I gave up shit for lent…

Today is Ash Wednesday, and wouldn’t you know it, the neighborhood power is out for “routine maintenance,” (NSA setting up better recon on the guy down the street…or me…not sure) eight hours of not opening the fridge, and all I can think about is lent and how when I was growing up dad always encouraged us to give something up for lent.

Lent is never mentioned in the bible, but I still like it. Think of lent as actively praying for forty days. Rather something like this “…dear god, why would I ever think I was strong enough to give up wine!” …or chocolate or whatever you love to indulge in…

Upon my reflection I realize I gave up “shit” for lent: dumbshits, shit heads, bullshit, piles of shit, gives of shit, shit holes (assholes), shitty food, and shit, literally…

I mean, crap, I have been cleaning up someone else’s shit for more than two decades. W.T.F. Really. With dogs, parrots, a cat, chickens and kids, there’s a lot of shit around here that needs cleaning or hiding…

I have been wiping kid-ass for more than twenty years. Let that sink in. I’ve worked at vet clinics…on ranches and in kid care…wanna talk about shit, I’m your gal. By the time I’m done wiping kid butts it will be my moms turn–(sorry mom) and then my husbands and then after fifty years of up close and personal with everybody else’s little brown-eye, you guessed it, then it will be my turn…for someone to wipe my ass.

So before it’s too late to take a break from shit-I’m doing it, right now, for lent…In one more hour because the fucking dog has shit stuck to his butt, AGAIN, (he needs to quit growing hair) and I can’t turn on the clippers to shave his ass until the power gets turned back on…

Then I’m done with this stupid shit! At least for lent.

I know that’s backwards-we are supposed to suffer in commemoration of Jesus and his forty days he fasted and suffered in the desert before he was crucified…I’ve been suffering…I’m giving the “shit suffering” mantle over to someone else for a bit…

It probably won’t last and I’m probably just freaking out because I’m stuck with shit (literally) until the power comes back on…that and I’m starving since I won’t open the fridge until the power comes on…I cleaned all the junk food out of the cupboards (no-I didn’t eat it-I threw it away days ago…originally I was just giving up shitty food for lent…) and I need some protein!

Later I will feel shitty for exposing you to shitty language (just the silent ramblings I usually keep to myself), you know-after I eat, then clean the dogs behind-so apologies ahead of time.


Will You Be Mine?

Everything tastes better when you’re hungry, chocolate, burgers, steak, sex… mmmmm… so hungry.

We all want hair pulling, ass grabbing, all night long…chocolate. Am I right?

That’s exactly why you should boycott trivial, trumped up holidays like Valentines Day. I mean is it steak dinner night or chocolate mousse night or can we just skip to the ass-grabbing dessert?

I love the idea of a fun day for little kids to pass out candy hearts to classmates, and a reason to make the kids heart shaped pancake and eggs. I hate the idea of a scheduled–nationally scheduled–day, hyped-up, fake holiday, made up romancing day, to wine, dine and sixty-nine me, as if we need a reason for that!

To be fair some of my best make-out sessions have been scheduled. Tuesday night: sex night. There’s a difference between a commercial holiday that tells women they need something sparkly and that this somehow signifies the good things in life, and hopefully, true love -vs- a day that my lover and I make sure that we carve out time for something kinkier than a quickie–kids and jobs can trick you into forgetting about how important that time is.

I don’t always schedule hair-pulling, but when I do it’s never because of something trivial, like what day of the year…same thing with gifts; don’t get me started on birthdays and Christmas!

That being said, some people love the tradition of certain holidays–I’m not a conformist–if you love these paper heart, commercial holidays, fine by me but my rebellious side refuses to reciprocate. It goes against my principals so don’t waist your time or money–not on a holiday anyway…

So my plans for tonight? Salad, one slice of pizza, while watching a movie-at home, then “dessert”…oh wait, that’s what we had last night…it’s crazy, we are wild like that…ha!

All right–carry on folks! With any luck you’re smarter than the average person and you skipped dinner so you won’t be too full when dessert comes around…or you skipped V day altogether and went to bed, resting up for a real adventure bright and early tomorrow no doubt!

Happy Valentines.

If You Hate Running, Even Better

Everything matters.

Or at least I want it to. All of it to have meaning and lessons and prove some petty need for validation that “I’m special”. Except, try as I might…I just don’t have it in me to give a rat’s behind about ALL of it.

I read books. Meh.

“That was okay.” I’ll think.

I’d take that day or those days back.

“I could do better.”

But I don’t. I just sit there replaying the weak parts…
I read your blogs…lots of them some days.


“that’s the best; Best title? Best topic? Best intro? WTF? Did they just read thru everyone else’s blogs and regurgitate? Are we all supposed to be talking about how Mia Angelou saved us or how Harper Lee changed our lives? (No mention of the literary teacher who likely forced these authors on you or you’d never have read them…) yapping endlessly about fashion or fame? Or sex? (Okay-keep up the sexy talk, at least that’s not yawn-worthy all of the time.)

Gag me.

I guess I do care, right now, in this second, because I’m fed up. Rest assured. I’ll get over caring-you’re not that big-a-deal.

While I do care, I’d like to take this momentum and draw attention to all the people that turn everything into a point of contention, a bitch-fest. It’s starting to feel like I’m talking about everyone, including you…[with the exception of my *sisters*, all of whom are bright spots in the universe.] Instead I reference all those people who care what kind of person Miley Cyrus is or Emma Watson for that matter?

Who cares if the next James Bond casts a black Bond? Really?

Why are so many people so eager to go on a Big One for things trivial and, mostly, absurd? Why are we obsessed with getting our opinions validated on everything from peanut butter and jelly’s to feminism to religion?

