Monday, January 28, 2013

Cold Wind, Warm Heart

Again due to issues on my part, this is a continuation of a thought from last year, 2012. 

There was more to my shower idea than just writing every day.  I had this crazy thought that since this is the time of Thanks-giving that maybe it would be a good thing for me to think about that very thing.  What was I thankful for in this past year of 2012?  Well, it was an unusual year.  

It started in January 2012 with a trip to Arkansas for a job interview which ended with me not getting the job.  I came to the realization that I had been gendered and aged out of that job from the minute I stepped off the plane.  This knowledge became huge and life-changing. 


A lovely recovery trip to Florida where walking the beach and shell collecting became the therapy to beat back the blues came later in January.  I can also recommend Paint-by-Number art therapy.

 It was a year of both the perceived ugly and the lovely bumping into each other back and forth, a tightrope walk of emotions.  But as the year progressed I mitigated the ugly with positive educational opportunities (Jennifer McLean's, Healing with the Masters) and readings designed to keep me from slipping into the dumpster.  This has helped. 

I have struggled with inspiration, often not writing at all.  It was the walks and my camera which were my eyes into the world of creativity linking me to the magic that is our world.  Other things happened, a trip to Colorado (awesome), gifts of love and kindness from friends, more hours at work and opportunities to do hard work, cleansing my soul with the dirt and birdsong. 

A realization gradually breaking upon me that all things really DO work for good ..that the path I've walked has made me who I am today.  Without the slurry of experiences whether perceived "good" or "bad" by me (at the time they occurred) I would not have walked the path I did.  Would not have felt the things I felt, not learned the lessons I've learned...just not been ME.  I would have been another ME...maybe one I didn't like...I definitely wouldn't have been here at this particular time, in this spot, writing.  I'd miss that.

So, for this new year of 2013, my wish, resolution, desire, whatever you want to call it will be to enjoy the journey more.  I'll try to be easier on myself and not judge situations as "good" or "bad" but will just try to let them BE.  To say more to myself, OH LOOK AT THAT....whatever is happening...isn't that interesting?  I'll shake my emotions up with dancing in joy, throw in some shower singing and let them bubble out in laughter.  Guess I'll also continue keepin' on keepin' on and in the light of each new sun find myself enjoying each moment.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Day on the Fen

FEN: a peat-forming wetland which receives nutrients from other sources than precipitation and whose soil is generally less acidic and more nutrient rich than bogs thus able to support a greater diversity of plant and animal life.  They are generally covered in grasses, sedges, rushes and wildflowers. Usually occurring in the Northeastern United States, Great Lakes region, the Rocky Mountains and much of Canada -- they have low temperatures and short growing seasons.

I am lucky.  I live near a fen.  When I moved to Northeast Ohio, I had no idea what a fen was.  It is now one of my favorite places to hang.  In all seasons, it is a magical place.  The shifting grasses rustle along the boardwalk which, like a thin ribbon of civilization, runs around the edge of the fen. Standing tall in the distance,the Tamaracks beckon, needle puffs wave like flags in the summer sun.  Yet like deciduous trees, in winter, their bare branches stand naked to the wind and snow.  Chickadees find food and shelter amongst the Tamarack stand. 

Underneath the trees, there is a world of survival going on. Grasses and raspberry bushes crowd together.  Along with the plants we would call "weeds", unusual wildflowers grow, providing a home and sustenance for voles, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and birds.  All the while, the fen lays beyond the tree's edge and at the far end, the  Phragmites australis grow.  Invasive beyond belief, they do provide cover for the deer who forage here.  Once, a buck and I frightened each other as we both quietly went about our business of feeding and curious roaming.

Up the hill from the fen is a great stand of Poplar.  The trail weaves up and through these giants dipping down to two more ponds filled with Canada Geese and Mallards.  You can see that once in a wetter time they all were linked with run off spillways sending their excess into the fen below.  Now, the ponds hold the water as their own.  The Poplars, however, still send their branches straight into the sky, smooth bark a target for the uneducated who leave their mark on it and so I see the usual messages...people thinking that this will provide them with some measure of immortality.  

