Be a Forest Fire

I wrote this a couple of months ago. It’s not perfect, but it perfectly encapsulates how I was feeling then:

You’re a campfire.

Back when you were a tiny but fierce blaze fighting for every breath to grow beyond a kindling pile, the gentle wind provided some critically needed fuel. It blew you in new directions and helped you grow into a respectable campfire: flashing too and fro with the wind while faithfully providing warmth and a comforting wilderness refuge in return. As the wind grew fierce it ceased tending to your friendly, flickering flames and instead suppressed them, keeping them low and small. What was once a sustaining breeze now fancies itself a hurricane, and it will snuff out a fire that hasn’t grown large enough, leaving behind only a circle of ash that burned out too soon. That small scorched bit of earth is invisible from the mountain top. But you know what isn’t? A mother fucking forest fire. The wind may have decided it’s at war with you, but careless and destructive gales can’t be allowed to keep your inferno at bay any longer, and you will find your own damn fuel and burn down the forest he thought was his but forgot belonged to both of you. You’ll make it yours.

So be a forest fire.

Maybe you think you don’t want to be a forest fire though, because most people hate forest fires; they prefer their fires small and contained so they can be controlled. But the woods know better. Sure, people may fear the flames, but where the destructive winds of tornadoes and hurricanes generally leave only carnage in their wake, a forest fire brings rebirth. It takes out the trash and leaves the strong standing, scarred but with more room for growth. It ignites life in tiny serotinous cones that can colonize the patches once occupied by invaders. The grandest sequoia on earth was once sprouted from a charred cone in the ash-coated remains of a smoking woodland. So don’t limit yourself to some small campfire ring. Burn the fucker down. Clean house. Leave behind only what is worth having in your forest. Fuel a new life from the seeds of a tree that wasn’t meant to survive your flames; the new tree will embrace the heat.

Yes. Be a forest fire.

Chaotic winds may be the end of less robust flames, but yours were fueled by those same winds back when they were friendly gusts. You understand them. While they’ve held you down and even reduced you to embers when they grew rageful, you never let them fully blow you out. Now is the key moment. The winds may still be raging, but they have shifted, and you have a chance to break free of the confines of your small fire ring. Don’t remain a twinkle barely visible from the pinnacles above before you’re extinguished: send out some sparks and light up the night. Be the fire on the mountain. Be the conflagration that roars with laughter as the wind whines in protest of your using it to drive your way to the treeline. Be the force that gives rise to a new, tenacious wilderness from the tiny, smoldering crucibles of the strongest in the grove.

Be a mother fucking forest fire.

Anger and Injustice

I’ve been struggling with the complete lack of justice served for Eric Garner’s murder ever since I saw the news on Thursday morning – and this is coming from someone who doesn’t usually let what is happening in the news affect her personally. Seems I only write these days when I’m trying to process crap or argue something – sorry I’m not more entertaining.

The thing is, I never posted or shared much opinion in general about the Ferguson case because of the ambiguity*.  But Eric Garner?  There is video evidence of his completely non-threatening demeanor and language.  Video. Fucking. Evidence…of his even using the word “please” when telling the officers not to touch him only seconds before 4 men take him down and proceed to strangle him while he tells them he can’t breathe.  What the fuck.  And I thought writing about this would help me process it, but really all I’m feeling is like Earth will breathe a sigh of relief when our shit species kills itself off.

So really…fuck off, grand jury.  Fuck off, cops who thought it was a good idea to pursue some bogus charges about black market cigarettes when there are ACTUAL financial/tax crimes to the tune of billions of dollars occurring every fucking day a few miles away on Wall Street, that you don’t do a damn thing about.  Fuck off, society where Kim Kardashian’s photoshopped ass gets more attention from the masses than a man’s murder by the very people who are supposed to protect him.

I’m just so sick and tired of garbage like this happening.  And as was noted yesterday…I still get to wake up in this shit society tomorrow and be white.


*A young, unarmed man shot six times obviously doesn’t scream “ethics and appropriate use of force!”.  But, mild as the officer’s wounds may have appeared in those photos, he was clearly assaulted at some point in the kerfuffle.  I would never suggest that this justified Michael Brown’s death, but it certainly takes away from some of the opposing testimony.  My friends and family who work in law enforcement generally have a goal to come home alive from work every day; so while six shots at an unarmed teenager is obviously unnecessary, I would never presume to know how I’d react if someone punched me in the face and was trying to wrench a gun from my hands – which none of us can even know happened.  Only a few people know what actually happened, and one of them is now dead, which speaks volumes in itself.  So I didn’t feel like I had the information or right to go blabbing my mouth about something with conflicting evidence and testimony, much of which I haven’t actually seen.  Tragedy?  Of course.  Clear cut situation? No.


