Monday, August 31, 2015

verde river: day 2

Day 2 dawned absolutely gorgeous.
We had no way to measure air temperature, but can tell you that between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., it took a serious upturn. Workout time is calling!

If I remember right, the first part of the day went pretty well. The river seems to be flowing faster which means less rocks for me to stumble over. Photos are being taken through the water proof camera bag with wet gloved fingers operating the phone through this tough plastic. It is a miracle they are turning out at all! Sometimes they're turning out a little better than others.

Perhaps today was the day when Jari was nearly trampled. We had seen a few bulls running alongside the river. That was a surprise! I hadn't known there were cattle ranging out here. At one point, three of us had crossed a little rapid and Jari was bringing up the tail end. On the left side of the river stood a big beautiful bull with what was probably his mama. I think the calf was on the other side, but I'm not sure. Huge bull! He stood about 6 feet way from Jari, who was sitting very nicely in his kayak, and gave him a good stare down. Jari raised the only weapon he had ... his paddle ... and the bull decided not to mess with him.

Wouldn't that have been a tragic? Not the river beating you up, but a random bull in the middle of nowhere?! There isn't a lick of cell service out here. We haven't seen any other living human being. In the event of some kind of tragedy we do have access to help via channel 16. I'm sure we would have eventually found the radio that was packed somewhere in Jari's ship. Talk about a heart thumper!

Scenery is amazingly changing all the time. A small spot of red rock wall turns into something else.

Easily navigable rapids lead to calmer water and quick going.

This was the afternoon that I nearly cried. In and out of the kayak to walk around a spot that wasn't so pretty. The two things I had been most worried about before leaving weren't causing problems. Thank goodness! I sat with my left leg pointed straight out the entire time, giving the right leg room to fit where it might. Mind you there are days when sitting for an hour is a problem, so this system working for me was a cause for personal celebration. I did have some serious moments of frustration where I swore I was going on a diet so my kayak wouldn't be so heavy going over the rocks. Jari assured me it had nothing to do with weight. He may be right. My unmovable skags did a great job of rock catching. I did learn that if I leaned way back and got some weight off the bottom, sometimes the rocks were navigable. I don't remember what this was. It doesn't look bad from my couch, but we didn't walk things that we didn't need to. Trust me on this. Climbing in and out was not high on our list of favorite things to do. Often times, even if the water was navigable, the other side held dangerous kayak grabbers and tippers. We have many cherubs at home and we're not invincible 16 year olds anymore. Caution is our game plan.

Sometimes the river threw us a surprise. Rocks and trees suddenly reached out of nowhere and hurled a kayak on its side, dumping out the rider and filling the travel vessel with water. Keilah had bruises ... enough that she looked like an elderly patient on Coumadin rather than a young, healthy and vibrant woman! Between the kayak and the rocks .. she was collecting them all.

A stop for lunch and a rest. The last day Jari shared some of Dean and Keilah's lunch, but we never ran out of food. It may have been the next day, or perhaps this one, when we started dreaming about the greasiest burger possible!

We had ordered these handy little waterproof phone bags that hung on a cord around our necks. Phone at the ready to grab a photo where we could. Just in case an opportunity arose, I also had drivers licenses, debit cards and cash in mine. No Amazon shopping out here! They were really things that I had with me at the drop off point and would need when we got picked up. Keilah's bag held her phone and their wedding rings. The rings were causing blisters from paddling so they were plunked in the bag. At this point there was that horrified moment where she realized that the bag was gone. The clip had popped loose and the bag was gone with no idea when it was lost. Water moving at such a clip that it might be found by some other paddler several years down the road, but we weren't finding it. Mine fell off in front of me on Day 3. I saw it and was able to retrieve it. Don't trust those things!! Ever! Next time (I've already said yes to another trip!) I'll attach some kind of Velcro pocket to the inside of my life vest for safe and handy keeping.

Dean had also downloaded the river map to his phone and it was tucked somewhere safely. Another moment of  "Where's Waldo and where does Waldo need to travel?"

