Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Love

If I see one more piece of candy... I'm probably still going to eat it, and continue the month long chocolaty, sugary buzz I've had going, as well as fantasize about spending the entirety of January on a veggies-wholegrains-100% juice only detox plan.

If I have one more event to go to, I'm probably going to enjoy it as much as the others, and appreciate the wealth of people I've been blessed to spend the season with. I'm also going to appreciate the stillness, peace and warmth of a silent house a little more every night, til my day-to-day gets more boring and attains even the semblance of routine.

Christmas week has been truly glorious, one that I will look back on fondly. I've had more time off of work this week than the past seven seasons combined - bookings are down, no surprise given the second year of the recession, but it is more drastic than I expected. Yesterday the Children's Center was as busy as a normal spring day. Usually the fourteen days surrounding Christmas have the place filled to the brim with a delicately organized chaos and pandemonium. Yesterday was a breeze, the kids could even converse over lunch without shouting across the table just to hear one another. I even got the afternoon off after teaching a private lesson, and that's after having the entire week off already. A co-worker makes (delicious) fortune cookies, and yesterday mine read something like : Fear not, prosperity will come to you soon. Ironic.

I like my friend Tim's take on the whole thing. He pointed out yesterday that we might actually have to ski this year. Like take real runs, for fun, while waiting for lessons. We might like it. Our bills might increase or be harder to pay. But what if we actually spend this season doing more of what we love, what we're here for in the first place? In the long run, it probably won't matter that we made less money. It's still going to be a great season.

While visiting home for the week, I got peppered with questions about my relationship status, as per norm. There are distant relatives and friends who maintain a 'milestones only' conversational pattern - and I really haven't had much to report in terms of milestones. My last graduation was high school, and I haven't been capital Dating Anyone in over two years. I'm boring holiday catch-up material, for sure.

My paternal grandpa always has the best (most worthy of recap) way of asking/saying It. Last year, he gave me a sad-puppy faced look and said, over Thanksgiving dinner, "Are you EVER going to find someone and settle down??" This year -

G: So, you have a boyfriend down there [in Utah] yet?

JH: No, why would I need one of those?

G: To keep you warm.

JH: My furnace works well. In my car and my house. And I have a lot of blankets and winter jackets. I stay pretty warm.

G: Well, you're sure getting pretty, if I were your age.... (trails off and leaves room to refill glass of whiskey...)

I know Gramps means well, and I like to think everyone else does too. There's a sadness for him in my being single that I don't share, but I can see it's a way of him being worried about me, an extension of his love and concern.

People come from different frames of reference - Grandpa found his 'sweetheart' at sixteen, and they figured out how to make a life together, paved the way for a whole room full of people to exist in the world, and still love one another, flirtatiously even, sixty years later. From belonging to a family to creating one, they've never been alone.

My other side of the family is comprised largely of young families, people who married within a few years of high school, most of whom had at least one child by my age. Similarly to my grandparents, they've not spent time alone. They hope for me to share a bit of their brand of happiness, and are looking forward to giving me the 'pat on the back' for achieving it. Not a bad thing.

What's amusing to me is the assumption that this is something temporary, a holding out for something better kind of stage. I guess it is for some people. And I guess if I chose to look at it that way, I could adopt the perspective. It seems limited, though.

As a rower, I know in reality and metaphor the cost of momentum, the effort it takes in terms of muscle and dedication to steer a craft through rough waters and around obstacles, to have a destination in mind and exert the continued effort to get there.

I'm not beached, waiting for a pair of muscles to stroll up and take my oars and write my story for me.

I'm downriver from that, my efforts are direct and focused, I am moving along swift currents. Someone might sidle up with mutual intentions someday, but I'm not going to camp out for it, I'm not slowing, and I'm not aborting ship for someone else's dreams. I don't think my well-meaning relatives understand that. But I do love them deeply, appreciate their lives and concern for my welfare.

Time and energy are precious commodities. I have enough to invest in my writing, work, learning and studies, and the people who I've already recognized as permanent and beautiful fixtures in my eternal life. And then those commodities are pretty well distributed, and I'm satisfied with the return on the investment.

I'm taking the spring term off from school. As much as I want to push my graduation date back, I don't see much point in doing so at the expense of Everything Else. I'm happily employed - which I'm recognizing more and more is an absolute blessing. I've got a substantial chunk of my novel written, am in love with the characters and eager to pour more of myself into it's creation. And it looks like I'm going to have to spend more time than anticipated actually enjoying skiing... shucks ;)

I hope the spirit of Christmas and the warmth of the holiday season has filled your hearts and homes. I send love and good tidings your way, and extend the invitation again that y'all come visit the greatest snow on earth and ski some Utah powder this year.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Settled In

I realised I promised follow-up from the New Place post... here ya go.

Still working on putting a photo collage across the blank wall...

Ferguson Canyon makes a nice backdrop for writing and studying.
Visitors welcome!
The Wasatch is calling YOU.
Now if you'll please excuse me, I have schoolwork calling/sucking my will to live. This semester ends THURSDAY. Get me out of here, I'd rather be skiing ;)

Saturday, December 5, 2009


"There is a substance [caffeine] in tea and coffee which when taken into the human system, tends to increase the beating of the heart; which in turn increases the rapidity of the circulation of the blood and of breathing. This causes the body to become warmer and more exhilarated. After a time, however, this temporary enlivenment passes off, and the body is really in a greater need of rest and recuperation than it was before the beverage was taken. Stimulants are to the body what the lash is to the lagging horse—it causes a spurt forward but gives no permanent strength or natural nourishment. Frequent repetitions of the lash only make the horse more lazy; and the habitual use of strong drink, tobacco, tea, and coffee, only tends to make the body weaker and more dependent upon the stimulants to which it is addicted."

