It’s the little things

11 Sep

Today was the first day of pick-up for my fall farm share.

When I walked up, the students told me about Delicata winter squash and swiss chard and about all the hot peppers that I could taste, right then and there.  If I dared.

Giving me the lowdown

Giving me the lowdown

After I got my bag of goodies, I watched the action.  Families and teachers coming up to get their goods.  Students talking about the produce.

'this here is swiss chard'

‘this here is swiss chard’

The farmer, a dear friend from college, connected with one of my schools.  A win-win situation – she sets up a CSA, students and families get access to great food.  I was just the middle-person.

A lucky middle-person at that

A lucky middle-person at that

As I laughed with teachers, students, my friend – a warm sense of contentment washed over me.  This is what it is all about.  

This life, this journey of ours, is all about those small moments of sharing a laugh, gasping over a hot pepper, making connections with people through a smile, a shared moment.  It is those moments that make it all worth while.

IMG_0344

What have been your little things lately?  Your moments?

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One year here

6 Sep

All of a sudden it was July 31st.

Which meant that I had been here for a year.  Which meant that i made it through my first year of my new job.  And my first year in NYC.  And not just made it through, I had a ton of fun!  I never would have guessed that I would like it this much.

Here are some of the things I did this past year:

Long Island City

Long Island City

  • Found routines – like morning walks by the public housing building near my house and seeing all the Vietnamese residents doing exercises in the backyard – just like I saw in the mornings in vietnam
  • Roller derby in coney island
Coney Island Roller Derby.  We rooted for Brooklyn.  Naturally.

Coney Island Roller Derby. We rooted for Brooklyn. Naturally.

  • Learned the subway system (after some disastrous starts)
  • Biked out to Coney Island
Coney Island's kind of scary

Coney Island’s kind of scary

not sure what this ride was... well, I could imagine, but I don't want to ride it

not sure what this ride was… well, I could imagine, but I don’t want to ride it

  • Ate lots of good food — kind of like when I traveled.  Legit South India, Vietnamese, papusas (my new favorite!), tacos
  • Took a spanish class – and then forgetting a whole lot of it – but making some good friends in the class!
  • Put myself out there to make new friends and try new things (checking out live music, going dancing, joining groups) – which sounds like a small thing – but not being a joiner makes it hard!  But – happy to say, I have a group-ish of friends now, people I can call up to go out with, people I can go ride bikes with, people who will go drink mezcal with me (to read more about my new obsession, see below), people will want to go hiking
  • Discovered the craft beer scene in Brooklyn (luckily one of the really good bars is right near my house)
  • Also discovered that I am a big fan of tequila and mezcal drinks (NYC has no shortage of fancy cocktails — like the night I went to a bar focused on experimental cocktails and had some crazy tequila and mezcal drinks — all for the low low price of $16 each!)
  • Survived my second year of being car-free (last year probably doesn’t fully count) – though I do miss escaping out to the mountains.
  • Found places to get fresh veggies and good bagels and awesome coffee – and all those other things that make routine a good thing

And so much more….

 

So much fun to be had!

So much fun to be had!

 

When I was traveling, I was limited by time, but was free without a plan – so I would move on when I felt I was ready, when I wanted a new adventure.  Though there is still a fire inside of me, wanting to see the world, wanting to climb mountains and trek through foreign lands, there is still so much here for me to explore –  I feel like I barely touched the surface.  How fun – to know that I still have so much more to do here?

I am still grounded in knowing I am in the right place, at the right time.

Here is my ‘Dear Life’

28 Aug

This is a reprint from my friend Kim’s blog.  

Tuesday, 7:30 pm

Dear Life –

I’ve been hesitant to write you because I wasn’t sure how I felt about you.  I knew believed you were giving me “gifts” – but they sure didn’t feel like gifts – all that struggle and messiness?!  Come on now – what kind of gifts are those?!

But now… now I think I’m getting it.  And I think that I’m ready to say thank you.

Thank you for travel – a solo journey that I thought would be the answer – but instead was only the opening of the door.  And that door being my heart, naturally.  And the opening of that door just prepared me to do the really hard work of this past year – which meant more opening and naming all that I want and all that I am worth.

And thank you for courage.  The courage to be vulnerable.  The courage to believe I’m worthy of everything I want.  The courage to push open the door to my heart even further.  And what hard work it is – so thank you again for the courage to take it on.

