Thursday, August 30, 2007

A cat for your weekend

to me, she looks like a muppet kitty. but maybe you have to know her. she's all of two pounds. she moves like a muppet. kindy of scary looking but very sweet.

Work Realization - Hypocrisy

So, I accepted finally that I'm a hypocrite!

I'm supervising a person (first time supervising). In my head I've expected her to come to me if she has issues.

I'm being supervised (of course). In my head I've expected her to touch base with me to see if I have issues.

So, I begin to rectify both situations.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Cockroach Story

My boyfriend at the time and I spent a year together in Zimbabwe teaching. We were supposed to be placed in a rural school, but at the last minute were relocated to a school for disabled refugees and excombatants (refugees from S. Africa, Mozambiqe, and Namibia, and excombatants from Zimbabwe) just outside of Harare, the capital city. We had a nice place to live - with a real bathroom, electricity, and even a small fridge! Much more hoity toity than it would have been in a rural school.

Now, we certainly had cockroaches in our kitchen area. It SUCKED when big flying ones came in (screams abounded from me), but luckily they didn't appear too often. Smaller, nonflying ones did however appear frequently on the counters or on the top of the fridge. Whenever we'd come home at night, one of use would have a newspaper, and the other would stay by the light switch by the door. The one with the newspaper would move stealthfully to the kitchen area, the light would be turned on, and BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! We would kill as many cockroaches as we could before they skittered away into nooks and crannies.

But we lived with them.

One weekend we went to visit some friends who were starting a school in Harare. They had been cleaning up the building, and it was empty except for them. We had dinner and stayed overnight. As we were cooking dinner, I noticed there was some powder on the floor along the walls, and asked what it was for. "Oh, we have a small problem with cockroaches." I think I made some kind of smart-assed comment, like, what, you afraid of a few cockroaches, and forgot about it.

Getting ready for bed, we were shown a room with a mattress on the floor. I think I asked about the cockroaches and we were told, oh, it's fine, they don't climb up on things. Ok, fine.

Turned off the light, and went to sleep. We were fast asleep on the mattress and suddenly my boyfriend jumped up with a start. Turned on the light and saw the cockroaches scattering for the nooks and crannies in the room. We looked at each other, not daring to say anything out loud, but finally he said that he thought a cockroach ran across his face. !!!

Very quickly we decided to leave the light on to keep the cockroaches away, and to take turns sleeping. Since he had had a cockroach run across his face, I offered to take first shift. And he fell asleep. And I was left in the silence alone with the cockroaches.

All of them.

At first the light kept them away - they stayed in their nooks and crannies.

Then they became bold and started coming out, even though the light was on. At first when I waved my hand, they'd skitter back to their hiding places.

But then that technique started to not work as well. So I lifted my pillow and waved that - bigger is better. And that worked for a little bit.

Finally they didn't care what I was waving - they knew they weren't going to die. And they slowly came out, not caring that I was there since they'd survive a nuclear war and I wouldn't, their antennae moving around, their tiny little brains thinking - how can I best get onto that mattress and crawl all over their bodies?

Needless to say, I was reaching my limit. And to keep my mind off the cockroaches, I started peeling skin off my recently-sunburned arms. Got one good piece, rolled it up, and threw it across the room.

A cockroach ran over, picked up the ball of flesh in its mouth, and started eating.

I lost it.

Hysterical and exhausted, I woke up my boyfriend and blabbered that we could NOT stay in that room. I was so hysterical that I think he actually had to slap me in the face (not too hard) to calm down enough to be willing to walk across the room and open the door. We knew that there was a room across the hall that had tables and a chair, and we thought we would sleep sitting up in that room, since we had been told cockroaches don't climb up on things.

Closing Scene: Light from our room falls onto the door of the room across the hall. My boyfriend opens the door, and the light falls upon the closest chair, upon which a cockroach sits. [cue WeeWeeWee Hitchcock music]

We slept outside on the ground.
And it rained on us.
And I got some sleep.
And no cockroaches on my face.

Postscript: The next care package my oldest brother sent included rubber cockroaches. Of course.

Arrived today via email





Monday, August 27, 2007


On the way to skydiving I like to play relaxing music. This weekend, I listened to old country songs until the station wouldn't come in anymore (including Kenny Rogers' - "And she belieeeeeves in me. I'll never know just what she seeeeeees in me. I told her someday, if she was my girl, I could change the world with my little song...")

Then I popped in the soundtrack to Songcatcher. I don't remember how I stumbled on this movie, but I watched it many years ago. If you like mountain music, you should see it - it's about a woman who goes into the mountains in the late 1800's/early 1900's to capture old songs and trace where they came from. I remember it being surprisingly good, since I hadn't really heard of the movie. But the soundtrack is great. Has people like Rosanne Cash, Emmy Rossum, Emmylou Harris, Hazel Dickens, Dolly Parton...

Here's the summary: (yeah, it's got a love story, but it's still good)

After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Doctor Lily Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister who runs a struggling rural school in Appalachia. There she stumbles upon the discovery of her life--a treasure trove of ancient Scots-Irish ballads, songs that have been handed down from generation to generation, preserved intact by the seclusion of the mountains. With the goal of securing her promotion, Lily ventures into the most isolated areas of the mountains to collect the songs and finds herself increasingly enchanted--not only by the rugged purity of the music, but also by the raw courage and endurance of the local people as they carve out meaningful lives against the harshest conditions. It is not, however, until she meets Tom--a handsome, hardened war veteran and talented musician--that she's forced to examine her motivations. Is the "Songcatcher," as Tom insists, no better than the men who exploit the people and extort their land?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Leadership, Confidence, Fear

I woke up early early this morning, and couldn't get back to sleep because I had made some realizations and couldn't get them out of my head. I was too lazy to get up and type them on the computer, so I finally had to write them down. Seems all the expletives yesterday came out for a reason.

