Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fern Canyon

There's this place on the northern coast called Fern Canyon. Everyone else in the family has been there, several times each, on the biology field trips that our local high school sponsors. Somehow I was always the one that stayed home or back at camp cooking during these excursions. Everyone talked about it in awed tones, so I decided to take the opportunity to visit it on my trip last week.

I wasn't sure if it would work out as I was going through the area with only about three hours of daylight left and I knew the kids got there by walking a five mile hiking trail from the edge of the state park. Turns out, alternately, you can drive down to near the beach camping area and there's a trail head just a few tenths of a mile from the beginning of the canyon. Being on my own, I chose that route.

Join me? Maybe you should go refill your tea or coffee cup first. I couldn't resist sharing a LOT of photos. Ready? Let's go -

We start out walking through salt marsh. Hello Mr. Roosevelt Elk. I know from previous camping experiences to stay my distance.

It's late in the day at the peak of summer, so even though the shadows look long as we head into woodland, there are almost two hours of light left.

Hello to you too Crow. He was singing. Loudly. When he sang, he drowned out the sound of the surf in the background.

It's so pretty here. I see some ferns? Is this the canyon?

Not quite. Here, it almost looks like a portal to another.....

..... reality. Truly, it is.

Look at the people to get a sense of the scale of things. Although, even then, I can't explain how it feels to have the canyon all around you.

The walls are moss and ferns and water whispering, laughing, rustling, splashing.

In rare spaces the layers of earth are laid bare. The plant lover in me wants to name all these tiny greenies. Do you see the wee caterpillar?

Time, water, and winter storms have brought trees down, a giant sculpture garden everywhere you look.

It goes on. Deeper. Higher. Narrower.

And on.

And on. Eventually the canyon rises to meet the slope of the hill that is climbing down towards the ocean. Trailheads offer choices to wander through the giant trees - redwoods, alders, douglas fir. But we'll turn around for today and walk back through the heart of the canyon.

There is water everywhere, splashing and sparkling in places like falling diamonds.

Or looking like a veil of ghostly mist.

Tree trunks like scoured bones of long ago giants.

Nature calling it all back to itself in this green wedge of fecundity.

It's opening up again, the light is slanted high up in the tree branches.

At the coast the sun skims all the way down to the true horizon and then, almost between breaths, dark flows over. As beautiful as it is, I'm thinking it would be more than a little spooky here by myself after sunset.

Almost out of the woods.


Until my next visit. I know I will want to come visit again, in the morning sun, when the sun is high above me, when the gray and fog swirls along for company. I'm already looking forward to the possibilities.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wardrobe Changes

That's the entire closet. Not in the pic - the rest that dresser on the right, plus one more, but no more piles.

I have a ridiculous amount of clothing for one person. It won't fit in my closet and dresser drawers and is always overflowing into at least a couple of boxes or laundry baskets, plus coats and jackets piled high in another closet.

Part of the problem is tiny, outdated closets. Not a single standard sized closet in the entire house. And our master closet is, so silly, the smallest of them all, shared with a husband with lots of bulky clothing, plus work equipment, who takes more than his fair share of the cramped space. If I had a walk-in closet, even a smallish one, I'd probably fit everything in just fine.

Another problem, we live in a true four season climate so any combination of outfits only works for several months out of each year.

Even with those real issues, the main problem is that I simply have too many clothes. Or perhaps, had too many clothes? Because my new lifestyle means I've dropped several clothes sizes. I dropped one last year but y'know, I could still wear most of the clothes I already owned, they were just loose. But then I dropped another size and it quickly became apparent that there's a big difference between "loose" and "falling off".

I went out a few months ago and bought a couple pair of jeans, my first purchases of brand new clothing in over a year, since before my refashioning pledge last spring. (Hmmm, maybe I knew change was just over the horizon.) I was pleased with my new options. But then I lost more weight and was teetering on the edge of another size down. I kept thinking it would get warm and I could just make do with skirts and shorts until the end of summer, but the weather stayed cool. Eventually I brought home a bunch of stuff from thrift shops so I'd have more than one pair of pants to my name.

