Friday, January 11, 2019

Books Read (and Listened to) in 2018

Another year is behind us and so I'm clearing my blog sidebar and starting a new year of reading.  I've spent a bit of time over the past few days ruminating on my literary patterns and goals and reflecting on the stories that were painted in my mind last year.  These annual reading reports are a happy marriage of my infatuation with personal stats and my obsessive reading habit.
Goodreads is my enabler.  😉

2018 Annual Stats
Number of young adult or children's books: 68
Number of adult books: 40
Number of audiobooks (both adult and YA/children): 20
128 Total Books (compared with 119 total books for 2017)

This was the first year since I started tracking that I completed more adult books than audiobooks.  That was a loose objective that developed this year--trying to cut back on the audiobooks and use my eyeballs, turn more actual pages.  It was, apparently, successful.
Christmas Staycataion at its finest:  Cozy quilt, cuddly cat, hilarious book.
There were five titles that I read twice last year.  So, my list is actually only 122 unique titles.  The five books I enjoyed enough to read twice were:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and other stories, The Mincing Mockingbird's Guide to Troubled Birds, and The Little Book of Hygge.  Harry Potter is a force in my life.  I am so enthralled with the story, just as much now as the first go-round.  I love it.  Just love it.  I am almost certain it will appear again on my list for 2019.  I, er, may have already started book one this week.  Maybe.  Just a little.  😁
As always, it was hard to narrow down my top ten, but here goes:

Top Ten Reads of 2018 (in no particular order)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling (again!)
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
The MaddAddam series by Margaret Atwood (again!)
The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and Other Stories by Terry Pratchett
Ginger loves reading time because it is laps-and-petting time.
My least favorite book last year was one of the Newbery winners--Shadow of a Bull.  It was too hypermasculine and bull fighting is just not a cultural relic that I can appreciate so it really had very little to appeal to me as a reader.  It is a book I'd have never picked up if I weren't on this Newbery kick.

Only one single Newbery Award book--Island of the Blue Dolphins--made a five-star rating with me last year.  Most land in the three star or four star rank.

[Have I ever mentioned my rubric for ratings?
*****= Awesome,
****=Very Good,
*=I Didn't Like It]

I was pleased to note that between 2017 and 2018 I reduced my volume of one and two-star books while simultaneously increasing my number of four and five-star books.  I've been trying to be a tad more selective and thoughtful when I choose my reading material.  I used to just grab any ol' thing that crossed my path at the library.  The star ratings indicate that this also has been a successful endeavor.
I set myself a few literary objectives for 2018 and feel they were well met, for the most part.
  • I re-read a bunch of books just because I loved them so much.  I learned to ignore the fact that there were other new titles on my To-Read list and just embrace the whim to return to these old friends:  The Stupidest Angel, Food Rules, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, Holidays on Ice, Beauty Queens, The Butter Battle Book.  It is a bit like slipping into a really comfy sweater to revisit these stories I'd previously enjoyed so deeply.  I failed to read a single Kurt Vonnegut book all year though and that was an oversight that must be remedied.
  • I am still working my way through all the Newbery Award winning books--an endeavor now entering its fourth year.  I enjoy the project thoroughly, if not always the books.  It has offered a very interesting cross-section of cultural values and history.  I've found some real gems.  I've realized I actually do like fantasy novels.  Still, I eagerly await hitting the 1990s.  Soon.  I am currently on the 1985 winner, a book written the year of my birth!
  • Hannah and I maintain our book club of two--reading and then chatting online about the books we share.  We'd set a goal of reading a book set in each of the 50 states....and we're not there yet, but we're both enjoying the roadtrip through the pages.  Well, maybe not A Thousand Acres.  I don't know that either of us enjoyed that one much. 😏  Hannah and I have been close since college and though we live hours apart nowadays this online book club is a wonderful way to foster and continue our deep and meaningful friendship.  She offers such insightful comments on our books and adds another dimension to reading that I just adore.  Reading used to be a totally solitary activity for me and now it is not.  I wish more people saw reading as a group activity, but hey, I've got Hannah. 
  • I decreased my consumption of audiobooks.  I'd started to feel I used them to plug every gap.   Doing the dishes, tidying the house, walking to work, in the car, etc.  I wanted more time with my thoughts.  I tried to abstain entirely for the month of November at Matt's suggestion, but couldn't resist listening to one.  But only one.
  • I participated in the public library's Summer Reading program, but not the one at MSU-B.
My goals for the new year are to carry on with the 50-States-Challenge and the Newbery-Winners-Challenge, hopefully bringing at least one of them to completion.  I will also take part in Summer Reading again.  I will try to read more books than I listen to.
After an evening of admiring Christmas lights we turned the greenhouse into our Christmas Clubhouse and Memo gave us a (hilarious) dramatic reading of the classic holiday tale The Gingerbread Man.
Below is the full record of the books that I read in 2018, listed in reverse order with the most recent at the top of the list.

