To look at it it doesn’t seem like much yet consider that we live like kings. A daub of horseradish mustard as condiment, a slightly crisp hamburger patty, still as uniform as when it came off the factory floor but smaller, burned and salted, and the salubrious tater tots crowding the plate. Kings from days gone past might not have eaten so swell.
Complain about our leaders and those that might soon be, all for show and Rome burns as they fiddle around but we are still eating good. Some lunatic took a knife to several people in Japan, others beheaded a priest in Normandy, in Somalia one set off a bomb killing himself and others and globally these incidents flare up and are soon forgotten save those touched directly by them. There is still food on the plate for most, starvation is not so common as it once was.
There are roads and routes of travel that permit us to be in winter one day and summer the next. Before, whole ships would be found drifting upon the open ocean, their stricken crew all dead of the disease they found exploring new worlds before they could bring it home. Today athletes from all corners of the globe will converge upon one small area with a infectious virus that they may return home with to spread the plague more widely. But we live like kings, the royal physicians are working on the problem and we eat well and have our entertainments.
Our forebears were astonished to discover that as horses ran they truly did have all four hooves off the ground at one point, today we may put a visor on and control the actions of aircraft halfway around the world. We are living like kings, the sword that worried Damocoles will likely steer clear of our hamburger and tater tots, why worry about it now while dessert is in the offing?
It paints quite a scene for the aspen covered forest stroll don’t it?
Grandpaps had a fiery temper. When a child would push their plate away while it still held a few scraps of uneaten food a glare would begin to darken accross his face, his ears would become red and the hairs in them bristled and one knew the sermon was coming. “There are starving kids in China.” He’d say. “They would love to have that food. The succotash is delicious, there is still meat on that pork chop bone, there is nothing wrong with the applesauce, it’s just a little brown that’s all. We can sit here on our fat butts all day and yak about how tough things are but there ain’t a one of us that’s going hungry or getting shot at. Well going hungry anyway. When I was a boy we sometimes went without meals, or had awful scimpy ones at times. We stuffed newspapers in our shoes when the soles were shot. Heck, kids these days don’t have to wear ragged, patched coats that were handed dow from brother to brother. No they gotta have a brand new ballcap with a flat brim. Whoever heard of a flat brim on a ballcap? And gawdamighty if it gets a little smudge on it.” He pushed down on the tabletop with two gnarled, meaty fists and scowled. “Well in this house we don’t let perfectly good food go to waste so you’ll either spend your allowance to mail it to China, eat it all so you can have dessert or slide it over to me and I’ll eat your dessert too”
In the article cited above it was also noted that while the US wastes about half its food, globally the figure is about one third. Waste not want some o’ this?
Erastus Snow”If a person having a strong desire for stimulants, such as spirituous liquors, tea, coffee, tobacco, opium, &c., that stimulate the nervous system to excess, and continues to gratify this appetite, will soon destroy the elasticity of his nervous system, and become like a bow that is often bent almost to breaking….We must neither indulge in excessive eating, excessive drinking, nor in excessive working, whereby to overtax our physical energies or our nervous system.
Presumptive president elect Donald Trump has recently presided over a meeting with his campaign advisers in which the subject of restoring the supremacy of the United States to the forefront of the world stage through military action and an unapologetic use of force to maintain that position. While none of the participants, several of whom have been advanced as possible cabinet members and officers of his administration, would not be quoted on the record The Yellow Press has been informed on the substance of the meeting, details of which will be released during Trumps acceptance speech for the upcoming Republican National convention.
