Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Silent Nights

We used to put these amazing lights on my family christmas tree. They were multi colored, the small bulbs, and had about 7 different settings. We needed two strands to surround the whole tree. We put our tree in this fancy room that I can never remember what to call it; family room? living room? After 20 years in that house I still refer to either as "tv room" or "piano room". Anyway - we put our tree in the piano room, with wooden floors, dark green walls, and fancy paint / plaster designs on the white ceiling.
My family of five plus an entourage of pets has always been busy. Baking, shopping, jobs, school, everyone would whirl around; in and out of the house, around the house. It was never too hard to slip away from all of it unnoticed.
I like to slip away.
All the years we used those lights my favorite part of Christmas was the way they reflected on the ceiling. With life swirling around me, the cold settled into the hills and valleys of Botetourt County, I would tweak those lights to my liking and settle into the best spot in the house. Quiet and still on the rug I would lie on my back watching rhythms and colors flash around shadowed fir, pine or spruce.
My own version of a Virginia Aurora Borealis.

Last Christmas was my first Christmas away from Botetourt. Geronimo and I bought a wreath of western pine and red cedar and snuggled up quietly in Missoula, Montana. Sad as it was to not be amongst family - there was a special magic to the eve and day, a quiet slipped away feeling.

This year is my sister's first Christmas away from Botetourt. She has no snow, no hurried holiday shopping - just young Tanzanian orphans celebrating the coming of summer and reciting bible verses of the Christmas story. She skypes us a lot.

We have a really lovely douglas fir in the piano room right now. While our parents were at work my brother and I strung some lights in the boughs. We had bags to choose from - blue icicle, huge colorful bulbs similar to downtown Fincastle, a white light coil, and singing bells. Deciding to keep things in the white light category we opted for the coil and bells. You have to press Santa's eyebrows a few times on that bell controller to stop those things from singing - they're so obnoxious when they sing. So there's this filtered glow, and a bit of blinking from the bells. Mom put all the ornaments on herself after work yesterday.

Years of rug laying and light watching pulled me to the room after everyone else was in bed. I stood at the doorway and took in the scene. But it wasn't there. That hushed mystic escape. The tranquil meditation of a girl lost in dim light, rhythm, and the smell of pine.

And the funny thing about magic- you can't really get IT back. It just sort of - is. And I wonder what's changed so much in my life. If I'm capable of that wonder and quietness again.

Maybe I drink too much coffee for that stillness.

Maybe I don't breathe deep enough.

But sometime this winter, I hope I will, and whatever form that mystic escape takes, I hope the magic finds me again.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

With the days living faster now We cast our make pretends Extra heat demands A rising constant power Darkness taking days...

Cold November rain veils pine boughs and boney decidious limbs. The white of low clouds brings soft filtered light, steady drizzle sparkles the foreground.
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.
Those who want to keep their life will surely lose it, and those willing to give it up will find life to the fullest.
Things we know and may not recognize as the hypothetical having become real - personal.
Are these morals actually something we WILL live by?
I curl up on my Grandmother's couch. Forever a rebel rouser - I let Geronimo join me; because it's my couch now- covered in my comforter AND with cold feet buried under his warm fur I'm quite cozy.
This year I spent the second Thanksgiving that I can remember at my parents house instead of with our extended family in Keyser, WV. My grandmothers are gone, the older cousins balance holidays between our family and their spouse's family - and so another generation begins their own traditions.
No one talks about that part much. But I notice it. Montana snuck into my traditions and I find myself missing Dacia and the other Native Americans who welcomed me into their home and family during so many holidays. And the quietness. I miss the quiet space of Montana.
But I try to season the egg noodles and be supportive about pie from a box. You got what you got after all.
The first second cousin on my mothers side was born, on my birthday. And my mother left this note "Happy Birthday to YOU!! 26 years ago today you can rushing in to our lives 3 weeks early and haven't slowed down yet. You took a peek at the world with your big brown eyes and were ready to spread your love and joy!!"
Sounds like Seth Grayson may be a handful if birthdays and stars have anything to do with who a person becomes.
I will be a bridesmaid for the first time next fall. I get to put my two cents on wedding photographers and eagerly volunteered to help taste cakes. So the running buddies grow up.
In a few days I'll wake up in another running buddies home. I hope the first thing I see is her two year son grinning in my face. We're going to craft Christmas cards.
I have really amazing friends - for which I'm speachlessly thankful.
After three shots of espresso and hours of photo editing one sat in front of me, divulging the details of a recent break up. As we parted the only hope I could give is that - I understand - because romance frustrates me too- but our friends - how blessed we are for that love.
Before sleep that night Low tells me, "All this motion you know? The pushing and prying forward?
It's all just a life-long walk to the exact same spot."

He's one of the best food for thought chefs I know.
So it all marinates.

