January 2009


Over the years, I’ve tried lots of different ways to get in my exercize while avoiding the boredom that typically sets in once I’ve done it for a couple of months.  Many, many years ago, I went to a bike shop to look for a used bike. Hanging from a hook on the wall, a bright blue unicycle caught my eye. “Ohmygod, that is sooooooo cool!  Is it hard to learn?”  The cute sales guy assured me that it was “just like riding a bike–once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll always have it, and it’s GREAT exercize!”

So I dished out a lot more $$ than the used Huffy was gonna cost me, and took it home. Enthusiastically, I propped myself between the hall walls, and gave ‘er a try. In the process of busting my ass numerous times, I scraped the paint and drywall up real good in my rental apartment. Never rode the bastard, and it ended up in a yard sale 15 years later. (I guess I held on to it thinking that it at least looked cool. When people saw it and asked if it was mine, I’d reply with a flippant “yeah, it’s tough, but  great exercize.”)

Pogo stick? Check. (actually mastered that one). Jump-rope? Yep-I can even do the criss cross thingy. When I was 35, (!) my Dad even gave me a Razor (you know–skateboard w/ handlebars), but it was a rough ride on the asphalt streets, plus, I felt like one leg–the one that pushed–was becoming noticeably more muscular than the other. I was trying hard to look fit, not freakish!

A couple of weeks ago, Ellen was interviewing Mira Sorvino for the movie The Wrestler, and Mira said that she had used a hula hoop to get so fit for her role as a stripper. Damn!  She looked great!   Hell, I could hula hoop–I used to be the Queen of the hula hoop !!

SoI went to Richard’s Variety Store, which is the coolest place to find old toys and games, gag gifts, cards, etc.  There was a whole box of hula hoops.  And not just any hula hoop, but  shoop-shoop hula hoops! Remember them??? ohhhh–i was sooo excited! and they were only $2.50, so i bought 2, you know, for contests and stuff.

So I took my big hula hoop outside and gave ‘er a spin. 3 circles- (whoosh, whoosh, whoossshhh) and it promptly fell to my knees. Twice around the knees-(whoosh, whoosh)  and it fell on the floor-(whoo…).  Tried again, same results. And again, and again. Well, I used to be good at this thing, in fact, way better than my friends, so I figured that it must be too light-a cheap imitation.  Yeah, Googled “Wham-O Hula Hoop”–they’re waaayyyy more $$ than $2.50.  So, once again, I wasted my money (and remember, i’m cheap) on something that will sit in the closet until the next yard sale.

So I’m just gonna be content with lacing up my sneaks, putting the leashes on the pups, and going for my morning run. Until I get a better idea.

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Climbing between Poland and Slovakia

Climbing between Poland and Slovakia

A few years ago, HK and I went backpacking in Eastern Europe, crossing over the High Tatra mtns. from Poland into Slovakia. Relying on local busses and our thumbs, we got a late start to the trailhead, and then, by mistakes made in figuring out the Polish map, (no names to blame, here), we headed up what we assumed to be our moderate trail. Since we were carrying all of our “stuff” for the 3-week trip in our backpacks, we knew we couldn’t make the more demanding, but also more direct, route over the jagged mountain face. (Not to mention that neither one of us has any climbing experience).  About 3 hours into the hike, scrambling over scree-covered hillsides, we bagan to realize that we were not on the correct trail, after all.

“Should we turn back?”  I questioned, not knowing what it was that would lie ahead. I was becoming discouraged, because we had lost the trail markers that we initially followed, and the only two people we encountered thus far were a coule of nuns who gave us stares that said we were truly crazy Americans.

“Slovakia?” I asked them, pointing in the direction from whence they came.  They smiled a knowing smile (“yes, they are lost little lambs” ) they seemed to say with a nod. “Easy?”  Another nod. “Difficult?” nod again. OK, we were getting nowhere with this, so we trudged forward.

Within an hour, we were in clear view of what lay between us and our ultimate destination. A craggy-faced mountain, ominous and unforgiving. “Well, there is obviously a path between the peaks” I reasoned, trying to convince myself.

“Um, I don’t think so.”  HK pointed to the sheer cliff before us. There, barely visible in the distance, were tiny,colorful figures moving ever-so-slowly against the sheer grey granite.

“Holy shit! There is no fucking way I am going over that”. Stopped in our tracks, we looked at our watches, back to the figures on the mountainside, and to the sky, where we realized that we only had a few hours before the sun would no longer light our path.

Knowing full well that we had no choice, we continued to move forward, and before long were standing in a queue of about 8 people (men-all men, none with a full backpack)

“I can do this. I will do this. I have to do this” I chanted to myself over and over.  “Yes, I can; Yes, I can“.

