Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Back to School

From the John Scalzi files...

Your Monday Photo Shoot: It's back to school season. Show us a picture of something that represents "Back to School" to you. Kids on their way to school, a stack of new text books, school supplies, parents leaping for joy... oh, wait, maybe not that last one.

Don't be afraid to reach back into the archives for this one; if you've got a great "back to school" photo from 1975, bring it on. I could show you a picture from my own back to school days -- the one from second grade, when I was dressed in pink denim from head to toe -- but no. No. And stop looking at me like that. It was the 70s. And my mom dressed me. Take it up with her.

Take or scan the photos, upload them into your blog or journal, and come back here to leave a link. And welcome back to another year of school!

Well John, they say confession is good for the soul, but...pink denim? 

Okay, believe it or not I have only one photo (on my computer) fitting of this theme.  I wasn't wearing denim on this day and can't tell if the dress is pink (back then, girls did not...I repeat...did not wear slacks/jeans/pants to school, we always wore dresses); there is something to  be said for the good ol' days of b & w film, ya know.

Lovely pose I've struck there.  And the collar...oh lordy!  Would have been even better had I been wearing saddle shoes.  I did have a pair.  Must not have been saddle shoe day.

Feel free to ad lib in the comment section...I'd love to hear it.  Really, I would.  :o

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Clash of the Titans?

So, today I stepped outside and found a little power struggle taking place on the deck.  A praying mantis vs. a yellow jacket. 


"Put up your dukes."

I left the dynamic duo alone while I went inside to finish some chores.  When I came back outside some time later, this is what I saw.

"Come on out and fight you yellow-bellied, buzzing backyard bully!"

Yeah, I know, I'm weird.  I admit to being fascinated by strange things, and there are plenty of strange things to grab my fascination.  But I am curious if anyone else has ever seen anything like this.

I like praying mantis.  Never gave 'em much thought until the day I saw one on a plant and I said, "Hi there mantis bug."  The mantis then turned it's head and looked directly at me as if to say 'Hello' in return.  Loved that.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Easy -- Week #20

Sunday was J-Land's 2nd Anniversary (or Birthday).  So Kelly is asking...

"What was the favorite post you've written in the last year"

First choice

Second choice


Adventure Idaho, part 2

The helicopter returned as we walked out of the work center and we watched it touch down.  With all the activity on the road between the work center and Cold Springs, we decided it would be a good idea to get out of the way of the firefighters and leave the area ASAP.  Two more semi's pulling showers and the caterer passed by as we waited to pull out on the road.  As we neared Cold Springs, we noticed a rig pulled off the road and some people watching the moose, who by now had stepped out of the water and was standing on the opposite shore.   He almost looks like a water buffalo.

A little farther down the road we stopped at 4th of July Creek, where a large wooden pack bridge spans the river.   Rum and Allie joyfully splashed around on the shore while Sam and I kicked off our sandals and waded into the river.  Ahhhh!  The afternoon temps were pushing 100 degrees and the cold river water felt so good.  While Sam played with the dogs, I wandered around searching for signs of interesting river life.

After the dogs dried off we all jumped back into the pick up, arriving back at our camp by mid-afternoon, just in time for a quick nap.  Woke up in time to start dinner; pot roast slow cooked over coals in a dutch with corn on the nob, followed by dump cake.  Yum!  By 9 p.m. we were stuffed, satified with our memories of a very full day, followed by a very full dinner.











DUMP CAKE NOTES:  Use a well seasoned cast iron dutch oven.  No need to grease and flour your dutch.  You can use fresh fruit or pie filling.  We added the cinnamon and sugar only because we used fresh apples (and pineapples); peaches are wonderful, as are blueberries, cherries, raspberries, etc!  Other variations include dump chili corn bread cake; instead of fruit, fill bottom of dutch with onions and 1 can chili, add 2 boxes Jiffy corn bread mix, add one can beer instead of lemon-lime pop.  It's very good! 

Cooking time: 45-75 minutes, depending on size of coals and number used.

