Happy Day

Kind of an amazing day, one I wasn’t sure would even happen. The country has a long way to go, but maybe it will make it after all. As for me after my 1 1/2 hour breaking trail through heavy snow (don’t think I got very far!) this morning I feel like I was on the rack. It was worth it, though, and if, by 11 the temps are still below freezing and I feel up to it, I’ll go break more trail. I read last night that spraying silicone on the bottom of my waxless skis is a good idea for breaking trail in wet snow or changing snow conditions. I think it might just be. I love my skis, but they don’t equal the back country skis I had in the 80s. The big advantage to skis you need to wax is that you can adjust the slipperiness of the bottom of the skis to fit conditions. It’s also good to keep the metal edges sharpened.

Maybe between now and when I think I might head out, some other diehard old person will be out breaking trail. And, if you read that as a metaphor, you’re right.


Some Decent Snow, a Little Politics

We haven’t had this much snow since early September. Truth. Today I get to confront the dilemma which is a surfeit of riches. My two favorite outdoor activities — walking with Bear in the snow and X-country skiing on the golf course. I’m pretty sure that the one I will choose will be walking with Bear in the snow, but wow. To have to — get to — choose!!!

I love snow so much that, when it has fallen in the night, I wake up because the light changes. At the moment Bear is exhausted from playing with Teddy in the snow for three hours, so I suppose I’ll go out and shovel. The snowplow has spun my mailbox around, but at least it didn’t knock it down and scatter the parts asunder. (I got to use “asunder”)

I think, after tomorrow, hopefully, inshallah, life will lighten. Last night I looked at pictures of Washington Mall as it has been decorated ahead of Biden’s inauguration. Personally, I’m so sick of show and fanfare that I would like Biden to be inaugurated in the living room of Blair House with no one there but the press, Dr. Biden (my hero), Kamala and her husband, but I guess we can’t do it that way. Maybe a little fanfare is appropriate. It’s just that the showboating fanfare of 45’s regime was so grotesque and continuous that well, you know. If you have a party every day you never have a party. But the decorations are appropriate and moving. When I looked at the flags that are standing in for an audience on the Washington Mall ahead of Biden’s inauguration I felt sad and peaceful at the same time. People SHOULDN’T be there.

My cousin has had to go back to the ER. She’s physically stable now, but the virus is affecting her mental acuity. We’re hoping it’s just a temporary thing. I’m sad and scared for her and I think about the families and friends of the 400,000 people who have died! ❤

I think one thing that will happen with Biden resulting from his seriousness about the pandemic is that we won’t have to struggle against the lies which has meant struggling against our feelings. NORMAL feelings in this situation are apprehension, conviction and sorrow. Trump distracted us from normal human emotions during this time with all the gaslighting and deflecting and ignoring and denying of the reality that people have died and people are ill. This left us to feel anger, frustration and fear. All along I’ve believed it should have been one single minded purpose toward minimizing the casualties, in real life, not through mere denial, coupled with teaching people how to be safe. That couldn’t be done with “leadership” like Trump. That Dr. Fauci’s life was threatened was shocking, shattering.

I also thought about the lies and ruckus from 4 years ago when, in the face of palpable evidence to the contrary, 45 insisted his inauguration had more people than Obama’s had had. Joe Biden isn’t going to have an easy job. He’s not a young man, but he’s had training for this job, and he’s intentionally gathered experienced people around him that he already knows he can work with. When people say its “Obama 2” I think, “If I had to take on this job with a mess like this, I wouldn’t want to break in a new staff. I’d want to know the people I’m working with so we can just get right on it.” I think that’s what he’s done. My hope is that the impeachment trial doesn’t take precedence to moving ahead with crucial appointments. The only advantage I can see to convicting 45 is that it will mean he won’t get the perqs former presidents usually get. I want to add that I don’t really care WHAT party a president comes from as long as he or she is a good, ethical person who cares about the American people. My belief is that good leadership is leadership that allows the people the freedom to do what THEY do while the people in government take care of what they were hired to do.

The pictures of the Washington Mall are here: https://www.nbcwashington.com/…/field-of…/2545279/…


“I dunno, ask the polar bears.”