I used to think pop rocks were magic

Clearly the most efficient way for me to NOT accomplish something (e.g. writing more) is to make it a New Year’s Resolution.

I haven’t updated this thing in an embarrassingly long time.  I have about 4 drafts saved on here that I started, but I realized that most of them were started when I was feeling particularly rant-y, and people only want to read your bitching about the world so much before they start watching Parks and Recreation so Leslie Knope’s infectious happiness and optimism can fill the black pit of anger your rant just created.  So instead, this is going to be a ramble into something I saw when I was running the other night.

I guess I should start with the shameless plug: I was out running because I’m doing a 5K at the end of October to raise money for clean water projects in Burundi.  Great cause–feel free to read more details at my fundraising page here and donate to my run 🙂

Anyway, so I was out running around my neighborhood, and we had just had a bit of a cool front through so instead of feeling like I was running through a sticky swamp I was relishing the cool night air.  I’ve been at this for a few weeks now, so this was one of the first times this actually felt enjoyable and not like a punishment for being out of shape.  I’m actually starting to let my mind go while doing this now instead of thinking about how much further I can force my unwilling legs to carry me.

On the way home I passed by this gated condo complex that I’ve never really paid much attention to before.  But on this night I noticed that it had an illuminated water fountain in the middle of a pond, and there’s something special about the light, such that it looks like the water itself is what is vibrantly glowing instead of lights shining on it.  I caught sight of it through the wrought iron fence behind some vegetation.

I guess this is proof this whole running this is good for me.  Because I think a few weeks ago I would have looked over there and thought: “Figures, that’s where the damn mosquitoes are coming from.”  But instead I looked at the fountain through the fence and thought how I would have been completely enchanted by that as a kid.  I had a pretty big imagination for fanciful things–as in I wanted to go to the Amazon because I was convinced I would find Fern Gully and become a fairy, and I tried to get all my little friends to read all the books I loved so we could “play Anne of Green Gables.”  I would have found that gated off fountain magical.  If I lived in this neighborhood, I probably would have invited friends over for sleepovers just so we could walk down the street to look at the “secret garden” through the fence and make up stories about the mystical creatures that lived there.  In elementary school a friend of mine had a bunch of toads in the flowerbeds in her front yard.  We would go catch a few of them and give them names and pretend they were rulers of the flowerbed kingdom.

Back to the present…I’m not really sure where I was going with all of this, but I guess the thought I’ve kind of settled on while writing it down is that there’s still room for magic in adulthood, no matter how much of it I’ve let slip away.  I’ve been feeling a real lack of that lately, probably because I find most of my magic out in the wilderness, which the whole grown-up job thing leaves me less time for.  I’ve been trying to prioritize it more lately.

But for now, at least running helps. Sometimes a fountain is just there to pretty-up a mosquitofied storm water retention pond, and sometimes you need it to be a secret garden.

Important nonpartisan (no, really) story for any voter in Texas State Senate District 25/House District 45 Primaries

Tomorrow it’s primary day in Texas, and I’ve got a little story for all my Hays County pals (and anyone else registered to vote in the two districts mentioned in the title of this post).  It is exceptionally relevant to you if you’re going to be voting in the Republican Primary.  I 100% guarantee no partisan bickering on my part here.

Almost a year ago, I went to a community meeting in Wimberley.  The subject of that meeting (see this link or this one for more detail) was a bill being fast-tracked through the Texas legislature by the respective house and senate representatives for the area, Jason Isaac and Donna Campbell, to establish a municipal utility district (MUD) on >4000 acres along the Blanco River containing a long-time icon of the area, the Little Arkansas Springs.  Inevitably, this bill passed, much to the chagrin of everyone who will actually be affected by it.