Books Read (and Listened To) in 2018.
                      * indicates an audiobook
  • The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror (Christopher Moore)
  • Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk)
  • Beauty Queens (Libba Bray)
  • Future Home of the Living God (Louise Erdrich)*
  • The Gingerbread Boy (Merrigold Press)
  • The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate (Janice Cohn & Bill Farnsworth)
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw (Beverly Cleary)
  • A Thousand Acres (Jane Smiley)
  • The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne)
  • Dicey's Song (Cynthia Voigt)
  • Baker's Magic (Diane Zahler)*
  • A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for the Innocent and Experienced Travelers (Nancy Willard, Alice Provensen, & Martin Provensen)
  • Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village (Laura Amy Schlitz & Robert Byrd)
  • Jacob Have I Loved (Katherine Paterson)
  • Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, Enhanced Edition (Michael Pollan & Maira Kalman)
  • A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 (Joan W. Blos)
  • The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner: And Other Stories (Terry Pratchett)
  • The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women (Kate Moore)*
  • Into the Wild (Erin Hunter)
  • FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training (Michael Moseley & Peta Bee)
  • The Dilbert Future: Thriving on Stupidity in the 21st Century (Scott Adams)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner: And Other Stories (Terry Pratchett)*
  • The BFG (Roald Dahl)
  • The Heart Goes Last (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Westing Game (Ellen Raskin)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
  • The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World (Michael Pollan)
  • The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is Hiding From You (Eli Pariser)
  • Marwan's Journey (Patricia de Arias & Laura Borras)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)*
  • I am Jazz (Jessica Herthel, Jazz Jennings, & Shelagh McNicholas)
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain)
  • Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Paterson)*
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred Taylor)*
  • The Grey King (Susan Cooper)
  • M.C. Higgins, the Great (Virginia Hamilton)
  • The Home for Unwanted Girls (Joanna Goodman)*
  • I Quit Sugar: Your Complete 8-Week Detox Program and Cookbook (Sarah Wilson)
  • The Slave Dancer (Paula Fox)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)*
  • Julie of the Wolves (Jean Craighead George)
  • Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (John H. Ratey)*
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (Robert C. O'Brien)
  • The Summer of the Swans (Betsy Byars)
  • Sounder (William H. Armstrong)
  • Ada Twist, Scientist (Andrea Beaty & David Roberts)
  • Town Mouse, Country Mouse (Carol Jones)
  • A Poem for Peter (Andrea Davis Pinkney, Steve Johnson, & Lou Fancher)
  • Sugar (Deidre Riordan Hall)*
  • Cat and Rat: The Legend of the Chinese Zodiac (Ed Young)
  • Swamplandia! (Karen Russell)
  • Nimoshom and His Bus (Penny Thomas & Karen Hibbard)
  • The Butter Battle Book (Dr. Seuss)
  • Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life (Brian Wansink)
  • The Story of Ferdinand (Munro Leaf)
  • Elton John (Katherine White)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
  • Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (Amy Ellis Nutt)*
  • The Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds (Matt Adrian)
  • The Bairn Books: The Book of the Zoo (Walter Copeland & Charles Robinson)
  • The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor (Mark Schatzker)*
  • The High King (Lloyd Alexander)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (J.K. Rowling)
  • Camping Adventure (William R. Gray)
