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25 February 2014 @ 12:26 pm

- Up early enough to catch the pretty little earthshiney waning fingernail moon rising.
- You can sometimes really get a sense of how people are by how they travel and act at the airport. I spent seven years of my life traveling at least every other week. I spend my time at the airport people watching. Yes, I’m watching you as you walk past me in a hurry in a huff, or you who look just so amazed and happy to be here.

- I put money in the Zoltar machine and for once he spit out a fortune and told me to do all the things that I want to because life is short.

- The ultimate BLT bloody mary.

- Whiskey before noon.

- The most amazing patisserie. Everything looked too pretty to eat!

- All-you-can-eat sushi followed by a post prandial foot massage/nap. Perfection.
- Quote of the day: “Well, yes. I suppose I do try to live my life on the scenic byways…”
- A sequin breadcrumb trail that led down the hallway of the hotel.
- “The D – Vintage Vegas: now accepting bitcoin”
- Hotei wishes you good luck

- Watching the sunrise from the chair at the window in the hotel

- Hanging out at the hot springs, kibitzing, sweating and being lovey
- Naptime/quiet time with my hubsand snoring sweetly and delicately in my ear
- Red rocks that soothe a fraying brain

- Tiny little ground squirrels that scamper around me
- Winning $12.60 at penny slots at “Invaders From The Planet Moolah” and watching everything get sucked into spaceships
- Shooting a submachine gun (it didn’t last long, but still was pretty novel). 30 seconds of full auto.
- Joe in bed

- Last minute road trips to hot springs.

- Lemon sorbet in a cone that tastes like Trix cereal
- A red rose at dinner
- The “happy birthday” dessert they brought out to us, even though it was our anniversary.
- Vintage signs in small towns.

- Three breakfasts in the same day! One at 4:30am CST before we left, one at the airport before we got on the plane at 8am CST and one when we got to Vegas at Hash House at 9am PST!
- Glitz and neon.

- Catching up on paper cranes on the airplane.
- Walking around the Strip gawking, Oxygen bar, all the Chinese New Year decorations and gentle smells of incense wafting around, beautiful galleries

- That raspberry rose macaron deserves it’s own line item, for sure.

- A giant, marble-lined, deep tub that was the first thing we jumped into upon checking into the hotel
- Frankie’s Tiki Room which may now be my favoritest bar in Vegas. The strongest damn drinks, awesomely irreverent bar tender, surf rock and really trippy B beach movies. I think I’m in love. Need some tiny bubbles though.

- Vegas at night is absolutely how it should be experienced. All the lights, and spectacle look far better at night.
- Faceplanting onto the bed for a disco nap in the evening.
- Hoover Dam…WOW! Art Deco amazing, a complete wonder feat of engineering.

- “The Library: girls girls girls”
“Maybe they dress up like librarians and dance for you?”
*without a beat* “Oh shit yeah!! Uhh, I mean, uhh…”
- I passed Buck Brannaman and his daughter walking out of Sam’s Town casino in Vegas.
- Sunset Stampede, frickin’ lasers and always ending with Dale Jr, Rednex and Lee Greenwood
- Sunrise from bed

- Crepuscular and anti-crepuscular rays just after sunset in one of the most beautiful places.

- We hiked out as it was almost too dark to see, but the skies were still lit up. My flashlight died (oops) but we made it out ok by double timing it up the hill.
- Slow, snuggly mornings
- The lovely, layered and colorful rocky drive out to Hoover Dam
- Hot tea for breakfast
- Art Deco engineering

- The thrill of looking down down down over the dam

- Rocks that vary from deep purple red to screaming orange to yellows and all between, layers and layers of them peeking out
- Scrambling over giant sandstone Swiss cheese

- Quite possibly the most unexpected and best sunset at the Fire Wave than I’ve seen. It was definitely a 9 on a scale of 10.

- Scattered black rocks over the red stripes looking like peppered bacon

- Redneck casino ending to the night
- Predawn pool view from the room.

- Getting dressed up for a fancy dinner downtown
- uitwaaien (OUT-vwy-ehn) – (v.) to take a break to clear one’s head; lit. “to walk in the wind”
- Chandeliers, shiny lights, brightness.

- Chateau briand and lobster for anniversary dinner.
- Kitsch factor 12 of Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge

- The biggest box of chocolates to take home
- Sitting together and synchronous napping/snuggling the whole flight home
- Non-stop flights
- Spending time making paper cranes in my seat, and explaining the story to those around me who are curious
- Amy’s chocolate strawberry ice cream on a whim
- Coming home is always far better when you’ve been away, especially somewhere as manufactured and surreal as Vegas
- There was a weird chirping noise coming from somewhere. Hubs and I thought it was a distressed bird and went running outside to check on the chickens – they were all fine. Thought it was the ceiling fan, but we stopped it and the noise continued. KittyKitty was freaking out, and we figured out it was coming from under the couch. We lifted the couch, a mouse ran out and KittyKitty caught it. We got it in a glue trap and dispatched it and KittyKitty was forlorn and sad staring under the couch.
- Donkey kisses and watching the sun set over my stock tank

- Momma making us dinner upon arrival home. It was so sweet, a perfect soft landing and good way to catch up.
- Crawling into my own bed, snuggling in and passing right the heck out.
- Sleeping in
- There’s been an amazing amount of days that I’ve had to chip ice out of all the stock tanks in the mornings (and evenings) this year.
- The best beef jerky pit stop

- Graupel mornings.

- Once more across the country! That’ll be Vegas three times in a month, because why the hell not?
- Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. Add in California from the last trip and that makes for quite a month!
- Tea house dinner before leaving.
- We emerged from a deck of clouds, watching a strip of sunset sky get bigger and bigger until we popped out into a clear, cloudless, starry sky as we hit I-10 off 290.

- Driving through Balmorhea — listening to Balmorhea.
- Remembering a person who was kind and patient and took an interest in a young, inexperienced me, helped show me the patient kind of person that I wanted to be.
- Good music, good conversation and a bag of carrots for the road trip!
- I can see Mexico from here!
- El Paso, a place I’ve never been before! It was a disconcerting late at night, much more 3D than I expected.
- Arrived in Las Cruces just as my great Hunter and the moon was setting. They kept me sweet company all the way, high and bright in the sky.
- Arriving. The journey is great, but arriving when you’re extra tired is sometimes better.
- Texture

- Vintage signs and bent neon.

- Mirages on the highway
- The Thing? What is it? It’s a wonder! – (hint: it’s a dollar)

- Do you know how much money I’ve dropped on squashed pennies in my life? (Hell, do I even know?) Let’s just say a lot. I have quite the collection that really no one had ever seen.

- If there is a tiki bar, I will find it. (also..
- A much needed mai tai and Tahitian punch. Tipsy afternoons in Tucson are the best kind.

- I am a cactus hugger. It can be done, one must do so gently. They need hugs too.

- Silent giant

- Texture

- Barrel cactus and stripey ocotillo

- Hipster pasties
- We arrived at Casa Blanca Hot Spring and ate our pasties by moonlight and soaked in the tub under the stars.
- Talking, sharing, trying to figure things out, all while submerged in a hot tub full of silky spring water and drenched in moonlight. The shadow of the palm tree on the bottom of the tub looked like a giant scorpion or face-hugger.
- Taking this trip has gotten me excited for my epic April trip. I’m looking forward to long, lonely roads, long stretches of silence and time to myself, rocks and pine trees and skies and coming back to myself again and again.
- Sunrise soaks, the light filtering through the palms and mist, me laying sideways in my tub so that the sun can hit my bare skin, the sound of constant sloshing from the springs.

- Showering al fresco, there really is something spectacular and amazing about the air on all your skin. Soaping up with the brilliant, cloudless sky above me, the cool air around me. I washed my hair and climbed into the big cast iron tub to soak. I was submerged up to my neck and zoning out to the birds flitting in the trees, the hummingbird that came by to try to feed off of the red shut-off valves, then flitted around me seeing what I was about.
- The guy sitting the next booth over is this crotchety, leathery, old guy who has a whistle and a drawl when he talks. It’s so endearing.
- Breakfasts of green chile omelets two days in a row.
- Truth in advertising.

- Tumbling along.

