Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 things about me

I posted these in FaceBook and thought that I would be daring enough to share with the world.

1. I find myself more pagan every day...holding sacred the elements of air, earth, fire and water makes logical sense to can we as a population let anyone profit off of or suffer from the lack of these basic gifts from Mother Earth?

2. Although I am not in debt, I believe that debt is a man-made hell. Ask a bear if he/she thinks they are in "debt"?

3. I am inspired by the human spirit...we will survive, our communities will survive, if we share.

4. I don't believe that any one job deserves a higher pay than another - and certainly no human is worth what we pay our premier atheletes and CEO's. A human will naturally* want to be productive while contributing to their community...otherwise shame will overpower them mentally and emotionally. *eliminate the mind numbing effects of drug "abuse" (not use) and day-time TV.

5. I love my mother unconditionally for the unconditional love she has poured upon me. Reminding me always to be the biggest "me" I can be...with the knowledge that she would always feed me and put a roof over my head if I needed one.

6. I am at my best when inspiring others to be their best. We can do this people...greed and fear are not the only answers.

7. I love to cook, more like an Iron Chef - what can I make with what I have? I also clean my dishes as I cook.

8. I am a Flexitarian. (wiki-it) If it's made with love, I will eat it. I find that if I don't mentally beat myself up about what I am eating, my body responds very nicely. I mean, how could I say "no" to your grandmother's famous lamb stew? Praise all the spirits that provided the meal and enjoy.

9. I am an amature artist. I dabble in everything from sculpture to painting, writing to poetry, music to dance. Creation is one of the true gifts the Cosmos/God has bestowed upon us and I believe in exercising these creative muscles to their fullest.

10. Collaboration is KING. Work together and find the answers you seek.

11. LOVE will conquer all. One of the great sages' of our time, Jimmy Hendrix said "When we embrace the Power of LOVE as much as we've embraced the LOVE of Power we'll find peace."

12. The Mayan Calendar is an intriguing roadmap for life. Any scientist or culture who bases their knowledge on the one thing in our sky that never moves (the center of our Galaxy, the Milky Way) will get my full attention.

13. I believe that knowing how to sow seed and harvest game will become more important in the coming years. I am willing to teach what I know to those who wish to listen.

14. I believe that the patriarchy must end and that more female energy is needed in every aspect of our lives and decision making process. Practically, this means that our HEART, instead of our head must lead for a change.

15. I believe that the basic pillars or foundations of ALL religions are the same. That each of us has the ability for direct communion with the higher powers that guide each of us - no middle-man needed.

16. I believe that integrity is an essential trait, that grace must be used when communicating, and that honesty and transparency are a must for social communion.

17. I believe that I am not responsible for a person's reaction to me or my actions as long as I was acting in grace and integrity with honesty. We each have our own filters we must be responsible for.

18. I believe it takes a village to raise a child.

19. I believe that Mother Nature is pissed with our treatment of her and that there will be consequences, however dire, that will need to be met with love and compassion. This lesson will be hard but necessary.

20. I love to travel. I was born in Germany, and have traveled to and through 48 of the 50 states (sorry Deleware and Rhode Island) and have spent time in Brazil, Peru, Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Turkey, Morocco, Thailand, India and Japan.

21. I love the female form in all its shapes, sizes and colors. Its magical.

22. I believe that we've traded Craft for Profit - that taking PRIDE in one's work is no longer the goal...but it could be agian!

23. I believe that every day is a gift and should be treated as such, why else would they call it the

24. I believe in fate, the afterlife, reincarnation, aliens, and that each of us has an opportunity to uplevel ourselves with the lessons we choose to learn or not learn in the current version of our lives.

25. I feel loved.

This is Danny, some of you know him, some of you know Dan, and some of you know Danial. We're all the same, just different versions. Honestly, I like Danny - it's friendly.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Spring Valley Farms

Spring Valley Farm is the name given this property by my Grandfather, Lester, when he bought the property in 1948 (the year my mother was born). The oldest deed we have on file is 1829. The property is roughly 300 acres and is comprised of three different farms that my Grandpa pulled together over the years - Lynne Farm, McLaughlin Place, and Price Place.