Sunday morning as we sat around the fire drinking coffee, Rum was feeling a bit insecure and decided to crawl up on my lap.  He still thinks he's just a little puppy, even though he's seven years old.  Sam fixed breakfast (I love camping because the guys do almost all the cooking  :)   what more could a girl ask) and after clean up, it was time to pack up everything and head home.  :(  We arrived back home around 2 in the afternoon and it took the better part of the day to unload and unwind from the trip.

Another wonderful weekend in the mountains.  Oh yeah...


~~Nature has been for me, as long as I can remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.  -Lorraine Anderson~~

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Adventure Idaho

This entry's been slow to write.  Don't know why.  Maybe because the photos speak for themselves and for some reason I've just felt uninspired after working all day.

Every year, since 1992,, Sam and I have gone camping someplace in the Clearwater National Forest.  This year, the camping trip got off to a somewhat rocky start when Allie decided to eat two loaves of zucchini bread Thursday night.  To say she was miserable on the ride up would be an understatement.  At any rate, we got up early Friday morning, hooked up the trailer, and by 7 a.m. we were on the road

First stop, McDonald's for some breakfast to go.  Couldn't go through the drive-thru with the 27 foot trailer, so Sam parked in the parking lot, and went inside while I waited in the rig with the dogs.  Rum and I got kinda bored waiting.

It takes three hours to get to the camp site we hoped was available.  On the drive up the smoke from the fire in Idaho County was quite visible.  We heard reports from friends that the fire in Black Canyon was 100% contained and the crews were now mopping up.  That fire was 20 miles from the camp site we hoped to get.  We arrived at our desired spot about 10 o'clock and set up camp.

This place is a favorite with us because it has a little singing creek right along side, so at night with the windows open I fall asleep to the gentle sound of the creek water traveling over the rocks.  Peaceful.  A little bit of heaven here on earth.  There are many small creeks in this forest.

Spent the day kicking back, relaxing and just enjoying the outdoors.  Took the dogs across the road for a cooling splash in Orogrande Creek.  Temps in the afternoon were in the mid 90s.

Saturday we decided to take a drive down Orogrande Creek to the North Fork of the Clearwater River to pay our annual visit to the Kelly Creek Work Center.  Each year we travel to Kelly Creek to purchase some of their T-shirts, which always feature scenes from the area.  Proceeds from the sale of the T-shirts benefit the widows and families of firefighters who die fighting wildfires.

On the drive up, we saw:

An osprey working on a nest.  As we drove away, I watched the bird and I was thinking how that angle was so much better when I saw the bird throw a large bunch of twigs or something over the edge, into the river below.  House cleaning, animal world style.  Wish the photo was clearer, but the nest was quite a ways away from the road and my digital zoom gets a bit grainy.

As we drove I was hoping we'd see a moose at Cold Springs.  In 13 years, I've only seen a moose at Cold Springs once.  Turns out, luck was on my side..

Cold Springs, where we saw the moose, was a hub of activity.  We noticed many semi-trucks and trailers for catering, showers, and equipment.  Base camp for the firefighters no doubt.  There was a lot of activity, not the type one would expect to see if the wildfire was no longer burning, as the trailers were traveling up the river to Black Canyon, not away from Black Canyon.  So we began to speculate that our friends' reports were incorrect and the fire was not contained.

If Cold Springs was busy, Kelly Creek was buzzing.  First thing we saw was a group of people rigging up a helicopter, which eventually took off with what appears to be a tent or duffle bag full of supplies.

Once inside we learned the fire is not contained; there are actually two wildfires burning.  Forest Service personnel advised us the first fire is about four miles west of another campground we usually camp at; it is growing in size and had reached the Clearwater River.  This is not good.  The road is open, but no one is allowed to stop or fish along the way.  The clerk who sold us our T-shirts rode her bike up earlier and said she saw burning snags (the tops of trees) falling at a rate of one per minute.  Staff advised us campfires are allowed; it was not the Forest Service who banned campfires, but rather the Department of Environmental Quality because of all the smoke and the ban only affected Idaho County.  One thing I noticed during the visit and inquired about was the lack of hummingbird activity; every year we visit the Work Center we see at least two dozen hummingbirds outside at several hanging feeders, but on the way in I only saw two.  Back at our camp, not a single one had visited the feeder and this is highly unusual.  The clerk indicated the fire is probably responsible, but also toward the end of August the hummers do start to thin out, as many begin to make the journey south for the winter.