If all the people who are good at caring about everything actually gave a turd about anything real, like preserving Native American lands and culture, feeding the hungry preserving coral reefs, sex trafficking, reducing our collective human footprint, corruption in government or saving my ass from destitution when I’m old (economy collapse) then maybe the state of the Union would actually stand a chance of getting better.

Instead we all stick our noses up Kim Kardashian’s butt, interject ourselves into any trite experience, carry around our little paper cups full of hot liquid showcasing a two tailed mermaid on the front, and use it all as an excuse to blow off the quality of our work, our health, our moments to connect to each other, a child, a community; shiny distractions that we dump energy and time into while we get slow and soft in the middle (and in the grey matter.)

Wake-up! Go running, run until your brain is empty, your body feels nothing and the petty little distractions melt into oblivion.

If you hate running, even better…the pain is good, helps clear the mind of insignificant and worthless junk.

I’m sure my rant is lack-of-run induced. It’s been two days and my brain is having withdrawals…

When you’re done, you just might find out you don’t have time for the clutter of caring about everything. Maybe, just maybe, with some practice, we can all learn to care a little bit less.

Run For It!!!

does this headband make me look fast?

does this headband make me look fast?

There’s another one! I just saw her on my way home from school drop-offs. I want to slam on the breaks, honk, get out and slap Each. And. Everyone. Of them. Don’t they know there are people like me on the road–trying to run them over!? Well not trying to run them over, at least not me…not on purpose anyway.

It’s hard to navigate my disgust, because on the flip side I want to cheer for her.

She’s out running. The roadsides and gyms are flooded with all the New Year’s resolutions. People determined to not let another year slip by without focussing on their fitness. Filled with all the people who got a brand new shiny FitBit or other fancy gadget to indicate they have fulfilled their 10,000 step goal. Also filled with the regular runners, bikers and other gym enthusiast that I see on a regular basis. I was her once. I want to cheer, you go girl! She is going to feel great later today, later this year (if she keeps it up). The difference is I don’t try to get run-over every time I go out on the road for a run.

You’ve seen it too right?

Runners who assume everyone drives like they do…or like they think they do…Runners, running with their backs to traffic, this girl with headphones in.  I don’t care how bright your fancy running pants are, if I am distracted I will still not see you. And the big silver, 3/4 ton, Dodge diesel I drive has no fancy navigation system, it will not distinguish between off roading fun and running over a person…

Flashy clothes alone can't save runners from rogue vehicles and distracted drivers.

Flashy clothes alone can’t save runners from rogue vehicles and distracted drivers.

If you have refocused previous efforts or are reinventing yourself entirely, especially by running or walking more, cheers to you! I won’t complain about the gym being too full, or the roads bustling with with more foot traffic. Really. I am happy for you. Stick with it. If you get distracted, pick it back up. You don’t have to wait for New Years. Just start again.

BOOM! Just like that you’re back.

In the meantime, here are some helpful tips to help you stay alive while you are out there pounding pavement:

1.) Run into traffic. Well, not literally into it, that would defeat the purpose of getting healthy. However, you should be facing oncoming traffic. Shoulders down, relaxed, chest out and head up looking at each car. (Even looking down a little restricts oxygen, that will slow you down, but not as much as getting smashed by a car.)

2.) Did you know that wearing sunglasses can reduce your field of vision by 40%? Yeah, I wear them too. I’m just cool like that. All the more reason to keep your eyes on traffic.

3.) Go without headphones. I listen to music, not every run though. When I do have my tunes I only wear one headphone and I keep it down low enough to hear my own singing over the music–sometimes I throw out my arms and sing my heart out in the middle of a run, that’s when I realize I am not as tired as I thought I was…and that everyone now knows “I’m friends with the monster under my bed…”

Some interesting things I’ve noticed, running without iTunes.

Smells are more intense. Things like daffodils in spring, and eucalyptus trees come to mind right now, wet grass, and heady lilac too, heck even brewing coffee or bar-b-q (…then there are the few times I wish I hadn’t noticed: horse farm, garbage day and slurry pits…) The sky’s a little bluer, songbirds louder, frogs happier and laughing kids, sweeter. I don’t know, it’s just a nice change.

Here’s another nice thing about no music. There can sometimes be very serene and spiritual moments to a good run–in fact, there should be. When I decide that I am dedicating a run to someone, (and run with no music) a friend in need (my neighbor with cancer), a loved one, even someone who has passed away, I tend to run further and faster with less complaints from my head and body. Try it.

That and you will hear the cars coming toward you.

4.) Get out of the bike lane, if you see a biker coming. I know, usually the rule is “lower and slower” gets the right of way but not in this instance. Bikers have their backs to traffic–if they aren’t idiot bikers–and you’re feet are more maneuverable than some of those skinny road bike wheels, so scooch over. They might even thank you but don’t expect that, in fact they may not even acknowledge you but who cares. It’s the right thing.

5.) You know what else is the right thing? Keep it to yourself. Don’t litter. Don’t throw down your water bottles, or empty Gu packs (If you’re doing this-you are a tool and maybe you deserve to get run over). Really. Fact is that unless you are running for more than an hour, you’ll survive without both…you will also be tougher. Stick that gooey package back where you had it stashed, even if you had it in your sports bra, you’ll survive and you’re going to need a shower pill anyway.

6.) Reflect. Weather morning or night it’s easy to not notice how dark it might be to a driver if the sun is waxing or waning…I feel silly running with a reflective vest but I’m not so cool that I don’t when I choose runs late in the evening. Besides…I think it makes me faster, if only to hush the nay-sayers.

Besty who runs at night with me! Night runs are ah-maz-balls!!!! This pic is post 4.5 at about midnight, cuz we're rebels. Running at night makes you feel like a kid, cuz it's silly and nuts.

Besty who runs at night with me! Night runs are ah-maze-balls!!!! This pic is post 4.5 at about midnight, cuz we’re rebels. Running at night makes you feel like a kid, cuz it’s silly and nuts.