Finding the beauty in each day

Finding the beauty in each day

But life, I know that you are pragmatic (since you’re my life – of course you’re pragmatic!) – so thank you for deep lungs and big strong muscular thighs.  So, I can’t find pants to fit right (it’s way more fun to wear cute dresses anyway), but I can climb mountains and pedal my bike for hours and be active and outside, which feeds my soul and heart in countless ways.

And thank you for watermelon and hoppy ipas.  And bachata and cumbia.  And friends new and old to keep me laughing and celebrating and exploring and pushing myself.

And thank you life – for filling me with more dreams than I will ever accomplish in this life time and filling me with the dissonance of loving my work and loving this world – what a great dilemma to have!

And just…. Thank you.  With all my heart.

thank you life

27 Aug

Fellow blogger, hiker, lover-of-mountains-and-wild-places, portland-er, and fabulous writer Kim has had a weekly post focused on thanking life for all of it’s greatness.

you can read my response to her here – and while you’re there, you should read her stuff anyway, because she’s really great.

and besides she and I having a mutual Portland friend and besides us being meant to be friends – her husband is a Sasquatch believer aficionado.  Which makes both of them even cooler too.

So – thank you Kim.  And of course….  thank you life (but you’ll have to check out her blog to see my post!).

Solo travel in India

27 Aug

I spent two months traveling alone in India.  This fact is not groundbreaking.  No one is writing a book about me.  I am not the first to have done this, and nor will I be the last.

But lately, I have been thinking of it a lot due to all the news coming out of India of sexual harassment (here is a good synopsis of some of the reports).  But, like a lot of women, my experience in India was overwhelmingly positive.

I traveled by train and bus.  I was scammed at times, stared at constantly, followed a few times.  I put myself in places where things could go wrong.  But they didn’t.

the masses

the masses

Now — let me be clear — I am not very tall (at 5’6″ certainly not all that much taller than Indian men and women) and at the time, my skin was pretty brown and with my dark eyes and hair, I certainly did not stick out.  No one ever guessed that I was from the US.  I was even told that I could pass as Indian by more than one Indian.

And my skin color and hair color and the fact that I did not go out at night and did not wear revealing clothes probably helped.  But it also probably helped that I smiled.  A lot.  That I made eye contact and tried to connect with people.  I had a belief that if you see me, if you see me as a person, you will not hurt me.

I live in NYC now.  I hear on the news stories of women being followed off the train and getting raped.  I hear stories on the news of people being shot in neighborhoods not far from mine.  I am more afraid here than I ever was in India.  In India, I never worried that someone was carrying a gun.  In India, I was never looked up and down in quite the same way as I am here.

This is not an India problem.  This is a problem of how women are viewed and treated – everywhere.

Playground for adults

18 Aug

I’ve decided that NYC is just one big playground for adults.  Sure, there are jobs and Times Square (please make me never go back there) and plays and all the other stuff that tourists visit.  And then there is the fun for the rest of us!  It’s amazing really.

You want proof?  Let me share about my weekend….

Saturday, I went island hopping.

Yes, you read that right.  I went out to Governor’s Island – off the Isle of Manhattan.  You can take a ferry from Brooklyn or Manhattan – either way it is fun, mostly because you are riding on a boat.  And island hopping.

on the ferry to Governor's Island

on the ferry to Governor’s Island

We went out to the Isle of Governors because there was a fête  Yes, a party.  This party was the Fête Paradiso, a traveling festival with old-timey french rides and games.  Sound amazing?  It was.

French games

French games

 

old timey rides

old timey rides

 

But beyond the very cool rides and games were ….. the people!  NY’ers apparently have some time (and money) on their hands.  And when they hear about a party like this…..  they go all out!  And by all out, I mean — they were dressed to impress.  The roaring 20s were alive and well at Governor’s Island.

the fact that they had these clothes....  just waiting for this event

the fact that they had these clothes…. just waiting for this event

 

There was also food and wine (like any good french event) – we had a croque monsieur and some frites.

not sure who photo-bombed who's photo

not sure who photo-bombed who’s photo

Of course, there was time to wander the rest of the Isle – which had art and goats and chicken and a math exhibit.  I could have stayed there for days!

giant's hands

giant’s hands

But then — wait!  The weekend fun didn’t stop…..

