aroma of sweet orange blossoms. From which, of course, they make orange blossom honey. Sigh… But i digress…


The Lime. When i was really little, i used to think limes were just lemons that hadn’t grown up yet. I was a tad dubious about eating a fruit that was green. Everything i had experienced in my small world convinced me that all fruit started green and then grew up to another color. Red. Orange. Or yellow. Green was unripe and nasty tasting. I hadn’t met the Granny Smith apple yet either. Gosh – the naivety.

It wasn’t until i was in my early teens that i discovered the joys of Lime. That’s when my parents took me to the Florida Keys and i tasted my first real, key lime pie. Oh heaven! I thought i had discovered a new world! From that moment on, the lime has wriggled its way into the “limelight” (lol – i just crack myself up) of many, many meals. I’m always dreaming of new ways to include it in a recipe or add it as a topping. The lemon may be better known and more frequently used, but the lime has its quirky following too. I mean, come on. Lemon Tree by Peter, Paul, and Mary is a snooze next to The Lime in the Coconut by Harry Nilsson. “Put the lime in the coconut and drink them both together, put the lime in the coconut and then you feel better…Whoo, whoo…”

A NOTE ON MY RECIPES: I tend to cook by the “Old Grandma Method,” a bit of this and a pinch of that. I never actually measure anything out and cook by taste and an adventurous spirit!



Lime Corn-On-The-Cob
This simply delicious recipe was given to me by a good friend. Try it!

What You Need:
As many ears of fresh-picked white or yellow corn as you can eat!
Several limes
Sprinkling of cayenne pepper (optional)


This is easy – instead of slathering on a heavy blob of butter, squeeze a fresh cut lime all over the cooked corn making sure to drizzle the juice all around. Sprinkle a tiny bit of cayenne pepper all over. Voila!





Asparagus and Lime
I came up with this several years ago and it’s one of my all-time favs when i’m craving something green and tasty. It’s a rather strange combination, but it works.


What You Need:
One bunch fresh asparagus cleaned and trimmed
1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove minced garlic
¼ tsp dill weed
2 large limes
1 – 2 Tbsp soy sauce

Another easy and tasty dish. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, garlic, dill, and asparagus. Stir frequently until garlic and asparagus begin to get tender. Squeeze lime juice over asparagus as it cooks. I like my asparagus to be a bit crunchy and not completely tender. Cook it as you like, but 1 minute before it’s done, sprinkle on the soy sauce. Be careful not to let it stick or burn. Remove and eat immediately.


NOTE: Use the lime and soy to your own taste. I use quite a bit of lime and not so much soy. Don’t be afraid to experiment!






Monday, October 4, 2010

The Strength of Women

video

I am always awe-struck and heart-warmingly pleased when i see a woman – of any age – reach down inside herself and find that she is strong. And it’s not just physical strength that i speak, but that courage you find when everything is laying on the line. That moment comes and you know there’s no one but you to make it happen. All your family, all your friends, and all those who have helped you along your path fade into the background. And the Woman steps forward, into the limelight, all on her own, no ones strength but hers, no ones fears but the shadows in her heart, no ones doubts but those monsters which she alone must overcome.

When i see women put everything they have – their minds, bodies, emotions – into lifting themselves off the floor, meeting every obstacle head-on, and rising into the heavens, i weep. Because i am proud, right down to the core, to be one of them – a Woman.

This is not about winning or losing. It’s never about that. The only thing that matters, is that you tried. Despite your doubts and fears, you gave more than you knew you had and then some.

There are no weak women, only women who have not yet discovered their strengths…




This piece was inspired by and written for one of my best friends – Julie Diss. You will always soar in my heart.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why The #$*! Is Hugging So Difficult?

Seriously. Why do hugs fall into one of two camps – “get-your-freebie-cop-a-feel” or “paranoid-i-got-issues-touch-a-phobia?” The modern world sometimes takes all the fun out of living. I think we are backsliding into a Victorian passive/aggressive state based on the sole relationship of fear. Yuck. Personally, it would be great if people could be a bit more like hobbits. Innocent, fun-loving, happy folk who share a hug just as easily as a pint of beer – and who also happen to be fictitious. Nice.


