Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Naturally Me

I am a nature-minded person.  The natural appeals to me.  It feels right to me.  I like the look of wood floors.  I like gardens that grow in a wild little tangle.  I prefer hiking the mountains to exploring new cities.  I prefer a good book to a gadget.  So, it seems logical that I don't paint my nails.  I don't paint my face.  I don't scent myself with fancy chemicals.  There is no hairspray or styling mousse at my house.
I am naturally me.
See, I like my natural nails.  I like my natural straight, red hair.  I like it loose and flowing uninhibited, too.  I like my natural skin, my freckles most especially.  I like my naturally rosy lips.  I like the little crows feet around my natural eyes when I smile.  I like me as I was made.
I, in no way, mean to imply its inherently wrong to wear lipstick.  That is not what I am getting at whatsoever.  Every person should feel beautiful every day.  That is what I'd want for everyone.  I just don't personally need commercially concocted tubes and sprays and whatnot to feel that way.
I already feel beautiful.  And Matt thinks I am already beautiful.  What a gift on both counts!
There was a time in my life for painted finger nails, waxed eyebrows, and lip gloss and things.  There was a time when putting on make-up was almost a necessity for going outdoors.  Then I realized, through personal reflection, that I didn't need any of it.  I could save my time and energy.  I am beautifully me as I am.  What a revelation!  Even without the eyeshadow or French tips I've never felt more confidant and prepossessing.  Its me.  Its not all that other stuff.  Its me.  And I like that.
In the interest of full disclosure, I might accentuate this natural beauty with something else naturally attractive--a pretty flower in my hair, a colorful scarf or silver necklace around my throat, or a dab of essential oil to my skin, but I feel no incentive to invest more time, chemicals, or money than that.  I also have a bottle of liquid foundation in my medicine cabinet that gets used on special occasions, like Val's wedding.  It must be seven years old and still not empty yet.  After some consideration, I don't think I will replace it when it runs dry.
I am a natural person.  I like to treat my body as naturally as possible.  I make a simple olive oil soap which I use for hands, hair, and body.  I use apple cider vinegar as a conditioning hair rinse.  I use natural essential oils for deodorant.  Though I don't need it often, I have a tub of coconut oil for moisturizing.  I don't need anything else.  I don't want anything else.  They meet the needs of my natural body without a bunch of chemicals or disposable packaging.  I like that.
I like the way nature made me--though I do suffer a bit from dry skin.  But still, in the grand scheme of things, praise be!
One more bit in the interest of full disclosure:  I do shave both my legs and armpits.  And we love tie-dye.  So, there we are.  Its not all natural over here....
(I like to wear skirts and tanktops to work and feel professionally obligated to shave.  All our dye chemicals are drain safe.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

52 Weeks of Reading - February

Somehow another month has flown by.  I am still ahead in my 52-Books-in-52-Weeks reading challenge.  I managed six 200+ page books this month.

February 1st-7th:
*Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls: Essays, Etc. by David Sedaris
*Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked by James Lasdun

February 8th-14th:
*How We Make Mistakes:  How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average by Joseph Hallinan

February 15th-21st:
*Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt

February 22nd-28th:
*The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
*Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

My favorite book is harder to pin down this month.  Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls was funny enough to make me laugh out loud.  A lot of things are funny.  It is another level when it is laugh-out-loud funny.  Plus, I mean, how could I not love that title.  How We Make Mistakes was highly interesting.  I am not sure I will make less mistakes now, but it was superbly interesting and well cited.  Man, people do studies on just about everything!  The Sound and the Fury was challenging, but profound.  The chapter narrated by a mentally disabled person was written in what I can only perceive to be a very authentic style.  I think I like this Faulkner, but since they're challenging to read I am not sure why.  Maybe I like the challenge.  Cat's Cradle was a revisit for me, Kurt Vonnegut being my favorite author and all.  I'd not read it in years.  It was just as fantastic as I remembered.  I love the invented religion--Bokononism.  Ice-9 is a terrifying concept though.

Traffic was pretty good, but also not exactly heartening.  I don't like driving.  Matt was surprised I was reading it.  My biggest take-away was that a crazy number of people die or are seriously injured in car accidents every day.  And yet we do not, as a society, clamor on about ways to address the problem the way we do for terrorist attacks or plane crashes, which statistically kill much fewer people.  We seem to have accepted that people will die in cars, that its an acceptable risk.  I don't think so.  Also, self-driving robot cars are real.  I guess I didn't know that.