7.) I’ve discovered that running buddies also make me stronger, keep me safer, and are a good distraction around mile five or six…for some reason after forty or fifty minutes I start getting bored, that and on a really long run (10-12 miles, I sometimes end up out in BFE-alone-that creeps me out a little.)

Yesterday Aden when on a five miler with me. Not long but he's fast. Even though we were talking the whole time we still averaged nine minute and fourteen second miles. Easy for him, hard for me! Stud.

Yesterday Aden and I post five miler, (no make-up and he still looks good!). Not that long but he’s fast. Even though we were talking the whole time we still averaged nine minute and fourteen second miles. Easy for him, hard for me! Oh- and then he turned around and ran back home five miles averaging 7:40 or 50something each mile! Stud.

When I have a buddy it’s always better. I’m lucky, I have a teenage kiddo who makes a (mostly) reliable and good running partner and I’ve been collecting others!

Regardless, fast or slow, you’re doing it. That’s what counts in the end!

I am happy to see new faces out on my runs, just stay safe.


I Got My Whitewater Team-Bring It 2015

I must have made some kind of silent wish, listened to that story and let it rekindle some barely alive spark still smoldering. It fits, I’d listened to that young man and his tale, thought it the perfect call to adventure, and somehow wished it upon myself. He was young, approaching 19 and still in awe of all life held before him.

He’d stood in front of us, gathered to celebrate the passing of time, the beginning of adulthood and the end of high school. It was early summer and graduation parties for young men and young women were abundant, so was the excitement of new adventures and big dreams. I don’t remember his name, barely recall what he looked like, young, handsome, tall with waves in his light brown hair, but it’s vague. What’s not vague is the story he offered up and the wish that he bestowed upon us all.

“It was going to be the trip of a lifetime.” He started, ” three generations together, one epic journey to commemorate their solidarity, their love and to forever bind their hearts to each other. My grandfather, my father, my brother and myself were stepping out the door to tame the wild, slay dragons and navigate the the treacherous Rogue River down deep in the wild wilderness of southern Oregon. We had signed up for a guided trip, with other strangers looking for adventure, it was the summer before my brother would leave for college and everything would change.

My grandfather had booked the trip and now we all sat in the car at our rendezvous point with our group.

‘Before we get out,’ my Grandpa said, ‘I’d like to offer up a family prayer.’

This wasn’t abnormal for our little tribe and so each grabbed another’s hands and silently bowed their head. We probably should have paid attention to the building anticipation, been afraid of how things just fell together too easily, recognized it as an omen that time offs were granted, and schedules cleared, but we were oblivious, the smell of excitement filling our noses, testosterone coursing through our veins…heads hastily bowed, ‘hurry’, was my prayer, ‘before someone uses up all the fun.’

Grandfather inhaled, let it out and began, ‘Heavenly Father bless us that we will encounter all the adventure that we can handle. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.’

That was it. I was left wondering who was this guy and what had he done with my long winded grandfather, I quickly decided I shouldn’t question it, maybe God answered my silent prayer, the Lord works in mysterious ways, after all. And so it was that we all excitedly exited the car grabbing arm loads of gear and coolers of food. Enough, in hand, to last us three nights and four days in the wilderness, and we were off. Off on the adventure of a lifetime, we could not contain our enthusiasm.

The first half of the day was un-eventful, as far as rafting trips go, fun…predictable, there was a brief midday stop for grub but I hadn’t had time to build up an appetite. We nibbled on turkey sandwiches and drank bottled water, mingling with our new companions. My brother and I were filled with anticipation and excitement and saw this lunch break as unnecessary, spending much of our break skipping rocks across the burgeoning waters, full from the spring melt following a record year of heavy snowfall.

When lunch concluded and we began the process of relaunching half a dozen rafts we were armed with a brief run down of the next stretch of river and what to expect. Class 3 rapids were up ahead–I was going to see some action after all–and in the next half hour, adrenaline was swirling, I was on pins and needles.

Most rapids get smaller in the spring as the deeper melt-off water adds cushion to the underlying boulders, this upcoming area however was the exception to that rule. With vertical cliffs on both sides, a giant boulder more than ten feet tall pinned between them and a matching ten or twelve foot drop off the back side of said boulder. Lower water levels, meant a bigger drop off the backside but slower water too, thus making it easier to navigate your approach. The approach here is what mattered.

The boulder marks the first in a series of rapids. Entering these from the right side of the boulder is paramount to safely negotiating the next hundred yards of peril. It sounded fun, we were ready. Our boats began spreading out, making room for each other to chance the Rapids safely spaced out, we were the fourth boat with two following us. When the infamous boulder came into sight. The first three boats each took their turn paddling hard towards the right cliff, finding their mark and sliding effortlessly over the large rock of death.

Suddenly it was our turn and we were hurdling toward the left side of the cliff, we dug in our paddles, a singular and perfect effort…until the current ripped dads paddle from his hands. In his effort to retrieve the paddle he fell from the boat, the right side of the boat. Cliffs ever looming and fast approaching he scrambled trying to climb back in, each of us grabbing hold of his life jacket. Suddenly our raft was hurled into the left cliff with all the force of a raging river, we ricocheted off the left wall, then slamming into the right cliff and over the top of dad. He was gone, just like that; lost in the white water. Because of the manner of traversing the path over the Rock of death, we went over the water fall in a spin and to the left.

I barely had time to worry about the safety of my father when I found myself swimming in the icy water, our boat having flipped upside down at the base of the falls, all of our supplies and gear sliding out into the fast, swirling, rushing waters. My head broke the surface of the water and I felt the scream leave my lips but could not hear my own voice over the rush of the water.

If I tell you that it was maybe eight minutes of solid rapids that’s not doing the experience justice. Climb into an extra large washing machine and try to stay in it for seven or eight minutes while it’s going. It’s a better idea of what riding those rapids, outside the boat, felt like.