This bill was UNANIMOUSLY opposed by the Wimberley City Council.
Hays County Commissioner Will Conley (R) opposed the bill.
Hays County Judge Bert Cobb (R) opposed the bill.
Over 400 people in a town of only ~2600 attended the meeting to discuss the bill with the representatives.  Some of the injustices they discussed included (if you’re short on time, skip to the last one):

  1. If densely developed, this MUD could bring 16,000 people to Wimberley. This is a bit devastating to a population who sees the sea of rooftops over in Kyle as a menacing army of sprawl, especially when the economic drivers of Wimberley are things like rural swimming holes and shopping at the town square and “market days.” Suburbia just might put a damper on that vibe. No one goes for a day trip to Kyle, after all.
  2. While Mr. Lamantia (the landowner, who has had shady dealings in Texas politics before and definitely put down some money to get this bill written in his favor) could have developed this land without a MUD, getting one from the state makes it substantially easier and more beneficial for him to do so; in other words, encouraging development.  Not only does it provide a significant tax break, it could also provide limited rights of eminent domain.  Yes… eminent domain, which is not a “private property right” as the representatives claimed they were defending.
  3. Instead of seeking community input and working with the county officials on a development plan (something typically done for tracts of land this size), Mr. LaMantia disregarded those who would be affected by this decision and went straight to the district representatives.  And by “Mr. LaMantia,” I mean his money***.
  4. The land sits atop the Trinity Aquifer.  Wells and springs have gone dry a number of times in recent years between droughts and an increasing population tapping into the already thinly stretched resource.
  5. Perhaps most insulting was that this bill would benefit ONE man who does not even live in the area.  Although Mr. LaMantia bought the property in question a couple of years ago, he lives in McAllen–Jason Isaac and Donna Campbell are NOT EVEN HIS REPRESENTATIVES. These supposed public servants represented ONLY the interests of a man who could not even vote for them and ignored hundreds of the people who had elected them in the first place.

What I’m getting at here is pretty simple, and has nothing to do with your political party, merely integrity: Representatives are elected to fight for the interests of their districts. Instead, Jason Isaac and Donna Campbell represented the interests of a beer distributor from the Rio Grande Valley over their actual constituents.  Neither of them deserve the privilege of serving the public anymore. They both probably calculated that they don’t need the votes of the citizens of tiny Wimberley to get reelected, but this is where you come in.  Stand up for your Hill Country neighbors who were ignored last April, and don’t reelect these farcical representatives.

In the primaries, Jason Isaac (House District 45) is running unopposed, but Donna Campbell (Senate District 25) has some competition, and I’m not the only one talking about it.

***If you check, you can clearly see last names LaMantia and Texas Beer distributors on the list of contributors for Jason Isaac.  I was confused about why I did not see the same for Donna Campbell, until I realized she has a separate contributor (did you check out how this works on the Colbert Report, people??) called “Donna Campbell for Congress Campaign” that donated over $30k.  Donations given to that entity don’t appear to be made public.


Happy 2014!

I’ve been a bore lately, so sorry for that (Mainly apologizing to myself here–after all, I’m officially in my late 20s now. Gotta lock down the excitement while I still can).  However, it’s time I wrote something.  I mean, the whole point of this thing was to step up my writing for when I start my outdoor lady blog…which I planned on doing much sooner than now, I assure you.  So in the spirit of things I told myself I’d do but didn’t actually accomplish yet: here’s some New Year’s resolutions!

  1. Greatly improve my Spanish.  In high school I was pretty good at Spanish, and I can still pick up a good bit of what I hear people saying just from having grown up as a minority in a largely Hispanic community.  BUT, I sound like hell trying to speak it these days (let’s not confuse ourselves here, I can still order food in Spanish…priorities people!).  The good news is, Christopher acquired the first set of Rosetta Stone for Spanish some time back, but I’ve kept forgetting he has it.  These CDs combined with plentiful driving for field work should leave me with lots of hours in the car for practicing and improving my skills.  So, viva la ….something.  I’ll fill in that something once I can say it intelligently en Español.
  2. Exercise more. Yes, I know everyone says this one.  The thing is, I was in fucking awesome excellent shape when we got back from the John Muir Trail, aside from the whole achilles tendon creaking like an old rocking chair thing.  And then the tailbone incident occurred thanks to my own idiocy, and pretty much all forms of exercise have hurt.  It’s been 3 months and I still winced the day after I tried to go back to yoga.  But that’s no longer a valid excuse.  Just because I can’t ride my bike or sit in my kayak doesn’t mean I shouldn’t go take my dog for a long walk or attempt climbing again (I fear climbing will leave me in the same boat as yoga has, but worth trying).  The point is–my body feels shitty when I don’t exercise, and I know I’ll feel better if I do something more than the walk between my desk and the kitchen at lunch each day.  I’ll try and start small with some sort of legit activity 2 week days and one weekend day a week.
  3. Write more. Whether just for myself or out here in the blogosphere, I need to get back on the prose pony.  I once enjoyed writing creative and funny things.  Grad school helped me grow in a lot of ways, but it also led me to abandon my more artistic side, allowing it to wither up while I attempted to squash all remnants of an individual voice in my technical papers.  Since resolutions rarely work out without a clear plan, I think I may start trying to write about books I read.  I didn’t realize the extent to which that side of me had atrophied until I was cleaning one day last year and found a book review I wrote in college of The Monkey Wrench Gang (seriously a must read for any environmentalist).  I could tell as I read it that I had truly had fun writing it.  The same cannot be said for pretty much anything I have written for school since.