- Stopping to pee on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere because it’s likely that there won’t be any civilization for another 50 miles.
- Vulture Peak through Hummingbird Springs Wilderness Preserve
- North on 89, the memorial to the Granite Mountain Hot Shots.

- Yarnell, up on the mountain, cute little quiet town, paid my respects and bought fire department raffle tickets.

- Congress, Arizona – super cute little westerny town
- Cholla

- If I ever won the lottery and could buy any car I wanted without worry for fuel and mileage, I’d probably buy me another Jeep Wrangler like Lola. She was still my favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned.
- We sat in here with the moon, Orion and Jupiter shining down on me through the palms soaking in lovely silky spring water.

- This was my view over the claw-footed tub. The sun rose right over the fence and filtered through the palm trees and onto my steaming skin

- Rounding the bend into Jerome, AZ. Tucked on the hillside, seemingly impossible.

- Moonrise over the red rocks. Sedona really is as beautiful as I remember. The reddest rocks, the cutest shops.

- Oak Creek Canyon, pine trees, tall and majestic, the creek and tall canyon walls.
- Woke in Springdale to overcast, cold and rainy, but the canyon walls still look beautiful. It’s like being in a postcard, even if it’s dreary.
- Sunset on 89 near the Vermillion Cliffs

- Swimming head full of feels, but also love. My walls and my problems falling away and I’m more able to be compassionate.
- Driving through Zion Canyon after dark all along the switchbacks, not quite sure if you’re going to go careening into the canyon or not. We had the whole park to ourselves, not another soul on the road or in the tunnel at 9pm on a Sunday night.
- Tucking in, talking about whatever until she fell asleep.
- Dewy cactus

- View of The Watchman from Canyon Junction

- Chocolate chip cookie and iced tea before departure.
- I look like a crazy hiker/photographer walking through the airport. Hiking boots, black leggins, fleece jacket, shirt with a quirky US map on it, backpack, berkey bottle and camera bag. Maybe a travel writer. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’d love that job if it was the only job I had.

- The sun on the clouds over the Watchman in Zion National Park.
- Breakfast crepe – honey and bananas (!!)
- Beautiful postcard scenery, even in the middle of winter.
- A lovely cup of tea
- Using my flying time as meditation time, and not being bothered by crying children
- Flying over Vegas with poofy little clouds

- Seeing the Grand Canyon from overhead

- The comfort of home
- An entire three seats to myself, able to stretch out and relax.
- Hazy gloaming sunset at 30,000 feet.

- My fridge: States I’ve spent a significant amount of time in (need to get Washingtons). I’m missing having spent significant amount of time in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Kansas, South Dakota, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. The last two are on the want-to-do list for sure.

- Waking up slowly, snuggled into my warm bed, being petted on and feeling refreshed
- Making time to sit in the midst of lots of things to do
- Perfect hot tea when cold and wet from being outside in the rainy chill
- Slippery floors to slide on Risky Business style
- A healthy eating day, and all things I loved!
- Having done all of my good habits today that I’m trying to cultivate in myself
- Feeling like I’m an important member of my group at work
- Happy cows, happy horses, happy chickens
- Sunset screaming past the city

- Rummed figs
- Catching up with people when I’ve been away
- I woke up refreshed, warm and snuggled into my own bed after having not woken up even once in the night. I managed to make my way through all my email, do some work, have a healthy breakfast and lunch, sort through some things, feed all the things and generally have a really pleasant day with lots of time to take care of myself. So even though it was cold and rainy outside, I still felt pretty warm and cozy on my insides.
- The tiny spot of sun that I watched slowly creep across my floor. This little spot of sun on my floor in front of me teaches me lessons today. Impermanence (as it slowly moves and fades away), acceptance (as it does), letting go (of my desire for it to remain), and the joy of just being and appreciating the moment. All this shall too pass, anything that seems good or bad, it all will change. This moment, this now is what there is, just as it is. Pretty deep for a tiny spot of sunlight on the floor.
- A clean house, all five minutes of it.
- A brisk walk/jog, but staying warm with fleece lined leggins.
- Delicious naps.
- Seeing the moon and the stars for the first time in a week.

- Hot tea on cold, blustery days.
- A California-style, gourmet taco trailer in my tiny little town.
- Crawling into bed and getting wrapped up in the warmth of it.
- Scratching on my sweet cows.
- Valentine’s Day getting drunk on red wine and chocolate cake and folding paper cranes.

- Passionfruit yogurt.
- Driving down one of my back country roads, I love the way it looks; a long, straight road lined with telephone lines down the one side stretching as far as the eye can see. It looks like home to me and brings me comfort. I’ve been driving this road for seven years now, it’ll be four years full time out here this year, the longest I’ve been anywhere. We’ve worked hard to carve out our little space here in the middle of nowhere Texas and I am so grateful for it every single day.
- Childhood

- The cat snuck in our bedroom and decided she wanted to supervise my bath. This consisted of licking my toes, head butting my forehead, and stepping on the ledge to sample the people soup. She’s a strange one, but I find it endearing.
- Moving at the speed of justice (read: slow)
- Went to restorative yoga in ‘town’, was absolute perfection. Roaring fire, nice gentle yoga, and a friendly raccoon tapping at the window looking for dinner. Met awesome new people, can’t wait to go back!
- Let me take you for a ride on my big orange tractor…

- I was dreaming of circular rocks buried in the snow and frozen ponds. It was very pretty. Layers and layers and layers of circular rocks buried under a foot of snow. I reached in and pulled them out, all stacked on top of each other, little core samples.
- One hundred cranes
- I received in the mail a tiny box tucked into my mailbox that contained a little knitted pot of cactus! The little barrel cactus has tiny pin heads sticking out of it in a most pleasing fashion. I’m so in love with it!

- The sound of the little pebbles make as they sploop in the Washpond.
- The wind blowing through the bare trees.
- A full picnic basket full of all sorts of yummy goodies, nibbling on them for a couple hours in a long, lazy lunch.
- Swinging on the swings in my flappy skirt (and the sound of it flap-flap-flapping in the wind) and swinging so high that the chains go slack.
- Getting the swing going so high, then leaning back with my bare feet up touching the sky, my head thrown back, my hair almost trailing on the ground on the downswing, feeling that dizzy high from it all.
- Driving around exploring, and finding a little heart made of barbed wire stuck into a fence post at the end of the road.

- Any place called “The Stone Tabernacle”

- Watching the moon rise over the river, the trees and the moon reflecting in the water.
- Watching the stars, the Winter Circle, Jupiter and Orion high above, so brightly shining that it stopped me in my tracks.
- A good hair day, it was a little humid so it made these great looking curls that I didn’t have to do anything to make.

- Daisies, dandelions, clover flowers, the promise of spring soon.

-The sun shone beautifully through my windows while I sat and meditated
- I saw these birds like leaves in the trees, endlessly streaming across the road

- I passed a momma cow licking her wobbly newborn calf on my drive into town
- Got to the train tracks just as the last car clunked past. Perfect timing.
- The moon a pearl in a sea of pink and blue in the dusky eastern sky.

- The sky was a brilliant orange down my dirt road.

- Sweet heart Valentine

- I love tearing down my dirt roads in the truck with the windows down and the music turned up real loud. I’ve turned into a country song cliche!
- Easy way to fix a bad day: going for tacos, 90s music and drawing on the tables.
- How I know spring is coming soon.

- Sunset farm

- As I sat, Trouble sat on my lap with her little kitty tongue sticking out of her mouth, staring at me. Kitty-assisted meditation is the best kind.
- I was at the new Whole Foods and we had build-your-own-ramen (and tacos) for dinner and I had the most amazing thing ever put together: a chocolate covered pretzel with toffee chunks all over it. Then as I was driving home, a Borden truck was in front of me and I got to look at Elsie’s smiling face for a few miles.

- I went for a walk and this sweet little boy followed right at my heels the whole time.

- Sunrise farm

- Wood witch photo shoot
- I managed to get a crapton done and then rewarded myself with some homegrown chuck roast and vegetables and some restorative yoga.