White Water Rapids

While I won’t deny I was afraid, I didn’t entirely have time to really consider how scary, just trying to find air and land, when I finally did, I saw my grandfather on the other side of the river, safety on land and sitting up. I could see a cut on his forehead but he looked okay. In the distance I could see the last two boats far away, upright and getting smaller and smaller on the horizon, our gear strewn about, some on the shore but most of it smack in the middle of the river and on a course far out of reach to us.

I looked up river from where we’d come and saw raging water, boulders and fallen logs all creating a hazardous maze of rushing white water. Standing on one of the boulders lining the opposite side of the river I could see my big brother, Joe. He was standing, arms in air waving at us, the orange life vests downstream. I could not yet see my father and a sense of doom seemed to grow in my heart.

Behind me was a small rocky beach and cliff sides that would soon prove inescapable. My granddad was yelling at me, I couldn’t hear him but understood the indication to stay put as he picked his way over rocks and boulders back to my brother. I watched and soon realized that below my brother my father was laid out on a rocky landing barely big enough for the boulder resting there, dad’s feet were still in the water and I could not see his head, my view obstructed by other obstacles between us.

It seemed hours passed but eventually my grandfather and brother had my dad between them and were carrying him back down towards my position. When they got into clear view I could see dad was hurt but conscious, weak but standing. Whew, thank God.

It took us a lot of time to realize that, though safe from the river, I was also trapped. After scraping every part of my body, and eventually falling from too many feet up I decided I could not safety climb the rock face buffering the river. No one was going to tell me to jump back in the water, there were still a dozen yards of white water. If I jumped in to cross the river, I’d be swept into it and though fine now, there were no guarantees I could pull that stunt twice and live to tell.

While the other side of the river brainstormed, no doubt discussing leaving me there and going for help, I became impatient. I felt prompted to act. I’m sure waiting would have left me weaker and less able, more exposed to the elements and in bigger jeopardy. I couldn’t wait. Dad and grandpa were arguing, again, I couldn’t hear the conversation but I could tell that emotions were running high. I looked at my brother, I must have a ‘tell’ because he stood up like he had a rocket in his butt. He said no words but walked directly to the edge of the water, staring me down. His eyes broke away for just a second and so did mine while I looked down river at what I was facing, when our eyes came back together I jumped in.

helping hand giving to drowning man in sea

That’s when he started yelling and screaming, running down and over all the hurdles in his way, trying to converge on my hopeful landing point. I was lucky. I did make it to the other side, some yards down river, one thing is for sure though, I wouldn’t have without my brother Joe. He was thighs deep and braced against the current on green slimed rocks when he reached out and grabbed me by my sweatshirt-hood hanging from the back of my life jacket, barely grabbing, then dragging me to shore. I don’t know how he did that unless by some miracle.

When the four of us regrouped we stood there for a time, heads together, arms draped over each other’s shoulders, smiling, shivering, laughing. We were sure we were goners and something made that fantastically funny.

Eventually dad and I sat on a rock together unable to really function at full capacity and Joe and grandpa gathered what they could find of our belongings. This included: one smashed turkey sandwich still dry and sealed in a ziplock bag, one empty cooler, two cans of soda and by some other miracle a neon green, plastic tube with a watertight, twist off lid and 13–still dry–matches.

We gathered together all the dry bits of leaves, grass, twigs and sticks we could find and proceeded to build the tiniest, most pathetic fire you’ve ever laid eyes on. Being early summer/late spring most things were too green to burn or had already been swept away by the raging river. No matter, we were sure if we could just hold on, rescue crews would arrive in the next few hours.

Dark fell on us and still we’d herd no rescue choppers nor had we seen any other boaters. We knew our group saw us go over but we did not know they had no way of contacting search and rescue until later the next day. We were lost, deep in the thick of some of Oregon’s most remote wilderness and we’d just pulled ourselves from water barely over fifty degrees Fahrenheit… For perspective that’s only a few degrees warmer than your refrigeraters, to top that we had no food, (not counting the one, smashed turkey Sammy mentioned earlier) had skipped lunch, no dry clothes, no cell phones, no blankets, six dry matches–don’t ask–and a fire you could put out with one boot.

Rogue River temps drop significantly at night, even in the summer and I later learned the temperate that night hit a low of 48. We could see the glow of fog leave our mouths illuminated by our teeny tiny fire and a hush crept over us. When you have enough time to get out of survival mode, that is when dread smacks you in the face. We all reached that moment together as the night noises grew louder and the still air got colder. Finally granddad stood up, pulled one of dads arms up and over his shoulder and said it was time to get going. No one argued, Joe and I stood and followed, happy to let grandpa take the lead, hoping he knew something we didn’t.

We walked, hobbled, limped and shivered through the dark all night finally coming to a barbed wire fence. Knowing fences usually go somewhere we followed it on into the morning dawn. The fence eventually led to an old logging road where we took a break and shared our smashed salmonella sandwich…which is a lot like a smashed turkey sandwich that has been shoved in your pocket for 18 hours. I know we all felt guilty for eating, thinking each of us might need it more than the next but grandpa insisted.

That logging road held so much promise and we felt so hopeful even after morning turned to midday and we still hadn’t seen any other signs of civilization. Eventually after noon we came to a paved road that crossed the logging road and followed that another six or seven miles before we came to a rest area along, you guessed it, the Rogue River. This too gave us hope and renewed belief that we would be rescued soon.

Our father, in desperate need of some rest and surely having suffered a concussion was nauseated and dizzy wanting to lay down and rest. Grandad said there was no time for sleeping that we needed to get found and allowed only for a half hour respite from being on our feet. He set my father down on an ample rock big enough to be a small arm-chair and went to check for running water.

