Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Topo, Anyone?

Saturday and Sunday of this Memorial Day weekend, we drove about an hour outside of Laramie and did a two-day hike in the Platte River Wilderness. We had planned to make it a three-day hike, but when it started raining on Sunday, that plan changed. I mean, we don't have to be out there when it's raining, and it's not actually fun to be out there when it's raining, so why should we?

The Platte River Wilderness is a lovely section, with trails that are not too strenuous. The trails there are lacking one thing however: signage. The first 5 miles or so (on Saturday) were lovely. Hiking through forests and down along the sides of a creek. We only lost the trail a couple of times, once when it crossed a creek and we didn't -- instead, we hiked uphill for about 30 minutes, following what looked like a trail but turned out to be someone else's diversion. Just around the corner from that crossing (once we found the trail again) we found a fantastic little campsite, where someone had taken the time to dig out fairly flat spots for a couple of tents. Fairly flat, I say, because we slid downhill most of the night, in our sil-nylon tent. Will probably have to do something about that (the sliding part, I mean -- we can't do much about the campsite being set on a hill).

The next day, we decided to follow the Platte Ridge Trail to its intersection with the Douglas Creek Trail. Mind you, we had no topographical map, as the guy at the Forest Service office in Laramie had pooh-poohed the notion of needing a topo map in the Platte River Wilderness. At one point, where the Platte Ridge Trail was supposed to branch to the east and the west (I think), there was only a stump of a signpost left; no direction at all except for a few odd symbols cut into the trees. What exactly did that orange arrow mean? I'll never know.

Needless to say, we never found where the Platte Ridge Trail and the Douglas Creek Trail intersect. Instead, we hiked through a good bit of marshy swampy trail and then decided we'd had enough. As it was, we hiked about 13 miles on Sunday, enough to merit a big cheeseburger in Woods Landing. With homemade fries that were heaven itself, and not on my diet.

Monday we spent cleaning up and putting away our gear. And tonight we have company for dinner and to spend the night, so I must push away from the keyboard and get around to putting sheets on the bed in the guest room.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


I just finished reading an advance copy of Walter Moseley's 47. Not impressed. I wanted to be, but sadly, I am not. The book is a mixture of slave narrative and science fiction; the slave narrative is beautiful and thoughtful, while the science fiction I can only call sad and strange. And I usually love science fiction!

Here are the elements of the science fiction that didn't sit well with me:
1. It wasn't consistent. When 47 (the main character) receives Tall John's (the alien) cha, he becomes more knowledgeable about the world, about philosophy, about life, about technology, etc., but nothing else about him, except for his physicality, changes.
2. The author described some elements of the story too simplisticly -- perhaps in an effort to appeal to a young adult audience. For example, Wall (evil creature out to destroy the universe) is after a "green powder" that can be found "buried in the earth." He has to use Tall John's spaceship to get the green powder . . .but how did Wall get there in the first place? Why call it "green powder" when other elements are given special names?

That's enough, I guess. On to the next one.

I'm sad that I didn't like it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Writing poetry, again.

In honor of the writing project retreat I attended this weekend, I am going to post here a revised copy of "Wings," and a couple of others that I did some serious changing to.
By the way, can I just say that any teacher alive would benefit from participating in writing project work? I've never actually done the workshop, but I helped to plan an invitational this weekend, and just being around those folks helped me to feel invigorated about my poetry again.

Thanks, all of you.

Plus, I found out some great information about the turtle as a symbol for planet Earth, the personification of goddess energy, representative of the continuing cycle of give and take, and possessing shields that protect us from harm. Cool.


One grand and coming day
I will sprout wings.
The swirling, lifting breeze will
chime out the hours
as the time grows near.

Small bumps will jump from my shoulder blades,
Itchy feathers one by one sweep my arms
Bits of down float sunlit through the air.

As I gain altitude,
an eagle's-eye perspective:
Roads float above green hills,
Horizon angles into the suspended blue sky.

Will my aerial view
Affect my earthly sight?

That Hat

That hat struts in,
feather waving
trench coat swirling.
It pauses
and surveys
with a tilted head and
a cynical, jaunty eye
the crowd of coffee-sippers,
blissfully unaware of its presence.

The crowd bobs
and sips
and sits

that hat maintains its integrity,
its pride,
its sense of place,
and wavers on
to an appointed seat
in glory.

First Snow

The first snow of the season
is a blessing, a baptism, an epiphany.
One that appears,
on Halloween.

