Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"What Is To Be, Will Be; What Ain't To Be Just Might Happen."

I have a theory I've been testing for a few years, now.  Actually, I don't really believe in "theory," because to me experience is reality and that leaves no room for theory, if you think about it.  Whatever you experience is real and true in your own head and what else is there?  I can't really experience what is in someone else's head, what is someone else's reality, and I certainly can't argue someone else's experience.  But let me not get to be too esoteric and boring...(doesn't it bore you when someone harps about things that can't be proved or really even explained very well?)

So here's my theory which is actually my reality: When I face (some would say "plan") something sort of big, like a trip or a move or another kind of change, I pretty much know whether it's going to take place or it isn't just by whether or not I get excited about it.  Sometimes, something doesn't happen no matter how much I plan and prepare and I know it's probably not going to come to pass because I have a flat feeling about it.  I can imagine myself being in the situation and it's not all that exciting or even very pleasant and there is no reason I can see that it shouldn't be wonderful.  Sometimes I even tell myself or others that I don't really want to be doing it, but can't say why.  One might think, then, that I sabotage the whole venture, but, as in the case of my last didn't-happen trip that I felt unsure about, it was the weather that shut it down.   I was ready to board that plane and take off, knowing that if I really went it would be a great trip, but in my head it was not feeling like a great trip, so I was not surprised at all when I got the call that the weather was too dangerous to count on.

Now you know, we can't even predict the weather, let alone control it.  And that's how I've been "testing" my theory.  I go along and go along as if things are going to take place, and if I feel happy and eager about it, I realize it must be the truth and it must be going to take place.  If I feel blah and even reticent, I tell myself not to worry because it's probably not going to happen, no matter how many plane tickets I purchase, or how much laundry and packing I tackle, or even how much I try to talk myself into looking forward to it.  Something always comes up which is not of my own doing. 

Another example:  I'm planning on moving into another apartment with another person, in order for us to both save some money.  I look forward to it.  Not especially the moving part, but even that doesn't feel as odious as it has at times in the past.  I found a place that I thought had a lot of potential for a new home.  Perfect location, glorious view, just right size and not a bad price, although I think we can find something less expensive and with other amenities that we would like.  And even as I liked this place, enjoyed being in it talking to the owner, I had a sort of flat feeling about it.  I tried to think about why I must not be excited about it, and even considering the drawbacks, I couldn't figure it out...until I reminded myself that it must just not be the place in which I am going to end up living.  No real reason except that it just isn't in the cards, as they say.

And sure enough, it didn't pan out--not because I had a negative feeling about it nor because I decided against it, but because we need a place that accepts my roommate's beloved cats, and this place didn't.

If anyone has read this far in this post, you are probably ready for some pictures to save the day.  So here you go.

I have been feeling so happy about this work trip (to Palmer, Willow, Talkeetna)from the moment it popped into my head that now is a good time to take it. Walking-down-the-halls-at-work-talking-to-myself happy about it.  This winter has been record-breaking. Fifty-year record-breaking, I heard.  It was still breaking records when I planned this road trip, but I was excited about it, cold or not, and knew from that feeling that somehow the weather and nothing else would stop me.  And it hasn't.  Not because I'm unstoppable nor because I'm stubborn and headstrong, but because it was just going to happen.  It has been sunny and warm enough for me to go about a lot of business without even putting on a coat in an area that was 40 below a few short days ago.

So, to put it a little more succinctly, I sort of believe/think/feel/ that rather than things happening in my life because I want or encourage or work for them to,  what's really going on is that I get excited about them because they are going to happen.

I don't know.  It's just a theory.

And here's where I say "Goodnight,"

and dream about tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Can I Ask You A Question?

Let The Games Begin

I keep thinking I will write a blog post rather than show a blog post once in a while. As you may remember, I started my blog after I bought my first digital camera a few years ago and it has always been one of my youthful dreams to take really good pictures. I derive such pleasure from looking at good photographs--almost as much as I love reading a very well-turned phrase. And yeah, ok, I used to have dreams of being a crafty writer, too, but...well, for now, I'll settle for (and enjoy) playing tag games on blogs.

