Living - and already savoring - the Adventures across the backroads of western Idaho and eastern Oregon!

30 November 2013

My List of Decisions for Seven Generations

Today's blog is based on the community-level consensus-based concept of the Iroquois Ganonsyoni, the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.  The concept said that decisions affecting the confederation’s future should be deliberate and span seven generations (I think that’s 7x20, so 140 years). 

Question:  how many tribes, after 1720, comprised the Iroquois Nation?

So, here are my ideas/laws/regulations that would affect us for over 140 years.  Does it get a “Yeah!” from the audience?  Or just a razzberry?
  • Sustainable use of public lands
  • Taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy
  • Incentivized ways to encourage folks to dump old vehicles and junk
  • Automatically ‘sun-setting’of most entitlement laws so they expire and must be renewed by future generations
  • Us doing something in particular for society so a family name again means something (aka Miller, Smith)
  • Razing unused buildings on condemned properties and making them into public spaces
  • Re-thinking where and how we live:  first build communities in main-street/British commons style; then build the businesses near them, and; make houses eco-friendly, such as rooftop gardens and workplace family care

Answer:  Six tribes, spanning nearly all of upstate NY:  Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Tuscarora, Oneida and Mohawk.  Yeah, I knew most but then again I'm a geek who spent a few years in amazing upstate NY...

Lastly, for when you think your own Life is oh so very tough … First World Problems (a quick meme):  "I forgot I was watching a recording – I sat through the commercials!"

26 November 2013

Long may you run

Wisdom is sought and found in a myriad of ways.  Christianity, Islam, animalism, Native American spiritualism and (some say) in plain ol’ peyote weed.  Seriously now, I like my pastor’s words best:

“To come by the Knowledge you know not, come by the Way you know not.”

Long may you run, much may you find, and savor the richness your revelations bring you…

23 November 2013

Life in the Shrubbery

Things that hit me today:

  •          Discount CD’s are hit-or-miss, but cool - what are your favorites?  Off the top, I’d say these $1-3 CD’s and albums turned me on to some mind-blowing bands:  the Lilith Fair series, Scarce-Deadsexy, Phish-Undermind, Antigone Rising-Live, Livingston Taylor (James’ brother), Shaw-Blades (spin-off from Styx), and the stuff the members of Yes have put out (into the dumpster if you asked Michele)
  •          Noontime walks are fun except the dogs almost never want to come back
  •          Crock pot cooking opens up a fabulous new world for guys like me whose efforts revolve around cookbooks with specific measurements
  •          Life before DVRs, when you had to sit through commercials, was so very inefficient.  And being able to hot-change through nine channels means the world of Saturday sports is only a few clicks away
  •          The church’s mens group ‘homework’ on pride, both positive and negative, really re-focused me on what is worth doing – and maybe why I do it

Smithsonian Article du Jour:  The Enchanting Sea Monsters on Medieval Maps

P.S.  Did you know?:  "There was a long-held theory, going back to at least the first century with Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, that every land animal has an equivalent in the ocean.”

Falconry for you and for me

Yes, I’m back in the saddle though not 100% after a nasty stomach flu and two weeks later some neck pain flaring up for the first time in years.  The answer is simple – keep doing meaningful stuff instead of sitting around all day feeling down.  Of course, Arkansawyer is out getting published so he’s still One Up on me; more to follow when I know his new news.
So, I was watching a show called ‘Going Medieval.’  Fascinating British piece by an older gentleman who relished doing everything from helping build a castle to hunting to getting leached.  Let’s skip the latter topic and focus on the use of falcons in hunting.  Did you know these items come from the days of falconry?
·         “Wrapped around your finger” (how to hold them before release)
·          “Hoodwinked” (from covering up the falcon’s amazingly acute eyes, 10x better than ours_
·         “Chaperon” (from the French version of ‘hoodwinked’)
·          “Fed up” (full falcons won’t hunt and a cadger can tell by rubbing their chests)
·         The word “caddie” (derived from “codger,” the name for the person tending to the falcons)
·         “Haggard” (an adult falcon caught in the wild)
·         “Gorge” (what these birds do to save food for later snacking)