Journey. Destination. Somethings Old. Somethings New. Many things borrowed. Too much hope and motion to be blue.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ode to 11

I don't get out much. Which is ironic I suppose.... considering I live "out" of what most folks consider mainstream. But here I sit in my "town" clothes listening to jazz and buzzing off espresso as people flit in and out of these doors like the syncopated trumpeted backdrop.
My 40 minute drive through Shenandoah Valley farmland, the Shenandoah River jumbled into the town of Front Royal. Which is really a story in and of itself - I have never understood this town.
Driving out of the woods, watching territory move outside my windows has me thinking about November. Beautiful November. With it's deep angled sunlight. White puffy clouds are shadowed in deep blue/ grey/ purple undertones. Few golden leaves quake in a chilly breeze. Mountain ridges and hollers are showcased one last time before Appalachia relaxes to boney silhouettes.
Silos and rippling rivers reflect golden glares from this vibrant scene.
Stakes are higher as ripe fruits are harvested, wood is chopped and we begin to hunker down for holidays, friends, family and the simple pleasures of cleansing cold.... creeping closer... with every sunset.
Chilly shivers warmed with golden filters of all that was, is, and is bound to come.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Show Me

It has come to my recent attention that I use the words beautiful and brilliant a lot.
This, along with my recent considerations of the prevalence of "love" in my dialect leads me to a personal challenge... omitting them.
The theory of love languages proposes multiple ways of communicating affection ; quality time, service, verbal, physical and gifts.
In short - if love is an emotion - how is it expressed?How much there must be beyond three spoken words.
So it is my current challenge to use other languages to express emotions. Beauty, brilliance, and love.
Perhaps I could tell you about golden sunlight, wind whipping 4th graders' hair and journal papers, warm stoney cliffs with rippling rain water pools. Perhaps I could tell you of cruising across crisp leaves peppering the Appalachian Trail, the turbulence of waves across a man-made lake as 10 year olds in blaze orange PFDs soaked in this ever present autumn light canoe through what could be the next cover of LLBean's fall catalog.
After spaghetti and garlic bread Sophia and I giggled until we cried over birthday cake and nothing at all.
Two years ago I was on top of Springer Mountain in Georgia October 7. Today is a good day for mountain tops.
It dawned on me today this life at Mountain Campus, through full of unique challenges is the most personally serene fall I've had in years. No homeless sleeping in cars or finding mattresses in alleys, no rainy north Georgia days to walk through giardia, no commutes after choffee dates and before scrounging for dinner.
Nope. Things are pretty simple around here. Wake up, eat, keep to the day's schedule while serving / protecting/ teaching students and other instructors, sleep, repeat.
At morning meeting today Izzie gave her class a quote "Life is a grand adventure, or not at all". Students interpreted this as unless you're on a grand adventure you're not really living.
But I've been wondering.... whether it feels like it or not.... we're always living. So maybe the true point is to LIVE a grand adventure; in southern terminuses, homelessness, unemployment, homecomings, restlessness, quiet breathing, pumpkin parties and pumpkin ales. All of it jumbled into the epic pages of simply complex adventures.
Maybe the "not at all" part isn't possible.
Yeah. I'm calling that bluff.
How could life not be a grand adventure?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A time for every purpose under heaven...

I am currently wearing an over the ears tassel hat, silk tank, long-sleeve shirt, sweater, synthetic puffy jacket, leggings, dance pants, a skirt, and socks. I kicked off the insulated furry boots to curl up on the staff house couch.
What a long day. What a full few days. Driving, scenery changes, loved ones, meaningful conversations, stressful work situations, more driving.
3 gents I love are safely home from a Mexico - Canada walk. It's so crazy how different and similar their worlds have been and are now. What they've each returned to, and how they're deciding which direction to progress in. It reminds me a lot of fall 2008 as I struggled through the southern section of the Appalachian Trail and fall 2009 as I struggled through finding a home and setting up my Montana life.
This weekend's theme has been life; what it gives us and how we feel about it. And a handful of people I love have weighed in on the matter.
Such brilliance and desperation, such blessing and restlessness. All rolled up into a breathing beating passage of time.
Two friends are reading Ecclesiastes with me as we try to find time in a 90+ hour work week to talk about what these words mean. There is a time for everything. There is much chasing after the wind and vanity in the world around us.
Yet diamonds sparkle in the rough, simple carbon having gone through enough heat and pressure to catch light, reflecting to the world around them.
How beautiful love is in times like these. How beautiful life can be with love.
As autumn light deepens colors and vibrance around me, these mountains drive me to rag tag outfits of layer after layer, I try to focus on each moment. The light, love, blessing and grace they bring.
And warmth.
What a perfect season.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chilly Nights

September 13.
Night is so quiet here with empty tents.
Crickets chirp in a reserved sort of way, my ceiling fan hums.
A familiar almost comforting chill hits my skin on a long walk to the flush toilet.
Days are shortening exponentially, harkening back to a time not so long ago when every hour of daylight was a hope of warmth and radiance, pulsing through miles before the dark cold sparkle of night set in.
You're pushing through that now and I think about you all the more.
Le ciel est a tout le monde.
And lately I think about different places. That they grow us, but into a surprising acceptance that nothing happens there that doesn't happen here.
Sarah once told me life in France is still just life... only French.
How brilliant.
Montana. France. Washington. the Virginias.
Just life. Happening.