So why are hugs so darn difficult? What’s to fear about showing that you like someone by giving them a hug? Other than your kids, how many different people have you hugged today? Not that i’m discounting a kid’s hug. They’re great! But kids have no concept of weird society rules; they have open hearts and no fear. (See – there’s that hobbit thing again.) If the world were peopled with kids there would be lots of hugs going on. Did you hug your parents? A loved one? A friend? How many people did you come in contact with today? Count them up. Now – how many of those would you consider “huggable?” And of those, how many did you actually hug? The ones you claim aren’t huggable, why aren’t they? How many could you have hugged?

According to some psychologists, we need 5 – 12 hugs a day. Crap. If that’s so – i’m way off count. I might not get 12 hugs a month, much less that many in a day. And i like hugs. Crap again. What’s a hugger to do? Go out and hug the next stranger walking down the fruit aisle at the grocery store? Ooooo – maybe i’ll start a new trend – “grocery hugging.” I can picture it now, stock clerk to customer, “nuts and chocolates on aisle three, hugs aisle five.” Or maybe i’ll start a hug-a-thon at a local Starbucks. Hmmm…

Hugging is good for you and the person hugged. So why are we so reluctant? Why are we so afraid? Because that’s what it boils down to – fear. Yet hugging is one of the best healers, the best peace-makers, and the best feel-good medicines around. And it’s free! Try this – the next time you get into an argument, instead of raising your voice, the silent treatment, walking away, or placing blame – stop and try a hug. It’s very hard to be mad at someone when they’re hugging you. Try it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I mean really, how long can someone stay your mortal enemy if you’re hugging them? And heck, even if you haven’t had an argument – surprise yourself. Get out of your box. Take a chance and hug someone – just because. Learn how to be a good hugger and become a Hugger now! ;-)


Life Positive – a holistic living site with a nice side article, “How To Hug.”

http://www.lifepositive.com/Mind/personal-growth/hug/hug-therapy.asp

Personal Life Media – podcast and blogs. This interesting article and interview is on “Sex, Love and Intimacy.”
http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/222-sex-love-and-intimacy/episodes/2883-ulrich-anke-cuddle-parties-hug-days-art

Psychology Today – blog post on “The Moral Molecule”
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moral-molecule/200810/handshake-or-hug-why-we-touch

Yep – and here it is – the site for National Hugging Day – or January 21st – put it on your calendar!
http://www.nationalhuggingday.com/

Friday, September 3, 2010

Acorn Popping


They’re everywhere. Bright green and yellow. Shiny and smooth as silk. Acorns. If robins are harbingers of Spring, then acorns are the messengers of Fall. How lovely! I’ve never met a person who didn’t like Fall. The scent of the Earth bearing up Her last harvest for the year. Hot days followed by chilly nights and crisp mornings. And the mighty oak, adorned in fat little acorns. I sat below the shade of a massive tree the other day. A gentle breeze blew across the fields and i fell into an idyllic trance. You know what i’m talking about? Like when we were kids. Sitting there with not a care in the world. Just absorbing the wonderfulness of the moment. Though we never thought of it like that. We were just killing time, twisting long pieces of grass in our hands and making braids. Or drawing doodles in the sand with a twig.


The afternoon was like that, a soft, sweet and lazy daydream. I was lost in my trance when a sudden burst of wind shook the tree. And then Fall happened. Acorns were popping. Pop, pop, popping. Little Buddha bellies poked out from their pods, then – POP! Off they went! Jumping to the ground and bouncing in the leaves. I smiled and laughter. They danced all around – like children showing off. “Look how high i can bounce!” It was a magical afternoon. Tender and sweet. Like children. Like Fall.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Zipping Across The World

Want to try something fun and totally different? Something exciting but not too dangerous? Ziplines. You’ve heard of them. Maybe read about them. But you gotta try them. What a blast! And what’s great – there are all sorts out there for every thrill-seeking level imaginable – from the most basic glide over trees and creeks to heart-thumping, stomach-in-your-mouth, 200 ft drop at speeds up to 100 mph across some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.