-David O. McKay

(read full article here)

Words to live by, as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Friends at Temple Square!

Friends and countrymen, 2009 is on its way out the door, its days are numbered. How bout that?

I celebrated my first Thanksgiving away from Boise last week; truly a lovely event with food, dear friends and great live music. It looks like I'll be in Salt Lake for Christmas too, another first holiday away from home and family.

Things are getting rolling for ski season, and I will be working as an Instructor on a more full time basis this year. I'm looking to store some funds for spring travels... locations TBA. Next summer's Plan won't really shape up until it's here. I, on the other hand, am shaping up to be prepared for it. Some of my wonderful and anonymous friends in Idaho have me inspired in the realm of fitness.

One of the guys I worked with last summer has the physique of a professional fighter, and is more or less on a permanent training regimen, which includes things like lifting cinderblocks and running full boar up hillsides so steep that most people would feel cautious walking down them. While I don't plan to emulate his exact regimen by any means, I do desire something of his results. Another co-worked and I have decided to be "at least as porportionally ripped."

For a woman, I have a fairly muscular physique. Attribute it to work and lifestyle choices - skiing, rowing, climbing, hiking, etc, or heredity, whatever. I genuinely enjoy physical work and feeling athletic and capable. I don't idealize competing with vintage Schwarznegger, but let's just say that I'd take that hulk over the gaunt, frail and emaciated frame of, say, MK Olsen on a bad year any day.

I'm looking at a comprehensive physical overhaul and losing about 20 pounds of excess. So far, I've been climbing and increased my activity level, but I'm just getting started. I have yet to discover a form of indoor, winter-evening friendly cardio I don't loathe outside of climbing, I hate the dull repetition of indoor running. So. I'll be writing more during the journey, but there's the forecast.

Some nerd notes… I indulged in a rousing bout of Trivial Pursuit last night, and ohhhh do I love that game! I’ve been on a foreign film bender, and intend to post more frequent reviews of film, lit and pop culture analysis. In my mind, writing a review is like the chocolate of rhetoric, and I have a mad sweet tooth for some serrrrious decadence. :)

Happy December, however and whatever your holiday celebrations bring, I hope it's a season full of love and warmth of spirit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Jealousy is not productive.

If you want something, go get it.
If you honestly can't have it, get new goals.

There's no benefit to wallowing in wasted emotion.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Let's get awkward...

As you may know, my sister is getting married in May of 2010. I only have one sister. And she is three years my junior. I'm as comfortable with this scenario as last year's winner of the International Hot Dog Eating Contest was with the contents of their stomach after the timer went off and they had a minute to hold still.

That said, I'm looking to beat her to the altar, and contestants are encouraged to apply... and quickly.

Some of the perks I'm willing to throw in, for the right candidate, include:

- A Season Pass to Alta Ski Resort, annually, for the duration of the matrimonial union.
- A place at my lavish and desirably located condo. Which is, I may add, kept meticulously clean to a professional level.
- Meals, often ethnic and/or vegetarian via my preference, though I can cook anything, and pretty well at that.
- Of course, the inherent benefits of marriage - tax cut, social position, partnership, blah blah blah.
- An enthusiastic and passionate partner for: outdoor adventures, globe-trotting, conversation, etc, etc.

In following with Ghandi's beautiful words, "Be the quality you seek," I wouldn't expect anything from a candidate that I do not expect from myself. Here are the pre-reqs advised for anyone wishing to apply, as well as some things that can be expected:

Self sufficiency to an acceptable, adult level. Candidate must possess the motivation and initiative to strive for multi-faceted personal growth, including but not limited to:
-A basic level of satisfaction with own life.
-Pursuit of educational and intellectual development, at the college level and beyond.
-A command of at least the English language; competent communication skills.
-An interest in health and nutrition, and an active lifestyle.
-Financial health - no outstanding debt to mafia or casinos, or obscene lines of credit.
-Ambitions, at the least, toward a career, and steps in that direction (i.e. school, employment...)

* I don't smoke anything, drink alcohol, or indulge in recreational substance use. Nor do I detest those who choose otherwise; however, that will be a tenet of the union, and on that note, no pets.

*I enjoy the company of people from all walks of life, and ideally, a partner would have a charisma that allowed the same, as well as relatively presentable manners, and social intelligence enough not to offend the masses, or cause riotous outbreaks in public.

* I enjoy skiing, climbing, hiking, the arts - modern dance, literature, galleries of stunning images captured by stroke of hand or lens, opera, musical performances in general. I like to attend events and lectures that stimulate the mind and heart. I enjoy the pain and gratification of self improvement, from breaking down my own misconceptions about the world to tearing the flesh off my palms on a route.

I am open a ceremony in one of these, eventually, although this or possibly even this could be negotiated for the time being.

Thank you for your time.


Author's note: This is a joke. While a charmed happily-ever-after is by no means unappealing, I'm not actually thinking my sister's upcoming nupitals a legitimate impetus for marital connection.


Friday, October 16, 2009

In on a Friday

Listening to children babble, waiting for their breathing to indicate sleep, so I can go upstairs and clean the dishes from their dinner. Spent the morning in similar fashion, baking a pie and walking around the block with a child while it cooled, hand in hand, talking about sidewalks and late-blooming lavendar, sighing in the windy breath of fall as it sent leaves past our ears.

Another hour or two and live bluegrass will be racking my body with a non-negotiable instinct to dance and move to beats and riffs. I'll be one in a crowd, a nameless face, a simple afficionado out for a night's fix of rhythm and social stimulus, albeit with a degree of anonymity.