The contest books are here and I’ve spent part of the past few days sorting through them, confirming I got them, evaluating a few. One of them is a very systematic look at climate change. It’s full of beautiful diagrams, clear explanations, good discussion of critical thinking, and good research but then, AT THE END, the guy undermines everything by using everything he’s done to make a political point rather than a scientific point. The book devolves into the “either/or” fallacy. I wanted to hit him with the book, but being the mellow person I am, and him nowhere in sight, I didn’t.

My personal jury is out on the cause of climate change (which this guy calls global warming grrrrr). His argument is that it’s just another one of those climate vicissitudes Earth has experienced over the millions of years of its existence and that humans had nothing to do with it. I don’t dispute that might very well be the case, but I don’t think that’s important. I think we could do better with our planet and its resources regardless whether or not our behavior caused or contributes to climate change. This is a strange issue on which to assign responsibility (or blame?). To say “Not our fault,” shouldn’t cut us loose from the responsibility to do better. Our treatment of the planet isn’t always that good for us humans.

It’s always been strange to me that with a lot of really serious problems people will look for “who’s responsible!” rather than “how can we do better?” Anyway, the book has gone into the “not going to win” pile.

As for my little spot of the planet, it almost got up to 50 F (12 C) degrees yesterday and only down to 17 F last night. It’s supposed to be -20 F (-28 C) at night in January with a high of 22 F or something.


Happy Dog

When you have a birthday close to but after the holidays, sometimes you don’t get much of a celebration when you’re a kid. My mom even said things like, “I don’t think I can face another holiday.” OH WELL. Teddy and I celebrated our birthday quietly as fits our natures (???). Then, day before yesterday I got a text from the kids’ mom. “We made you a Martha sized cake. We forgot your birthday. Can we bring it tomorrow?”

I haven’t been hanging out with the kids for a while. I felt the need to back off a little. The contest for which I read books in winter has begun, and I’m trying to stock my Etsy store ahead of spring having gotten the inspiration that people shop seasonally (who knew? Every retail person since time began, that’s who). Plus, I wasn’t sure I wanted to be part of a family. It’s strange, but true, that the word “family” terrifies some people (raises hand). Family carries expectations that I know I’m not up to and, along with expectations, come disappointments. I don’t want to disappoint those kids, but I have and I will. All that to say I haven’t seen them in several weeks.

So there they were, in the alley, with a pretty cake, a cardboard box with a pillow they made me so I could take a nap, and birthday cards they’d made. It was a beautiful scene, but truly, the most beautiful scene of all was when they came in the yard to see Bear. Bear was in RAPTURES that her kids were IN HER VERY OWN YARD. Bear ran up to M (and scared her) then raced around the yard several times. “That’s her happy dance,” I told the kids as the nut-brown dust blew up all around us. Dry, dry, dry winter… The kids examined the masterwork of holes Bear has been digging under a lilac bush for five years, watched the birds who live in my hedge and generally hung out in Bear’s world. When they left, Bear sat beside me at the gate and bid them farewell as if she had invited them to a tea party and it was time for them to go.

Bear’s masterpiece


The Bad Guys Won’t Win

There’s been a boatload of dissent in the United States this past 12 months, and, ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration, states are preparing for more in every capitol across the land. The US Capitol itself is barricaded behind fencing and razor wire.

But in and of itself, “dissent” doesn’t mean what we’ve seen these past months. It just means to disagree.

Back when I was a teenager (50 odd years ago, and, believe me, most of them were odd) I was reading Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” and Walden and completely prepared to dissent. Young people were dissenting all over creation in 1968 anyway. Ultimately, I didn’t dissent against the Viet Nam War or racism. They seemed like petty problems compared to the BIG ONE. When I spoke up, it was to dissent from the prevailing opinion that our world is a commodity that exists for the purpose of human exploitation. Of course, when I was a teenager, I was SURE the WHOLE WORLD would suddenly suddenly begin to act responsibly toward our planet because EVERYONE was waiting to hear my opinion.

Serious dissent requires time, thoughtfulness, research, knowledge, the ability to evaluate ideas and facts. The dumbfvcks dissenting from the opinion that Trump lost the election don’t seem to understand that they broke the law or even understand why we have laws, while, at the same time, they scream that they’re protecting our Constitution, aided and abetted by elected officials like Lauren Boebert, who was BARELY elected and is despised by her constituency. She’s not the only monster in the House, but she’s “my” monster.

