05 December 2012

Wish list

One large bag of salted shelled pistachios.
11-inch Macbook Air.
ENO doublenest hammock.
Salmon jerky and Sea kayak lessons.
Love and adventure that is healthy, surprising, and exciting.
New backpacking backpack.
Work that is active and fulfilling.

I will be sending out lots of jars of tincture and salve this week. Obviously, I've been struggling along the path to good labels. I've been getting some good feedback on the products-- on this recent trip to Baja, I managed to cure my instructor's heat rash overnight, and I learned that my homemade deoderant is really only good for cool weather climates--it kept melting in the Baja heat.   
Winter Spice Body Scrub
Oat and Almond Cleansing Grains
Pinyon Pine Healing Salve
Sweet Dreams Spray
Love Tincture, Sleep Tincture, Woman Tincture, Allergy Tincture
Woman Tea and Man Tea
Precious Facial Oil
Sandalwood Cuticle Cream
Coconut and Cedarwood Deodorant

That's about all for right now. I'm still looking for my next home and community, still planning on leaving Durango and Open Sky at the New Year. Didn't get the job in the Southwest, but I know that the lady who did get it will do a fine job. Somewhere along the line I will re-cert my WFR, and hopefully visit with Laura and Sky, go home to Seattle for a short stay, maybe spend two weeks learning about Permaculture. I want to become a better sea kayaker--perhaps they need a volunteer in Baja, or maybe I can snag some lessons in Half Moon Bay, or travel to Alaska to camp on snowy beaches. Lakeside school might have a few weeks of work in the spring. If Chris Moeller walks off into the wilderness for a few months, I would go learn some primitive skills from him. Lots of possibility, just need to find a way to balance adventure and learning with humdrum expenses.

08 November 2012

No title

There is a lesson in all of this.

I make plans, they don't work. I look forward to things, they don't happen. Work, love, life. Expectations are killing me.

19 September 2012

seasons turning

I took a walk in backyard last week, and discovered a herd of horses, a stream full of trout, fresh bear tracks, a picnic shelter, a swimming hole, and a whole lot more to explore. 

More trips back and forth to Boulder--this time I am not the one driving. Going up for a wilderness therapy conference at Naropa College, will get to wear nice clothes, chat people up, hopefully learn something, and as a bonus, I will just happen to be around for Rainbow's birthday. I've really been enjoying my summer romance, and hope that it can continue past September.

I have decided to wrap up wilderness therapy in December, at least as my full time job. I have been searching for something to fill the spring time with, hopefully educational and not too expensive. Boulder seems to be drawing me north, and much of my research has been pulling me there. I could also see myself at a NOLS base, or sailing in the South Pacific. Yoga ashrams, permaculture certificates, herbalism courses, prereqs for grad school, working at a college, I'm open to ideas, Universe. Please send something my way.

23 August 2012

Highs and Lows

Afternoon on Thursday. I am in Boulder. Rainbow is asleep, worn out from work. So I have his big shiny computer, and am fighting boredom. Free Kindle books are not calling my name at the moment, nor is working on the Open Sky resource binder. Got into an accident yesterday, my car is banged up. Getting it fixed sure throws a wrench into all of my plans--getting back to Durango, moving into my country house, getting to work. Also, bike stolen, and possibly a bout of e-coli fought, all in the past week. I am feeling much healthier now. Despite all of that, I love being up here and am having a very lovely time. Relaxing and adventurous all at once.

11 August 2012


Farmer's market bounty. Carrots, beans, apple, corn, green chile crossaint. Passed up 15 pound of nectarines for $15. Perfect for jam.

Cleaning house, carefully throwing things out, giving things away. Searching for my next landing pad.

Feeling tired, achy, never-full.

Looking forward to september, my favorite month.

A new Wait! Wait! comes out today.

30 July 2012

Two poems (not by me)

Raymond Carver

Left off the highway and
down the hill. At the
bottom, hang another left.
Keep bearing left. The road
will make a Y. Left again.
There's a creek on the left.
Keep going. Just before
the road ends, there'll be
another road. Take it
and no other. Otherwise,
your life will be ruined
forever. There's a log house
with a shake roof, on the left.
It's not that house. It's
the next house, just over
a rise. The house
where trees are laden with
fruit. Where phlox, forsythia
and marigold grow. It's
the house where the woman
stands in the doorway
wearing sun in her hair. The one
who's been waiting
all this time.
The woman who loves you.
The one who can say,
"What's kept you?"