The only views from this cabin are the windowed doors and a skylight. I crawled onto my roof today, detailed my portal a la ciel.
I lay here now wondering these things, feeling alone, missing your strength.
What clarity comes from pondering the heavens?
I might build a ladder to attach to the cabin, or ghetto rig the sky light to open all the way; like a portal back to fairy tale land.
How odd to find myself needing you to root me.
Not knowing where or how to proceed from here I put my grumbling belly to bed.
Tomorrow is another opportunity, in the midst of shortening light, always under the same sky.

September 14.
How I love thee.
The way a day sinks into rest; as if my anxious ways could set over a horizon. As if the vibrance left of the days' color IS the light into my tunnel.
Insignificance and purpose all reflecting in a night sky.
Light. Color. And the appreciation for all of it when there is little around me. How brilliant each trace is.
This Earth around me breathes an excited content to nestle it's creatures in dirt and gentle breeze.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale stared back at me from the grocery store cooler tonight. I thumbed through yellow and red sunflowers, then settled into Etzler with a plate full of Indian feast.
I retreat to this room - glowing with warm wood, crimson curried colors: nature and art.
With a fan on, "Be Thankful" candle lit, and window half down I collapse into night.
After a blowing quick rain storm the driveway glistens wet. Crickets and a few lingering ciacadas sing the starlit tune.
Peace. Joy.
I smile - realizing - finally. I am here. now.
With deep breaths of relief my eyes fade shut.
No music. No phone.
here. for the harvest.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"I walked past Allendale and all the lights were off" my new text said last night. Allendale, the scene for the brilliant life chapter between college and thru hiking. Kind of sad, kind of fitting.
I've spent the past week resting, recooping, and recharging from months of motion. I've spent it in the familiar stomping grounds of Roanoke / Botetourt. Life is so brilliant here; despite my transient existence where the only seeming constant is change. Coming here I seamlessly pick up the longest dearest friendships of my life with drinks, meals, walks, talks, adventure. We make quality time together a priority and nourish one another holistically.
I do miss this place while I'm gone. Still - not enough to reside here indefinately.
This week I have bounced between a fullness nearing elation and a fullness of desire deep enough to ache restless in wee small hours under a waxing moon. All within the quiet contentment trademark of my current life chapter.
Small realizations this week: my brother is an amazing person, my friends are loving hilarious and so giving, The New River is my favorite in Virginia, I adore a spacious comfy bed, and I still need to "pick a duck and shoot".
Fall season starts tommorrow while butterflies gather licking salty ground in these late summer days. Last fall homeless nights were spent in stress. Two falls ago there was summit, giardia and retreat. There is never an expectation of perfection - only a quest to live the fullest joyful life possible. Perhaps I'm fine tuning things.
Regardless, the nights are cooling, days shortening, and I intend to breathe deeper.
A quiet calling to prayer and letting guards down lures me into this new season.
Besides, the lights are off and I no longer hold keys to the past. So I look to the present and future with hope and grounded roots.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


There are many silences in my life which settle me into this rolling landscape. The warrior you once comforted seems to lie dormant amidst urban youth discovering the natural world. There is caving, canoeing, road tripping, rafting, backpacking, hang gliding. There are loud songs and silly sayings. Exploration and mild adventure.
New chapters.
You must understand by now that this tale each of our lives develops has chapters, each distinct from those before and after the one we are living now.
I thought last winter was quiet. But there was a restless quest inside me turning in turmoil for spring to shake out. Spring has passed. The quietness inside me these days is different.
I miss Alta Mons. Sometimes when that landscape crosses my mind I feel as though I've been exiled from my home.
I miss my friends. How odd to be geographically close to so many loved ones and logistically hindered from spending time with them.
I miss Montana. The snowmelt water. The mega wild pulsing just outside myself.

Geronimo is perhaps the happiest he's ever been. He has developed a "Tramp" like existence spending all day everyday by my side or doing whatever he wants. He knows what to time to show up at the kitchen back door for snacks from the cook, where to go for movie and popcorn time and when staff take evening runs he can dog around with Bizzy, a frisbee catching border collie. So far that is the best part of my life here.

Between that, time with Ben, learning to hang glide and coveted time in WV's New River Gorge I am thankful for this time in the Appalachians. But looking forward to four months off this winter.

I suppose this is my first chapter which began with a measure of distance from my past thru hiking life. And somewhere between age and seasons that feels very noticable. I worked and lived here for weeks before those beside me knew my past -Glacier, the AT, Outdoor Trails. Experiences so dear to me, yet my former desire to broadcast them has subsided. It is enough for me. Enough to treasure them in my heart rather than showcase that past.

Sometimes I think I am lonely here. That I need another to be part of this, to understand it and me, to share myself with. Sometimes I wonder if God's put me here to work through our issues. God and me that is. It's been too long since I traversed forests and creek beds in conversation with the divine.

So this silence hovers like fog, whether it's of dusk or dawn is unknown to me. But it seems as if a peace and fulfillment is so near I could reach out and grab it.

You and I used to speak of feeling alive through pain and struggle. Euphoric from primal joy and suffering. Being thankful. Between geographic and logistical distance most talk of such principles lies dormant; resonating in the heart and soul of memories rather than in my ears.

But I am beginning to live here. In quiet evenings with my saxophone on the back porch. In the way these branches quake before a storm. In the sunset soaked clouds that peek above this pine surrounded field.