Honorable mention (as it is not really a resolution so much as it is a general goal beyond just the next year) goes to looking seriously at moving abroad. Probably not in the next year, but I’ll be doing my research in that time and thinking about a plan. I’ll share more on that in my next entry though 😉 See what I did there?  Forcing myself to write more already!

Retail Therapy?

I never understood the concept of retail therapy until yesterday.  I saw it as a thinly veiled excuse to go buy shit you don’t need.  Of course, I was also a college student…and then a graduate student, so I held on to my dollars like a sloth clings to the highest branch in a tree that it took 3 days to climb.  It took me a whole hour of tutoring to get $11 back in the day ($8 when I first started that job), so why would I spend it on anything I didn’t need? Especially when I was saving up for more important things like road trips to the most beautiful places in the country.  I wasn’t even getting haircuts regularly, let alone pining over some designer purse*.  My “therapy” in those days consisted of getting deeply involved in a series on Netflix or exercising, both of which I still maintain are a better form of therapy than shopping.

But yesterday, after Whatafries and a coke could not improve my mood (okay so clearly I subscribe to junk food therapy too), I discovered ModCloth….oh goodness.

I spent HOURS perusing the site. They have a ton of stuff on sale through tonight for Black Friday.  I haven’t bought anything yet because, after all, I am the retail industry’s frugal nightmare.  But why has “retail therapy” suddenly started appealing to me?  It might be for a couple of reasons:

  • The first is that I’m not a student bumming around campus anymore, and I’d like to look like an adult from time to time, something my wardrobe has not fully been updated to reflect yet.  So the whole “buying things I don’t need” thing doesn’t really apply to shopping for nice clothes for me right now.  I actually need some clothes, much as I hate to part with my dollars. In general I find some good stuff at resale stores (like Lucky Brand jeans for $30 at Plato’s Closet) or shop 50% off sales at quality places like The Limited and give a hearty middle finger to consumerism.
  • The other factor is probably that I have a real job now. I could choose to spend some of my dollars on clothes and it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  I could (gag!) prioritize my wardrobe per Stacy and Clinton. As a cheap fiscally responsible person, the rational side of me would rather use this money for important (to me) things like a more fuel efficient vehicle, buying a house because rent is soooo much more expensive around Austin than buying, and maybe even retiring a little early so I have more time for things that are really important.

When you look at it like that, not spending your money on clothes (especially just to try to make yourself feel better when you’re down) seems really obvious OH MY GOD DID YOU SEE THE BUTTONS ON THAT DRESS?!?!?!  THAT ONE HAS TINY DINOSAURS ON IT–I MUST HAVE IT!!!!! DINOSAURS MAKE EVERYTHING BETTER!!!! ←Actual things said in my head.

And that, dear friends, is how I suddenly came to understand retail therapy, even if I am too cheap to partake in it all the time. And they seem to be out of the dino dress anyway…which is a tragedy if ever there was one.

*I’ve never understood the whole thing with how much women will spend on certain handbags (Coach, Louis Vuitton, etc.).  It just has some f*$%ing letters on it! Please worry about me if I ever post anything about buying any purse that costs more than groceries.

