“In Beauty May She Walk”

Have you ever noticed how the less active you are, the more tired you feel? The more tired you feel, the less inclined you are to pry yourself away from your blog to get some endorphins flowing and the more blue goo settles in your brain.

With Sally gone for the summer, through-hiking the John Muir Trail, I was without my favorite hiking/biking companion. So, I pottered around in the garden, ruining my back with digging, weeding, and harvesting, telling myself that because I was exhausted at the end of the day, I was getting exercise. No! Exercise is when your heart pounds so hard you can hear it in your own ears and you’re breathing so hard that you’re sucking up small pebbles off the ground.

Well, my girlfriend’s back and I’m happy again! Sally’s return got me back on the bike and we rode our favorite trail, the Santa Ana River Trail. We’ve ridden it dozens of times and I’ve described its harrowing exposures, technical stream crossings, and wild descents here more often than most would care to read. So, suffice it to say, heart pounding and heavy breathing ensued. In fact, it dispelled the summer’s ennui so effectively that yesterday, I loaded up the dogs and headed for a mountain hike.

Vivian Creek Trail is often crowded at the trailhead because there’s a waterfall within a quarter of a mile of the picnic area. For some unknown reason, there were two porta-pots stationed in front of the permanent restrooms, perhaps due to the overflow crowds induced by Covid-19. Both were disgusting! Ignorant city folks had dumped all sorts of trash into the toilet along with their usual effluent. Pity the poor guy who has to pump that tank!

Thankfully, the trail itself is too steep for most of the day trippers so, a mile away from the parking lot, we had the trail to ourselves.

https://www.relive.cc/view/vwq1YdBxALq This is a link to a Relive video of my hike and ten of the photos taken along the route. I have the free version so it’s limited to ten still images. I love this app and may have to upgrade. It would be nice if the app would turn itself on automatically because I invariably forget to start it until I’m well into the hike.

The strenuous climb, the soothing sounds of the forest, the company of my dogs, all combined to wash away the concerns of a world gone awry. The few hikers we encountered politely donned masks before passing and greeted us cordially, all reminding me that “all will be well” as I walked in beauty.

Cupcakecacheblog Inspired

What a joy it is to find blogs in my inbox inviting me to squander time! And even better, to find blogs that impel me to elaborate on a theme.

Today, Cupcakecache entertainingly meandered about, sharing banter, musing about her sunflower germination failures and plant shopping success, and generally reveling in the day’s tasks ahead, which prompted me to do the same.

Yesterday, I received a box, shipped from a friend in Oregon. She had some books that she didn’t want to send to the thrift store and thought I’d enjoy them. And while she was at it, she stuffed the box like a Christmas stocking. She has a quirky sense of humor, appreciated and shared by her family, and so she tossed in a collection of gag gifts that I presume she had received over the years, along with other random useful items. Perhaps the quirkiest of the collection was a rubber lip enhancer (size XL) and the most useful was a pair of socks. The books were primarily The Best American Science Writing (2000 – 2010) and The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2000 – 2008), of which I had read only one. She also sent three novels of which I had already read two, which illustrates why we remain friends even though we have lived in separate states for the past 35 years.

Being lazy readers, my husband and I are fighting over who will be the first to read the Carl Hiaasen novel.

I bore you with these details for two reasons: One, a joy to be appreciated has to be shared, and what a joy her box of pleasures is! And two, perhaps it will inspire others to do something similar.

One of my other pleasures, is my garden.

Judy’s Food Pantry

In the foreground the garden is ringed by Teddy Bear Sunflowers, purported to be favored by birds and bees. I didn’t get very good germination but I kept replanting to fill in the gaps which will actually be a good thing as it will ensure a longer supply of blossoms for the bees and seeds for the birds.

Immediately behind the sunflowers are the beans, which I hate to pick but can’t resist planting anyway.

Behind the beans are cucumbers that I’m trying to train to climb the trellis. Like the butternut squash in the back ground, they are wayward and resist my gentle ministrations, preferring to choke the walkway between them and the apple tree and tomatoes.

I have three kinds of squash which are hemmed in by Marigolds that are three feet high. I kid you not! I never dreamed when I planted them for pest control, that they would present such an impediment to harvesting the squash. I fear the local fruit stand is suffering from my competition as I’m supplying all of my neighbors, my mail man, my sister, and my boss with squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Among the joys of gardening, are the feral pets that move in, various birds (who hopefully look for insects to eat), pollinators, horned tomato worms, and a Southern California Toad.

I would like this guy to settle down and raise a family here, so I plan to create a hospitable habitat for him/her. I think toads may be on my side in the organic gardening battle with the bugs.

Now, I must delve into my box of goodies. I think I’ll start with The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2000, edited by one of my favorite authors, David Quammen.

I Pledge Allegiance…

Remember chanting the Pledge of Allegiance when you were a kid in grade school? We recited it every morning and it meant almost nothing to children who had no idea what liberty and justice really meant. Once committed to memory, it was just a ritual, like the Lord’s Prayer. Then there came a time when the words did stir something inside me when my history books told of my country making huge sacrifices to save the Jews from Hitler. And then, I read outside of the prescribed curriculum (thanks to a good teacher’s suggested reading list) and learned how, like the slavery issue in the Civil War, the welfare of the Jews was quite secondary to the true motives of this country’s participation and initial lack thereof.

So, having disabused myself of the notion that my country was the knight in shining armor, the cowboy in the white hat, the purveyor of liberty and justice for all, I read voraciously and indiscriminately, hoping to figure out how and why people sought great wealth and power, sometimes beyond all comprehension, and why they didn’t use those things for the good of their “neighbors”.

I wish I could tell you that I now have it dialed in. I read once that “No man is a villain in his own eyes”. If that is true, then the most ignorant, evil, self-absorbed person, comes from a place where his ends justify the means. And maybe the less introspective a person is, the easier it is to love oneself to the exclusion of others.

But I digress, as is the wont of bloggers like myself and cupcakecache (you must read her “Why We Read Bloggers”). What I started out to write is my discomfort over how the symbol of freedom and equality under the law (that would be the American flag) has been hijacked by the militant supporters of a regime who don’t recognize injustice and suppression of freedom when they see it. Pugnacious, white men drive down city streets with the symbol of freedom flapping from their behemoth pick-up trucks; bearded, pot-bellied white men roar down the highway, flags whipping on their “Big Twin” Harley; bumper stickers proudly display the flag along with slogans that bristle with hate.

I’m sad and fearful when I see what once meant pride in a civilized form of government, now is used to instill fear in people who think “peace, love, and understanding” are worthwhile objectives; when it’s purpose has been twisted from making a ten-year-old’s heart swell with pride to making a person of color cringe; when it bolsters the dubious courage of a bully.

Well, I’m just sick of it. I want to restore honor and dignity to not just the symbol of our country, but to the integrity of every citizen who believes in the principles of equality. To that end, I’m going to encourage everyone who believes that this country can be great without discrimination, hate, and with equal rights under the law, to display the flag tomorrow with the sentiments it should evoke in fair-minded folks.

I heard a pastor say, “Love looks like justice in public.” And that’s what the teachings of Christ mean by, “Love your enemies”. Be just in your dealings with every living thing…especially the powerless.