All of the sudden we heard this strange sound coming from the rock. The sound of a giant hornet on steroids or a mini freight train, if you will. I had never heard anything like it but some animal instinct in me knew it was bad, no chance it was something soft and fuzzy… Dad instinctively pulled his feet up on the huge rock and peered past his knees I took a few steps back and studied the rock, it’s then I saw the enormous timber rattler that had laid out its body along the south facing base of the giant chair rock. The snake had been startled from a snooze by our clambering and climbing on his rock and now, feeling threatened wanted to stake his claim.

Joe approached with a handful of pebbles and succeeded incompletely pissing the snake off until he was tightly coiled, buzzing his tail like mad and peering at us, ready to strike. Thats when dad stood up and lunged off the backside of the rock. We all began to argued how to best get rid of the beast and avoid getting snake bit in the process. Meanwhile, grandpa had seen the commotion, picked up a long walking stick sized tree branch, sharpened one end by rubbing it at an angle on the asphalt, walked quickly back to the ensuing mess, held a hand up to silence us, waited for the snake to lay his belly back in the silty sand and start to slither off then lightening fast, stabbed that snake right in the top of his head pushing the stick as far into the sand underneath as he could.

Then while the snake coiled and writhed on the stick grandpa scolded us saying that had we left the snake alone it would have caused us no harm and been on its way. I just stood there staring at the deadly pit viper, that wasn’t going to hurt us yet still managed to find a wooden spear in his or her head…I felt high but I think that was just hunger…

It was easier to find materials for fire here in the day use area so we gathered tender and wood and build another fire in a pit we made in the sand and circled with rocks (but not before we carefully inspected and kicked each rock, checking for any “harmless” pit vipers that might be hanging out.) Once that fire was sending out little glowing dust bunnies grandpa treated us all to cooked rattle snake. I wish I could tell you we were hungry enough that it tasted like fine dining but if you’ve ever had moms cooking you know the bar is pretty high…it was not fine dining and I could not pretend the sand was salt and pepper…but by the end of that chewy meal I did feel certain that all was right in my world and that things were going to be just fine. Ready for some smooth sailing…


It must have been my guardian angels whispering to me because just before nightfall a car came down the road to the day use area. It was a local man, alone, on his way home from a working out of town, he’d stopped here to relieve his bladder and was as surprised as us. We must have looked awful because after explaining the entire affair the man still looked nervous about taking us with him. It was momentary but even I could see that he thought he was making a mistake.

So it was, with no money, no I.D., no leverage or proof we were rescued by grace. He drove us to his house where loved ones, and eventually authorities were contacted and we were fed and clothed and ushered back into the arms of loved ones.

Joe said, In the back of the State Troopers SUV, on the way to a local hospital to be treated for dehydration and exposure, ” I know I must be insane for thinking this but I am so thankful for the last two days. I feel like I witnessed miracle upon miracle and I definitely had ‘all the adventure I could handle’ thanks for that prayer Granddad, how else would I have such clear proof that there is a God and he does listen and answer prayer.”

He was right you know, my brother Joe. I will be much more careful what I pray for from here on out!”

So I think about that young mans story in summer of 2013 and I’m sure the adventure gods heard my snicker when I had the thought that I could handle whatever they threw my way…cuz last year is proof of that!

Some of my favorite team mates.

Some of my favorite team mates.

I’m still ready for some adventures, I feel sure 2014 was gunning for me but I could be wrong, maybe 2014 was trying to teach me some survival skills, ready me for an even more epic endeavor…one where we are not doomed. Just to be safe, I put in a few request this time and conceded that I would prefer that this go around it’s not ALL white knuckle…but bring it on 2015. I’ve battened down the hatches, steadied my paddles, and thrown on some extra rope and matches for good measure, and though they might look like monkey’s, up close they are the real deal–hardcore, never backdown, never give up, fighters–I got my whitewater team and we are ready.

Terminal Velocity

Its Christmas Eve, I am hiding out at the local athletic club–in the hot tub at three in the afternoon. I’ve decked the halls, wrecked the malls, hung some mistletoe, shopped till I dropped, kissed the elves and one smelly old man, then double checked who’s naughty and who’s nice (my husband thinks they are the same thing), rubbed the roast beast (the husband says he’s next). I’m my sous chef for tomorrow so I also prepped twice baked potatoes and mounds of vegetables to glaze and to roast, made breakfast and bread then drank something red, I’ve wrapped presents, stamped cards–that are three weeks too late–skyped bunches of loved ones, plus made all of our beds, dressed all our kids, tended the farm, paid homage (to one of my) bosses, plus I got in my hour of cardio then some weights, that’s just today, now I’m dead.
(Being dead may be a tiny exaggeration, not by a lot, it was getting close to “me” or “them”. I like “them” so I took a time out, refueling.)

It’s Christmas time and I have reached terminal velocity–this is slower than Christmas velocity–the hot tub is my fuel to reach Christmas velocity. That’s when I should be able to muster enough courage to tuck in nice and tight, and fly right into the vortex.

My phones wrapped in a plastic bag, tied in a knot and I’m facing a jet that’s working my thighs–leg day earlier and it was good. You’re my distraction from all the time I am wasting, really though? This is where I should be, relaxing and refocusing. The longest week of the year, with dark falling early and to-do lists continually unfurling.

I hope you got a break. found time to recharge, rewind, and define what really makes you happy, all the people you love, and all that other Yule tide, good stuff. Christmas is for everybody or at least it should be. Sure it’s about baby Jesus and that’s good, but baby Jesus would want it to be about love, he’s just that kind of baby, always thinking of others before himself. So no matter who you are or how well you know baby Jesus, go celebrate, be happy and oozing out cheer. Love your friends and your neighbors and everyone dear and try to not drink too much beer…or eggnog for that matter.

Be safe and be merry.
Happy Christmas.

I’m Handing Out Cheer

There’s this man.

“Hey, dis you car?”