In an effort to undo the years of devastating setbacks caused by the current Obama administration which witnessed the leader of the world’s most powerful nation granting concessions and bowing in obeisance to several minor world leaders, Trump has put forth a no-nonsense position which will broach no insult from such petty despots as Russia’s Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and the leaders of Mao’s Communist China. In territorial disputes, like the recent simulated dive bombing attack on an American warship in international waters by Russian fighter jets, American commanders will be instructed to take a shoot first and ask questions later attitude to all potentially threatening behaviors by other nation’s forces. All of the US’s borders will be re drafted to the borders as they were established in 1962, prior to the Cuban missile crisis. While none of these borders have been formally ceded to our adversaries, concessions have been made that de-facto have allowed other countries to trespass upon and lay claim to the US’s possessions for the last several decades. particularly egregious to Trump’s committee are the porosity of the nations border with Mexico and Canada where the full force of our military might will be brought to bear to seal the tidal wave of illegal immigrants that has flooded our country taken even the option of honest manual labor from our poor along with their ability to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Internationally contested areas will also be defended to the utmost of our abilities and areas like the south China sea, the Philippines, Guantanamo Bay, the Panama canal and other areas will be fully protected. Furthermore American companies and their holdings will receive the same protections through an increase in military spending as well as a substantial increase in the number of troops. Talk also encompassed the possible recapture and repossession of several industries that were nationalized by various nations, i.e. Argentina’s and Peru’s nationalization of Standard Oil’s refineries and operations in the mid 1970’s.
The US will also revisit the terms of war. Trump stated he has no qualms about backtracking on President Obama’s rejection of the use of nuclear force. “War is ugly,” He said, “and there are no rules. Winning is the only option.”
Bundle up the kids, drop the dog off at the sitter, flush the goldfish, (you can always get a new one), load the car, remind the hubby there will be no backseat driving and hit the highway, it’s vacation time! Off to the national parks, Americas playgrounds. But what to do after the first night and the campfire embers have burned low, the visitor centers exhibits viewed and the interpretive signs read many times over. Tomorrow should be a fun day, take a few hints from our fathers and enjoy these time honored activities in the parks that seem to have gone out of style.
Rock Rolling. Keep a sharp eye out, it won’t take long to find the perfect opportunity to send a huge boulder crashing satisfactorily into valleys, chasms or even onto trails and roads below. Leverage may be needed, carry a stout walking stick to give that added boost. Often it doesn’t take much more than a gentle push to send the right rock scuttering downhill, sending motorists and casual hikers below into a real tizzy. If there aren’t enough sizable boulders perched over the trail there’s almost always a throwing rock nearby, aim close to hikers, they usually jump back with a ‘Where the heck did that come from.’ look.
Tourist Teasing. It’s inevitable, you’ll come across someone on the trail and they’ll ask, “How much farther is it?”. What a perfect chance for giggles. Tell them it isn’t far, or it’s a real long trek, or to make a left or is it a right at the creek. Warn them about rattlesnakes, or grizzlies or peccaries or the naked gathering of aged hippies holding a drum circle ahead. Whet their appetite for a long downhill stretch or bit of a slog through the mud. Tell them to be sure to take their own clothes off before they meet with the dancing hipsters, who are willing to accept the unclothed but go all Manson on the attired. There are a thousand variations on the theme, pick one suitable and stand back and watch the fun.
Road Sign Shooting. This has fallen out of favor but with doomsday now imminent it pays to stay in practice by plinking away at Rudolph as you fly by at 70mph. Purists only consider a road sign trophy bagged when the ammo is dispensed from a moving vehicle. All signs are fair game but the most highly prized trophies are those with a depiction of a leaping, scurrying animal be it ungulate, ursine, porcine, bovine, bipedal, reptilian or avian in nature. Placement is important with the most points generally awarded to shots that make the animal appear to have a bulbous snoot or prolific scat.
Graffito. The ancients left their mark, why shouldn’t modern man? At newspaper rock in the Canyonlands of Utah the Anasazi peppered a blackened rock surface with depictions of sheep and deer and lizards and weird symbols that have archaeologists scratching heads even today as to their meaning. While these petroglyphs are thousands of years old, as recently as 1902 a cowboy named Gonzales and in 1954 his son or grandson left his mark on this same rockface. Yet today the little traces of our passing are disappearing. What will future generations think of us today when they look for our markings and find that we left nothing in our wakes, that we were uninspired, couldn’t spell to write our own names. Let us again take up knives and scratch our initials in hearts on trees. Get a can of spray paint and make a stencil and smiley face the world with pride, why should only railroad boxcars be works of art? Chisel your sobriquet into a hundred stony surfaces before the only place it can be found is on the granite of your gravestone.