Now I'm close to the weight where I'm hopefully going to stay, just a few pounds more to make it to the top of my BMI chart for my height and age. And I'm still in a sort of midtween size, some stuff fits me in one size, other stuff fits me in the next size down, junior sizing works better than women's sizing, but I haven't figured out all those numbers quite yet.

A few weeks ago I sorted and got rid of the jeans, pants, capris and shorts that I could no longer wear. It was easy to get rid of the pieces that I'd kept thinking "they fit, I should keep them" but never did wear. It was harder getting rid of my favorites. Once they were all gone though, sent off with others or packed into the yard sale stuff, it felt awesome. Just like that, I had less clothing to find a space to store.

It's tough because I'm a pack rat, a raven who collects pretty things, a woman who's lived with little means and lots of ingenuity and hoarding over the years. It has served me well. But it's no longer serving me, it's no longer who I am. I have to remind myself that I don't have to save clothes for growing kids, for pregnancy ups and downs, for "just in case" times. It's time to travel more lightly through life, time to free my time and space for different experiences.

It feels good, but it's also confusing at the moment. Frustratingly it takes MORE time to pick out something to wear (or pack) because it's like trying to get dressed out of someone elses closet. I'm not completely familiar with the dozen or so new bottoms I've brought home that fit and it's still all jumbled in with the rest of my old wardrobe which I was surprised to find, doesn't necessarily fit me either. It doesn't stop with pants. Skirts, tops, even jackets and shoes fit differently. I'll pick out a shirt and find it doesn't look right anymore, a skirt hangs far too low to be comfortable.

This means the sorting isn't finished. Sigh. I need to drag it all out, not just the pants, and try it all on, and weed, weed, weed. And those of you who know me know I hate the process. It's hard. I get attached to things.

Plus I come up with all sorts of ideas for how to take in a seam or fix a shoulder or cut it up into something completely different. Refashioning inspirations spiral around me enthusiastically. I have to force myself to let things go, to remember that new refashioning projects are only as far away as the thrift shop down the street. Or even, in a pile in the studio one door away. Release these items that I haven't worn even when they were already at my fingertips. Let someone else use them.

Throw in my fear of being unecological by tossing perfectly good clothing and it gets really stressful and confusing in my head. I have to remind myself that these clothes (or anything - knick knacks, kitchen bowls, old garden pots) are going to exist whether they're in my possession or not. They are already in the world and I'm not changing that by keeping it all. If something is ripped or stained, we already cut it up and reuse it for rag, reducing our use of paper towels and cleaning supplies. But what about the things that are still in good shape? I feel pretty passionate about what seems like a glut of too much clothing in the Western World. But that's another post, isn't it. This post isn't about the entire Western World, it's about my own personal square feet of it. Now that I think about it, most of what I have wasn't new when I brought it home. It was thrifted. So I'm not really dumping more new clothes into the world, right? It's more like I'm releasing them back into the wild? If I let things go, maybe someone else will really need, wear and and make use of them. Maybe not. But I can't save the planet by trying to fit all the excess stuff in it into my closet.

The one good thing is that the process sort of self selects those items I like the most because there's a lot of things in my wardrobe I bought in an "iffy" size simply because it was the only option and I loved the piece THAT much. Now those clothes, which are mostly the newer pieces, are the ones that fit me best, which makes it easier to get rid of the stuff that is comfortable but worn and outdated. There are items on the bottom of my drawers that when I pull them out, I'm immediately transported back to a time in my life that now feels like it belonged to a different person. Which begs the question - Why do I still have her clothes!?

So the decluttering and organizing, sorting and redefining continues. I have to keep the end in mind. I have to think about how good it will feel when it all fits - not only on my body, but in my closet!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Far From the Maddening Crowds

On a not very well marked road today I found an almost invisible trail.

It led through tall ferns and ceanothus and wild rose and blackberries and wild flowers..

...and more ferns and windswept forests where the trees crouched close to the ground....

.... along sandy cliffs....

...through more green tunnels which seemed to be made up of mostly light and shadow....

....over grassy dunes....

.....until it reached the end of land.

No one to the north.

No one to the south.

An entire beach all to myself! On a warm jacketless day with just a whisper of a breeze. How rare is that for an Oregon beach, even in the middle of summer!

