Monday, July 30, 2012

the trails project

we are lucky enough to live thirty minutes from the magnificent blue ridge mountains.  in the eleven years we've been here, we've driven its roads, but rarely ventured into the wilderness from the car and/or lookouts.

that all changed this summer.  after i quit my job, i craved wide open space.  i needed to increase my physical activity and spend more time away from the interwebs.  i needed challenge and fresh air.  i was inspired by the story in wild.  we made up our minds to do one hike each weekend. 

sunday was hike two: fallingwater cascades near the peaks of otter.  on the map it looked like the second-easiest loop (last weekend, we did the johnson's farm loop which included a pleasant surprise at the summit:  an actual 19th century virginia farm, complete with current garden.). 

thirty-four hundred feet sounds easy enough, right?  well, fallingwater was 3400 feet straight down into a gorge then straight back up. 

even though simon, a corgi, has super short legs, he is the best hiker. 

i got my bright purple shoes because they were the most comfortable.  they flawlessly carried me through a three hour hike with absolutely no blisters.  they helped tremendously with wet-boulder-hopping (more on that later).  they are actually trail running shoes, lighter than hiking shoes.  plus if i get lost, rangers will have no problem spotting me.

not the most glamorous picnic:  water, granola bars, nuts and bug spray.  maybe next weekend i'll put some effort into it.  total plug for burt's bees insect repellent:  it works! 

corgi butt.

halfway down, you reach the waterfall, which traverses the trail at the bottom of the loop.  because it's late summer, the falls are a wee bit trickly.  i can't wait to come back in spring to see them in all their glory.  also the trail is lined with a thousand ancient rhododendron bushes.  i am imagining how gorgeous they are in bloom.  although they may make my purple shoes more difficult to spot in an air rescue. 

the great part about the summer falls is that you can go off trail and onto the rocks and water in parts.

my trail buddies.

so at the bottom of the hike, the lower bridge that crosses the falls and loops you back up to the trailhead was washed out.  we were getting ready to backtrack when two hikers came bounding across the falls from the broken bridge.  they told us that once you made it across the falls (fall being the resonating word), the trail was in good shape back to the trailhead. 

for some crazy reason, i decided that i wanted to try to cross the rocks and falls under the washed-out bridge instead of coming back the way we came. lately, i have been choosing risk when given the option.   and quite frankly, coming back the way i came is getting old.  this was a big deal for me.  i'm not very outdoorsy or athletic and there was some rock hopping involved.  i watched ken and simon make their way and i followed in their steps with a weird brand of tentative courage.   i was really proud of myself when my purple shoes set down safely on the trail on the other side of the falls.

after two hikes i find myself wanting more.  i love the challenge and the nature and the isolation.  i love the sound the trail makes under my feet and the big silence of the sky.  ken's been crazy-talking about the appalachian trail for years.  all of sudden, it's not sounding so crazy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

paper scissors paint glue

my myers-briggs type is intj.  this means that my dominant preference is intuition (n) and my inferior preference is sensing (s). 

when it comes to art i can dream (intuit) about it all day long:  the idea of art, the multiple layers of story behind any given piece, the process of creating, what color, aesthetic and form mean to the existence of humankind, the complexities of the artistic life.  the art world inside my head is mindblowing. 

my physical senses need to be engaged (the doing) to step outside my preference (the daydreaming) and bring balance to my artful life.  which means i have to get out of my head and step up to my art table.  this is uncomfortable for me.  all those supplies, tools and techniques are daunting.  but to be an artist, not just think like one, i have to see and choose color, hold a brush in my hand, dab paint with my fingers, scribble, hear the tear of the paper, choose the spot on the canvas, do too much, paint it white, start over, keep the message simple, quit before i overthink it.

this concept of approaching art through myers-briggs is changing everything for me.  i can't wait to share it with you. 

later i'll talk a bit about the reverse process for artists who prefer sensing.

in the meantime, live brightly.

Monday, July 23, 2012

a corgi in the woods

mom?  mom?  where we going mom?

hiking!  hiking!  hiking is my favorite!

follow me!

river walking is my favorite!

log balancing is my favorite!

best day ever.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

no news please

i can't tell you how many times in my life i've attempted to shut out the news.  i'm getting better at it.  i'm getting better at noticing that i am a better person without it. 

i am old enough to have witnessed the evolution of news, specifically television news.  my parents insisted that we were in touch with what was happening in our world, so we watched the thirty minute broadcast every evening.  the news was only on once per day and if you missed it, well then you would have to wait until tomorrow.  there was no cnn, only the three u.s. networks.  my family watched tom brokaw.  we never doubted that tom brokaw, in his calm fatherly voice, spoke the truth.

i remember the shifts, they began when i was still in high school with the shooting of president reagan and the space shuttle disaster. all of a sudden, it was all news all the time.   over the years, it just became more frenetic, loud and questionable.

when i must know (and i'm discovering that i really don't always need to know), i still tune in, but i almost always regret it.  the information is almost always conflicting, sensationalized, dumbed-down or mean.  during the ten days we were without power after the derecho, i discovered that the news was pretty much the most unhelpful thing on earth.  it's like they are so used to saying nothing really loud that they completely lost the capacity to provide real (boring) information to people.

so how do you stay in touch with your world without losing your mind?

here's what i do:

i watch and read smart parodies of the news, like the daily show and the onion

my car radio is tuned to npr.  i catch snippets of news between music and programs while going to and from destinations.

i trust that any information that i absolutely have to know for my own survival will find its way to me.  and real stories that inspire me find their way too.

