Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween 2008

Halloween was a mixed bag this year.  At work I organized a potluck lunch that was a grand success.  I helped a friend tie a bow tie for his costume - it really looked good on him.  I also put together a costume for myself that I felt good about.

I had put forth the goal of doing something social this Halloween, since it fell on a Friday this year.  I had not heard of any Halloween parties from my circle of friends, so I did some looking on my own.  I found Trick-or-Vote, a project where people go door to door on Halloween, which is just days before Election Day, to encourage people to vote.  The thinking is that Halloween is the one day where people are expecting strangers to be knocking on their door.   With a party for the volunteers afterwards, it looked like an fitting activity.  The trick is that I would have to get there by 5:30pm.  Anyway, I had a rough day at work.  Despite the help I got from my co-workers, it was 5:30pm when I walked out the door.  It did not help that I chose to bike to work.  I was exhausted.  I am not Superman, I did not have the energy to bike across town.  There are time when I have left work angry, times when I have left discouraged.  Today I left work tired and sad. 

On a positive note, I was able to put my newly installed rain barrel to use today.  The shower that soaked me on the way to work filled at least 10 gallons in the barrel.  I was able to water the Winter Daphne, which is sheltered from rain, with that water.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Flower Power

It was a glorious day to be outside today.  Instead of hitting the trails I was at home, planting Daffodil and Tulip bulbs.   I am already looking forward to Spring.

Looking back it has been a good year for my flowers.  The Winter Daphne had me a little worried after transplanting it from a pot to a flowerbed.  However, it has come back like a champ.  I am craving the fragrant aroma that it will give out in the winter.  Here are some of the residents of my flower gardens this year...

Shasta Daisy

The Dahlias keep on blooming...

Purple Liatride and yellow Threadleft Coreopsis.  Go Huskies!


Roses, the new kid on the block...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Smith Rock AYM Weekend

I spent this sunny weekend in Central Oregon at Smith Rock State Park with the Adventurous Young Mazamas.  We drove up Friday evening and set up camp at Skull Hollow campground.  The sky was clear but it was windy, although not as windy as last year.

After a windy night we ate breakfast and gathered at the state park parking lot.  We split into two groups, one went for a hike to Soap Creek in the Sisters Wilderness, while I joined the group that went rock climbing.  We set up top rope anchors at Student Wall.  I have been getting to know this area quite well, as it was my third time here  in the past year.  The first couple of climbs the rock would numb our fingers, as the sun had not yet warmed the rock.  During my three climbs I got some good practice stemming up one route.  On the others I was attempting to working on climbing up cracks, but I having trouble jamming my toe into the crack because my ill fitting rock shoes.  I later found out one of toenails were crammed so much that it cut the adjacent toe.  That put an end to my climbing for the day.

We returned to the campground for a potluck dinner.  My Very Blueberry Berry Bread was well received.  Thankfully the wind had taken the night off.

For years I have been eyeing the trail up Misery Ridge.  The switchbacks just looked like a great challenge and undertaking.  On Sunday I finally got my chance.  This was at the end of a grand tour where we hiked up the Burma Road, along the ridge crest of the Monument, and then scrambled down to Crooked River Trail.  We followed this trail back to the footbridge and then started up the switchbacks to the summit of Misery Ridge.  From here we had a great view of the climbers working their way up Monkey Face.  We also could see cascade peaks from Mt. Hood to Mt. Bachelor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Deep Survival

My cousin Eric recommended the book Deep Survival:  Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why to me.  I had heard good things of this book from Mazamas circles, so I checked it out from the library.  What I found was a compelling collection of stories, some of which l was familiar with.  As a mountain climber, it was helpful to read the author's analysis of the tragic 2002 Mt. Hood accident.

But there was something deeper here than  learning from someone's mistakes.  The author spent considerable time exploring the mindset of survivors.  I found this useful, but I found myself looking for the magic formula to avoid accidents in the first place.  Deep Survival points out that accidents will happen, just do not let them happen to you.  So, how does one do this?

Perhaps the beginning of the answer is a mix of humility and preparedness.  This book made me realize that I have had many outdoor experiences where things have not gone wrong.  It would be easy to conclude that it was my skill and savvy that got me safely home.  That could be a tragic error on my part.  To go out in the wilderness is to walk on a knife edge ridge between deep rewards and devistating disaster.  Survivors realize this and are humble travellers, ever mindful of what is going on around them.  They listen for the faint whisper of intitution and are flexible, willing to change their plans.

If you are looking to learn the rules of adventure, whether it is in the mountains or the dramas of life, this is a good place to start.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blithe Spirit

This afternoon I returned to the University of Portland campus not for the soccer game, but to see a production of Noel Coward's play Blithe Spirit.  While I have heard of Coward, I was not familiar with his work, so I jumped at the chance to see this play.  

The play is about a socialite and his wife who invite a local clairvoyant to a dinner party for a seance.  Believing the her to be hoax, he hopes to get material for a novel that he plans on writing.  He gets more than he bargains for when the ghost of his first wife appears, which he loved greatly.  What follows is comical miscommunication, a love triangle, and attempts to rid the house of the ghosts of the past and present.

Apparently Coward decided to write a superficial comedy about a ghost after his apartment was destroyed by a German bombing run.  It is always tempting for me to try to squeeze the meaning of what I experience.  Is this a play about having an open mind?  Or is about the the deeply intrenched feelings of love?  Then again, I could look at this simply as a light hearted way to spend a drizzly afternoon.