Later still, in a place quiet enough that ears buzz with sound's absence, I'll have to talk myself out of page of someone's fiction, or someone's historical record, whichever way you'll have it, fighting my eyelides for another second of artificially lit morning. Lay it on the floor, face-down-spine-up as I assume the same and the lights go off, except those twinkling through the stained glass to remind me that the city is still there, alive and well, though I sleep.

And tomorrow, I'll be someone's go-to, I'll travel across the face of this valley and back, I'll do this and I'll have done that, and things will be delivered and I will be liberated slowly, painstakingly from the bonds of a weighty to-do list.

Come Sunday, I'll travel to the desert for a week, to become further aquainted with that renegade love for climbing. I've warmed up the musculature, torn the pads from my fingers under the light of halogen bulbs, pressing off molded plastic, fighting gravity. Days in the gym will hopefully lend some grace to the coming days on the rock.

I was made for this. Life. All of it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Things I love about SL,UT right now.

- The Wasatch range and it's delicious canyons, the smell of sage, texture of scrub oak, and vibrancy of fall color in the maples and aspens.

- The Bombay House/India House/other fantastic Indian restaurants

- The Thai Orchid, especially that one darling waiter who remembers everyone.

- Alta Ski Area, the people who live, work and play there and the job I looking forward to returning to. Oh, and the epic powder.

- The beautiful people and friendships I've come across, learned from, loved deeply and been nourished from. My friends' children, their intelligence, compassion and unique personalities.

- The academic opportunities and atmosphere of having 8 sizeable colleges in one community. Lectures, people, films, readings....

- Ski premieres and the rhythm of the ski culture. I'm particularly impressed with the growing Telemark culture, and the quality of the videos they're producing.

- Climbing outside, inside, urban, and the interesting folks who do it.

- Film festivals in general - the Salt Lake Film society, Sundance, Banff, Wild and Scenic...

- Proximity to Moab and redrock desert, which I could write a comprehensive 'love list' for as well.

- Rocks. Granite, quartz, sandstone, limestone, conglomerate...

- Library system where I can go online, place an order for some obscure item, pick it up a few days later. The stock of foreign films, music and literature in the SLCO lib system is prolific!

- The LDS Church. Say what you will against it, but there is an interesting and well preserved historical culture. The Temple is iconic and lovely, the quarry is impressive. The people of the Church are often musically talented, dedicated to their families, goal oriented, hard working and kind. If you're an inflexible anti, at least you have something well defined and organized to pit your opinions against.

- The religious diversity. Again, say what you will, many don't look at Salt Lake as a diverse place. Salt Lake is home to an Islamic mosque, a Hare Krishna temple, a Buddhist temple, virtually every Christian denomination, and a myriad of other religious communities with loyal, dedicated followers who have strong faith and beautiful things to say about life. Not to mention the incredible architecture and impressive history of some of the buildings here.

- Ballet West. The UMFA. The Utah Symphony. The Opera. Kingsbury Hall, the UofU Modern Dance program, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Madeleine Children's Choir, the Eccles Organ Festival, Art Access Gallery...

- The efforts to create efficient public transportation - TRAX, the Frontrunner, UTA bus service.

- Crossroads Urban Center and their initiatives to end hunger, domestic violence, and to promote sustainability and education without restraint.

- Catalyst Magazine and the City Weekly

- Gallivan Center summer concert series

- $2 Ice skating at the Cottonwood Heights Rec center

- The variety of international languages spoken here, which is actually quite staggering thanks to the Universities, immigrants, and missionary program.

- The Icelandic community, the Greek community, the Tongan community, the Hispanic community, the Asian communities...

- Bowling at Sue Rich

- Silent movies at the Organ Loft

- Momos, Chai and Tibetan noodles at beloved Tibetan restaurants.

- The bullseye formation of the 215 loop, I-80 and I-15, and the grid system, all of which make it easy and efficient to get around town.

- Although I'm not really a part of it, yet, I admire the biking community and how often I see people commuting on two wheels. And how much they seem to enjoy it, come together, and throw fun events like warehouse concerts and Critical Mass rides.

- Affordable rent and a relatively healthy economy, all things considered.

- The sheer passion of people here - especially in terms of politics, athletics, spirituality - it seems that the people I meet are motivated to be well informed, to understand, to accomplish the goals of the causes to which they subscribe, to push themselves in the disciplines they pursue. It's so potent that you can't take a back seat here without diluting yourself. It's an inspiring thing, and only sometimes aggravating.

-An International airport

- Proximity to family - I can fly home to Boise in an hour, drive in five.

I could go on. Glad to be back.


Monday, September 7, 2009

Thirsty Roots

I really just want to stay put for a while.
But that's not going to happen. I'm bee-bopping to and from SLC for another month.
Longing for roots and being actually willing to lay them down... very different indeed.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

New Place!

Well, it's fall. Officially. I'm not working the river anymore, and I have a real house now. Crazy! I'll write more on the subject, but here are some pictures of the moving process so far.

Mom came down with me the first weekend in Aug. This is the place after an initial cleaning and prior to any moving-of-my-sheesh-into-the-premises. Note the country gingham clad couches.

A favorite feature: stained glass and windows with a twinkling view of city lights at night in the loft bedroom.

The bathroom undergoes a vital transformation - that wad of disgusting animal print plastic once served as a shower curtain. To say the new look is more my style is to understate the situation completely. Anyone in need of safari camo or material for a cheeta rain slicker, let me know.

Couch 1 Facelift: Remember that gingham? It just got smothered in rich chocolate brown, accented with Indian-esque pillows. Or something like that... this one is still a work in progress.

Couch 2 Facelift: Earth tones - light clay base from sofa cover, splashed in deep eggplant and forest, served over black and white flora.