My introduction to ziplines – or canopy tours as they are sometimes known – was when i went home to visit my parents this past June. I always look forward to going home; it’s such complete relaxation. (And nobody ever cooks as good as Mom, eh?) This year they had a surprise for me – tickets for a zipline tour with Adventures Unlimited. My parents understand my addiction to adventure – i get it naturally from my Dad. So we headed out one cloudy morning to “get our glide on.” The weather in Florida is always top priority. Only place i know where the Weather Channel is the first thing on in the morning and talk about the weather is serious business and not just idle chatter. As we drove out, we kept a close eye on the clouds and calculated (the very scientific – one, one thousand, two, one thousand,…) how far the rumbles of thunder were. Recently meteorologists counted 8,000 lightning strikes in one afternoon alone. And here we were going to be above the trees. Yup. Having an adventurous spirit means taking calculated risks and rolling with the outcome. (See Note)

The ziplines at Adventures Unlimited are new, just completed this past spring, and are impressive in their overall details to safety. I worked in construction safety for a number of years and i was very happy to see the rig they used for their lines. Everything is brand new and rated. Our guides were knowledgeable and clear in their demonstration in how to zipline safely. Adventures Unlimited puts safety first with fun a very close second. That’s how it should be.


The sprinkling of rain had stopped as did the thunder, so after a short trial zip to make sure we understood how to brake and land, my Dad and i climbed the next platform, hit the lines, and flew across NW Florida like low flying gliders. Whoo-hoo! There’s something about zipping over trees that makes you giddy – a human bird. I laughed. Crazy fun with just the right amount of scary. Dad – ever the perfectionist – worked on getting the braking and timing down so he could land effortlessly on the platform. After a little good-natured teasing, he was doing scissor kicks and “running” as he flew through the air. Good times with my Dad. No amount of money could compare with that.




Our guides were not only great zippers but knew the local history and wildlife as well. We were challenged as we crossed one of the many creeks to see how many turtles we could spot. Spotting a turtle was considered good luck in their book. We had a “one turtle day.” In other words – a great day indeed! It took approximately 2 hours to do 8 lines; we were breathlessly happy by the time we finished. It’s sharing experiences like this with my Dad that make every moment memorable.


Recently i had a thought – wouldn’t it be cool if we could zipline across America? From the Atlantic to the Pacific – zipping through spacious skies and amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and above the fruited planes – zipping across America the Beautiful without ever touching the ground! That makes me super excited just thinking about it! What a rush!

Seriously, zipline tours are easy to do, very popular, and popping up just about everywhere. So no excuse. Try it out with friends or family and share the adventure. You won’t regret it!

Links to Zipline Adventures and Info

Another Blog with good info on ziplines and their history
http://www.arbortrek.com/blog/index.html


Heavenly Resort ziplines, Lake Tahoe, CA – reportedly the longest zipline in the lower 48
http://www.skiheavenly.com/activitiesdetail/Heav+-+Heavenly+Flyer.axd




Adventures Unlimited, FL
http://www.adventuresunlimited.com/canopy-zip-line.php


Alaska Zip
http://www.alaskazip.com/


Tahiti, Fiji, and New Zealand
http://www.wildernessventures.com/international-adventure/tahiti-fuji-new-zealand/

Ziplines across the World
http://www.ziplinerider.com/Zipline_Locations.html


Note – Florida has the highest rate of lightning strikes in the US, which also corresponds to the highest death rate by lightning. If you are going to be outside, err on the side of caution.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Update

I came across this the other day on MSN News – the author really hit it on the head and made me think hard about whether or not what i say is what i do. It's the old adage, “walk your talk.” I could expound upon the article, but i think he said it so succinctly there is little more to say.  So read it for yourself. The bottom line is, support our troops. It doesn’t matter if you believe our government is doing the right thing by being there, or if you believe it’s the wrong thing and our soldiers should come home. Either way, those soldiers are still our brothers and sisters; they are our neighbors, our friends, our loved ones. They need us. Please take a moment to care. And if you are already helping our troops – bless you.


