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What passes for adventure these days

October 4, 2018


Cloud watching.

It’s a great hobby: super affordable, and no one else seems to be doing it in these last months of life-as-we-know-it (otherwise known as 2018), what with all the distractive pleasures of social media. Who cares if nephology didn’t make the list of “16 Hobbies That Will Improve Your Quality of Life”?  (Barefoot hiking wasn’t on their otherwise-interesting list either.)

News Alert: Last week I saw LENTICULAR clouds! What-what?!


The name comes from their “lens” shape, but I think a better name would be flying-saucer-clouds. Many cloudy years ago, in a general education geography course, the (seriously disengaged) professor told the class during our unit on meteorology that anyone who saw and photographed lenticular clouds would get an “A” for the whole semester.

That really sparked my nephological tendencies–yep, ever since then my life has been a non-stop quest for lenticulars. And other stuff too. But always: lenticulars . . . although it might be too late to impress that aloof professor.

Last week, though, I was so jazzed by the lenticular sighting from my lovely Barham Ridge trails that I needed to proselytize, so the the next mountain biker chugging up the hill got a full load of, “Do you want to see something cool? Those are lenticular clouds! Amazing, huh?”


And, proving once again that crazy can be contagious, he set down his bike and started taking his own pictures.

My work here is done.

Time for a poem (sparked by the overwhelming petrachlor during this morning’s 90-minute trail run: there was a brief downpour last night, and all the hillsides reeked of rain! Yum!)

What cannot be kept?

Damp red-dirt smells.
Raindrop footprints on sandstone.
Almost solitude–
almost mountain lion.
Heavy air after a thunderstorm.
The weight of quail mutter
and trail memories.
Pink cloud-boil.
My toe stubbed on

a stony nose, part
of a winking face
so smooth, so
pocket-perfect, but
what cannot be kept.
Pebbles need to find
their own way
to the sea.

So: to recap: recent adventures include no epic Grand Canyon treks miles below the rim into cliffy wonderlands, but lots of this: (building stuff only to watch it get smashed):

And this: (marveling at what drives our society to manufacture and sell toy recycling trucks and not sets of  little businessmen dolls with potbellies and bad backs and coffee breath sitting in front of their laptops in gray cubicles with an MBA hung on the wall).

And watching #15 watch his team: (“Put him in, coach” . . . every grandma’s prayer?)


I call it “grandkidding” and there are plenty of ways to play this as we burn way more gas than commuting to work ever did, just to hang out with the seven blessings I did not plan for when engaged in whatever stage of life people use to plan their future.


They are a fun & funny bunch & love my “YouDoodle” app.


Art happens.


Speaking of sunshine and rain . . . Fall = best time to plant California native plants.


Last week, whilst (there’s that favorite word again) digging a hole for this lovely one-gallon California fuchsia, I was pleasantly surprised (and what a lovely word pair that is) by a goodly amount (adverb much?) of bulblet-thingies of wild hyacinth (you’ll have to click for its misunderstood more-common name). A super-food for earlier People of this area, the corms taste like waxy water chestnuts . . . but instead of eating these, I planted them in other parts of the yard to spread the dichelostema-love.


Q: What is THE most important thing to do when planting California native plants in the fall, before rains have arrived?

A: Flood the planting hole first. Many times. Get LOTS of water into the soil way down deep. The roots will thank you by creating a healthy plant instead of a dead one.


A few pebbles for mulch helps shade the roots/keep the soil surface from drying, as well.

IMG_5671 So instead of the rat race shark race and a decent paycheck/health insurance/conference money/etc/who’s complaining, retirement brings other kinds of pleasure . . . like these newly installed bathroom fixtures:


And all I can do is say, “Thank you Jesus” and go for a run. Barefoot, of course.


Happy (cloud-filled) trails . . .

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Scott Marckx permalink
    October 4, 2018 6:20 pm

    Hi Thea!
    Just visit Mount Ranier up here in Washington state for lots of lenticular cloud viewings, (when there aren’t so many clouds that you can’t even see through them, let alone see even the base of the mountain).
    I got to do a one night solo backpack up the Dosewalips river in Olympic National Park last week barefoot! My Grandmother took my brothers and cousin and me backpacking from the time I was 5 and had planned to take us up the Dose, but we kept getting rained out. Now the road is washed out, so you have to hike an extra 6 or 7 miles just to get to where we would have started. I got in past that though and looked up at the trees thinking they were here when Grandma Liz last hiked this trail. It was beautiful! I got up to Dose Forks campground for the night, then hiked in another mile or so to a bridge over a canyon just above the fork in the river before turning around and hiking out. I ended up putting on sandals for the last 2 or 3 miles as the gravel of the road was getting to me. Grandma Liz was always appalled at my shoes, which were usually so worn out I could pull them up my leg by putting my foot through the hole in the side! Any money I got for new shoes I spent on more important things! I wish I could show her now that I go barefoot. She’d laugh! I do wonder about backup footwear for a long backpacking trip? Downhill tends to be harder to do on gravel. The xero sandals worked pretty well when I did put them on. I guess I just need to do more hikes up there and try things out!
    Happy trails!

    • October 5, 2018 4:14 pm

      Wow . . . that sounds like a great adventure! And . . . you are fortunate to have such wonderful grandma memories (something I missed out on growing up . . . which makes me extra eager to create grammy/yaya adventures for my seven grandkids). Backup footwear is important–I usually bring my Sockwa X-8s (or sometimes my old Merrell Pipidae sandals). They don’t take up much room, and when that gravel gets overwhelming–and it seems to happen suddenly, as in: “That’s it! I’m done with the gravel!”–it’s nice to have something to keep me moving steadily along. Of course, my goal is “Always Barefoot,” but reality means “Bring Backups.” Thanks for the trip report–I enjoy going solo also, as it means I can travel at the “speed of skin” and not have to try to keep up with the shoddies 🙂

      • Scott Marckx permalink
        October 8, 2018 12:51 pm

        Thank you Thea!
        That “speed of skin” concept is really resonating with me. There are so many places in my life where, if I can be more present to what is actually happening, rather than what I wish or think is happening, I might find a gentle, sustainable path. Sort of like in Thomas Merton’s “Chuang Tzu” the “Cutting up an Ox” poem. Often it is much easier to do that solo, but, even as I say that, I see so much helpful input from others!

        Thanks again and I’m sure your grandchildren are very fortunate, especially that you don’t make them wear shoes!

        All the best, Scott

      • October 8, 2018 1:27 pm

        Thanks for the note, Scott–and the poem reference . . . which I have not read yet, and now plan on 🙂

      • October 8, 2018 1:30 pm

        Here’s a link to the poem . . . wow . . . a lot to absorb in terms of “technique” (although it might not be pleasant for vegans to read).

  2. October 4, 2018 5:39 pm

    clouds are cool, and lenticulars are especially cool 🙂

    • October 5, 2018 4:06 pm

      That’s right! And we just don’t see them much in this almost-weatherless place 🙂

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