Tears of fear rolled discreetly down my cheeks until it was my turn to pull myself up the verticle cliff with only the occasional chain to grab hold of. HK stayed close behind me, encouraging me. “You’re a fucking animal, babe. You got it. Pull! You can do it!”

And in the end, scraped knees and bloody hands aside, I made it over the top of that mountain. Sheer willpower (and a lot of fear) had prevailed over what had seemed an insurmountable obstacle that stood squarely between myself and my goal.  Yes, I Did!

Today, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our country’s 44th president.  Our country has scaled a mountain that is as looming, as seemingly unsurmountable, as the High Tatra was for me that day. We have made it over the summit, granted with many scrapes and bruises.  And on the other side of the obstacles that once stood in our way, the sun is shining. It’s a new day.  Yes, We Did!

Yes, We Did!

Yes, We Did!

Alpine Travelers

Alpine Travelers

This is a tag that is circulating on various blogs, and I am inspired to make my own list of 16 things about me.

 

1. I know (almost) every word to every song from The Sound of Music, and sing them shamelessly at the top of my lungs often.

2. After seeing the movie about 87 times, I still sometimes cry.

3. I have more empathy and sympathy in my heart for animals than humans.

4. When I get a good haircut, I make H.K. take loads of pictures of me.

5. I’d rather be hiking/sleeping  in the wilderness than on a cruise ship any day.

6. My favorite cuisine is Asian, (Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese), followed by Indian.

7. Although kids seem to love me, I NEVER wanted any of my own.

8. I love violent movies, esp Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction.

9. My day hasn’t “officially” started until I’ve gone running with my dogs.

10. I am obsessive-compulsive about conserving natural resources and recycling (just ask my friends!)

11. 70’s music is still the best!

12. I am a cheapskate and have no problem asking for discounts.

13. I love the “F” word, and use it often.

14. I love reality shows, esp. Survivor, The Amazing Race, and American Idol. (I even filled out the application to be on the Amazing Race w/ honeykins, but we “practiced” in Eastern Europe and argued too much.

14. I am not a proud American. I hope that changes soon!

15. 11 years ago, my two dogs were neglected (and therefore killed) by a negligent dogsitter/”friend”. I’ve never gotten over it, or forgiven him.

16. I am my own worst enemy. But I’m working on that.

 

Consider yourself tagged.  If you’re a blogger, leave a link with your 16 things. If you’re not, leave a reply so we can learn more about you!

 

 

 

Wow! One week from today will be an historic day in the good old U.S. of A.  Barak Obama will be sworn in and become the first African American ever elected as President. I am elated, as are the great majority of my friends.  One thing (among  many) that I admire about Obama is that he gives us all a sense of community, which, frankly, I haven’t felt in a long time-like, oh, 8 years!

In the spirit of cooperation, Obama has asked the people of this country to embrace a new spirit of service. (oooohhhhh—SPIRIT–that’s my word for 2009).  On Jan 19, the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday, we are asked to choose cause to volunteer with. I plan to help clean-up a nature preserve in Atlanta. There are lots of simple ways to heed the call-donate blood, bag food for the hungry, volunteer at a local homeless shelter. For a list of events in your area, you can click on USA Service and find an option and sign up online.

After you’ve completed your service, why not rise to the challenge and continue to volunteer some of your time on a regular basis? If everybody could commit a couple of hours a month, I promise you’ll feel great about yourself, and this country will begin to move toward the change that we can believe in.

So go ahead, have a look. I’d love for you to share what you’re gonnna do to be part of the change you want to see.

 When I lived in Tennessee, I used to get a group of a dozen or so friends and head up to West Virginia for some whitewater rafting.  The New River is rated class II-IV and is a wonderful family adventure. (Rivers are classed from I-easy, flat-to VI-unnavigable).  We always rode the waves of  the nearby Upper Gauley River.  The Gauley is a world-class whitewater run, rated as class V.  It has over 100 rapids and drops 670 feet in 30 miles. It’s truly the Mutha of rivers here in the East.  We always went in November, when the dam was released and the water was fast and furious. Wet suits were required, and it’s a good thing, because the last time we went, it snowed on us and our hair froze. OHMYGOD that was sooooo cold, and you can bet your ass that I wasn’t about to peel-off my wetsuit to take a pee. Nope–just peed right in it, and let me tell you, I warmed right up. Did it twice on that trip, in fact. Problem was, when I took off my wetsuit, it (and I) stunk so bad that the outfitter GAVE me the wetsuit. (hmmmm.. I guess it really wasn’t a problem then, huh?