There is heat, sweat, and hard work - slowly I feel my legs strengthening and spirit stirring. In a sleepy sort of way.

I wonder what these children take with them after leaving this place. I wonder if they feel magic here like I do in places I have lived, loved, and come to understand.

I wonder what shooting stars will collide with my path and when.

Know that I think of you, and hope.

That your dreams stay big, your worries stay small, you never need to carry more than you can hold.

Monday, July 26, 2010


After weeks of spring students, medical training, and a major push with 14 days of leading 9th graders through caves, ropes courses, rivers, National Park land, multiple states, and hang gliding I finally have some down time working around camp as support.
It is a welcome lull in summer season.
Today was perhaps the first pleasant day of summer -temperature in the 80s, light breeze cooler in the morning and now at night. Summer should never be over 90 degrees - thank you.
After helping with breakfast and lunch and cleaning/ restashing equipment I had a few sweet hours to myself before dinner. Retreating to my cabin I continued unpacking and "nesting" a process that has taken many small sessions since moving here June 1st. I'm getting close to settled. Before I know it nows will be falling and my tiny cabin will be vacant for four months.
But for now - it' becoming quite cozy.
After serving and cleaning up dinner I retreated again to my humble abode, deeming it just as good a time as any to pick up my saxophone (which I haven't played much since 1998). So I sat on my porch in the woods playing sax while Geronimo frolicked about with his football. By lunch tomorrow all our campers will be out of base camp on trips. I love quiet solitude time =)
There are a handful of important things I've been searching for lately - all the more incentive to unpack / clean. Since leaving Montana I've misplaced an important watch, a drivers license, and countless other items. I've found a favorite Damien Rice CD, a key to my parents' place and more paperwork than I should've moved across the country.
It gets me to thinking about life: loss, gain, and status quo.
I've lost and gained much since leaving my beautiful 1920s apartment in Raleigh Court pre AT hike. Perhaps it balances out. Perhaps I've gained more than lost.
Depends on which day you ask me.
I was once told life is a balance of holding on and letting go.
So it is.
When the full moon rises over the woods on this Shenandoah Valley I think here. for now. is fine enough. I know not what comes in months or a year from now.
Such is life.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Forming, Norming, Storming, Performing

In any team building facilitators course you learn this is the process group adjustment. I think of this often as I join new groups and immerse myself in life's newest chapter. I guess it's comparable to understanding the process of grief; the expectation of certain feelings seems to help life feel natural and content. Here at Mountain Campus, after three weeks of work I'm probably still in the first stage.
It took a week to get a vague understanding of my co workers and job expectations. At least two to get Geronimo acclimated to everything (he's working hard too entertaining kids and digging holes to plant trees in). And now in our third week we are wrapping up Spring season with our last school group before two weeks of training usher in summer camp, which will bring a nearly all new staff. Starting early has afforded me the opportunity to shadow co workers in real life situation, but I'm excited to officially go through training and have a more through picture to life and work around here.
Shenandoah in one word? exhausting.
I think a lot about other loves. And by that I mean geographic ;) Glacier, Camp Alta Mons, lands I feel so connected to it's hard not to reminisce and long for those familiar lands which sparkle with fond memory. This week however Shenandoah is starting to seep into more recent memory. My first SSMC hike into Shenandoah National Park to a cool swimming hole filled with tadpoles. My first canoe trip down the Shenandoah River peppered with shoving canoes off rocks, sweeping 13 boats of fourth graders down stream, my brilliant students spotting bald eagles and herons, all complete with the fierce typical afternoon thunder storm, topped off with gorgeous evening light. These wonderful children will be on their way back to Washington DC before I know it and the next two weeks I'll trade my teaching ways in for student notes in wilderness first aid and procedures around campus.
I am seeing a lot of my family, which is nice as my older sister will soon be leaving for a year in Tanzania Africa.
I miss my friends out west terribly. And in the east for that matter as my rigorous schedule offers little personal time.
The days get longer. Summer sneeks around a river bend.
such is life.
Geronimo and I - we are here. We are open and leaning.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


When these southern Appalachians cool off in the aftermath of a fierce summer storm they are nothing short of intoxicating. Evening light floods the valley to the east of the ridge that Shenandoah National Park encompasses. Leaves whisper in the post rain breeze. Memories rush into corners of my mind and heart, flooding out the cobwebs of my eastern life, put there by many months in the Rocky Mountains. Last night I watched lightening bugs sparkle a Christmas in June show in the treeline past my cousin's backyard with Steve, Lora, Thunder and Day Tripper.
Work is overwhelming.
I'm still getting used to these surroundings and the operating procedures around Mountain Campus. Every day gets a little more comfortable, and the staff is welcoming, professional, passionate about outdoor education, and kind.
Stay tuned... more to come soon!