That's all for now.  I will finish this entry tomorrow, hopefully, as there is much more to share.  :)

Recipe for Zuccini Bread

Just for you Jimmy!  :)


     Mix together:

3 eggs                             1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 c. oil                              2 c. peeled and grated zuccini (or shredded)
2 c. sugar


3 c. flour                           1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt                          1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda           1 c. chopped nuts

     Bake in greased and floured loaf pan.  Bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 (or longer) minutes.  Makes 2 loaves.

NOTES:  Oven temps vary.  Mine took 75 minutes to fully bake.

I added about a tbsp of peanut butter to the last two loaves, as I was running low on nuts.



Hmmm, no one has commented that I keep mispelling zucchini. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

It's 3 AM - Do you know where your zuccini bread is?

Last night I baked four more loaves of zuccini bread...the two remaining from Thursday night is not enough.  Only this time, after pulling the last two loaves from the oven I set them on a shelf in my kitchen garden window to cool...well out of the reach of a certain four-legged (if only I'd thought of that before).

This morning Sam tells me Allie woke him up at 3 AM with a cold nose in the armpit.  Thinking she needs to go outside, he gets up and lets her out.  Minutes later he lets her back in and returns to bed.  That's when he heard the sound of Allie going up the stairs (our room is in the basement).  Kitchen is upstairs.  Zuccini bread is upstairs, in kitchen.

I'm sure Allie was just checking to make sure Rumbeau didn't eat the zuccini bread while she was on her break outside.


BTW...this morning all four loaves of zuccini bread made it to their final destination...the freezer.  None disappeared overnight.  :)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Someone's in the kitchen...dog house

She gets to live another day.

Last night I baked four loaves of zuccini bread.  I pulled the last two loaves out of the oven at 10:45 p.m. and set them on the counter to cool over night.  This morning I planned to pop them in the freezer before we left.


this morning I walk into the kitchen to find brown crumbs all over the floor, along with the towel the two loaves were on.  Counter is devoid of any loaves.

It's time to head down the road on our camping trip.  Allie has no idea how lucky she is right now because I am not a happy camper.

Oh!  That dog!  Grrrrrrr!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Garden Fresh Vegetables and Hummingbird Hissy Fits

First, a little something fresh from our garden.

Our garden, with the tree farm in the background.  We have tomatoes, zucs, cucs, onions and green peppers.


Gad zukes! That will make some fine zuccini bread.  A bounty headed for the dinner table.


Dinner from a couple of nights ago. A little yummy for the tummy.

As we dined outside, we were paid a visit by a tiny feathered friend.  As I watched, I was reminded of something funny involving Sam and a hummingbird a couple of years ago.

Have you ever been cussed out by a hummingbird?

Sam has.  That's one feather in Sam's cap that not too many people can lay claim to.  <grin>

And better yet, it was one of those husband-wife moments where the husband ignored something the wife said, and...

It was spring time at the cabin.  Sam is busy outside doing Sam stuff and I'm busy inside doing Dona stuff.  Throughout the morning, during several trips inside, Sam leaves the front door to the cabin open as he exits, and I keep closing the door.  There is no screen on the front door and I don't want bugs or other uninvited guests inside.  This I mention to my husband a couple of times. 

Then I go outside to fill the bird feeders with seeds, shutting the door behind me.  The hummingbirds are very active right now and their feeder is on the front porch, just a few feet from the front door, while the seed feeders for all the other birds are hanging off or attached to several trees.  I don't want to try to chase a hummingbird out of the cabin, you know, so I want the door kept closed.  On the way back from the bird seed feeders I noticed the front door open, again.  I see Sam milling around out by one of the wood piles.  I start walking toward him when a small blur and that familiar whirl of wings grabs my attention.