My Grandpa and Grandma moved to Spring Valley Farm on January 1, 1970 in the middle of a snowstorm. They raised my mother and her older sister as well as many troubled foster children, adopting 3 (two boys and a girl) over the years. My uncle Jimmy, who is closest to me in age, became a best friend.

Today, my Grandmother manages the gardens, orchard, animals and the main home on the land. My uncle Jimmy lives with his family on the property in a home he's built with his own hands and takes care of the property (equipment, land etc.) while working a full time job .

Currently the animal count is down from it's height, but so is the labor. :-) Today we have 5 horses, ~40 cattle (10 calves in the last week), ~20 sheep, 2 peacocks, 1 chicken (Raccoons have wreaked havoc on our chickens), 1 goose, 1 duck, 1 pig (just butchered, man that's good bacon!) 7 dogs, ~10 barn cats, 3 house cats, and a flock of wild birds that visit to feed (Blue Jays, Cardinals, Humming birds, Chickadees, Gold Finches, Meadow Larks, Crows, Red Tail Hawks, Cooper Hawks, Kestrels, Woodpeckers, Blue birds, Great blue heron, little blue heron, red wing black birds, starlings, grackles, Baltimore Orioles, kildeer, Canadian geese, mallard ducks, wild turkeys - and many more)
Working the farm is such a joy. There are daily chores and an endless list of "todo's" that keep my ADD to a minimum. We are currently in calving season (10 born in the last 10 days - sadly, one just froze to death) and February is lambing season. The timing is based on weather and the fair dates as we take both steer and lambs to the fair for show as well as to the market for sale.

Next week we shear the sheep in preparation for the birth of their lambs...stay tuned!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Taking Care of Grandma

So, its been a while. I promise to fill in the gaps and post photos as soon as some of the dust settles.

The dust storm:
I have moved to my family farm in Barnesville Ohio to care for my grandmother. Just about five years ago she had her left knee totally replaced, followed by her right knee two years ago. However, her first surgery had always been a bit off, her knee always hurt her but she's too tough to complain about it.

Well, she finally had enough and checked in with the doctor and they agreed that something was wrong and it needed attention. We scheduled the surgery on December 3rd so that I could be here with her (I am the only child/grandchild without a wife, kids, or mortgage). Turns out that she had a major infection in the bone of her leg due to the original surgery...that she would require three months of antibiotic treatment followed by another total knee replacement.

Now the fun starts...medicare! My grandmother qualifies for home health care by a trained nurse because she is not allowed to put any weight on her knee for the next three months...she has NO knee right now...only staples (see pic).

However, our friends at medicare do not cover the required antibiotics if they are administered by the Home Health nurse. But, get this, if she is an outpatient then the drugs are covered by medicare. Which means that for 6 weeks I am loading my grandmother into a vehicle, transporting her to the local hospital 15 miles away for a 4 hour IV drip of antibiotics, then loading her back in the car and home. Odd, that the very thing that the doctors who did the surgery asked us NOT to do is the only option we were given by medicare.

Moving my grandmother greatly upsets her body, she gets nauseous and needs nausea medicine to make the car ride bearable. She is not allowed (by doc's orders) to put any weight on the leg, but to get up out of her bed, into a wheel chair, then out of the wheel chair into the car...and on and on till we are back in her bed at home again breaks that rule! Medicare sucks...much worse than you could imagine.

But you should know that she is healing, her spirits are as high as they could be, she is surrounded and cared for by family and when this is all over she will be managing the farm again just as she has for the last 4o years.

I would like to offer thanks to the creator and cosmos for putting me in a position to help. I am personally feeling powerful and bright while with my grandmother. Learning things about my family and my grandfather that I might not have otherwise learned. I am also getting a chance to relearn my animal husbandry and farming skills, not to mention all the baking and cooking that I am now doing.