Realization 1: Leadership and confidence

If I'm going to be doing something challenging, and be taught how to do it, I need to have faith, trust, confidence in the people teaching me. I need them to be leaders who inspire and instill confidence. I can forgive some mistakes, like when someone calls me Denise instead of my real name, because he really does know what he's doing, but others I can't. One of the instructors yesterday not only bounced me around in freefall unnecessarily, but also couldn't get me seated in the right spot on the plane without an issue. Sorry, I'm not going to trust my life with you. Two strikes and you are out. If they try and have him be my one instructor, I'll walk away without a backwards glance. I realize there are two, maybe three, people at this place that I'll go forward with alone from hereonin. (because in the next stages, you only have one instructor)

Realization 2: Fear

I hate the exit from the plane. Not because of jumping, but because of the disorientation. I need to find some way to deal with it better, and will work with instructors (and perhaps the Gnome has suggestions) to deal with it better.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The making of a porn star: Jump 3 (warning: expletives)

As usual, you are told to arrive before 8:00 am and as usual you are sitting around for a while waiting for everything to get started. Along with climbing, at least when you are learning skydiving, you cannot expect efficiency with time. If the low number of instructors isn’t going to suck up time, weather inconsistencies will. Today was kind of nice because there were so few people there in the morning I was able to relax a little and actually talk to other people (I am an introvert and thus sometimes have a hard time with large groups, especially if I don’t feel I belong). Heard about the 90 year old woman that skydived there a few weeks ago for her birthday. Cool! Tandem of course.

So, by now you know all about the general process of skydiving. I’m on category C, where you start separating from your instructors, or rather they start separating from you. As they said, Category C is one of the easiest categories because you really don’t have a task except to relax. And work on your form in freefall.

I kidded with the guy who called me Denise on my descent last time; I’m supposed to change my name to that to make his life easier. And the two instructors I was jumping with I had jumped with before, so that was nice. Perhaps I was a little too comfortable because when setting up my gear I was chatting with one and I think he was double checking my name, and I told him what it was. Then I said he could also use Denise, my porn star name – and a guy nearby kind of looked at me incredulously. (OK, I was NOT saying people should fuck me -- haven’t you received that email ever that says your porn star name is your pet’s name as a child and the name of the street you grew up on?).

ANYWAY. Scene 2: Location: In the plane. Everything is fine, blah blah blah. My instructor is chatting with the guy next to me – blind guy doing a tandem jump. Cool. Then I look at one of the people up front on the floor (these are the people jumping first, and are the ‘fun’ jumpers – people who have their license and jumping for fun) and I see a cockroach crawl along his jump suit collar. Let me tell you, cockroaches FREAK me out when I’m not prepared for them [I’ll be writing a story about them]. I just turned to the wall of the plane and repeated over and over, holy fucking shit. And laughed that crazy sort of laugh when you feel you are going insane. But it was also to get it out of my system so I could concentrate.

Scene 3: Location: In the air. This time when I jumped I felt like I was flipping on my back, which really freaked me out, and I thought I was starting off horribly (found out later we exited kind of vertical – very bizarre because I could have sworn I was upside down). So went through the normal procedures – altitude check, three touches to the pull cord – and while I’m doing that the guy on my right signals for the guy on my left to let go of me. Well, that kind of distracted me. I felt like I blanked a bit, but started with the altitude (check), arch (check), leg (just check, don’t play superman), relax, repeat.

And apparently the guy on the right let go too, because then I started to rotate left and right. They had said this would likely happen some because a beginner has a hard time controlling their movement. But I kind of felt like a ping pong ball or something – or I know – a voltage meter! – coming up against a battery and then moving back (because I don’t think I ever rotated more than 90 degrees total and it was along a single plane). Again I thought I was doing horribly. (turns out the instructor on my left was being a little overeager in correcting my movement) Soon enough it was 6,000 feet and I had to pull at 5,500.

Scene 4: Location: Under canopy. My chute goes up and all I start yelling is fuck me, fuck me, fuck me. And there’s noone around! This is supposed to be a porn movie! Oh wait, no, it’s not. OK, so I was yelling that because I thought I had messed up. And let that thought get the better of me, so did not concentrate well at all under canopy and in my landing, so didn’t do a great job. A VERY important lesson is learned – your skydive is not over until you are on the ground. I think I let myself go a little because I knew I had someone on radio who could talk me down. But I also had just let my concentration go a little because I was mad at myself, and that’s a no no. Stupid stupid. Note my last rock climbing post about how a large percentage of people are hurt coming down from a climb.

I get down into the hangar and I’m still beating myself up internally (thinking but not yelling fuck me), and one instructor comes up to me and said I did an excellent job. I looked at him in disbelief (can you read my mind and so are being nice and want to fuck me?). Now, these guys (and they generally are guys, at least there) tend to use superlatives, but I thought that was even over the top for a superlative-using instructor. But no, he said he thought it was the best category C he had jumped with. Unbelievable. He had to say it a couple times. Well, you live and you learn. Or you die.

BTW, some people I had met during my initial class, or even after, are much further along than me, or even done with the process. Let me ask how you approach swimming in the ocean, or cold water in general. Are you the type of person who runs and jumps right in, or do you, like me, take it a little bit at a time? It can seriously take me a half hour to get into cold water. All these other people like to jump right in. But I like the speed I’m going at. I can reflect on the jump and be relaxed for next time. If there is a next time. But there will be. They made me buy the book, finally, and now must do my book studying. But that’s kind of like the wave that catches you when you are trying to go slowly – they made me buy the book, and I’m a little more committed.