Always, on the way back to my car, I find my time in the fen has gone too quickly and my feet must hurry, in a race with sundown.  So, my last impressions are dark trees against a flaming orange, blue, pink, raspberry sky, studded with the ever present clouds of Northeast Ohio. Stunning!  

On this walk,  I see "my" Red-Tailed Hawk fly from behind me where the farmer lives, across the fen to settle in the branches of the darkening trees.  A silent messenger to me to remember that like the hawk, my eyes need to see the future with a sharp vision, to pick my target and then go after it with all the energy I have, like my life depends on its hold in my heart that at Evensong when the sun goes down, find a comfortable perch and end the day, singing in joy to the dying sun.  To also consider that the night brings its on kind of darkness...thus, enjoying the brightness and warmth for as long as possible will bring you through to when the sun rises again.


Monday, January 7, 2013

10 or 12 Essentials to Have in Home Emergency

Image from NASA Earth Observatory

**This is another blog post that got away from me and I did not post it in a timely manner.  I hope you all can glean at least a bit of help from it.  Love & Healing energy sent to all those affected by Hurricane Sandy, especially to personal friends who are still homeless.**

 So another weather emergency is about to hit or has hit the east coast of the United States.  Odd having a hurricane in October, especially one that is moving into the Northeast which has in the past been a safe haven against hurricanes.  The Northeast's topography, full of mountains, rivers and lakes, is easily moved by natural forces like wind and water.  Thus, lots of damage comes from mud, water, trees falling etc.  Many are rushing to the stores to buy things that they don't keep on hand normally, like bottled water, matches, batteries etc.  Its cold up here too so how, with no electricity and lots of snow, do people stay warm in their homes?  As an outdoors person and backpacker, I like to think I have an edge on preparedness and due to longstanding Girl Scout membership,  I have a hard time NOT "Being Prepared".  When backpacking, I always try to have the 10 Essentials with me.

First, for those not familiar with them, what are the 10 Essentials.  The 10 Essentials are items/gear you might need in the wilderness to survive if stuck out there unexpectedly.  Generally, its because you've lost your way, found yourself out past dark, been injured or someone with you has been injured or you get caught in dangerous weather conditions and need to stop.  This link will take you to an informative article concerning these:

So, what can this list teach us about preparation at home?  My humble opinion is that many of us who are outdoor people have a good amount of these things at home already.  The national site for emergency preparation is very good and can be found at: .   These guys know what they are talking about and although I have been pretty cavalier about making an emergency kit, I have always had an idea in my head about what I would need to grab out of my backpacking supplies in order to be ready to leave quickly, if necessary.  

Here is what "I" have in my backpacking closet or car already that I could use if caught in an emergency situation.

A couple of sleeping bags rated 0 to 45 degrees.  However, if you have quilts, blankets, sheets you can make your own sleeping bag by layering together and tying with rope to contain it in a waterproof stuff sack or double garbage bag.  It is VERY important to always keep your sleeping gear dry.  It is your best friend against hypothermia if kept dry. 

Garbage bags are useful as vapor barriers to keep you warm or even use as an emergency shelter or raincoat. They can be double bagged and filled with water or used to collect clean rain water.

Sleeping pads can be used as ground protection protecting you against the cold ground, laid on floor of friends houses provide some comfort or used as rafts if suddenly you find yourself in the water.

Water filtration "stuff" like chlorine dioxide pills (Aquamira, Katahdyn pills etc), water filters or purifiers from Katadyn, MSR, Steripen etc maybe used with rain water to get  your gallon of water/person/day.  Water is always tricky especially if in an area that has been flooded and has been standing.  So do your research about how to handle water that is stagnant or has dead things in it.  Hopefully, you will get away to a safer place and be able to purify running water.  Make sure that you have water bladders, Nalgene bottles, milk jugs or other containers available that will hold your clean water.