- Why you shouldn’t marry for love
- A really great hour long podcast about Happiness
- 21 non-spiritual things that make us happy
- 50 reasons why you’re beautiful
- What I would like to do with you this evening – silly, fun, sweet, beautiful
- Why Meditate?
- MREs around the world! (This seems so neat to me, to see what other countries pack for soldiers to eat)
- World’s largest ball of twine – I may have to visit this!
- What does the heart say?
- Setting intentions at a practice
- Behind the pictures
- Adult Little Tykes car
- Farmer selfies
- Fun watertowers
- Loving husband draws 365 dicks for his adored wife
- Space ship camping
- Best bacon infused food across the country
- My favorite star in my favorite constellation
- How your memory re-writes your past
- How to take better star photographs
- Blending buddhism and psychology
- Something that concerns me, we just aren’t here anymore.
- Better wedding vows
- This fish is driving it’s electric car around.
- Photographer gets A-List actors to re-enact scenes from Disney movies
- Science of how music enchants the brain
- Recipes: chocolate crepes, raw Andes mint pie, hard honey candies, chocolate cookies, meyer lemon jam, green chickpea medly
- DIY face lotion
- Don’t date a girl who travels
- Nerd humor about “The Story of Ping”
- It’s not what’s happening, it’s how you respond
- Things to do in Iceland
- Andre Amador makes beach art, so beautiful.

- Storms in timelapse
- Interesting thoughts on relationships
- How sex makes us grateful
- Really cool art by Rachel Ignotofsky
- 5 thoughts that will instantly make you happier

- Filmed locally

- Sand Poetry

- Great project!

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

31 January 2014 @ 10:13 pm

We went to Vegas this past week and I dragged hubsand out to Valley Of Fire State Park for a little hiking. We didn’t get near enough time to really dive into it deeply, but we did make it to the hike out to the Fire Wave.

The skies were cloudy and looking dismal most of the day and I didn’t have high hopes for a good sunset, but the sun ducked under the cloud deck just as we got there and put on the most spectacular show ever with crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays, virga, amazing colors and just absolute wonderment.

Here’s some of the shots:

My favorite

We hiked out after dark, scrambling up the hill without a flashlight (mine had died) and stumbling to the car, but it was well worth it. That was one of the best sunsets I’d seen in a long time. I’m so glad I decided to push to go see it!

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

26 January 2014 @ 07:45 pm

- SPARKLERS! The best part of fireworks holidays!

- On the very moment of the first new moon on the first day of the new year I sat in silence and manifested my intention to bring awareness and full presence to this next year. Here. Now.

- On the cool and bright first morning of the new year, I went out to watch the sunrise and feed all the things and Little Bit came over and started licking and trying to nurse my whole hand and thumb. Hilarity! I stood there for ten minutes giggling and talking to him. It was the perfect sweetness to make up for an utterly rotten end to the night before.

- Then I went to go visit the donkeys and if I stopped petting them, Daisy would grab my scarf and tug, just like a kid!

- Feathers dipped in gold paint and glitter!
- The sheer, unadulterated excitement of winning the lottery for getting permits into The Wave in Coyote Buttes North in the Paria Canyon / Vermillion Cliffs National Monument for April. I had like a .25% chance of getting it, and I MOTHERFARKING WON IT on the first entry! BOOYAH!
- Long, slow, drawn out sunsets that last for almost an hour and have colors that I’ve never seen; cotton candy pinks turning to deep, dark pinks and purples bleeding to oranges.

- The cutest squeaky toy ever.

- Crawling into or waking up in a super-toasty warm bed, snuggling in with my teddy bear and soft sheets and sighing happily.
- Sunrise over milk-nosed calves.

- Driving home into my favorite fingernail moon.

- Shopping for gifts, day-dreaming about dream vacations, coffee with a friend and sushi dinner with hubs.
- Turtle and koi ponds reflecting a sliver moon in the dusky light.
- Stopping in my tiny town to talk to neighbors, catching up, and appreciating the art of reclaimed wood wall art.

- Even though we had a pretty hefty cold snap and we lost our booster pump and some pipes, we still had water and it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been. Now at least we have an idea of what we need to do for next time it gets that cold.
- Fantastic sunrises and sunsets:

- I did, in fact, go out and try to blow bubbles in the 16 degree weather only to discover that 16 degrees isn’t cold enough to make them freeze.
- The surreality of life, fly to Vegas to stay for 8 hours then drive all night to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

- The amazing drive from Albuquerque to Amarillo

- The cute overload of the Big Texan Steak Ranch Motel. Pure roadside americana perfection. The Big Texan Steak Ranch is everything that I love about roadside America – Johnny Cash and Charlie Pride playing on the radio, waitresses that look like rodeo queens, every kind of taxidermied animal on the walls, deep wood everything. And a ribeye and dippy eggs.

- Rescued hats

- Find a penny, pick it up. All day long you’ll have good luck.

- Painted Cadillac Ranch…again.

- Visited my favorite giant cowboy, Tex Randall

- Stopped off in Happy, Texas. Happy Joy!

- Marveled at the wonder of gloriously flat panhandle Texas, where if you stand on a milk crate you can see the back of your own head.

- I passed one of Quanah Parker’s arrows, to whom I’m related to by marriage. I drove past so fast I couldn’t stop to turn around to get a photo though!
- Flat flat flat then the bottom drops out and suddenly…canyons.

- I saw the Texas Bison herd in Caprock Canyon!
- I drove and the sun set, and I found a field with bits of cotton fluff still left.

- Shadows

- As bleak as winter can seem, the long low light seems to last longer and more precious as it drapes itself over the pastures. It’s comforting to see the cows grazing in the warm afternoon light.
- The cat goes in the cupboard 40 times a day to check for mice. I put a sticky trap in there and he found the mouse in it, got it off the trap and chased it around but got the trap stuck to his foot. I had to peel the trap off his foot then pick him up and launch him at the mouse to recatch it. Then he was walking around with the mouse in his mouth and I had to stop him, get him to drop it and then slam the sticky trap back on the mouse to immobilize him. Total slapstick comedy!
- Moonrise

- Sleeping in my own bed. When I’m away, to come back to it is glorious and wonderful.
- Surprise jackass!

- Watching the moon rise over the lake, big and fat and slow.

- Pelicans alighting, skimming on the starry water.
- Amaretto, ever my go-to drink.
- There’s something about road trip captive audiences when you have good time to talk and work through things that is excellent.
- Stories and stories and stories of the past from our parents and elders.
- Beautious foggy mornings.

- Watching the sun slip down the horizon and being ushered home by the stars.

- Dunkin Donuts’ french crullers, my favorite.

- Truck stop showers
- Bent neon signage.
- Those transition times, sunrise, sunset, when the light changes and you can witness man-made lights flicker on.
- Silly goggles

- Bees!

- Yummy lunches in cute little towns.
- Recordings of Vincent Price reading me recipes in the bathroom.

- The end of the smoked prime rib, all crunchy and amazing and rare on the other side.

- Benefits of living in the middle of nowhere: when it’s beautiful, sunny, breezy and warm I lay out on my sunny back porch in only what the universe gave me. Because I need more vitamin D and it feels amazing to have sun on bits that never see it.
- Cortado-love and hugs!
- I watched the moon rise late at night, the soft yellow light shone through my windows and I got up to look. The stars were shining brightly and the soft moonlight took the sting out of everything.
- Tattoos in good light.

- I walked to the end of the driveway to watch the sunset and was rewarded with layers and layers, oranges and pinks.

- Fat squirrels that shuffle around in the grass
- The promise of warm weather, but cool breezes to keep me present
- Surprise turkey egg nest

- Donkey lips
- Long low light filtering through the windows and gauzy shades
- Icy tanks

- Being greeted by all the cows, I’m not sure how I ever lived my life without them before
- A warm shower with yummy smelling products (and a good deep conditioning of my hair for four hours)
- Pierogies for dinner, good buttery hunky food
- The start of 1000 paper cranes

- Snuggles before bed, talking and feeling understood
- It was so cold this morning, there were icicles hanging off of my ass.

