Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Craft Day

Iced coffee (from yesterday) in a large plastic cup with a straw (the straw makes it the best), the sound of the washing machine (thank you Dave!) for music. Today is what we affectionately call "Craft Day" at the Griffith household. Craft Day happens every Tuesday and consists of having a couple of friends come over and work on our own handcraft projects from 10-3 or so. We either meet at my house or at the studio depending on the tools and materials we need to use, and we grudgingly break for lunch when hunger drives us to.

Major woodwork, dyeing, soapmaking, and glass are done at the studio as will be jewelry and ceramics when we get around to them. Spinning, weaving, knitting, crochet, felting, beading, etc., are all done at the house. Dave works from elsewhere on Craft Day so we don't have to worry about disturbing him. Some might say everyday is Craft Day for me as Dee also comes down once a week and is helping me go through the studio and decide what to keep and what to sell/give away when we move in June. But I don't count that time as a Craft Day as the things I am learning have more to do with what a packrat I am than anything useful.

Craft Day is for learning/trying new things, working on one-off projects, and mastering techniques. For the past few weeks we've been working in wood at the studio. Becky finished up some lucets that she cut in May and learned how to use her router. I started on another inlaid games cabinet for the Waldorf School, and Peyton and I made peg looms. We cut, drilled, and sanded with a table saw, a chop saw, a drill press, a router, a scroll saw, a Dremel, a Foredom, and a hand sander. One of the coolest parts of craft day is learning to use cool new (to us) tools.


The other night Dave and I had friends over for dinner and we joked about how I have a lot of (maybe too many) hobbies. But there are just too many fascinating things to learn, study and practice! Last night we watched the Dr. Who episode from a couple of weeks ago, and the main guest character was bored by her immortality. True, she was living from the middle ages through the 1700's and life did move pretty slowly and brutally through much of that time. But, the Renaissance! I'd have learned Italian and hung out there with the artists and mathematicians. 

Sadly for me, I don't have immortality so I have to cram as much as I can into my short time here. Today is a full day of spinning more of the alpaca fleece I am processing for a trade with Ruthann, and then shipping glass work. Tomorrow is working on the games cabinet and hand cutting the veneer for the inlay with a scalpel, and then juggling contractor scheduling for the new house. Thursday and Friday are full glass days in the studio making the pieces for orders to ship next week and for shows to prepare for in December and January. 


Monday, November 02, 2015

Automation

Coffee in the New York skyline mug, Alexa is playing "Freebird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd (and she just added coffee mate to the shopping list), and Jerremy is doing his daily clean of the floors. I am living in the damn future. With the new home, Dave has taken the idea of automation to whole new levels. While I might grumble at Alexa's voice recognition, I find myself starting to talk to my other devices even though they don't do anything about it. Notice I didn't say they don't understand me because I am no longer sure that's the case. And let's be honest: I want less to talk to them than to tell them what to do.

It's amazing the things you can now control with your voice, integrate with other systems, and schedule/manage through your smartphone.We already use Nest thermostats and Schlage keyless locks in Atlanta (in addition to Alexa and Jeremy), and in Austin we will add voice and remote controlled lights (indoors and out), irrigation system, cameras, room fans, blinds, awnings, and an intercom system. I am hoping for voice control of the entertainment system too, but that may be a ways off. Now if there was just some way to automate cleaning up after the dogs...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Two Years, Seven Months, and a Day

Coffee in a stemless wine glass (we don't have any mugs here at the new house), "Cloudy This Morning" by George Winston on iTunes. It isn't cloudy this morning. It's beautiful, and breezy, and sunny, and I have a full exciting day ahead. Nonetheless I am a bit... sad. Two years and seven months ago yesterday I wrote a post about massaging my mother's feet. That was after her second hip replacement surgery. And after that life got... complicated. And dark. For a couple of years. Now I sit on (I hope) the other side of the dark, and I contemplate the gains and losses of that time.