Today, I took a 36-ish (depending on how many miles I rode while lost in Manhattan) mile trip up the the George Washington Bridge.  Wait, you don’t believe me?  Here’s proof.

the lighthouse

the lighthouse

 

.... and the bridge

…. and the bridge

How about them apples?!  I rode on the Hudson River greenway — no cars, just bikes, runners, roller-bladders (who does that anymore?!), and a few assorted others (tai chi, sword work, etc.).  It was pretty awesome…..  I know what I am doing next sunday!  I was home in time to hit up the farmer’s market, stuff my face to refuel from my 3-hour ride and chill out with some coffee.

 

I’ve decided that I do adore getting to play in this big ol’ playground!

 

California dreamin’

11 Aug

My job was to stay awake.  But that was so hard…. between the jetlag and being up late and rising early, (oh, and being really good at falling asleep in the car), I kept nodding off.  Fortunately, with my brother having fun driving his new toy car, and my need to press the brake on my side, it was probably better I nodded off.

He nudged me awake as we entered the park and hugged the turns until we climbed up to an amazing view, the only car on the road and stars filling the night sky.  I forget living here in NYC how much I miss those clear nights.  As we approached the ranger station, I got more and more excited, looking forward to the adventure coming out way – just the chance to get some time under those stars.

We pulled into the ranger station around 1:30, prepared to sleep there if others were in line*, but not seeing anyone, we headed out to a campground to crash.  Oh – it is probably important to note here that the campgrounds are also on permit.  And often always filled.  But, sometimes you can find a spot that hasn’t been taken or cozy up and crash for the night (you know, if you are a real dirtbagger and don’t mind that kind of thing)  (which, for the record, we don’t).

We pulled into the campground, turned the lights down low and quietly cruised around to try and find a spot.  We saw a spot next to the campground host, but deemed that as too risky, so we moved on.  We found another and spent 15 sleep-deprived minutes debating whether the people who had the site reserved would be coming back (who would come back after 2 in the morning?!).  Finally, we grabbed out our bags and slept under the stars.  Of course, all that sleep I got in the car kept me staring up at the night-time sky, thinking about what I would say when we got busted for stealing the camp site.

A few hours after we crashed, the alarm went off and we snuck away, headed back to get in line for permits.  Somehow people had already beat us there, but we made coffee while we waited the hour+ until the rangers showed up to grant us a permit.  We made small talk, but mostly we tried to sleep, while standing and looking like we were focused on the line.  It’s a tough skill to master.

The tricky thing about not getting a permit before hand is that you cannot really plan your trip.  Sure, we knew we were headed into Yosemite for 4 days, we had a bear canister, we had plenty of gear.  But where to go?  We had some ideas (cathedral range is our favorite area), but unfortunately, all of those trail heads were closed.  The rangers make it a practice to not give out trail advice, so all we got were some non-committal yes/no’s, but we know how to read maps, so off we went – figuring we could cobble something together.  Fortunately, out on the trail we ran into a backcountry ranger who took a look at our topo with us and helped us figure out the plan.  We would go backcountry from Bernice Lake and spend time wandering back there, bag some peaks and then go over a pass to Ireland lake to rejoin the trail.

With plan in place, we slogged on to Bernice Lake, which meant going up a big pass and then down down down to …. climb back up.  Fortunately the views weren’t bad.

Views from the first pass

Views from the first pass – the lake on the right is Bernice lake. the expanse in the center – that was where we went backcountry

Bernice lake was delightful – no one there, no bugs and great swimming.  Ok – cold dipping.

so cold, so great

so cold, so great

I am more of a wuss about cold water than my brother — he jumps right in and swims, me — it takes 15 minutes for me to get even half way submerged, but it felt good to wash the dust of the trail off.

i got this far after 15 minutes

i got this far after 15 minutes

Other than one couple camped far away from us, the lake was ours.  Following a perfect day, a perfect evening with a full moon rising over the mountains, we eat dinner in blissful tired silence.  Easing into the rhythm of being on the trail.

I’m quite lucky to have my brother as a friend — we grew up together, went to the same college and other than my senior year of high school when I lived in France, we lived near each other until he was 21 or 22.  Since then, we try to do a backpacking trip when our schedules allow.  But, more importantly, we get along well and amuse each other, but are also comfortable with silence.  He’s also a great adventure partner, up for challenges, willing to push himself (like the time we did 22 miles in Yosemite in one day) – and push me (like on this trip).

partner-in-adventures

partner-in-adventures

Our next day was into the backcountry — no trails, no people, just head on out.  And the beauty about Yosemite is that everything is above tree line, so you just look, point and head out.  Simple.  (but, we also have extensive knowledge about backcountry travel, thousands of collective miles hiked, wilderness first responder, etc.  This is not recommended if you do not know what you are doing).