My least favorite book was Give Me Everything You Have.  It wasn't that compelling or relate-able to me.  I guess it is a good cautionary tale for adult safety on the internet.  So much attention is paid to teen cyber bullying, but I'd never really considered adult cyber bullies.  Still, I wouldn't recommend it readily.

Weeks passed: 8
Books read: 12

Books read for this challenge in the month of January can be found here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

HMV Day 12: Homeward Bound via Route 66

With a mix of emotions we woke before dawn on our last day of megavacationing.  This was the day to make the trek back to Vegas where we'd whisk away on plane and land home again in Montana.  It seemed like quite an epic distance to traverse in comparison with some of our leisurely drives and hikes in the previous week.  We were both sad to see our southwestern adventures ending and excited to sleep in our own beds.
After a bowl of oatmeal we finished breaking camp and set off, leaving the Grand Canyon behind us.We'd make two noteworthy pit-stops along the way.
The first stop wasn't really a "stop," per se.  We ditched the interstate and took in a stretch of the historic Route 66.  It was a sweet little blast from the past.  Matt and I have a preference for the smaller, less traveled highways.  Interstates can be expedient, but they are more stressful and less scenic.  We take them when we can.  We hadn't really planned this so it was an unexpected treat tacked on at the end of the trip.  The old signs and service stations were something from another time.  It would have been cool to explore them more thoroughly, but we didn't really have time.   Driving a Ford Mustang with the top down along Route 66 seemed pretty special none the less.
The Burma-Shave ads were really something.  They made me think of my dad, who has a fondness for cool, vintage things.  These advertisements were the type where there would be several roadside signs in a series each with one line of a rhyme.  Each series ended with the Burma-Shave logo.  Such as: "Violets are Blue - Roses Are Pink - On the Graves - Of Those - Who Drive and Drink - Burma-Shave" or "To Kiss - A Mug - That's Like a Cactus - Takes More Nerve - Than It Does Practice - Burma-Shave"  If you want to see some more there is a website I found dedicated to these Burma-Shave jingles.
Our second pit-stop would be at the Hoover Dam.  Once again, time didn't really permit much stopping, but we got to drive over the dam and check it out from a few different angles.  It was cool, but not as cool as the Grand Canyon....
After that there was no stopping until we hit the airport parking garage.  We returned the convertible.  I was a little relieved about that.  It was a bit stressful driving around in such a fancy car that wasn't ours.  I have never been worried about door dings before in my life.  As it turned out we had plenty of time to get checked in and to our gate--maybe we could have dilly-dallied longer at the Hoover Dam--but we hadn't wanted to chance it.
So, we took that bonus time as snack time and had some fries and pretzels in the air conditioning.  And it was good.  (Other than the sunburn I'd gotten on the drive.)
A fine concluding chapter to our honeymoon megavacation, indeed.  (And Ginger was over the moon excited to see us when we got home.)

