Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Found It!

I went to the library and found a volume of complete Peanuts comics. I found the panels where Snoop's dog house burns. Lucy kept saying that he was probably "smoking in bed." Maybe Cuban cigars?

Friday, December 18, 2009


When I was little my dad gave me a little paperback book of Peanuts comics. I loved reading about Snoopy. But no matter what Snoopy books I search now, I can't seem to find the set of panels where Snoopy's dog house burns down. Some people may think I'm making this up, but no! He holds onto Charlie Brown while his little red dog house is on fire and he says, "My pool table! My Van Gogh! ..." Wow.

I wish I could find this episode of Snoopy's life. I know he had more in that dog house than people realized.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stream Surveying

In the summer of 1992, I worked as a stream surveyor for the Umpqua District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Oregon. My job consisted of me and my partner, Russ England, walking up the tributaries of the south fork of the Umpqua River. Russ and I would drive the beat up Chevy truck to a main tributary, or "trib," and began quantifying different aspects of the trib. Length, type, width, depth, slope, heading- all recorded to analyze salmon habitats. We would run into black bear, deer, a spotted owl or two, and ton of banana slugs who would magically attach themselves to you when you sat down anywhere in the woods.

After a few feet walking up a trib, Russ and I disappeared from civilization for 8 hours. We heard no cars, no planes. We seldom got back to the truck for lunch, and frequently ate copious wild blackberries instead. We never felt that summer's 100+ temperatures, because the water was cold and clear. It would press against the waders like big cold hands on your legs. I was stung by several insects (nearly dying one time, in fact), constantly covered in stinging nettle and poison this-or-that, and nearly detonated a booby trap set by gun-toting marijuana farmers. Small prices to pay for a chance to walk in virgin forests.

The only drawback was a painful look at clearcut forests. I felt like an Ent in Lord of the Rings. Those trees were my friends!

I wonder what Russ is doing now?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Robin Hood

When I was a little girl, about 5 years old, I wanted to be Robin Hood. It's my first recollection of a career choice. I wanted a bow and arrow and I wanted to save the poor people of my town, which at the time was Clark AFB in the Philippines. Magically, one day, I had a little bow and arrow. I would stand in the back yard near the ginger and hybiscus and shoot arrows into a banana leaf. I was invincible.

I didn't want to be Maid Marion. She always had to be rescued. I wondered why the other girls wanted to be so helpless. It made no sense to me. Still doesn't.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I'm still a bit new to facebook, but have become addicted to the effortless way I can reconnect with the scattered groups I have left all over the country.

I recently added some friends from high school. These are not just some run-of-the-mill people. These are Saint Mary's Academy graduates.

St Mary's was an all-girl Catholic school in Alexandria Virginia. The school was established in 1869 and moved twice until it finally came to Russell Road in Alexandria, VA. In 1941, the school became a girl's prep school. The convent that graced the campus was built by a descendant of John Alexander, for whom Alexandria was named. Later after I graduated, St. Mary's merged with our brother school, Bishop Ireton.

I can't impress how lucky I feel to have gone to such a wonderful high school. Two of the best teachers I ever had, Connie Southard and Sr Elizabeth, set an eduacational bar so high it can only be surpassed by Ivy League instruction.

It is so wonderful to see that all of those amazing women I knew are still as amazing as ever.

Monday, November 23, 2009

When I graduated from college I wanted to work with the NPS. Back then it wasn't that easy to get into a permanent position with them. So I did the next best thing: I became a volunteer ranger with the Student Conservation Association (SCA).

I spent the summer of 1991 at the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park as a volunteer Interpretive Ranger. They paid my way out there, paid for uniforms, housing at the Canyon, and a $90 weekly stipend for food. What a deal! (I'd still be doing it if I were single and by myself.)

As a volunteer ranger I did the same job GS-5 rangers did. A typical day was never typical. I would spend a few hours at the front desk answering questions, conduct a tour, do trail patrol, conduct research for tours, and maybe some fire tower duty. I immersed myself in the natural and regional history of the canyon, then fed it to tourists in a language they'd understand.

I shared a trailer with 2 NPS firefighters who had marvelous senses of humor. I met Smoke Jumpers and backcountry rangers -both groups whom I admire. I even worked with 2 other VA Tech Hokies! (What are the odds of that?)

I LOVED living at the Canyon. You could smell the rain 2-3 days before the storms hit, or grazed us as they usually did. I would hear elk in the morning and coyotes at night. The ravens were amazing aerial show-offs and the ponderosa trees smelled like orange and vanilla. And, of course, the view was always stunning.