Except, I didn't really have the beach to myself. True, I didn't have to share it with any other humans. But to say that it was uninhabited would be about as silly as saying that we Europeans "discovered" America. (No we didn't, the native population knew it was here all along.)

These little trilobyte looking creatures were here, rolling in the surf.

There were a lot of birds. These vultures were trying to look ferocious, to scare me off their lunch...

.... a dead seal carcass - at least I think it's a seal, or sea lion. A small one. You can still see the flipper. And ewww, no thanks. I think I'll pass on stealing this for myself.

The tiniest crab ever!

Do you see the .... not sure what kind of bird it is, a sand piper perhaps? There were two of them, both jumping about behind rocks and driftwood and fluttering their wings as if to say "Look at me! I'm hurt. Follow me!" They were working so very, very hard to get my attention. Why?

Well, to protect two tiny fluffy chicks that were skittering about. Can you see this one? Great camouflage, huh! I took it with a telephoto lens from about fifteen feet away. I didn't want to give the poor parents heart attacks by getting any closer. When I finally walked away, one of the parents, not sure if it was mommy or daddy, did it's whole "I'm injured" dance in front of me for quite some time, very pleased that it's act was finally working.

I've had a lovely lovely time visiting many different beaches. But it's late, and alas, I have to get an early start home tomorrow. No more beach walking. Sniff. Oh well, I'll have to relive the moments by sharing lots more photos of the shore with you in the next few posts.

Need to see rock photos? (Come on, you know you do!) Well lucky for you, rock photos over at Laume's Studio.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Windy Wonderful Day at the Beach

I met up with a friend, Whisper Fae and her hubby Jake for a day of fun on the northern coast yesterday. They just moved to the area, so I met them at their new place, a cute little beach house on the bay just south of Eureka, and I got to meet their furbabies.

Then we were off to Arcata where I turned them on to the amazingness of Los Bagels. We wandered around the plaza for a bit, poking in shops. I think Whisper and I have the same radar for fun shops as we both made the same squeaky happy noises whenever we saw pretties in the windows. Jake was very good natured about being dragged through all the girlie stuff. Eventually though we headed off for the main event, an afternoon of beach walking.

Jake and Whisper Fae (and yes, she has a muggle name as well, but I think her fae name is just to pretty not to use)

A buoy peeking out between the rocks.

This struck me as a very magical tree. We talked with her a bit, Whisper Fae said she was a red... alder?, and we tried to identify all the companion plants growing around her roots. Do you see the stone face? Maybe that's one of guardians.

Sea lions and comorant sunning themselves on the rocks. Or are they seals. Dang.

In this awesome vintage clothing shop one of the workers dug up this wonderful old skirt for me and gave it to me!!! It's perfect. It might be part of my Bad Faerie Day outfit or, if it's not quite the same shade, I will be creating a new outfit out of it for next year!

I tried to do little modeling of it on the beach but soon discovered I'm way more comfortable on the other side of the lens. Too, the wind made it really hard to look anything but windblown - and not in a GOOD way. (Willow, you make these photo shoots look so easy!)

Why does every boy immediately climb to the top of anything?

Even though my hair is wild and my face half hidden, I really like this photo. You can also see a bit of the new scarf I indulgently bought. I love it.

This guy was being silly, watching us watch him and stretching and flapping for us.

Two wild fae girls on the beach having fun. (hey, we're girls, we're still both under 100 years old! Even if add us both up together!)

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Today is the Summer Solstice. Litha. The longest day of the year. Not only an astrological event, but a day that's been celebrated for as long as there have been people around to be thankful for all the sun provides and makes possible. And maybe before people, the plants and animals also celebrated. Although, plants and animals are a lot better than people at making every day a celebration, so not sure if they'd have picked out one day amongst all the others.

Pagans in particular like to take the day to give thanks and ponder how all things under the sun are connected. We're a hodge podge of people and beliefs, so it ends up falling to each of us to decide what aspects of the holiday to focus on and highlight.

Too, mundane life gets in the way - most of us still have to work, do laundry, get teenager's off to football camp - so we also might have to squeeze the holiday into doable bits of time. Tiny celebrations. Like having my breakfast in a sunny golden bowl. Fuzzy pic of my cream of rice - sorry, didn't realize it was out of focus until it was too late to take another pic. I ate it.