BTW2, I have spoken with at least two skydivers who, when they hear that I rock climb, say they don’t think they could do it. Funny I think.

And on the way back in disgusting traffic, I called my mom and told her. I felt guilty about not telling her last time. And, I guess it's like the rat that gets used to being shocked. She just asked me how it was. And told me she wants to know ahead of time next time so she can light a candle for me.

I didn't tell her about the guy who showed up at the drop zone today who had had a horrible landing and broke his pelvis in half and broke off his tailbone. Which also gives me something to think about.

BTW3: This post is dedicated to my porn movie co-star. Her comment from my last post: I finally went sky-diving (tandem) for the first time about 6 weeks ago. My knees were weak from hours afterwards (that only usually happens to me with an amazing orgasam, so that's what I'm comparing sky-diving to). I instantly was obsessed with going back to make my first real jump, but quickly decided that unless I was going to go through the entire process, it wasn't worth it. And since I'm seriously thinkng about buying a condo, I decided not to spent the money. So consider me living vicariously through you on that front, and I'm looking forward to hearing all about it.

Friday, August 24, 2007


I feel sometimes that blogs are supposed to be about telling a story that's well formulated. But sometimes I need to write to figure something out, or just to acknowledge the impact on me. So pardon the unformulated text, and you can skip down to the haikus if you'd like.

I'm in awe. Flabbergasted. Dumbstruck.

Sometimes I meet someone, get to know someone, and I don't intend to have a impact or make a connection, but it happens anyway. It creeps up, and then BAM.

Earlier this week I was stressed, feeling like I didn't enjoy any part of my job, and grumpy. I had personal issues too which were stressing me out. I've established a friendship with the guy who holds open the door to the building. A wonderful man originally from the Dominican Republic, whose two sons have/had the condition featured in the movie Lorenzo's Oil (one has died), who always has a smile for everyone. He's been helping me re-learn how to speak spanish. And he's generally very 'zen' so when I had left my husband I would go down and visit often. I went down earlier this week and was grumbling about possibly needing a new job and leaving.

So, he applied for a job someplace else. Me: Blink. Blink. And the only reason I found out was because I was down there when the guy he's been speaking with went by and I heard what they were discussing. What do you say when someone looks at you and says that he doesn't want to be there if I'm not there? Amazing. Weird.

Thankfully I heard some of the context. The original owner of the building helped him immensely when he was dealing with his sons' condition. Incredible amounts. But he has retired, and management is not the same, and likely this guy has been thinking it's time to move on anyway. And I think he's being honest and not manipulative. Yes, it's a little freaky, but also kind of humbling.

The thing is, I had something similar happen to me 8-10 years ago. I worked in a building that required a security guard at the entrance to my office space (where there were multiple desks, not just mine... I hadn't been punished for something). And this guy, Ted, would sit and read his bible the whole time. So one time I commented that 'aren't you done yet?' and/or 'do you read the 'begats'?' and he said it was his 3rd or 4th time reading it, so we conversed. And so we talked a bit every day. And one day he comes in with this huge fruit basket for me! I was like, I hope you aren't expecting anything in return for this. And he wasn't. He was just being nice.

So there are nice people out there. And intense people out there. And life is fascinating sometimes. And I just keep my eyes open and radar up to make sure it doesn't go bad.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Sweet Potato Fries Haikus

Sweet potato fries
horseradish or sugar sauce
your taste is divine

Pile 'em up, real high
Plate, bowl, whatever you got
Sweet potato fries

Sweet potato fry
touches my lips, not my hips.
I can dream, can't I?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Urinary Dream

OK, how many of you have had a dream in which you were trying to go to the bathroom, most likely pee, and you just couldn't? I think it happens to a lot of people. If you are lucky, you aren't successful and you wake up in a dry bed.

Well, the other night I had a dream in which I was peeing and I couldn't stop! Never in my life have I urinated so long. Somehow I woke up. My bed was still dry, and I didn't really have to go to the bathroom, but I got up and went to be safe.

Very strange. What does it mean???

OK, just did a google search and found a site on dream interpretation. Hmm... maybe I shouldn't have shared this one...


Elimination of body waste is a task that we often prefer not to share with others. We either feel that our privacy is being invaded, or that another is forcing themselves on us. This often reflects not only the base nature of the act, but also the genital exposure that accompanies it.

Urination is a symbol for territorial disputes. It is also a signal of dominance.


As the numerology thingie below indicates, friendships are very important to me. I've been meaning to write about this, and though it means three posts in one day (horror), two of which are not climbing related (oh, double horror), I'm writing.

It used to be that friends in my life were all or nothing. Either I could tell you everything about myself and what was in my heart/mind, or I couldn't share anything with you. And if I made a friend, I'd bend over backwards to keep up that friendship.

I realized over time that not everyone can be a close friend. And even close friendships can fade over time, or go through cycles. And I could have a friend who was close in one area of my life but not others. In a sense I learned to relax about it. Or perhaps I grew up - not sure which it is. Or maybe I just starting losing my energy.

Two of my closest friends moved away several years ago (to actually the same city), and I've been struggling since then to get new close friends near where I live. It takes me time to trust and be comfortable. I think I've gotten a few friends, and I'm very grateful.

But I realize I am not always relaxed about making friends. I have expectations I don't communicate because I know that it's not appropriate to, given the level of friendship that exists. And I have to be patient for something to develop, and that's not always easy for me. I can jump the gun and share too much, or even give up too easily. And gotta get over that... Wish me luck.