This day we planned a stop for dinner and then were going to paddle until it became unsafe to do so. That looked rather sketchy, because there really weren't too many camping spots along the river. Our goal is to hit Sheeps Bridge by noon tomorrow. That will leave us with 10 miles to the pickup spot. We stopped for dinner ... rice with chicken that heated real quick on our little propane stove. (There is an advantage to having gadgets and gizmos filling every inch of your living space!) I've only had one cup of coffee today. ONE!! I've cut down my coffee consumption in the past 6 months, but this is going above and beyond. It's a miracle that I'm not biting off someone's head yet!

We paddled until it wasn't safe to do so anymore and found a little spot of shore that wasn't rock filled. Just enough sand to put up our sleeping shelters, fix me some coffee and take a bath! If we're out camping, we typically just come home smelling like something that ought to be tossed in the trash bin and head for the shower. It was warm out, the water was warm (if not a little dirty), the stars were bright, we were beyond grimy and the river hollered our names. When I had gunky water stuck in my ear, I all of a sudden had horrifying visions of encephalitis, but it had to be the most refreshing river dunk I've ever experienced.

Tents were set up, lavender oil applied to developing blisters, dry clothes on and wet ones hung to dry. Time to get some sleep and scour up energy for Day 3!

Friday, August 28, 2015

finding fifty: rapids to prunes

I didn't know I was capable.
I hadn't even considered that I might be.

Many of those rapids filled my kayak with a wonderful spray of water
and left me to sit in it ... sometimes for hours.

Which leads me to dishpan hands.
If you're any kind of person, you've washed dishes by hand.
If you're from any size family, you've washed a lot of them by hand.
And when you're done, you've got these hands that are wrinkled up to worse than prunes.

So, in my many moments of meandering quiet thoughts over the weekend,
I sort of had to wonder.

If your hands can look that bad after a sink or two of dishes,
and you've now been sitting in a "tub" of water much longer than it takes to do those dishes,

what happened to the quality of the wrinkles that age has graced you with?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

verde river: day 1

Sometime between the time I scheduled last Friday's post and the time we hit the river, I learned that we weren't going 32 miles. We were going 42 miles. serious.
Sometimes I'm not sure what my dear hubby thinks I'm capable of doing.

Friday we left Phoenix with our willing and every so helpful drivers, Alyx and Tarron. They were bringing the vehicles back to Phoenix for us after dropping us off at the river. We met Dean and Keilah in Camp Verde, climbed in their rig with all of our goods and tootled off down a mountain road I'd never traversed to our starting spot at the Childs Power Plant. Well, it was a power plant at one time. There was so much prickly pear along the way that I was having thoughts of turning the power plant into a prickly pear processing factory .. until I saw it.

We made it to our starting spot, Jari and I got our kayaks inflated and we all got our gear loaded.
Don't we look so fresh and ready for an explore?!

Note: all photos are taken through a plastic waterproof camera bag.

We had some seriously quick learning to do. The river was low and the more narrow the river became, the more challenging it could become. Rocks, trees, bushes, bends, rapids all led to kayak tippings and dumpings. It didn't take much to learn that everything needed to be tied in. Dean & Keilah lost their tent poles before we ever set up the first night.

Sometimes we dawdled .. catching the views in our phone camera lenses.

Not another soul in sight. Just the quiet of nature and the occasional sounds of approaching rapids.

If you lived on this river your entire life, you might never know that water can be crystal clear and shining blue.

Cruising along ...

We did find some clear water. Dean & Keilah had the map downloaded on their phones and Jari had his GPS along, but it was still challenging to figure out where exactly we were sometimes.

Off to explore and find out where this trickle was coming from ....

A beautiful pool of cool and clear refreshing water. The Verde water that had been raining into our kayaks was warm. The equivalent of bath water. We didn't care. The day was warm, somewhere in the 90's, and the sun was intense. Any splashing from rapids became welcome and taught us something we hadn't known. We were going to be wet this entire trip. Sometimes sitting in inches of water for quite a while ... and appreciating it!

This lovely young couple chose to do this trip with us, found babysitters for their kidlets and signed up for an unexpected workout of a lifetime! I'm so glad they joined us.

Cooling off!