His accent is thick, and personally, I’m always a sentence behind trying to follow the conversation. If it’s your car, he will find you.  When you see him coming up the road, or up your driveway, do yourself a favor, go and meet him directly. Jonny hails from the land of confrontation (I don’t mean China, but he’s also Chinese).

If he’s not there to protest a parking offense, he likely wants to borrow the extra space in your recycle bin or your plant waste bin, don’t even bother telling him it’s too full, he will come and check in the early morning hours just to see if you were telling the truth (and then, go ahead and fill it up the rest of the way).

When Jonny isn’t reprimanding you on your neighbor etiquette, (those poor bastards who park their trailers, boats, and RV’s streetside…who am I kidding–go get them Jonny!) borrowing a tool, or the space in your yard clipping bin he might actually have a plate full of cookies, rolls, or some other treat to share. That or a job for your young one…a job that pays actual money whether you want it or not. The last likely scenario to watch for: he has some furniture he wants to offer you before he donates it to charity.

His name is Jonny Wu and he is my next door neighbor.  You can find him in his yard most any day, (even in the torrential winter rain and blustery spring evenings) or out walking his retired seeing-eye golden retriever “Rupee”. He has climbed mountains, kayaked rivers and the ocean, scaled cliffs, white-water rafted, run half marathons and marathons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s even flown planes and driven race cars but I have yet to hear those exploits. He skis, he travels, he’s been to countries all over the world and driven through more than half the states and parts of Canada in his motorhome.

Jonny is ageless, though I think he is close to seventy, I am still not sure which side of it he’s on. Not taller than about five foot, don’t let his diminutive stature fool you, it’s not an accurate measurement of his gravity. Pointed and direct, readily handing out advice and criticism, usually making me or anyone he’s talking to realize the error of their ways, Jonny grew up in China, (not what I meant by the land of confrontation–by land of confrontation I refer to the ethers from which his soul was heralded into this existence) and looks at the world very practically…and vocally.

We are next door to each other. He knows all the nuance of being a good neighbor, we rarely talk over the fence or through the fence, and he uses the front door, or phone instead of an open window to talk to me, but because of his reputation for directness my neighbors offer up their raised eyebrows, apologetic smiles, coupled with knowing looks, sure that I must be in the line of fire more than anyone else. What most of my neighbors don’t know, wouldn’t believe, what they’d never understand, Jonny and I, we get each other.

He’s called me at 2:00am in the morning to tell me my tiny yap dog is “singing” at the cat on the fence between our homes. I could hear the smile in his voice when a few days later I called him at 12:30am to ask if he could hear that his german shepherd was almost as musically inclined as my yappy dog. The next day we laugh at each other and tease.

He brings over photos of his adventures, narrates as I flip through glossy portfolios of amazing places that most of us will never see. He’s a good photographer too, with a memory that rivals any archivist.

Jonny will tell you if you are out of shape physically, he will tell you if you missed an opportunity, he will tell you when you are wasting money, wasting time, having bad manners, using too much water, what color to paint, what tree to cut down, where to put your flowers, when you might not be picking up your dogs poo fast enough or if you are being too hard or too soft on your kid. It’s one of my guilty pleasures hearing or seeing him in action, though I have been known to enjoy a little carnage here and there…

He doesn’t believe in God, he believes in people, believes in actions. He doesn’t live by intention he lives by doing.  The perfect example of who more of us should be. He has no time to hold a grudge, he is busy living. He passes judgement but not to ridicule, or feel superior, he passes judgement as more a function of his observation.

“You have everything going for you, you male, you young, you good looking, you white. Hell, what more you want? Go to college, get good job, get married, you have great life.”

I overheard him admonish one of my teens with this one day upon hearing their complaint about life being hard.

Bad or good, he’s got clarity and he speaks freely. He can’t help you if he doesn’t tell you to your face and chances are, if Jonny is talking to you, he likes you, maybe even loves you (I know he loves my kids, he’s helped them over and over, made up opportunities just to justify paying them). He can’t help his cut-and-dry/no-bones about it approach to getting you to move your car from in front of his house (I laugh joyfully that it’s never been me who chose that perilous folly!) or telling you to try harder.

He only cares about the things that matter not the things people say matter, or the world says, or words said, only what matters, what matters to him. He could solve a billion of the worlds problems, but no one is listening. He’d say quit bitching, get to work, don’t worry about about what everyone else thinks, worry about what you’re doing. What. You. Are. Doing. The rest doesn’t matter. You can’t change it anyway.

A few weeks ago a couple months ago an ambulance visited Jonny’s house. Probably almost three months now, truth be told. News got around the neighborhood that Jonny was sick. Eventually we each learned that Jonny had been diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive cancer. They gave him 6-8 weeks to live.

He’s home, still out walking Rupee, still borrowing my green waste bin, (I know I need to rake the dang leaves…) still Jonny. Life is fragile. He tells me everyday feels like a gift since he past the 8 week mark. He looks good too. And I am scared.

I am scared for him, mostly because I hate to see someone hurting and it’s overwhelming to think what he faces and hope he doesn’t feel alone. His family is gathered and always at his side. His wife is amazing, and I am scared for her too, but I only smile when I see either of them and talk about all the normal things we have always talked about. They are brave, their smiles warm, their laughing real.

I started this entry two months ago. It doesn’t feel done. I don’t have all the thoughts and emotions sorted into a diatribe of authentic and articulate words that portray the many layers of emotion. But when I sit in the dark thinking of the arguments, disagreements, and petty bullshit that permeates way too much of my own life, probably yours too, I realize that Jonny is a rare human. He gives a shit about everything and nothing all at the same time. Like the perfect stranglehold on serenity if you ask me.