Others are doing it - What's in a name

Here's the link
[note: it's pretty good, except the tactful part, being persuasive in a 'never forceful way' and the inner dream. I do love honey. :-) ]

There are 16 letters in your name.
Those 16 letters total to 72
There are 6 vowels and 10 consonants in your name.

What your first name means:
Latin Female Made of honey.
Greek Female Made from honey.

Your number is: 9

The characteristics of #9 are: Humanitarian, giving nature, selflessness, obligations, creative expression.

The expression or destiny for #9:
The expression that you exhibit is represented bythe number 9. Your talents center in humanistic interests and approaches. You like to help others as you were intended to be the 'big brother or big sister' type. You operate best when you follow your feelings and sense of compassion, and allow yourself to be sensitive to the needs of others. You work well with people, and have the potential to inspire. This suggests that you could successfully teach or counsel. Creative ability, imagination and artistic talent (often latent) of the highest order are present in this expression. It's possible that you're not using or developing all of these capabilities at this time. Some of your talents may have been used at an earlier time in your life, and some may still be latent. Be aware of your capabilities, so that you can make use of them at appropriate times.

If you are able to achieve the potential of your natural expression in this life, you are capable of much human understanding and have a lot to give to others. Your personal ambitions are likely to be maintained in a very positive perspective, never losing sight of an interest in people, and a sympathetic, tolerant, broad-minded and compassionate point of view. You are quite idealistic, and disappointed at the lack of perfection in the world. You have a strong awareness of your own feeling as well as those of others. Friendships, affection, and love are extremely important.

Undeveloped or ignored, the negative side of the 9 expression can be very selfish and self-centered. If you do not actively involve yourself with work that benefits others, you may tend to express just the opposite characteristics. It is your role to be very involved with other people and their needs, but it may be difficult for you achieve this role. Aloofness, lack of involvement, and a lack of sensitivity mark the low road of this expression.

Your Soul Urge number is: 2

A Soul Urge number of 2 means:
With the Soul Urge number 2, your motivation is centered on friendships, partnerships, and companionship. You want to work with others as a part of a cooperative team. Leadership is not important to you, but making a contribution to the team effort is. You are willing to work hard to achieve a harmonious environment with sensitive, genial people.

In a positive sense, the 2 Soul Urge is sympathetic, extremely concerned and devoted. The nature tends to be very sensitive to others, always tactful and diplomatic. This element in your nature indicates that you are rather emotional. You are persuasive, but in a very quiet way, never forceful. You are the type that makes really close friendships because you are so affectionate and loving.

If this number is over-emphasized in your makeup, you may be over-sensitive, with a delicate ego that is too easily hurt. You may be timid or fearful, too easygoing for your own good.

Your Inner Dream number is: 7

An Inner Dream number of 7 means:
You dream of having the opportunity to read, study, and shut yourself off from worldly distractions. You can see yourself as a teacher, mystic, or ecclesiastic, spending your life in the pursuit of knowledge and learning.

You were born on a Friday
under the astrological sign Leo.
Your Life path number is 6.

Your birthday falls into the Chinese year beginning 1/21/1966 and ending 2/8/1967.
You were born in the Chinese year of the Horse.

Your Native American Zodiac sign is Salmon; your plant is Raspberry.

Your birthstone is Peridot

The Mystical properties of Peridot

Peridot is used to help dreams become a reality.

Some lists consider these stones to be your birthstone. (Birthstone lists come from Jewelers, Tibet, Ayurvedic Indian medicine, and other sources)

Sardonyx, Diamond, Jade

Your birth tree is

Poplar, the Uncertainty

Looks very decorative, no self-confident behaviour, only courageous if necessary, needs goodwill and pleasant surroundings, very choosy, often lonely, great animosity, artistic nature, good organiser, tends to philosophy, reliable in any situation, takes partnership serious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Back in 2001 I was a true burly girl. I was strong and was doing some hard climbs (for me = 5.9 trad - see explanation below). Once in a while I would get on something that was exceptionally challenging, and my poor belayer would stand there for 1.5 hours at least while I did the climb. I did one climb that had the word 'roof' in the title. And there were multiple roofies on the climb. My husband was not my husband at the time, but we climbed together a lot, and he was the lucky belayer.

The crux on the long first pitch is a roof (imagine that). I did not have the correct size gear to place something in the obvious place. I did not have the strength to go halfway up the roof and stop to place gear. And since I was pushing my limits, I lost some of my technique, and apparently put my leg behind the rope as I was pulling the roof.

Now, putting your leg behind the rope places you in a very dangerous position. If you fall, you catch your leg on the rope, and flip upside down, with the potential for serious injury. I once fell on a climb in the indoor gym, caught my leg behind the rope, and flipped. Luckily instinct kicked in and I went into a fetal position as much as I could, and I ended up not hitting anything and being ok. (You don't wear a helmet in the gym usually, so it could have been bad.)

Thankfully in this outdoor climb, I made the move successfully and finished the climb. My husband told me later how scared he was watching me. It would have made no sense to tell me about it as I was doing it, because it would have freaked me out, ruined my confidence and I would have fallen. The belayer always has to judge when the time is to tell someone, and I believe he made the right decision.

So, this past weekend my husband did the climb. There are two second pitches, and I had never done the one with the big big roof (in fact, in my climbing book I had written NFW after seeing it up close). My husband had done it before and loved it, so decided to take me up it.

To be safe, he told me to bring gear to prussik up the rope in case I could not finish the climb, or fell into space and could not get back to the rock. Of course, my hackles went up ' what, you don't believe I can do it? '. When I got up there, I was glad he had said to bring it. Three to four feet of roof, horizontally away from the rock, hanging into space.