I like to think of holidays, any holiday, as more a celebratory season than a celebratory day. Flow into the holiday and ebb out of it slow enough, deeply enough, to enjoy and embrace the meaning. That was a lot easier for me to follow through on when my kids were younger and I had daily excuses to come up with rituals, crafts and activities that would enrich their life. When it's just us grown ups (plus a busy almost 18 year old who we all to often see for only minutes at a time all day) it's easy to get sucked up into the mechanics of getting through life - To Do lists, phone calls, television... - and tell ourselves we'll take the time to smell the flowers later.

I plan to take some flower smelling time today. I plan to celebrate. Not in any big way this year, but in a dozen small ways. And what doesn't fit into even this longest day of the year, I plan to find time for in the next week or so.

I plan to dance.

I plan to spend some time communing with my green friends in the garden.

I plan to eat some "sunny" foods - golden fruits, fiery red foods, round foods, spicy foods, hot foods.

I plan to play with a little fire - maybe a barbeque, maybe a fire on the beach, maybe burn away some clutter in the fireplace, maybe just a candle or the flame on my gas stove.

I plan to spend some time with the fae. Maybe work on my Faerieworlds outfits. Maybe get around to ritually appeasing them and asking for my missing footwear back. Definitely watching my DVD of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I plan to be even more conscious of the connection of all living things under the sun and to continue to work to live a eco-conscious life.

I plan to wear something "sunny" - maybe bright oranges and reds and golds. Or maybe greens, the color of life. Maybe something swirly and twirly like a skirt or jaunty and round like a hat.

See how easy it is to celebrate? What are you going to do to make today, or any coming day, into a celebration of summer?

I'll leave you with this very celebratory video. Although not specifically a song about the solstice, I thought the visual and the words were a perfect expression of summer joy.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Rest of the Story

I have been going through a blogging drought. There are a few reasons why but y'know, let's just move on. I'm gonna try really really hard not to leave this space empty day after day any longer.

Let's move on, or rather, back, to the issue I brought up months ago and then never updated you on the outcome. That would be the news about my blood work - sky high cholesterol and triglycerides, the doctors and every person on the street telling me to take the pretty cholesterol reducing pills because everyone tries to change their diet and lifestyle but it never really works, and me determined to give it a shot anyway.

What happened? Well, I changed my lifestyle and my diet. I had already made a commitment to doing both, and had been making slow but steady progress. With the deadline of rechecking my blood in 2-3 months, I amped up all my changes. I walked more frequently, I stayed active, I cut out all refined sugars, bad carbs, extra calories, I lost weight. I lost a lot of weight. I was completely blown away at how much I could hide extra pounds. Truly, I had no idea. I've never owned a scale before this year.

Two months in, I had my blood work redone, hoping that I'd have budged those numbers at least enough to continue to work towards a new, improved, and pill-less me. I was very cautiously optimistic, everyone seemed to think it was such a long shot.

You could have knocked me over with a feather when the results all came back in the NORMAL range.

Since then I've continued my routines. I'm only about five pounds from my goal, the top of the BMI range for my age and height, and then I'll ease back to what I think is a life long sustainable degree of moderation. (Moderation in all things, including moderation!) And a few months after that, I'll have my blood work redone and make sure that I haven't swung too far back the other way.

I think things will be fine. Honestly, I think that the problem, far more than my diet (which wasn't terribly bad, although I'm surprised at how much it could still be improved), was my weight and recent years accumulation of sedentary activities.

I have a lot more to say on the subject. Like, how I feel about the medical communities perspective on it all. About people's reaction to it all. About wardrobe changes. About walking. About energy. About how the micro reflects the macro in life, and vice versa.

And I have lots and lots to say about food. About eating and cooking and gardening and the weirdness of the American Diet and eating away from home. Hint: As you can see by this series of photos, I haven't been eating celery and diet soda.

But, that's enough for now. Tackling all those points now would turn this post into a novel. Plus, I need something to talk about in upcoming posts. I don't want to disappear off the blogging radar screen again.