"Honey, why is the door open?" I ask as I watch a hummingbird dart about on the front porch.

From behind the wood I hear, "Because I left it open."

"Why?"  The hummer stops momentarily at the feeder.

"To air the cabin out a bit."

"We've got all the windows open for that.  Besides, I don't want the hummingbirds going inside."  The hummer has left the feeder.

Sam looks up at me with that roll-the-eyes-in-the-back-of-head-are-you-kidding-me look and replies, quite sternly, "They won't go into the cabin."   

Famous last words.

I watch for a moment as the hummer hovers on the porch right in front of the doorway.  Before I can do or say anything, it vanishes from sight, whirling away on a little hummer adventure, inside the cabin.

Timing is everything.

Mildly amused, I reply, "Really?"

"Yes," says he as he returns to his task by the wood pile.

"Are you sure?" I ask..

With a deep, heavy sigh, slightly annoyed, he replies, "Yes, Bernie, I'm sure."

"Good," I say as I walk toward the cabin.  "Because one just went through the open door and is now flying around inside the cabin."  Out of the corner of my eye I see Sam stand up with that deer in the headlights look on his face.  Before I disappear onto the porch, I flash him a quick smile.  "Come on, you let 'em in.  You get to help 'em out."

The hummer is now upstairs, feeling very trapped and is banging into the sliding glass door in a desparate attempt to get out of this cage.  I'm back outside in 2 shakes.  "This would be a good time to get in here since it's about to knock itself out on the glass upstairs," I holler.

Sam steps through the threshold within seconds and heads upstairs, after grabbing the video camera first; prosperity's sake and all (obviously at this point he knows this is not going to happen again).  I'm manning the front door to close it in the event the inside hummer should fly out, and to prevent any outside from flying in.  I hear Sam call down for me to bring him two paper plates, which I do.

I arrive on the scene and the poor little tiny hummingbird is sitting on the floor next to the sliding door track.  Sam has the video camera going just inches from the bird's head, and the bird is not budging; it's either too exhausted or too petrified to move.  Or, worse yet, it is injured.  I hand over the plates to Sam and return to my post by the front door.  The sliding glass door lock is jammed, hence the need for the paper plates...can't just open the door to let the little guy fly off on his own accord.  A few minutes later, Sam steps down the stairs holding the two plates together horizontally with his hands.  I close the front door and follow him out the back door, fawning over the safety and condition of the tiny prisoner now locked between the paper plates.  I am assured the bird is fine, but am not convinced.  Sam lifts the top plate up and the disoriented hummer sits for a few seconds, uncertain of what to do.  Then in an instant it flies off to a nearby branch where it lands.

"See, Bernie, it's fine," says Sam.

That's when the hissy fit began.  This tiny little creature proceeds to squeek and cheep, quite profusely, at Sam, for the next fifteen minutes.  Hummingbirds do not land and stay in one place for very long, but this little guy sat on that branch and chewed Sam out good!  Up one side and down the other.  On and on.  I think he even had a really pissed look on his little hummingbird face.  Fiercely pissed.  Both of us stood on the deck, laughing as the tiny creature shook, and ruffled, and puffed out his feathers during his lengthy tirade.  That high-pitched squeeky shrill just sent chills of fear down both our spines.  Fifteen minutes later, fully satified he made his point quite clear to the both of us, the hummer flew off.

Of course, I had to have the last word, you know. ;)

No other hummingbirds have ventured into the cabin since that day.

Last fall Sam installed a screen on the front door.


Now, I'm off to make that wonderous zuccini into some handsome loaves of bread.  :)  And pack the trailer for our trip into the mountains this weekend.

When I get back, I'll tell you all about Dump Cake. ;-)  It's very, very good.

Green Age Wasteland

The nightly view from our deck at home.

Another fire started Tuesday; this one 55 miles to the east. Wild fires are burning to the west, east and south of my home. Overhead the skies are brown, the air thick with the heavy acrid stench of something burning...ashen remnants of trees and homes cover the places where I live and work. On the radio Tuesday I heard the fire burning in the Blue Mountains, known as the School fire, is now the largest fire in the lower 48 states with over 41,000 acres burned.  So far this year 5.2 million acres have been destroyed nation wide due to wildfires.