A Carefree Thanksgiving

I’m about to embark on my 2nd ever Thanksgiving that in no way involves cooking on my part…only this time I’m pretty excited about it!  The first time reeked of unmet expectations as a procrastinating 18 year old me was forced to stay home and finish up college scholarship essays while the rest of my family went to Houston (man, I sure am glad THAT has changed…it’s not like I’m writing this while I should be working on my big talk for AGU…oh wait). I ate at Cracker Barrel with my Grandma after submitting all my essays, which was fine and we had a good time, but was disappointing in that I knew we were only doing it because I had been such a procrastinating fool (at least I got a scholarship though, right?). Side note: college admissions and scholarship prompts are terrible…at least on the Texas Common Application…of course this shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

This time is actually my preference though. Christopher (who is writing an excellent inspiring and hilarious account of our John Muir Trail hike here if you’re so inclined for some comic relief tomorrow after receiving ample criticism from relatives) is working late tonight, and has to get to work at 6:30 am on Friday, making a trip anywhere not so desirable, even just to San Marcos for the day. Added to that is the fact that we haven’t had the same day off unencumbered by some obligation or another in I don’t know how long. Instead we are going to let the Alamo Drafthouse feed us Thanksgiving dinner while we watch Matthew McConaughey try to save himself and others from AIDS, and spend the rest of the day doing whatever else we want.  I love the fam, and I’ll be happy to see them this weekend, but it’s going to be nice to not have that visit marred by the stress that comes with the obligatory cooking of a massive meal for not-even-that-many people.

No matter how you may be spending your day, I hope it meets all of your highest expectations and reminds you of everything good in your life…and if it doesn’t, be thankful for wine 🙂

The Joy of Being Poor

Not sarcasm. During our stay in San Marcos, we went and hung out with Chris’s friend Ryan for an evening, and apparently Ryan likes to read poetry to his friends after a couple of glasses of wine (thanks for sharing by the way!).  I’m not a fan of most poetry because so many poets are too flowery or dramatic for my taste, but poems can be powerful for me when they are relatively direct and well written about something personally relevant. Anyway, Ryan read us a poem called “The Joy of Being Poor” by Robert William Service. As you can tell since I’m still thinking about it and now telling you about it weeks later, this one hit me pretty hard.  Enjoy:


Let others sing of gold and gear, the joy of being rich;
But oh, the days when I was poor, a vagrant in a ditch!
When every dawn was like a gem, so radiant and rare,
And I had but a single coat, and not a single care;
When I would feast right royally on bacon, bread and beer,
And dig into a stack of hay and doze like any peer;
When I would wash beside a brook my solitary shirt,
And though it dried upon my back I never took a hurt;
When I went romping down the road contemptuous of care,
And slapped Adventure on the back — by Gad! we were a pair;
When, though my pockets lacked a coin, and though my coat was old,
The largess of the stars was mine, and all the sunset gold;
When time was only made for fools, and free as air was I,
And hard I hit and hard I lived beneath the open sky;
When all the roads were one to me, and each had its allure . . .
Ye Gods! these were the happy days, the days when I was poor.

Or else, again, old pal of mine, do you recall the times
You struggled with your storyettes, I wrestled with my rhymes;
Oh, we were happy, were we not? — we used to live so “high”
(A little bit of broken roof between us and the sky);
Upon the forge of art we toiled with hammer and with tongs;
You told me all your rippling yarns, I sang to you my songs.
Our hats were frayed, our jackets patched, our boots were down at heel,
But oh, the happy men were we, although we lacked a meal.
And if I sold a bit of rhyme, or if you placed a tale,
What feasts we had of tenderloins and apple-tarts and ale!
And yet how often we would dine as cheerful as you please,
Beside our little friendly fire on coffee, bread and cheese.
We lived upon the ragged edge, and grub was never sure,
But oh, these were the happy days, the days when we were poor.

Alas! old man, we’re wealthy now, it’s sad beyond a doubt;
We cannot dodge prosperity, success has found us out.
Your eye is very dull and drear, my brow is creased with care,
We realize how hard it is to be a millionaire.
The burden’s heavy on our backs — you’re thinking of your rents,
I’m worrying if I’ll invest in five or six per cents.
We’ve limousines, and marble halls, and flunkeys by the score,
We play the part . . . but say, old chap, oh, isn’t it a bore?
We work like slaves, we eat too much, we put on evening dress;
We’ve everything a man can want, I think . . . but happiness.
Come, let us sneak away, old chum; forget that we are rich,
And earn an honest appetite, and scratch an honest itch.
Let’s be two jolly garreteers, up seven flights of stairs,
And wear old clothes and just pretend we aren’t millionaires;
And wonder how we’ll pay the rent, and scribble ream on ream,
And sup on sausages and tea, and laugh and loaf and dream.