Monday, May 24, 2010


The further I ventured into Tennessee the more a southern mountain land I love came alive.
Air strong and thick with honeysuckle.
Cool night breeze.
Ligtening bugs flickered my beacon east, east to the Blue Ridge
Another night of car sleeping, and one final day of crazy driving cruised me into Virginia.... hey momma rock me....
I had nearly crossed the New River when.... little CR-V stopped.... on the interstate... 50 miles from my parents house.
Long story short - I got towed into Roanoke, first face I saw was my FAVORITE mechanic =) as I hopped out of the tow truck, threw my arms in the air and said "CHARLIE! I'm back from Montana!!! and my car won't work". Timing belt - gone, but the valves don't appear to be bent, and I have a niiiiiice buffer of time before I need to be cruising again to Ohio and then Luray.
It even happened early enough to still attend my little brother's 21 birthday dinner with the rest of my family.
Point is - I'm in Virginia. Tired but safe.
Goodnight song of the south

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My first love was a castle in the sky...

After a week of life in the southwest I am officially eastern bound.
Most of my day was spent driving across Arizona and New Mexico; hot sun, intense wind, and many many miles. By the time I crossed the Texas state line a landscape of sand and shrub shifted into sparse green grass, and as I rolled my windows down in Oklahoma there I was - the thick humid southern air poured in around me and mo.
The thoughts and feelings I've had during this move are constantly surprising me. I'm grieving the separation from Montana; long summer twilights, the crispiness of rock and snow paired with lush fields and rivers. I have reconnected with community gone from my side for far too long.... and today as I crossed the imaginary boundaries out of the west, and a found myself a few miles closer to the green, swaying, Appalachians I felt better about what I was traveling towards...
A few more miles remain...
As this buffer dwindles and I near the other side of the country, the eastern side, I am so full.
Geography, journey, love, fellowship
always scheming always dreaming
very thankful for a little more buffer to work though these matters of the heart

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sandy Eggo

Guitars pulse this heart, blood of fellowship and music flow freely in this beautiful San Diego sunshine.
I hiked two miles on the Pacific Crest Trail before holing up in the shade of a juniper yesterday and waiting for Bones and Low. After repacking the CR-V twice and strapping various things to the roof the four of us (including Geronimo) decided the most cost efficient way to spend a few days together was at Bones' place. And here we are.
The home is cozy soft, clean and crisp, and so comfortable even this Appalachian/ Rocky Mountain girl finds herself at ease in a California life.
Packing up ice axes and other PCT snow gear, eating fresh strawberries, and checking out Jan's herb garden are intermittent commercial breaks to the strumming song radiating from this visit.
Thank God for Bones and Low.

Monday, May 17, 2010


My final days in Montana were scattered with packing, moving, making memories to last until the next Montana visit, as well as the usual 40 hour work week. The final moments were bittersweet and kinda hectic.
My drive to Utah was long with great weather and uneventuful traffic problems. By the time I rolled into Toph's driveway in Moab I was ready to curl up in a real bed, break down, and sleep ..... none such luck.
I've now been in Moab, Utah nearly four days. We've played homemade games with friends, slept in a yurt, drove and hiked through red rock canyons with secret streams lush with spring green cottonwoods, biked around town, bar be qued and yes - even sailed.
I still miss Montana and my buds there and feel a little separated prematurely from that place. BUT after this lay over with the Beitners I feel recharged as an adventurer enough to pack it up and move it out for the next leg of this journey. Ten hours of driving and about 30 hours of time stand between my Low and Bones reunion....
What to do in between ??? Kick it in Las Vegas? Check out the Mojave? Who knows....
Whoo hooo I love the road!

Friday, May 7, 2010

This is all that we have till we turn out the light...

Big day today....
After 8 hours of barista bliss I rushed to the bank, then home to assist in the disassembly and packing of Kristin's furniture.... 19 pieces if you include the tables and legs separately. Well - I helped with some stuff, I also cooked a dinner of Kraft Mac and Cheese while they did heavy lifting =) Regardless - Kristin's (my) furniture is gone, saran wrapped, and padded - put away until her new beginning when fall semester rolls around for her graduate program.
Honey, the neighborhood runaway dog decided to visit during the moving chaos. Once the truck was gone the three dogs and I played some fetch at our greening neighborhood park.
By 6pm our landlord visited with three new tenants, explaining lease agreements and signing papers, papers that will end up prorating May's rent and terminating my financial obligations to Montana life. A new barista I've been training and quick new friend calls, and we're walking dogs by the river, sharing life stories and reveling in each other's company. A few days ago I talked to Toph about being bummed to leave Montana now that things have taken a turn for the better..... "ahhh, new boyfriend?" he teases..... "no actually..... new girlfriend...." I tease back. Seriously though - amazing companionship lately. Refreshing.
8pm store meeting at work.... WORK what a duldrum topic I won't vent about or divulge here - now , because it's so petty and inconsequential. Point being - most co workers are great and micro managing is ridiculous.
I drive Emily and her dog Opal home, where we exchange purging clothes piles and eat rocky road ice cream. We talk adventures, dynamics, gardening, MOTH.
By 11 I am home again with Geronimo topping this day burnt at both ends with a splash of red wine.

So it is as it was in the beginning. Me and Mo on a pile of blankets on the floor, simple and excited for things to come.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

oh baby baby it's a wild world

Blossoms shake in the wind, forefront of a snowy peaked backdrop.
Though May arrives these skies are cold and cloudy.
Intricate and complex.
Breeze swoops in this window and fills my lungs.
Mouth to mouth just as I was gasping for breath.
Coming to, coughing, dazed and heart full
I scan these horizons with hope coupled by yearning not meant for words.