The biggest loss for me was the passing of my mother in April, but to be honest, I was gradually losing her from the day my father died four and a half years ago. Living with her after he took his life (he had terminal cancer and time left, but he wanted to go out on his own terms) hammered a couple of hard lessons into me. You really can't live someone's life for her--or make her enjoy living her own life. Just because I saw a new world of fresh possibilities free from constant criticism and financial worry didn't make it her reality. However bad she said her marriage was and how much she seemed to want to be out on her own didn't make it true. I guess an anchor is just that; something that keeps you stable and grounded. An anchor, as such, is neither good nor bad. The person who is the anchor has all the personality traits and characteristics humans have and that can be a destructive and grim as you can imagine. But the anchor, that person's role as an anchor, is what keeps you set. When you lose your anchor, you can either sail or drift. Mom drifted and eventually broke on a reef. The irony that she died while in vacation in St. Croix with us is not lost on me.


Yesterday was her birthday and she would have been 75. She liked to note that she and Teddy Roosevelt shared a birthday. They also shared their the day with Captain Cook of the Sandwich Islands fame, Paganini, Emily Post, Dylan Thomas, Lichtenstein, Sylvia Plath, John Cleese, and my personal favorite, Simon LeBon of Duran Duran. During the past couple of years Mom remarked frequently that she had lived longer than her mother did. She followed that observation up with the bitter comment that people had an expiration date and she had passed hers. It has taken me until now to remember her as she was before Dad's death, before her numerous surgeries and health issues. When she died, at first all I could feel was a numb relief. No more fights with her to get up, to care, to live. And when I saw her in my mind's eye, I saw her as the old dried out husk of a person that she had become. No one should have to remember a loved one that way. But lately when I think of her, when I see something I would like to share with her or something that reminds me of a time we spent together, I see her as she was--mischievous, wicked sense of humor and fun, loving, strong, smiling, vibrant, energetic, athletic, up for anything, young at every age. And I am so happy to have her back.

My mom believed that when she died she would get to be with her parents, her sister, and maybe even my dad again. She believed she was going on to a better place and a new "life". I don't share her beliefs. I believe when you die that's it, there is no more. But I hope for her that she was right, and I know that even if it didn't work out that way so that she could be happy now, at least she is at rest. At peace. I love you Mom, and I miss you more every day.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Massaging My Mother's Feet

I just finished what has become one of the most soothing and rewarding routines of my day: giving my mother a foot and leg massage with shea butter from the Body Shop. I cannot fully communicate how relaxing, grounding, and centering this action is for me, and how wonderful and balanced I feel at the end of it.

I love my mother. I have always had a close relationship with her--strengthened, I believe, by the lack of relationship I had with my father. My mother comes from good Kansas stock. Her parents were no-nonsense, self-reliant people. They loved each other; they cherished their children (and grandchildren); they boot-strapped themselves up; and they never took anything from anyone. My mother was raised to do the same, and there was no time for pampering herself when I was growing up. She never used expensive (relatively speaking) creams on her skin--even though it was always quite delicate. She certainly never had massages.

Two years ago, after my father died, my mother moved in with us. She has since been obsessed with pulling her weight, not bothering anyone, not getting in the way, and not making anything more difficult. A few weeks ago, she had her right hip replaced, and her desire not to put anyone out had dire consequences when she carried some recycling out to the front porch--without her walker--a week after the surgery and fell and broke her leg below the prosthesis. The fall resulted in seven hours in the ER and then a transfer to the hospital where she had had her surgery performed so her surgeon could do another three-hour long emergency hip-replacement surgery again the next day on the same leg. This recovery has been physically, mentally, and emotionally much more difficult for her. She has needed me to do many more things for her--dressing and undressing her, carrying things, arranging pillows, leg support, getting ice packs and medications, etc--than I did the first time. I noticed the first night when I helped her get her support stockings off (she has worn them since the surgery to help keep down the swelling and prevent blod clots) that her legs were really dry. I asked if I could put some lotion on them. She said okay, and that was how we began. Now it has become a small night-time ritual. I apply the lotion, and then I stroke and massage. I try to soothe muscle and sinew as well as dry skin--and I feel so connected to life and family and time by this one, small act of taking care of my mother.

I finish this post with one piece of advice: Try it. Find someone in the generation above yours--preferably a parent, but aunts, uncles, and even random old neighbors will work fine--and do something personal for them that they would never do for themselves. Cherish them, and feel your connection to the cycle of life deepen. It's amazing.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Dee's Day of Fishing

(Pic 1) The day began, as fishing days often do (so I'm told) at the ungodly early hour of 8:00 am. Well 8:00 really isn't all *that* early, but we still managed to be about 10 minutes late arriving at the dock. But Captain Norm is a patient, happy man, we slid into the water with no further delays, and we were off! The sky was clear, the wind was still, and the Lake was like glass. It was already over 60 degrees when we started out, and the weather only got better.


