Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

There are some days I know that Ellie loves me so much she cannot contain herself.

This is not one of those days.


Happy Halloween from Me and Ellie's Butt, since she would not turn around for a single one of the 10 pictures I tried to take.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

In Which I learn How to Lead

I am a leader, not a follower.

Okay. It really depends on the situation. And who you ask. But that's not really up for discussion at the moment.

Waaaay back in '02, I learned how to rock climb. I would go with my friends from college, and some of you may remember fondly - or whatever - the reason I got started in the first place.
Despite the parting of ways and gear, I kept at it for a few years with the crazy lady on the left.
I even went to that place which is a bit like Climbing Mecca to live, work, and climb for a summer.

But then life happened. The Fabulous Miss Holly got a boyfriend-turned-husband and so did I. She kept right on climbing with him, but I gave it up since, well, if I wasn't climbing with Holly, I was climbing with partners of the male variety. And having a boyfriend who did not climb and boy-friends who did climb does not really work all that well. Trust me. I tried. Apparently somewhere around 20, the genders cannot co-mingle properly. And men, for whatever reason, usually get jealous at the wrong times. This is becoming even more apparent at 30.

Anyway, a long story short. I gave up climbing altogether. Reluctantly. But eventually, it just became part of my back story; the character development part of my narrative; the skip-to-the-part-where-I-tell-you-something-else-because-this-topic-makes-me-sad part of my life history.

Ironically, the men who kept Holly and I from climbing together are now both part of our back stories, narratives, and life histories. She is doing the divorce thing better than I have; her strength is inspiring and I am so proud to be her friend. And if we can get it together, we will be climbing together again very soon.

During my summer living in Climbing Mecca, Sister - living also in a bit of a Mecca - decided she would go ahead and skip the experience of learning to climb with a top rope and go straight for the part where she put her own ropes up, called leading. I am sure you all remember as fondly as I do Sister's broken foot following the first time she led a climb.

Sister's experience combined with the loss of climbing partners meant that in the last 9 years, I have never taken the opportunity to be more...proactive...with my rope setting.

Until today.

My new friend, JK, and I loaded up Ellie and all of this stuff:

And went to the Candy Store.
We spent the first part of the afternoon just playing around. JK set most of the routes for us,

while I tried to remember how to tie the darn rope.

We got our act together eventually,
which made time for JK to give me some lessons.

Miss Ellie eagerly watched, fetched sticks, or stood on the gear. She may have issues with me, or anyone really, not being on the ground. She wore herself out with worry.


So viola. My first lead climb. The "Tootsie Pop" according to my guide book. It was pretty easy peasy. But hey, it was the perfect starting point.
Here's the first bolt.


And the second.
No picture for the third, but you can see it there just below me from the top!


I was pretty freaking excited.

It may not be that big of a deal to most people, or even you, if you have ever climbed a rock before. But for me...it is a really big step. A really big confidence-building step. There may be some metaphor here about "climbing on" even if it is a little bit terrifying to be without protection every once in a while. About making a new front story, changing history, and further developing my character for a more interesting plot to my life narrative.

But who needs metaphors.

Especially when you have friends patient and non-judging enough to let you learn.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Happy Birthday to my Dad.

And the quote today that made me think of you:

The main reason why a daughter needs a dad is to show her that not all boys are like the ones who hurt her.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Magnolia Moon

I have some talented friends.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thank you, MontanaHomaZonaIa.

Today I had an experience that I probably should be balling my head off about right now.

I probably would be if this was three years ago and I was still letting someone else decide how I should react.

Sometimes doing my job can be very hard. You may not think it because, generally, it is pretty freaking awesome doing what I do. But occasionally, I have to come out of my bubble and interact with people.

Today some gentlemen with puffed up chests, Skoal can pockets, and belt buckles tried to school me about something a "California girl with a nice smile wouldn't understand."

Today some gentlemen with puffed up chests, Skoal can pockets, and belt buckles didn't realize they were dealing with a woman who cut her teeth doing this job where even the ladies have puffed up chests, Skoal can pockets and belt buckles. And those ladies were my best friends.

I might live in California...but don't you go confusing me for anything less than the sum of all my parts.
Those gentlemen surely won't do it again.

I'd thank you not to either.

These Boots Are Made For Walkin' by Various Artists

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I can't win...

Yesterday I came home with a fever. I got into my "cocoon" and slept until 6 this morning. Since I am usually on the road by 5:10 AM Monday through Thursday, I believe Miss Ellie may have taken the late wake up as a sign that I was gonna come back and play.

I suspect, upon realizing that I was not just running to the store without her, she decided to exact her revenge the best way possible. Again.


She also took out some frustration on a bag of Sixlets from the cabinet.