- Joe, in all the beds I’ve been in the past couple weeks

- Bedtime

- Sunset over the stock tank

- I woke up and the entire world was like an icy, glazed donut, including all the livestock. The novelty was worth waking up for, if nothing else.
- as it all melted, it dripped off the roof and slid down the posts in a most pleasing fashion, drip-drip-dripping most of the day.
- I had my favorite lunch as of late, smoked tinned fish, bagel chips, rosemary garlic marcona almonds and a bit of smoked blue cheese. All combined into one bite, it is absolutely amazing. The only thing it was missing was preserved lemon, which I didn’t think about until after the fact.
- the ability for me to utilize my tools (meditation, insight, self-regulation) to care for myself when I need it the most
- waking up, snuggly and warm, tucked deep in my bed.
- ice day! work from home!
- breakfast cooked by momma, eggs, toast and texas pecan coffee with twaddled milk and maple syrup (holy woah amazing!)
- hilarious internet videos, one good reason for facebook, there is a neverending supply of them
- the waning crescent moon shining through my window very early in the morning; the first and last quarters are my favorite
- waking up to another amazing sunrise, stepping up on my bathtub to snap it before my eyes were even fully open

- the frost on everything, always makes it seem like a magical wonderland
- cowboy help, I’d be at a loss (and without a trailer) so many times otherwise
- connecting, helping, bolstering, sense-making
- walking to the park and be-ing; sitting with full attention to everything, focusing gently but seeing all the way out to the periphery, listening to everything, and having the mindfulness practice soothe the frays in my mind
- tea and goodies and drinks and charcuterie and clotted cream (!!)

- healing touch, be it hugs, reaching out to holding hands when upset, grooming, rubbing my back, or soft kisses behind my ear, there is never enough touch in my world
- a really good hair day, combined with a really good scarf day
- love; to love and to be loved
- Game of Thrones?

- Desktop rodeo

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.”
― Hugh Laurie

- Redheads. Hell yeah.
- Hilarious Nikon DF review video
- Animals sitting on capybaras

- I know a couple of farmers that said it right: “Our goal for all of our animals at Yonder Way Farm is that they only have one bad day in their lives. That day is still my least favorite day and it never seems to get easier. Our animals have the opportunity to do and be what they were created for. They graze, root, plow, scratch, eat, sleep, and fertilize the land to sustain it for the next generation. However, if left unharvested, they benefit no one and their purpose is unfulfilled. No different than planting, watering, and weeding your garden only to let it go unharvested and rot in the field. When you have a vested interest in the food you are consuming, cheap and convenient are not your major concerns. There are so many details that are there way before it was put in your freezer. A story. A life. When you know these details, you value, appreciate, and waste not when it’s understood that something lost its life so that you can maintain yours.”
- Woman’s phone stolen, she recreates the guy who stole it’s selfies
- 365 Grateful!
- Bastrop County Bucket List
- Donate your old iPod to a good cause! I’ve got a few lying around I should send over.
- I’ve GOT to find me a glass ball to take places with me.

- New spray stops bleeding instantly.
- The concept of statelessness.
- Lessons from pain.
- Zen and the art of not itching – this is UNpossible for me. Itching is my worst nightmare, my biggest distraction…I’m hopeless.
- 7 things to remember when you feel not good enough
- Photography I enjoy by Bracket
- Barbed wire fences were early telephone networks.
- The awesomest off-road RV.
- Tentacle tea cups

- Shibari fashion! (possibly NSFW)
- Cthuluphant

- Tangled

- Star photography editing tutorials by one of my favorite astrophotographers
- Frost quakes!
- Free will?
- Why we self sabotage our happiness.
- Finding gratitude for difficult people
- Turn your Instagram photos into magnets!
- This guy raised an abandoned moose calf with his horses, and believe it or not, he has trained it for lumber removal and other hauling tasks. Given the 2,000 pounds of robust muscle, and the splayed, grippy hooves, he claims it is the best work animal he has. He says the secret to keeping the moose around is a sweet salt lick, although, during the rut he disappears for a couple of weeks, but always comes home….

- A pretty damn accurate map of the nearby universe.
- Beautiful shot of The Black Canyon of the Gunnison

- A really great shot of Hamilton Pool

- This song about Mark Kozelek going to see Ben Gibbard at a Postal Service show made me chuckle.
- An interesting article about not giving a fuck, which I agree with some and not with others, but still think it’s worth a share.
- Five things to do in Canyonlands that involve getting out of your car.
- How to turn beer bottles into glasses
- Meditation can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- First evidence of specific molecular changes in the body following a period of intensive mindfulness practice
- Separating feelings and stories
- 18 great things I wish I knew as a teenager
- Old Man’s Cave in Winter

- Sleep naked, it’s good for you.
- Robert Downey, Jr. sings with Sting and nails it.
- Metal bugs, so cool!
- Girl and the sea

- Pretty

- The best part of this article:
- Identifying and reducing stress in the moment: As we’ve discussed before, identifying stressors and developing breathing habits, postponing rash action, and muscle relaxation can help cool your head.
- Recognize overwhelming emotions and keep them at bay: Emotional self-control isn’t just effective in rage management. While anger and romance may be very different, the same strategies apply: be aware of your own emotions and calm the f*** down.
- Learn the basics of nonverbal communication: Everyone around you is constantly communicating, even if they’re saying nothing at all. Learn to read these cues to assess your situation better.
- Utilize humor to make connections and solve problems: You don’t necessarily need to be Louie CK levels of funny (and in fact that might not help all relationships), but knowing when to use humor to resolve conflicts can be very beneficial.
- Resolve conflicts positively: There’s a huge difference between fighting and actually solving problems and we could fill a whole article explaining how to avoid doing the former and do the latter instead.
- Sneaky way to remove a stuck ring
- The cute, it burns!

- On expansion
- Photos of John Schnieder, including very evocative ones of his reaction to his father’s death.

- HOLY CRAP! Blue lava!

- Beautiful art

- Beautiful art with her body.

- “Possum on the half shell” – that had me laughing out loud

- Recipes: grain free cinnamon ‘oatmeal’, butter mints, homemade bouillon cubes

- This blew my goddamned mind. Really puts things in perspective how teeny tiny we are.

I must get to Iceland or Lapland before I die.

Goldpaint Photography & eMotimo from Goldpaint Photography on Vimeo.

- Ron Jeremy singing and doing the video for Wrecking Ball

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.


Saturday morning, we ventured north towards Mercer for a corn maze (with a cowboy theme !!). We drove straight into the low clouds and the cold wind, but to me, that’s perfect corn maze weather! It should be bitingly cold so that you must consume at least a half gallon of hot cocoa or hot cider to stay warm, and must keep moving so as to maintain body heat. If it’s at night, that’s super fun, but daytime mazes are pretty awesome too. There’s a couple in Texas, but in mid-October it’s likely still in the 80s and it just never feels right. It’s not a corn maze unless it’s below 55 degrees. Plus the corn here doesn’t grow as tall, there one maze that uses a variant of sorghum instead of corn. It looks neat, but it’s not *really* a corn maze.

We loaded up on hot cocoa and snacks then set out. It was not a difficult maze with easily recognizable landmarks and patterns (and they gave you a map). We found all the points in the maze, and made it out to pet the pigs and goats and ride the mechanical bull, slide down the tube slide and shoot zombies with the pumpkin cannon (yes, I grazed it with my second shot and hit it dead on with my third…booyah!). The pumpkin cannon was a modified potato air cannon, made to work with the tiny little round baby pumpkin/gourds…if it didn’t turn them into mash on the way out of the barrel.

Over the next couple of days, we got our fall and Halloween fixes. I’ve never been a fan of haunted houses or trails, they don’t really scare me ever, but I wanted to try a couple out so we went to the trail that my cousin works every year to benefit a local charity, and then the following day we had tickets for The ScareHouse which is supposed to be rated as one of the best haunted houses in the country. It was very cool, very well appointed, the attention to detail was quite amazing. I still wasn’t scared, but more very interested to see the spectacle and the show. I would have loved to had time to do The Basement which I was told was more intense, but I ran out of time before I left. My niece and I attended the local neighborhood dress up parade up to the volunteer fire department as well, cute to see all the kids and get to ogle more fire trucks. I dressed up as Wenda from Where’s Waldo, totally nerdy fun.