In a normal backpacking kit, I would always have a map and compass.  So, transferring this thought to your car and a home emergency always carry a local map and a national map and a non-electric compass.  In bad weather, electronic gadgets can fail/not work/run out of juice, etc so have on hand and learn how to read a map and use a compass.  I always have a state road map, an atlas and will probably add local topo maps.  You can buy state maps that have some elevation details on them from a company called Benchmark or the maps I am familiar with are the Delorme Gazetters.  Make sure your compass has an option for adjusting declination and if you have NO idea what I'm talking about then find someone who does and have them teach you how to use.  In a survival situation, I will always have an advantage because of this knowledge. 

Like any good backpacker, I have a plethora of flashlights/headlamps. I'd probably take a combination of several of my favorites.  I have a small lamp (not a bping model) and a small handheld flashlight in my car which is BRIGHT.  Both would go into any kit.  I have my old reliable Petzel headlamp and my new small Petzel which blinks.  All use AA batteries except the small Petzel making battery buying really easy. Combined together they are all bright and have many uses.  If possible, I also have a Coleman lamp....keep supplies for these with your emergency kit...and grab it if you can.  Coleman fuel does age and get junky so if you have a can in your garage that has been there for awhile...make sure you replace it every year.  (this fuel gets crudy and stuff settles causing blockages in fuel line)

 Product DetailsIn my gear closet are many backpacking stoves.  Alcohol stoves, propane/butane bping stoves and in the basement a white gas Coleman backpacking stove. (garage holds a large 2 burner Coleman stove).  In an emergency I'd probably take a canister stove with canisters, my favorite Tinman alcohol stove set with HEET and the small white gas stove.  All are portable, small and able to be carried on my back.  White gas is easily obtainable, as is HEET making the canister stove the first one I'd dump if fuel became unavailable.  However, in any emergency the knowledge of how to build an efficient cooking fire using wood is a valuable skillAlso, needed would be at least 1 small backpacking pot or a decent stainless steel one that would fit on a small stove or fire.  Plastic handles are no-nos, they will melt over a fire.  Make sure you have at least 1 bandana living in your pots to be used as a washrag or potholder.  If you have a pot gripper, good for you, throw it in...I don't take it backpacking but in an emergency could be useful.

Let me just say a little word about bugout clothing.  I'd not wear my bluejeans or cotton t-shirts exclusively.  Like in any adventure, I always wear nylon backpacking or exercise wear because it dries quickly, is easily washed, durable, can be layered over or under things to keep warm because its thin not bulky.  Staying warm in an emergency is a key component to survival and cotton simply takes forever to dry and does not insulate.  In the backpacking community we often laugh about how, "Cotton Kills!" and really it can.  You need to have clothes that will dry quickly.  Pick materials like wool, fleece, microfiber, synthetic down or down for outerwear.  Have a combo of thick and thin gloves, hats, balaclavas, mittens and maybe some silnylon mitts to cover hands.  A sun hat from Sunday Afternoon hats is my favorite hat but Outdoor Research makes a waterproof hat that many like too.  Don't forget lightweight raincoat (silnylon, Dry Ducks or Marmot/MSR make decent lite rainwear)  A pair of rainpants are very useful.  Don't buy that heavy stuff...get some good rainwear that will NOT let you down and that has some breathablility. 

  Duct Tape, Width 48mmSo why would I take my backpacking gear with me instead of the stuff that FEMA says I should take.  Well, its a lot smaller and lighter.  If I have to leave my car, its portable.  A Coleman 2 burner stove is not.  The bping gear gives me more options and can go with me if I have to get a boat, helicopter, plane or airboat ride and I don't have to leave all my survival stuff in my car.  So, have a bugout, emergency plan that has the best emergency survival stuff which goes into your car but then a backpack full of your pared down, live in a shelter stuff that you can grab out of your car and go, if necessary. Don't forget to have your most basic stuff contained in plastic waterproof plastic bags, dry bags, ziplocks or stuff sacks.  Dry is much better. Your gear in your pack can be double bagged with garbage bags. OH and do NOT forget to carry a massive supply of Duct Tape.