Slipping softly over the jack o'lanterns
hissing out candles
Lightly anointing the foreheads
of the assembled pirates, ballerinas,
monsters, and ladybugs,
it drips and floats.

Here, they huddle around the front porch light,
offering up the emptiness of their bags,
praying for Snickers or Skittles
or peanut butter cups.

As they walk away, toward the
luminarias and fake spiders next door,
the snow fills their footprints,
erasing all evidence of their presence.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Here's the new tent I'm thinking of buying -- it's the Lunar Solo, by Six Moon Designs. Posted by Hello


Yesterday was a beautiful day in Laramie. Sunny, breezy, and cool -- the way I WISH summers had been growing up in Texas. So, I decided to let my cats hang out in the back yard, eat grass, roll around in the sun, etc. I propped the back door open with a stone and went to sit in my easy chair and read (can only do THAT in the summer!).

I wasn't really surprised to hear a commotion break out -- there are a couple of neighborhood cats that treat our yard as theirs -- but I WAS surprised when I went out back and saw Loner (see picture below) kicking the crap out of the big orange and white tom who loves to hang out in the yard.

This is quite unusual. It is most commonly Loner who gets his ass kicked, and then hides in the house for a few days as he heals. I love him, but he is usually a wuss.

Apparently he decided he'd had enough of that orange cat -- chased him all the way across the street.

Now, of course, he's hanging out in the house letting his wounds heal -- but he's certainly proud of himself!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Just one of my two handsome kitties.  Posted by Hello

Trail Days

We spent last week backpacking about 50 miles in Tennessee/Virginia, reconnecting with our thru-hiking community, hanging out at Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, and then doing trail maintenance at Hard Core with our favorite hostel guy, Bob Peeples. It was a week full of memorable times, big hugs, and renewed awareness.
We got a room at a B&B in Damascus -- thanks, Bob and Dianne. That was a first for us, as usually we're camping out at the campground ("ghetto") outside of town, which invariably becomes a mud-filled poison-ivy ridden swamp, or we stay at a hotel in Abingdon. Having a room in town meant that we could walk back and forth among the vendors (I bought a new pack!), out to the campground, drink a lot of beer, and then walk home for a good night's sleep in a bed!

There were only a few folks from 2001 there -- Sheriff, Lucky, Phoenix, Rain Queen, Jim Beam, Ropeyarn, Tent-n Kent and Toccoa. But tons of hikers from 2003 were there (Footslogger's year), so we hung with Jersey, Rumbler, Hiker Biker Babe, T-Bird, and lots more.

As for awareness, hiking 50 miles helped me remember how hard and how wonderful hiking on the AT is. We only did about 10 miles a day, and that first day was a killer, but HOW GREAT it was to be back. To introduce ourselves (to a few people) and have them say "Oh, Bad Ass Turtle, I've heard of you!"

When can I do that again?

Monday, May 02, 2005

Mostly, I'm general

Here's a quiz I took this morning:

Your Linguistic Profile:

60% General American English

30% Dixie

5% Upper Midwestern

5% Yankee

0% Midwestern

I think I knew how it would turn out as soon as the question, "What do you call a carbonated beverage?" came across. It's COKE, of course!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Not a Wok

I've never cooked anything in a wok before, though I've certainly cooked Chinese food, or perhaps what passes for Chinese food in my part of the world, growing up. Today we purchased an actual wok and I spent a good deal of time seasoning it. Heating it, rubbing oil on its surface, etc. Could make a connection to sex here, but I'm going to bypass the opportunity . . .

So Mark says the stirfry was good, but I was not satisfied. I'll have to look into Chinese cooking if I want to get better at it.

I'll just add that to the list of things I would like to get better at -- Chinese cooking can join with speaking German, playing the piano, riding a horse, quilting, and writing this blog in terms of things I should probably spend more time doing in order to get better at, but probably won't.

Why won't I, you might ask? Because in addition to the work of teaching courses and supervising student teachers (I love that work, don't get me wrong!) I need to get to work on the 6 or so writing projects that I have going but haven't finished. So, the newest one, a survey of K-12 teachers on their use of comprehension strategies, can join the rest -- the multigenre writing manuscript, research on the writing project in Lander, the article on working with mentor teachers to develop materials for mentoring student teachers, the thirdspace article, multimodality article, the conference presentation on policy and politics in teacher education, etc. in the list of things I would like to get done but can't seem to get to.

If I don't find a way of coping with all of these things, they're going to turn out like tonight's dinner. OK to some; not satisfactory to me.