Monday, August 26, 2013

Forest Fires at the End of Summer

"And where two raging fires meet together 
They do consume the thing that feeds their
~ Shakespeare

There are many forest fires blazing in the west.  But two are of particular concern: the American River fire and the Rim fire (near Yosemite).  The Yosemite fire is a week old and only  20% (and what does that mean anyway) contained.  We are about 200 miles from the intensity of this blazing fury.  But every day more smoke billows into the Washoe Valley and beyond.  

The haze, which on some days appears to be thick fog (were it not for the acrid smell of a mass of burning wood).  The pervasive and invasive smoke has reached past Reno and Sparks.  It has crawled down the canyon that is I-80 and sits heavily on my little town of Fernley (some 30 miles east of Sparks).    A TV newsman this morning told us the forest service  said the fire many not be out completely until this winter.  This morning a caller to the TV news said Carson City had ash falling like snow .  And today we had an earthquake ... 4.2 something.  Always good to be reminded that we are after all, only human.

Lightening strikes started the Rim fire. 'They' are running out of money (nothing new here) to fight fires.  Brave firefighters are out there doing their best (in rugged terrain, summer heat intensified by the heat thrown off by a conflagration) against a monstrous blaze.  Let's talk about cost just a little later, eh!   In the meantime, the rest of us must continue our lives as if it were easy to breath, that our eyes weren't stinging, and that smoke doesn't smell.

Ironically the Burning Man Festival started today.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Precious Gift of a Woman's Friendships

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindness there is at last one which makes the heart run over. ”

Samuel Johnson 1709 - 1784

I drove 775 miles to see my friend graduate only to become hopelessly mired in traffic in the very last leg of the trip and managed to miss the ceremony.  We were on the cell phone until protocol for the pomp of awarding degrees cut us off.  I drove to her home on the plains below Mt Rainier that is Enumclaw, Washington and wandered through the rooms I know so well.  The scent of her life and the lives of her family filled the rooms and my heart.  Friendship is so tender.  Friendship that cross time and miles are particularly precious. While waiting for folks to return from their big day, I showered to no avail because it was Western Washington and I've become a desert rat in one short year.  The warmth and high humidity had me sweating as soon as I emerged from the shower.  Well, at least the grime of a hard drive was gone.  Shortly afterwards Caroline arrived home with her son, mother and sister.  I've not met "Mom" nor her sister but like Caroline they are alert, magnetic and very kind.  Caroline's son just graduated with a degree in psychology.  I've known him since he was 12.  Now I realize that although he is just 21 he is a man not the boy who use to house sit for me.  Bittersweet to see the off spring of dear friends grow up.  Three years ago I announced to Caroline that I had the perfect job for her but first she had to become a nurse.  Then listened to the usual crap about fear of math etc.  That was then and in the now she has managed to graduate with distinction.  So much for math phobia.  She was voted most likely to become a nursing instructor.  I wouldn't be remotely surprised if that was not the path she takes on this her now second career.  She use to be an installer for an IT company.  She worked in the land of men and handles herself well there. She was also a shop steward and knows how to argue and negotiate.   Probably why she can ride her huge Harley with complete confidence. :)  She is one of those women who is completely comfortable in her body.  She is fierce in her loving and protecting.  We all went to her class's graduation party.  Fun to meet her fellow students.  Most much younger than Caroline.  I loved watching her move through the room.  Every encounter was happily passionate.  Caroline can drink me under the table and stay standing.  And luckily for all us when the party is over the drinking stops ~ who could live like that!  We talked and danced and toasted for many hours.  I heard the news about the new guys in her life to the pounding of music.  It was glorious.  I've not danced in a long time and almost forgot how liberating it is and how good it feels.  A year since we had seen one another and we've not missed a beat ~ a time warp that made us feel that there had been not seperation at all!