Public Art. Why should Christo have all the fun. What more stupendous setting could there possibly be than the natural world and our national parks breathtaking vistas. We know of two climbers, part of the kitchen crew we recently met at the Creek Pasture campground outside of Canyonlands National park whose mission is to climb and enlighten, who bring a little bright bit of rainbow to every place they go. From the boulders of Joshua Tree to the cracks of Courthouse Wash and among the lofty crags of Yosemite they have scrambled up, set small anchors and suspended glittering glass crystals, prisms and pendants in places where they catch the light and no mere mortal appears to have placed them. In a particularly inspired moment they flew a kite across the Dolores river canyon in Colorado to string strong fishing line across the chasm, suspended the merest one inch of faceted crystal ball several hundred feet above the roadway below from sheer red sandstone walls. The effect is to have the tiniest suspicion of a daylight rainbow star glimmering in the empty blue sky, something perhaps seen but more imagined. Watch for another inspired design, a tie dyed angelfish of sizable proportions to appear at a prominent and spectacular viewpoint this summer!
Trip Wires And Snares. Imagine the surprise of an unwary hiker strolling along when, KAPOOF! he triggers a confetti bomb that showers him in multicolored paper bits. How about the simple mud filled pothole covered with sticks an leaves? Glitter bombing can take on a whole new meaning outdoors, the trails could sparkle for decades with more than just mica an schist.
Feed The Animals. After years of warnings about how feeding the wildlife has made them dependent think of how they must be starving. Always bring along a loaf of stale bread, it’s lightweight and almost everything, from bitty birds to big ole bears will eat it. Your Grandpa has a home movie of him feeding Yogi, why should you be left out, get the gopro out and a can of tuna, be creative. Remember you don’t need to outrun the bear, just your buddy.
Decorate With Fire. Fifty years ago the park service built huge bonfires atop Half Dome at Yosemite and pushed the embers over the edge to the delight of all as the firefall lit the night. My uncle would liven things up by tossing a cupful of gasoline into the campfire at bedtime, oh what a glorious spectacle. Fire is your friend, experiment!
Well, these are just a few ideas to make your visit to the parks this summer more entertaining. If you have more send them to us and we’ll print them here so others can join in the fun.
Get on the Stick!
The University of Washington has responded to it’s recent scandal involving the objectification of women by instead permitting its student body to select its cheerleading staff. The decision is widely hailed as a positive step by the students, who promise to make more responsible decisions than the elderly gentlemen formerly in charge of the process. The student government has already drawn up a list of criteria in the form of a multiple choice selection chart that will be used to elect the eight member squad, (six active and two reserve). Various parameters will be available in an effort to ensure equality in the selection process such as; male / female, natural / altered, hot / not, large / small, light / dark, thin / pleasingly plump, vivacious / lackluster, doable / pew. An initial motion by some members of the governing body to limit the selection process to the male members, as the only ones with a true appreciation of the activity was tabled.
Prince, the recently passed artist, has apparently left no instructions as to the distribution of his estate. His music and properties, valued in the hundreds of millions will no be subject to probate, that is that a court will decide upon where they go. A sister, Tyka Nelson, has filed papers with the court asking for the appointment of a mediator to determine the outcome.
For many years, initially on the ferry runs to the San Juan Islands in Washington state, but now on several of the ferry routes, jigsaw puzzles have been left, uncompleted, for subsequent travellers to finish. Generally they are put together, than disassembled and left for others to begin again. It’s a quaint local tradition that usually brings a bit of happiness to what can be a mundane bit of commuting. But now and then a rider with a mischievous turn will claim a piece of the puzzle as their own, pocket it and leave the puzzle unable to finish.