First Lesson
Philip Booth

Lie back, daughter, let your head
be tipped gently back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's-float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

11 July 2012

yarrow-bird herbs run down

I've got my salve all done, and have sold three jars, but on two of them, the postage was half as much as what I was charging. Five jars of face scrub, going to make a couple sample jars of body scrub (totally different) and over twenty tins of tea, in five types. I thought I would post a final accounting of the tea recipes and a general overview of the products.

Pine Sap Salve- Pinyon pine pitch, chapparal leaf, st. john's wort leaf, olive oil, beeswax, juniper essential oil. $5 small jar $8 large

Facial Cleansing Grains (face scrub/mask)- oats, almonds, rose petals, calendula petals, hibiscus, orange peel, clay, baking soda, essential oils. $10 large jar

Precious Facial Oil- Hemp seed oil, pumpkin seed oil, tamanu oil, olive oil, argan oil, rosehip seed oil, essential oils of niaouli, cedarwood, sweet orange, and lavender. $15 small bottle

Body Scrub- Coarse sea salt, olive oil, coconut oil, essential oils. $5 jar

Dream tea: encourages vivid dreams and restful sleep.
(mugwort, chamomile, lavender, carob, skullcap, valerian, hops, lemon balm, passionflower) $12 large tin

Summer tea: celebrate sunny days, stay healthy, purify skin and blood, and has a cooling effect.
(red clover, meadowsweet, elderberry, rosehip, hibiscus, stevia, lemon verbena, blackberry leaf, elder flower) $12 large tin

Autumn tea: build your health and strength to gear up for the dark days ahead, anti-inflammatory, balances the body as it transitions from summer to winter.
(yarrow, chickweed, holy basil, burdock, sage, peppermint, echinacea, eucalyptus) $12 large tin

Woman tea: to nourish your inner warrior woman, encourage balanced energy, prevent UTIs, and lighten cramps.
(raspberry leaf, nettle, rose, chrysanthemum, spearmint, lady's mantle) $13 large tin

Man tea: to awaken your inner medicine man, help with digestion, heal bruises and sore muscles, and encourage quick thinking.
(clove, fennel, orange peel, licorice, oatstraw, cinnamon, ashwaganda, siberian gingseng, ginger, yohimbe, catuaba, muira puama, saw palmetto, gotu kola, stevia) $13 large tin

27 June 2012


Once every three to four weeks, our students are put out on "solos." The week starts out just as normal and the first day of expo we hike to the solo site. The next morning there is a ceremony to begin the process. The students are not told what is happening beforehand but many of them guess and speculation is fierce. During the ceremony we stand in a circle around a medicine wheel and call in the four directions. Each student has a pile of stones in front of them and will use these to encircle themselves, signifying separateness from the group and beginning the silence of solos. Often there will be a reading or some theme for solos will be introduced--self love, the wild self, messages from the earth, creating a community. This time it is music, and the reading is called They're Singing Your Song.

We sit down and run them through the nitty gritty rules of solos--clothes must stay on, don't fall asleep until you can see three stars, stay in your area, call your name if there is an emergency, continue to practice yoga and meditation. Then we spread the students out and one by one lead them blindfolded to their sites. For each student I lug a five gallon cube of water out to them. My fingers are swollen and throbbing by the time we get to student #6.

Every two hours we do a round, checking in on each student. We give meds, check feet, dispense bug/sun/tooth/1st aid supplies, wash their hands, act as a lending library, work on fire kits, and encourage them to drink water. In between rounds we carve spoons, do paperwork, read aloud, cook dinner for everyone, journal, sleep, dream, and worry about the huge plume of smoke on the southern horizon. We call in on the satellite phone and our boss tells us it is 20 miles away, not to worry. We worry. And watch the helicopters zoom to and fro, listen to the distant sounds of chainsaws, wake up at 2:30 am to see the pink glow of the backburn on the ridgeline across from us. It is blazing hot and there is a steady breeze. No rain in over a month. We are all on fire ban. Walking rounds, it feels as though you have been shoved into an oven. 

The girls as well as guides are battling bugs--the cedar gnats are far worse than the mosquitoes. No amount of bug dope seems to help. I am covered in bleeding sores, dirt, sunburn, and sweat. It is not my best look. 