Article from MSN


http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/07/29/4771105-soldier-you-support-the-troops-really


Military.com has great links for organizations that help you help our troops

http://www.military.com/benefits/resources/support-our-troops#1


USO website for all things military

https://www.uso.org/howtohelp/makeadonation/sendagift/

And last but not least – check this out. Gene Simmons, yes from KISS, sings a tribute to all US Armed Forces.
video

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dedication

My first post is dedicated to my Mom. Today – August 6th – is her birthday. I Love her with all my heart and there’s no woman in this World who i admire more, Love more, or feel more proud to call “Mom.” She is strong, determined, beautiful, and the foundation of my life. I Love you Mom, forever and ever.



Happy Birthday!





 
Mom and Dad - my inspiration!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Candle For A Soldier

There is a blue candle that sits on my desk. It burns for a soldier gone far away to a land i will probably never see. To fight in a war that no one understands. To endure what the rest of us won’t endure.


I wonder what his life must be like, the camaraderie he is building, the paradox of boredom from long hours of dull nothingness and the fear that lies in those moments waiting for a stray bullet. Sand, ubiquitous in its persistence, working its way into every last thing. There is no stopping it. After a while you just live with it. Like not taking a shower. That was in some other life and some other person that took hot showers with clear running water. Had a clean towel. A Twix bar where the chocolate hasn’t all melted off. Soft cotton sheets – without sand in them. And news. News of what’s happening back home. It’s almost a fantasy world now. How can you compare this life to the one back home? This is home, isn’t it?

Yet, for all the hardships, i sometimes long to be there. I want to see. To know. To experience. To do so would be to understand. Not the war. But the humanity within it. The strengths. The weaknesses. I imagine living in war makes every moment very clear – whether in the gruesome details of death, or the precious knowing that you are still alive. It is Life without the comforts of society, a pared down, distillation of realness.

But these are only my fantasies. I am here. He is there. What can i know of war? So i said goodbye to the person i knew. The man who returns, if he returns, will be very different. That is to be expected.

I am reminded of these lines from a movie that – while not quite exact – pull the emotions down that familiar path…

“It’s an odd feeling…fairwell. There is some envy in it. Men go off to be tested for courage. If we’re tested at all, it’s for patience…for doing without…for how well we can endure loneliness. But I had always known that. It didn’t require a war.”

The candle is still lit…

Tortilla! Tortilla!

O.K. I admit. I live under a rock when it comes to what’s hip and popular in today’s culture. I get so excited when i think i’ve hit on something new only to find i’m actually the ONLY person not living in a 3rd World country who didn’t know. Sigh.


So it was when i “discovered” La Tortilla Factory’s, Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas. I’m not a huge fan of – well – being a fan. I like it that we all like different things and i don’t feel threatened or insecure if i’m the only one who likes something. We don’t all need to be on the same bandwagon. But these little babies are soooo delicious, i feel compelled to shamelessly promote them. Except i’m probably preaching to the choir.

For those of you who live under a rock like i do, you just gotta try these tasty tortillas. They’re small – which is one reason i noticed them right away. It’s frustrating not to find what i call normal sized portions of food at the grocery store. Everything is family or supersized. These tortillas are just the right size – one is good for a snack, two or three for a filling meal. The other thing i noticed – they are a blend of corn and flour which makes them very soft and pliable yet they have the yummy flavor of corn. I don’t know about you, but in my book, maize is the quintessential taste of anything Mexican. So i picked up a package and tried them out. Oh, oh, oh, heaven! Regular corn tortillas – we’re talking store-bought here – tend to be very fragile things before they’re cooked yet have the propensity to turn to shoe leather if cooked wrong. But these tortillas are absolutely perfect. They don’t fall apart and they don’t turn leathery. And the taste! I could eat them all by themselves. Or topped with grilled mahi mahi, pico de gallo, crumbled cotija, and avocado. Or carnitas and fresh queso. Or eggs scrambled with potatoes and sausage…or…

All right – i know. I’m raving about a tortilla on my blog. But – food and sex. The two things that make people happy. How can that be a bad thing?

The Tibet Problem

How would you like to be born in a country that isn’t. I don’t know about you, but i remember when Tibet was a country you could find on a map. I distinctly knew where it was, along with Bali, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Peru, and all those places that National Geographic made a young child yearn. So how has it just disappeared without a fuss? It’s not like this is the 13th century where wars and a country’s borders were as mercurial as Paris fashion. By God! We have Media and the Internet now to document every tweet twittered around the globe. So how did this slip by everyone’s notice? Did the World’s Head Cartographer come to work with a hangover and forget to put all the lines in their proper places?


