Music's Like a Snuggie for Your Soul


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Trip One

Well, whew, we survived two trips so far. They couldn't have been more different. 

Trip number one felt something like a journey through a butter churn. Physically it wasn't terribly strenuous, but mentally it was taxing as feck. The first trip of the year is always more difficult on account that things need to be gathered and checked and rid of dirt and dust and whatever funky patina has accumulated over the off season (in our case, in some of the boats, worms had taken residence- :oP ) 

We were stoked to deadhead (float down without guests) the first 50 miles, but our outfitter decided we'd jet-boat up with them instead. So we get to drive 9 hours to the usual take-out. Naturally, we get a flat tire which is usually no big deal, only the jack doesn't go high enough and it's dark. After an hour or so of scrounging, we finally find some log rounds to wedge between the trailer and the jack and get the tire changed. By the time we get to the river and find some place to camp we're already greasy and exhausted and the trip hadn't even started.

Thank God my fellow guide was extremely, incredibly, competent and a top-notch, grade A bad ass. I think of all the guides i've ever worked with and struggle to think of one that wouldn't have just lost it. In fact, i'm sure anyone else would've snapped and murdered the hell bitch of a guest we ended up with. I'd still be out there waiting for the coroner. It was a case of our first impression being oh so very, very wrong. On first inspection, this woman seemed fun and adventuresome, athletic and up for a good time. While she may have been fit, she turned out to be downright wicked. It only took her 50 some-odd hours to get under both of our skins.

We were already spread thin being there were only two of us to do absolutely everything. Then, much to our chagrin we were faced with a conundrum of the sort you strive to avoid at great costs. On our trips we practice leave-no-trace camping so we pack and haul everything out- ashes, food scraps, turds, trash, everything. So i'm setting up our fecal receptacle box dealywhopper (which we call the 'groover'), and i come to realize the lid is stuck. Crazy, fricking, stuck. I try everything i can including banging on the thing with rocks and a rubber mallet, to no avail. One of the guests asks Iris, my fellow guide, "is that banging i hear up there in the woods?" Ha. So Iris comes to my aid. She's never experienced anything like it either, so we began to worry something was really wrong and maybe the contents were under pressure. Being it was the first trip, we feared perhaps it sat all winter and festered itself into a terrible, volatile mixture. We pulled down our shades and prayed as we pried our ever-loving hearts out, but we still couldn't get the sucker off. So i'll be damned if we didn't acquire (he offered before we solicited) the help of one of our guests. Oh. my. gosh. It took the three of us grunting and sweating and cursing to finally, finally get the confounded lid off of the can. By the grace of God it was only stuck by mechanical forces, and the box was only holding a bit of water and no horrid, biohazardous materials.

So an hour later, we're able to commence with the normally-scheduled program (all this following a two-hour delay on account a couple of our guests arrived late) So we're, waaaay behind at this point and we still need to feed these people. Fortunately we have some snacks and appetizers to appease them in the meantime. When it's all said and done, we find ourselves feeding them in the dark (which is really saying something up here in Idaho a few days away from the Solstice). It was at least ten. We go to bed exhausted, sure that tomorrow will bring better things.

We start around 05:15 knowing in addition to preparing breakfast and the usual camp stuff, we still have boats to blow up and rig. The outfitter sent us with one dinky hand pump and a foot pump. Suffice it to say we satisfied our morning's worth of calisthenics. 

Of course nothing went together smoothly as they tend not to when feeling rushed. Our guests were antsy and the boat-rigging chore that usually takes 90 minutes turned into a 2-hour ordeal. Our favorite guest, Ms. Snatchy McSnatcherson continually expressed her desire to be out on the water, yet refused to lift a finger in order to expedite the process. She did however, stand in the shade and do bicep curls with her day bag. Later she told me, "I've done all this before. I'm really tempted to help you girls, but i'm just having too much fun watching."

