May 17, 2011

write! read! post!

We're long overdue for another Robin's Voice Thingy.  The theme:  Read what you create for the writing challenge that friend B. Nagel will post to his blog on May 12.  If you can't do that, then read whatever you want.

Post date:  Saturday, June 18.
UPDATE:  B Dot's invitation is now real.

Don't know what a voice thingy is?  Simple:  Record your voice reading your work and post it to your blog on the given date.  Then, visit the other participants, bask in their wonderfulness, and garnish generously with comments.  I will keep a list of all the participants and post links to their entries.

Are you in?  The date for posting your own thingy will be somewhere in mid June, so you've got TONS of time. The seven other times we've done this, it's been a hoot.

Please invite others!  All are welcome, especially if they bring zombie cows.  Ask questions in the comments.

Oh, one last thing, for haiku wednesday, where the words are brandish, forbid, manage:
forbid fear's cold clutch
don't let doubt manage your life
brandish your sharp tongue

May 9, 2011

blog announcements

Gather round and pay attention. I'll only post this once.  I have several important announcements.

First, be careful...

You haz ben warned.  Ceiling Cat is waching you.

This site also meets all accessibility guidelines of the ADA.  Or the ASPCA.  Or the ABBA.  I can never remember which.

To contact Security, just go up the stairs to your left, through the double doors, then down the ladder to your right into the shark tank and swim across to the nuclear waste disposal area, where you'll see this helpful sign:

Have a nice day.

Easter poem

The challenge at this contest was to write something about Easter. I came up with the following. OK, it's more about parenthood than Easter, but it at least has Easter as a backdrop.

The... um... Resurrection?

The rev'rend thought it might be fun
To have an Easter play
And give it to the kids to run
Cuz we were in his way.
On Easter when the curtain rose
The Rev let out a roar,
"That isn't how the story goes!"
And up when gasps galore.
Samantha, dressed up as a nun
Went into Jesus' tomb.
Tom said, "Hey, sister, take this gun.
There’s zombies in that room!"
But then Darth Vader blasted her
and Tommy shot him dead,
and Princess Jasmine (Jennifer)
cut off poor Tommy's head.
"A cowboy? No!" the Rev'rend cried
As Billy galloped in
With Snow White standing by his side
(but it was just Corinne).
A werewolf howled at the door
Before the curtain dropped.
We all yelled "Wait, we got tons more!"
As in the Bunny hopped.
The Rev looked like about to burst
And growled through his tears,
"This Easter, it’s the very worst
I’ve had in sixty years."
But someone started clapping then
And everyone joined in,
And then my dad screamed out "Amen!"
above the glorious din.

May 4, 2011

haiku wednesday - return from the wild edition

This week's words are grace, jitter, thin
Last week I was in the mountains of Yosemite, reveling in the beautiful, granite peaks and persistent, dramatic waterfalls. So I missed 3WW. But it was so totally worth it.

grace and hair get thin
the jitter has left her bug
but still she dances

children's feet jitter
thin and gaunt, they eye the feast
forget grace, let's eat!

broken faith, lost grace
thin alibis hide nothing
jitter in your voice

May 1, 2011

Yosemite! Hikes! Photos!

For the past four days, I went with our Boy Scouts troop to Yosemite Valley. It's hard to believe that this was only my second time here; I have lived less than four hours away for 25 years. Not only is it spectacular, but compared to most campgrounds, the facilities are worth ten times the price.

The drive to the park, once you get past Merced, is beautiful in the spring. Much of it is along the river, with lush glades and meadows and dramatic rapids. When you finally get to the park, you're treated to a deep green and granite wonderland. We lucked out with the weather--although it was hard to get out of a cozy sleeping bag into a chilly 25 degree (Fahrenheit) morning, by 10 a.m. it was in the 50s and hovered around 60 most of each day, with only a few wisps of cloud above.

Maria stayed only the first night, but the rest of us were there three nights. The campsite was pleasant--open and spacious, with a stream gurgling directly behind.

The campsite also had spectacular views of Half Dome and other peaks, if you found the right spots to look up between the trees.