My guest room awaits your powder vacation! (This is not a joke. Get planning kids. ;)

I finally have my own place! - Even more appreciated by the fact that I've been in a constant state of impermanence since May. I'll have more on the subject later, when I post the final pics.

Peace and love,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drawing the Blinds

In the past few weeks, the chill of fall has come to reside in the mountains of central Idaho. It still makes itself scarce during the hottest parts of the day, but descends readily as the sun sets, snuggling into the valley at night. The whir of the air conditioner is no longer the constant accompaniment to nightly sleep - no, the trembling force of the cooling beast coming to life is an infrequent surprise.

I've had less and less time to write. Anything. Unexpected, as I had previously envisioned my time here being filled with the solitude and head space I most love to create words within. The past eleven days have been host to moments shared with dear family and friends coming through town - playing under the stars with my brother, on the river with my sister and her fiancee, staying up late with my long-time best friend. Beautiful, busy, full of life, weeks fit to burst at the seams, nights of a rare sleep barely indulged in. Contemplations of boundaries and energies and dedication and what it means to be personal, to be open, to allow oneself to be read. Much musing of late...

In more direct and simple news, things are changing and moving forward, as always:

The Grand Canyon trip I had anticipated and set my fall to accommodate fell through, semi-tragically. Every time I hear or see the words Grand Canyon, I get a little heart sick. New life has sprouted from the ashes of that disappointment though. I have decided to pursue AMGA certification as a Single Pitch Instructor. I don't have any concrete plans to use this certification for gainful employment, yet. It's something I want to do because I love climbing, and want to further my understanding and abilities. In my career in the great outdoors thus far, I've found that every professional development pursuit opens opportunities, whether I see them coming or not.

I am SLC bound at the end of the week - so anxious for the energy of the city, the culture, the friends I dearly love there, and the sweeping fury of fall canvassing the Wasatch.

I've taken a position on the Board of the Icelandic Association of Utah, and will be running their newsletter and written "PR" as of October. I feel this will be a rewarding, unique and personally applicable experience.

School starts in a matter of hours, online. I am auditing a course in Icelandic from BYU this fall, beginning Monday. Anticipating good things this semester, in course content and grades.

Though my expressions of adoration for Idaho may be ad nauseum here, this is worth saying. Over the course of the summer, I've fallen deeply in love all over again with the enchantments of Idaho - the emerald of the Salmon, the goodness of the people here, the proximity to my family. Some things have nothing to do with place, and you can make what you want out of most places. This is my place, and these are my people. I will be back next summer to be tested upon these waters, to find gravity and truth within this canyon.

With love,

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Riggins, Idaho

I can now say that I have lived in a trailer, down by the river.

I don't know if I would say I 'live' in there - I just come to sleep after long, playful summer days and nights. In a former life, it was the office for the river company, so it has two rooms and a tiny bathroom without a shower. I pulled up the 'driveway' one night, illumintaing a 4 point buck in the 'backyard'-ish space in the bottom photo. Awoke the next morning at 5 am to the sound of machine gun fire and lightning - a summer hailstorm on a tin roof that knocked our sales network offline for the next four days. You can see traces of it, little white piles of hail on the porch in the top photo.
July 5 was my first day running a commercial trip on the Salmon River. Our company runs 16' Maravia rafts with stern mounted oar assist and paddle support. For non-boaters, that translates to a behemoth, multi hundred pound mass of rubber, with human powered plastic arms that stick out to give the beast momentum.

I started the morning as a passenger in another guide's boat, adding a paddler to his odd number of passengers. Our lines through the rapids were for the most part clean, until our last one of the day. I have now experienced my first, and if I have my way ONLY, commercial flip and class III swim with clients. At least we sent them home with a story, right? :) All things considered, the guests thought it was an awesome adventure.

The thing is, the Salmon, and all of the wild, natural features of this earth are like the God of the Old Testament - no respecter of persons. The elements have no regard for how straight you just went into that wave, what your kid's real age is, or how much those glasses cost. This isn't a plastic coated, hand paved water park. This is a raw vein of water that has carved thousands of feet through the granite and basalt layers of the crust of the planet - play upon its' surface at your own risk. And 99.9% of the time, you'll absolutely love it.

I have found deep peace with my decision to come here. I feel that I am in the right place at the right time, a feeling I have been devoid of for months of years at a time. It was liberating and appreciated for a while, but something in my has docked here and set anchor through the depths to a familiar bedrock. I am home, all is well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Month in Moab

I've settled down for a brief moment again, this time at my mother's home in Boise. I'm en route to Riggins, Idaho for the remainder of the summer and likely part of the fall.

I felt like leaving Moab came much too soon. There were dozens of things that I'd talked about doing, wished I'd done, etc. Going there to work for a month meant that despite my deep love for the area, I was there to work for a month, and did, with only a few days off.

I love rafting, I love the Colorado River. Met some wonderful people from all over the country, made some friendships I intend to maintain indefinitely. Made some memories with co-workers, all of us part of a family company that is ever evolving, and intensely close-knit. My send-off night was a riot; dressed in costume, we stole the stage for karaoke and shut the bar down. The karaoke DJ was calling us "TCP" - The Costume Posse.

I was sad to leave the R Lazy H Ranch and the wonderful people who live there.
It was a fabulous month.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer Ketchup

In my life, there are times when I write a lot, to the point of insanity, and other times when things are moving so quickly and with such intensity that I simply seize the moments passing without having the time to explore them in words. This past month+change was something like that. Moving at the speed of life itself, I haven't written much, and utterly neglected my blog. Here's a snapshot or two of catch-up...

Newlyweds Shane and Rindy Richins

April 25, 2009.