The next morning I had breakfast with my sister, Casey.  We took up space for hours but this is in Enumclaw so no one rushed us.  How I love this woman.  She is younger and my polar opposite.  She is so feminine and quite elegant.  Speaks French fluently.  Has traveled the world.  Always dresses beautifully and has her make-up on...and  I, well, I am an unrepentant life long tom-boy.  We make each other laugh...until our sides hurt.  She is delicate and fearful in a way that I am not.  Funny how life shapes us.  She was always a perfect student and rarely in trouble.  I didn't know I could be a good student until I put myself through college.  Frankly, I've spent my life "in trouble", if something is not right...I have to say something. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it is not. There is afterall an arogance to thinking you have the right answer to so many things.  It is a problem with being the Briggs Myers INTJ.  But she is younger and grew up listening to the terrible violence that was our home.  She did not want to be beaten or molested so she learned to be submissive, funny, a spectacular writer and an academic star.  I have always been, well, not what Casey is and took the brunt Lady Blue's irrational furies and the advances of her many male partners.  I do not know the right and wrong of any this need of mine to speak out except for one thing ~ no one should beat their children ~ there is no right reason for assaulting a child. On this matter I will always be loud and adamant!  Casey calls me "TEOS" ~ the Evil Older Sister...a nick name I've come to love.  In the now, Casey and I can laugh at almost anything and we do.   I love her so much.  We are sisters as an accident of birth but we've become friends over time.  It was very hard, almost painful and desperate to say good bye.

Then my last visit was with Juanita Jo.  She is my age.  I met her in 2004.  She was the realtor that I engaged to buy a house.  As it turned out she lived just down the street and we started walking together.  Somehow treading those many miles on foot together led to a fast and loyal friendship.  We've stood by one another through the loss of family members, break-ups (I've had some whoopers), s.o's with addictions, miles of seperation and life threatening illness but the fast friendship persists.  It is in this friendship that we can both indulge in a acerbic humor that we don't use with the rest of the world.  JJ is impeccably honest and can manage money better than anyone I've every met.  Ah what a treasure she is!

I had to leave late Saturday night to make sure the Tall Texan could get to work on time.  It makes my heart hurt even now as I recall saying good bye to each one of these women as they are in so many ways the air that I breath.  I want them to stay healthy and very much alive.  If wishes were facts they have not a thing to worry about!  Good thing about long drives is the thinking time it affords.  I was able to recall details of each of these cherished gals and how they have each impacted my life.   I am thankful to my bone marrow that they count me as a friend.    I have several dear friends on the east coast as well ~ another post perhaps.  Each person is an anchor. I am so blessed that chance meetings blossomed into enduring, loving friendships.  A blessing that friends see the strengths and weakness, the light and dark sides and find a way to love one another anyway.

  PS: I realize that the last number of posts have been perhaps to much of a diary.  I will be returning to the "normal" wildwoods in the near the next post!  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Boca ~ The Mouth

 It has been hot, hot, hot here in the high desert.  A few days ago the heat demanded that the Miata and I head to  the Sierras again.  The only happy critters were folks like the tailless lizard  above who seemed to think that baking in 100 degree heat was a great idea.   In fact I think that is how he lost his tail in the first place.  Sprawling lazily on a hot rock, he no doubt stopped paying attention while tanning and some predator wing thing made off with a partial lizard lunch.   Yum.  

Lizards aside, the Miata climbed I-80 up to the exit for the Boca Reservoir.  We took a spin around it and the Stampede Reservoir ... because it was there and it also had a road full of twists and turns.  Both bodies of water had cool breezes and lots of shade.  It was so deliciously cool and just plain old pretty that a stroll on a few paths seemed like a good idea ... the Miata took a break the shade for a while.  But did I have my fishing gear with me....NO!  ~  a symptom of a life out of control! :)  Note to self: clean the damn tackle box and put fly rod and spin rod in the trunk of the Miata...keep it there forever!  Oh and get a fishing license!

Then, alas, it was time to head back to the desert.  At least I know that RELIEF is just 45 minutes away.  Tonight I jump in the car again and head to Washington State.  The Tall Texan is house and dog sitting for me....God Bless Him!  A dear friend is graduating from college with a degree in Nursing.  She is beginning a second career in her early 50s.  Well done!   This lovely lady also rides a Harley.  Another nurse on a bike...could this be a wave of the future?  

I look forward to driving to NorthWest tonight.  I love the desert but I've had it with constant heat (I'm mourning the loss of air conditioning!). The weather there is in the 70s.  I momentarily wondered if I should take a jacket.  Humidity and cool air ... what a novel idea!

Friday, August 9, 2013

RIP Denver and Rio Grande Western RR

An open letter to Sage:  re: railroads in Provo Canyon

Dear Sage:

Thank you for your comment to my recent post.  It sent me on a hunt for information.  You obviously know your railroads and trains!   I've taken a new interest in the various trains, freight and passenger, that I see chug past my home here in Fernley!    When I was a girl, that sound meant the potential of freedom, of seeing places beyond the rugged mountains of Utah.  I didn't know then how much I would miss those high places, rattle snakes, bears, deer, mountain lions and all.