It's quite a good feeling to be helping with want of nothing in return. One of my favorite bands of the time, Midlake has a song called "Home" and in it is a line that rings quite true for me right now:

"Give me a day full of honest work and a roof that never leaks and I'll be satisfied"

I am satisfied.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

ChefChaouen, Morocco

I am in ChefChaouen, Morocco and I've just finished an amazing day. I awoke to a splendid sunrise whose beams burned yellow and blood orange in the sky, highlighting the Rif Mountains that line the west.

ChefChaouen is also known as the "Blue City" as the color has been used to ward off evil for centuries. You can tell the fortunes of a family by the depth of the blue on their home. The deeper the shade of blue, the more pigment they could afford to put in the paint and thus more percieved wealth.

The locals call the guest house where i'm staying "Scotlandia" because a family of Scots, Terry, Suzanne and the resident teenager, Liam, complete with more 'cool' than cool persona run the small guest house. How cool?, you say. Liam's cool enough to have learned Arabic in less than a year, be the drummer of a local band, and hang with every hash-seeking backpacker that has made their way through the doors of the "Rif" since it opened in 2006.

ChefChaouen is unlike any place I've been. It combines a love affair with nature and the necessity of commerce into a tightly managed and monitored community by the people. There's no theft, no crime, because of the shame, and ultimate consequence of the act, which in Morocco usually sucks. Community security guards, similar to neighborhood watch, are stationed at every public location and tourist hangout simply to keep people honest. the souk, or shop, owners haggle honestly for the price that makes you and he feel good about the transaction. and the food is fresh and fast. orange juice squeezed right in front of you. butchers chop and measure lamb ribs then passing them to a boy who runs the plate to a cook at the stall across the walk, who stokes a charcoal fire while spicing the meat and organizing it on the grill for the hungry queue. All the while, mystified tourists gawk at the open air meat locker and the boiled sheeps heads that are sold directly next door.

It's mystically Muslim...the daily calls to prayer are melodic reminders of the faith that many would have me believe threaten my country and my freedom...yet those I've met mean me no harm and are re-energized about America led by Barack. It's said that his name alone is changing the world perspective. An article that I read mentioned that the illiterate will hear that Barack Hussein Obama is the president of the United States of America and no longer believe the Jihadist messages that are brainwashing them just as our corporate news juggernauts pipe the equal, yet opposite lie into an average of nearly 2 1/4 television sets per American household.

Its a shame that such a divide exists only in fear and ignorance. I've yet to find an Imam, Monk, Rabbi, Priest, or Preacher that has been able to show me in their literature where it says it's OK to kill in the name of their God...why man allows this great lie to continue is beyond me. But I can say that I only feel embarrassed of what my government and its corporations, hidden behind our stars and stripes and the brave men and women who serve them, have done on this planet.

Things are changing though ma...mother earth will prevail.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Edge of the World Music Festival - Haida Gwaii

If you haven't heard of Haida Gwaii (Islands of the People) don't fret, you're not the only one. Few visitors trod these storied shores as it turns out, that is, until the last 50 years. I feel very blessed to have been able to walk the beaches and rain forests of this amazing place.

In order to better acquaint myself with the island and the community I found some volunteering positions to take on when I arrived. My first stop was the Edge of the World Music Festival in Tlell, where I found a magical community centered around music and dance. Then I'd spend a few days on an organic Farm helping tear down fence and cut back raspberry plants.

In exchange for admission to the weekend festy, meals and a place to park my van I would volunteer for roughly 24 hours over a 5 day period. Working on random things like hanging lights to the pit toilets, climbing trees to hang signs, setting up tents and so on...generally in the company of a few other volunteers.

It just so happened that during my 6 hour ferry ride across the Hecate Straight from Prince Rupert I met Lissy, the grounds volunteer coordinator for the festival. Lissy was a 50 something social worker on a sabbatical looking to find some peace and required a ride to Tlell fairgrounds where the festy was taking place. As a dear friend told's customary that you pick up hitch-hikers when driving a I did.