We pushed off at basically lunch time. Iris told me when McSnatch situated herself in the back of her boat she expressed her gladness in reclining back and watching Iris' muscles while she rowed. We doled out snacks and apologized, but a head wind had already kicked up and we had to make a few more miles. Snatchy McSnatch declined our trail mix and various snacks, saying she'd wait until lunch to eat and proceeded to point out every last sand bar they passed along the way. Later she explained she has undiagnosed hypoglycemia so she needs to stop and eat every two hours. I'm not sure how Iris suppressed an eye roll in reply on account she has verified hypoglycemia as a result of her cancer and the lady had turned down everything we offered. We ended up camping at a toasty, rocky beach even while a shadier, sandier one existed nearby, so that we could placate our antsy McSnatcherson with a hike.

It gets hotter and drier as the river drops lower into the canyon. Where we camped it was basically sage and Ponderosa pine country, yet just up a creek nearby it's a lush, shady oasis of ferns and thimble berries and stands of endangered Pacific Yew trees (a species that's been over-harvested for a chemotherapeutic agent found in their bark).  We set up the kitchen and the groover (which, thankfully, after a lubing and a scouring was less of a bear to open back up) and got our guests set and chillin out in the shade with drinks at the mouth of the creek. It was a couple hours since we'd pulled in, but we still had plenty of daylight. I got the meat goin low and slow in a dutch oven and asked Iris if she'd mind fending for herself in camp for an hour or two while I hiked whomever was interested. She knew McSnatcherson would be into it and said, "YES, please take her."

So i scored the sweet hiking gig. Everyone else was content relaxing so McSnatchy and I slipped on some shoes and headed up the trail. It was a delightful reprieve from the sun we'd endured in the open canyon. Cool air wafted up from the riffles in the creek as we made our way up the narrow drainage. A new care-taker (one of my friends) lives in a cabin three miles up and had the trail in the best condition i've ever seen it. McSnatcherson kept lamenting that i should've just let her go by herself earlier so she'd have time to hike farther. I'd already explained to her that we couldn't in good conscious let her go alone. (Although now i realize it may have been in the interest of the common good if she met her fate with nobody to save her out in the back country of the second deepest canyon in the U.S.) We trod out a good six miles round-trip and headed back in time for me to help Iris serve dinner. I felt bad for stranding her and foisting everything but the meat detail on her, but she's a superhero and had everything under control.
When we plodded in Iris asked her how the hike was. "It was alright. Kind of overgrown."
"How were the Yew trees?"
"Okay. Kinda barky. It was sort of dark- hard to take pictures."
After she walked away we both exchanged looks of mutual sentiment- Oh my God. Forget this bitch.

Thank the lord our trip wasn't the usual 5-6 day duration because neither of us were equipped to spend another minute with this woman. Every morning she stripped down and stood shin deep in the river and scrubbed her buck naked body in front of everyone, even while it was possible to do so around the corner out of view. She tried to convince me to cut my hair short, "It's so easy. My hair is really soft. I'll only charge you a dollar to pet me." Oh boy! 

We never stopped going. At one time one of our guests asked when we got to take a break and Iris and i both agreed it was when we were out on the water rowing our boats. We'd be busy preparing a meal or setting up camp and McSnatcherson would ask us to catch crickets for her to fish with. We'd be slicing vegetables for lunch and she'd come ask for the Gatorade mix which we gladly set out for her and she'd say, "I'd like 3 scoops please." So we'd scoop the mix into her water bottle for her. She'd shake it up and if it wasn't to her liking, she couldn't possibly add another by herself, so she'd ask us to scoop her one more. (We're not a fancy schmancy outfit. The trip was sold as an affordable wilderness adventure with cowboy coffee and rustic camping accouterments.) At the next lunch we had granola bars out at the end of the sandwich bar and we both stood and watched as she crammed handfuls of them into her pockets until they bulged out like she was wearing a pair of chipmunks. Twice around the campfire she tipped her chair over into me blaming the sand for the instability as she out-and-out mashed and groped me. 

I'm just so grateful she didn't ever ride on my boat. I have no idea how Iris didn't kill her. Once the trip was over and all the other guests had departed, McSnatcherson puttered around the ramp for what seemed like forever before she tipped us with her hand-made twig and dental floss fishing pole- cricket and all (because, she said, she knew we'd want something to remember her by).