Tuesday Sam and I traveled to Spokane for his six month check-up with the heart doctor and a stress test (he passed and all is well :D ).  Throughout the drive home I gazed through the window at the southern horizon completely blanketed by an ugly brown haze.  And I thought to myself, There never used to be so many wildfires during the summer.  It got me thinking about summers past.  In all my years on this planet, I don't recall ever hearing, or reading, or seeing so many wild fires.  Remember Smokey Bear?  Sure, many of us grew up with Smokey's message ringing in our ears.  Only YOU can prevent forest fires.   And if my memory serves me right, his message worked.  But something changed, because during the past decade forest fires have become an annual summer event.  This summer, like summers past, wildfires are raging across Washington, Idaho, Montana and Oregon. Lives are threatened, public resources are strained and people's homes and valuable timber are going up in smoke.  Peoples lives are changing.

Is it because of El Nino?  No, it's not necessarily related to the weather.  In June we had so much rain that the summer corn crops are late this year.  Something changed.  What was it?  Politics.  I usually avoid politics.  I'm more social oriented than politically oriented.  Guess that may change, as well.  I've been reading about forest management these past few days, and environmental issues as well.  Through it all I've kept an open mind, reading both sides of these issues.  But the same two points keep coming up: managed forests do not burn; and the efforts of radical environmentalists interfere with sound forestry policies and common sense practices.

These environmentalists claim human interference destroys forests. Lightening strikes destroy forests. Careless humans destroy forests. Wild fires burn for several reasons, but the most unsettling cause of the increasing number of fires is the use of obstructionist tactics by certain environmental groups. They complain to courts and lawmakers about the negative impact human interference has on our forests; yet by their own action they are interferring as well. Consider this:

    *In the early 1990's they fought the thinning of a stand of trees in the Coconino National Forest in Arizona because it was home to a nest of endangered goshawks. In 1996, an uncontrollable wildfire sent the trees and the nest up in flames.
    *Since 1994, more than 925,000 acres of forest have burned in Washington, devastating an area about the size of Olympic National Park.
    *In 2002, when the 137,000-acre Hayman fire in Colorado reached the properly-managed Manitou Experimental Forest, it burned only dry grass and low ground cover, leaving the large, thick-barked ponderosa pines unharmed.  That same year a large wildfire broke out near Flagstaff, Arizona. It raced towards a neighborhood of homes and schools, but was slowed and fully contained when it reached the surrounding managed forest.  In July 2002, an intense fire consumed entire trees in seconds in a fuel-clogged forest near Medford, Oregon. But when the fire reached an area that had been thinned by the Bureau of Land Management, the fire slowed and was quickly brought under control by fire fighters. (Source: Washington Policy Center-see below for website).

I'm not blaming all environmentalists. I consider myself an environmentalist...not a perfect one mind you, but I recycle everything (which drives my family crazy), if I come across litter I pick it up and dispose of it in the garbage, I use both sides of paper in my printer...that's what I do. I understand concerns about clearcuts in forests and the impact of logging activities on the ecosystem. My husband and I own land in the mountains, timbered land within an "old" forest.  The trees reach upwards of 80-100 feet.  Each spring after the snow melts there is much workto be done; dead trees and wind fall must be cleared, unhealthly trees need to be removed,and a few years back we planted seedlings (Idaho White Pine). We have a forest to manage...albeit a very small forest, but a forest nonetheless. We also own a Christmas tree farm here in town. It's small too, but the point is we have a vested interest in tree health and forest management because we are financially responsible for timbered land. But then, that is true of all taxpayers, isn't it? We are all financially responsible for timbered land. And when these lands burn we pay heavily for it...often in costs that can't be quantified.

