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!