We entered the valley (formed by the mountains/ridges that you can see above) and dropped our gear at a site we thought that we could camp at.  From there, we decided to head up towards on of the mountains.

Headed up unnamed peak

Headed up unnamed peak

whole lotta rocks

whole lotta rocks

We spent the day climbing up to Unnamed Peak, which meant a lot of scrambling over loose rocks, crossing snowfields, being a little freaked out by talus fields and getting an amazing view.

Crossing the glaciers

Crossing the glaciers

the view from the top

the view down into the glacier

from where we came (the lake in the middle is Bernice)

from where we came (the lake in the middle is Bernice)

who doesn't love selfies?

who doesn’t love selfies?

IMG_3369

at the summit of Unnamed Peak — looking south

It was an awesome, but looooong day.  The rock scrambling was tough.  Sometimes the rocks would slide, always you had to look at where you were placing your feet.  Basically, it was a 4 hour down-climb back to camp that took incredible attention.  Essentially a walking meditation – you cannot have a busy, monkey mind.  You just can’t.  At one point, I stumbled, fell forward – and tried to get my footing, but couldn’t.  It was a terrifying moment thinking that I would hit my head, break my leg, twist an ankle — all potentially life-threatening injuries when you are miles from a trail.  Somehow, luckily I just scraped up my legs and arms, but it was a scary moment for sure.

looooooong day

looooooong day

Back at camp, we rested, swam, eat dinner and were entertained by a gazillion little fish feeding and putting on a show of jumping out of the water.  And a pretty amazing sunset.

life doesn't suck - good tired, full belly and a glorious sunset

life doesn’t suck – good tired, full belly and a glorious sunset

thank you.

thank you.

Sleep was interrupted by the full moon, but who can really complain about that?  (it was so bright you could see your shadow!).  The next day was a climb up the pass, quick trip up Parsons Peak and then down to Ireland lake, eventually rejoining the trail.

summit shot

summit shot

More glaciers

More glaciers

More rocks

More rocks

Ireland lake brought more swimming, food, and relaxing.  We knew we only had a few more miles to go before rejoining the trail, which we were both reluctant to do — so we stayed at the lake until the storm clouds and thunder pushed us down below tree level.

Ireland lake

Ireland lake

Dropping below tree level always is a bummer for me, especially because we knew our trip was soon to end.  But we found a fairly secluded camp off the trail, set up near a stream and had fun sitting with our feet in the cold water – enjoying the fact that we knew where this stream had originated (the glaciers we had crossed up near Ireland lake).  The bugs pretty much sucked, so we retired early, planning to cruise through Lyell Canyon to get back to the car.

Lyell Canyon is an easy hike – flat but a beautiful walk along the Lyell River.  It is popular because it is also the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail — and that was where we saw our first people since we left Bernice Lake.  It was packed with tents (since we got an early start – we were out before most people were up).  All these people mean bears – which I had experienced when I did the John Muir Trail several years ago – but that was just at night (and I barely woke up to the bear trying to get at our food that night).

This year…..  Cody and I were walking along, talking and came around a corner and stopped in our tracks.  No more than 10 feet from us was a big ol’ bear!  We shouted – hey bear, hey bear! – and hit our trekking poles together.  The beat took one look at us and pretty much tripped over her own feet to get out of there.  It all happened so quick, of course we did not get a picture.  But it was awesome!

Back at the car, we cleaned gear and drank two tasty IPAs we had stashed for ourselves (kept cold by cool nights and the bear boxes).  All in all – a pretty awesome trip.

Our next trip....  back to Lyell and Maclure

Our next trip…. back to Lyell and Maclure

Details:

Day 1:  Tuolumne meadows to lake Bernice = 10.4m
Day 2: Lake B to unnamed peak to unnamed lake (12,200’+) = 8m of rock hopping
Day 3: unnamed lake up to parsons peak (12,147′) to Ireland lake to camp 3 = 6.5m
Day 4: camp 3 to lambert dome wilderness parking: 7.7

* Yosemite National Park has a permit system to get into the backcountry, which limits the number of people who enter onto a trailhead on any given day (and thus, people in the park).  Half of the permits can be reserved ahead of time, the other half are on a first-come, first-served basis, which is great for people who aren’t sure of their plans (like us).  The permit system keeps the wild wild.  It is a good thing, but can take some planning.