I've been told when writing, stick to what you know. This is what I know. During my travels in my state, whether camping or at the cabin, I always find myself in the forest. I am surrounded by trees and forests. I have seen with my own eyes the clearcuts of logging operations, and the charred remnants of wild fires. On four wheeler rides on the land around our cabin, where logging operations are a part of daily life, I see first hand the effects of a managed forest. I get to enjoy the effects of this managed forest. I benefit from the effects of this managed forest. One word describes it: healthy. There are no diseased trees, no acres of blackened charred reminders of some past fire. I've seen the steps taken to protect watersheds and to prevent soil erosion, the healthier stands of trees which result from thinning and reduce the threat of wild fires. Best of all, I see the sustainability of the forest...it's a habitat for wild life. Deer, elk, eagles, cougar, bear, coyotes, skunks racoons, owls, squirrels and chipmunks, just to name a few. And you know, it has never been the logging practices that upset me or caused me distress. The only time I've felt distressed about what I saw is when we passed through an area in a national forest that had burned as a result of wild fire. The sight physically affected me.

Through the news Tuesday I learned an area in Washington called Peola is burning. Peola is where my great grandparents homesteaded when they migrated West from Indiana. I never knew them as they died either before or right after my birth but I have visited the homestead. I remember the lushness and the vibrant green of the tall trees, how clean the air smelled, and felt. As I wandered through the forest, my thoughts turned to them; had they walked this path before? Did they see the same trees standing tall before me during their time here? If I went back to that area now, what would I see? Black, charred trees and billowing smoke.

This weekend Sam and I are heading east, to the mountains, and the river we both love.  There is another wildfire burning about 20 miles east of where we plan to camp and we probably won't be allowed to have a campfire, but that's okay.  As we travel up that road, I'll be looking at all those trees standing tall and I will enjoy the time I spend among them.  For now anyways.  Along the way I'll see the dead and diseased trees, with their sickly red-orange dead foilage, standing next to the healthy green trees.  Soon the disease will spread, adding more fuel to the forest floor.  Those trees live in a national forest but laws and court rulings prevent the people responsible for those trees from following best practices for forest management.  All things being equal, based on what I've read and what I know, if radical environmentalists continue to have their way, those trees may not be there much longer.  Thunderstorms are quite common in Idaho.  And lately, so are firestorms.

I wonder what Smokey Bear is doing now...






Washington Policy Center

Olympic National Forest - A Biodiversity Pathway for Managed Forests

Idaho Forests Products Commission
- Managed Forests Are Healthier Forests

Forest Health Conditions in Idaho

Northern Rockies Coordination Center

National Fire News

Smokey Bear

Info Please - Fire Zone

United Nation Environment Programme

~~A land ethic, then, reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this in turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity.  Aldo Leopold (1949) "The Land Ethic" A Sand County Almanac~~


~~"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more...." John Burroughs~~

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Human Nature

Our thoughts.

Sometimes they should remain in 'our brain.' But not always. I don't consider myself to be a great thinker or even an awesome writer. Just an ordinary person...stepping lightly on her path. I often hop, and dance, and bump, and skip, and I've been known to do a cart wheel or two. Maybe a round-off here and there. And after giving it much consideration, I'm leaving this journal public. Period.

I'm not living in fear, anymore.

Sam and I had a very heartfelt talk about this very topic the other day. And regardless of what some people may think and say...and you know who you are...I will continue to write. I have something to share and say, about a lot of things. I will say them and here is where it will happen. While I had already made my mind up about this days before, I queried Sam about it; he always brings a different perspective to things and I wanted to know his thoughts. Bottom line is he supports my writing, but it was when he said, "You don't need to justify why you write to anyone, including me." Wham! Bam! Thank you Sam! He nailed it.

Justify. Just=properly due or merited; -ify=from.


He colored my world a different color. A color that reminded me that I love life. I love sharing. I love helping. I love writing. I love reading. I love communicating. I don't have to explain to anyone why. Yes, there are people I will interact with who just don't get it...or get me; maybe they never will. And while I do value them as individuals and may sometimes even value their opinions, when it comes to this journal...my place...they have no right to question what I write or think. I have survived many things...the wrath of humans and the natural world...things most people can't imagine. And here I am, still standing (thank you, Marc).

