Camping, Sort Of

This past Wednesday through Friday we had a reservation at a campground near a lake. It had been somewhat of a summer tradition to go there. Last summer we obviously didn’t do it, and I was excited to plan another camping trip when the world got a little safer.

Except our state is in the middle of a drought. And the lake at the campsite was all but dried out. Whatever water remains has developed an algal bloom, so it’s definitely not safe. And Z would still have eyed the lake and asked to go swimming, and she’d be upset that we wouldn’t let her.

It did rain Thursday, but not enough to compensate for all the dryness. The earth was still grateful, though.

So last week I canceled the campsite reservation. And yesterday evening, after the hike, I pitched the tent in the back yard. Z loves the tent.

The three of us and one of the dogs slept in the tent last night. The temperature was neither too hot nor cold, and because Z wore herself out with hiking, she went to sleep relatively quickly.

She woke up and continued to play inside the tent.

I love our back yard.

Oops

I forgot to post yesterday, June 25. It was on my mind to do it. You bet I’m gonna backdate this. (June 25, 2021, 10pm)

We went on a hike to Stewart Falls. It’s an out-and-back hike, totaling four miles. There are some moderately steep parts and some rocky areas, but mostly the trail gently rolls, and it’s shaded with a few sunny parts. I mean, you still have to watch not to trip on roots and tumble down the mountain. All in all, it’s a really pleasant hike with some amazing vistas. One of my favorites.

It’s a little bit steep but relatively short descent past the plungepool, and that’s where we usually go on this hike before turning around.

My brother came along with us, and I think he really liked it, too.

Z especially loves being near the waterfall, and she calls this area, “Good Dinosaur water.”

Have you seen Disney Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur? You should.

Look at this awesome family.

Quick Entry

We watched a scary movie this evening, and it’s pretty late, but I wanted to jot down that the word décolletage has been on my brain lately. First, because I’m starting to notice aging in that part of my body, and I’ve been trying to slow that down by applying moisturizer with AHA. Second, on the show Mad Men, Joan tells Jane–Don’s new secretary–to button up her blouse because her décolletage is showing, and she’s not being very professional.

It’s a random thing, but it may prove useful later on. We’ll see.

The scary movie was decently scary. It’s called Anything for Jackson, and apparently it’s that director’s first ever horror movie. Before this he directed a lot of Hallmark Christmas movies. Fascinating.

Anyway, I did do some deeper thinking today, basically continuing the discussion from Sunday’s class.

It’s nice to form thoughts. Sometimes my mind isn’t clear enough for it, but I’m learning to do it in order to clear my mind, so that I can form better, more substantial, meaningful thoughts.

It’s all a process.

A Park Today

A family of old trees stand together. Their trunks shoot straight up before branches spread out the sky. I love their shade. Their calm presence. Their steadiness.

These trees help obscure an old house adjacent to the park. The house looks scary. Signs along the fence read, “No trespassing.” The trees in that yard are also old. The other foliage is overgrown. Branches gnarl and twist and canopy what might be a lawn.

Large arches signal entryways (NO TRESPASSING), but simple chainlink lines the perimeter. Between long, stamped-down stretches of rusty webbing, it stands somewhat upright.

The family of old trees serve as sentinels. They warn against going past them. They are a much more effective fence than the janky wire barrier. I do not go beyond them.

The straightness of the trees gives me strength. Bestows courage. Grants power.

The will to stay away from that creepy, old house.

Cemetery Time

We visited Nana again last night, June 1 being the second anniversary of her passing. In addition to the many bouquets of flowers left at her gravesite, we launched some balloons in her honor.

It’s a lovely idea, really: the releasing, the floating. The beauty of the symbolism.

And the evening was perfect: the coolness, the breeze, the perfect sky.

Reilly’s sister picked up the balloons. She chose colors that match Carla’s favorite rose from the front flowerbed. Reilly’s dad; his sister, her son; his two brothers, his sister-in-law; a close family friend; me, Z, and he. Each of us held two balloons.

Z counted us down, and then we let our balloons go. They drifted away together. Upward, joining the heavens, becoming sky.

From Instagram June 3, 2019

I wrote this two years ago:

Carla loves gardening and working on her yard. If you’ve seen her yard you know the love and great care she puts in the beauty she creates. I’m no gardener, but for the past couple of weeks I’ve been out in our yard, pulling weeds, planting flowers, meditating, crying: devoting that time to her. Yesterday morning I was pulling weeds, Z was running around in the yard, while Reilly was working on the obituary. It occurred to me that not only is this yard work–this beautifying a space–a good way to remember Carla, it’s a quiet way to feel a certain communion WITH her. It is sacred.

For the past couple of days we’ve been working hard trying to rebeautify our yard. I really love remembering Carla this way. It crossed my mind today while pulling weeds when we first found out she was sick, I wanted to ask her about all her gardening secrets. Which I didn’t do. And I didn’t think it was appropriate as her time here shortened.

I took some video footage of some of the greenery in our yard and put it to music. A modest tribute.