Groomsman Andy, Bridesmaid Jenn

Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your lives with me!

I moved out of SLC for the summer right after the wedding, just shy of the 12 month mark for the house I’d been in. A whole, consistent year in one place is my limit; I haven’t stayed a day longer in one house since moving away from my mom’s. This move was especially difficult, love the people, the house, my stay there was wonderful… but, hey, that's that.

Rafting season kicked off in early May with my first commercial run of the year and guide training in Moab. Here's a shot from the office, a.k.a. the Professor Valley. All of May was gypsy style, purging the routines and consistency of winter from my free-spirited soul. From that first weekend in Moab I visited a dear friend in Park City, spent a night in Idaho Falls with another friend, drove to Montana for my long-time BFF's graduation from Montana State University.

We spent the weekend partying on Main Street, hiking, enjoying the flavors of Bozeman. I reflected on the amazing phenomena of friendship, that after four years of long distance phone calls, being together just felt like home in the presence of someone I love. The following week we spent in Missoula, getting her moved out and enjoying each other's company. I scoped out the Clark Fork river and UofM as settings for possible future adventures such as kayaking and grad school. Looked promising enough.

This photo session took place in a parking garage where a friend took us to sing with the echo of concrete - he'd gone to Catholic school, and sent some amazing Gregorian chants bouncing off the walls. Good times in Montana.

The drive from Missoula to central Idaho ranked an easy top 5 for me. I love contemplative, long gorgeous drives. From Lolo over the snow covered pass to the deep, sheer canyon hosting the Lochsa, curving road, pelting rain, and clouds through cedar forest - the smell and feel and views were truly stunning. My windshield wipers were going full-boar to combat the onslaught of that heavy rain, making it easy not to envy the rafters in training, practicing rope rescue with an overturned boat through class IV+ waves.

Photo: this cherry picker coming into my lane under the overpass inspired a chuckle!

My first stop across the Idaho border was at Shorts Bar, a sandy beach upriver from Riggins where the day-long rafting trips put into the Salmon. I took some time to write, sitting on the hood of my car overlooking the moving water, reflecting the shadows of a slow Idaho sunset through the dramatic canyon. A lone trumpeter swan flew overhead, some deer passed. Everything was green and thriving from recent rain and the excitement of early spring, and I felt I could identify.

Photo: First view of the Salmon from Twin Bridges, 2009. That little green sign says Salmon River, I promise. ;)

I spent the next three days training with Brundage, the company I will spend the latter half of the summer guiding for, rowing big, delicious Idaho whitewater. I am stoked to return to the home state. Our family cabin in central Idaho is, of anywhere on earth, the physical location I feel most at home at. And the Salmon River very well may be my next great love affair. My grandma has been telling everyone she wants me to "Find a nice Idaho boy to marry, so she'll stop leaving all the time." We'll see about that. ;)

After training with Brundage, spending a week with family in Boise and a few days in Park City, I've landed for a whole month in the little desert hamlet of Moab, Utah, where I am spending the month of June. I couldn't have a summer without at least a little time here, I am so grateful that it’s worked out for me and my employers.
The La Salle mountains from the Hidden Valley. Moab, UT.

Life in Moab has been spinning at it's normal, crazed rate, and I have been loving it. I got right to work guiding trips, and have been exchanging room and board with my friends' family for work as a ranch hand and some housekeeping chores. I have to say, I love ranching. It's a mysterious, earthy art, a task for the disciplined, an expression of being in tune with life. I'm inspired by it. The ranch here has been operating for over a hundred years, and is a precious little oasis in the middle of Moab, obscured on both sides by cottonwoods trees that grow alongside Millcreek and Pack Creek. I'll write a separate blog about it, it's too amazing for just this paragraph. Here is a preliminary photo, guess how the hay gets from the field to the trailer to the barn... ?

The veterans here keep trying to convince me that buckin' bales isn't fun. I was and am still pretty excited about it. :)

This weekend some friends came down from SLC to do a day trip on Westwater, one of the west's famous and scenic whitewater sections. I slept out under the stars the night prior, listening to the sounds of the river and mosquitos squealing in my ear. When we took off in the morning, our guide, my friend Jack, was a little apprehensive. A life flight helicopter flew by right after we passed a bald eagle, seemingly contradictory omens. Needless to say, we paddled on. Jack swam a little bit of Funnel Falls, but steered a clean line for us through Skull Rapid, an infamous class IV hole known for claiming lives on it's "Rock of Shock" and accompanying "Room of Doom" - a massive, swirling whirlpool to the right of the main current.

Our crew!

Paddle Captain Jack and me!
So, there it is, a snapshot update of my summer, so far.
I've thought lately that my wish for the world is that beauty of the earth and simplicity of life won't be overpowered or obscured by stress, cynicism, or mundane and necessary tasks. We're only here once, pretty sure. Live it up. After all, "life is too short to be against everything,"a mentor of mine once said on the waters of the Salmon River.
Love ya. Be well.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Recent sightings...

Humility FAIL

Security FAIL

Monday, April 13, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fake Bake'n

16 days and counting until my friends' wedding. I kind of ski a lot, as you may know. In the spring, when it's 60 degrees out, snowmelt and sweat compete for drenching rights. The days are lovely and feel like being on a beach surrounded by endless, free slushies. A few of the noteworthy, possibly less desirable consequences include...

1. Stinky boots in the locker room. 100+ pairs of em can almost knock you out on a humid spring afternoon, seriously. Boo.

2. Funky tans. Usually only on the lower face and hands, if they're glove-free. These can be interesting conversation pieces.

Case in point: I did not manipulate the colors in this photo at all. Spring 2008's goggle tan.