When he started it and was standing under the roof, his feet were above the horizon. Stepping on the clouds. My stomach lurched just watching him there, with the thought that I would have to follow him! He said to me, how can I be so excited yet so nervous at the same time? He managed to get a piece of gear above the roof, though as he was getting stuff off his harness, he looked down. Mistake! Looking down into space.

After a few false starts, he finally made the move, and slowly/quickly I only saw half his body, and then only the bottom of his feet and a few pieces of hanging gear. And then he was up and over. CRAP - I'd have to follow him.

So, with nothing to do except belay, I watched the trees move in the wind and the vultures spin in the air. There was one dead tree just below us, and one turkey vulture landed on it. For some reason other vultures (both turkey and black I believe) would land for a second on a branch and fly immediately off. I watched them until I heard 'off belay' and took my husband off belay.

As I stood there and he took up the rope so he could belay me, I relaxed myself by continuing to watch the birds and the trees and the clouds, etc. Just as I was about ready to climb, at least seven vultures landed on the dead tree. My husband calls out 'See the vultures? I'm sure it has absolutely nothing to do with you climbing!' Great. Thanks. :-) I actually laughed out loud, which was good for me.

And ultimately it wasn't so bad. Crazy, amazing to be hanging out in space and pulling yourself up. I found a hold out right, and at one point my entire body was almost stretched out completely and horizontal. But I made it up and over. Amazing. A gorgeous gorgeous climb. (For the record, I had to hang several times...) And since I did it, it's been taken off of my NFW list, and I think someday, if I'm strong enough, I can do it.

[though you could look this up, rating systems on climbs vary across the world. The US uses the Yosemite Decimal System (5.0-5.15). 5.0-5.4 you could climb without any gear and be ok. 5.5 and up you want to have a rope/belayer protecting you. 5.15 is the hardest anyone has ever done - look at a 5.15 and a normal person will see an almost blank face, for example, yet there is someone out there that can climb that. I can climb up to 5.11 on top rope (on a good day). I can climb up to 5.10 on bolted climbs. I have climbed up to 5.10 on trad and taken a number of falls on that one 5.10]

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Lion Queen

You've seen The Lion King, right? Well, maybe not if you don't have kids. But if you have, picture the Lion King at the beginning of the movie, standing on top of the rock above his dominion as everyone sings up to him.

Many of the places I climb at regularly are rock formations that sort of pop out of the landscape, yet are not very high. So you can do a 2-300 foot climb and see forever. I did one such climb this weekend. Actually, my husband and I did one together - a four pitch climb for which I did the last two pitches. A classic climb we were able to do because it was a Friday, and a gorgeous gorgeous day.

I got to the top and set up my anchor and belay, lengthening the belay so that I could stand almost on the very edge of the rock. As I belayed I looked nearby to the black vultures circling on the drafts *below* me, and watched the wind move the trees. A moment that is worth all the dirt and bruises. I also looked over the landscape into the distance and saw the trees, occasional pond, cars, tiny little houses, and clouds in the distance.

Now imagine the Lion King wearing lots of metal, and chained to the top of his rock. And look into the distance at the clouds I mentioned, which are bunching up. See the wall of rain in the distance, heading towards you. Hear the thunder. And know that you are the highest point with a lot of attraction for lightning. And know that you cannot move until your follower arrives at the top of the climb. It's a little nerve-wracking. The clouds and wall of rain coming ever closer, as I say, um, you might want to go a little faster.

And when all are safe at the top you have to move fast, but not so fast that you endanger yourself. Panic is not an option, because that leads to mistakes. And mistakes kill. A large number of climbing accidents are related not to the climbing itself, but to the time afterwards - messing up a rappel for instance. It's why I carry water and food with me always, as my body is very high maintenance and I can bonk and lose all ability to think for myself and take care of myself.

On this particular day, the storm just missed us. Which was lucky, as a piece of gear in my anchor was stuck and we had to spend some time getting it out. But for a few moments I did feel like a chained up Lion King.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

You got to know....

You got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run...

Ah, Kenny Rogers, my hero. Truer words have not been written... (ok, some other equally true words have though). These apply to so many things in life...

Back from yet another adventuresome weekend, rock climbing. The song (that I know all the words to, btw, because it was on the first record album I ever bought) was going through my head for two days. Why? Because I backed off of two climbs this weekend.

Backing off a climb is not something I do lightly. One of the great things about rock climbing is the challenge of figuring a problem out and addressing it successfully. Sometimes it's the intellectual puzzle: you have to try so many different ways, and one way works. Sometimes it's the mental/emotional barrier: you have to believe in yourself, and you muster the ability/strength to do it. Sometimes it's the fear (which is related to the previous one): and you have to let go of the fear in order to be able to move forward (see the Gnome for some thoughts on fear).

Sometimes though, even if I let go of the fear, common sense has to take hold, and I have to realize either I do not have the 'head' for it, or the current skill level, to do a particular move/climb, on that particular day. Or, perhaps, that the risk is just not worth it on that particular day.

Sometimes you just have no choice. Since rock climbing outside is not indoor rock climbing, there's no pieces of colored tape to mark the route. So, you can get lost on a route if you've never been on it before. I once got lost on a relatively easy route, and was on a 5.9 R or X (see explanation at end for what this means). I was 1/2 to 2/3 the way up, and had to keep going, and made it in part because I didn't get lost on something harder, and I didn't freak out.

