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Archive for November, 2009

A walk in the woods

When I was visiting my best friend in Oregon, I took a walk in the woods behind her house. My friend’s parents used to own the woods and surrounding fields and hills, about a hundred acres. After the kids were all grown, the parents decided to sell the house and land without consulting their adult children. The kids would have bought it, even if they had to pool their money. It was where they grew up and they loved it. Instead it went to a grouchy rancher who proceeded to put fences everywhere and run too many cows. Sigh.

When my friend and I were twelve, we would take turns hopping on her bad-tempered pony and going for a wild, uncontrolled ride. The pony would gallop madly across the pasture, into the woods, through the meadow, across the stream, into more woods, all the while attempting to unseat his rider by running under low-hanging branches. I think my forehead is still dented from those rides.

My friend’s family also owned an ancient black Plymouth, and my friend’s youngest brother would take us back to the meadow to drive the Plymouth. That’s where I learned to use a manual transmission.

One time, my friend and I decided to go camping way back on the property. The brother drove us part of the way and we located a suitable campsite. We built a fire and put our can of chili in it to heat up, not knowing that you are supposed to poke a hole in the can. Then we took a short hike to explore the immediate area. While we were walking around in the woods, we heard a loud bang. When we got back to the campsite, there was chili everywhere.

All of those memories are part of my growing up, and I have fond feelings about those woods. So after my friend got permission from the owner, I climbed over the fence and headed for the woods, camera and barbie in hand.

I stopped to fill my pockets with acorns and admire an old barn on the next property. I climbed over a bar gate and stopped to take pictures of barbie in a pretty green part of the woods. I frowned at the excessive number of fences. I found the meadow where I learned to shift the Plymouth. I crossed the creek and walked up the old road to a clearing where I saw a flock of wild turkeys. I then cut back through another section of woods, stopping to admire and pick a few mushrooms before continuing to the creek and ending up back in the old meadow. I stopped to take more barbie pictures and stuff a few more acorns in my pocket before heading back to my friend’s house. I was happy that I got to walk in my memory woods, but sad again that it wasn’t still in the family.

Starting out.

Looking back at the house.

The pretty green woods.

Barbie stops to rest on an oak tree. Oops, it might have been a madrone. I wasn’t paying attention.

Then she moves to a madrone.

We spot a nice old barn.

Leafy autumn woods.

Look up.

We spot a group of wild turkeys in the clearing.

Funny birds.

The camera-shy flock bolts for the woods.

Barbie finds a big mushroom in the woods.

Russula Claroflava.

Barbie wants to take the big one but I convince her to take a couple of younger ones instead.

We find another dumb fence in the woods.

A big log has conveniently squished it so we can climb over.

I hear something squawking in the trees but can’t see what it is.

The creek in autumn.

Autumn leaves.

We get back to Plymouth meadow.

We walk along the old road at the edge of the meadow.

We stop to rest under a sunny oak.

I spot some scat while looking for acorns. Looks like a carnivore. Maybe a fox.

The acorns won’t fit in barbie’s pocket.

We head down the road.

Detour into the meadow.

Barbie finds a use for the stupid gates and fences.

A good place to admire the meadow.

Peaceful.

I tell her it is time to go.

My friend’s house in the distance as we reach the edge of the woods.

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Soon

I’m working on Oregon post but I fell off a curb and badly bruised/jammed both wrists. I am typing this with one finger. Post will be delayed.

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Rodent death

Who had the better life or death? One feasted on compost and neighborhood goodies and lost his life in one quick moment. The other lived a rural existence completely independent of humans, don’t know why he died, but he was hawk food while still warm.

Backyard compost rat.

Ground squirrel in Nevada breathes his final breath.

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Missing my dog today

I’ve been in a down mood all day.  Couldn’t really figure out why. Then I walked past my computer when a picture of Tripod came up on the random picture screensaver. I teared up and it dawned on me that I have been playing his music all day. Then there was a knock on the door and it was UPS delivering the frame for one of Tripod’s portraits. I suddenly realized that the universe has designated this a Tripod day. So be it. Here he is.

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And speaking of winter. . .

I do believe it has arrived. It is 34 degrees outside this morning. Brrrrrrrrr. I know that’s not saying much for you folks in Alaska, but for me, it says WINTER. The house was very cold this morning when I got up. If we didn’t have our lovely new double pane windows, the 51 degree night thermostat setting would have clicked on the heater a couple of times during the night. Time to put warmer blankets on the bed. Husband yanked some covers away from me in the middle of the night, sending a kitty flying in the process. The kitties start burrowing under the covers to sleep when it gets cold like this. Time to make sure my favorite winter fridge magnet gets moved into a positon of prominence: Winter is nature’s way of saying fuck you.

