To Alex -

To Alex...who is far away in person, but never far from my heart. I miss you. Enjoy these snippets of everyday family life here in the states.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On being prepared.

You know those lists we keep of all the things we want to do when we grow up? The list that has even the far-fetched ideas because you just never know when one of them might come to fruition? No? Hmmm, well I'm one of those people who keep such lists....had 'em for years, and one of the items on that list has been to help women learn that they are much stronger and more resourceful than they think they are. It was a vague notion, nothing defined because I wasn't sure what that was going to mean. I knew from my own life experiences that I was stronger than I acted, that I was far more capable than I allowed myself to be, but I suppose that happens when you dig a big enough hole for yourself that you eventually need to figure out how to get out of it. You also need to figure out how the hell you got yourself into the hole in the first place...if you don't want to go there again. Anyway, I found over the years of trying to get out and stay out of that hole that I needed to be in charge of what happened in my life. You may be thinking, "well, duh," but my upbringing didn't encourage that sort of thinking. It encouraged a wringing of hands in despair and was fraught with 'big people' crushing your spirit when you failed. The problem with that upbringing is it left me incredibly fearful and it took me years to figure out 1. why was I so afraid and 2. what to do about it? I found simple answers to both - Knowledge. They say knowledge is sure feels powerful against fear in my life. 

That's a long, drawn-out explanation for why I learned to be self-sufficient in the woods. It's my favorite place to be and I didn't want to be afraid out there, but it also leads to me saying that I'm leading a group of women on a short backpacking trip in a couple weeks, and some of these women may have never backpacked, and some might be a little nervous. We'll be on a trail I've hiked before, but our starting point is from an area that is new to me. If I'm going to lead (and make everyone feel comfortable), and start from where I've never been, I should probably go find the trailhead. (There's that knowledge thing.) My guts despise not being prepared. I get this knotty, twisted feeling and I don't like that feeling, so I avoid it whenever possible. I avoid it by being prepared, by planning and knowing what's coming.
Yesterday was gorgeous weather for a little exploratory trek. I happened to have a couple extra companions who will always head to the woods with me, and we had a whole day with no plans. Ha, we packed some snacks, included a lunch to cook over a fire, my daypack with items we may need (prepared)and we set off to find ourselves a trailhead. Honestly, it's not that it was hard to find, I just needed to know where it was, and finding it was an excuse to spend a stunning fall day in the woods. That we did!
See? That's the trailhead we needed to find.

My companions for the day.

They learned how to build a fire right the first you don't need to keep lighting it. They were impressed and then I told them I was the fire goddess...'cause I am, but I think they rolled their eyes at me and both may have said, in unison, "yeah, right..."
There might have been a bit of shock when we stopped at the store for hotdogs on the way out of town. It's not something I normally cook for them, but it's a treat and hotdogs were created to be cooked over campfires. Weren't they?

Temps in the 40s, partly cloudy, a river, a bridge, leaf covered trails, a campfire, a couple waterfalls, sticks, critters, what's not to love? And now I know where the trailhead is. I'm prepared.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Into the mist...

I went willingly, of my own volition, I thought there might be something there for me. I suspected there was. Still, I went with an open mind and tried not to have expectations, just a willingness to hear and feel and learn. I arrived early to help lay the fire. It was solemn work, purposeful work, serious, but not formal. I wanted to learn and I asked questions. I asked if it was okay to ask. I received timeless answers. She explained the why to me...I understood. Other women arrived. Four to light the fire. As it blazed forth we gathered round to fellowship and wait...and prepare. More women. Soon it would be time and we began to ready the lodge, working together to cover it thickly so all light would be obscured once we entered. There would be complete darkness inside though it was only late afternoon and the sun would not set for 3 more hours. Mats were laid, a contemplative quiet began to settle over the women. They began to reach for the quiet...deep breaths, a stillness about them, I watched, then I too began to reach for the quiet. It's time....objects are laid on the alter, all metal, all jewelry, someone's glasses, my hair clip was mentioned. That too? I removed it from my hair and laid it on the alter. She entered and took her place, the pourer. I was next. Stepping up to the doorway, I took a deep breath, exhaled and paused...hesitated, I felt confused, almost afraid. I know this feeling, this hesitation....I shook my head and knelt to enter, extoling all my relations as I passed through the doorway. I was in and I took my place next to her, the pourer, my guide for this first time. I sat cross-legged as others entered one-by-one, sitting cross-legged themselves, forming a circle of women separated by mere inches from my knees to hers, from hers to the next. The fire tender carefully removed heated rocks from the fire we had built and placed them inside the lodge with us, in a pit in the middle of where we now sat, then took her place with us and the door was pulled closed. Complete darkness except for the glowing red of the rocks, but also a sudden intense heat. I felt myself choking on the heat, the smoke, I closed my eyes and involuntarily held my breath. I felt afraid, afraid of the heat and feeling I wouldn't be able to do this. I squirmed and turned my head away, trying to calm myself. I took a shallow breath, then another, then a deep breath and I inhaled the scent of, cedar? I don't recall which herb was placed on the rocks, it may have been sage, but it smelled wonderful, earthy, necessary. I breathed deeply and felt myself settling in. The rocks in front of me glowed and shimmered as heat continued to fill this space, but now it felt right. As water was poured over the rocks the space immediately filled with steam - warm, cleansing steam that filled my lungs and as we fear evaporated into the mist and I joined with these women in a ceremony nearly as old as time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oh, my heavenly BS!!!

No, not that BS....Brussel Sprouts! Let me first say that Brussel Sprouts have been my favorite vegetable since I was a's true. But I've always said the best way to eat them was simply butter, no nothing, just steamed and eaten naked (the sprouts, not me). Then, as often happens when you're looking for the one thing on the web, I happened across this website, Cookie and Kate, clicked on the tab for recipes, and while scrolling the list, I saw the recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cranberries with Barley. "Really," thought I, "interesting combination...," and having just returned from the farmer's market with said sprouts, they begged me to make them in this way. Begged me! 

"Alas, my pretties, you'll have to sit tight 'til the morn because I have things I must do."

Forgive the quality of picture - it was still dark out.

Oh yes, I made them for breakfast, because I'm single, I'm a woman and I can. Ha! Now, for the 'oh, my heavenly BS', I nearly swooned when I took the first bite. The combination of sprouts, cranberries, oh, everything....all of these flavors combined are incredible. It's like a party in your mouth. It's like little bursts of flavor all over your tongue. It's like you should make some right now so you can share in the joy.

By the way, I toasted walnuts instead of pecans because that's what I had in the house. Delicious!

I'm going back for seconds now.