I believe dissent should be the result of questioning and gathering information; it should be knowledgeable and responsible. It means reading the ENTIRE second amendment not going off half-cocked (ha ha) “They want our guns!!!”

Time taught me that my job is to do my best and hang on until better times. I no longer have the illusion that my little life is going to make big changes in the world, but I don’t think I’ve made it worse. At 69 that seems as worthy a goal as changing the world.

In Heaven

The Black Riders XVIII 

In Heaven, 
Some little blades of grass 
Stood before God. 
“What did you do?” 
Then all save one of the little blades 
Began eagerly to relate 
The merits of their lives. 
This one stayed a small way behind 
Presently God said: 
“And what did you do?” 
The little blade answered: “Oh, my lord, 
“Memory is bitter to me 
“For if I did good deeds 
“I know not of them.” 
Then God in all His splendor 
Arose from His throne. 
“Oh, best little blade of grass,” He said.


Painting vs Evil

Painting has turned out to be an effective strategy in other dark times and seems to be working now. It makes a big difference to me to focus on something beautiful rather than something ugly. And making something beautiful seems to be the definition of positive thinking.

Yesterday Facebook showed me a painting I did last year when I first got the natural pigments. Looking at it (and I like it and am proud of it) I thought, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Snowy Trail (actual size)

It’s been important because in no other sense have I been able to “get anywhere,” especially in these times when so much is out of my control and so much of it is bad and scary. The little painting above is 5″ x 7″ (13 x 18 cm)

Right now I’m painting garden signs. They’re fun, colorful, don’t take up a lot of space, and people buy them. My order of acrylic paint finally arrived late last night (??,) so I can finish a couple garden signs that are hanging fire and start one that needs a color I couldn’t mix.

I listened to Biden’s speech yesterday and his plan is expensive (initially) and ambitious, but I think his point that if people HAVE money they can SPEND money and with the rolling out of vaccines, people will be able to go into the marketplace more freely. I know that when I don’t have money, I can’t spend it. Most of all, his plan is kind. Right now that’s worth a lot to me. I doubt Trump will ever get his comeuppance, but I really don’t care, do you? 😉


Bear and I Discuss Change

“But Martha, you HAVE to sit there and drink your coffee. You CAN’T just go into your studio.”

“Why, Bear?”

“Because it’s how it’s always been. If you don’t…”

“Sweet Bear, you’re just a livestock guardian dog. You think all changes mean there’s a predator.”


“Yeah. That’s what you guys are bred for. That’s why when friends come over, you start guarding them immediately because WHY ARE THEY HERE????. They must be RUNNING FROM SOMETHING TERRIBLE.”

“That’s right, Martha. It’s important to keep things going in a calm, peaceful, predictable way so we all survive.”

“Damn, Bear. That’s what I think, too.”

“It’s obvious, Martha. Thanks for the rawhide. I don’t know how you hunt down so many animals when I don’t see you do it.”

“Magic powers, Bear.”

SO…having seen how important this ritual is to my dog (and to me) I will not take a break. I’ll just do my best to stay away from POLITICS!!!!


Tracking Numbers

I’ve been having bizarre experiences with shipments. I’d say mail but it hasn’t been just mail. It’s kind of funny, really, and in these serious times we could use a little absolute irrelevance…

I ordered art supplies from a large online retailer, several tubes of acrylic paint. First, the package was delivered to the wrong person. They emailed to tell me this and that my package was on the way. Well, since I’m running a store, and it needs stock, I was a little irked but really who cares? OK. Then, the package arrived and it was….

Someone else’s order. A lot of stuff, a couple of things that were useful to me, but no.

I contacted them. In the middle of the night I heard a “ping!” in the distance and saw they’d shipped my RIGHT order. Cool. Now I get to send all that other stuff back. Even the nice brush. Waaaaa. First world problem, absolutely.

The books I read for the contest are also lost somewhere. No one actually KNOWS where. My “boss” says we’re giving it a couple more days.

And then, my dog food shipment has been delayed and the company doesn’t know why.

It seems to me that the main assignment of mail order companies is making sure the right stuff gets to the right people, but… Even my stimulus payment got set to the wrong bank account. Now it’s here.