  • She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World (Chelsea Clinton & Alexandra Boiger)
  • Library of Souls (Ransom Riggs)
  • The Simpsons Family History (Matt Groening)
  • 14 Cows for America (Carmen Agra Deedy & Thomas Gonzalez)
  • The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story (Marie Kondo & Yuko Uramoto)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)
  • Hollow City (Ransom Riggs)
  • The Death of Stalin (Fabien Nury & Thierry Robin)
  • Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm (Thich Nhat Hanh)*
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Ransom Riggs)
  • Going Bovine (Libba Bray)
  • Images of America: Sidney, MT (Kim Simmonds, Leann Pelvit, & MonDak Heritage Center)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne)
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg)*
  • Up a Road Slowly (Irene Hunt)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (Fannie Flagg)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (J.K. Rowling)
  • I, Juan de Pareja (Elizabeth Borton de Trevino)*
  • MaddAddam (Margaret Atwood)
  • The Year of the Flood (Margaret Atwood)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (J.K. Rowling)
  • The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove (Christopher Moore)
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (J.K. Rowling)
  • Oryx and Crake (Margaret Atwood)
  • Shadow of a Bull (Maia Wojciechowska)*
  • It's Like This, Cat (Emily Cheney Neville)
  • A Swiftly Tilting Planet (Madeleine L'Engle)*
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (J.K. Rowling)
  • A Wind in the Door (Madeleine L'Engle)*
  • The Case Against Sugar (Gary Taubes)
  • The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
  • The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well (Meik Wiking)
  • The Sermon on the Mount (Lawrence Hertzberg, ed.)
  • Tidy (Emily Garvett)
  • The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well (Meik Wiking)*
  • This Bridge Will Not Be Gray (Dave Eggers & Tucker Nichols)
  • Breathe (Scott Magoon)
  • One Was Johnny: A Counting Book (Maurice Sendak)
  • Alligators All Around (Maurice Sendak)
  • Pierre: A Cautionary Tale in Five Chapters and a Prologue (Maurice Sendak)
  • Chicken Soup With Rice: A Book of Months (Maurice Sendak)
  • The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (Dave Ramsey)
  • Flowers for Sarajevo (John McCutcheon)
  • A Short History of Women (Kate Walbert)
  • The Thank You Book (Mo Willems)
  • Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed (Leslea Newman & Amy June Bates)
  • Milk and Honey (Rupi Kaur)
  • This is Not a Photo Opportunity: The Street Art of Banksy (Martin Bull)
  • How to Be Married: What I Learned From Real Women On Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage (Jo Piazza)
  • A Wrinkle In Time (Madeleine L'Engle)
  • The Bronze Bow (Elizabeth George Speare)
  • Leaf (Sandra Dieckmann)
  • A Boy's Will (Robert Frost)
  • Her Right Foot (Dave Eggers & Shawn Harris)
  • Holidays on Ice (David Sedaris)
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O'Dell)
  • Stone Mattress: Nine Tales (Margaret Atwood)
  • Onion John (Joseph Krumgold)
  • The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body (Cameron Diaz)
  • The Mincing Mockingbird Guide to Troubled Birds (Matt Adrian)
  • How Full Is Your Bucket? (Tom Rath & Donald Clifton)
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond (Elizabeth Speare)
  • Rifles for Watie (Harold Keith)
Christopher Moore and the Ginger kitty.
And since, as previously established, I get a kick out of personal stats and people are perpetually surprised by how many "great" movies I've never seen I again kept track of the movies I watched last year.  It was actually quite a lot for me with a grand total of 29.  I finally decided to watch the Harry Potter movies which bumped up the numbers considerably--accounting for ten of them.  I'd hoped it would temper my burning desire to read the series again, but it actually had the opposite affect.