The haggling over the puzzle left behind by Prince, legally Prince Rogers Nelson, will now begin and each person with an interest in its outcome will struggle to complete the process. Some will strive for an equitable resolution that makes sense to all, but there may be one in the mix that pockets a piece and leaves the legacy less enjoyable for the rest. For an example consider the disposition of Martin Luther King Jr. The power of his words and thoughts are not freely usable by the public due to the greed of his heirs. Let’s hope Prince’s music isn’t treated the same way.
Now would be a good time to consider our own mortality as well and the puzzles we may leave behind. The writing of a will isn’t tough, just claim to be of sound mind, ask for your debts to be settled and declare what assets should go to whom. It’s not iron-clad, once you are dead the enforcement of your wishes is no longer in your purview. See a attorney for a will or trust if your estate is complex or problematic but bear in mind this axim, which Prince’s heirs should consider as well, “There is a short moment in time when two people exchange something when it belongs to neither one. In that moment a lawyer manages to grab most of it.”
Camas blossoms and buttercups on Orcas Island
It was all uphill and for nothing. The legs burned all the way up and grew shaky and wobbly on the way back down. The goal was the top and nothing short of it would do. A sweat worked its way into the clothes, layer after layer came off until even the the hat was carried by hand. But goals are goals and must be met. Past the magnificent Garry oaks and their vistas of the over 400 islands below, clouds shrouding the peak, the goal. past the rocky outcrops covered in lush green moss, past the luxurious spring meadows spread with thousands of bright purple camas blossoms like a hundred thousand aubergine stars. Past the white and yellow blooms of wild strawberry and buttercup and past the hundreds of shades of new green, dark or pale, bright, shiny, dull, smooth, fuzzy, prickly, variegated and veined, all the greens that make the Pacific northwest the penultimate gardener’s paradise. On past it all, the goal Turtleback peak on Orcas island still obscured by clouds. The trail went from broad to narrow and back again, sometimes a gravel main wide enough for a pickup, then two parallel dirt paths where friends could walk side by side, then a single foot trail and onto soft green hummocks that had most of the fall and winter to develop while there was little traffic. At each turn there was a hillside above where trees informed that the top had not been achieved until finally a bit of sky shone through them and it was seen the clouds had moved on. But no vista, a pleasant meadow at the top, more flowers and rocky outcrops with moss but the trees surrounded all and obscured the view. Forget Turtleback and just drive to the top of Constitution and catch the astounding view from the stone tower at the highest point in the San Juan Islands. Mount Rainier can be seen on a clear day as can Vancouver Island, the Canadian Cascade range, the refineries of Birch Bay and Anacortes, Mount Baker and Glacier peak, Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, eagles soaring thousands of feet above the straights, cargo ships that are mere linear dots that leave white trails in the blue water. Forget the hike to the top, and the pastoral views of Crow Valley, the wonderful friendly pace of Orcas island and the bouquet of bright flowers on the outdoor table at the organic market in Eastsound and the beautiful young woman who arranged them and left them than for no other reason than to make a lovely day even more lovely. Forget that hike, if you can.
As the population increases and our human endeavors expand in scope and scale it is only logical that the waste we generate becomes more of a pertinent issue. What to do with it? Piling it all in the back yard helps the rats and mosquitoes multiply. Burning it exacerbates the ozone problem. Hauling it off to the dump costs money and our neighbors aren’t happy when we fill up their cans.
There really isn’t a problem existing that creative thinking can’t turn completely around into a net gain. The cup you see pictured above is but one example. Well, not the cup but its contents.
Chocolate, that sweet energizing treat that enjoys world wide popularity, as an industry, has its own set of unique challenges. Along with the growing, harvesting and production of cocoa and its many derivatives comes a mountain of husks. The plant itself is prolific and only so much of the husk material cost could be repurposed into mulch. What to do, well as turns out the stuff makes a great tea!
The taste is similar but distinct from that of cocoa, sort of a smooth, strong aromatic memory of chocolate itself and it has a tiny little caffeine kick. Not bad for a waste product.
It’s now marketed in boutique tea shops and worth a try if one is in the mood for something pleasantly different.