And when we’re tired of that, my friend, oh, you will come with me;
And we will seek the sunlit roads that lie beside the sea.
We’ll know the joy the gipsy knows, the freedom nothing mars,
The golden treasure-gates of dawn, the mintage of the stars.
We’ll smoke our pipes and watch the pot, and feed the crackling fire,
And sing like two old jolly boys, and dance to heart’s desire;
We’ll climb the hill and ford the brook and camp upon the moor . . .
Old chap, let’s haste, I’m mad to taste the Joy of Being Poor.


This hits me on two fronts–the first and most obvious being that I miss the indescribable sense of abandon and living simply on the JMT now that I’m back in the real world.  But on a deeper level I’m kind of at this transition in my life right now.  Not between being poor and rich, but between the bliss of youthful freedom and limited responsibility, and now having more expected of me.  I sometimes mostly find the “more” expected of me to be misguided, and based largely on what many people falsely think is important in life.  My mom (among others) was worried I wouldn’t be able to find a job if, during my interviews, I was giving the stipulation that I delay my hire date for a month after graduating so I could do the JMT.  What these well-meaning people don’t realize is that I don’t care to work somewhere that doesn’t value this as a worthy endeavor, or me as a person more than just as their worker bee.  One place didn’t hire me because of it, and I’m so glad they didn’t. It was a job in Houston (where I didn’t want to live), for a good bit less pay, NOT doing Hydrogeology. WHY do we reach a point somewhere early in adulthood where people stop telling you to “chase your dreams/you can be anything you put your mind to/don’t settle”, and they start saying “everyone has to start somewhere/you’ll work your way up”?  This all too abundant jaded perspective leaves most of us (even if you share in the cynicism) longing for simpler times, .

No one looks back on college with sadness because they didn’t have more money. Somehow it’s so much more obvious in those years that living in the luxury student housing isn’t going to provide a fountain of happiness.  Most people actually enjoy reminiscing about their ramen dinners, the hourly jobs they worked, the tiny apartment they shared with friends, the low-budget road trips they took with those friends, or even the shitty beer they drank.  My favorite memories in no way involve luxury.  I miss nights playing guitar hero with my best friends, taking my dog for strolls around campus at midnight, and days spent yelling at computers with fellow environmental people in the stinky basement lab in the geography building.  One of the best was cramming 4 people in a Honda Fit all the way from College Station to Colorado to watch a football game we would lose. We played “jellybean roulette” with the Bertie Botts jelly beans we found at a candy store instead of going skiing with all the rich kids who flew there, and then slept in freezing tents at a Raton KOA on the way home, where some of the road warriors didn’t actually sleep in their nipple-high child’s sleeping bag and wore a face mask for 30 minutes after getting in the car the next morning.  It was silly and carefree (aside from the Aggies losing yet another game they should have won) and is a treasured memory…one I wouldn’t trade for the joys of being rich.

I’m baaaack

***  If you want more background on our trip and to see more professional pictures, go check out  Photos and map are under the JMT tab, and writings are at the home page.

Okay I’ve been back for a while…and truthfully it’s not like there was anyone anxiously awaiting my return to the interwebs, but I’ve been so busy since we returned from the grand John Muir Trail adventure.  I have a big girl job!  Hydrogeology is cool–CARE!

When I’m not doing that I generally spend my time pining for the mountains and with them the daily schedule that allowed me to eat multiple Snickers bars in a day and still lose weight.  There’s nothing quite like the freedom from irksome societal expectations that you find while wandering one of the world’s most beautiful places with everything you need on your back.  It’s satisfying to rely on yourselves fully, and know that you only have your own intellect and maybe a little luck to get out of any situation that might happen, because even if you walk out for help, it might be over 30 miles.


Sunset from the southwest flank of Lembert Dome on the eve of our hike.  Smoke from the rim fire visible in the right of the photo.

Sunset from the southwest flank of Lembert Dome on the eve of our hike. Smoke from the rim fire visible in the right of the photo.

I might get a little more philosophical about my trip later (and I’ll probably start writing about it somewhere else soon…..dun dun DUN) but for now I’ll just share something funny…because self-deprecation is always funny when it involves injuring funny parts of your body.