My sister and I met up with my cousin for lunch and we took a duck boat tour of the city, something I had never done since I lived there. Station Square has a really neat little courtyard with dancing fountains, a giant Bessemer converter, some brick making machines and all manner of interesting things to look at.

My friend Andrei and I spent an evening traipsing around the city, we rode the Duquesne Incline up and stood agog at the city, still the prettiest city I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Then we went to walk around where I went to college, ducking in and out of International rooms in the Cathedral of Learning. I spent so many hours in that building, doing homework, hiding out from the cold, staring at the stonework and the groined ceilings, wearing a bit of myself into the long wooden tables. It was quite possibly the best place to learn and spend college, and it was never lost on me. I still rank this building among my all time favorites and go back to visit it every time I can.

We wandered outside to watch the skies skid past the tall building and feel like ants tucked between the Cathedral of Learning and Heinz Memorial Chapel.

I spent my last day there visiting family, getting some pizza and relaxing, a nice quiet end to a really great trip home.

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

30 December 2013 @ 12:27 pm

- Sunrises, sunsets.

- I am infinitely amused by the deer that choose to sleep in our yard and then are put out when we drive down the driveway after dark. It’s like we run a deer B&B here or something.
- Turkey hen has been sitting on a nest, though none of them are fertilized, so we shooed her back to the coop. 17 eggs and one growling and hissing turkey hen.
- Early breakfast, sitting at the counter, of course.

- I found this collection of leaves on the steps beautifully perfect.

- The chill outside cut by hot chai and The Shins inside.

- Bourbon and photo-editing kind of nights.
- Fallen leaves and windchimes. (schwush-schwush)
- All the water drops and dew were frozen just as they lay this morning. It was brisk but absolutely beautiful.

- Warm foamed milk and cookies for dinner, because I’m an adult and I can.
- Feeding the catfish in the cold.
- Contrails arching all the way across the sky.

- One lovely Wednesday in early December, it smelled like dead leaves and chill and fire in a fireplace and of earth outside. And I was drunk on it.
- Donkey noses

- Brush 4.0

- Pure perfection this morning. Dewy, bright and not too cold.

- Sunrise and water droplets

Quote of the day:
“I forgot to brush my teeth this morning.”
“I forgot to brush my teeth for the last couple days. But it’s ok, I had some whiskey. That’s disinfected everything, right?”

- Low winter sunrise, the world sparkling in the frosty morning. As I walk, it shines like a million diamonds on the grass. It’s a muted, quiet morning, warm breath making fog, all the textures accentuated by the frosted glaze. The world crisp and bright, everything expectant and biding its time. (pics)
- Orange skies

- A pearl in blue and pink layers

- Last night, after we got home from a movie, I walked out into the night, no flashlight needed from the bright moonlight. All the stars were so crisp, the moon shining like daylight, it was absolutely magical!
- Another frosty morning

- Golden hour, amazing evening light.

- Shadows and brick

- Intersection

- Welp…Christmas cards never made it out again this year. That’s 36 years in a row now, ah well.
- When I’m laying in the bath and I can feel the tiny little bubbles skimming up my back.
- This “Peppermint Pig™ as aptly it was named, was cast of hard candy similar in fashion to candy cane and festive pink in colour. And while the pig is honored in Victorian holiday tradition as a symbol of good health, happiness and prosperity, these special “Peppermint Pigs”,™ unique to Saratoga Springs, New York, came to represent much more. After the holiday dinner, the Pig was passed amongst those gathered, each in turn giving the pouch a firm tap and sharing a tale of the past year’s good fortune. The delicious broken peppermint and warm memories were enjoyed by all in hopes of prosperity for the coming year.

- Spinning under the Zilker Tree
- Jackalopes!

- Heart shaped rock (shaped like an anatomically correct heart, that is…much more rare and interesting)
- One of the many fat squirrels around here has taken up climbing the gum tree in the front of the house and eating the berries from it perched on the branches over the porch roof. All I hear all day is little, tiny machine gun tap-tap-tap on the metal roof as he spits the seeds out. He gets so indignant if I come outside to stare up at him while he’s eating!
- Johnson City lights

- I found bubbles in the pocket of the coat I haven’t worn in a year, along with the gloves I had thought I lost.
- Ivy crawling up a wall.

- Christmas eve sunset

- Christmas day sunrise

- Butter molded into a Christmas tree shape.
- Cats that find more enjoyment in the wrappings.

- The cat that covets the ham and reaches onto my plate with tiny little paws to steal it.
- Late night music listening and my color changing star pillow

- Buy one, get 11 free

- The Spanish oak in the driveway has decided today was a good day to drop the brunt of its leaves. I sat and listened to the slow fall, the crinkle crunch and the shwush of the leaves in the wind.


- Meditation links: when you’re afraid of meditating, some of your distractions aren’t distractions,
- What happens when you take molten aluminum and pour it into a fire ant mound?

- The creepier version of the Dark Crystal.
- A short clip about artist and maker Zina Nicole Lahr. SO inspiring!
- This is exactly why I started doing the photo-a-day challenge earlier this year. I needed some way to rekindle the spark in my soul, find the joy in tiny moments, the beauty in the little things. I’m going to restart this again on the first, it was such a powerful and little thing for me. I got wrapped up trying to compose the perfect photo after a while, and forgot the sheer joy of looking at anything from a different perspective. My goal is to just step back to more simplicity, to take a photo for the sheer joy of it, regardless of if it’s compositionally perfect.
- Amazing photos of nature and dancers and colors.
- Haunted abandoned places. I used to pass Michigan Central Station every day on my way into work.
- Recipes: amaretto snowballs, refined-sugar free vanilla buttercream, superfoods hot cocoa (and the most adorable mug warmers), almond sunny seed crackers, gluten free oatmeal cookies, santa lucia buns, coconut oil fudge, egg/dairy/gluten free pie crust, plant based recipes, gluten free brownies, allergy friendly chocolate custard, maple oat sourdough rolls
- If Red Lobster disappears, it would make our Boxing Day Red Lobster tradition difficult, however here are some copycat recipes.
- Vegetable house?

- I do love kale, here is an interesting project of eating kale for 52 weeks.
- Christmas tinner: 3 course meal in a can
- Methuselah Grove
- Dharma Talks by Tara Brach.
- I was talking to someone how most of my photos these days are with my iPhone because it’s what I always have on me. It takes some pretty good photos, but it cannot do everything my Nikon can do and when I’m serious about getting a good shot, I’m going to go to the Nikon. But for instant gratification, short timeframe or not really knowing what I want, the iPhone works pretty good as a point and shoot substitute. Article about iPhone sunrise/sunset shots
- Slightly NSFW, but how attitude and confidence changes everything.
- Ass jokes never get old

- Optical illusion! His head is following you! Oh, wait…
- Amazing street art!

- Kenzoku: “family” and friendship.
- The Winter Circle

- Giant true-color photo of the night sky
- Johnny Cash Cadillac from “One Piece At A Time”

- Plant some flowers the macho way: from the end of a shotgun
- Maps of the seven deadly sins in America
- Rays that jump out of the water

- Back in the day, I remember being in love with Zita Marie Evensen‘s poetry as well. I have journals where I had copied down some of my favorites and I too have wondered what became of her.
My favorite which has stuck with me 20 years later, I always filled in that scene, and wrapped a story around the idea.

“Could I hold a snowflake with bonfires in my mind?”

- 21 unexpected ways to say I love you.
- Frozen bubbles!

- Longest days and the December solstice
- Environmental art

- Attitude of Gratitude and children
- Things are prettier covered in ice

- Reuben Wu is trained as an industrial designer, works as a DJ, is a member of the band Ladytron and is also a great photographer. While traveling for his music gigs, he’s able to shoot incredible landscapes all around the world. Reuben photographs landscapes with analog cameras and different types of film.
- Photograph of the night sky from Galway, Ireland.

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

27 December 2013 @ 12:37 pm

Much of this year has been spent rebuilding slowly from the inside out, trying to replace bad habits with better ones and reconnecting with myself. Aside from the trip up north to see my sister for the birth of my nephew, I didn’t leave the state of Texas this year, and didn’t once get on a plane. It was a year of exploring locally, getting more comfortable with where I am and what I have and a year of gratitude and finding my own joy in little things. It was a year of being more present in moments, finding boundaries and taking time to take care of myself, and finally discovering the healing power of compassion and empathy. As challenging as it was at some times, it was still a year of growing and learning and stretching, so I cannot possibly leave this year feeling anything but thankful for it all.