Friday, April 30, 2010

spring fashion

Rain tip tap splashes lightly all around.
Downtown streets bump with traffic lights, cat calls, and the homeless man urinating in an alley.
Clutching my bag, briskly I pass. Single
Dead Hipsters dance with Boom Swagger and stockings
Martinis, tall boys, and hand stamps.

Mornings are joyful
Laughs of magic spud marathons
mixed with iced mochas
Replacing this barista might not be so hard to do.

And the gooey cream between ends of a day could surprise you
moments short of breath, disoriented by doubt
excited for the road, sad for the leaving
apprehensive - pulled magnetically

heart fluttering
I take a step. forward.
mix magic. surprise short. rain tip tap swagger.
Dacia's coming. Dacia's coming.

full circle.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


I walk home in well-loved rain galoshes, sniffing. People laugh under porch awnings, cars are mostly still, worms wriggle across my sidewalk path. Reverting to wilderness ways I wonder if it's society I smell, women's perfume and laundry detergent. Perhaps. I settle instead on the thought that it is this wet spring night stretched out before my boots. Red Bud, lilac, willow, and a ton of other Garden City trees I can't identify. They fill my olfactory, seeping through like rainwater into the aquifer below these streets.
Songs bounce around my skull accompanied by the after taste of Huckleberry ice cream.
Thippity thump thump thump.
Water keeps coming down.
Guitars still strumming. I let Tuesday slip through these fingers with the finesse of a white-water skull.
Geronimo dozes off at my feet. Eyelids drop heavy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

how I learned to see....

The sinking sun fades a very long work week into pale colors. Behind silhouettes of mountains and mostly bare tree limbs is a pinkish / tan, fading to near white, to deep blue; as if the sand and ocean were meeting in this Rocky Mountain sky.
As night draws nearer the subtle shades intensify. Black. All black : trees, power lines, everything between me and this neon dusk.
A half moon rises and breeze picks up to tossle these dark branches. Stars break through a deep blue planetarium over this garden city.
With all the lights off in my home I watch from the futon, Chris Pureka's new album "How I Learned to See in the Dark" is the soundtrack. A few street and security lights flood in, painting artificial light on this natural scene. I wonder how to best spend final moments in Montana. Camping? Climbing? Cutting my hair for the first time in two years? Dancing? Drinking? Packing. yikes.
Visions rush across my mind of rivers, coniferous forests, snow capped rocky summits, all that this place is, all that I came here for, all that I'm leaving. Geronimo's collar clanks and echoes off these walls. I am alone. In the dark. Watching this Big Sky. In a structure with so little creature comforts I can almost pretend to be camping.
Mo crawls onto the futon beside me, I restart the album. Recalculating which chords resonate in my being this evening I skip ahead to the last three tracks. The sky is so dark now an ever-gleaming flood light on the neighboring Tae Kwan Do gym obstructs my night vision of the moon and stars.
"Can't you see what you've done? Where's the safety net now? Where's the damage control? We were promised a whole set of balances. You took the crookedest line to our door, and you left us with one million eyes closed. " Honestly I don't know if her voice or chords strike me deeper. There seem to be secrets in the strumming my mind need not unfurl.
And now that night has nestled over this city, and Geronimo is nestled beside me Low rings my phone.
fellowship. complete.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Sunny for days - we were giggling and soaking up rays of vitamin D
Shadows soften into a matte finish of a newly budded spring 'scape.
Storms brewing? Slow guitar twinges the soft safety of a not quite home.
Slate grey/blue backdropping blossoms opened in time.

dreams of mine. dreaming of mine.

some forms of presence are so sedating I take this sleepy scene
marinate my being
heart beat through shades of green