Movies Watched in 2018
  • The Secret Life of Pets
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • The Crimes of Grindlwald
  • Inside Out
  • Bohemian Rhapsody
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Yellow Fever: Uncovering the Navajo Uranium Legacy
  • Rango
  • Moana
  • Bender's Game
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them
  • The Incredibles 2
  • For Richer or Poorer
  • The Incredibles
  • The Greatest Showman
  • The Death of Stalin
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Downsizing
  • Jumanji
  • Coco
  • The Land Before Time
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1
  • Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Home Again, Jiggity-jig

I just got back from the longest holiday I've taken since 2002.  I was off work for 24 days in a row and away from home for two solid weeks--Seattle to Vegas to Death Valley and home again, jiggity-jig.  It was grand.  Oh, so grand.  I mean sure, I missed my warm cozy bed and my soft cuddly cats (so much!).  The desert sucked every ounce of moisture from my skin and I nearly turned into a lizard.  We experienced a few kinks as the government shutdown impinged on our jolly national park vacation.  But we saw our friends get married by Elvis.  I got some quality family time on both sides--singing, playing games, cooking, talking.  I hugged my first Joshua Tree and squealed over a chance encounter with the cutest little cat-sized foxes ever.  I saw the cold blue waters of Pudget Sound and then the fireworks over The Strip the very next day and was in the lowest point in the western hemisphere the day after that.  I basked on sand dunes under a blanket of shooting stars. I sweated and froze and laughed and cried.  I was dazzled by this world.

And I have SO much more to say about all that!!

But, for now...
We spent a night in the Joshua Tree forest.
We (carefully) explored the Devil's Golf Course.
Our final sunrise of the trip colored the sky over the mountains in Death Valley.
We (accidentally) saved the best hike for last: Desolation Canyon.
...a sneak preview while I launch back into the swing of things again.  Laundry.  Unpacking.  Cat cuddles.  Moisturizing.  Work.  Groceries.  Messages.  More laundry.  And a lot of much needed sleep.  I am worn out with good times.  Thank my lucky stars.

Monday, December 17, 2018

I Quit (Thank Heavens)

I quit smoking in 2007.  Prior to that it was impossible to imagine a reality in which cigarettes weren't an essential part of my being.  ...and today I cannot imagine a reality in which they are.  Crazy.  A person can change so much over a lifetime if they so choose.
Earlier this year I spent a long weekend in which 1/3 of my traveling companions were active smokers.  Boy.  Talk about driving home the point!   I was beyond grateful for breaking free from this aspect of my life/behavior.  Only one other time (while Ryan was in the hospital) have I been more relieved to be liberated from my addiction to cigarettes, my compulsive smoking habit.

Thanks heavens that monkey is off my back, that I am out of the mouth of the beast, as I like to say.  Thanks heavens I quit.  Thank heavens, thank heavens, thank heavens.
Thank havens my schedule and plans are not dictated by when and where I can indulge this habit.

Thank heavens my clothes and hair no longer carry that lingering disagreeable scent.

Thank heavens I found more positive ways to relax, calm, or treat myself.

Thank heavens I have more disposable income to play with.

Thank heavens my tastebuds and sense of smell have come alive again.

Thank heavens I no longer have that nagging little smokers hack.

Thanks heavens I can hike mountain peaks and cycle hard for miles with ease.

Thank heavens I've reduced the related negative health risks.

Thank heavens I am able to do things I never thought possible.
Thank heavens.  For that and more.
Addictions are tough.  I am tougher though.
Photos from various cemeteries in Helena, MT.  11/10/2018 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Palo Santo for the Potty

Johnny is drawn to the smell of Palo Santo like a moth to a flame.   It cracks me up.  When we light it, releasing its deep, resinous scent, Johnny just comes a-runnin'.  She'll stand on the bath mat and look around, sniffing deeply and begging to be petted.  I assume she likes it, since she runs toward the source of the smell, but maybe she is just perplexed by it.  The aroma is pretty unique and powerful after all.  I've no way of knowing for sure, of course.

We keep a stick of Palo Santo on top of the toilet tank the way that some people do with scented candles.  See, we don't have a fan to dissipate any, well, let's say, negative bathroom odors.  That's where the Palo Santo comes in.

Palo Santo (or Holy Stick) is such a resinous and aromatic wood.  Just a quick touch of flame will bring the pungent oils oozing to the surface.  We don't burn our Palo Santo like incense--it doesn't catch and keep burning down to ashes.  We just run a flame over it and--boom--instantly the room smells magnificent.
It is a pretty solid little no-bathroom-fan trick.  Safer than a candle, more earthy than air freshener, cheap, long-lasting.
Plus, Johnny likes it.  😉

Friday, December 7, 2018

Old Wallet, New Wallet

Everything wears out in its own time.  So, on the heels of my Eulogy to Outdoor Gear, I have another story.  Though this time without the lament.