(Pic 2) Our destination: where then mountains met the sea--or at least the Lake. Flathead Lake. Just about dead center in the second photo to the left, nestled at middle of Skidoo Bay, is our family place on Finley Point. Don't worry that you can't pick it out for the trees--we can't either. You have to come right up on it before you can see that there is something besides trees behind the dock, and the cabin is always hidden way out of sight at the top of the hill.

(Pic 3) We slowed to a trawl, and Captain Norm got our hooks all baited with a variety of flashy, scientific and smelly lures. On the scientific side, one of the little dangly bits of the lure emitted an electronic pulse that mimics a wounded fish. For the smelly side, there are a variety of sprays to use on the lures before putting them in to attract the fish. A fish's sense of smell, we were told by Captain Norm, is its strongest sense. And the stuff you put out to attract them varies from WD-40 (really? apparently so!) to anise oil.

(Pic 4) The other science used in fishing that was completely new to me (though not surprisingly new as my last fishing was 40 years and a rowboat away) was the fish finder. Captain Norm has three different varieties and they all tell if there are fish near and how big they are (it registers their air bladders and sizes them from them). Jessie and Captain Norm intently checked the depth gauges and the fish finders to make sure we had the lines all set up to the right depths, and we were ready!

(Pic 5) We were ready, it seems, to wait. Fishing involves a lot of waiting. But what better do you have to do when you're out on the Lake, in the sun, with coffee (even for me, it was too early for beer) and good friends? There were four rods set out at depths from 60 to 120 feet trolling along behind us as we sedately motored (1.7 mph) along the point.

(Pic 6) Dee was bursting with excitement (don't be fooled by her apparent calm pose) as she is a true fisher-san. I hadn't been fishing since I was Jessie's age, out in Grampa's rowboat with my uncle Ed casting for perch and sunfish--not too far from where we were currently trolling. It was the first time for Dave and Jessie.

Our quarry? The large and wily lake trout--otherwise known as mackinaw. These are not native trout in the lake. They were introduced in 1905 and are now considered a serious problem. They are voracious eaters and will attack and try to gobble down fish up to 50% of their size. They are a problem because the main  catch of fisherman when I was growing up was the kokanee salmon--a land-locked variety of sockeye salmon that lives and spawns without ever going to the ocean. I remember our neighbors to the east going out in their boat (well, I don't actually remember them going out because they went before it was light and I was SLEEPING) and returning with coolers full of salmon. Now the kokanee are gone from Flathead, eaten to extinction by the lake trout.

Lake trout are fortunately good eating so we were happy to be able to help out the whitefish, perch and bull trout species by thinning the number of their predators a bit. There are supposedly several hundred thousand lake trout in the Lake so we were eagerly anticipating filling our own cooler with our limit of 100 fish apiece. How would we eat that much? We'd smoke 'em, vacuum seal 'em and freeze 'em! Probably just as well for us that we didn't catch anywhere near anyone's limit for the day!

(Pic 7) Dave was the first of the group to spot the tell-tale dip and jerk of a rod tip signaling the bite of a fish. Dee got the honor of trying to bring it in as it was her birthday.

(Pic 8 & 9) She grabbed the rod, expertly set the hook, and started reeling the fish in. It was a fight as it was clearly not a small fish. But Dee slowly and surely brought it to the surface. When she got it close enough to the boat, Captain Norm netted it and brought it into the boat.

(Pic 10) What a beauty! A 29" lake trout--enough to feed all of us for dinner. Dee had trouble keeping her arm straight out for the photo the fish was so heavy! Sadly, though we saw a few more big fish on the fishfinder, we didn't get any more bites so Captain Norm decided to take us around to the other side of the point where he had heard there were some good-size fish being caught.

(Pic 11) As the point of the day was fishing, not sight-seeing, he didn't waste anytime getting us there, but opened the throttle up full. Look Ma, no hands! Jessie (and Dave) were quite nervous about my lack of anchorage so J grabbed my legs to hold me in the boat. Like I was going anywhere!