The New River Gorge  in West Virginia is truly God’s country. It is the epicenter of outdoor recreation in the East.   Along with rafting, tens of thousands of adventurers come to the area each year for mountain biking, rock climbing and base jumping.  The New River bridge is the site of  Bridge Day, a huge festival held every October. It is the one day when the bridge is open to pedestrians who come from all over the world to base-jump and rappelle from the 3,030 feet long,  876 foot tall structure.

Ok, sounds cool. So what? Well, this weekend, H.K. and I were looking through an outdoor magazine, and I was horrified to read an article about the plan to begin mountaintop removal to mine coal-dirty, filthy, smelly coal, on Gauley Mountain. In fact, the Powellton Mining Co. has already stripped out the trees and built access roads for the trucks and equipment. Oh, I’m sick of this shit. I’m from rural Appalachia, and I don’t even recognize my mountains anymore. They’re bald. They’re scarred and ugly. And for what? 15 or 20 years to suck them of their resources then just let them sit there, a reminder of our greed and stupidity, not to mention lack of imagination to utilize the wind and sun, which will nevr run out.So please, go to this site and sign the petition to stop mountain top removal on the Gauley.  Then go to ilovemountains.org and learn how you can get involved.  Mo’s Blog  has additional info on this, too.

In the meantime, Love your Mother.

New River Bridge

New River

2008 is over. I know, it was officially over on Thursday, Jan. 1, but our weekend was spent taking down holiday decorations, putting stuff away, and generally just cleaning up.  That, to me, signifies more of an ending than a beginning.  Closure. So yesterday, Monday, Jan. 5th, I actually felt like a new year had begun, and I am feeling optimistic about the possibilities that 2009 has to offer.

Last year was tough. It started with an eight-month battle with chronic pain from arthritis (that had been mis-or-differently diagnosed four times). After months of alternative and standard methods of treatment , including weekly self-injections, accupuncture, accupressure, t’ai chi and physical therapy, the pain finally was controlled and most of my mobility returned.

An old friend died suddenly and tragically, and I attended my first true funeral (death overwhelms me).   Also in 2008, I began writing seriously and regularly, only to get frustrated with editors that didn’t feel that my work was as brilliant as i felt it was, (really, a lot of it was genius–they’ll see), and, due to a years-long drought, our little vacation cottage on the lake became an eyesore mired in the muck of what was once Lake Lanier.

Don’t get me wrong, i’m not like, all, “oh, poor me, my life sucks”, but it had it’s tough times.

So yesterday, MY new year, I woke up on the right side of the bed, did a big ole t’ai chi stretch, and welcomed- in 2009. This year is a BIG one for me, one that i’m gonna remember for the many gifts it brings. I haven’t made any new year’s resolutions, just revelations. And plans. Big plans.  We’re spending the summer in Vancouver (my favorite city-so far), and also planning to reunite with old  friends from around the country.  For my (big) birthday, we’re going trekking in Bhutan for 3 weeks. Throughout these adventures, I hope to realize more of my spirituality.  But I don’t mean spirituality in a religious sense.   By spirituality, I am referring to what is inside of me that makes me a stronger, better, more inquisitive and accepting being.  I want to grasp inner peace and let go of what it is that holds me back. And I will and employ that power of the spirit to propell me forward into living my best life yet. 

So this year, I am casting out any negative energy, (WHOOOSSSHHH),  opening my arms to new possibilities, and adopting the word “SPIRIT” as “my” word for 2009.

SPIRIT–the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul; Enthusiasm; Life Force.

That’s it. Happy New Year!  I’d love  you to leave a reply and share with me your word for 2009.

Well, I have been researching and researching what new gadget to get to enhance and simplify my life this year. Since HK is a tekkie, i’ve bounced several ideas off him, only to be “pooh-pooed” for one reason or another.

Currently, the only gadget I own, other than my desktop computer and digital camera, is a scratched-up 5-year old cell-phone that I bought used fo $20.  Yeah, really.  2 years ago, on moving day before tearing down our house, Ii flushed my wonderful little camera phone down the toilet (accidentally). I TRIED to fish it out, but..well, I won’t go in to the details of that fishing trip.  Let’s just say it’s swimming around in the Gulf of Mexico by now.

OK, so we went to Best Buy to look at i phones. nice, but maybe too many features that I wouldn’t use.  Now, a GPS would be useful for our drive to Vancouver this summmer, but I can’t find one that has dog locators AND trail markings in one. I just couldn’t fine something that could satisfy all my needs.

And then, this morning, as if my prayers had been answered, I recieved an email from a friend that showed me the way! It’s the new “Sumsing turbo”  , and it does it all. If this thing had a beating heart, i’d marry it!   It can actually…Well,

One great Gadget

One great Gadget

check it out for yourself…