On my days off I would go to the Navajo Territory and eat fry bread or drive down to Flag(staff) and shop. The drive down to Flag took 1 and 1/2 hours, but I got to go through the mountains and past the nicest stretch of quaking aspen trees.

I hated to leave.

The next summer I worked for SCA again as a volunteer stream surveyor for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Roseburg, Oregon. But that's another post.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Kindergarten Library

Thought I'd start uploading my memories to the net.

When I was 6, we lived at Clark AFB in the PI's. My school had a little library. I loved going there because they had little movie projectors from which I could watch short cartoons. Donald Duck, I think. My librarian's face is too nebulous to see, but she smoked a pipe that smelled so sweet. To this day I think of that library when I smell a pipe.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Positive folks

Janell, my co-worker, is human sunshine. She and I had a discussion today about positive people. I happened to run into another co-worker, Roy (and his son), at breakfast. Also very positive.

I think surrounding myself with positive people helps reinforce my constructive inner monologue. We all hear each other's voices whether we are aware of it or not. The words that float through our environment condense inside our minds. Best they are positive, right?

In other news, I miss my friends in other states or overseas in beautiful and not-so-beautiful places.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Nature Photography

This is what I really want to do.

I recently read (but didn't get to hear yet) an NPR piece on National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen. I joined Combat Camera initially hoping to be a photographer so that I could gain enough experience to work for the Smithsonian, NG or NPS. (Sorry fellow videographers, but it's true!) I already have my BS in Biology. All I need now is a degree in photojournalism.

My love of nature didn't happen overnight. When I was a scrawny, freckle-faced little kid I spent an ungodly amount of time outside alone just looking at nature. I studied birds, trees, lizards, insects, streams, you name it. With my little Golden Field Guides, I could label anything.

Mom likes to tell the story of my first Easter egg hunt when I came back with a basket of rocks instead of eggs. Who needs stinky old eggs when you can find rose quartz on the ground? I thought the other kids were crazy.

I still become transfixed by nature. I go to the beaches and just sit and look at the ocean. Just sit for hours. Infinitely better than TV.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov 14 2009

I moved the furniture around a little, helped fix the PS3, got into an argument, settled the argument and started another, rearranged my closet, had a pastrami sandwich with mustard (even though I hate mustard) and tended to my plants.

I'm lucky to be alive and here in the United States.

(I know the first few entries of this blog are mostly complaints, but I needed to vent. I don't know who would read this anyway. I do spend a huge chunk of my day thankful for everything.)

When I was a stream surveyor in Oregon, back in 1992, I kinda had a near-death experience. I nearly drowned in the beautiful Umpqua River. (Maybe this is one of the reasons I like Spirited Away.) When I got home I took a warm shower and remembered that the simple act of watching water fall in sunlight was overwhelmingly beautiful.

I think I have always had an appreciation for small, simple things (my photographs tend to show this), but knowing that I might have lost that human, corporal interaction with the universe was frightful. The small things have carried me through some of the worst times in my life.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Much Better

Feeling much better since I got paid and sleep. Moving up on Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Single Mother Blues

Tired of having to do it all by myself. My brain is such mush sometimes. I used to be so smart. I know I'm not the only one so there is some comfort that I'm not alone to feel this way.

I just need a LOT of sleep.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

फ्रिग्गिन' स्मोकर्स!

Wow. I didn't know I as so versatile with language.

Dang smokers! I open the windows to my apartment to get FRESH air. What comes into my home? Your second-hand smoke! Please do this: Go into a small room, close the doors and windows, and smoke. You can smoke all you want. Stop giving my son and me sinus infections.

I'm so glad I never had the urge to smoke anything. Especially in this day and age, if you CHOOSE to start smoking now, in the year 2009, when there is so much literature about the damage to your health, you are demonstrating a fundamental lack of reasoning.

A little harsh, I know. And I have friends who smoke, and I worry about them. I have more sympathy for those who started before the 1980's. I see teenage boys and girls who smoke. Wow. Your self esteem must really be bad to wake up one day and say, "You know, I think I'll pick up a filthy habit that will make me stink and cost more money than I can imagine. Yeah. That's what I'll do today." What?

Somewhere along the line, someone neglected to tell you that you were just fine the way you are. Smoker man or woman. I'm sorry you were neglected. (I really am!) Now प्लेअसे STOP SMOKING!!!

Wow. What a rant! And all because of my neighbor's smoke!

New Blog, because I can't commit to just one.

I'm really hungry right now, and there is a helicopter above the apartment drowning out my Bossa Nova. I'm curious to find out what's going on, but feel more compelled to type in this little box.