There's a reason I am. I'm going to find out what it is and this may be the very place where I find the answer.

I am...

I am...

I am...

I am!

PS.  I've been without internet for the past week...hopefully tonight I will be back on-line.

~~Family extends beyond relation; it touches strangers and makesthem a part of something bigger.~~

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Amuse Me :)

So, last Tuesday I mentioned roller coasters in an entry.  Must have been a precursor for things to come.  And I've said it many times.  Patience has it's own rewards.

After waiting many, many years, I finally got my wish to experience Silverwood (<-- click to visit website).  Silverwood is a theme park right here in Idaho...it may be the only theme park in the Pacific Northwest.  I've been bugging Sam to take me for years, every summer, but the weekends passed and he wouldn't budge.  Thursday night, HE suggested it!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Huh?

I visited Silverwood in 1988 shortly after it opened.  Wasn't much to see and for a girl raised at Disneyland, Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm in Southern California, Silverwood had a long way to go.  Back then all it had was a train ride and an air show, aside from the snack places and gift shoppes.  Major disappointment...but, it was new and everything has to start someplace.

Then they started adding the roller coasters!  :D


Long story short, Saturday we had a blast.  The three hour drive took forever, and it was Noon and so very hot when we arrived.  The place was packed.  From here, I'll let the photos do the talking.

Sam, waiting in line for the Corkscrew Roller Coaster.

Coaster Alley, as seen from the Ferris Wheel. Tremors is on the right, Timber Terror is on the left.

Silhouetted by the setting sun, riders on Timber Terror fly past the parking lot as Sam and I prepare for the long drive home.

BTW, Tremors was the best!  I love the wooden coasters.  Although Sam said he wasn't real thrilled about riding a coaster that came off the track three times.  I didn't believe him, then later, while eating some Dippin' Dots ice cream (Cotton Candy flavor), I watched that coaster very carefully.  I didn't see it come up off the track, but the wooden frames really swayed and moved when the cars traveled over certain sections.  Good thing I didn't see that before I got on it.

And when we got home around Midnight, we noticed something falling from the sky.  It was ash;  the driveway and Sam's truck was covered in it.  Another fire somewhere.  This morning we learned the fire is to the west, in the Blue Mountains, not too far from here.  The sky today is filled with smoke.  :(

The telltale signs of a nearby forest fire.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Worlds Worse Boss

Yesterday during conversations with several co-workers the topic soon turned to our former boss. Last year I wrote a bit about some of my experiences with this person. If you read those entries you know my dealings with him were not positive; dysfunctional would be one way of recapping those years.
Sometimes when you go through a powerful experience, it helps to have a sense of humor; for me it ensures I'll come out of it with my sanity intact. While there is nothing funny about the fallout of my former boss's seven years with this organization, last night I was reflecting back on some of the things he did; things my co-workers said which I had forgotten these last three years. In that reflection, I saw the humor of it all. The following is the result.
You know you have the Worlds Worse Boss when... ...your boss needs three different calendars on his desk to organize his schedule (but he doesn't do anything...).
...the first thing out of your boss’s mouth every morning is "What day is it?" (apparently three calendars are not enough).
...you are forced to carry a pocket dictionary with you at all times because your boss uses no less than five 'big' words in every sentence (who is he trying to impress?).
...at a staff meeting your boss conveys 'confidential' information and, with a heavy tone informs the staff this information is NOT to be repeated to anyone. He then spends the next ten months telling every
caller and visitor to the office about the 'confidential' information (did the meaning of the word confidential change recently?).
...your co-workers form an intervention group to super glue your stapler to your desk to prevent you from throwing that stapler at your boss's head (order me the biggest stapler available!).
...members of the board of directors call you on a regular basis seeking your opinion about your boss's mental health (the Doctor is in).
...he uses the phrase 'vis-a-vie' so many times you now actually hate those words and threaten to kill anyone who uses them (for this I will need therapy).