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And the winter battle begins

Every year, as winter approaches and temperatures drop, my husband and I start our annual battle of the thermostat. We’ve been at it for many years, because I get cold and he doesn’t, and we are both stubborn people. I can remember clear back when we lived in Flagstaff, AZ, which is at 7000 feet and gets pretty chilly in the winter. He wanted to turn the thermostat off at night. I insisted on 50 degrees. I won. I said that my houseplants couldn’t survive with nighttime temperatures in the low 40s all winter, and I would have trouble getting up in the morning, so if he didn’t want to sleep with houseplants and ever wanted a damn cup of coffee in the morning again, he’d better set that thermostat at 50.

Now we live in a milder climate, but our house has no insulation and lots of big windows. All of the heat just seeps out through the floors and walls and windows. This summer we finally got new double pane windows, and they are making a positive difference, but we still can’t stop the heat loss from the other sources. Having finally realized that he couldn’t win the nighttime temperature battle, my husband has the thermostat programmed for 51 degrees at night, which is fine with me. We sleep with our bedroom window open except during the cold spells, because we both like the air. When I get up, I close the window and turn the thermostat up to 64. We keep the furnace vent into the bedroom closed in the morning so that the bedroom doesn’t heat up while my husband is still in bed.

So the battle shifts to daytime. Last week my husband started pulling the door to the bedroom mostly closed when he got up. I opened it. He closed it. I confronted him. He said he didn’t want to waste energy. I explained, not so patiently, that we HAVE to have air flow in this house all winter or the mildew grows on the walls. I explained, AGAIN, that all he is doing is shifting energy usage from the heater to the hot water heater and my personal energy usage, because I have to spend all winter scrubbing walls. And I reminded him, AGAIN, that if he shuts that room off, I have to run the wonderful dehumidifier that my sister got us even MORE, which just uses energy. SO LEAVE THE FUCKING DOOR OPEN!!!

Last year he complained that my turning on the heater in the morning woke him up. I told him I tried to hold out, but when it is so chilly that my hands go numb and I have to put on my outside hat to sit at the fucking computer, I don’t give a damn if it wakes him up. DEAL with it. He should just be thankful I’m usually satisfied with 64, and that I’m not one of those people who likes their house at 80 degrees.

So the other thing he does, when he comes home from work, is open a bunch of windows, because he is hot from walking home. If it was a warm day, I maximized the intake of solar warmth with open doors and windows and curtains, but with nights getting noticeably colder, I shut everything up the moment the temperature difference between inside and out hits the neutral point. That minimizes the likelihood of having to turn the heater on in the evening. So he marches in with his jacket still on and starts opening everything up. I just march right behind him and close everything, and then tell him to take his damn jacket and socks off and stop stealing my warmth.

Sigh. It’s barely the middle of November and we are already in full battle mode. My only consolation is that I ALWAYS  win, because I hate being cold more than just about anything in the world. And I never give up.

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Sometimes that old song, “sunrise….sunset…” runs through my head, because my daily life is framed by those “commonplace” events. I get up shortly before dawn, and I go to bed about the time dusk melts into night. Here on the coast, our sunsets and sunrises are often obscured by fog or clouds. That’s one of the things I miss about the desert. Long, drawn-out visual feasts as the sun comes and goes from that part of the world. Here are those events that I captured during my trip. Some of the pictures were in previous posts.

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The barbies enjoy last light at Spencer Hot Spring.

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Gratuitous picture of my campfire, because that’s what usually happens at dusk.

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First light behind Spencer.

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First light west of Spencer.

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The glow creeps down the mountains.

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I am usually in the soaking tub during sunrise.

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Even the approaching storm couldn’t dim the sunrise.

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It merely softened the glow.

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Looking south toward Tonopah.

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The western glow gets brighter.

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and brighter.

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Last light in Shoshone, CA. I had dinner there.

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Sunrise at Tecopa Hot Springs.

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The clouds are lovely.

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Warm glow.

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Looking west.

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Light on the mountains.

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Clouds and light.

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Some birds watch sunrise with me.

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Sunset at Quartzsite, AZ.

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Sunrise at Quartzsite.

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Morning glow.

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The sun is coming.

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Sunset at Mojave National Preserve.

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Burned trees in the sunset.

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Light slips away.

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The approaching dust storm can’t stop the sunrise.

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Cold dawn in Tonopah.

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