Things that happened this year:
- Henri got dehorned.
- Went to lots of rodeos: San Antonio, Austin, Bastrop, Chisholm Trail Round-Up, Wimberley
- Learned how to tube a calf, though I may have already forgotten
- Had two more calves and acquired a herd bull calf, another milker and her calf.
- Made another seemingly bajillion batches of soap
- Acquired and were infinitely amused by the turkeys
- Dad visited and we went touring Lubbock and Amarillo. I painted Cadillac Ranch, ate steak at the Big Texan Steak ranch, saw Tex Randall, the American Wind Power Museum, posed with giant Buddy Holly glasses, ate at diners, saw Combine City and Slug Bug Ranch and generally had a Texan good time.
- Visits from my sister and my niece
- Winding Ridge B&B and bluebonnet trails
- Completed Skywarn severe weather training
- Bands I saw live: Sigur Ros, El Ten Eleven, Postal Service
- Completed and barely passed Swiftwater Rescue Technician Training. (did I mention my fear of drowning? this was a big step). Learned about water dynamics and hazards, vehicle rescues, strainers, throw bags, tension diagonals, ferry angles, defensive swimming, self-rescue, hydraulics, boats and how to right one when flipped, shallow water crossings, “live bait” rescues, entrapment drills, mechanical advantages and more.
- Ginormous hail storm in April, complete insanity, and a structure fire call immediately following
- Took two cows in for processing. Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.
- Completed Stress Reduction Clinic – mindfulness based meditation
- Completed CBRNE Response for Rural Firefighters course
- TEEX 2013 Annual Municipal Fire School – Firefighting Phase 2 completed!
- Austin Graffiti tour with my niece
- Zip-lined over Lake Travis
- Fourth of July parades
- Discovering La Grange: parades, county fairs, walking bridges, kolaches, fabrics, town square and amazingness of cute little Texas towns.
- Made it to and through another birthday, with slightly less fanfare than usual
- Trips to Dallas (aquarium, spa, boutique hotels, amazing food, cakes we like)
- Galveston (twice!): board game cafe, candycandycandy, going to the pier, oceans and storms, fancy dinners, early beach sunrises, crabby coffee, breakfast on the pier, lunch counters, aquariums and gardens and the smell and taste of salt on everything.
- Silent retreat, my first.
- A year spent meditating. Not every day, but regularly enough to definitely show a difference.
- Extrication 1 and 2 class
- Fire dept auction and bbq: SCBA lamps, flights, and a sudden change in weather.
- Hamilton Pool!
- Paddleboarding, sidecar riding fun
- Cheap cast iron back porch bathtubbin’
- EPIC road tripping: 17 days, 4000 miles, beautiful swamp, NOLA, trains, incline railways, mountains, fire departments, Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive of Shenandoah National Park, small town Virginia, pizza, grandparents, new tattoo, duck tours, Cathedral, Incline, haunted houses, corn mazes, amusement park, diners in the mountains, birth, McConnell’s Mill, North Park, The House That Built Me, friends, rivers, dinners, lunches, orchards, rubber ducks, Rock City, Sternwheeler hotel, Ruby Falls, Louisiana/Mississippi/Alabama
- ACL and friends from long ago and far away places
- Road tripping, junkin’, delicious soundscapes, unintended mead detours and pie.
- Empty Bowl Project (yet again)
- Major hair overhaul.
- Date night Mondays
- Finally got to see the Trail of Lights and the Johnson City holiday light display.
- Set up my solargraphy can, it will be opened on the summer solstice next year!

From last year, my goals for this year didn’t quite pan out the way I planned.
The only one of these I actually made any headway on was meditating. I was exercising regularly, but I had some setbacks mid-year that put me on the bench for a while.

For next year:
- Spanish: ever on the list. I have the Rosetta Stone program, just need to set aside time to use it.
- Debt: I need to work this one out still.
- Farm business: this is becoming a bit more critical next year.
- Year of Going Deeper
- I’ve got several trips already penciled in for next year, a couple of trips to Vegas, I promised my niece a road trip adventure (we may end up in Marfa/Big Bend area – it’s time I take that girl hiking!), the bluebonnet trip is already locked in, and I’d like to do the sixteen day (two weeks plus weekends) road trip around eastern Utah/northern Arizona for Arches, Canyonlands, etc, that I’ve been talking about for years (that may be my big vacation for the year, hopefully I can do it cheap and camp).
- As always, I hope to get in more exercise, maybe get back into running again, or power-walking at least (no one can see how moronic I look power-walking down the back-road, dirt roads here, right?)
- Getting inflammation under control through food sensitivity testing and life-hacking with the eventual goal to be more healthy.

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

23 December 2013 @ 09:20 am

While I didn’t pick up my “good” camera for damn near half the year, I snapped a lot of shots with my iPhone this year that I really enjoyed. I got into Instagram, and while it’s not necessarily high art by any means, I enjoy the bite-sized nature of the shots there. I took on a photo-of-the-day challenge sometime back in mid-year, mostly to get me back into taking photos again and get me back interested in things, and some of them turned out really quite amazing. There’s been a couple of great trips (despite the fact that I did not get on a plane at all this year) and lots of amazing sunrises, sunsets and stormy skies here at home.

All in all, this year has been a process in moving forward, of growth and of gratitude.

Here are the photos from this year that tell the story of my year, piece by piece. It’s a little long, and I apologize for that, but if you’ve got ten minutes, it’s still pretty neat.

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

22 December 2013 @ 12:00 pm

Every year, since 2003, I create a CD that was a compilation of my favorite music of that year, things that I listened to obsessively, songs that plucked my heartstrings, each song has its own story, weaving a thread through the tapestry of my year and meaning something significant to me.
Yes, it’s a weird mishmash of stuff that’s been filling my earholes this past year.
Yes, there’s country songs in there – deal with it.

I present to you the offering for this year via Spotify:

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

08 December 2013 @ 09:29 pm

I powered through the last three hours of driving to Pittsburgh, and it was especially a slog after the sun went down. But I arrived in Pennsylvania and it felt familiar and comforting. I drove through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and arrived through the “front doors” of Pittsburgh, the city view laid out before me after bursting through the end of the tunnel. It’s always a most spectacular way to see the city for the first time and it never gets old. I wove my way purely by memory through downtown and found me some parking in one of my old downtown standbys where I used to hang out and then walked down to the Point to see the giant rubber duckie.

The Rubber Duck. I’ve been waiting to see this giant floating sculpture. The first duck was six years ago in France and over a dozen cities have hosted their own duck. I had seen photos of it online and was hoping that I would be able to make it into town before it left. They said it would be carted off at 11pm on the night that I arrived, so I tried to make sure I would get there a couple hours before that so I had time to see it.

I walked through the familiar arched tunnel under the highway and turned towards the Allegheny River side of the park, came around the corner and LO! there was a bright yellow duck head peeking from between the tree branches. I squealed and giggled like a schoolgirl, clapped my hands and picked up the pace down the giant stairs to where the duck was moored. It was enormous. Not as big as some of the other ducks; they had to make it smaller so it would fit under all of our bridges. It was the embodiment of everything happy and good to me. This giant yellow duck in the bathtub of my hometown rivers. The city shining off the rivers, it was perfectly picturesque with the waning gibbous moon. There were hundreds of people there, all of them sharing in the same happiness. It was wonderful.

Photo’s a little washed out, iPhone doesn’t take the best photos at night

I probably spent an hour and a half there, shooting photos, though it was a difficult range to try to get everything exposed properly. I walked over to the fountain and was amazed by the city, the fountain, the duck, the moon, the rivers…it was all the most perfect way to start my visit. It was brisk and windy but pure perfection standing at the very point of Point State Park, where the Monongahela River meets the Allegheny and forms the Ohio, looking back at the city that I spent so much of my life and having all these memories flood back in a wash.

There’s a better shot of the fountain!