...every time a new person is hired, you and your co-workers start a betting pool to see how long it takes for the new person to figure out the boss is a loser/idiot/insert appropriate word here (average time = 10 days, shortest = 1 day, longest = 6 weeks...but she quit right after that).
...at board meetings you tune out everything he says because you've already heard it from him at least a dozen times (add the skill of selective listening to my resume).
…you once loved reading Arthurian literature, but now have an psychological aversion to it after enduring seven years of your boss standing at your desk reenacting Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur (stop the world, I want to get off...please!).

…staff members take turns going with him to meetings to ensure he doesn’t screw up months of planning and give away the farm (four years of college and I’m just a baby-sitter).
...he single-handedly redefines the meaning of the words 'alternate reality' (now there's a reality show for ya).
…you finally get so fed up with his blatent incompetence, when a board member suggests the staff form a coup, you jump at the chance (consequences?...compared to working another day for him?).
And yes, I did win the betting pool, once.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

To Thine Own Self...

Growing up I was always fed the same lines.  Be respectful to your elders.  Do unto others as you would have done to you.  If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.  Always keep your words soft and sweet, for you never know which ones you'll have to eat.  What goes around, comes around.  Be true to yourself.

It was always the last one that got me.

For I discovered as the years went by, that in order to practice the former, I had to ignore the latter.  It never failed.  In all my dealings with people, I kept those guidelines in mind, ever hopeful, ever optimistic.  Generally disappointed.  As a child I thought everyone knew these rules, and therefore everyone played by them.  On the playground I learned I was wrong.  Children can be cruel sometimes, and I soon learned that 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.'  I thought that and I said that, but it wasn't what I felt.

Because it's all about acceptance.

That's all we want, isn't it?  To be accepted, as we are, for who we are.  As long as we don't harm anyone, what difference does it make?  Nobody's perfect.  All my life I have fought to hang on to the beliefs by which I was raised, those 'golden rules.'  I still do.  Yet time and time again I found myself wondering if my parents were wrong in what they taught me.  They didn't teach me to stand up for myself, I had to learn that outside the home, the hard way.  They raised me to be submissive, to be a 'good' girl; life raised me to be assertive...at times to be a bitch.  My experiences caused such an inner turmoil I often felt like an unbelted passenger on a wild roller coaster ride, hanging on to the seat...the sides...anything...for dear life.  And I love roller coasters.  But not this kind.  It's that slamming back and forth, against the sides, the sudden feeling of flying helplessly through the air and crashing back down on the seat.  Left me feeling battered and bruised.  Confused.  Not fun.


I've been told I'm too sensitive.  Too sensitive.  I can walk into a room and immediately sense the mood, the feelings of the people in the room.  Sometimes I absorb those feelings, when I should be protecting myself against them.  On those occasions when I absorb the feelings, and they are negative, I am aloof and standoffish toward those individuals.  Interaction with negative people will lead to a negative moment.  In an act of self-preservation, I avoid them.  If they are in a bad mood, I have no desire whatsoever to be in their space.  Why should I subject myself to that?  But sometimes you can't avoid them, because like it or not, someone will put themself right in your space, with one goal in mind.  To catch you off guard and throw you off balance.  There are people who honestly delight in such activities, I think it makes them feel better.  Try as I may, I can not wrap or align myself around that line of thinking or behavior.  It's like a foreign language and I don't understand it.  I don't want to.

Those times I stood up for myself generally backfired on me.  Whether my motive was misunderstood, or emotions were just too high at that time, I found myself on the losing end of a bad situation.  I felt alone, out- numbered, out-witted, out-cast, with no recourse in my favor.  Sooner or later, the truth will be known, but for now I will concede.  Remember the 'golden rules.'  I hate those moments, because in an effort to be true to myself, something went amiss, and I ended up be-traying myself.   I always tell myself this is just another test.  Another test of my character; if I do it right, I will be a better person in the long run.

This I know to be true.  Life is about learning.  But sometimes I wonder which learning curve I'm on and whether or not I'm in the right class.

Am I still a student...or maybe I became a student teacher... 

And One More Thing...

I hate...strongly dislike taking minutes.

I hate...strongly dislike typing minutes.