Since 1959 Tibet has run a paradoxical existence – living on the front page news while simultaneously disappearing from the political/social/geographical structure that identifies a country. There is an enormously long list in the World news archives of both documented and undocumented crimes against the Tibetan people. I would think with such a prestigious list that it would be nigh impossible to simply make Tibet disappear. Yet it happened. Go to your local bookstore and find a Tibetan map or travel book. Won’t find it. Because Tibet doesn’t exist.

Tibet, the country-that-was, populated by some of the most peaceful people on the planet, doesn’t rank. And for some reason, the slaughter of these people is less important than the slaughter of the people in Iraq or Afghanistan. That’s sarcasm; i don’t condone slaughter under any circumstance. But it makes me wonder how governments chose who they are going to “help.” Is there some sort of raffle? A lottery? Pick a number between 1 and 100, the closest gets ten thousand troops?

The reason Tibet lacks a country’s borders and slaughter intervention isn’t because of drunk cartographers, losing lottery tickets, or even for lack of caring. The reason is one word. China. Yes – the Chinese government is sitting back in their smug largeness knowing damn well that no one, not even the U.S. government, wants to tackle this big, hairy, one-eyed yard dog guarding its latest kill. China has monstrous financial clout – what product doesn’t carry the “made in China” stamp? And how does anyone say “no” to them without getting blacklisted. If they want Tibet, who’s gonna argue? There is even a web site called “China’s Tibet.” Possession – 9/10ths of the law…

So why is China going through all this trouble over land that is seemingly too dry and too high (average elevation 13,000 ft.) to be of any value? What is it that the Chinese government wants? Oh, could it be the 27,000 sq. mi. of virgin forests? The 10 million tons of chromite (used to make stainless steel) or any number of other minerals like lithium carbonate, copper, and boron? Or maybe the 1000 plus plants for medicinal use? The massive and yet untapped capacity for solar, wind, hyrdo, and geothermal energy? You betcha. Not that i blame them for wanting it. It’s the torture, rape, and murder in getting it that i have a problem with. It’s the degradation of a nation’s people. The bastardizing of a culture that wanted nothing more than to be left alone. China is doing to Tibet what the white people did to the Native Americans. The musician Sting wrote lines to a song, “history, will teach us nothing…” It’s a blanket statement, but i tend to agree.

So what can be done for Tibet? Can the lines be re-drawn? Can a culture be saved when it is pitted against profits to be made? I don’t know. There are people – great people – working with all their might to bring a non-violent and happy ending to the plight of Tibet. Is there hope for this method? Maybe. There is always hope.


Yak and Yakboy
Photo by Onu Tarek

I Would Dream Something Different

Sometimes it takes my fancy that all of this, this Life, is just a shadow of a dream. It would help explain the absurdness of War - the idiosyncratic hype of a people gone mad. War is the ultimate illusion of control. We cannot control the wars inside ourselves. Cannot even control what our next thought will be. So why thrust our psychosis on others?


It is said that we cannot stand the thought of someone different from us. But i think it is rather that we are afraid to find that the person we hate, is the person inside ourselves. There are no emotions that have been felt by one that haven’t been felt by all. Yes – we share the same emotions as the murdered, the rapist, the liar, the cheat. The only thing that separates us is that we have not acted upon our emotions outside the acceptance of society. Which makes me wonder, why is murder and rape unacceptable, but war is not?

But there is murder in war. There is rape. What kind of dream are we caught in? The Battleground is a Dali painting. Bullets rip through flesh. What was once whole is torn asunder. That was a perfectly good human body! Now look what you’ve done to it! Humpty-Dumpty. By circumstance friends are made, by grenade friends parted. This can’t be real. I don’t want it to be real.

If this were my dream, just mine, every time someone would say something really nasty about another, i would hand them a mirror. Look in it. Repeat what you just said to the mirror. How do you feel – with all that hate staring back at you? How can you kill your brother who is you?