In any event, this weekend I had a choice. In both cases it was early in the climb - no more than 30-40 feet up - and there was a way to escape and still keep the gear. In both cases if I had fallen, I would have at least broken an ankle, perhaps leg (I have several close climbing friends who have had pretty bad injuries in the place we climbed this weekend). In both cases I had the skill level, but just did not want to take the chance.

So, on two separate days I backed down.

And it sucks.

But in both cases it was the right decision.

It still sucks.

But I am unharmed, can walk, did not have a trip to the hospital.

Yep, still sucks.

But how great it would have been if I HAD done it.

Maybe someday I will know. The rock will always be there, as long as I live at least. I can always go back another day. And try, try again.

[In some areas, climbs can be rated according to the quality/quantity of gear placements available. G is lots of gear placements available. PG is there's enough to usually keep you safe but it can be tricky to find/place. R is there's instances in which there is no good gear available in a long enough stretch that you will take a huge, potentially hurtful fall. X means likely/certain injury/death if you fall (don't even think about falling).]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

My day so far

I drive my bike to a location closer to work and then bike (otherwise it's 1.5 hours each way and I have found that I'm not THAT much of a burly girl). So, get there, and realize I don't have my shoes. All I have is my flowered fleece slippers that I drove in. So, biked in those.

Then, at work, setting up a conference call I had to call someone to get them on the line, and my phone was already connected, so I had to call from a different phone. And got locked out of my office for 45 minutes. And noone had a key. I didn't even know it locked!

I hope the trend does not continue. :-)

[later that day] Well, I then get an anticipated request from my boss to meet with her - I've been doing 1.5 jobs since July 1 (or before) and it's taking a toll on me. Which impacts my interaction with my co-workers, including my boss. Only last night I was cursing her out to my husband. So it was with a little trepidation that I went into the office, and with some hackles raised (hackles come up easily when I am stressed). What I admire about her is that she is very professional and thinks very analytically and logically, and she arranged to have a piece of my work taken off of me. Which is a good thing. It makes me want to cry too (I'm pms-ing). TMI?

[later that day] I just broke a nail on a pistachio nut...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Long Overdue Thank You

I want to acknowledge the support of my friends (email and in person) who helped me during my time of decisionmaking and during my time away from my husband by giving me a place to hang my hat. These people listened to me, gave feedback, lobbied strongly for me to listen to myself, told their own stories, were open-minded (but sometimes lobbied for me to leave), and completely supported me no matter what I decided. I want to thank them profusely. I am indeed lucky to have such good friends.

And example email from one person who lobbied hard for me to stay away:

'Back "home," you say. Interesting, and not, I must admit, surprising. You are a sticker, I'll say that for you. Good? Bad? Who can say. I know that when a very talented friend of both my son and his wife put together a series of photographs of them and projected them unto the wall of the dining room, after the wedding, I gasped when I realized that I had taken all of the ones of C and of my daughter, J, when C was first born, and, I tell you, emotions do get mixed up like scrambled eggs sometimes, and life can be quite staggering. All I can do is hope you do the right thing for you, love.'

It's much harder than you may think to figure out what is the right thing for oneself.

BTW, for inquiring minds who want to know, I'm not giving any update on how things are going, because I've vowed to myself to make no decisions or analysis for a while. Go with the flow as it were.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Alas, dear Zimbabwe

One thing I haven't written about in this blog yet is Zimbabwe. I spent the year 1989 there, and have many tales to tell about that time. At that time, it was still a prosperous nation, full of friendly, intelligent people with gorgeous landscape and amazing resources. When travelling I was always happy to return 'home' to Zimbabwe.

Now, it is practically a wasteland due to the horrible inability of its dictator to let go of power. (Actually, even in 1989 there were the beginnings of crushing of dissent.) I did a brief search to find out some current news from the country, and found this great great site - Robert Mugabe's home page. So friggin' funny. In a very sad way.

A birthday surprise

Came back from a walk outside, and there's flowers waiting for me! Aw, how sweet. From my sister.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mother Nature's birthday gifts to me...

- beautiful weather
- clear sky on Sunday night
- meteors galore, including flaming ones
- close-by bald eagle sighting (along with a juvenile)
- snake adventure
- warm river water to swim in (relatively)
- wild turkey sighting
- 27 chigger bites (that one I could do without)

Along with that, the discovery of a decent restaurant with a huge porch, with the view below. Just amazing...

So, shall I tell you about the snake adventure or the chiggers? OK, chiggers came first so it will come first. We went to a new climbing site, out of the way. Ran into a guy who was telling us a bit about the place, including that there were lots of bald eagles (proven right), osprey (did not see or hear one), and chiggers (proven right).

I've had chigger bites before, but never really researched them. Here's a site.

Note one sentence: You should also take a shower as soon as you get back from an outdoor expedition, to remove any chiggers before they attach to your skin. Lordy. We did not take a shower when we got to the campsite since we were both stuffed (mmmm... sweet potato fries!) and tired and wanted to just sleep (actually, I made the mistake of being influenced by my husband). HUGE mistake (it's all his fault - :-) ). I now have 27 bites on my body. Below is a picture of a few on my knee (as well as my trademark 'nasty knee' from climbing - one big bruise).

So, on we go to the snake adventure. Well, we did a long, hard climb and decided to end the day early and go to an out of the way river that we had been to before and go swimming. There has not been a lot of rain for a while (obviously I don't live in Texas), so the water level was really low. We started walking in the riverbed, from rock to rock, looking for a good spot. My husband told me to watch out for snakes and I thought he was just kidding, but he was serious. Copperheads like water, apparently. I had only seen them at the base of climbs, which at least where I go are never near water. So I let him go first. :-)

Anyway, we walked quite a ways and finally found a spot that was deep enough at least to get to your waist. I wasn't sure I was going swimming, so my husband waded across to the other side to put his stuff down and go swimming. All of a sudden something breaks the surface and heads in the direction of my husband - fast. I just yelled 'holy crap' (what a good girl I am - no swearing) and then when I realized it was a snake I yelled for my husband to get out of the way. He managed to move a few feet away without killing himself tripping/slipping on a rock, and then we both see what it is. A big copperhead with a fish in its mouth!