i reread the manifesto penned by meg, specifically, "consume more art than news."

and then i remember that knowing about the events of the world really doesn't alter the way i live my life and serve the world.  the news doesn't call me to action.  i'm in action each day by the way i live my life.  knowing the gory details about face-eating or theatre massacres does not change that. 

anne lamott said it so brilliantly yesterday:

"where on earth do we go from here?

all I can think to do is what we've always done. we work towards peace and non-violence. we register voters. we create art and music in the face of madness. we light candles. the praying people pray: lord have mercy. the meditating people meditate. we create love and beauty as radical acts.  we take care of the poor, and teach people to read and write. and as molly ivins would urge us to do if she were still here, we bang our pans. we rise up, peacefully, take to the streets and we bang our pans and we make a ruckus, and we stop this war, too."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

how to be idle and blessed

i don't know exactly what a prayer is. 

i do know how to pay attention, to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields.

which is what i have been doing all day.

tell me, what else should i have done?

doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

-mary oliver
the summer day

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

balancing intuition

i want to write a bit about the second, and my personal favorite, dichotomy on the myers-briggs type indicator:  intuition (n) and sensing (s).

if, like me, the second letter in your myers-briggs type is n, the type of information and experiences you most easily take in and trust are abstract, imaginative, theoretical.  people who prefer intuition trust their internal ideas, thoughts and instincts.  those who prefer intuition primarily use their own internal world's lens to experience the world.  they tend to be imaginative and visionary. 

people who prefer sensing, on the other hand, trust and like concrete, physical and known information and experiences.  people who prefer sensing primarily use their five senses (sight, touch, taste, sound and scent) to experience the world.  they tend to be grounded and solid.

one of the goals of the myers-briggs is to help people become aware of their inborn preferences so that they can actively seek balance in the opposite preferences for a fuller, richer life.

as a woman who strongly prefers intuition, i can stay in the beautiful and magical world in my head for hours and sometimes days.  i like to daydream, imagine, and ponder.  i relish and trust those fantastical flashes from my unconscious. 

to balance intuition, i need to seek more grounded experiences and focus on activities that engage my five senses.  the element that best incorporates all five senses for me is water:

seeing water:  the sight of the great blue sea makes me feel part of a big world that i can trust.  the straight blue horizon line reminds me that the world is perfectly balanced in space. 

smelling water:  the salt, the lives (fish, plants, sand, shells) it holds and nurtures.  the scent of clean.  the scent of childhood.

tasting water:  it tastes like nothing.  like space.  like emptiness.

hearing water:  one of my favorite sounds is the lonely drip of the faucet when i am lying in a quiet bath.  its perfect cadence and tone ground me in the physical world.  sometimes i submerge my head to lose myself in the underwater world of silence.  the drip softly penetrates that world and calls me back to surface.  to breathe.

touching water:  as it rolls across my skin, the dirt of life--both physical and emotional--is cleansed.  floating in water, my body is weightless and fluid and returns to its first environment.  its home environment.

how do you experience water?  

what are some ways you can live today through your five senses?

{beautiful water images are from my pinterest five senses board.}

if you are interested in a more spiritual and artful take on the myers-briggs, i'm in the process of creating a program.  please see here.  i'd love your thoughts and comments.

Monday, July 16, 2012

the one where i almost become southern

friends, i made my own fried green tomatoes.

with green tomatoes from my.  very.  own.  garden.

aren't they just gorgeousness tomatofied?

i've been in love with the fried green tomato since i first tasted them in 2003.  plus i really liked the movie, especially the part where kathy bates rams those bitches' car.  i find it amusing that i've pretty much been more comfortable with the thought of ramming some bitch's car than frying up some maters.  you see, i'm not the best fryer in the world (very unsouthern) and green tomatoes seemed hard to come by. 

turns out it's more messy than complicated:  the whole "breading station" thing...yeah.

station one:  i mixed sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper with organic unbleached flour.

station two:  two eggs, wisked.

station three:  i annihilated ritz crackers in the food processor instead of using bread crumbs.  the ritz crackers were the last of the derecho disaster food stash (good riddance to that).  i believe a good southern girl would have used cornmeal.

i tried to be healthy by using coconut oil (rookie california move); to counter the ritz crackers, which are pretty much the most unhealthy thing on the planet.

um, i didn't see the thing about "medium heat" until i was processing the photos.  see what i mean about not being the best fryer?


but i guess it was okay, the stove didn't burst into flames or anything.  next time i'll use canola.

here's the deets:
  • heat about 1/4 inch oil in a pan on medium high
  • wash and slice firm green unripe tomatoes (not ripe green heirlooms)
  • one at a time, dredge tomato slices in flour and shake off excess
  • then dip in beaten eggs
  • then dip in the ritz crumbs (or bread crumbs if you don't have a derecho disaster food stash or cornmeal if you are southern)
  • carefully place in the oil
  • repeat with next slice
  • i cooked four at a time
  • watch them carefully, they cook fast, usually one to two minutes per side
  • drain and cool on a wire rack with paper towels beneath
et voilĂ :

they were perfect!  the thin cracker coating was super crispy (i take it all back ritz) and the tart green tomato bite tasted just like summer.

unsouthern move number two hundred and four:  no sauce.  i like them naked.

(although i did have them in a cafe once with a cucumber dill sauce that i enjoyed.) 

after a few bites, i thought they would be awesome in a sandwich.  here is where i blew any chance of being southern...i put them between sourdough toasts with some arugula, goat cheese and avocado and a splash of balsamic.

the california fried green tomato sandwich.  dude.

Saturday, July 14, 2012