Normally, I'd sport the spring ski tan with pride. However, something tells me it would be impolite to show up in the bridal party rocking a stark white chest and arms accented by a dirty tan lower face and brown hands. Especially noting that the dress I will be wearing is sleeveless, and these are my friends, and this is their actual wedding, and they probably want the photographs that are costing them thousands of dollars to look nice.

So, I did the preposterous. I paid to be locked in a light bulb coffin with the intent of turning colors. I am going to do it a few more times before the wedding, even though it is ridiculous. The cute, energetic salesgirl actually tried to pitch a $100 bottle of lotion to me - right. No. I'll only go so far with vanity in the name of friendship, that is over the limit. As if I would piddle away money that will otherwise go toward climbing gear, real life, etc on lotion, of all things.

Go ahead, play the game.
"What do these items have in common...?"

1. Tanning Bed

2. Space ship

3. Toaster Oven (buns not included.)

[Hey, you soon to be newlyweds, now you know how much I love you. ;) ]

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hello April

It's nice to see you again this year, you radical old month. The Utah powder hasn't stopped yet but is no longer light and fine in texture; it sinks into the melting phase with decreasing delay. The creeks have started thumping with the rush of the daily melt, my hands are tan from hanging out the sleeves of my instructor jacket, arms still white.

April used to be depressing in high school, as the ski season would wrap up and I would have to focus back in on school to salvage my grades from absentee days. You know how some people say "I'd rather be skiing?" I took it seriously. Medical notes, activity absences for ski team, whatever I could manage. I swear my best memories of high school are of avoiding it for something better - a day skiing, lunch with my grandparents.

April doesn't depress me anymore, now that I'm a daggum "grown up." It's become the segue between my long-term winter love for skiing, and my recently acquired taste for wild summer flings with whitewater, mountains and rock faces. It's the bring-it-on month. Out with the old for now, the new comes parading in, life is gorgeous.

Random subject change: I'm in a wedding party in 16 days. I spent five hours addressing invites to the shower and bachelorette party. Some people have printers for this sort of thing... I kick it old school with a fine point Sharpie. Getting high, JH style. ;)

Speaking of kickin it old school, I caught sight of my old (read: 35mm) Pentax sitting lonely and cold in my closet the other day. I missed it fiercely, and will be going out for a photo op once I've skied myself silly in the powder that is falling on the Wasatch right this minute. I can hear the rain drumming on the slanted 'beach' house roof, and were it not for the cloud cover, the full moon would be illuminating the peaks which are undoubtedly being blanketed in thick, heavy snow of spring.

I love this state, I really do. It's incredible. I see something literally breathtaking, every day.

I still can't wait to get back to Idaho though, my soul craves the mountains and rivers there with distinct intensity. And the people... can't say it enough. I need the simplicity of good Idaho folk. If you don't know what this means, you probably never will.

I met the author of this book in my childhood, when my mother bought a condo in the north end of Boise. His daughter and her mother lived down the street, and we became fast friends - my first 'real' job ever, at 15, was nannying for them. They're wonderful people, I could dedicate a whole blog post in this sitting alone to what I have learned from and admired about them.

About the book though, Idaho Loners. I didn't actually read it until 2006 when I took off in the spring to become a river guide for the summer.

My first stop was at the base of the Tetons, to get my Wilderness First Responder certification from the Wilderness Medicine Institure, hosted by NOLS Teton Valley. Long story short, I spent 9 days at the base of the Tetons in and around a building that was once an old LDS church, sold and remodeled as the base camp for NOLS courses. The building was awesome, and even featured a whole room of bulk food - perfect for gearing up, great classroom, bunk beds, and a very nice updated bathroom. Taped on the back of one of the doors was a segment of Idaho Loners, about Jenny and Leigh Lakes and their namesake, Richard Leigh, aka "Beaver Dick."

The bathroom reader was interesting enough to fuel further reading at my second stop that spring, the family cabin, which is nestled appropriately in the heartland of Idaho. The cabin has a library host to a blessed specimen of mountain literature - Idaho Loners was right at home between some Vardis Fisher and Pat McManus gems.

I found something in those pages I identify with in ways I cannot explain. When I envision this summer, it's Idaho. It's the Salmon river, my grandparents, the cabin library, true love for life and swimming, literally, in my own transcendentalist experiences. Add a little bit of Moab to that and I am set.

And, I'm still going to wake up and ski a foot of powder. Oh yeyaaa. I love you, April.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Alta Gala 2009

Some photos from a gorgeous night at La Caille, in celebration of Alta's 70th anniversary. A tapas dinner, silent auction, and funk dancing into the night to the sounds of Lake Effect, 3/5 of whom are Alta season pass holders.

Out of normal ski garb, goggle-tans glowing, we were all pleasantly suprised to become acquainted under the greenhouse canopy, a drastic change from our usual elements.

The sensation of feeling as if one is in the right place at the right time is so elusive, and relentlessly pursued. In some cases, ignored for years until it rears as an instinctual longing. The confining ideal of fate dictating the course of one's life is popular, like all things that are easy tend to be. Life is way more complex than that, and because of the one-dimensional limitations of fate and destiny, I am quick to dismiss them. Skew it a little differently, like a scavenger hunt where you make all the calls but may or may not come upon the right opportunities, and I feel more inclined to embrace.

I feel that in coming to Alta for the past four years, I've landed myself in the right place for me - met the people who would teach me the applicable lessons of this chapter of my life, experienced the natural beauty of the Wasatch in a way that will forever change my energy and zest for life.

Love these folks. So very much.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Image TAG-arooski

I got tagged. Supposedly, you're supposed to go into My Pictures, pick the sixth photo in the sixth file and blog about it. Participate at will and do it as you please... here is my attempt.