As we de-rigged, Iris told me that all day the lady sat behind her and criticized her rowing. The last section is full of big eddy lines, whirlpools and boils that toss our big 18' boats around mercilessly at this high volume of water (running about twice what the Colorado is right now  in the Grand Canyon). Even the very best boatmen are going to get swirled or sloughed inadvertently into at least one or two of the eddies. The hell bitch would tell Iris she could see it coming from a mile away each time they were going to get caught by one of them and maybe they'd get there faster if she would just stop rowing. The girl is my idol. There's no way in Hell or Heaven i'd have the kind of self-restraint not to hurl the vile woman off the back of my boat and watch one of the whirlpools suck her down and shut her up forever. I'm sorry, but i really mean that. 

I felt so bad that all our other great guests had to put up with her. Two of them were teachers and i could've kissed them when they lined her out at one point in time for being a petulant wench. It's so sad how just one person can be so poisonous even while the overwhelming majority of the group is pleasant and gracious and easy-to-please.

I thanked my lucky stars again and again i didn't end up with a dud of a partner in the deal. We're like B.F.F.'s now. When i revealed to one of the guests, they were shocked to learn we'd only just met. We made a really great team. I kept having visions of what a disaster it would've been, in addition to the rest of it, if we hadn't gotten along. I can't imagine her concerns though, at the potential of having to deal with everything and a seizing crew member. I'm sure it crossed her mind. It definitely crossed mine. Fortunately, it was so stressful, it may have served to prevent anything from happening. (Which isn't to say stress isn't a trigger, it's just the coming down from it that gets me. I don't ever have issues during tests or high-pressure situations, but later i can almost count on it when things aren't dialed in well pharmaceutically.)

Plus, nothing of great consequence went wrong. Our runs were solid, the weather was prime, the stars were spectacular and the high volume water was big and awesome. We didn't run out of beer, the groover didn't explode and i can be ever grateful i'm the kind of person that can experience neat places and cool things and find joy in them. I'm so glad to not go through life constantly underwhelmed and disappointed like our snatchy, vicious, sociopath. 

I have more pictures, but they're stuck on a camera i forgot to pack the USB cord for. I apologize for the bitching and moaning. With any luck i'll get a post up about trip number 2 along with the pictures off my camera. Here's a phone pic of the sunset from last evening near our trip headquarters.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hi-ho hi-ho

We're driving now. I love, love, love Idaho. Save for the first forty minutes of the trip and a jag or two here and there, we meander alongside the river the entire way. It's a scenic son-of-a-gun. It's a long drive on account that i'll be guiding in what was (until a year ago) the largest wilderness area in the lower forty eight. Now the title belongs to Death Valley, California, but it sounds like a bit of a suffering place that could use a title to boost it's poor little (big) Death Valley spirits, so i'll let them have it. we have to drive about 8-9 hours to get from the end of the river trip to get back where we started (only a couple hundred miles as the crow flies). But there's hardly a mile that isn't breathtakingly beautiful. I've done the drive maybe a hundred times now and i never tire of it.

I especially enjoy it with my sister and her girlfriend Tami (which reminds me I still have yet a cast of characters to introduce you to, but in due time, assuming i keep with this still-fairly-daunting blogging endeavor.) but i'll grant you just about any is preferable to the company of a bunch of grubby river guides.

Well, i guess blogging in the backseat didn't last for long. I ended up driving for most of the trip when my travel buddies decided sobriety was a bit overrated. I still enjoy driving on account that i rarely do it, even with the dog. But the trip was great. I'm back in the Middle of Nowhere, Idaho. We got some stuff at the boat house sorted and the dry food goods packed. (Holy crap, i'm river guiding again!)

I have a swarm of stuff and things i'm eager to share, but i don't have internet where i'm staying, and my computer is running out of juice.

I've already run into old family friends and river buddies. It's a great little town to come back to.

I already spieled the guides i'll be working with on the trip this week. I'm always reluctant for seizure 101 to be the first impression, (i'm not so sure my stellar personality is enough to overcome such an interesting attribute) but the outfitter initiated the conversation and it needed to happen at some point or another, and it turns out i'll be guiding with a cancer survivor who's attaining her masters in special education (there is a god, methinks).