When we arrived at the other side of the point, in a tiny bay on the western tip, we found other boats already anchored and fishing. Captain Norm exchanged a few words with them--what kind of fish were they catching (lake trout or whitefish), etc. He determined that for the next round of fishing we would anchor over a school (there were some BIG schools down about 70 feet) and do some jigging. To jig, you cast your line out, let it sink to the bottom, reel it in about 6" to 1'--till it's just off the bottom where the fish are--and then you jig it up and down as you slowly reel it in.

(Pic 12) As at our first spot, we got a bite almost right away, but even with Dee's expert aid, the hook did not get set. However a few minutes later we got another one and this one was J's to bring in. She did a really good job reeling it in, and Captain Norm was there to net it in for her.

(Pic 13) Getting her to pose holding the fish was difficult as she would not open her eyes in case she saw the open gill slits (they're dark red/pink inside, very frilled, and completely freaked her out on Dee's fish). Her fish, though smaller than Dee's, was still quite respectable at about 20-22".

(Pic 14) Her fishing done, J went to lay on the front of the boat and catch some snoozy sun. The rest of us kept fishing, but alas, the fish managed to nibble off most of our bait without getting snagged on the hooks, and our fish count remained at two for the rest of the day. Did it matter to our enjoyment? Not a bit. In fact, in hindsight, it was probably better for Dave that we didn't catch more fish as he would have been charged with smoking them all and he is on his way back to Austin tomorrow!

(Pics 15-18) When it was finally time to make our way back to dock, our "pilot" called out the window to us, and we pulled in our lines. Captain Norm filleted our catch for us and neatly bagged it up--a novelty for me as the family rule is you catch it you clean it (maybe why I haven't been fishing in 40 years). Then it was full speed ahead back to the dock with only a beautiful wake and equally beautiful memories behind.

Last night while some of the trout brined prior to being smoked, we had a taste of Dee's big catch grilled and Um, um was it good. We'll go out with Captain Norm again, and next time, 'ware the fish who cross our path!












Sunday, June 24, 2012

No Longer Far From a Montana State of Mind

It's been a long time since I posted here. Life got busy, and though I missed Montana, it was more of a gentle ache than a sharp pain. But now I'm back here for the summer trying an experiment in living in two places each year. Reverse snowbirding I think it would be called. Today I worked in the little glass studio I set up in the garage at my Mom's house here in Polson. I also took a walk down to town this morning with Dave. I was hoping to get a cup of coffee, but none of the coffee shops/espresso huts were open as it was Sunday. In the afternoon we stopped downtown again on our way out to the Lake (Flathead) at the local shoe store so I could get some rugged sandals. There were closed too--looks like everything but the hardware store and the grocery store downtown was closed today. The WalMart out on the highway was open, as was, of course, The East Shore Smokehouse where we stopped for a quick lunch and to pick up a friend of Jessie's whose Mom works there.

When we got to the cabin I discovered that we had missed closing a water valve when we were turning the water and electricity back on for the summer a few days ago, and the entire crawlspace under the cabin was flooded, the pump from the well was running constantly, and there was a huge mudhole around the entrance to the crawlspace so I couldn't even get close to it. There was no sump pump in the garage or the shed, and the neighbors didn't have one either. So I went with the low-tech solution and suck-started siphoning water through a 25-ft garden hose. All jokes aside it was really hard to get it started, and when I finally did, I swallowed a bunch of the water. Blech. But it was still draining when we left at the end of the afternoon to head into Ronan 20-some miles away for the 7:00 pm showing of Brave with Jessie and her friend.

There is a little two-screen movie theatre in Polson, but they aren't showing Brave. We did see Madagascar 3 there last week, and it was amazing. For the first time in a couple of years I was not deafened by the volume of the movie, and the print was really high quality and in focus. As soon as it was over, one of the employees came in *and swept every row clean*. The Ronan theatre is owned by the same company which is how we knew Brave would be there because it is advertised in Polson. It only has one screen, but it's a big screen and they have comfy large rocking chairs.


I put James McMurtry on in the car on the way home, and drove the speed limit all the way--even when it was 25 mph--never bothered or stressed or rushed. The movie got out at 8:40, and when we left the theatre the sun was still high in the sky. It had set behind the mountains by the time we got home at 9:30. Now it's 9:56, and as we sit on the deck sipping glasses of sauvignon blanc, the last of the pink and gold have faded from the clouds leaving only a light tinge of apricot above the deep blue grey mountains in front of the sun.  