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Window OPEN

"Be content of mind and sound of soul as you travel your own road" Andrew Bones
Hillary and I walked warm sunny hills outside Missoula today; laughing about daily events, love, and the joy of this journey we call life. Thank God for Hillary. I spent over 10 hours in the basement of a gear shop today ; slinging espresso, zipping winter coats, regenerating a water softener and discovering a totally foreign dialect of outdoor rec - rafting packages. It's not so much that work is terrible, it's that in the midst of gear and commission and cleaning, a sunny walk with Hillary and Geronimo is the best part of my day.
I've been thinking a lot about community lately as I revel in final weeks with a Montana crowd, scheme to visit traveling companions, and am overflowing with excitement to reside less than a 10 hour drive from so many loved ones on the eastern side of this country. I think about spring peepers - singing in a damp night. Fog rolling off a river as sun warms the landscape. Summer is coming.
Hillary says I'm happier because of the confidence and contentment of having a plan. Truth. But not a whole truth.
Lately Ryan and I carry on like Franny and Zooey over enlightenment, and the steps in between. Happiness. God. Contentment. In his simplified life of cross country cycling and long distance hiking he's found a joy and clarity all too fleeting during his college years.
It's so wild - the journey.
How we all find similar things in different ways at different times.
He asks me from a picnic table set against a sinking sun in Arizona - are you happy? I nearly turn bitter or offended at the audaciousness of the question - until I realize - in that moment - no, no I'm not happy.
During the nomadic chapters of my life I'm quite happy, I have joy and clarity. My domestic chapters seem, well, a little more cumbersome.
But - as I mentioned - I've been thinking a lot about community, and how we're created to be together and care about one another. And I think Hillary and Bones are onto something. It's quite difficult to share life with others if you're not content of mind and sound of soul as you travel your own road.
My friends teach me this because we all have such different roads; caring for a two year old son, international self-powered treks, finishing up a final semester at school. All challenging paths with opportunity for joy, pain, and just maybe- enlightenment.
And me? I plan to pack up and resume my nomad ways in a month. After a few weeks of that scene I'll nestle into a new chapter at a Mountain Campus and Summer Camp for outdoor recreation and education in Virginia.
This past week I've realized - I am happy.
That coveted light beams into my soft grey tunnel; I catch sparkles in my hands. Content of mind and sound of soul. Traveling my own road. Sharing every step possible with a fellowship that warms my heart.
How beautiful.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Missoula in the spring. There will be a moment where the mountains are green, lilacs saturating this garden city, and chaco-clad feet walk dogs, all licking local ice cream. That moment is at least two weeks away - as wind whips across the north hills and and snow blows on high peaks. During my cleaning hours at work I hear the tippy tappy tat tat of hail bouncing off our sky lights. Most days have a few fleeting moments of gorgeous sunlight, quickly followed by cloud-diffused afternoons.
Geronimo's purple stitches hold his mangled ear together- it seems to be healing. It's a bit scabby and I'm not entirely certain the two pieces will rejoin through that clotted blood, but there's a better chance with a veterinary patch than the Drew/Bek glue attempt when Tanna first snack attacked mo.
Tikka's pretty naughty lately. In the trash, running away to the park, crying when Geronimo beats her to the frisbee.
Oh dogs.
Emily and I have started to list and show our home to potential new tenants; both excited to pack things up next month and leave Missoula, untethered for summer adventures.
Speaking of leaving Missoula - my next life chapter materializes a little more every day. If all goes well, I should settle into Virginia life near Shenandoah National Park June 2010- June 2011 after a few weeks of travel and camaraderie. Odd- last April I was hiking through snowy Smokey Mountains dreaming of Montana. This year is nearly the opposite- but some things are the same : the people I hold dear, the desire to be outside, and a yearning to invest in living life to the fullest while having one foot... okay maybe just a big toe, planted firmly on the ground =) Don't worry though - this time around it's a year rather than a summer and Geronimo's moving in too! Hooray Shenandoah!
After another solitary winter of soul searching for light unto my next step, I'm elated at the path before me. Options of Idaho, Utah, Alaska, New York all bounced around for awhile. But as it is - life works out just the way it ought - and for the first time in a long time I feel lighter, excited for a holistic contentment, seemingly overdue.
The things I've learned simply by living.... or living simple, if you'd rather.
For tonight- we'll wrap up. But as hopeful life springs forth, I suspect I'll share more with you soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Opened in Time

Leaves that should've detached in November are finally falling from trees. Spring is progressing with two steps forward and one step back. Can it really be? A green Montana?
I hope so. Missoula needs to spring back to life. Fall never quite happened, winter barely made a name for itself, employers have shut down, and the city as a whole feels out of sync. It's amazing - what a change of season will to do a place - or a person for that matter.
As ground thaws and I approach my year anniversary of Montana life I reflect on these seasons, and the ones ahead. I write little because I still have no clear path, though my heart is full and head dizzy weighing and pursuing options.
Winter has been pensive and searching. I'm not sure what else to catch you up on.

Overall though life is fine. I'm still serving coffee, singing to myself in the basement Monday-Friday and walking this beautiful landscape with the dogs every evening.

I hope spring is bringing fresh air to your life, and to give you a sunny update on mine soon =)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


There is much and little to say all at the same time.
I feel more than write. I work and push towards progress the most.
I spent the last week of February where I grew up, in Virginia. A whirlwind 9 days of family, friends, hiking, photos, travel, and wondering.
One of the few things lacking in this adventure was - sleep. I'm hoping to catch up on that soon... okay, now.
But if you like, you're welcome to check out the pics above.
Each one is worth a a thousand words ;)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Soft and Grey