I am 65 and when I was a very little girl the train that is now the historic line you called the Heber Creeper was the Denver and Rio Grand Western RR.  It ran some kind of service from 1899 to 1967.  I was in the canyon off and on from 1950 to 1960. Anyway the Denver and Rio ran a service that connected Heber to Provo. Springdell is probably 6 miles up the canyon and well south of Bridal Falls.  When I was young six miles might have been a million for all I knew.  My cousins, friends and I were little Mountain Rats. My grandparents owned a home in Springdell and my younger sister and I would summer and even winter with them.  Lady Blue sometimes lived there with us when she was between marriages (six that we know of).   Any free moment found us outside roaming mountains, exploring the river, sneaking into Canyon Glen, finding horses to ride bare-back and of course, walking the railroad tracks.  We use to feel for the vibration of an on-coming train with our bare feet on the rails.  We placed pennies on the track and waited for the train to flatten them.  The flat penny was each kid's badge of honor and courage.  It was in this canyon that the older guys taught me how to track every manner of four legged animal.  My Dad appreciated the skill as he took his daughter deer hunting with him...I was the ringer.  I mentioned rattle snakes earlier.  We (the boys and I) collected the rattles as another badge of honor/courage and a kind of currency (a story for another time).  Now I respect rattle snakes and to this day can hear that rattle from a great distance - I no longer follow snake tracings in the sand, to shoot them :).   As an adult I leave them be and hope they will do the same.  Obviously I was a complete dyed in the wool tom-boy by the time I could run faster than Lady I would say by 5 years of age.   By the way,  I have a deep and abiding fear of water moccasins.  The Dell has a huge pond in it (to this day).  Kids for several generations have spent hot summer days swinging on a tree rope and dropping into the freezing spring water that filled the pond.  The down side...we used to see water moccasins swim there too.  Nothing could clear out the water faster than one of that snake!

So that Sage is part of the story.  The vibration of train weight on tracks and the wail of the engine whistle, and yes, Brian the squeal of wheels and brakes...all (as with you) call me.  As trains roll by this little house, I can almost smell the Aspens mixed with the mint garden of a neighbor's in the Dell  and hear the night wind blow through Provo Canyon.  And yes Walking Man, it was a blessing to have that calm, safe, yet wild  place in my life.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"I cried at first . . . and then, it was such a beautiful day, I forgot to be unhappy"

~ Frances Noyes Hart 1921

Leading a Linear Life : a view from the other side of the tracks...
~ WR 2012

I tried, quite to my own surprise, to be sad about the sudden changes life has presented.  Tears, my tears, flowed suddenly and happened at odd and inopportune moments. I started to unpack and sort at night, in part, because it is about 40 degrees cooler but also,  in part, because I didn't want to be around other people who seemed so, well, satisfied with life.  Don't they know about 'sudden change'?  Don't they know how 'confusing and off kilter' life is?   Suddenly, yesterday, I hopped in my little beat up Miata and drove to Truckee to 'cool off' in every sense of the word.  
I noticed people were smiling and I didn't need to begrudge them their moments of joy.  I smiled back and my face enjoyed the experience.  The drive home was fun.  I love the 70 mph speed limit and with the convertible top down even a beat up Miata is a cool place to be.  

Arriving at home I noticed that in spite of my best efforts to be angry and depressed (the same things actually) I have, in fact,  unpacked.  I have even moved much of the excess to the storage unit in the back yard.  So life begins again in Ferntuckey.  I have to get a job.  Retirement, that lasted oh ... a month and a half ... is over.  Oooops, too bad.   I would like to not be a nurse.  But that remains to be seen...not even sure it is possible.  I want to have time to ride my bike and work on the Miata and photograph all that good stuff out there.

Life in this mobile park is actually very sweet.  I have great landlords, my neighbors are very nice, yards are tidy, people wave and say 'hi'.  I do wonder about living such a linear life though.  Single wides, or at least the one I live in, have a living room/ kitchen in the middle and a hall way with a bed room and bath at either end.  When one lives in a straight line does it change how ones sees the world?  Of course this is compounded by the trains that move by on their straight tracks.  Adding another simple joy to an ongoing list - watching, from my front deck, the trains roll by the house.  Where are they going?  What are they carrying?  All speed and power -  rushing to keep up with what?

Life is good ~ even when it's changing.  The journey continues...