The Renter's Life

I’m sitting in an apartment that obviously needs a good fung shui cleaning – there’s something amiss that so many liars have been drawn to my little abode like stray cats to a dying fish. I should burn some sage, drum to the spirits, wear a cross, hang prayer flags, and have another beer – maybe that will clean out the vermin that have taken up squatters rights to the place. An apartment renter – if you’re poor like me – has to rely on roommates. When you’ve got a good one – what a blessing – better than marriage. But when you lose them…



So begins, The Search. The Search is God’s way of making you sweat when it isn’t hot. It’s a painstakingly slow process of finding what is apparently a unique commodity. An honest person. I’ve lost count to the liars that have tromped through my door. I made the mistake of believing people were like me, with no reason to lie. Just add that to the long list of mistakes i’ve made in my life. If i had a ten dollar bill for every lie i’ve been told, i would be able to make my rent this month. I’ve been looking for months. I’ve met a lot of liars. This past weekend this guy comes in and freaks me out because he won’t leave. Not like an outright stance, but you know when you’ve said all that needs to be said – it’s time to go. I made several attempts, hinting the conversation was over. But no, he didn’t get it. I finally stopped talking and just stared. Something finally clicked and he slothed his way to the door. It was tempting not to kick him down the stairs. He had the nerve to call back not an hour later to ask “how the interview went.” Today he called to see if anyone else had applied and whined pitifully when i said three other people had come by. He kept making references to his drinking. “Yeah, i have a drink occasionally,” which turned into, “I drink a lot actually but i don’t get drunk.” You keep on telling yourself that lie bugger. I’ve slept with the chain on the door and a stick in the sliding glass door the last couple nights.


There’s nothing like having a passel of strangers parading through your house asking all sorts of personal questions. I feel a lot like Bilbo Baggins when the Dwarves show up and take over his home. You know, i don’t tell people who i’ve known for years some of the stuff i’ve told these lying strangers. It just makes me feel dirty – and it isn’t even my lying! I think i need a bath. It will be a very long soak.

Earth Hour

I took part in this past year’s project, not because i wanted to make a statement about global warming, but because i wanted to see what it was like “back in the days” of my grandparents and great grandparents. What the heck would i do for a whole hour without my computer, phone, lights, stove, microwave, TV, etc.? Moments before the switch, i lit all my candles. But then realized – i have a lot of candles. My grandparents wouldn’t have lit that many. Candles may have been cheap – but so were the wages. The average salary in the 1910’s was $750 a year. That’s around $62 a month. My brain won’t even wrap around an amount that small. C’mon. We pay $4 for a Starbucks coffee. That’s twice what they made in a day. They would have had a fireplace – or wood stove. I have neither. So i allowed myself a few more candles. And then the hour came. I turned everything off. Even the heater. I did cheat a bit by brewing a hot cup of tea before the clock struck 8:30PM. I suppose i could have used a candle to heat up a cup of water but figured the hour would be over before it got hot so…


I sat. Drinking my tea. Quiet. Like i had not heard before in my own home except in the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t expect that. No hum of the computer. No music. Even the neighbors were quiet. I felt very self conscious of my own voice – like i was hearing it for the first time. It made me laugh. I laughed with my cat. She seemed to think the candles and quiet were just fine. I wandered room to room checking candles and straightening little messes i had ignored earlier in the day. I put the dishes away. Played with the cat. But as i puttered, i found myself humming. No song, just notes at random. I was smiling. And laughed again. I was singing not because the silence made me uncomfortable, but because i was happy. And so relaxed – melting like the candle wax. I had thought the absence of lights and things to do in the electronic world would send my mind into hyperdrive. But it hadn’t. I was amazingly tranquil and simply took in the scenery moment by moment. N-i-c-e. I was sitting on the living room floor when i spied the clock – 8:45. Only 15 minutes to go. Holy smokes! Where did the hour go? When 9:30 came, i left the lights off and let the candles burn. Good money couldn’t buy this sort of serenity. I happily poured myself into bed around 10:30 – the earliest i had been to bed since…? I was asleep in minutes. Happy Earth Serenity!

Note: I support scientific research on global warming – however – i am not a scientist and any comment i make will be just another uneducated opinion. I DO believe in taking care of our Earth – it is our only home – and support protecting Her precious beauty for All.