Another shot i snapped along the way. We thought it was smoke at first, but it was just some low-lying clouds. I think it captures my emotions pretty effectively- blue skies, i'm so stoked, but i can't quite shake an ever-present veil of fear clinging to my thoughts like a brisk, grey blanket. I don't know if i have it in me to fail right now. I'm still a little bit brittle. It all seems too good to be true.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Because I Can't Get Enough Laura Marling



Miss Olive B. Jackson

Olive Dog
It was almost a fluff post day. I'm trying to pack everything i own so i can schlep it to my next humble abode, while keeping the current house clean enough to be shown, plus i have to figure out which things i'll need for the summer and everything that needs to get done before i leave. Then, i found out my step-mom's dog died, so rather than fluffy, we're goin with furry today.

Hobie was a great dog. I don't have any pictures of him, but i'm sure my mom has elevendy million. It's always so devastating, the loss of a dog. They are true companions. Some people don't understand how we can mourn their deaths like that of a human, but scientists have found we develop intense oxytocin bonds with these creatures; the same chemical connection shared by moms and their babies. Learning this, i guess it makes a lot of sense, really.

I try not to think of losing my dog. I've had her about a year and a half now and i can't imagine living again without her. The notion makes me queasy. It's a major gripe i have with that real or theoretical intelligent designer- the huge discrepancy between dog and human life spans. It's cruel and unusual. She's already six (at least) and she's the best dog i will ever have, without a doubt.

I never thought i would have a service dog. I'd entertained the idea, i'd grown up with dogs and all, but i wasn't about to broadcast the fact that i had some kind of disability. Ack. Pretty much unless you were a lifeguard, my physician, or standing over the top of me wondering, What the Fuck?! I wasn't about to admit to anything.

But a bushel of serendipity tumbled out of the life tree, and we learned of a dog that a lady could no longer keep. We also learned of a training agency who does some work with seizure detection canines and they agreed to help us out.

It turned out the dog was already pretty remarkable behaviorally, in terms of public access, so we just needed them to help us train her in the whole seizure alert deal. Except, come to find, on account they don't really know yet what it is the dogs pick up on, they can't actually train them how to do it. So they just place them with people in faith that they'll figure it out.

So she went everywhere with us, and we hoped for the best. I was definitely skeptical. It was my impression it was some kind of Discovery Channel phenomenon, but she was pretty cute so what the heck.

It took about two months despite the fact that we'd even discouraged it initially. The warning she's able to offer was way further in advance than we ever imagined. So far, that it took us an embarrassing number of times to even associate the behavior with the seizure. We'd scolded her fearing we couldn't have an anxious, vocal dog out in public. Finally, we realized, duh. She's been doing it all along!

And has been, basically without fail now, ever since. One time she was in the stands and picked up on it while i was out playing ice hockey, so we were separated by some distance and a thick sheet of plexiglass. (Pretty impressive if it's an olfactory cue, that she could detect it over the pungent eau de hockey.)

Anyhow, she's saved me a gazillion in E.R. bills, and who knows how much bodily damage. She's a piece of mind, really. I can function socially with way less anxiety just having her with me, knowing i'll have enough time to find somewhere that's not amok with cars or people and save myself all sorts of dangerous and awkward. I can take her to the swimming pool and that alone is gold.

She's really the only reason i could even consider the river guiding gig. There's no biscuit-sniffing way in Hades i'd ever dream of rowing guests in my boat without Olive. I'm still floored about it. I'm no longer the most frequent flyer in our local E.R.. How freakin cool is that?! And she's adorable to boot. Who would've thought i could love a goofy, slobbery, furball, doo-doo factory so dang much?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jellyfish Brains

Things are kind of swimming and bobbing around like a bunch of jellyfish in my  head. I feel like a frayed nerve, to be honest. I hate to be melodramatic, but i think i'm still reeling from my Adventures so far in 2012.

