Vicarious Thrills

I love my life.

I really do.

And I do not wish for the opportunity to do any of it over again.

Nevertheless I have on many occasions experienced the thrill of reading about the lives of others and becoming absorbed in their stories to the extent that their joys and adventures and insights feel almost like my joys and adventures and insights. Vicarious thrills.

Blogging, and lurking, and surfing the interwebs introduces me to so many more passionate lives.

Like this young couple gardening in the Oregon wilds:

And this recent art school grad:

And this traveler and literature lover at Oxford:


And this wild woman artist in Washington and Idaho:


Who are some of the interesting individuals you have encountered in your interweb explorations?


Thoughts on Air Quality

Ordinarily our air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is some of the worst in the nation so we really appreciate getting away from the muck and breathing deeply the air at the mountains or at the coast. And since our four seasons are Earthquake, Mudslide, Fog, and Fire this is the time of year we are accustomed to the subtle scent of L.A. or Santa Barbara burning. And it's always worrisome.

This year the Rim Fire is burning near Yosemite. We are not getting the bad air from this fire, it is largely polluting Nevada, but for the past two mornings I have walked outside and caught the scent of the fire. It activates my lizard brain to seek safety and then my heart gets heavy with the realization that the fire is in the Sierras where we often run when we are seeking refuge from the stress of life in the valley. Not a good place to run to right now.

Mother Jones magazine has a good article about why this is not just another wildfire. Click here if you are interested.

I am reminded of the earlier tragedy in Prescott, Arizona and overwhelmed with gratitude for the over 3000 firefighters engaged in the job of containing this fire and protecting life and property. 

Yet I continue to struggle with the idea that human intelligence must control it's environment to it's own ends. What I mean is -- the forces of nature are indiscriminate and awesomely powerful such that puny human intervention seems ridiculous. Earth will move, fire will burn, floods will come, winds will blow. And we are not going to control the forces of nature. We can engineer and build amazing huge construction projects, but the idea of gaining total control of the Environment or Nature to benefit our needs or desires just seems like the height of human arrogance to me. 

So here I sit.

Hoping the Rim Fire will indeed be contained by the estimated September 10th date, and so very appreciative of the great human effort involved in bringing that to pass. Also, saddened by the scarring the fire will leave on some of the most beautiful wilderness in the world. 

Yet I know that the wilderness will recover. Trees and bushes and flowers and grass will grow again. The marvel of regeneration occurred after Mt. St. Helens in Washington state erupted and half a mountainside was "destroyed" in the early 1980's. Later that decade Yellowstone National Park suffered a tremendous fire and there was great controversy about how the fire should be "managed" but once it ended the meadows and forests grew again. Wilderness does not need us to intervene in its cycles.

The smell of smoke in the air provoked these musings on our need to carefully consider our place in Nature because the natural world preexisted human beings and it will continue to go on with or without us as witnesses to its awesomeness.


Sore Gums, Stardust, and Succulents

This morning I distracted myself at the dentist's office with the July 2013 edition of National Geographic and I was very excited to read about a spacecraft launched in 2004 called Stardust. 

It went way out in the solar system and collected stardust that was returned to The Utah Desert (!) in a parachuted capsule for the study team to recover and study. Based in part on the information gathered from Stardust, some new theories about the birth of our solar system have developed. 

I love our Solar System! If you are remotely interested, click here for the link to the article. 

If you are not even remotely interested, the picture above is for you. It has nothing to do with space exploration, but it is a lovely little succulent garden at the deli in San Simeon that Mr. Last and I visited earlier this summer. I'd like to create something similar along the walkway at the entrance to our home. 

Oh. And the extraction sites where the infected broken molar and its compadres were removed from my mouth last week are healing nicely, thankyouverymuch. The worst is over, and restoration of Oma's oral health and wellbeing has begun. Take good care of your teeth, kids, because deferred maintenance is very costly.


Hey! Hi.

So. It's been a while. And while I've been busy trying new things and writing in other (mostly private) spaces, I've missed you.

I'm still old.

Older than I was when this photo was snapped.

And I will be donning the Santa hat again before you know it.

But right now I am enjoying the beginning of Second Spring. It gets so oppressively hot here in the summer that growing things mostly go dormant and use all their reserves just to keep from withering and dying. Some make it. Some do not. Those that do begin to awaken when the temperatures drop a bit.

Last night we enjoyed a breeze at sunset and Mr. Last and I took a cold beverage out to The Park where we sat and talked in the dark and watched the stars come out. It was so pleasant and relaxing.

We are going to do more of that.

And I am going to do more of this.

Second Spring for growing things, and a return to blogging for Oma.

Good things go round, it seems. I suppose bad things go round, too. Perhaps the greater truth is --

Things go round. That's kinda what got me starting blogging in the first place.

So hang on. Here I go. Round and round some more.