I finally discarded my crusty ol' homemade wallet and transitioned to a different homemade wallet.  It is decidedly less bright and feminine, but hopefully it won't show the dirt and tea stains quite so badly.  (It is almost embarrassing how often tea gets spilled inside my bag....)

Seriously.  I put the old wallet through the ringer.
Old Wallet circa 2015
It had started to breakdown on all the fold-points (being a tri-fold wallet) last year.  I dabbed a little Fray Check (thanks, Mom!) at each of these folds and that did extend its life, I've no doubt about that.  But then the fabric itself just started to break down--not on the seams, not just on the corners.  Parts of the fabric were basically becoming invisible with each passing day, worn so thin.

And THEN, I was confronted with a stark reality.  I'd spilled so much tea inside my bag (oops!) and clutched it so much in my (apparently) grimy hands that the fabric motif was almost unrecognizable when compared with a fresh piece.  The blue had turned grey.  The brightly colored flowers and leaves had turned oh so drab.  It was pretty shocking to me, actually.  I mean...I knew my wallet was worn and dirty....but I clearly underestimated things.
The Dark Star Orchestra wallet was originally crafted for Matt.  He wanted something extra durable so I made it out of a pair of beyond-repair Carhartt  work pants.  ...and then, after a test drive, it turned out too thick for Matt's liking.  Durable, sure, but too chunky for his back pocket.  It has been sitting on a shelf in our library/guest room ever since, saved specifically with the intention that I'd adopt it when mine wore out.  As I said back in 2016, since I almost always carry my wallet in a bag its bulk isn't an issue for me. 
My new wallet. 
DSO = Dark Star Orchestra, a fantastic Grateful Dead cover band we've seen several times.  We picked up this patch at one of those shows.
So, now it is has been put to use as intended.  And Hannah, lacking any sort of homemade wallet, adopted the old strained one.  This really just means I should make her a nice wallet of her own since she deserves better than that, which I'd intended for the trash.  Hey, hey, hey...I love a useful sewing project!  And the wallets are a fun and manageable little quilting endeavor.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

I Keep Telling Myself...

...they're just things.  They're inanimate objects which are easily enough replaced.  Even still, I'm a touch bummed.

See, it's the End-of-an-Era for me.  Last week we ordered replacements for both our beloved tent and my cherished hiking boots in preparation for our journey to Death Valley later this winter.  And the new ones have arrived, driving home the sense of well-that's-a-shame.  Perhaps I should be excited to get new gear, but I'm not.  Not really.  I really liked my old gear.
Scenic Point in Glacier National Park
But, my trusty boots had been glued, stitched, and re-waterproofed to no avail.  The tent screen had been patched in a few different places and both zippers on the rainfly were shot.  We'd already been limited to just one of the two tent doors this year since the first bit the big one last year.  (I suspect the blasting sandstorm on the dunefield was probably a factor in the zipper decline.)  We contacted REI to see about getting a replacement for just the rainfly, but no luck.  Then we looked into having the zippers replaced--it was a task I was not up for personally--but, in the baffling logic of the global economy, buying a whole new tent was cheaper than having the old tent repaired.  So, no more putting off the inevitable.
Backpacking at Wind Cave National Park
Sigh.  I mean, nothing lasts forever.  Not me.  Not high quality outdoor gear.  Not even the mountains.
Storm Point in Yellowstone National Park
Yet I feel a loss as if they were old friends moving away, no longer a component of my future exploits, dreams, and plans.  It strikes me as unreasonable to be so attached to these material goods, but that is the truth of the matter.
Playing on the rocks in Bryce Canyon National Park
For, oh, the things we've done together, the places we've seen!  They've been my adventure companions!  We've been through so much!  (And I don't care how melodramatic that sounds.)
Dusty, dusty boots after a day on the trail in the Grand Canyon
These boots are steeped in healing waters and imbued with the majesty of the earth.  I've rubbed it into the leather purposefully, wanting to carry that essence with me.  I dunked my toes into the dazzling melt water of Grinnell Glacier, baptizing them in the pearlescent pool.  In these boots I've scaled Angel's Landing and descended into the Grand Canyon. I hiked up to my first mountain peak in these boots.  They've been a subtle foundation for so, so, so many memories.  I even wrote a poem about them that remains one of my favorites to this day. 