I'm just out sporting my snorkel and my ping pong paddle, bouncing back and forth like a boxer on my toes, trying to shake the nerves from my limbs, waiting for shit to hit the fan again. I'm ready to lose the goggles and cast aside the pitiful shield forever, but i'm afraid to get my hopes up. It seems like this year has just been that way; i get my feet back under me, things go great, i'm elated and WOOSH! the rug gets yanked, or rather the magic carpet, and after a fall like that, you can't help but question whether it's a good idea to ever fly again at all.

I'm braced for the worst. I want to address my current status concerning the frequency of neuronal misfiring, but i'm afraid it's so tenuous, if i mention it, it might just stir the sleeping monster.

It's always a fine tight rope to walk- giving it consideration always, especially boating and biking and long, hot summer days; but trying not to fixate on it so as not to manifest anything undue. Akin to living in a garden with a tiger, always lurking, always much too close; much too close for comfort. 

Some days he's stealthy and invisible, hidden in the reeds and the lush. Others, he's out basking, lolling about seemingly docile, a presence that's distracting, and tiring, but ultimately not much worse than an unsettling reminder, a chill down your spine, a disconcerting glint of teeth in close proximity from the corner of your eye.

But then, there are days when the tiger's appetite returns, and the harmless kitty becomes a vicious, snarling and insatiable Mephistopheles. A beastly, evil monster, robbing all the best of you. Stealing your trust, stripping away your sense of security and breaking it's spine with a violent shake. Merciless jaws crush and puncture and clench away life between clamped teeth until the writhing abates.

Eventually he tires of you, and retreats, leaving you sprawled on the ground again with your tattered, lifeless confidence. Eventually your awareness and senses return. Eventually you'll recognize your familiar, beautiful garden. Probably people you love are already there. Some small part of you for an instant wonders why am i this monster's meal of choice? But it's eclipsed a millionfold by their sad expressions. The source of the pain is so plain on their faces- it's you in a sense. Your mother's eyes reveal nothing less than heartbreak. Your sister is scared. The bravest souls you know are afraid. The souls you've seen laugh in the face of their own demons are afraid of this unpredictable tiger thing.

I hate him for it. I resent the way the monster hurts my family more than all the rest of it; all the disappointment, pain, embarrassment and sacrifices combined.

Because while i'll call it nothing less than a beast, and a ghastly one, in my opinion, that i'd never wish on anybody, the real pain is endured by everyone else that has to deal with it. Tigger's a-hole alter ego is a pouncy, jerkface motherfucker, but he does at least have the decency to knock you unconscious for the brunt of it. He might leave you maimed and bloody, but you at least are unaware of the gnarliest parts of the assault. Your family and friends and innocent bystanders and your dog, however, are left helpless and distressed and fearing for the worst.

So i hope i don't regret saying, i'm overdue. I leave this weekend for my guiding gig and i feel like i'm hovering over the brakes, semi-daunted by this stale green stoplight. I'm afraid i'm gonna show up and boom, right away i'll eat shit and be sent packing with another armful of dead dreams and high hopes to mourn and bury.

I feel like i'm only marginally succeeding at the whole be-here-now rama-rama business because i have still yet to recuperate from all the schmeg (gross, i know, sorry) that 2012 has dealt, and i have so much intertwined anticipation and anxiety for the future. (I also just learned i get to move this summer now so that's some unadulterated pleasure to look forward to yeah?)  So kumbaya, gusfraba, ohm my darlin Clementine. I know everything is gonna be fine-ish, regardless, and worrying is counter-productive and i don't mean for this blog to be all catharsis, but thanks for bearing with me while i herd my duckies into rows. I feel like i should pay you for listening. I have a paypal account. Maybe we could work something out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To the River and Back

We survived. We didn't even huli (flip), which was good, because the water's still plenty cold. We had a fairly competent crew, at least in the paddling department, but camping with them the night before, it was antics all around.

Despite my protests, we spent the night on an island. The water was on the rise and the channel was knee-deep when we arrived. The Dodge Sport pickup we drove down in doesn't have great clearance so the three of us agreed we'd find another camp nearby. But, our friends were already set up there, and they eventually goaded us into making the crossing. (26, and still succumbing to peer-pressure- woop woop!) We made it, as we figured we would, but worrying we might not be able to get back over in the morning.