Sometimes I wish I had stats on things, such as the total number of days I've skied, rides I've hitched, hitchers I've picked up, how many times I've traveled some favorite stretches of highway. Etc.

This image is a snapshot of the mouth of Spanish Fork canyon at sunset last December, as I returned from my beloved Moab.

Over the past three years, I've traveled that road dozens of times. I've laughed, conversed, and even seen death over its painted lines. The surrounding vistas have stolen the breath from me, inspired thought, been grounding in their constancy, and given confidence during change.

I look back on some of the most whole, raw moments of my life, and recall the beauty of the west - the Tetons, the red desert, Montana forests, all viewed through a dusty, bug-encrusted windshield. Windows down, with no regard for the presence of rain, snow, gale force highway wind shrieking in and through the vehicle. The kind of heat that could melt cosmetic presence from my face in salty droplets and rise in blurry currents from the dashboard and hood for months, with no relief from a failing AC unit.

Unconcerned for the conditions, I'd sing loudly, sometimes savagely, lyrics of liberation. The acoustic accompaniment to some sunsets, sunrises kneading peace and contentment into wearied, taut musculature.

Dirtbag vagabonding has been a significant part of life as I've known it the past few years.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


My own private Idaho.

Thinking about and planning for this summer is the number one survival tactic I have for this semester. I traded a lot to go to school right now, and it's really been a bummer. BUT....

I have a lot to look forward to. I'm going home.

My friend somehow roped me into a half marathon in May. Admittedly, she didn't have to try, I want to do it. A good kickstart to the summer and tangible goal to work towards. I have two triathlons scheduled for August - that as a first training milestone of the season seems appropriate. Anyone wanna join in? May 16, Boise, Famous Potato. There's a whole and a half, Lucky Peak to Ann Morrison. Badass. ;)

My grandparents, all four of them, are stunning people - I can't wait to spend more time learning from them. It's amazing to be able to know them well and hear their stories, collected over rich lifetimes of experience. They all have a great sense of humor, and are the best company. Tonight my mom's parents were laughing about their memory slipping. Grandma said "We have a new policy. If I can't remember it, and he can't remember it," points at Grandpa, and both say "to hell with it!" laughing and grinning from ear to ear.

Thanks to the help of a former supervisor at the first ski school I worked for, I've landed my summer dream job. It looks like I'll be crashing at the family cabin, riding a road bike to and from work, and getting paid to raft a favorite section. Best of all, I get to be in IDAHO. Shh, don't tell, but it is by far the most immaculate of all states. SHH! ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eyelashes Beware!

It's always seemed counter intuitive to put these things reallllly close to my eye and clamp down.
Recently, that feeling has been justified. Did you know that if you squeeze hard enough, it's possible to bust through the little pad and lop your lashes right off? It is. Just thought I'd pass that on, while I'm sitting here waiting for 1/4 of them to grow back.

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Love Post

un .... I. verse

Walking the lines between faith
And a recombinant solution of the two

Discovering slowly through the travail of time
Gave way to association, actualized, and later realized.

Pledging for years a senseless, vague, determined
On human terms, in the format of minutes, miles nearer.

Giving without expectation of reward, knowing that
Create the beauty of the whole, within

Forming lines that however parallel may never
Traveling freely at speeds of light or held fast

Observing and learning to be complete
Undefined in the course of others

Being, verbs, all of them, enacted by the
That is the I within the universe.


A shout out to the refining properties of time, the years of faith and determination that heal retroactively the wounds of a decade.

To friendship within blood
To relativity
To time showing the truth of all things
To being unaffected by old crutches
To walking freely
..... breathing deep
letting go.

[Renewal. Restart. Refresh. Rejuvenation. Welcome.]

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Icetastic Valentine's Day

Sleeplessness, likely due to the 65% cocoa chocolate consumed in V-day quantities, has me awake at this hour, taking a break from reading to indulge in my other favorite pastime. Blogging, duh!

My sister is a Valentine's day scrooge. Weird, since she's a total sap (sorry Dami, you know it's true) - she'll cry at just about any movie, likes roses, touchy-feelyness, romance, and is pretty dang affectionate in general. Plus, she's in a relationship. Still hates Valentine's day. None of the former really apply to me, yet I love Valentine's day.

I've never been in a relationship for V-day. I'd just broken up with someone a week or two before, years ago - he pulled into the alley of my apartment complex, left a rose and card, intending to knock and ditch. I lived on the third floor, and opened the door to hear him thunder down the last stairs and watch as he realized he'd locked his keys in his still-running car. I drove him to his house for the spare, we laughed about it.
Valentine's day wasn't a couple's affair in our house. Mom, sis and I would leave messages and doodlings on bathroom mirrors, and we'd get a vase of flowers just because. In high school, my seminary teacher (who is now my uncle-in-law, if that is possible) had us make BARF bags. Like their grade school inspiration, these would be filled with candy and cute notes. BARF stood for "Be A Real Friend," and it was a pleasant, thoughtful exchange. Usually.

Today was delightful. My girlfriends and I went ice skating, ate delish home-made chili, and dark chocolate. No make-up, no pressure, no nonsense. The company of good friends I already know and love, good food and fun conversation.
Much love!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Blessed America

A shout out to the First Ammendment and the tenants protecting freedoms of speech and press. I love this country, turmoil and all.

Life as a journalist so far has been trying and rewarding. My articles have made the cover twice in the three weeks I've been writing for the Globe, and the article I'm currently working on will probably be up next Monday. Struggling to adapt to the massive style and structure shift from creative to journalistic writing, I am constantly learning and trying not to drown in the process.