First off, it came from exactly where he/we were going to swim. Holy crap all around. A bite won't kill you but it sure would hurt. Secondly, I never knew copperheads could/would fish! But this thing had a 4-5 inch fish in its mouth. It went to the shore and held on while the fish flopped. Slowly slowly it moved its head down the body of the fish to the head, and then rather quickly (5-10 minutes) swallowed the fish head first (and every 15 seconds I'm looking around to make sure there isn't another one). Incredible. Then it went into the water and swam off away from us.

Needless to say, we did not go swimming in that river. We went to a different, much more populated swimming hole and swam there.

All in all it was a wonderful time. And I got the following too via email!

Friday, August 10, 2007

From my birthday last year

As I approach my 40's (rather than just being 40) I look back at last year:

Thank God I have friends from all over, including where I grew up. After an afternoon of spa-ing courtesy of my two best friends, I arrived home and my husband says something about foxes in the backyard. So we run around the side, and I don't see them, so he makes me move forward, and then SURPRISE! I jumped so high! It was a surprise party. I hit my husband and then flipped off everyone who was there. In my thank you note to people for coming, I apologized for flipping everyone off, but then a friend wrote:

I would have expected nothing less than for you to have flipped us off. In NY & NJ (as i have tried in vain to explain to xx) it's sometimes a sign of affection.

So it was. But boy! I don't think I ever want another surprise party! It's so disconcerting!

I also last year dyed my hair purple for the occasion (just a wash, not bright purple)...

One friend asked if I was going through some kind of midlife crisis. Uh, not really, but I AM turning 40! And he looked surprised and wasn't just faking it. awwww.... another nice birthday present. I generally don't look my age, which is nice. But no way do I look 21, which I think is also nice.

40 I think is a good age. At least I feel good. I have a lot of crap behind me, and looking forward to the next phase of my life, whatever that may be. And trying not to stress about 'whatever that may be' with the knowledge that I will make it meaningful, at least to me.

Someone asked me how I am different or what I have learned.
- I can let people be who they are (more)
- I listen to myself more and believe I know what I'm doing
- I recognize my feelings more and feel it's ok to express them and act on them
- I accept mistakes I make and don't beat myself over the head about them so much
- I allow some quiet time in my life. Still not much, but at least I don't feel I have to be doing something ALL the time and use my time super-efficiently.
- I am letting go of the 'shoulds'

There's likely more. But that's pretty good so far.

crap, and already the sugar low

Damn. Lets out the bad me...

and now comes the sugar high...

Woo hoo!

Giving into temptation

Frozen custard. Yum... And since it's soon to be my birthday, with Jimmies (that's chocolate sprinkles to those of you who did not grow up in New England).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New German Pope Makes Changes to Catholic Liturgy

Converts flock to mass.


One of the presents I got for my birthday last year was a fiddle. Story is, I got a banjo for my husband for his birthday, just as a joke, never expecting him at all to want to learn how to play, and he decides he wants to learn how to play. So, he bought me a fiddle so we can start a band. It'll be a long time coming! :-)

So I went once to a fiddle-fest to try and meet people and get some tips. And I got both, which was great. Had one woman immediately try to teach me a song, she got another guy to tune the fiddle for me (and he rosined up my bow too), got an old-old timer to say hi, and he play Pop Goes the Weasel on my fiddle.

While I have a DVD to teach me how to play, I really think it's important to learn correctly from the start (how to hold the fiddle and bow, for example), so I've wanted to take lessons, but never did it. And being away from my husband, and wanting to get more music in my life, I decided to take the plunge. Tonight is my first lesson, and it might be a while before I make music, but hopefully I'm on my way. (and before you get too proud of me, there was a concert I wanted to go to for my birthday and my husband's lack of enthusiasm led me to cancel that idea - arg... - gotta get over that)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Multilingual Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

* French equivalent : la goutte d'eau qui fait déborder le vase, meaning the drop of water that makes the glass overflow.
* German equivalent : Der Tropfen, der das Fass zum Überlaufen bringt, meaning the drop that makes the barrel overflow.
* Dutch equivalaent : De druppel die de emmer doet overlopen, meaning the drop that makes the bucket overflow.
* Spanish equivalent : La gota que colmó el vaso, meaning the drop that spills over the glass.
* Italian equivalent : La goccia che fa traboccare il vaso, meaning the drop of water that makes the glass overflow.
* Romanian equivalent : Picătura care a umplut paharul, meaning the drop that filled the glass.
* Swedish equivalent : Droppen som fick bägaren att rinna över, meaning the drop that made the bucket overflow.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Someone said to me recently that I am very lucky. I don't know if he was being sarcastic or not, but it got me thinking...and googling (I love that that is a verb now, at least in my dictionary...). To a certain extent I think people create their luck. Now, when I googled, I came across something to back me up.

"Because you create your own luck and now there is a study that proves this - one that was in a recent issue of Reader's Digest."

Ha! If it's in Reader's Digest it HAS to be true.

Maybe it's like giving birth - if you don't remember the pain it didn't exist, so therefore all I have left is the luck? Here's what Reader's Digest said:

The more detailed results of this study found that lucky people are lucky because they seize opportunities, they create positive self-fulfilling prophecies and have a resilient attitude that allows them to turn bad luck into good luck by focusing on what went right, and how things could have been much worse - a process that allows them to be thankful for what happened and to look at the positive side of the situation.