About an hour later another member of our boating party arrived. We saw car headlights appear on the far side of the island and immediately assumed it was another couple of our friends in a Subaru. We were all shocked when we realized it was in fact, another guy in an Audi TT. He has a PhD, but it didn't serve to suffuse the dude with a whole lot of common sense, apparently. He said it even stalled half way when the wake broke over the hood, and he and his friend had to push it the rest of the way. Morons, geeze.

Luckily i was able to roust my travel mates and we broke camp early. Despite our rapid exodus, the water had risen about two or three inches. As the pickup hit the deepest part of the water, steam came billowing up from the engine block. It was nerve-wracking, up to our headlights, but we made it across okay. I thought for sure, though, the Audi would be there for at least another week til the water dropped.

Lo and behold, with the help of our other friends in a pickup and a tow rope, the Audi forded the channel successfully, yet again.

Sort of irritating to watch people with nice things be idiots with them, but to each their own, i reckon.

I was relieved the drama was confined to the camp site because the river was  running about 47,700 cfs which translates to about 3 billion pounds of water rushing by every second (3-4 times the average flow of the Colorado in the Grand Canyon). Even in the calm stretches, we were cranking right along at about 13-14 miles an hour. The waves were huge and curling, large enough to bury the whole front end of our 16' raft. The eddy lines were still formidable, grabbing our tubes and sucking them down suddenly like a massive river monster had taken hold. Without the weight we had in the boat to pile onto the opposite tube, it would've flipped us right over like nothing.

I love this river at high water, the same way i love a good thunderstorm. It's the greatest testament to the power of Mother Nature i've ever observed. I spent 3 springs working at a ranch on its banks and i'd spend my days out pruning, or in the flower beds watching floating logs and trees get tossed around like toothpicks. At the peak, the water races by at more than 20 miles an hour. The surging fills your ears, a low roar in the background punctuated every so often by the crack of boulders rolling into one another at the bottom of the frothy brown torrents. It's almost imperceptible, but if you stop and stand still, you can feel the tingle of the vibrations in the soles of your feet. It's hard to believe.

On our way home as we passed through a podunk town we saw a man digging holes in his yard wearing a Speedo. Thankfully, this is definitely not customary here in Idaho. It was terrible. Every time he jumped to bury the spade, the motion rippled through his gelatinous soft tissue like a million tiny waves. We circled back around to get a snapshot, but to your great fortune, we couldn't do it without being seen. While more likely he would've chased us down in a vehicle and shot us, i couldn't eliminate the image of being tackled by an old, sweaty man in a banana hammock from the list of possible worst-case scenarios. It's just not the way i want to go.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Hip-hip-hooray, Let's Hear it for May!

Phew, well, finally, i made it through a month this year without a major catastrophe. Thank you, thank you May. True to it's name, (yes i may, and don't mind if i do); unlike April, which was way too sweet a name for the month i experienced. It should've been named Barb, or Ralph, or Spike or Dick or Heavens to Betsy.

Well, i did get firedish from that gardening job that i liked pretty well, but it was another case of employers being jackwagons. They wanted us to work 8 hour days with only a 5-minute lunch break and two fives on either side. Um, yeah, no. We're doing physically-demanding labor in the heat of summer. Being intimately involved in the food-production process, i'm going to sit and enjoy and appreciate my meal and all that it took to provide it, thanks. Plus, gahl dang, i'm either bending, lifting or stooping a majority of the time- don't force me to scarf my lunch with no time to digest. Sheesh.

We can stop and smell the flowers, but our employees can suck it.

And it's funny, because this is the sort of image they're trying to sell. (The product line will be available soon at a Fred Meyer near you!) At orientation (Where i also signed a confidentiality agreement, so we'll see if they come after me.) they go on and on about how they're 'like a family' blah, blah, blah. If my mother told me to work all day with only 3 5-minute breaks, i'd probably laugh in her face (i'd still work for her, but that's beside the point.)

After two weeks of it, i mentioned that at previous places of employment, where my job description had been identical, it was my understanding that federal labor laws required them to give us longer breaks. Later that day, the manager came down to talk with me about it and said, "This might not be the right fit." To which i replied, "You know, you're absolutely right."