Solos will last 2 or 3 nights. On the morning of the last day, we take all of their p-time (books, paper, pens) to force them to sit with themselves without distraction. For some, the boredom is unendurable. We will close the solos again with ceremony, each girl removing their rock circle and returning it to the whole. They will share their experience, and then we will plunge back into the routine--showers, laundry, deep clean, and chores, therapist meetings, letters from home, tears and shrieks of laughter, a group together once more.


4 packages of tea tree facial wipes
2 bottles of peppermint spirits, for cooling the body
ultraslim kitchen scale
old photo of three dudes and their car, stuck in the mud
druidcraft tarot deck and tarot books
bottles, jars, and tins
a shirt and dress from the Pike Place Market
a wonderful note from Jessica Fuller, who is off to her first NOLS course in Scandanavia!

15 June 2012

off shifts

red itchy eyes, huckleberry beer, 10 cent books, zia burrito, sewing lessons, clean room, 10 dollar couch, picnic lunch, 8 mile hike, hotsprings, sunburn, plane tickets, postcards, arborwear pants, bike rides, sushi bowl, jonathan, nate, rainbow, dan, caroline.

more revisions

1: uva ursi, stevia, elderflower, hibiscus
2: oatstraw, lady's mantle, lemon balm, ginger
3: raspberry leaf, nettle, rose, crysthanthemum

1: calendula, stevia, spearmint, meadowsweet
2: sage, elderberry, yarrow, orange peel
3: red clover, tulsi, blackberry leaf, lemon verbena

04 June 2012

a very rough draft


Revised recipes

Summer Tea:
1 Part: Stevia, yerba santa, meadowsweet, elder flower, linden, spearmint, orange peel

2 parts: Calendula, rosehip, sage, peppermint, lemongrass, elderberry
3 parts: red clover, roobis, tulsi

Woman Tea:
1 part: uva ursi, stevia, burdock
2 parts: lemongrass, ginger, spearmint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, oatstraw, alfalfa, lemon peel
3 parts: rose, nettle, chrysthanthemum, raspberry leaf, hibiscus

To be re-tested...

03 June 2012


Man tea and Dream tea pass the taste test but I need to up the flavor on the other two. Tweaking the recipes...

02 June 2012

cup of tea

Today i went down to the farmer's market and bought cheese and radishes. The sky was threatening a storm, but it is holding off for the moment. I bought a change jar and a dress and a pillow form from the thrift store. We bought beautiful fabric in Guatemala to make pillowcases, and now I finally have a working sewing machine. Stopped into Dancing Willow herbs to buy what seemed like 800 small baggies of herbs. Today was sample making day, and I have rough drafts of my four teas that I want to try out on people. Man tea, Woman tea, Summer tea, Dream tea. Here are the current mixes:

Man tea: to awaken your inner medicine man, help with digestion, heal bruises and sore muscles, and encourage quick thinking.

1 part of each: yohimbe bark, muira puama bark, cinnamon, clove, fennel, stevia
2 parts of each: eleuthero, orange peel, ashwaganda, ginger, saw palmetto, gotu kola, licorice
3 parts: oat straw

Woman tea: to nourish your inner warrior woman, encourage balanced energy, prevent UTIs, and lighten cramps.
1 part: uva ursi, stevia
2 parts each: hibiscus, lemon verbena, oatstraw, alfalfa, lemon peel
3 parts each: rose, nettle, chrysthanthemum, raspberry leaf

Summer tea: celebrate summer, stay healthy, purify skin and blood, and has a cooling effect. Makes great iced tea.
1 part: stevia, yerba santa, sage, elderflower, linden
2 parts each: calendula, rosehip, meadowsweet, peppermint, lemongrass
3 parts each: red clover, rooibos, tulsi 

Dream tea: encourages vivid dreams and restful sleep.
1 part: hops, carob
2 parts each: lemon balm, passion flower, skullcap, lavender
3 parts each: chamomile, mugwort