The next few days was a flurry of seeing old favorite places and visiting friends. I went to my favorite apple orchard and we loaded up on almost 3 bushels of apples for me to take home for applesauce and apple butter. My sister and I went to sit and sip coffees at our favorite Starbucks, I went to dinners and lunches with friends, but mostly just hung out.

The city looked just like a painting, so perfectly reflected on the river

One of my oldest and closest friends took me to dinner between the two ‘new’ stadiums and we walked along the riverside watching swans light into the water and the sunset light up the sky and reflect off the water.

The geese like ghosts on the starry water…

After dinner, we walked to the Fred Rogers statue and I crawled up in his lap and couldn’t help but feel so overwhelmed with goodness. Fred Rogers is one of my heros and I love that he is so woven into this city. It makes me so proud to be from the same place as he and to have grown up on a steady diet of Sesame Street and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. When I worked at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum in high school, my favorite part was the floor that had Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and the giant UrRu Mystic puppet from the Dark Crystal. If I wasn’t eating my lunch in the courtyard and sharing my sandwich with the pigeons, I could be found up there, sitting by the Mystic or Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl.

I drove around one of my favorite county parks where I spent so much of my childhood. I drove up the back road that leads to the lookout tower which has been closed for seemingly longer than it was ever open. I watched the sun streak orange across the sky, watching it reflect perfectly in the still lake by the island where we used to feed the geese and fish. I drove around to the grove where we used to have picnics every year when I was young. I spit many a watermelon seed across that grass. I drove past the grove where on a Girl Scout outing when I was 10, I had the bejeebies scared out of me when a bolt of lightning hit a giant oak tree about 50 feet from the shelter we were in and I saw it bounce off the tree and through the port-o-potty and go to ground. I passed the parking lot my boyfriend as well as my best friend sat in my little Bobcow on Thanksgiving one year.

Then I drove out of the park and past the house and neighborhood I grew up in. That was memory lane for sure. I remembered the neighborhood being bigger, but I suppose when you’re young, everything seems bigger. Driving through the neighborhood, I could remember when the big pine tree was on the corner where we had our bus stop. I remembered the bathtub the neighbor had in the front yard as a planter. I remembered watching the heat lightning from the window of my little back bedroom, falling asleep in the summer to the shimmers and the sound of my music playing on my little boombox. I remembered sitting in a chair on the front porch as the sun went down in the summers, listening to the cicadas and the dogs barking in the distance, and I remember feeling perfectly content with everything in the world. As I drove past the house this time, there were new children playing in the back yard, riding bicycles and happily laughing. Instead of being sad for what was, I was SO happy to see that the house had life in it again, that another generation of children would grow up having memories of that house as adults. I have so many happy memories of that place, of course there’s the not-so-happy ones too, but overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better place to have grown up. I had everything I needed and big tall trees to watch over me as I grew.

There was so much I wanted to see in town, so much fall to soak up, so many wonderful places I haven’t seen in many years. My sister went into labor a few days after I got there, a week and some change early, but she was quite ready already. Her water broke at 4am, but we were able to catch some naps when her contractions slowed down, then it was on by lunchtime, off to the midwife’s center. She gave birth naturally, no drugs, just sheer will and encouragement from her attendants. My little nephew was born cone-headed, covered in vernix and looking like an angry Winston Churchill around dinner time. It was a long, core-deep exhausting day, even though I wasn’t the one giving birth. There were lots of people in a small space and lots of pain (on the part of my sister which pained me, I don’t like seeing someone else in pain). I collapsed that evening in a complete mental meltdown so drained, mentally and physically. The next morning, I decided I needed to clear my head for a bit, so I just chose a direction (east) and drove. I had a general idea of what kinds of things I wanted to see and a vague idea of which way to go, but mostly I just drove to drive. The head-clearing, driving-until-you-see-mountains-and-then-keep-driving-some-more kind of driving. I took weird little back roads that bunny hopped over the hills, with pauses for picturesque bucolic wonderlands, tiny little towns tucked between mountain ridges, and found myself at a diner that I’ve passed hundreds of times while driving to central Pennsylvania. I bellied up to the lunch counter and found solace in a cup of hot cocoa (with whipped cream), a cup of corn chowder and a slice of pumpkin pie. I left there, weaving down more back roads and found myself at the italian market that I had been to almost 20 years ago on a cloudy, rainy spring day to get picnic items before climbing down into a hollow of a park with a tiny open meadow filled with flowers and a path punctuated by little wooden bridges over a creek that cut a wiggly path through the park. Funny the things that flow back in given geographical references, items I had almost forgotten about from seemingly lifetimes past.

However, I returned home refreshed and renewed by having some time to myself and prepared for a chilly evening with my neice at the amusement park for their haunted Halloween special event. I used to go to Kennywood every summer, at least once, usually as many times as I was able. It’s a small amusement park, but even though I’ve been to some pretty spectacular amusement parks in my time and travels, this is still the best in my opinion. It’s got some of the best wooden rollercoasters, and just the familiarity of it, it’s got so much history and character. They host Phantom Fright Nights during Halloween where they will open up most of the park’s rides and decorate areas with haunted houses and gruesome ghouls. They had the big carousel lit up and fogged with creepy backwards carousel music playing, creep factor 8 to be sure. We rode the Racer and our train won, we got bounced around on the Jackrabbit, plunging into the darkness at top speed, the cold wind biting at our noses and we ate Potato Patch cheese fries (with bacon). I got to, once again, ride my all-time favorite rollercoaster ever, the Thunderbolt, and we waited in line to get the very front seat. It was canon to get on the Logjammer or the Raging Rapids, get soaked to the bone, then ride the Thunderbolt to dry off and finish with the Wave Swinger to complete the dry. They didn’t have the Wave Swinger up, and the Enterprise has changed it’s name to the Volcano, but the Thunderbolt was there, and it was just as wonderful and epic as I remembered it.

We ended the night half frozen, stuffing cotton candy into our mouths and making a break for the exit by 11pm and I was gifted with seeing the sweet moon and my great hunter, Orion, shining down on me, even in the city. Even as lit as the city is, you can still see him clearly, it brings home to wherever I am.

Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.

05 December 2013 @ 09:39 pm

- Fall and winter cold fronts and their abrupt entrances. It’ll be warm and humid one minute, then drop 10 degrees in five minutes and be blustery and chilled. I can *hear* the front blow in, as it makes its way through the trees towards me.
- Took a run at sunset and felt so overjoyed with everything, like I was on top of the world and everything was just as it should be. (It could have been both happy to be home from whirlwind trip and a bit of an exercise high…)

- My sweet fingernail moon shining down on me as I walk home.

- The sunrises and sunsets have been phenomenal this fall. Nature sure knows how to paint well.

- Quote of the day:
“I don’t want to go to Starbuck’s, the drive through is always busy full of people buying adjectives.”
- 11:11:11 on 11/11. It was particularly nice moment! :)

- Of all the states in the US, the only ones I have not been to or through are Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Wisconsin.
- I have really be enjoying our Monday date nights. We’ve gotten to eat at some really great places and been able to really enjoy each other’s company. It’s made me very happy to have kept them going.

- The rain has made for impossibly green sections of grass so late in the year. It’s absolutely amazing, a second spring almost.

- I keep horse cookies in my running pack so that I can feed them to the donkeys and cows that I pass along my running route.

- One of my favorite spots in the county; I watched my great hunter rise over the hills while trying to suss myself out in the chilly evening’s breeze.

- As I sat meditating the one morning, the sun filtered through the rustling leaves and made the light dance on the bathroom door opposite me. I watched it with delight for a long time until it disappeared.
- I watched the CMAs (don’t judge) and I was absolutely floored by Taylor Swift, Alison Krauss and Vince Gill’s performance of “Red.” I must have watched it a dozen times.

- The first hard frost, right on time. I caught a feather nestled frozen in the grass.

- Curiosity ChickenChicken.

- A grapefruit drink that was out of this world.

- After a movie that broke my head, coming home to my Joe and a drink.

- Fried chicken and livers, rattlesnakes, and sweet tea.

- Amazing skies!

- Stolen photos from the top of the feed mill. (Thanks 510)

- Tiny and curious bull calves.

- First lemon of the year!

- I love the low light filtering through the trees!