We arrived on location to find a Cirque du Soleil style stage tent...only MUCH smaller and instead of seats there were huge plank boards on cedar stumps - rustic. There was a vibrant community of people pulling the site together. I was drawn to a silver haired man in blue aviators and beard, much like Gandulf the White, working on some complicated electronics set up.

As I pulled into the lot I sarcastically called out to this fantastic character..."I have no idea where I am." To which his head spun while simultaneously belting out a guttural laugh that still defines Chris when I think of him. So full, so rich, it would start at the knees and force itself out through his broad smile nearly 24 hours a day. Chris was a happy man.

The fairgrounds roughly covered a NY city block and was politely laid out with pit toilets in each corner, stage in the middle and vendors lining the remaining border. In all, about 20 tents were set up including the childrens tent which was abuzz all weekend with crafts and such managed by the Goliath of creativity, Donnette.

People really made this event special. Betty, George, Elizabeth, Keith, Chris, Lissy, Rolly, Genie and Donnette were awesome hosts. The music, led by Pepe Danza, the flamenco sounds of Tambura Rosa, and the political rasta beats of MomaGuroove had me sore every day from dancing. Somehow I had time for song writing workshops, crafts classes and story telling...what a great weekend.

There is much more I wish to say about this weekend, but will do so in the appropriate medium...a story. From here I am off to help on the farm and then for some adventure into the magical Gwaii Haanas National Park.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Day 8 - Wednesday July 16, 2008

It's amazing how good bacon fat is at cooking other foods...especially foods that go well with bacon like eggs and toast! Because of the pseudo-camping that I am doing I don't have a full kitchen, therefore space is limited on the burner. Hence, I get to reuse oils like bacon fat quite a bit.

Today's eggs, bacon and toast were made extra special by the discovery of "Chipmonk" bread. A local bakery that we hit up had this loaf, more like three large chunks of seed & nut bread. dense but good. real good.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day 7 - Tuesday July 15, 2008

I woke up today worried that the bear had visited us in the my relief this was not the case. However, my neighbors in 103 did get visited by our young, overzealous furry friend. I am going to take great care in storing our food.

I strolled to the beach today to take in the was amazing. I located a few potential spots for a day trip along the lake and began preparing. I wanted to tote my hammock and creative supplies to a single location to hang out alone for the day. Below a rocky bluff about 300 yards from the beach I saw the perfect spot.

I hiked for about 30 minutes to the location, set up my hammock looking south east into the sun as it marched slowly across the sky. I managed to maneuver between a sun bathing spot and the shady hammock throughout the day while working on my latest art exchange piece for my niece, Emy. She and I have been exchanging sketches, paintings and poems for a few months now and I want to continue the practice as I see her passion for art exploding in real time. She is truly a talented human and should be cultivated and loved as such.

I decide to sketch that which I am looking at - a series of rocky, wooded hills that fall sharply into Lake Cowichan in the center of Vancouver Island. There is a small station of islands that live in the lake so I decide to make these the centerpiece of my sketch and allow the beauty of the lake and surrounding hills make up the rest of the image. I've also decided to do this in color marker, much like water colors, which makes the task even more challenging given that I will need to work with the negative space and grey scale to ensure a clear image. Practice makes perfect.

Many passers by note how perfect my hammock set up is and from their view on the water, how nice the shade must be. I take in the surroundings, sketch, read, nap...basically live like a king on cashews and carrots.

When I've had my fill of sun I simply dive into the cool lake water to refresh myself, it's nearly 70 degrees, but icy on my skin at first...I'm such a wimp when it comes to cold water or even feeling cold...something to take note of.

I pack up my stuff (leave no trace) and make my way back to camp...there I plan to cook and prepare for the evening. Tonight I'd like to work on a short film based on some images of wheat blowing in the wind that I took in eastern Washington on our first day of driving. I'll call it Wheat and Wind.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Day 6 - Monday July 14, 2008

This morning, Ben and I packed up the van and made our way back into Sooke, BC for some food and supplies. Our plan is to fix the flat bike tire, get our fishing situation legal and to fill up on propane.