Winter is a sleepy time. Clouds cover this Missoula valley 28 out of 31 days a month, diffusing soft grey light. Coniferous shapes of black trees pose stark contrast against a thin blanket of snow. My view. The mountains set against an out of focus sky, and I begin to wonder if I exist in a diffused monochromatic world.
"The sky is grey, and the sand is grey, and the ocean is grey. And I feel right at home, in this stunning monochrome, alone in my way." ~Ani Difranco
Oddly enough, this isn't entirely depressing. It is enough to be here, going through this. It never feels permanent, just definitively solitary. It is almost fantastical- like the color being drained from "The Wizard of Oz". Things are that way... because for now... they need to be, and perhaps my time in Montana is meant to understand this. To understand what it means to FEEL my way through life's seasons.
I don't even need to crunch my tax numbers to know that I'm broke. Or to thumb through my date book to know I spend more time with dogs than people. Or to step on a scale to process the stagnant insulation my body has acquired the past four months. My current existence is not the cheery vibrant Munchkin Land.
But for the first time in a while- I don't need it to be.
"Ah cause nothin is lost, it's just frozen in frost, and is opened in time..." ~Damien Rice
There are voices - dreaming churning voices, that beg me... follow up on that job offer, call that man, apply to graduate school just as back up, get in your car right now and just leave - leave it all. They serve as motivation, propelling me through this sleepy grey tunnel.
As far as I see though, I am in the midst of this tunnel, hand over hand, walking slow but deliberate - forward. Towards more grey - with the firm conviction - somewhere , a few steps further, there will be light.
And I know I'm doing a poor job of explaining it - but I'm thankful for the tunnel, thankful for the winter. I know I am growing up because I feel myself stretching through the freeze and thaws of my life.
Low told me the other day he and Bones came to the conclusion (and he meant this in the most positive way possible) that it's hard to care about much of anything these days. Striking me as complacent indifference I thought over this lots... and I've come to realize- it's true. Winter settles in for a season, families and friends grow and change, jobs shift, sometimes you give money and gifts, sometimes you receive money and gifts. This is just all part of life. Nothing to be alarmed or stressed about.
I mean- God's got it.
So why worry? Why wallow?
In the meantime... I would appreciate prayers of direction and light for my life. I've applied to many different directions and would like to take a turn through this tunnel in a direction leading to light and vibrancy. I know that will come when the time is right, but at the very least, it's an excuse for you to sit down and have a God chat =)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday Snippet

Life has been pretty mellow lately. It seems I've finally got the knack of pulling espresso shots, steaming milk, and understanding what flavor does to a beverage .... now cooking actual meals for myself once I'm home is another story. Why is it that when you work 40 hours a week... the LAST thing you'll do when you get home is whatever you do at work... whether it's cook, clean dishes, fold clothes, or even counsel people?
Having Emily and Tikka back in the house is a warm change of pace from the beginning of January. Despite all of this I get a little stir crazy - wanting to move through physical and geographic space, and feeling financially stifled. Hopefully my Virginia venture in a few weeks will appease my appetite for motion.
I took a drive through the bitterroots today after walking around Blue Mountain with Em and Tik. Different mountains gleamed in a sunlight breaking through clouds. Forty degree weather seemed to beg the barter of $2 tip money for 2 McDonald's ice cream cones.... Geronimo eats his SO fast...
I saw familiar places where I slept mere months ago. I thought about the friends that guided me through that life chapter, smiling at ragged peaks and quilted relationships.
Home again home again I crawled into bed ... Mo quick to follow.
It is a quiet, simple, almost comfortable life we lead.

Snuggled under sheets, down, quilts, and my favorite dog, Bones' music soothes me from the inside-out.

I highly recommend welcoming him into your home.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Goodnight Wednesday.

Geronimo snores, laying on top of my feet. Borrowed music plays from my itunes. My hair is damp from a late night shower and I'm thinking coffee time will come far too early tomorrow. Sorry for the lack of writing lately. I've been feeling a little verbally exhausted from cover letters and resume revamps, but I hope the effort pulls in great results soon.
I've been trying to ski as much as possible since Emily's return to Missoula. I went twice this past weekend .... pretty sure I used/pulled dormant muscles trying to "herringbone" up a hill on my XC skis. going uphill on something slippery? not the most fun thing. But the scenery was great, company charming, and Tikka and Geronimo were VERY happy frolicking through the University of Montana's experimental forest.
I'm hoping to return to Glacier soon for another XC adventure. This weekend however may manifest itself to townie time with my best bud Dacia =) Always an adventure in and of itself.
I hope you are well. I hope this new year is bringing you beautiful moments. I hope to write more soon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

With a little help.

There are shades of blue and green in Montana I have never seen. Glacial turquoise lakes, alpenglow dusks set against snowy peaks. I wait in anticipation a clear January sky darkens. I conjure mirages of the northern lights on the horizon, my belly growls.
My neighbor across the alley just yelled and cursed out Geronimo, Mo was scared. My dying crotchety old neighbor is probably the worst part about living here .... he stands at the glass sliding door of his double wide, gazing across his perfectly manicured lawn in nowhere Missoula, waiting for Mo or I to do something that pisses him off, so he can yell at either or both of us. Delore. Delore pisses ME off. But tonight - for the first time - I was thinking who cares. Let him stare. Stalk. Scream. Let him poison his life... not mine... I have enough to worry about.
I've spent the past few days trying to get my head on straight, heart directional... and freakin make some money already. Where to go? What to do?
I plan on applying to some career oriented positions and some graduate programs, a geographical smattering of options... and see where that takes me.
I'm so sick of the perpetual application process. But maybe this time it won't be so bad.... this time I'm not so alone.

Monday, January 4, 2010

night like this

I hunker down inside the glow of wooden walls. Cozy with Mo. Opening the door unexpectedly finding - snow. Fresh dusting. Sparkling.
Perhaps it was always there, waiting. Perhaps it came contingent on a moment like this.
Fall in Missoula? Winter in Montana? Cats and Rabbits?
Things are never as I might think or you might suppose.
Things are.
Loosen that grip.
Let is shimmy through your fingers.
Diamonds on the inside. Diamonds dust the icy alley.