The water problem today was a hiccup--not a major catastrophe. The lack of open services elicited a shrug and the responses, "I'll have an iced coffee when we get home", and "I'll come down tomorrow and get the shoes". Given that there are very few restaurants in town, none in Ronan, and the ones there are--besides the Smokehouse and maybe a new Grill and Restaurant out on the point by it--are nothing I'd pay for, and that there are a total of two theaters with three screens all told, you might think I was beginning to go crazy with rustication. You would be so wrong. Instead of resenting the pace of life, I am embracing it. I am thinking more sharply and clearly than I have in I don't know how long (a good thing as I have a book to write and a summerschool program to manage for J).


Maybe the winter in dark, grey, wet and cold would get to me, but that option is not up for consideration at this time. Now I'm here for the summer, and I couldn't be happier.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lessons Learned From the Night

What I learned (was forcefully reminded of) last night:

Cats are nocturnal.

Ernie is amazingly playful for a 20+ lb teenage cat.

Ernie is *very* talkative when he's awake. And when you are the only audience in the house (all other humans and animals are presently elsewhere), he has A LOT to tell you--especially if you forgot to give him fresh water and stir his food around before bed.

Mojitos, while full of minty vitamin C goodness, do not actually contribute to restful sleep.

It's much lighter at 5:44 am in Boston than it is here in Atlanta, (as evidenced by what was on the HenCam at that time--and what does it say about me that I was looking at someone's live webcam feed of their chicken/bunny play yard at 5:44 am?!? Even the animals have the sense not to be up yet!)

Now I'm going back bed to try for a little more sleep (and leaving Ernie safely DOWNSTAIRS).

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Let There Be a Post

Let there be a post. It's been a long time since I posted here, but life is in a Great Shift and I feel like waxing if not poetic at least philosophical. And I already posted on Glass Incarnate today. (Oh, and for those of you waiting for Ernie to post again, I have wrested the laptop away from him--maybe permanently.)

Cynthia had a profound affect upon me during my short week in Portland with her. A bit of it was surely the newly post-50 shift (really), and another bit was BECon (which always has a profound impact on the way I think and be), but most of it was Cynthia. Since I visited Portland, I find myself hyper-aware of every Story that passes by me. Well, let's be honest, I miss most of the stories that stream past my body on a daily basis--everyone does as there are as many stories as there are bits of pollen in the Atlanta spring air at any given moment around each of us.

Is the story I am thinking about now the man with the lovely Jamaican lilt is his voice getting up to board the plane while talking into the bluetooth Borg thing coming out of his ear, or is it the middle-aged woman (age determined by voice and circumstance alone--I never peeked) with the stern voice telling her children to "Stop it, stop it right now" as they get on the plane. Or is it the tanned, streaky blond-haired woman in the polka-dot dress who earnestly explains to the gate attendant that she and the kids (she needs a stroller check) are traveling with her husband who booked at a different time and they would like to be seated together. Maybe the story is the 23 year-old law student I talked to over Cesare salads who is from Southern California, and who lives in Birmingham now and was just home visiting his mother (his father died of a very rare cancer five months ago). No. The story is life. The life that streams by, the life that my 87 year-old step grandmother Marion would like to see tomorrow and is not sure she will. She told me today that she didn't really think about living til 90 until recently when the doctors told her to enjoy this summer as it is her last. Now every day that she wakes up is a welcome surprise...

I am one of the last ones on the plane. I sat at the departure gate and typed as fast as my spastic fingers would go, and then I got up, ran onto the plane, got out my laptop and am writing some more. I find myself bursting with a connectedness to the other Stories all around me and a desire to record, validate, revere them.

Thank you, Cynthia, for reminding me of this part of my humanity. It is too easy to retreat to the studio cave and forget that other (pesky) humans exist. But if one takes the time to notice them, they turn out to be not so pesky after all.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Krishna?

The day and the adventure go on. We are staying at the Best Western in Cave City KY tonight. I was somewhat startled upon our arrival in this tiny, sleepy town this afternoon--we were the only car in the motel parking lot--by the "This motel owned and operated by the Krishna of Cave City". It was a bit... unexpected... to say the least!