Life just requires a lot of patience in the midst of absurdity.

One thing that’s VERY horrendously absurd is the little piece of patootie who was elected to the US House from my district is a Q-Anon follower. While the Capitol was being attacked, she was Tweeting the locations of various Dem house members to people involve in the insurrection. The way I feel about her is not a way anyone should want me to feel about them.

I’ve contacted a person I think would make an ideal representative, and he’s responded. He’s currently serving in the Colorado General Assembly and is an awesome guy. I think he’s perfect to represent a district that’s immense in square miles but short on people, mostly farms and ranches, punctuated by one fairly large city and a few smaller cities and a LOT of small towns like mine. Meanwhile I am trying to figure out exactly when and how to circulate a recall petition. I hate politics, I don’t want to play, but sometimes…


And THEN… A LONG month and it’s only the 11th

This past week was a month long and yesterday was the longest week in the month. I learned from my cousin’s daughter that her mom is in the hospital with COVID. She said the doctor told her it was not looking good and she wanted to let me know ahead of whatever even worse news she might be calling with later. By last night, my cousin was on Remdesivir and spoke on the phone with her daughter. I don’t know how my cousin is this morning, but I think no news might be good news.

I knew my cousin was ill. She called me on my birthday, and, in spite of her already having C-19 and a very hoarse voice, we talked for three hours, a feat of stamina but it was fun. When I expressed concern she just said, “It’s OK. I’m OK with whatever happens.”

We haven’t seen each other since 1999 when we partied like it was 1999 at my Aunt Martha’s 80th birthday party. Linda is a few years older than me, but that didn’t keep us from being close friends growing up. For a while we lived in the same town. Our moms were close. And even after we moved away from Colorado, they visited, we visited. When we returned to Colorado, my cousin had morphed into a young woman and soon after, met the love of her life and got married. Our whole lives whenever we got back together it wasn’t as if no time had passed, but we were able to pick up at our points in our lives and carry on.

I lost her for many years. I didn’t have her right phone number, the address I had didn’t work, her email didn’t work. The last time (before this past year when her daughter found me on Facebook) I spoke to her was 2008 when my Aunt Martha died. I was at my Aunt Jo’s helping with the funeral. My cousin called to tell us she couldn’t come up. We talked a long time and I tried to get her to understand that since Aunt Martha was dead, she probably wouldn’t noticed if Linda (my cousin) wasn’t there so it was all good.

I have kind of a dark sense of humor.

My cousin is on oxygen 24/7 as it is. She’s gone through two bouts of breast cancer and various other physical vicissitudes. Her son lives with her and brought COVID home with him. He drives a shuttle bus for the transit service and they both knew that no matter how careful the transit service was, or he was, it was possible. As they vaccinate frontline workers etc. I wonder where transit workers fit into the schema?

This is a long haul, isn’t it.


Sunset Trail

The connection of Sunset Trail to Big Laguna Trail in the Laguna Mountains east of San Diego is a sweet 3 mile loop. It starts in a “pasture,” goes through a forest of Jeffry Pines, around a rocky hillside, down a harsh little narrow trail through pines, and out at Laguna Pond, around the front of that rocky hillside and back out across the pasture.

To narrate the collage above, left to right each row — the fence post where I hung my dogs’ tags when the dogs died; trail through the enchanted forest; wild lilac (ceanothus); view of the Lagunas from the top of the rocky hillside; trail from the pond (pond in the background); various wild flowers; owl clover (I think); stream coming from the pond; Indian paintbrush.

Because the trail was so short, I could do it before school. I did it one day in deep snow with Jasmine T. Wolf and we had a BLAST even though the snow kept falling off the trees into the neck of my jacket. I didn’t care. I was so happy to be in the snow. Ariel T. Wolf and I ran it several times in the snow and one of those times I decided to make a snow angel. Ariel — who was experiencing snow for the first time — watched her crazy human then leapt into the snow next to me and wiggled around on her back. The middle picture in the middle row shows the spot where I saw the mountain lion, on the far side of the pond near the boulders. I was coming down from another trail and she was walking toward the pond.

I got to hike this trail and others in the Lagunas for years, and it was wonderful. There were some pretty wild adventures, usually with range cattle. So-called “wild” animals are a lot more predictable.