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