Three nights camping in Bear Country taught us a lot about bear safety. In fact, we got an extensive lecture and Q&A from a pleasant but stern ranger who gave us the ins & outs of bear safety. "A fed bear is a dead bear," they say. That is because if a bear gets any human food, over time they lose their natural inhibitions and invade campsites more frequently, eventually moving on to aggressive actions that are dangerous to people. At that point, the bears get put down. We learned the lessons well, but still we had one bear encounter and two raccoon ("little bear") encounters in the night.

I went on three separate hikes. The first was a pleasant walk along the Merced River past Yosemite Village (wonderful mini downtown of Yosemite), up to the Lower Yosemite Falls. We walked 2 or 3 miles and took the shuttle bus back to camp (the buses are quite nice and convenient), and it was a good introduction to the valley at 4,000 feet elevation.

We saw a few deer in Yosemite Village, right there in the middle of the parking lot.

The second day we went on a hike to Vernal Falls, up the Mist Trail. It was recently opened for the season.  The first mile or so is a good effort up a paved path to a wooden footbridge. Leaves you a little breathless at this altitude, but not terribly challenging. At the footbridge, most of our contingent turned back because they weren't sure they could make it to the falls and back in time to cook dinner.  Eight of us, however, pushed on with the intention of going that last 0.3 miles and double-timing it back to camp.

So we started up.  And up.  And up.  This was like climbing the back steps into Mordor, only without the orcs and Sauron and Gollum, and the scenery was stunning.

And it was misty.

Mostly the trek was like this, so that third of a mile took a bit longer than we expected.  But we powered through and made it pretty quickly, up to the final section, then took five minutes to enjoy the view.

On the way down, we caught a few rainbows.

We made it back to camp about 20 minutes later than we'd hoped, but it was well worth the extra effort.

On Friday we made an assault on the trail to the top of Yosemite Falls.  About 3.5 miles each way, with a 2,500 foot vertical ascent (roughly).  It's a trail with so many switchbacks that it looks like the cartographers used a seismograph to draw the map.  We first took the shuttle bus to the trailhead, where we had a good view of our destination:

Oh, sorry.  Some clarification:

Halfway up we stopped for lunch, in a shady place with a slight descent.  A good resting point before the second set of switchbacks. And pretty much the last good look at the falls along the trail; the trail curves up and to the left, so you lose sight of (but not sound of) the falls the rest of the way.

... and more rainbows!  Unfortunately, my photography skills can't possibly show how glorious these rainbows were.  They are huge, and so close you feel you can touch them, and brilliant and unwavering.

At the top, there is an overlook that is essentially insane.  To reach it, you inch down a sand-covered, treacherous, 24-inch-wide Ledge o' Death. Two of the scouts ran down there before I could stop them. Here's the view from the last part of the Ledge o' Death. Doesn't look too bad from here, but Mr. Scaredy-cat Adult-In-Charge (me) made those two leave and did not let any of the other scouts go down to the overlook.  I feel bad about not letting them go there, but to be honest I found it terrifying.  Not "thrilling and terrifying."  Just terrifying.  It is really quite dangerous, and you essentially have to be out of your mind to go there.  Or a kid because kids have no sense of their own mortality.

The climb was still quite an accomplishment.  The view from the platform is not as spectacular as you might imagine, and looking down on the water as it curves over the lip of the granite is not as dramatic as you might think.  But making it to the top and reaching that physical goal... that was cool.  Plus, at the top there was quite a bit of snow, and the boys had a great time with an epic snowball fight.

We double-timed it back to the bottom.  The climb took nearly 3 and a half hours, but the descent took a little less than two hours.  As we reached the bottom of the trail, I noticed a sign I failed to see on our ascent.

All in all, it was a phenomenal three days in one of the most gorgeous places on Earth.  The visitors center museum is engaging and simple, with history and nature laid out clearly and colorfully.  The ranger programs were interesting each night.  The campsites were in great condition, the bathrooms were heated and clean, and the free, hot showers at the Curry Village camp were a welcome relief at the day's end.  I can't wait until we go back.  Maybe Nevada Falls or one of the peaks next time--El Capitan, North Dome, or Half Dome.