After checking in we headed up to Mammoth Caves--and a parking lot packed with spring breakers from all over over this side of the country. First we picked up a Junior Ranger program book from the information desk for Jessie, and she is on her way to earning her first junior ranger certificate. We were disappointed to find all the cave tours we wanted to take sold out for the next four days. We took a short self-guided tour this afternoon and tomorrow we'll do the New Entrance Tour and that will end our time here in Mammoth. Tonight I'm going to research a bit to pick another cool Kentucky State Park between here and Natural Bridge State Resort Park (where we have reservations for Friday and Saturday).

Eagle Falls--More Hiking...

I sit in the dappled sunlight on the little deck off the bedroom of our cabin at Cumberland Falls for a last post before heading to Mammoth Caves National Park a few hours west of here. Yesterday after the in-laws left we took a little 2.3 mile hike to Eagle Falls (including the bottom and the top of the falls) and the surrounding area. I am not whining or a wimp--really--but it was the weirdest hike I've ever taken.

First we went from the river at the top of Cumberland Falls all the way up to the ridge line on the eastern side of the river. Then we went all the way down to the river again--but this time at the bottom of the falls (also the bottom of Eagle Falls). Then we went up to the top of Eagle Falls, then up to the top of another ridge line, then down into a valley between ridges, then back up to the original ridge line, THEN, finally, back down to the river at the top of the falls. It was so steep for much of it that the trail had stairs--either rock, wood or metal--built into it.

We didn't see any black bears (in spite of the warning signs posted everywhere), nor did we see any other wildlife--not even a squirrel. Do you think they have all been eaten by the locals?

As with any good trail there were periodic trail markers painted onto the trees to let you know you were still on the right path. However when we got back down to the river by Eagle Falls, the trail sign was painted on the boulders in a follow-the-yellow-brick-road kind of way. I figured it was enough to hear the noise of the falls and follow it, but I guess a little reinforcement never hurts.


It was a gorgeous trail, I'm really glad we did it, but wow was it a tough 2.3 miles! The beer back at the cabin was especially welcome.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Spring Break

It's spring break. J has the week off and Dave took the week off (at my insistence) so the least I could do was take it off too. Our destination? Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in Kentucky, a place from Dave's childhood family vacations and source of find memories--just what we all needed after a long stressful winter!

We packed up the minivan and headed into the wilderness--just like our pioneer ancestors--to meet up with my in-laws here in Kentucky. I'm from Montana, how daunting could Kentucky be? Turns out to be pretty daunting. For one thing, it's dry, and I mean dry as a bone (as in NO ALCOHOL!). For another, Tennessee just across the border is dry but for beer... Oh joy. I am getting in touch with my inner redneck. Then there's the whole no cell phone coverage (even the cabin at the lake in Montana has cell coverage). At least there's Internet (wireless in the cabin!) and three tv's in the cabin--which is moot for me as we left the Apple tv at home the better to enjoy the wilds.

But it is beautiful here in a southeastern mountains kind of way. The first night we were sitting out front waiting to go off to see the moonbow, and we heard an irritated squeak followed by some rustling. Turned out to be a couple of raccoons behind the cabin. J was all excited and wanted to follow them down the cliff. We dissuaded her. We actually came a couple of days early just so we could see the moonbow (shown at left). The moonbow we saw was very subtle--only about 30% of the arch visible and a soft misty white instead of rainbow colors. The one in the photo is someone else's photo of another moonbow night at Cumberland Falls. For us, it was the last night of the full moon and maybe that made it less bright. We were also told to go at 1:30 in the morning as the moonbow is most visible a half hour later on each successive night of the full moon (it was at 11:30 on the first night).

We all took naps starting at 10:30 and got up at 12:45 to drive down. I'm glad we didn't try to walk the trail as it is steep and narrow and we only had one little flashlight between all of us (so much for our wilderness skills). Even with the nap J was pooped and not up for Mom taking pictures.

Yesterday we walked from our cabin to the falls. It is hard for me to refer to it as a hike because we went steeply down to get to the falls and I think of hiking as going up (first). We got the hike part on the way back up and it was really warm--84 degrees and it's only the beginning of April! The deciduous trees are all still bare of leaves which only emphasizes the stark columnar skeletons of the pines decimated by southern pine beetle. The damage is so bad they warn you not to hike on windy days as there is serious risk of damaged or dead trees falling (and killing you).

Okay, everyone's back from their walk. It's time to have some lunch, play a game or two
(Alhambra, Set, Race for the Galaxy, Waterworks or one of several others). Maybe later I'll have a beer and a nap...