Propane offers the first "WTF" of the day - the tank isn't taking on any new liquid and I've been using the tank regularly for the fridge and for cooking. I had expected to be in need of at least a gallon. But when at the first propane fill up station (there are two) the woman managing it couldn't get my tank to take on any more gas. Huh...more later.

We head to the grocery store where we stock up on some good bites. During our shopping experience we bump into Kathy, a 46 year old soon-to-be divorced house wife from San Diego who has been living here in Sooke for 13 years. She is quite open with her life details and I notice an overwhelming sexual energy about her. In fact, her nipples rise to glass cutting stiffness within the first five minutes of our conversation. Both Ben and I notice quickly. I try to remain respectful, listen and contribute to the conversation, Ben looks ready to pounce. :-)

After loading up the groceries we head to the bike shop for repair goodies and then onto the "other" propane pump where they too had trouble putting LP into my tank...huh. We stop at the outfitters for our fishing license and then make our way to Lake Cowichan via the logging roads.

We stop at Sombrio Beach and again at the Botanical Beach on the Juan De Fuca trail...the wind is still blowing hard and the sky still socked in a marine layer. The hikes are magical, with beautifully carved wooden bridges alongside boulders and huge pieces of drift wood placed along the beach by the power of the sea. I am in awe.

Our travels take us toward Lake Cowichan where we will make our way to Gordon Bay Provincial Park for a few nights. At $24/night this is a luxury as we will have full shower facilities, onsite wood and ice and flush toilets...and yes, a beautiful lake to sit by, swim in and hopefully, if the cosmos shines on us, some fish to fry.

We settle on site 104, however, it has come to my attention that there is a bear in the park.

He is an adolescent roughly 4 feet tall when on all fours and abut 6 1/2 feet tall when standing. Heather, the camp manager, says that he is not aggressive and that he simply wants food. Oh, and that he looks like Baloo the bear in Disney's version of the "Jungle Book" - small head and big body.

All along our path the residents have a story to tell of the bear visiting their campsite. They had one thing in common, they all had a cooler outside for him to be curious about. (Note to self, bring ALL food items into Annabelle Lee for the evening.)

One lady, outside the washroom, is telling this lavish tale of the bear sitting in my site (before I moved in) going through a load of coolers that he had dragged there. In one he found a gallon of milk, she witnessed him pick up the gallon, smell it, bite a hole in it and drink the entire gallon down in nearly one swill. When did bears begin to like cows milk?? Anyway, the image of a bear drinking a gallon of milk out of a hole he bit into the carton makes me giggle.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Day 3 - Friday July 11, 2008

Writing every day has been quite the chore. Made more so because I am still working out the details of the dual battery set-up that I have. I am hoping to have enough juice to keep my batteries running every day so that I have time to write and work on creative projects. I'll have to get my solar powered trickle charger up and running today and do some tests.

I woke in French Beach and realized very quickly that the family nature of the campground would not be relaxing to me. So we quickly packed up our things and headed toward the Juan De Fuca trail head.

We didn't get more than 3km before we found a Ministry of Forrest campground at Jordan River. It was perfect. Our spot was private and right at the river mouth where we could watch the men work on the log boom. We'd have plenty of sun and the straight makes for great sunsets.

We set up the rig, folded out the AWESOME Kelty shelter that the Mombre crew bought for Annabelle before I took off. I set up the solar trickle charger, set up the solar shower and began to familiarize myself with the life of living out of my van.

One question that I have was how long the 12L LP gas tank would last while I am cooking 3 meals and running my fridge...I'm hoping about a week.

One major breakthrough for the day was the coffee. I had bought a bag of local roast from the Strawberry farm off WA 20 and this was the first I'd dug into it. Fuck was it good. Hints of berry and chocolate and since it was french press I was able to keep the acid to a minimum. I think I am going to like this coffee.

I read the day away - lost in the wondrous world of Paganism. I find it deplorable that the Goddess is not revered in our culture as she once was and believe that the way out of our current strife is to find and balance the female energy...but this is a topic more easily if you're interested hit me up sometime. In the meantime, I'm going to learn more and report back.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day 2 - Thursday July 10, 2008

Diablo Lake turned out a great nights sleep. The morning was moist with dew on ground and Ben was fast asleep. We had to make the ferry in Anacortes by noon and with Annabelle averaging roughly 40mph it would be a few more hours on WA 20 before we got there.