01 June 2012

Daydreaming during the faculty summit

Allie's summer camp. Flat open meadow, forested edges, gentle hill. Butted up to mountains. Beach? Could be happy with a lake. Big garden with garden house, kitchen and open eating area. Teepees, yurts, timber frame lodge with big porch. Boat barns and storage sheds. Outfitting room. Cob/bale staff housing. Library/natural history museum with inviting hammocks. Office. Crafting and workshop. Chickens and ducks. Parking lot and auto bay. One green field for games. A great gathering place/ fire ring. Goals? Activities? Off season? Ages? 4 weeks of trad camp, 4 weeks of trips with older students. Family camp/ bushcraft/ weddings/ herbalism/ building projects. Canoes in the cascades/hiking/top roping/sea kayak in the salt water. baby sailboats on the lake? Formal classes and school credit/ artisan getaways. Cabin groups of 6-8 2 groups of each age grouping, about 100 kids max. Interns Tripping program juniors and seniors. Create gear/ prep/ team build. 4 trips, 8 kids, mixed gender. 1 sea kayak, 2 hike/rock. 1 canoe. 2 staff each. 2 weeks of actual expedition. Time before and after. Closing with sharing of stories, songs, dramatic reenactments. Goals: self awareness connection to nature, teambuilding. EMT team instead of camp nurse. With wilderness therapy background? Aim for useful crafts-can make sandals, hats, candles. Sweatlodge or sauna. Strong ceremonies/traditions. lol NOLS prepatory academy. Winter time-free housing for intentional community. Work trade. Big grant? Poetry, song, art, stories. Natural history, natural awareness, tracking. Semester program? They could plant the garden for the summer. Tech savvy?


Just before I fell asleep last night, an image floated through my head. There is a puzzle, a picture of a mountainous landscape. We might be pieces from the same puzzle. And we might even fit together, concave to convex. It isn't a perfect fit, but it could pass. But clear your tired eyes and you will see--we belong in different corners, not locked together. One of us is sky colored and one is earth and tree colored, and there are other pieces that will support your unique shape better than I ever could.


Sleeping poolside
Creosote, chlorine, faded perfume
Whisper of bird wing feathers
Cools sheets, soft bed
Soft skin, heavy limbs
I smile into your shoulder
And stretch my hand
Into the sunshine above our sheltering wall
Wondering (in wonder)
Surprised (life is surprising)

Cochise Stronghold

Driving home after a day under the summer-blue sky
sore shoulder, scraped shins
burnt noses, goals achieved
A day spent in laughter,
falling and sending
connected the the world
fingers and toes
by slender lines reaching up into rock
connected to each other
sunburn and ice cream
by farting, campfires, nights spent out under the stars

Rattling down the rocky pink-dust road
light slanting into low afternoon
it picks out the lichen, highlighter green
striping the rosy granite
Dry grass and green mesquite
in the southern arizona savannah
cracked and crazed
boulders, fingers, faces
where the skin of the old earth
has peeled away
balanced, fallen, holding secrets

In the van with the dust-filled brakes
radio turned up
four rows of cascading conversation
laughter and voices overlap
Jess is dancing in the front seat
There is a tension over my heart
My body feels swollen with joy
skin filled out to the last freckle
community, litter mates, contentment
In this moment our past and future selves merge
and all the world narrows to right now

21 February 2012

Pathway Work Part 2

Showers are 15 minutes each. I heat up a stockpot full of water on the stove, and then pour it into a 5 gallon bucket and call over a student. They take the bucket and a few drops of camp suds, along with their clean laundry, back to the "shower," which is three tarps hung from juniper trees behind the teepee. They must call their name out loud every three to five seconds as they shower. It is more of a billy bath than a shower, really, as the girls stand in the snow and strip down half at a time, washing their top, putting on a clean shirt, than washing their lower half, and putting on clean long underwear. Usually the girls wear a cotton tee, a thin long undershirt, a thick long undershirt, a red fleece pullover, and a blue windstopper fleece coat. On the bottoms they wear their thin long underwear, their thick long underwear, blue fleece pants, and the shorts from their hiking pants. Sometimes they will also wear their raincoat bottoms. The current trend is to wear things inside out and backwards. I don't know why. While showers are happening, girls are stacking wood, helping me cook pizza, and doing "deep clean." Every week, they wash the pots and pans, food bags, spice bottles, and cups with soap, bleach, and hot water. There is lots of wandering around at this point, starting to help and then getting distracted, getting some lunch, asking for more food, forgetting things in the teepee and asking staff to go with them to get it, and general slow motion chaos. With lots of prodding, it all happens and we begin crossing chores off our list. We cook the pizza in the coals in dutch ovens and it is a raging success, fluffy yeast dough with caramelized onions and sharp cheddar cheese. We used almost an entire stick of butter caramelizing the onions. My cook's helper is from New Orleans.

With hair wash, we set up a salon on the deck. I heat more water and have the girls brush out their hair. Everyone puts on rain jackets and tucks in the hood. Then they stand just below the deck and bend over and I carefully pour the hot water over their hair. Shampoo and conditioner are passed around and there is lots of calling out of my name and demanding more water or more conditioner or more time or a different temperature, but eventually it is done and everyone goes back to the fire to dry their hair before it freezes. At this point they start asking for their mail, and I know the day is starting to draw to a close.


