Sunday, April 25, 2010

Out for the trail challenge again

Yesterday I was feeling the pressure of planning, but this morning we dropped everything and went to Briones Regional Park to do one of their trail challenges - a short loop,  less than five miles, but for a couple of hours there was no computer, no distractions, just enjoying California spring, lush grass, cows and cow pies, poppies popping out everywhere. A coyote cruising through the tall grass, stopping for something in the distance. Probably one of the gophers, who are busy pushing dirt out of their holes this morning. I had a perfect shot of one about a foot away. Sun was at my back, he had no chance to see me, just light fighters out of the sun in those old world war II movies. But Susan had seized the camera a minute before, to capture a burst of orange up ahead, so I just settled for a moment enjoying a gopher's nose at close distance.  Hardly seems fair to call it training. Where's the pain and misery? Now this same route in  mid winter, pouring rain,  boot sucking mud - that's training.

Sat for a minute on the John P Finney memorial bench. Don't know who John was, but appreciated the bench.

Home, and I happily shredded yesterday's tree prunings till supper time, then zipped across the bay to San Francisco for an evening of Fado with Ana Moura. She is not to be missed if in your area. Exotic enough to start conditioning our minds for back on the GR653 in a few weeks.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trips, treks, tramp of time

This is a big year for us. Finally completed the Torres del Paine circuit in March, in June do the last segment of the Arles Route over the Pyrenees into Spain, and in Aug-Sept complete the 2600 mile Pacific Crest Trail, starting near the southern border of Washington state and reaching Manning Park in Canada about 40 days later. Along with that we are trying to keep up our connections with friends and relatives, and Susan needs to attend to the needs of her 99 year old and somewhat independently  living mother. Not to mention normal house maintenance. It is difficult to keep on top of everything. Yesterday looked at detailed daily mileage for the Pcific Crest Trail trip to get exact time for trip and location of resupplies. Today I checked the flight to France to see whether we arrived in time to go on to Oloron Sainte Marie the same day. Yes, barring delays so querying hotel in Oloron for reservations.

Our calendar every day says "walk". Today there was a note: Carry backpack. Walk seems to get last priority. Today we skipped it in favor of Susan writing, me pruning. One of our good for the soul projects, totally unjustified given our ages, is to get solar panels on the roof. That turned out to entail reroofing. It's been 20 years plus since the last time, so needed, but one more project to get coordinated. Permits are slowly working their way through the city system. Everything needs a permit these days - Oakland needs the money.

Getting ready for solar first meant checking out the roof, which was an opportunity for a new event for our four year old grandson - standing on a roof and looking around. Pretty cool, but going back down the ladder took a little convincing.

Solar made me look more closely at shade conditions, and we have trees on our west slope that Susan has been urging me to trim for years, so today I did one. It's top 20 feet are now sitting in our back yard, waiting for me to shred it and/or cut for firewood. We are also, all other means having failed, counting calories to get down to trail weight. It is slowly working and is making me cherish food. Today I actually rewarded myself with a full Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, for all that tree trimming effort. Our normal  allocation is 4 ounces of red wine with dinner.

And back to the tramp of time. Our other projects are book related, put the books on Kindle, get next printing ready for Print on Demand, which is now the only reasonable way to print runs of less than about 5000 books. The website is still Frontpage, which died in 2003. I need to update it to current software such as Dreamweaver or Expression Web, but again, that takes my time. What to do next. At this moment, my only choice is to blog about the push of time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Gorgeous authoritative book on Bedouin Weaving

Warning, totally unrelated to hiking, other than hikers are lovers of beauty. We just came back from a birthday party which we have been attending for at least fifteen years. Normally it is on Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. Everyone brings potluck food, and we eat, the kids play, and everyone hikes all over the island to work off the food consumed. Today, rain, so we descended on the birthday honoree's house instead.

Well, one of the on and off attendees of this event is a textile artist who came bearing her new book, which she had just received from the publisher. I spent quite a bit of time looking through it. This book has about twenty five years of research into it. The author comes from a family tradition of weaving, and when her husband got a teaching assignment in Saudi Arabia, she got introduced to bedouin weaving. Visiting the weavers, learning their customs and circumstances, became a full time obsession. The result is this gorgeous book, full of the author's photographs, in color, along with an authoritative account of both the weaving and the culture.

Check out Bedouin Weaving of Saudi Arabia by Joy Hilden . In the interests of disclosure, I will get a small commission if you order it from Amazon through the above link.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

There but for the Grace of Godde, go I

In my heart of hearts, I credit my some of my relative contentment with where life has put me to my upbringing and choices I have made, but mostly to a long string of fortunate rolls of the dice. I come to this particular thought via an accidental car radio button sending me to rant radio. As for Godde, well, I follow Claire Bangasser's thoughtful struggles with Catholicism, and her Godde is a more reasonable person than the God of my Protestant upbringing.

The radio rant happened to be one of those conservative hate radio commentators extending the fable of the ant and the grasshopper, only he has the ant giving in and feeding the grasshopper, and successive generations of grasshoppers, till the grasshoppers demand everything, eat all, and everybody dies. Well, I can understand some of the objections to taking from the deserving and giving to the underdeserving. Isn't it the way of Darwin, that those without survival skills die out, for the long run survival of the species?

However, I have a problem with classifying all those with little or no income, and sometimes with high medical needs as undeserving. In my 70+ years of life I have seen a lot of good people come up on bad times due to nothing more than being in the wrong spot at a moment in time. Catastrophe happens. We as good citizens, but more importantly as people exposed to the roll of the dice, need to do our best to spread the risk. Insurance companies by their nature, wish to get paid for insurance and pay the minimum in claims, by excluding those likely to file claims. I expect the government, in it's duty to provide for the general welfare of the country, to assure equal access to services such as health care.

I didn't have an  image of an ant, and I'm not sure that a praying mantis (who devours her mate) is a good choice, but I like the image.