I like to tell you funny stories and smarty pants stories. I like to try and uplift, inspire or flirt with you, but today I can only think how I wish we could all be hyper focused on just this moment, every moment. Who moves us, who loves us, who we love, care about, that we could let go of the trash and toxins we are dragging around like they are important when they aren’t.  I want to fill up my time with more things I love and love doing. Things that are meaningful to me. I want to ask myself, everyday, to refocus on what is important, how I want to live life and who I want to live it with. More laughing, more dancing, more creating, more playing, even more alone time, but also more together time, with the people that matter. 



The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

For more than twenty years I have been driving cars around on roads, legally. Today marks one of the very few “firsts” I have left to experience in a vehicle, while on the road. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing.

I’m talking, of course, about metered merging on the on ramps.

I sat in line, waited my turn at the flashy light and sped off to join the enormous zipper of cars stretching up the highway. Except I couldn’t help and reflect, as I waited patiently, we mighty humans need a flashy light…don’t ants do this sort of thing without fancy lights?

I’m taking it as a biblical sign that the end is near.  You know the line? “…And the meek shall inherit the earth…”


The Deep

“Have you ever?” she asked.

Her lips scarlet, her skin made more pale in the moon light. Drops of water clinging to her skin, eyelashes clumped together from the damp and fog just barely lifting off the water where we swam.

“Have you ever?”  She repeated. “Just to be there,  feel swallowed up. Swam, without hesitation, out into the middle?”

I closed in on her until I could feel the vibrations from her body, swirling eddies brushing past my naked skin. My fingers reached out to trace across her chest and down to the curve of her waist. Only a silver sliver of the moon between us.  I could see her moving in the water, slow, effortless. Lips parted, I wanted to kiss her. She smiled, but only a little. It made her look vulnerable and in a moment, that small minute, I knew she was undecided.

That the future didn’t exist to her, not now. At this moment, there was only this moment. She wanted it to last, not knowing what would come at the end. I pretended not to see her loss. With big strokes I swam past her until I was far enough away. Letting the vision of her settle into my mind. Perfect, simple, not asking, not taking, not expecting.

At the edge of the water it was loud. Noise: animals rustling and calling, insects singing, chirping and buzzing and the sound of the water lapping endlessly at the shores. Here was quieter, muted, and I turned to see how far away I was. She was still beside me, her face, inches away, skin radiating as the moon rose higher. She came close. Looking into my face, searching.

“From here it looks like nothing.” She said.

Her breath was wispy, soft, but close enough to dislodge water droplets on my cheeks, send them in rivulets down to my chin. It was my turn to offer a smile in silence.

I turned to look back into the dark, into the deepness. Silently she slipped past me, brushing softly against me, effortlessly going forward. Her head slightly swaying, swimming silent in the still waters, a tiny wake of a ripple trailing out from each shoulder. Transfixed, I followed.

We swam on an on, I wondered if we’d ever arrive, wondered why we were going. It looked like nothing. It took the length of night and no time at all. Memories of the journey stretched but time pasted effortlessly. At last she slowed.

“We are here,” she whispered.

Quiet enveloped us, the kind if silence that sucks away the air and the sound of even your own breath. Her back still facing me, she, looking into the deep. Tendrils of mist rising around us. Sections of her long hair snaking down her back and swirling around us. I searched, looking. At first I saw nothing. Then slowly it materialized before me. The Deep.

“It’s here.” she said barely above a whisper, “They call it jumping in with both feet, letting go, or falling. Really it’s here, far away from the edge, The Deep. You chose to come, let go and turned your back on your retreat. Unforgiving, magical, you give up your safety, hope to believe, risk it all, even yourself, that’s The Deep. The place you find yourself when you choose to let go, unafraid, abandoning your needs, your fears, your own wants and giving into the deep.”

I hear her words just as she turns to kiss me and the waters swallow me up. I don’t fight it. I’m not afraid and I’m quietly terrified. A siren speaking of love. I wanted it, not her and I let The Deep take me, watched as the shimmer of her body got further and further and I sank…


If It Has Tires or Testicles…

I look at him, he looks at me.  Something is wrong, it’s excruciating to say nothing, I manage but he can read my thinly veiled concern. At a mere 60 miles per hour, and an hour late already, the last thing he needs is me saying anything, sounding as though I doubt his ability to manage a crisis. He is plenty smart, and more capable of critical thinking than most, so I just look at him.

He’s taking the exit off the highway.

“Wow, that was lucky.” I say.
I’m hoping he knows what is wrong and why the motorhome is making such terrible noise…and I’m hoping he will volunteer the info.

“No doubt.”

That’s the best he can do?! (…Deep breath…)

“So…? Flat? …worse?” I ask, all nonchalant like.

There’s a long pause, he’s reviewing his options before he speaks.

More silence as he scans up ahead.

“Uh, I have no clue, sounds like a flat–doesn’t feel like one.”


I can tell he’s already shutting me out of the equation, he likes to work alone. Just wants to handle it all by himself,  he thinks it will be hours of our time and a fortune. Time and a fortune we don’t really have, least not to tow and or repair the old girl, thirty miles from home.

Little more than an hour down the road a dozen friends and family wait in the wilderness for our rendezvous. Tents pitched, coals lit, beverage in hand, they are waiting for us…the thought that they’re waiting in vein enters my mind. Won’t be much of a party without us; we have virtually all the food, least all the good stuff.

At last we are off the highway, onto a side street at the far end of Petaluma, seeking a place of refuge to get out and survey the situation. Why did he just drive by the little tiny gas station with no cars and a garage?!?!?!?!?!

Steady, I tell myself, breath...I do my best, temper myself, (almost) silently freaking out that the further he drives the more broke whatever is broke will be.

I smile apologetically.

“Should we pull over at that gas station?”

We’ve been together too long for him to not hear it like it feels in my head; “PULL THE HELL OVER!!!!!ARE YOU INSANE??? THAT WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD SPOT TO GET OUT AND SEE HOW FUCKED WE ARE.”

Fortunately he calmly replies, “Lowes is one block away, besides having more room to work, they are more likely to have tools or parts if we need them.”