I can't say for certain how long these boots have been traversing the trails with me.  I know I wore them on the Glacier Megavacation--the inaugural Megavacation, I might add--but I'm not sure if I bought them in advance of that trip or what exactly.   All I can remember is that Matt had read solid reviews in Backpaker magazine about them and I think they lived up to it in the 5+ years I've tramped about in them.  I replaced them with the Montara III, the new version of the same boot.  I mean, why would I want something else, as I've loved these so?!  I did immediately note that the toe area has been redesigned.  That was the blow-out point on the previous pair  so hopefully that is an improvement.
Dangling a foot off the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
The tent we've had even longer than the boots though, again, I am not sure how long.  Our previous tent got decimated by a windstorm--the poles were splintered into a thousand shards--at Fort Peck for a family reunion.  This would have been 2009 or 2010.  So, we've been calling it our home-away-from-home for eight or nine years.
Camping on our friend Hannah's property near Three Forks, Montana.
I could probably put that tent up in my sleep.  I've done is a bajillion times.  Even in the dark.  I can be remarkably quick about it with a rainstorm brewing.
Backpacking at Wind Cave National Park
From music festivals in mountain meadows to oceanside cliffs--in every season of the year--car camping and backpacking--this little abode has kept us safe and cozy.  It held up against blistering sun, every imaginable form of precipitation, wind, sand, and more.  It was our hideout from the worst mosquitoes of recent memory at Nelson Reservoir this summer.  It was our sanctuary in the storms that inevitably come.  We learned that hail and pelting rain make a fairly delightful music as they ping across the taut surface of a tent.   Even in relatively extreme conditions we were never disappointed.

I couldn't begin to recount all the times I got lost in the stars as I drifted off to sleep with the rainfly folded back.  Nor can I adequately describe the palpable silence when waking in the black stillness of the night without even a breeze to shake the trees.  It is something which borders on magical.
Backpacking at Wind Cave National Park
As with the boots we simply bought the new version of our old tent, which also has been slightly redesigned.  The door revamp seems especially promising. 
Camping at The Gorge for a three-day Phish run, tent in the background
I didn't throw either the boots or the tent away though, even after all this eulogizing.  Those that know me best probably won't be surprised.  After all, the tent has some very usable outdoor fabric that I intend to upcycle.  Off the cuff I envision stuff sacks, but I will ponder our needs for a while before busting out the scissors. 

The boots, well, I know they should be tossed, but I just can't quite let go yet.  They've been downgraded to wear-around-town-on-fair-weather-days status.  I think of it as putting a horse out to pasture, in a podiatric sort of way.  They've been retired.
Old boots, New boots
So, here is to a new era.  New boots.  New tent.  And, as always, new adventures!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Linguistic Tidbits: Stocks vs. Pillory (+ Stock and Bull Market Origins)

I'm reading The Scarlet Letter and I discovered that the thing I've been calling "The Stocks" is not actually stocks at all.  It is actually a Pillory.  They're similar but distinct punitive practices both of which center upon confinement in the eye of public scorn and social shame.

It has come to my attention that, technically, the stocks are for confining people by the legs...
Photo from Wikipedia.
...whereas the pillory is for confining people by the head and arms.
Photo from Wikipedia.
While we're at it:
I thought this was possibly the cutest cow I've ever seen, the way his ears and muzzle were dipped in black.
I attended an author lecture earlier this month about the book Up the Trail by Tim Lehman.  There I was informed that the terms "stock" and "bull market" originate with the old cattle operations of the wild west.

Basically, in the days of the open (unfenced) short grass prairie, cattle were just turned loose in places like Montana and Wyoming to graze and make babies.  The cows just did their thing without much management from their owners--and returned a rather nice profit none the less.  ...Until the year they all starved to death because a hard crust of snow made the prairie grass unreachable and the majority of stockmen lost everything.   But, yeah, on a bull market the old cowboys could just make money on their stock without really trying!  And boom, financial terms are born!

I suppose it doesn't really matter, but I love these sort of linguistic tidbits.