So that was that. I put down my shovel and walked the eight miles back home. Which was way too far anyhow. (I make a point not to go farther than ten minutes from my house ever, seriously, if i can help it.) Working in a scenic location and being able to milk cows again, (which i love), wasn't even close to worth having to bum rides and dealing with higher-ups and their overt intimidation practices and power trips.

Whether or not there are different laws pertaining to farming or agriculture that allow employers to restrict breaks, i could give a flying fertilizer. It's really just the principal of the matter. I really don't care to be busting my butt for someone who expects me to inhale my lunch and labor away with only a pittance of a break throughout the day. I managed to score another farming job through the school which is within walking distance with flexible hours and cooler people besides. 

I leave for a week for the river. I'm still terrified, but i can't wait. Our first trip we'll be dead-heading (rowing without guests) for the first 50 miles, so that should be really, really nice. Tonight we're camping and rafting tomorrow in a big flip-fest called the 'Big Water Blowout' held every year during high water. I have Life Flight, fortunately.We'll see how it goes.

I'm looking forward to the rest of June. May was just the boost i needed; none of my friends died, i didn't spend a week (or even a day!) in the ICU, my girlfriend didn't get shot, my boss/family friend didn't commit suicide and i didn't get dumped without warning or explanation. So a mutually agreed upon parting of ways was, in comparison, chocolate cake.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Food + Art = Win

People never cease to amaze me. In all matters of brilliance, achievement, courage, resilience and stupidity.

But especially brilliance. We're dreaming up all sorts of amazing stuff. As long as we never program robots to dream, we'll always have that on them- the things that dreams are made of. Those things, born of an almost celestial spark that fell into our stream of consciousness by way of our dreaming minds. They spur us to do things robots would have no reason to; things that don't make a lot of sense; the dream is the reason.

Things like art; to paint something solely for the sake that you imagined it. But art may have a cyclic role in all of it, sending out it's own little spores into the universe that can result in those nearly omnipotent dream sparks. Maybe we should be wary of teaching robots art too.

Regardless, i'm in awe of the human's capacity to create beautiful things. We have a Renaissance fair here in my little town where everything's close enough to walk to, and you wouldn't believe the incredible things people have rendered with their own two hands to bring and sell there. Things so fantastic and intricate and authentic; lovingly brushed on with delicate strokes, molded and smoothed by gentle hands, precisely formed with expertly-wielded tools, dyed, sewn and crafted in endless, unfathomable ways. Amusing, breathtaking, awe-inspiring ways.

Anyhow, i'm rambling. It wasn't my intention to wax poetic. I really just wanted to share these pictures of Thai vegetable carvings, butter sculptures and other phenomenal amalgamations of art and food (art + food = WIN! in my book):

I don't know if it's reverse psychology- another thing that i probably shouldn't do (being its demand for extensive time spent in the vicinity of knives), but i definitely want to learn how to do this Thai vegetable carving business.

And there are the artists from Villafane Studios 
the self-proclaimed home of the most gourdgeous 
pumpkins on the planet. Unbelievably lifelike.

And this vegetable dress sculpture by 
Sarah Illenberger that i would totally wear.

Of course, i couldn't omit these butter sculptures:

Artist Jim Victor

Same artist- 'Cow Jumped Over the Moon'

Also by Jim Victor. This is like a favorite 
thing trifecta: art, butter and manatees. 

And Yoda eating yogurt by artist Olenka Kleban
Can you tell i had a hard time choosing my favorite ones?

Last, another by Jim Victor 
Surfer David - there are so many of my 
favorite things going on here, it's not even funny.

Butter sculpting is actually an ancient Tibetan tradition that originated some time around the 7th century.  One time when my cousin was one maybe two, (barely toddling, but not talking yet at all), she disappeared. We were beside ourselves searching the house high and low (mostly low) for this child. I remember my aunt had long since been in tears when, finally, finally, we found her hiding? behind the couch. eating sticks of butter. We don't know how she got a hold of them, or how she'd already learned to associate butter with delicious, or what gave her the notion that she'd better do it in hiding, but it was so bizarre and hilarious and precious i'll never forget it.