I have not talked about first aid kits because you need to follow the rules with this one.  Link to info:  Throw in an emergency blanket or bivy in your first aid kit.  Shelter is another biggie and I'd have my tent, hiking poles and role of plastic or blue plastic tarp with rope in the car.  So again, you need to personalize this for your family and remember bottom line - portable.  Don't depend upon others to keep you safe and warm.  Even a small child can help by carrying a 2 lb, 8 x 10 ft piece of plastic which can be used by a family of 4 to shelter under. 

 Make sure you have clothes for the season which you know will work for you...don't use/take gear with you that is not tested by you so you know how to use it.  (ie dont' go to REI and buy bping stuff and put it into a closet for an emergency..if you are not a bper get with one and have them teach you how to use your equipment) Get out and use your gear, have fun, don't wait for an emergency.   

Ok I could go on forever and there is a lot of info in this post.  I can only include a few ideas that maybe some of you haven't thought about concerning what to have available in an emergency.  My disclaimer is that I am not an emergency planner, I do not play one on TV.  I am not responsible or to be blamed for injuries or death that might occur because you read or didn't read this blog.  Planning is something we all are responsible for and need to personalize.  There is a lot of info on the internet.  Stay safe my friends and if you want me to clarify any of this just email me. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The End of the World

Sorry for the delay in posting but wanted to share my thoughts on "End of the World Day" anyway.

Mayans were very smart people.  They developed a calendar which went for thousands of years in a repeating cycle...a wheel within a wheel so to speak.  Today, 12-21-12, the winter solstice for 2012, was the end of that cyclical calendar.  Thousands of years of repetition ended TODAY...ok let me repeat that...their calendar which started in something like 3114 BC ENDED TODAY.  Evidently, 5000 years+ of predicting future events is all the Mayans could handle.  That's a long run.  Maybe something to be considered, maybe a small pause in our busy lives might be in order.

If I were to recap this past year, I would say that it was ruled by violence, disagreement, derision and divisiveness.  World peace didn't happen, in fact we find ourselves at this moment in time, staggering from not only international violence but crimes here at home that have made us reel in confusion and anger.  We all feel that things need to change but disagree vehemently how to bring about this needed change.  We cannot even seem to agree on what kind of change needs to occur. 

Snowflakes falling 12/21/12 - blanketing the world in white

Most people laughed and joked about the "end of the world as we know it" occurring today.  But we seem to have made it through the day without earthquakes or killer tornadoes.  Ohio is having a nice snowstorm, however.   Some people refer to the ending of what is astrologically known as the Piscean Age and the beginning of the Aquarian Age.  We all know about the Age of Aquarius from the popular song.  It is supposed to be an age of peace. love and unity.  In truth, I hope and believe that this would be not only a necessary shift but an extremely positive one.  A shift that, if we choose NOT to move into, will mean more death, dying and really, possibly the real END of the world as we know it.

In my humble opinion, our current path of self interest, self absorption and violent need to be right at other's expense, paired with complete disregard for others opinions or values is a toxic brew which will lead to world destruction.  If you take a look at what is happening just in the environment with money and greed driving business at the Earth's expense, it is easily seen that in just a few years we will tumble over an environmental cliff of no return.  

On this day (and into next year) can we find it in ourselves to step out of our own self into the BIG community of life here on earth and see what a lovely place this would be if we could all just get along...if we could all understand that this beautiful planet belongs to ALL OF US not just companies, individuals with lots of money and power ...if we could understand in our guts that once it is ruined, life will end...could this monumental realization then help us be less concerned about our own interests and more open to becoming part of the world community.  So, tomorrow lets argue a little less, make friends with someone who lives on the other side of the world from you and listen to what concerns them, heck listen to your neighbor without judgement or agenda and then put your OWN interests aside for theirs.  One act of kindness and understanding in this new age can create a mountain of change.  

Happy New Year/Age to all.

December 22, 2012 - Outside my front door, first real snow of winter