Here's the back story: A blogosphere acquaintance (http://nicolemoncur.blogspot.com/) has challenged me to answer some questions she posed, and then to play-it-forward by "tagging" other bloggers with questions of my own. The tagging part might be more challenging than answering the questions, because I keep running up against some very annoying roadblocks on blogger with commenting, uploading pictures, etc. But oh poo-let's just leave that stuff behind for now and get to the questions I've been asked to answer:

What is your favorite book and why?
No one favorite, as you might imagine. It's even difficult to choose a favorite genre, but here's the first dog-eared, loose-paged, well-worn book that popped into my mind's eye.

The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten because it's wonderfully and surprisingly hilarious and poignant.  It's not necessarily the best book I've ever read or the most important or the most indispensable, but I laugh so much when I read it that it still makes me smile broadly just to remember when I first discovered it.  It is, in Mr. Rosten's own words:  
"a relaxed lexicon of Yiddish, Hebrew, and Yinglish words often encountered in English, plus dozens that ought to be, with serendipitous excursions into Jewish humor, habits, holidays, history, religion, ceremonies, folklore, and cuisine–the whole generously garnished with stories, anecdotes, epigrams, Talmudic quotations, folk sayings, and jokes.” 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
This is probably the most impossible (are there degrees of impossible?) question to answer.  I often have no idea where I might find myself in 10 minutes, let alone after a whole decade passes.  And that is not to say that a whole decade is very long, even.  Especially at this point in my life, but how in the world did I end up where I am now from where I have been at various times in my life?! 

You might wonder that I don't have a plan or a goal  or even a dream, but I really don't.  All I know is that I would like to have enough of what ever it takes to fall as in love with that season and place of my life as I have with most of the others.   

If I were to pick an unspecified moment 10 years from now, I think a road trip would be a nice thing to be doing. With anyone I like. Discovering an unusual vista, meeting a new friend, chomping on chocolate.   

Where is your favorite restaurant and what do you order there?
Similar to the question about books.  Who can choose, but I love Korean food.  I like it best in Korea, in a traditional Korean eatery with low round tables and 100 side dishes.  The kind of kimchi that's wrapped around secreted tidbits like chestnuts, dates, and other vegetables.  Sesame oil on rice cakes filled with honey and sesame seeds. Smokey, grilled marinated beef, red pepper paste, short-grain rice, barley tea...oh, and spicy, spicy stir-fried squid.  And don't forget the napkins.  Lots and lots of napkins!

What was your first childhood memory? 
Most likely something to do with a doll.  I used to anthropomorphize my little doll friends, even though I had lots of siblings and loved playing with them, and had no real need of creating imaginary friends, unless leprechauns and fairies fit into that category.  Dolls with pretty hair.
OR...riding a tricycle with my little cousin down to the school yard where city workers told us they were digging for the devil just before their tools ruptured a water main that came spewing forth, sending me screaming and running to save my very life and soul.  Pleasant experience, that.

What is the most daring thing you have ever done or what are you the most proud of accomplishing? 
Surviving.  But I don't take credit for that. 

And so finally, here are questions and bloggers I have tagged because that looks like how the game is played.  These are the people I think would be most likely to play this game. Of course, I would love to read anyone's answers to the questions, so if anyone feels inclined to answer them and come up with your own with which to tag people, it's kind of fun.
  1. Which of the four seasons do you most anticipate and why?
  2. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose and why?
  3. Which activities make you lose track of time and how often do you do them?
  4. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  5. What do you consider to be the most halcyon season of your life?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Place Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder Built

During the years I lived in Ogden, Salt Lake City and San Francisco, I (sometimes we) took several trips over the years across Nevada and on one such trip, after having driven by this place just outside of Winnemucca, NV, numerous times without stopping, I had a change of heart, turned my car around and drove the messed up dirt road to get to Thunder Mountain, Nevada.  You can see it from the highway, but it doesn't look very appealing.  It just looks ... odd.  Up close, it looks ... still odd. 

It has a draw, though.  To me, it was like searching those hidden-picture puzzles that I think are so clever.  This was a few years ago, so maybe it's in a better state of repair these days.  The website certainly looks much prettier than what I remember of my visit to this lonely little roadside oddity and it tells of restoration, along with some background and history of Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder, the man who built the monument.