Hmm... I was going to say that I'm not an optimist, but I don't think that's really saying that only optimists are lucky. I am fairly resilient, so that might fit. It can't be ALL in your mind though - like that woman who has the bestseller now says. (Darn, forget the name of that one.)

Am I really lucky? Not sure.

Or is it all -- Fate, Karma, Kismet, Yahtzee?

Monday, August 6, 2007

The sky is falling! Aug 12.

Or, at least it will be. Every year for my birthday there is a meteor shower -- just for me*. The Perseid meteor shower. This year it's going to be wonderful, because there's a new moon, thus the sky will have no light pollution from the moon. I hope hope hope the weather will cooperate because I plan to be in the middle of nowhere staring at the sky. *(My astrological sign is really Narcissus - look to the right of Leo and you'll see a square - it's the mirror that Leo looks into.)

From the NASA website: Got a calendar? Circle this date: Sunday, August 12th. Next to the circle write "all night" and "Meteors!" Attach the above to your refrigerator in plain view so you won't miss the 2007 Perseid meteor shower.

If scientists use exclamation points you know it has to be good.

For the first 18 years of my life we would be on vacation in Maine, on a lake, in a cabin for my birthday. And we would go out and oooh and aaaah at the meteors. And sing snippets of two songs: "Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day..." and "Are the stars out tonight, I don't know if it's cloudy or bright, 'cause I only have eyes for you......." It's a wonderful thing...

So plan ahead.

Maybe if I get a new camera for my birthday I'll try to photograph some.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Another shot of me

So, this is more the abstract me. I love this comic strip (Baby Blues), in general because the little girl reminds me of me so often, and this particular one, because it is so me. I can look like a girly girl sometimes, and as I wrote, have even started embracing the inner pink. But watch out for the WHOMP! :-)

Friday, August 3, 2007

Name this sport

In my time away from my husband, I decided to go through the Skiing magazines that had accumulated during the year(s?). We get a subscription for free every year because my husband used to be a ski racer and he loves the Warren Miller movies and so we go to the ski show every year to see the new movie, and they give you free magazines. It's actually great to see all the snow in the dog days of summer. In any event, this one issue had something like the top 100 oddities in the skiing world, and this was one of them. I seem to have misplaced the caption on this photo, but you can make up your own. It truly is a real new sport, somewhere in Scandinavia. Why o why would you want to ski with your nose up someone's ass? And what happens if they wipe out? Nose enema?

Oh, here's some Warren Miller quotes:
# If you don't do it this year, you'll be one year older when you do.
# Don't take life too seriously, because you can't get out of it alive.
# Adventure is the invitation to common people to become uncommon.
# If you can afford to go to college, don't.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Through the blogs that I frequent, found Toddler Planet. Please read the information below and put her in your thoughts and prayers.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.

Wonder what I look like?

I said I was a burly girl.

It does come with some disadvantages. Because I don't like to work at home, I had to search long and hard to find a job that would allow me to wear the bathing suit to work. I also spend soooo much money on baby oil, it's ridiculous. And because of the baby oil I tend to slide off my chair at work (I had to put plastic covering on the seat so it wouldn't ruin it.) I also need special equipment to use my computer - Dragon Naturally Speaking - because I can't type with my arms in this position. It's tough being a burly girl! But the anchor bathing suit rocks. It's great because if I run into any Marines, they have to salute - and they know I would kick their asses if they didn't. Don't let the smile fool you. I'm a tough girl.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A memorable date

So, would you date this man? I did. Back when he had hair. I was reading the newspaper and ran across a mention of him. I have not been in touch with him at all, so it was interesting to read about him.

Obviously or not so obviously he works with wine. I can quite truthfully say that one of my dates with him was one of my more memorable ones ever. It might have been the second or third date (or more? not sure), and he invited me to picnic in the park - he would bring the wine, and I should bring the food. I can't remember whether he told me what he was bringing specifically, but he might have said he was bringing a red.

I love wine. I love food. But I had no idea what really goes together. (I've learned a little since then. Though sometimes I still just get lucky, like when I had two nice bottles of champagne, and one ended up going great with a cheese plate, and the other with the really sweet dessert...mmm...still remember that). So, I brought something that looked nice and that was from a good store - including wraps, with salmon in them.

So we met and unveiled what we brought. He opened the $50 bottle of wine, and I pulled out the salmon rolls. I just remember him commenting, more to himself than me, how the food really just destroyed the flavor of the wine. ACK! Oh well... Me being ms. frugal that I am will never forget that I ruined a $50 bottle of wine.


As the clock ticks down to my return home, I wonder wonder wonder about things. High on my list today is differences between men and women in communication. And then I wonder if it's man/woman or me and the rest of the world. :-) I like and need to take things head on, and want to come to solutions NOW. This comes from growing up in a family that did not address things at all, and I did not want my life to continue to be that way. And then I marry a man who needs time to think about things, usually, mostly, and I have to be patient. And a man who thinks that time will solve things, and baby steps are the way to go. Me: Time and EFFORT will solve things, and baby steps eventually need to turn into crawling, and then walking and then running, in my opinion. Yet, also, it took me a long time to realize that living with someone, you do need to let some things slide, you don't HAVE to address everything head on, and it's not a weakness in the relationship if you don't. But being severely depressed for a while, when I had no energy to address anything anymore, I did not like that, and I am not depressed anymore (it feels great to write that and declare it) and it's going to be difficult to let anything slide for a while because I'm baaacckkk... Sigh. What is the correct balance???