Nothing smells better than coffee grounds, popcorn, and bananas. Except, of course, my dog after she eats all of those things.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

C'est la vie

My incredibly awesome week ended with a dead battery and four stupidly low tires after my 5th 10 hour day in a row.

But.

I got to spend all of Friday with an old friend (and a couple of new ones!) from my days with the Park Service.
We toured a really amazing State Park and saw some incredible archaeology that I have only seen in books.
This was followed by an impromptu dinner at my neighbor's house with another neighbor. There was much consumption of fermented grape juice while sitting down. Which is, by the way, a terribly bad idea when you've done a lot of walking during the day and not eaten more than a salad and some pizza.
Good idea or bad idea, I now have two new friends and am only a little sorry about spending most of Saturday in the fetal position.

Saturday afternoon I helped my new friend JK make pomegranate jelly. I have not done any canning in a while, and to be honest, I am not sure if I have ever handled that many pomegranates in my entire life. My hands are purpley, but I think these beautiful jars of deliciousness are totally worth it. Be nice and I will share.
Today was quite a lot of fun. It started with morning coffee with yet ANOTHER new friend. Followed by a little bit of this with one friend:
That ended up with a need for all of these:
That's 7! There were 7 MORE NEW FRIENDS in my house this weekend! In my house! People! Ellie was beside herself with pure joy at having so many people want to hang out with her.

Maybe I am a little too.

I hope you are about to cue up the world's tiniest violin playing the world's saddest song, but I would just like to reiterate how lonely the end of a relationship can be. Especially when you finally get to the point where you are ready for life to get better. For New Life to really begin.

Making new friends in a new place is hard enough as it is. Making new friends in a new place when you are trying to start a New Life with 200,000 pounds of emotional baggage is even harder.

I am not sure why this weekend turned out to be a huge leap in the right direction for me.

Maybe saying "yes" had something to do with it.

Or maybe I just needed it.

All of us lonely.
It ain't a sin
To want something better
Than the shape we're in.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hit the Reset.


I had an unfortunate run-in with a desert plant this morning in the field. One I am actually quite allergic to; one from the Phacelia family. I would like to say that I just brushed up against it as I was walking through a heavily vegetated area.

But no.

It sneaked up behind me while I was trying to...ahem...have a conversation with a sagebrush. It was the largest sagebrush in the Grass Valley Wilderness, a necessary location since there were jets from the nearby military base doing all kinds of fancy maneuvers above me.

So yes. The Phacelia goosed me while the fly-boys got a show. And not a single one of them sent me flowers or promised to call later.

This tops off a particularly awesome week.

Except that the week is not yet over.

What more awesomeness can there possibly be?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Go Forward

Move ahead.


You know, this song makes much more sense if you think about it like a grown up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fridays are for Family

Lizzie posted a photo essay today about going to the park with her daughter, and I can't help but be a little inspired by the beauty in simply posting your pictures. So here...this was my Friday with my family.

"The blankety blank blank door was 1/8th of an inch off!"

My parents were also distracted by a plane while I was trying to take their picture.


Wow!
Thanks for coming, guys. Next time, stay a little while longer! I have more things to show you, and I promise not to make you bake your own cookies or work for your room and board....

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Skewed = Screwed

Mom and Dad are here visiting today and tomorrow. This is fantastic because 1). my parents have not come to see me together since I moved to California and 2). it turns out I needed a little bit more help with that door than I anticipated.

Apparently I am a bit more like that girl on Tool Time who just brought tools to Tim and Al. I am also a bit like Tim, who was kind of incapable of doing anything.

I take some pride in the fact that I rocked the polyurethaning.

So when Dad arrived, we got started on the door. He drilled some pilot holes for the dog door,

while I managed to make some very crooked cuts with the jig saw.

Dad had to do some fine adjustments after the fact.

But we got it finished.
Mom baked some cookies while we were at it...Pumpkin Snickerdoodles. Which are delicious. Scratch that. WERE delicious!
Then the hard part.

Cutting out the hinges. Then hanging the door.
So Dad taught me a new word today. Or at least the new meaning of the word.

SKEWED.

The definition, at least in carpentry, means...SCREWED.

Apparently...the former owner of this house did a lot of wood working. Which means she did a lot of adjustments to make her door fit in this hole.

So we did too. Can you tell?
Good.

Tomorrow we put in the handle so we can actually get out of the house. Ellie, on the other hand, has been able to go inside and outside. And inside and outside. And inside and outside. And stick one end outside and the other end inside. Chase a ball. Roll in the grass then come back and roll on the carpet....

As I sit here with Dad and Mom sneezing up sawdust and being sore from lifting the door so much, I can't help but think...
yep, this is totally worth it.