Friday, February 27, 2015

HMV Day 11: South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon

All of the sudden we were waking up on the last full day of megavacation.  The next day would be for making the journey all the way back home to Montana.  It  simultaneously felt as if we'd been gone forever and that the whole thing had gone so fast.  I think it was because we broke it up into such distinct segments--ocean, city, Zion, Bryce, Grand.  We crawled out of the sleeping bag determined to make the most of this last day of hiking and exploring.  We had breakfast before walking to meet the shuttle that would take us out to the South Kaibab trailhead.
Almost immediately we took a stronger liking to the view from S. Kaibab than Bright Angel.  The vista was much more open from the trail permitting more of the canyon to be taken in at once.  The Bright Angel Trail switchbacks down one of the draws of the canyon with the result that the view is more limited and a narrow.    The birding was better on Bright Angel though so, you know, pros and cons to everything.  There were lots of ravens on S. Kaibab, but I think that might have been about it for birds that we saw.
It was quite windy, perhaps because it was more exposed than we had been in the draw at Bright Angel.  We got to Ooo Aah Point and it was tremendously gusty.  And beautiful beyond my powers of description.  We made our obligatory ooohs and aaaahhs.  They were not forced at all.  The country kept stretching out before us endlessly in an array of colors and textures like no place else on earth.
Like the Bright Angel Trail, this trail was wide, sandy, and terraced.  It was easy hiking and, as such, easy to look around at the magnificence surrounding us.  At certain points the trail clung to a rock wall in such a way as to give the impression that we might be hiking on the edge of the world.
When the winds would abruptly stop, as they tended to do, it was remarkably silent out there, wonderfully so.  At those times we could hear the wind catching in the wings of the ravens riding over head.  Then the winds would sweep through the canyon again, becoming all we could hear.  We were not there long enough for me to make sense of how the canyon played with the winds.  It seems like the mountains with which I am much more intimate; they seem to make their own weather.
Knowing what we know now we wished we'd hiked further down S. Kaibab Trail instead of Bright Angel.  Both were superb, but we liked S. Kaibab better.
We didn't see any mule trains on the Bright Angel Trail.  But, on S. Kaibab we would be passed by a pack of mules carrying people down into the canyon.  I might like to try that sometime, too.  Matt is not so sure about that.  I also learned, in speaking to one of the pack leaders, that a burro is the same thing as a donkey.  I always thought mules, donkeys, and burros were all different.  So, now I know.
We hiked out to a point on the end of Cedar Ridge and sat for a long while observing and pondering the canyon and clouds and life and things.  It was an utterly fantastic sitting spot.
The climb back up was pretty easy, too, especially in comparison to our ascent of the Bright Angel Trail.  We were glad we'd only gone down 1.5 miles on S. Kaibab instead of the three miles we'd descended into the canyon the day before on Bright Angel.   Even though we both found the hike back up rather painless we were also both still glad to see the top.  I think we were tired.  It had be a long, glorious, trip.  But, we were tired.
We returned to camp for lunch and found that someone--we presume ravens--had punctured both of our plastic gallon water jugs.  We'd left them out the whole time we'd been at Grand Canyon with no such tampering.  (Sidenote: We're bear country campers and so we keep a tight camp.  Normally we would never leave water bottles out unattended, but there were no such regulations down in Grand Canyon.  It was interesting.  Maybe there still should have been.)

We went to the "village" and used a pay phone to call Hannah for a pick-up from the airport when we got back--we'd failed to arrange this detail before we left somehow--and then hit up the coin-op showers.  In full disclosure, we hadn't bathed since we'd left Vegas almost a week before.  We'd been hiking in the hot sun and we were, well, overdue for a shower if we were going to get into an airplane and sit near strangers.  I took a $4, 16 minute long shower.  It was probably the best five dollars I spent on the trip.  We both felt like new people afterwards.  While waiting for the shower we also ran into a couple who recognized us as their camp neighbors from Zion.  What a small world!

For our last night in the park--and on vacation--we decided to pack up supplies to make dinner out on Shoshone Point.  We went extra early since we missed the best part of sunset so many times over the journey.  As a result we got there with plenty of time to kick back, relax, and try to take in as much canyon glory as we could fit in the remaining hours.
We saw another tarantula.  All of the sudden it was just feet away from us.  We didn't see it walk into sight.  It was just there.  As we watched it the spider made its way to the lip of the rim and crawled down, out of sight.  Matt joked that that is the real reason the rangers advise people to say at least six feet from the edge of the rim--who knows when a big ol' spider might appear and startle a person enough as to cause them to fall off the edge.  The freaky part was that is was right where we'd been sitting on one of our previous visits to Shoshone Point.  Yuck.  I know its just a spider, but still...yuck.
We hiked back off the point itself to one of the picnic tables staggered along the rim nearby.  Matt cooked dinner--pasta and red sauce--and I watched the growing shadows.
After dinner we hiked back out onto the point to watch the sunset.  We think that perhaps it was the prettiest sunset we've ever seen.  Since we were out on a point, jutting into the canyon, we had a full 360 degree panorama of sunset beauty.  The clouds in the sky only accentuated the effect of the subtly shifting colors.
As the sun set the shadows deepened in the side canyons, turned blue or purple, before fading into black.  The red stone of the canyon walls was highlighted and dazzled ruby-orange in the sinking rays of sunlight.  It was a painting come to life in front of me.
And then, as it happens, the brilliant colors faded to pastels before the last hint of sun had disappeared, growing ever less dazzling.  Its always been interesting to me how this works.  There is some apex of glory and then, with a humbler tone, night takes over completely.
We walked back to the trailhead in the twilight.  Back at camp we had a large fire as it was the last night and we still had plenty of wood.  It was hard to believe it was our last night.  But, what a wonderful last night it was, indeed.