Ways to furlough your way through Life

Editor's Note:  I send a shout-out to those folks on this email distro whose phone calls recently brought A Distant Light into my furloughed Somnelence (apoligies to those I've not listed):  Arkansawyer, James 'The Neil-some Biker' T, Andrea P for Pizzazz, Joni 'Positive Vibes' K, Mizz K, The Czarina and Overcooked Valerie C!  To my most lovely wife, Smurfy M, a powerful shout-out of love for putting up with me these 2+ weeks of home-dom ...
Since my friends in DC are having Shutdown Parties to lighten the mood, I’ll contribute country-style. 
Things to do while furloughed:
·         Scroll through your cell phone directory and find names listed you’d entirely forgotten while speed-dialing all your usual suspects.  Proof in the pudding is calling those whose friendship you value after a year away.
·         Think of your boss and co-workers as people with feelings, not those pains in the *** that you interact with each weekday.  A humbling and gratifying activity, especially while playing darts.
·         Winterize.  I mean, we had low last night of 41 (yeah, baby, 4-chilly-1 on Oct. 2!), so time to drain and roll up those hoses.  In brisk winds with 40-mph gusts I later heard.  I’m tired…
·         Memorize those country music songs you always hear.  Dress up and sing along loud and proud!
·         Clean those things that never get cleaned.  Crawl around the floor with your dogs.  Talk to the hamsters. 
·         Wrap the water heater with insulation ($20 @ Home Depot).  Will it save a fortune?  Probably not.  Do you feel frugal afterward, a guardian of your family's money?  Yep!
·         Wash the windows, outside first w/soapy water.  Rinse screens.  Better have some furloughed free hours:   our 4,000 sq. ft. home took me a cumulative nine hours.
·         Go online and troll through your health plan's website to learn its nuances.  And I'm supposed to then be able to understand the roll-out/eyes rolling in my head of the Affordable Care Act (which I DO support)?  I'm so outta luck after finding my son's medication, dispensed for a year by Express Scripts, being displayed as 'Cannot Price.'  I am mentally soft, weak, not ready for ACA ...
·         Lastly:  devour your cookbooks (figuratively).  Do a recipe you never found time for while making excuses in our too busy lives.  Why are they so busy - necessity or choice?  Hmm, it makes me wonder as I see the furloughed free hours stretch into wandering days and pointless weeks. 

Smithsonian Article du Jour:  The Golden Arches of McModernism

Yellowstone, Day 4-Last: Craters of our own Moons

A cloudy night but not as cool.  Pack ‘er up for a calm last day toward the northeastern corner of Yellowstone.  Open up your eyes, and see the lower end of the Yellowstone River. After a picturesque journey, framed by a mind-boggling wide Lamar Valley, we parked and took a two-hour hike along the Rim Trail, one of my favorites in the park.  Nope, no griz but we did see, and were kinda followed by, a solitary pronghorn antelope who was shadowing us. 
Time’s up, let’s get homeward bound on our local roads, non-Interstate, toward Craters of the Moon NP. Past the town of Mud Flats, and skirt a mondo thunderstorm.  Surreal cooled magma and black cinders, over hundreds of square miles, surround us and we know we’re human fireflies touching on the immensity of the geological charts of time.  Did I mention more pronghorn antelope grazing on the nearby praririe?  Welcome to Idaho.
After peering around, we zoom-zoom through nicely named towns like Shoshone and Bliss and hit the Interstate.  God kisses the skies with a sunset worthy of a Greek myth, and we get home late.  Dazed, tired and overwhelmed, as befits the trip of the year across sceneries your imagination can barely absorb.  Yellowstone, an angel of our mind’s eye, we’ll be back in June to find those springtime awakening grizzlies…
Smithsonian Article du Jour:  The Insane and Exciting Future of the Bionic Body

Yellowstone, Day 3: Elephants, Woozles, Oh My!