Chris and I had to live with my parents for about 10 days before our new apartment was ready.  I’m very grateful to them for letting us stay there and keep our  whole house (read: mostly my crap) in their garage while we were hiking and finding self-fulfillment and all that.  But anyone who has lived with their parents as an adult knows how obnoxious it can be…this is exacerbated once they reach the age where they spend more time in recliners than out of them: answering questions like “what did you do today?” with a catalog of the 80s and 90s detective shows (think “Matlock” and “In the Heat of the Night”) or the Hallmark and Lifetime movies they have watched that day.

By like day 4, my poor body was desperately craving all the activity it had seen every day in the mountains and was now being denied in the recliner palace.  So Chris and I decided to go running the next morning to mitigate these lazy shenanigans, and then promptly woke up at 8:00 10:00 a.m.  We had somehow already screwed up the miraculous rhythm with nature sleep cycle one acquires when living outside.  Ugh, anyway I was determined, so we went running even though it was already pretty hot out.  I neglected to have food or water first in an effort to get out before it got hotter….you can see where this is going I think.  I had run maybe 1.5 miles (MAYBE) and stopped at the top of a hill to walk.

“VICTORY!  I’M SO DELIRIOUS WITH ACCOMPLISHMENT AFTER TOPPING THAT HILL!  Wait….is that accomplishment or the onset of exhaustion?  Where are all the colors going? I like food and water, why didn’t I get some of that shit??”  At that point I leaned against a brick mailbox and don’t remember anything else because I passed out….on my butt.  Chris apparently kept me from falling over on my head, but I slid right down that mailbox and popped my tailbone into the lovely crushed limestone below.  I “came to” maybe 10 seconds later saying “OUCH!!”  That was at the end of September and my bruised tailbone is STILL making it impossible to sit symmetrically for more than a few minutes.

The moral of the story is…you’re not as badass as you think you are.  Just because you can hike 170 miles over huge mountain passes at high elevation with 25-30 pounds on your back…doesn’t mean you can run 1.5 miles during midmorning in central Texas.

Other moral of the story…if you have frequent contact with my mom, she doesn’t know about the tailbone incident.  I thought it might be best she not worry from now on every time I go jogging, and I definitely wanted to avoid her asking me how my ass is doing every time I talk to her.  So to thank me for the opportunity to laugh at my expense, keep that on the DL.  You’re welcome.

The easiest DIY ever: feed yourself with shower water

This DIY is so easy, I’m only even going to show you 3 pictures…okay really I only took 3 pictures.  I’m new at this whole thing, but still, it really is that easy.  Collect shower water.  Pour it on your vegetables.  Eat and be merry!

So we’re (per usual) in the midst of a dismal drought here in central Texas.  Not so usual, some places have actually moved to Stage 3 water restrictions.  If you don’t live somewhere with an HOA telling you what kind of grass you are allowed to have in your yard (who comes up with this stuff??), then your native yard is probably turning brown just like your neighbors’ and will liven right back up when it rains.  But what about the many of us who attempt to grow vegetables?  Veggies can’t really go 2 weeks without being watered–mine can barely go 2 days.  And while there aren’t limitations on hand watering your garden, I  still felt wasteful every time I turned the hose on my thirsty tomato and basil plants–but no more!  Enter the easiest way to go green I’ve found.

Find a 5 gallon bucket with a lid.
Drill holes on one side of said lid as you would expect to see if it were a watering can.


Remove lid and take the bucket inside. Here’s the fun part. You know all that water that goes down the drain while you’re waiting for your shower to heat up? You can collect it in the bucket. And when you do, you might be surprised by how much water we all waste just waiting for the warm water to travel from the heater. So stick your bucket under the tub faucet or shower head while it runs before you get in:  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen slap on the lid after your shower and go water your veggies!  Simple!  And free!

P1000065Plus, you can also just set it out on your porch in the event that it ever rains again and collect some of that as well.  Even if you can’t acquire a bucket, you can collect your pre-shower water with mixing bowls or any other implement you might have laying around.

Someone did ask me about situations where there is a city ordinance against collecting and reusing “gray” water.  Good news.  Using your bucket in the way I described isn’t gray water reuse.  You’re simply using water from a faucet instead of your hose outside.  Now if you are collecting water that drains while you are washing yourself in the shower, that is technically gray water…but if you don’t have a problem feeding it to your plants, I sure won’t tell anyone.  Happy conservation!