It sounds like part of the front end has ripped off and is thrashing wildly to get free. At last Big Bertha (aka, the motorhome) rolls to a stop in the Lowes parking lot. We climb out and gather at the front driver side wheel.

Impressive and we are so Lucky. That’s what ran through my head over and over, this is going to be okay–I think.

I inherited the motorhome from my grandpa five years ago. It’s a bit more than 20 years old. It’s saving grace is that it lived in his RV shop with virtually no miles on it (12,000) when it came to my house. I love it. I cannot be in it and not think of how much he liked a good adventure. His drive to explore and how much he loved having his family with him. Without being cliche, I feel like he’s there when an adventure is underfoot in the motorhome.

Grandpa Joe hanging out with Grandma back in the "day".

It’s silly, a metal and wooden box with six wheels, but when I go out exploring in that box I always feel like grandpa came along for the ride. There are almost no highways or freeways on the West Coast he hasn’t had not driven.

When I told him I was moving to Santa Rosa he told me all about the various highways and freeways into and out of Sonoma and Napa. He cracked a smile and storied up a few memories of driving truck through here (one of his many ventures; he owned a freight liner company) and delivering or picking up livestock from various ranchers on the West Coast.

He paused to grin and remind me that when he started his trucking biz, big rigs were still gas (instead of diesel) engines. He shook his head recalling the paces they’d put a truck through around the San Francisco area, up and down those big ‘ol hills with a full load,  rpm’s pegged out accelerator to the floor barely moving, when a/c was referred to as “2 down (or 2low) and 60” meaning you were hopefully going 60mph and had both manual windows rolled down.

He laughed mid sentence and brought to life a day when he’d been pulled over by a Stater…again. Recalling the time of year and the milepost marker he’d just past, all details I’ve long forgotten, explaining that he had a long history with that particular stretch of road. This time the trooper, feeling exasperated, asked him how many times in the last year he had already pulled over my grandpa, not how many times he had been pulled over, how many times “have you and I met in person? ” my grandpa smiled, at me. Six, maybe seven, he couldn’t rightly recall is what he reported to the Trooper but grandpa assured me it was closer to ten times that he had entertained that particular officer in recent months. He obviously liked my grandpa or was just out if ideas and desperate, so a bargain was struck that grandpa wouldn’t go more than ten miles over the speed limit anymore and that if the trooper pulled him over again grandpa was forfeiting his license. No ticket, no fine, ‘get back on the road young man and I never want to see you again’, that’s what the officer said before he turned around and walked back to his patrol car.

Anyway, I’ve been on a bit of a tangent, suffice it to say, these are the memories recalled when I’m riding shotgun in Big Bertha, wind in our hair and road stretching before us.  When you know someone long enough you can read them, dance with them just by paying attention. Everything in Mark’s expression and mannerisms are saying his day is ruined. The tire has shredded off of the wheel and inner tube. It is hanging in twisted shreds, like a hula skirt around the old inner tube and the wheel–that tire is toast.

“Thankfully that tube held together; should we just put on the spare?” It seems logical but Mark isn’t moving.

“I’m calling AAA. That’s what they are for.” He says.

I scoff. It feels like we just gave up.

Mark sees my resistance to this idea. “…besides who knows if we even have any tools…let alone a jack.”

“There used to be all that stuff.” I say, body in motion…

“That was five years ago and two teenagers ago. Who knows where any if it is now.” He’s already got his phone to his ear, I feel like he’s giving up.

I walk around the motorhome, I don’t take defeat well, rarely even acknowledge it (generally to my detriment.)  I know two things–well, at least two–1. AAA service providers always take their sweet time (we will be here hours if we wait for them), 2. if grandpa ever was predictable at anything it was roadside preparedness (for godsakes!).

My first car, grandpa let me drive it home then took away the keys until I changed a tire and the oil…in front of him, and by myself. You didn’t get far talking the talk with him–put up or shut up. Two or three years later he did the same thing with my next car.  No amount of protesting was going to get me those keys and I knew it.

I could tell a dozen stories about him and his rigs…that’s a whole different post, the point I am making here; he’d have had everything on hand and there was every reason to believe it was all still in inventory.

Think what you want, (I am generally not so open about things that seem crazy,) but he was there, right then, and I had the conviction of knowing he was guiding me (I usually don’t sound like such a nut job.) I tell you I saw it all unfolding, like i was being shown what to do. He was in his element and feeling feisty about getting the show on the road.

I saw the Jack and the leverage bar, and a host of other tools I had seen for years in the storage compartments , and never considered what they were for, they suddenly flashed in my head. I even envisioned, like a movie playing in my head, where the jack was supposed to go under the Beast and heard his voice reminding me how to tell where it’s safe to put the jack…Pictures in my mind’s archives, think what you want…I set to work gathering a variety of things, some of which I was relatively unfamiliar with, except I knew that I needed them.

photo 1 (8)

I was undaunted by remarks about corroded lug-nuts, nuts being put on at the tire store with too much torque, or various other comments about my likelihood of success. I was impervious to doubt and apprehension, I pressed forward, clear and sure of the outcome. And like I stated before, it was as if someone was playing a movie in my head. Call it what you want, conditioning, conviction, survival mode, but know this, I didn’t feel like I was in a crisis. I generally have no problems letting Mark decide what to do in a crisis and when I’m alone, and the “fit hits the shan”, I hold my own. There was no shaking it, or ignoring the feeling to go do it myself, not wait.

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In the end I have to admit, I am a princess and princesses know to not steal all the glory. (Plus it’s my birthday weekend.) …so I let the boys lift the heavy tire into place, tighten the lug nuts and put on the finishing touches.

The Moral of the story, one of my favorite life lessons; If it has tires or testicles, it’s bound to give you trouble.

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(But don’t worry, you can totally handle it…)