- God Bless America: Free High Speed Internet

- Impromptu road trip for turkey pickup, junkin’, pie and pink and orange skies with a friend. It never gets old.

- I can appreciate the upshots of insomnia. Waking in the night is not necessarily fun, but realizing that you’re fine and there’s nothing wrong and applying some feel-good essential oils, having a cup of herbal tea and talking with my sister for an hour is quite pleasant. If nothing else, the time that I’ve been spending awake the past couple months has been nothing if not well spent. I get a lot done, and I am not stressing out about it too much.
- Big storms with lightning illuminating the cloud tops on the periphery of the horizon, but a perfectly cloudless and starry sky directly above me. Absolute magic!
- I made a HUGE change to my hair, and I adore it.

- From the warmth of my meditation cushion, I see the reflection of the window in the picture on the wall and I can watch the trees sway in the cold wind outside.
- My sweet ChickenChicken who loves warm snuggles on cold days.

- My annual Pot of Joy soup photo! (2011, 2012, and 2013)

- I discovered in conversation that there is a toaster that will toast the image of Sarah Palin into the toast. What popped into my head immediately was “MILFtoast!”
- Annual Empty Bowl Project, which while being bitterly cold and damp, was still, as always, a most pleasant way to spend the Sunday before Thanksgiving. It’s become a tradition now that I’m growing to love.

- Another sweet day date with the hubs to a craft brewery in the Hill Country on a blustery Sunday afternoon.

- I went to a fun painting event with my coworkers, and instead of taking it all so seriously, at the end I threw in a Godzilla and a UFO and managed to win “most creative.” I liked that it made it even more awesome in the process of not taking it so seriously.

- Cortadolove

- A warmup on a chilly day and a temporary workspace.

- I spent a Saturday a little hung over and spent, and the only thing I could bring myself to commit to that evening was gratuitous pretty of “Sacred Planet”, Ron Fricke’s “Chronos” and Andy Goldsworthy’s “Rivers and Time.” It was not a day of thinking, it was a day of appreciating art and just being. Laying on the couch covered in husband and rotations of cats watching pretty.

- Early mornings.

- Tiny little Dottie Lane mashed between Henri and SirPrise. Too cute!

- Silly horse faces.

- All you can eat persimmons from a friend’s beautiful fall tree (and his antlers that he hung on it)

- Cows, and Henri, a head bigger then everyone else and lowest on the pecking order.

- New cows!

- Being present for sunset over my pond.

- The kid’s table while the mamas are off at Booty Camp.

- Put up the Christmas tree. I love love love my color changing snowflake ball ornaments…they fill me such fantastic wonderment every single year.
- The sound of the dew falling from the trees when the breeze blows, a focused little shower pitter-pattering the grass.
- The yellowing leaves coasting down from the branches, the breezes making little eddies of the drifts, hearing the leaves crackle and schwush in the wind.

- Went to sit and write and these lovely little stragglers from my trip up north fell out into my lap. I love it when I tuck little memories into tiny object for me to rediscover later!

- Most of the photos of the cows and donkeys actually turn out like this. They are always so curious!

- At the brewery, a throwback to my youth.

Life has loveliness to sell, All beautiful and splendid things, Blue waves whitened on a cliff, Soaring fire that sways and sings And children’s faces looking up Holding wonder like a cup. Life has loveliness to sell, Music like a curve of gold, Scent of pine trees in the rain, Eyes that love you, arms that hold, And for your spirit’s still delight, Holy thoughts that star the night. Spend all you have for loveliness, Buy it and never count the cost; For one white singing hour of peace Count many a year of strife well lost, And for a breath of ecstasy Give all you have been, or could be.

~ Sara Teasdale

- The scientifically best time to drink coffee.
- The Bourbon family tree
- In the same vein, THE most irish whiskey commerical of the year.
- I dated someone once who made me THE most amazing mix tapes ever along with custom cassette tape spines and inserts that blew my ever-loving mind. He (and a few others) inspired me to create perfect mix tapes, which I still continue every year. This article is for you dnl (and thanks to Damon, Squid and Pace for inspiration too)
- One day last month, I spent almost the entirety of a day getting lost in the rabbit hole of Integral theory.
- Why on EARTH have I not heard of or thought of making stuffing waffles before now?
- This is also a brilliant idea of dinner in a coffee maker.
- A turkey testical festival. Say that five times fast!
- Oh my goodness, Neverwhere returns!
- The most Hill Country photo I saw on facebook this month.

- FarmHer. Photos of women farmers.

How to find Waldo fastest
- Interesting article that made me think on rats in parks and drug addiction.
- These animations of famous paintings made me giggle out loud.
- A most glorious shot of Shiprock posted on Milky Way scientist’s facebook page:

- I need to get to Arches next year so that I figure out a way that I can do this, because I’m just crazy enough to go jumping off of a perfectly good rock.
- Make your own root beer
- An interesting recipe for a workout recovery shake.
- For those who use EpiPens, how to get them free (before the end of the year.)
- The invisible bike helmet – very cool. It’s almost a c-spine collar with what amounts to an airbag. Great idea!
- Road tripping and photographing the night. Amazing!

- Breaking out of our most destructive habits. This was a particularly pointed read for me. They talk of a shift in focus from trying to understand, explain, and justify feelings (which amplifies and reinforces them) to changing them into what we want them to be; amplifying the desired emotional states, rather than the undesired ones. “Patrick wanted to feel closer to Mattie, be more loving, and create a safe and happy household. This desire, reflecting his core values, ran deeper than the ego-defense that made him lash out when he felt disrespected. It’d become the new reference point of our therapeutic work, replacing ghosts of the past.” That really struck a chord in me, instead of going over and over my kneejerk reactions, I could use the core value that I wished to eschew as a reference point, and make for far less arguments about little things that in the long run aren’t that important. I also liked the idea of journaling that placed heavy emphasis on healing, repair, and growth, practicing what they called binocular vision, the ability to see someone else’s perspective alongside mine. “The formula is simple: validate the initial feeling, empower the growth in perspective that changes the feeling (without confusing the former with the latter), and practice behaviors that will build prosocial habits.” Stepping back from upset and try to see the other’s perspective up front sooner, even if my assumptions about their perspectives aren’t correct, maybe it would help get a little bit wider view regardless, finding a quicker route to compassion for the other person. It’s about making smaller habit changes in life in order to bring about larger changes.
- Dealing with negative or difficult people
On relationships
- This made me laugh a whole lot!

- On respect
- An interesting article on “how to help your friend that is really messed up after something bad.”
- Things mentally strong people don’t do. Kind of an unhelpful concentration on behaviors you don’t want to have, but still insightful.
- Pink armadillos in Argentina! Squeee!!
- John Morey Photography | Natural Fine Art Photographics & More: Vermilion Cliffs &emdash; Intoxicating Waves Of Desire.
- 9 insights on dealing with change, challenges and pain.
- Spiced honey caramel custard with apples.
- How to engineer your perfect cookie

- Make your own sweetened condensed milk
- A neat recipe for key lime tarts
- Smoothies to end sugar cravings?
- Turkey Sandwich Kit in a mason jar

- It doesn’t get below freezing here for very long, but I’m going to have to try this next time it does (this week).

- THE most amazing photo of hoarfrost and ice on cactus from West Texas

- Adventures of Adult Wednesday Addams. Interesting…
- Krampus time!

- This is brilliant!

- Tail lights for horses

A giant rotating ice disk. How very Andy Goldsworthy!
- My friend Pace posted the other day, that he was “on the Florida Georgia line, but does not have a Chevy with a lift kit. I feel shorted somehow.”
- I love Pittsburgh, here is an internet love letter to it that I found.
- This made me laugh so hard too!

- I see faces all the time. Here’s a link to other people that do too!

- Beautiful photography by Lupen Grainne. So minimal, so extra-ordinary.
- This cabin looks amazing!

- Grand Canyon flooded with clouds

This video for Ben Howard’s “Oats in the Water” floored me. It’s not the actual video for the song, but it fits *SO* well that I sat completely agog through the whole thing.

- One day, I will get to Iceland:

- This podcast about recordings, algorithms and god sounds brought tears to my eyes it moved me so.
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Originally published at A Well-Armed Laura Ingalls Wilder. You can comment here or there.