Saturday, May 31, 2014

Livin' the dream

When I thought about coming to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to work for the summer, I asked about the internet. If you've followed me for a while, you may be familiar with my internet tribulations at Petrified Forest last summer when I used Sprint. I had to sit outside the post office to get online but my constant whining and complaining led the president of the Petrified Forest Museum Association, the friends' group, to put in a booster that eventually let me surf from the comfort of my own home. Then I switched to Verizon and had a decent signal without wifi.

I'm now at the Grand Canyon and can't get anything more than a weak trickle of internet even from our mobile hotspot with an antenna on the roof. I'm on roaming anywhere I go, but fortunately was given a password to the wifi at the Admin building, where I am right now. My HH and I hope to rectify this inconvenience with satellite internet, which is supposed to be installed this Friday. I have all fingers and toes crossed because my name is Kathy and I am an internet junkie. I need my fix on a frequent basis.

We got here Tuesday and I started work Wednesday. My schedule isn't as flexible as it was at Petrified but it's still 32 hours a week with three days in a row off. At Petrified our parking spot gave us an expansive view to the northeast and I had a walking commute of less than five minutes. Here we're parked in the forest with an expansive view of it out our rear and kitchen windows. Our spot is about midway between the Grand Canyon Lodge and the administration complex where I work, maybe 15 to 20 minutes' walking each way. The Lodge sits on the rim of the canyon and gives access to spectacular views.

There are two overlook points below the Lodge; this is looking up from one of them. The bow window is a big open room with leather seating, and the framed view of the canyon through the windows is, of course, spectacular. There are two outdoor terraces, one on each side of the room, where people congregate to watch the changing light and color below.

We went to the Lodge for breakfast our first morning here. It was packed but almost immediately cleared out (after we were seated not at a window) when the buses pulled out. This is from another morning, early, when I went out before work and before most people were up and about.

The views from the trails that rim the canyon - well, what can I say? I'm out of superlatives and adjectives that can't, even so, begin to put into words just how grand, inspiring, humbling, and spiritual this place is.

The elevation here is about 8500 feet, so everything is blooming a little later than down below. I think it's great because that means I got here in time to see the full spectrum. I'm going to need a wildflower identification book.

Lupines are just starting; there are wide areas of them throughout the area I walk every day that will soon be blanketed in blue. This is their leaf cluster.

Tiny, tiny magenta flowers, not much more than a quarter inch across.

New growth at branch tips, bright green and vibrant against the dark of old growth.

Here is the building I work in, at least for now. Yesterday I had the doors wide open and two hummingbirds zipped in and out. A chipmunk wandered in, looked around, and left. When I was sitting on the porch at the admin building before work another hummingbird hovered about three feet in front of me, looking me over. I've seen two western tanagers, birds I've never seen before, and the world's cutest squirrel, the Kaibab squirrel, which has tufted ears, a bright white tail, and a dark body. People who want to spot one are told to look for a white handkerchief fluttering through the treetops. I haven't been quick enough to get photos of the tanagers or squirrels - yet.

I expect to be here until some time in September. There are miles of trails to hike, campsites to overnight at, a brilliant night sky to gaze at, and lots more people to meet. What a life.

Thought of the day:

The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams. - Oprah Winfrey

Saturday, May 24, 2014


It's a little late, but here are photos from a Cinco de Mayo celebration that took place on the plaza near the Visitor Center at the park on, well, May 5. [added May 25: I forgot to say the name of the group is Las Joyas del Desierto - Jewels of the Desert. Nice, isn't it?]

The youngest group went first and if I've ever seen anything cuter than these kids I don't know what it could be. All the girls wore their hair in a bun at the top of the head and two braids threaded with bright ribbon.

This was a second dance with the same group. It had something to do with taking turns waving their feet over the blue vase between them.

A more experienced group came in for the next few dances.

Waiting in the wings for their next performance, they couldn't resist swirling those gorgeous costumes.

The boys' moves were mostly clapping their hands under alternating legs. No twirly anything for them.

This child played to my camera like a pro. I had a couple of photos of her looking straight at me or from the corners of her eyes, but they weren't sharp enough to keep.

The teacher is in the background, in the red shirt. She announced the kids were invited to be in a parade at Disneyland and they were raising money for the trip. My HH chipped in and a couple of days later had his hair cut by this same lady. She said they'd nearly met their goal. Parents were responsible for getting their kids there and the fundraising was for park admission.

I took some videos which turned out pretty well, considering I'd never done it before, and tried uploading one here. I got the video but no audio; there's a way to do it but I haven't figured it out yet. It's really something to see them in motion. I'll keep trying.

Thought of the day:

Friday, May 16, 2014

A necessity of the human spirit

I was supposed to be away for a few days.  My HH's grandson is receiving his Ph.D. In chemistry from Berkeley and I was going with my HH to help him celebrate but I'm sick and called off my flight. Thankfully, Southwest Airlines lets you change/cancel without charge - what a concept! - unlike American, where I also had to cancel a trip but got charged $200 to do it. Thieves.

My entire understanding of Patrick's dissertation is that it is about water. That's it. Sometimes I feel pretty smart but then something like a dissertation about water comes along and I realize my knowledge about anything is just a drop in the bucket. Forgive me; I couldn't resist. 