Ten Years Since Sénégal

I was emailing a friend whose birthday is today. And I know that only because it’s two days before mine. And I wouldn’t have known this except I became friends with him and his wife while studying abroad in Sénégal.

Ten years ago.

This occurred to me today, and so I texted a different classmate from the study abroad. This classmate remarked that we were babies then. Maybe she was; I wasn’t so much. I was 34 when we started the trip, and I turned 35 while in our fourth week. I think I’m about nine years older than the married couple who befriended me. Not like it’s a contest. But I tried hard not to feel self-conscious about my age at the time.

It was such an eye-opening experience. Although I struggled with the language, I picked up fragments of comprehension about slavery and colonialism. My French did improve over time, but wow, I hadn’t been challenged like that in a very, very long time.

I wasn’t sure if these costumes are just for show or are actually part of the culture.

It was good to walk among people of a different religion, too. There were rules to follow while visiting mosques. We heard the calls for prayer fives times every day. Y’all, America can be wonderful, but it isn’t the best all the time. Or even close to perfect.

What a beautiful country. It’s hard to believe that whole experience was 10 years ago. I’m grateful I went; going made me a more compassionate, open-minded person. I made lifelong friends. This part of the path opened up the way to where I am now. Which is where I want to be.

Privileges and Joys

I work from home: privilege.

We live in a privileged school district: privilege.

We live in a single family home: privilege.

We’ve come to a point where we don’t worry about whether we can make the mortgage payments: privilege.

The house sits on a plot just under 1/4 acre: privilege.

The back property line happens to adjoin a five-acre farm: joy.

We watch baby farm animals grow up: joy.

I wandered my back yard this morning. Watched the horses. Captured some photos of mid-spring. This afternoon I weeded the front yard for a little while. I like yard work quite a bit, but it does my allergies no favors.

These blossoms dropped from the cherry tree above it. Pink sprinkled in green. I sort of wish I could eat it.

Z loves to scatter dandelion fluff around the yard. For this reason roughly 62 trillion dandelions have popped up in the grass. I honestly don’t mind, because they make our kid happy.

I would suppose not worrying about our dandelion-weeds is also a privilege. Watching our girl play with them is a joy.

P.S. We’re fully vaccinated over here. Go get vaxxed or wear a mask and come hang out with us!

I Don’t Know What to Write About Today

Stumped. A zillion topics, and I can’t get my brain off the ground.

I’ve had a headache all day. I’ve drunk a lot of water, and I’ve made sure to take my allergy medicine. The headache has accompanied sneezing and some achiness. But I attribute that discomfort from playing the clarinet longer than usual.

The pollen count has been so high.

I very seldom get headaches. Most of the time I’m smooth sailing. I work straight through my day. Lots of water, enough food. Maybe rest? Is my rest lacking? Would that make a difference?

Maybe some stretching, too. Increase circulation.

Could have squeezed in a nap today. Perhaps I was also excited for a new clarinet barrel getting delivered today. Barrels are such interesting accessories, in that different ones affect tone in different ways. I put the new barrel on my Bb, and the cork is a little loose, so I wrapped some teflon tape around it to form a better seal. Which makes a big difference.

But yes: an early bedtime would be nice tonight.

So I won’t have to write about a headache and how my day has centered around it.

I mean, NOW I have ideas, but I’ll save them for later.

You know, when I don’t have a headache.

Friday, About Damn Time

I just booked a short camping trip in June. Close by. Yearly tradition, though we usually camp around July 4. And we didn’t do it last year because: pandemic. Very excited to be spending some time outdoors. With limited cell phone service. Woo-hoo!

Whenever I’m not thinking about the sheer crappiness of the world or the utter heartlessness of people, I’m actually in a great mood. Like, I’m allowed these moments of joy amidst the morass of …morassness. My family, my friends, my work. My hammock. My back yard. We’re not super rich; we’re pretty regular people. Still: this is privilege.

I’m reading a book, Hood Feminism, by Mikki Kendall. About halfway through, so far some really powerful points made. A few foods for thought:

Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters.

We also need to stop normalizing hate and stop assuming hate speech is harmless, regardless of who it targets or who says it.

We can’t afford to keep pretending mental health issues stop at the boundaries of whiteness. Instead we have to be ready, willing, and able to embrace those for whom mental health is a struggle and to make sure that we aren’t contributing to their trauma under the guise of being helpful.

Even though I’m not Black, I did spend part of my childhood in poverty, and I observed and experienced systemic oppressions without really knowing what they were. And now I want to help so that others don’t have to live some of the experiences I did. If you can, check out this book.

And now, because it’s Friday, let’s throw back to my dazzling review of Rebecca Black’s hit song, “Friday.” Click this link, and … just prepare yourself for some overt tongue-in-cheekiness. Happy Friday, everyone. I’ll check in tomorrow and for the following 85 days, at least. Practice makes better.

Oh, dang. I just thought about posting while camping in June, limited cell phone service and all. Looks like I’ll have to plan ahead.