The story is quite interesting.  Tragic and mesmerizing, if you're into that at all.


Monday, January 9, 2012

A Little Bit of Enchantment (More Road Trip Pageantry)

This is the previously-mentioned trip to New Mexico through Ouray--nothing about Ouray in this post, but I sure like thinking about Ouray and saying it correctly which is "Your Ray."

"When the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe was completed in 1878, there was no way to access the choir loft twenty-two feet above. Carpenters were called in to address the problem, but they all concluded access to the loft would have to be via ladder as a staircase would interfere with the interior space of the small Chapel.
Legend says that to find a solution to the seating problem, the Sisters of the Chapel made a novena to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. On the ninth and final day of prayer, a man appeared at the Chapel with a donkey and a toolbox looking for work. Months later, the elegant circular staircase was completed, and the carpenter disappeared without pay or thanks.

After searching for the man (an ad even ran in the local newspaper) and finding no trace of him, some concluded that he was St. Joseph himself, having come in answer to the sisters' prayers."

Or, maybe it was Homer Smith.

"The design was innovative for the time and some of the design considerations still perplex experts today.

The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. Also, it is said that the staircase was built without nails—only wooden pegs. Questions also surround the number of stair risers relative to the height of the choir loft and about the types of wood and other materials used in the stairway's construction."

I like it because it's so pretty.  And shiney.

All of the pictures above this point were taken in Santa Fe.  This one below was just somewhere on the road, 

and these flamingos are denizens of Farmington, NM, where we spent several years when I was a child,

and spent a lot of my sofa pennies on these treats.

I took the pictures of the backs of my traveling companions while they thought I was off enjoying some little tourist attraction or other...little did they know, I enjoyed watching them more.  (Brother, sister, sister's grandson.)

Breakfast in Cuba, pronounced Kyuba and not Cooba. 

Anyone who's ever traveled that route might wonder how we came to be in Cuba at breakfast time.  Either coming or going, it's not situated strategically for a breakfast stop.  (I'm going to be nice and not call it the little pee-spot that some might consider it to be.)

See, what happened is, we had planned to lodge overnight in Farmington on the way down, but couldn't settle on an appropriate place to stay.  If you recall, our schedule was a tad bit compromised by having blinked at the Moab turnoff earlier in the day and we had already decided we would just "play it by ear" when it came to pulling in for sleep somewhere.  Free spirits, the lot of us! 

We people always, always and most usually, spend the night in Farmington when making that trip to Roswell from Ogden.  This night, however, we weren't sure so we hadn't made reservations.  That meant we had to drive around and see what was available.  Armstrong driving around is something for the books, trust me.  If you have four of us in a car, you're going to have at minimum five opinions about every decision (but Kaid is so easy-going this time it was five decisions divided among three people) with each opinion usually beginning like this:  "I don't care either way--you guys decide.  I'm just along for the ride." 

Condense the story and you have no vacancies, seedy vacancies, let's -just-check-the-one-across-the-street-and-come-back-here-if-we-don't-like-it vacancies that can quickly become no vacancies, and then strange places with strange people hanging around in the lobby and scary people pointing "gun-fingers" at us.  FOR NO REASON.  (I might need to get new glasses, because I thought they were just greeting us until Kaid asked why I waved at someone pretending to shoot a gun.)

We decided to make a break for Cuba instead.  At least we called ahead to check for rooms in the only place open there at that hour.  But not open for long--we got there on the nose before it was closed for the evening.  Got there through a rainstorm, might I just add.  Got there to share a couple of rooms with a couple of other life forms.  Well, not really life forms as they lay scattered and dead in the windowsills, but at least the ones in NM aren't as big as the ones in Texas. 

Hence and ergo--a very good breakfast in Cuba, New Mexico.  You can tell by the happily glowing faces in the picture that we weathered the little setback quite well.  Breakfast was on its way and we were hungry and in New Mexico where you just can't get a bad meal.   I think it has something to do with the soil where the peppers grow.

If you play your cards right, someday I might just post my mom's recipe for New Mexico stacked enchiladas.  Don't bother expecting a picture of them, though.  No time for cameras and picture-taking when Nancy's enchilada supper is being inhaled.