If you've never driven WA 20 I suggest that you do. It is an amazing journey across the Cascades with many places to stop and get fine crafted goods, foods and conversation. We stopped at a Strawberry farm that has been in the same family for nearly 100 years growing organically. (Although General Mills bought them out 20 years ago)

Nonetheless, they are managing the farm and doing so in a very positive way. They were supporting a local roaster so I thought I'd buy a bag of coffee since I'd run out of my Stumptown and an americano to get my day going. Of particular note was the old growth from the farmland used to make the buildings for the farm and the wash rooms. Large curved cedar logs formed the arched, almost Asian, roof line of these buildings, with cedar siding and shingles. Gorgeous.

We made it to Anacortes in plenty of time to have doughnuts at the should be world famous doughnut spot in Anacortes. I LOVE their raspberry glazed bow-ties. Money.

Next we had to get rid of the weed. This was a humorous process as we needed to either smoke a copious amount or we needed to decide on a place to stash what we had left for the trip back. Either way, this was going to be an adventure...for someone.

We headed to the ferry the requisite 2 hours before schedule and found that we were simply WAY too early. Fuck, I am always early. So we headed out to one of my favorite spots on Anacortes, Giuseppe's for lunch. Mike the owner is a trained butler with worldly flare and a wicked eye for good Italian cuisine. He makes his own sauces and pasta and serves up huge Sammy's on fresh baked focaccia bread. We buy some pasta and sauce for the evenings meal and a mountainous meatball sandwich for the ferry.

The ferry ride was momentous for Ben. I slept. Ben took what seems to be 1001 pictures of the San Juan Islands as we weaved our way to Sidney. I was happy for him, this level of excitement was new for me. I could only hope that he'd find some sense of clarity on this trip and possibly find something that he is passionate about. More than anything, I hope he finds some clarity and sense of independence.
We arrived in Sidney with little trouble. The customs officer in Sidney didn't seem that interested in us and we moved through the process quite quickly and made our way to Victoria for a stop and then off to French Beach for our first night on the Island. We whipped up our fresh pasta and roasted red pepper sauce and called it an early night given the miles that we ticked off today.

I slept very well, very well indeed.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wheat & Wind

Day 1 - July 9, 2008

[ is taking me quite some time to get to locations with WiFi...I will post what I can, when I can - dc]
It took a while to get on the road...per ushz, Ben was not up and ready, but asleep in the hammock, oddly, with a wad of cash in his hand. I gazed at this scene for a bit curiously, wondering what in the world his evening would have consisted of for him to fall asleep, here in the backyard hammock with a fist-full of dollars and the eastern Washington sun beating down on his body.

He rustled when I called his name aloud...and on the third try he was capable of opening an eye, upon doing so I queried regarding the money and he took in an image of himself and giggled at his sight and promptly, per ushz, fell back asleep. Fuck, am I ready for this shit?

I ground the last of the Stumptown that I had stashed and brew a perfect mug of coffee. I'm packed, Ben is nearly there...I hope as it's nearly 9:20 am and rearing to go. I'm on a schedule people!! Wait, no I'm not! ;-)

We hit the road a bit after 9:30 am...I've delegated to Ben the job of navigator - one that I covet and secretly keep an eye on. As we begin to pull out of 2210 Washington Court, I feel the wind of freedom blow through my hair. I ask my trusty navigator how he plans to get us to Washington State Route 20 and he hesitated, looked blankly at me and in that moment a great deal of frustration mounted.

I was so disappointed that he had not memorized this first leg, that his enthusiasm was not off the charts (as I felt mine was) that again I was second guessing my decision to bring Ben along on this sure-to-be epic journey. In my frustration I pulled over, snapped the map from Ben and began the process of mapping out our route. It would be WA Route 17 north that would take us to Twisp, WA where we would eat a late lunch and then onto Diablo Lake for a night of camping before we made our way to Anacortes the following morning to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island, Canada.