Editor's Note:  Fortunately for us, my office got considered 'mission essential' at the last minute, so I get a one week's reprieve from any government shutdown.  My thoughts go out to my Federal service brethren who toil in DC and might get financially abused by our irresponsible Congress.  This light-hearted post is for you...
We awoke to a 37-degree’ish morning.  As planned, a cold breakfast and then out of the comforting green of Indian Springs campground, and into the immense greens of central Yellowstone!  That should be the blog’s title but it’s too long, right?  So hey, hey, my my – get into your seat and tool along as we drive down captivating Virginia Cascades drive with its small canyon view of the world, along with neat smaller falls and tall facing cliffsides.
There are sights, and other sights, and then the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  Immensity beyond this writer’s expertise.  Odd to say that with Misty’s unknowing encouragement, I broke a 15-year freaked-out impasse and walked down the 328-step metal stairway to heaven, a platform not far from the lower falls that plunge a splashifying 308 feet into the riverbed.  A quiet interlude after a canyon rim-side hike that sucks out your courage and keeps you humble.  I made it back up to the rim without a heart attack, and savored every return step as we surveyed the layers of that canyon.
Why stop at 3 PM?!  Zoom-zoom southward toward Yellowstone Lake.  Go figure, God again pointed out the difference between men and women:  shoes.  Just why do women of any age have to pull off shoes to wade in the chilly waters of a lake at 8,000 ft elevation?!  Madness, but the giggling girls and flying ‘seaweed’ made me realize I might be missing something.  Nawh, it wasn’t the Overlook of the lake, but the subsequent pay shower - $3.65 well spent.
You’re getting bored now, so let’s not dwell on the animals carousing along Hayden Valley.  Along with the interesting bison, we saw many elk in the distance taking advantage of the late summer.  No grizzly but my polite traveling partners said No Worries.  Good, since rain again fell on our way ‘back home’ and we stood around for an hour waiting to cook dinner.
Dinner:  Tri-tip steaks right above the firewood.  Easy and tasty.  Get out in the Back 40 and try it!
Smithsonian Article du Jour: 

Yellowstone NP Day 2: Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Boil

What better way to start Day 2 than friend Misty’s Choice:  The Southwest Quadrant.  We toured the Old Faithful/Geysers section of the park.  Lots of bubbly things and you’re saying, “Yeah, that’s nice.  I’ve read this over and over, la-di-da…”  I gotcha there, and match your ace with a jack, as we tooled up the hillside several hundred feet above the Old Faithful basin to the Overlook – of the entire flippin’ valley! The OF geyser is magnificent from a distance, topped by our downhill trip’s sojurn toward Solitary Geyser and into the basin of several colorful geyers.  All without moving the van, topped by lunch in the shade of cool ponderosa pines.  Yep, I was right for once – touristing takes a long time, so don’t crunch your schedule and miss huckleberry ice cream and hot apple cider at the lodge!
“Northward, hoooo!”  The van zooms off as we make endless tourista-bashing observations, ones intended to make us uppity and better than those silly folks around us.  Color us abashed and silly when we take a driving loop toward Firehole Lake and a greyish wolf saunters across the lane.  “Silly people, you gawk like tourista!”  No matter, we kept getting out of the van and seeing sights like the surreal misty Grand Prismatic Geyser and bison snacking near those geysers.  Colors beyond imagination, smells beyond bearing and the sounds beyond silence:  hissing, bubbling, and bison moo’ing.
Then an evening under the stars, when on my third trip I finally hear it – elk bugling.  Eerily touching and a startling 10 PM reminder that you and I, without electricity, firearms and other modernities, are so hosed if we spent a few days in THEIR backyard.  Nature, beautiful and disarming, but at one’s one possible peril.
Dinner:  Australian beer-something Wings and Brats.  Wings marinated two days.  A succulent evening.

Yellowstone NP Day 1: Fly-bys that touch the Stars

Last week, we went off on a four-day jaunt to Yellowstone NP, my third trip to one of the most majestictableaus onto which I’ve painted some eye-popping adventures over the last fifteen years.  Sparkling weather, running down my windshield, an inauspicious beginning to our six-hour drive.  Pit stop #1: Idaho State University, where my daughter, Allison, and the daughter of our friends, Misty, took a zoom-zoom eyes-wide-open tour of the campus.  We now have two ISU die-hards – and all because I threw them a curve ball that they couldn’t refuse, so try that tactic yourself.
Yellowstone is what it was and always should be – vast, unsullied and superbly layered with more than the five senses can absorb.  Just driving into the park, we gleaned views of pine forests grandly regrowing after the fires of ’88 that laid low fully one-third of it.  Fires – devastating but necessary for a healthy forest.  So we saw thousands of acres of carpeted hillsides and dreamt of what was tooling around unseen.
Ever “wing it” on a campsite, deciding not to reserve it?  Just say No if that’s at a busy national park. My good luck carried the day at our second campsite try, though, and we got a nice spot with just three first-come slots left.  And, we squeezed in a leisurely stroll through half of Norris Geyser Basin to kick off the weekend.  Sweet…
Dinner:  Sandwiches.  We’re too pooped to care what goes into the gullet…
Smithsonian Article du Jour:  Zombie Pigeons Are Invading Moscow