The snow in Utah has seen some spring lovin' this week, sunshine and blue skies almost every day. Word on the web is that a storm is en route, rolling in to dispense some fresh powder sometime tonight.

Summer is not far enough away to avoid getting the spring chickens in a row, so I've been scoping out the prospects. There are two places that I see my Chaco-tanned, rowdy summer self: Moab and central Idaho. God willing, I'll get to spend a healthy amount of time in both places, and everywhere between. (ie Boise, the Wasatch, City of Rocks.) Ecstatic at the thought of straying the confines of the smoggy urban oven that is Salt Lake in the summer, relishing in thoughts of cold Idaho rivers, family and close friends at arm's length... YES, I will survive this semester.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Surfing Cloud

Check this out! On our way into work, my pals and I got to watch this splendid little cloud formation curl over Devil's Castle like a breaking wave.
FYI - gret skiing yonder them cliffs.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Write and Ski

Spring Semester 2009 is ON, full intensity. Busy is good, and an exceptionally "good" week it was. To the demanding load of 17 credits, add teaching skiing 1-2 days per week, running a small business, writing for the school paper, social events, and come what may... eeesh.

On a positive note, every class session was filled with that vague, euphoric sense of having so much to gain from the coursework in the syllabi - nerdy but thrilling to sit and know that over the course of months, my understanding is going to be kneaded, spread out, formed into something new and increasingly comprehensive. Learning is awesome.

An unexpected highlight of the week: officially being hired on for my first paid writing job. I am now a stipend earnin' Campus Reporter for the SLCC Globe. This thrilling little twist in the plot of my spring term marks the advent of my next phase as a writer.

This blog has been a refuge for me, a place where my writing has gone public for the first time, albeit with limited scrutiny. SLCC boasts a ballpark enrollment of 60,000 students, and the Globe is available at every door of every campus. A fantastic opportunity to step into the public eye and begin building a portfolio, but seriously?! Bye bye academic wallflowerism.

Other than that, the second week of the 2009th year bearing the post-fix A.D. looks a lot like: smog in the valley and sunshine and soft, melted snow in the slopes. My favorite ski conditions... the air is pure, the wind on hiatus, my favorite runs are steep and soft and I can lose myself wholly in those moments of rhythmic reaching downhill, carving, finishing, flattening, reaching, repeating. On a particularily glorious ski day, Tuesday, I was riding solo on the lifts and contemplating the feeling of gratitude - how much I feel for health, recreation, deep breaths, good friends, long hard days of calorie torching shredding, followed by wholesome nourishment.

Being alive is great! Cheers to my faith in sustaining it through this semester. :)


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

School, Novel, Love and the New Year

So, I did it. I registered for Spring Term.

I know I said I wouldn't. I know I said other things were going to take precedence over my education this Spring.

But in the final moments where I scrambled the funds together, made the payment, and registered for the 16 credits I'll be taking, the thoughts going through my mind were right on track.

The thing is, in my old age of 22, I've become increasingly goal oriented. It isn't as much about the cash-out value or trade-offs of going to school anymore - yes, I just eliminated the probability of skiing in Europe, Jackson Hole, and a handful of other 'really exciting adventures' - but I'm making a permanent investment in a long range goal, that ultimately serves to make adventure more accessible, life more stable, etc. I think of the quote "Pay me now, or pay me later, but either way, you're going to pay me." I see the face of The Man in that saying, a rasp in his voice. I'm going to pay that old bastard now, walk down the line and take my diploma a year from May, a document that may or may not make my skills more marketable, my abilities more recognizable... but will symbolize a fulfillment of a commitment I made to myself, and embody the unlocking power to achieve future goals. I could rant on and on about school, but in summary, I'm going! And I LIKE it! :)

Novel, the second subject of this post. I've had some characters growing in my brain the past few months. It's like being pregnant... I assume, I have no idea what that actually feels like, but I swear these characters kick the back of my forehead and lean on my hypothalamus til my sleep patterns go irregular and my appetite buckles. They want out. I want them out. I'm going to write them into being this spring, in the company of a writer's group I've been invited to join, which I am thrilled about.

Love. I hesitate to write this... but because things like this need to be borne, not suffocated in the confines of my skull, I shall. I've had this ongoing crushlikething for a while now, for a dear friend. I was talking to another dear friend about it a few days ago, and he said that this 'crush' is the one thing that makes him question my otherwise admired (by him) intelligence. Kind of stunning, really, like a bee sting on a pleasant summer day, the worst part of it being that I knew exactly where he was coming from. A few other good friends have made a similar point. I don't think that it's a particularly good look for an independent, whole woman to wear - this waiting, almost pining, thoughtfully patient "love." Dear friend #2, bee sting guy, says I should be 'putting myself out there more' - and he also scolded me for paying for my own dinner on dates, my typical policy. To all of this, I respond that sure, I could be more engaging in the possibilities of romance with random dates, and I guess I could let strangers pay for food I consume and would rather pay for myself, and I suppose I could forget for a while how every second I spend in the company of dear friend #1, crushguy, feels like home the way I remember it from age 9... unpretentious, comfortable, right. But hey, I don't have the time or energy to change my ways today. I'll think on it though.

And lastly, the New Year. Instinctively, I wanted to say "I hope it's good to you all." Instead, I say decide now what you want it to look like, summon your courage, fill your lungs, and press forward. 2009 is bound to be filled with unseen obstacles, challenges, trials, pain.... and possibly as much happiness and fulfillment as your soul can contain. This first week of it is the part where we address what we want the content to look like. The headlines will make themselves, the paragraphs that follow, where we record our reactions, express our rhythms, draw our character - that's all open, and is largely determined by habit.

With love,