The drive began like any would originating from eastern Washington - hot and HOT. We stopped at a general store along the way that ended up being more Mex than general, but with the large population of immigrant labor here in eastern WA, it wasn't that surprising. Along with the fresh produce and bread we picked up some hand made tamales for dinner.

WA Route 17 turned out to be absolutely gorgeous, winding along the Grand Coulee, past Moses, Lenore and Banks lakes, we stopped to beat the heat by swimming in Sun Lake State Park. Be warned, the lakes of the northwest provide bathers with a fascinating parasite which results in what is commonly called "swimmers itch", however, easily avoided by simply drying off completely and not allowing the little buggers to burrow into your skin. The water was refreshing and made more so by the two pre-teen boys playing gleefully in the summer sun. I am quickly reminded of the joy that a youthful attitude can bring and dive headfirst into the cold lake water, beating away the sweat from the sweltering summer heat.

Annabelle Lee charged on for most of the day as we logged nearly 9 hours on the road, slowing to climb, speeding with gravity and sputtering once on a long (high g) right turn that has both Ben and me a little nervous given the mechanical failure that resulted from a similar symptom. I'll be keeping a close eye on it. We arrived at the Diablo Lake campsites just as the dinner bells in my belly began to ring.

Ben set out to build the fire as I began to prepare for dinner - Tamales and BBQ sauce (closest thing we had to a spicy sauce). To cook we simply wrapped the tamales in foil and placed them over the fire to the future I'd sprinkle a little water into the foil to add to the steaming effect and to moisten the cornmeal wrapper a bit. All in all, I would sell these on the side of the road they were so easy to heat up and tasty to the tummy.

We rounded out the evening with our first venture into the world of two man Catan...yep, Settlers of Catan in a card game form that two players can enjoy. However, this was too much an undertaking for me given the hour and the level of my exhaustion, so after about 90 minutes of learning and playing, I called it quits and headed in for bed. With Annabelle Lee all set up for sleeping, I was sure to dream away my fears and frustrations of the day and lock away the beauty and bounty that presented itself to me.

I am truly in awe of our world.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vipassana Retreat - Preparing to leave

Today marks the day that I will travel to the NW Vipassana Center for my 10 day Vipassana Retreat.

To learn Vipassana one must do the 10 day retreat while observing the noble silence. "Vipassana will eradicate all suffering, it is a method of mental purification which allows one to face life's tensions and problems in a calm, balanced way. It is an art of living that one can use to make positive contributions to society. In fact, Vipassana eliminates the three causes of all unhappiness: craving, aversion and ignorance."

The courses survive by Donation. "Neither the teachers nor the organizers receive any kind of payment for their service. Thus, the spread of Vipassana is carried out with purity of purpose, free from any commercialism."

I am both excited and scared. I look forward to sharing my thoughts after the experience with you all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

So Seattle

I always tell people that Seattle is the type of place that when you stop to ask for directions you will be told all the great places to eat along the way. There is another character trait that runs rampant in this city as well - chillin. Here is a photo that aptly describes this trait...seriously either lane? that is SO Seattle.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Leaving Hornall Anderson

Today is my last day at Hornall Anderson, a magnificent design firm here in Seattle. I've been with the team for nearly 3's been fun, exciting, emotional, challenging and overwhelmingly rewarding.

The truth is that I am a bigger, better person because of the people. I've never left a workplace that I am so personally and emotionally invested in...I am sad, yet excited for what's NEXT. Which would not be happening without the encouragement and support of my family, friends and colleagues I'd simply not be able to make this "leap of faith" and chase after my dreams.

I'll leave you with my favorite poem by the late, great Langston Hughes.

Hold Fast to Dreams
For if Dreams Die
Life is a Broken Winged Bird who cannot Fly

Hold Fast to Dreams
For if Dreams Go
Life is a Barren Field Frozen with Snow

much love to all of you at Hornall Anderson.