12 February 2012

Dinner Party Menu

One bottle of red wine
Two carafes of iced tea that "smells like christmas and tastes like summer"
One large container of whisky
Endless supply of tap water
V-8 Juice

Lemon and pepper almonds
Green olives

Jeweled rice
Moroccon chicken with prunes and figs
Roasted cauliflower with cumin seeds
(Feta yogurt sauce and pomegranate seeds)
Spinach and red cabbage salad
(Orange tahini dressing)
Dinner Rolls

Jonathan's poppy seed cake

And games from the book "After Dinner Games"!

09 February 2012

Pathway Work Part 1

Daily life at Open Sky. I think we'll start with a base camp Monday schedule.

Monday morning, my alarm goes off at 6:50. I struggle with the zipper of my -20 degree sleeping bag, open it up, and then lay back down for 10 minutes. At 7:00, I shimmy out of my bag, take my puffy jacket that I have wrapped around my feet, pull it on, and am fully dressed. I slide my feet into my liners and overboots, grab the med bag, food bag, camp chair, and paperwork, and head outside the teepee to the camp center fire. The sun is just rising and the tops of the junipers are silhouetted with a line of pink and orange. It is going to be a beautiful day. I drop my stuff by the firepit and walk down the bust trail out of site to pee. I wash my hands with a few drops of Dr. Bronner's rose soap and several handfuls of cold, cold snow. Next step is getting the fire going. Sometimes there are banked embers that I can coax back into flame, sometimes my co-guide will bust a coal with his bow drill set. Sometimes I soften up some juniper nesting and pull out my lighter. We build the fire high, warm our hands, and set our metal Klean Kanteen water bottles in the fire to boil for tea. We talk about the coming day, disscuss students, answer questions like "Why are wilderness metaphors important  in the field?" We drink tea, eat oats, rice crispie treats, cheesy torts. We do call in on the radio, letting the field manager know that we are doing just fine. Then it is time to wake up the ladies.

We walk back to the teepee. Sometimes they will already be awake, tending thier own fire, writing letters home. Sometimes they will be soundly asleep, buried as deeply as possible inside their sleeping bags. We tease, sing, cajole them to get up! Put on your pants! They are wearing baggy fleece pants, but it is the rule that they must wear hiking pants over these. They slowly rise, go out to pee one at a time, and then we all walk out to the kitchen to get their food bags. I dole out soap, eucalyptus this time, for another snow handwash, and we duck back inside the warm teepee. Breakfast is cold oats or warm oats, granola, cheese, trail mix, spoonfuls of peanut butter--whatever they have left at the end of the week. Food resupply is tomorrow. After they eat, they must show me their clean cup, and then it is in to hygiene time. Witch hazel and pads are passed around, the witch hazel bottle starts to melt from the heat of the fire and is rescued, toothpaste is passed, and sunscreen after. Floss and foot powder are optional. I unlock the med bag, find my black pen, and administer morning medications. Then comes the challenging moment where they have to put on their boots and overboots, crusty with mud. The ladies know what is coming next and they move slowly, joking around, asking me lots of diverting questions, stopping to brush hair. We've got to do wood and water runs today.

Our Cleo camp is about a quarter mile from the Open Sky parking lot, where the cistern and five gallon cubes are stored. We have sleds and wheelbarrows, but even with those, it isn't easy to get back and forth on our trail, which at the moment is snowy, icy, and very muddy. We decide that four 5s will be enough for showers and hairwash, cooking and drinking. There is lots of stopping, things fall off the sled, lines bite in to hands and waists, frustration, anger, temper tantrums come to the surface. We give them a little time, and then keep going. Each lady will fall at least once during this run, one of them headfirst into the frozen mud. We drop the water, encourage everyone to drink from their Nalgene bottles and turn around for wood. There is a good wood pile in camp, but the wood is still green, and smokes terribly in the teepee. There is a larger, drier pile down at the road, halfway between camp and the parking lot, so we set out again, at the same slow pace. One of the guides will get the axe from the field manager's cabin so that we can split these big chunks into small pieces that will burn faster, hottest, and with less smoke. Smokey teepees are killer. Chopping wood is one of my favorite guide chores.

To be continued...

31 January 2012


Travel stories soon to come after this week of work.