I'm tossing some Grand Canyon pics up for your perusal. I narrowed the landscape shots down to 41 but am not going to test your patience with anywhere near that number. I hope you enjoy.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. - John Muir

Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better. - Albert Einstein

Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive. - anon.

Whatever's good for your soul - DO THAT! - anon.

Always take the scenic route. - my sister Margaret always took the scenic route, whether she planned to or not

Stay curious. - anon.

Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but pictures. Kill nothing but time. - anon

We all live downstream. - David Suzuki, geneticist

Nature does not hurry you, yet everything is accomplished. - Lao Tzu

Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple, or more direct than does nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous. - da Vinci

We need the tonic of wilderness. - Thoreau

Come forth into the light of things. Let nature be your teacher. - Wordsworth

Do not feel lonely. The entire universe is inside you. - Rumi

I love places that make you realize how tiny you and your problems are. - anon.

A world without open country would be universal jail. - Edward Abbey

We do not see things as they are, we see things as WE are. - Anäis Nin

This is the most beautiful place on earth. There are many such places. Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. - Edward Abbey

The earth does not belong to man. Man belongs to the earth. - anon.

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit. - Edward Abbey

"It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily. "And freezing." "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders. - Edward Abbey

Keep close to Nature's heart. - Muir

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once again. - John Burroughs

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. - E.B. White

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. - Joseph Campbell

Our job is to record, each in his own way, this world of light and shadow and time that will never come again exactly as it is today. - Edward Abbey

In wildness lies the hope of the world. - Muir

When it comes time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived. - Thoreau

When we tug on a single thing in nature we find it attached to everything else. - Muir

In every walk with nature, one receives far more than [s]he seeks. - Muir

I didn't feel well enough to sit at the computer and vet the quotes and so will gratefully accept corrections.

Thought of the day:
Come into the mountains, dear friend.
Leave society and take no one with you 
 but your true self,
Get close to nature.
Your everyday games will be insignificant.
Notice the clouds spontaneously form
 and try to do that with your life. - unknown

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mother's Day, albeit late

A big, rousing, happy (late) Mother's Day to all moms out there!

From my own experience, I know what a hard job it is, sometimes unrelenting, where all you do is clean and cook, rock babies screaming with colic, cut food into tiny, unchoke-able pieces, and say a little prayer every time the kids head out in the car, whether they're the pilot or passenger. All of this and more, as you know very well, and then maybe add a paying job on top of it. If someone pampered you, took you to breakfast, went off with the kids for the day, or even just thanked you for all you do, I hope you enjoyed it. Thanks are often missing and if it takes this one day to make someone aware of all the hats you wear, be grateful for it.

But for myself, I've long hated this day. Motherhood wasn't something I was successful at, not part of my skill set - go ahead, ask my kids, they'll cite you chapter and verse - and Mother's Day was ignored by their father, my husband. The first couple or few years went by with no acknowledgement, which puzzled and hurt me. Finally I asked him why it was just another day to him. It wasn't because of forgetfulness. Not ignored as a comment on my mothering qualities (and let me digress here: the first time he cheated on me that I know of, in 1987, he said he wanted a divorce and the reason was I was not a good mother. I will never forget it but really couldn't argue with it. However, he prepared for a move from Texas to Washington and was leaving the kids with me. If someone understands this, please clue me in.) Nor was it ignored out of meanness. It was ignored because I was not his mother. Honest to pete. I've since heard from other women that they are also treated this way, notwithstanding we are the mothers of their children or stepchildren, or rock star stepmoms who take on an entirely different and difficult role. This has never made sense to me and it always, always, every year, hurt. But guess who gradually stopped doing anything special for the father of my boys on Father's Day? This was just another layer of cinders added to the disastrous road that was our marriage.

I guess the lesson here is even if some ritual, tradition, or event carries no significance to you but does for someone else, honor that. You don't know how it feels to them to have its importance dismissed or even belittled. Holy cow, life is so short and so many things take so little effort and reap such a bounty of reward, so why not show that kindness?

I thought of that this weekend. It was my HH's birthday and we celebrated at the Grand Canyon, taking the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams and spending a night in the park, which was awesome!! The Park Service has free shuttles that run all over the park and do a very good job of keeping traffic down; the drivers are excellent with scads of patience. If they say, "Exit from both doors, enter at the front door only." one time a day they must say it 300 times. They're just good at their jobs, and yet most passengers exit the bus without saying a word. My mother taught me to say thank you (thanks, Mom, and thanks for teaching me how to drive a stick!), but my HH taught me to call someone by name when I do. Each driver has his or her name posted at the front of the bus so when I got off I thanked them and called them by name. "Thank you, Marshall." "Thank you, Dorothy." It is sometimes amazing to see the change on someone's face just to be recognized as someone. It costs nothing but a breath and can make a big difference in someone's day.

We got home kind of late Sunday night but I still had to take the time to look at my photos, all 398 of them, now culled by about 50. I'm blown away by what I got. Wow. Wow! Maybe I can take pictures after all. Coming as soon as I can get them done. Thanks in advance for my shameless self-promotion on this forum.

Thought of the day:

Adopt an attitude of gratitude. - anonymous, I think


A big shout out to Bill Parker, paleontologist extraordinaire, for being awarded his Ph.D. in geology from UT-Austin a couple of weeks ago. Congratulations, Bill!

photo credit: Dave Velk