I think that I expected we would just get on the river and it would be moving steadily. I sort of didn't expect that we might spend a good deal of time traversing this type of thing. There weren't many that were quite this interesting, but we spent a lot of time getting in and out of kayaks. Pulling them over rocks or around areas that weren't safe to navigate while paddling. I'm afraid I probably did some grumbling, not so nicely either, that Jari had to edit out of the GoPro video. I'm not a couch potato, but I really don't have an athletic bone in my body!! After hoisting myself in and out, in and out, in and out ... you can just imagine.

We certainly had plenty of times where the river was calm and beautiful. Time to paddle away. It seemed like it went in stretches. Kind of like it was getting us ready for the next section that would present some physical challenges.

Another moment of "where are we now?" It felt like we just kept going and going and going. Confused about exactly where we were. We missed seeing clear creeks that would have been landmarks, causing some confusion. Between the map and the GPS we'd get some idea of how far we had gone. Sometimes it was exhilarating and other times disappointing.

Before we left, I had texted my sister Becky to see just how far we had gone on the Mississippi. She said it was 9 miles and I think we were only gone several hours. I shared that with Keilah ... it made both of us feel better. We could do this! Piece of cake! However ..... I didn't see any of this on the Mississippi. 9 miles becomes many hours in a hurry. And yet, look at the beauty of it!

The serenity of a place that few will ever see. Other than these lovely folks, our traveling companions included water bugs, bees drinking from the river, herons, eagles, ducks and cattle. Quiet serenity.

Sometimes so very still that not even the water moved.

So ended the first day. We found a spot to camp. The first order of business was to change into dry clothes. Ahh ... that felt so good. The guys fashioned sticks into tent poles to make Dean & Keilah's tent habitable. We pumped up our air mattresses for some level of comfort. Stoked up some hot coals and had a dinner of Alaskan salmon and moose with pasta. Coffee time for this mama. The night air was warm. Shouldn't have packed that sweatshirt because those 65 degree night temps weren't happening where we were. Sometime around 4 in the morning it got cool enough to crawl under the sleeping bag instead of just on top of it. Those of us who live in a large metropolis miss one of the most beautiful things in nature. The night sky. Ah, the luxury of sleeping with just a screen between you and the heavens.

10 miles down.
Time to get some rest because we have 32 miles to go in the next couple of days!

Friday, August 21, 2015

finding fifty: kayaking the verde

I told you that I went kayaking in Minnesota on the Mississippi for several hours this past summer.
At least, I think I did.
That would be the extent of my kayaking experience. Ever.

Why this weekend, when it has only been 117 in Phoenix this week,, and we aren't exactly heading to the mountains to do this?
It is the only weekend available between here and later in October.

This morning we are off on a weekend adventure.
I have had some serious misgivings and anxieties about this little jaunt of ours.
I can't handle the heat. I get crabby (big surprise, hey?) real quick.
That has probably been my biggest concern.
I drink my cold drinks with ice and there won't be any which makes me sorta sad.

I'm not worried about the river or the fact that the weather could change on a dime and we could have flash floods and be swept who knows where.
Nope. Not worried about that at all. That would be my husband who is in charge of that.
He worries and plans enough for several families which might be a good thing.
We have some another very precious couple joining us in our excursion.

I'm concerned about creature comforts.
I can pee behind a tree with the best of the them.
I can sleep in a tent ... we bought a smaller one for this trip.
I can almost go without a shower for 3 days, but I'm on a muddy river for 3 days, so I might learn.
I'll find time for a soap bar somewhere along the way.
I'm worried that the left side of my body won't cooperate with me and that sitting in the same position for many hours straight is going to have me ready to scream.
I'll have to come up with a solution for that.

In preparation for this jaunt of ours, we are now owners of inflatable kayaks.
Jari says mine won't puncture ... and I'm hoping that his will be just as safe!
I wanted inflatable ones because I intend to put it to use other than on the river and want to be able to pack it in the trunk of my car. Check that one off the list!
Dry bags to pack our sleeping bags and clothes in.
A water filtration system to harvest drinking water from clear streams ... or muddy ones if we need to.
Life vests. Yup. Got new ones.
We have a jet boil for coffee and adding hot water to meals to hydrate them for eating.
A trip to Sprouts this week for a few more food items this week and we should have that packed into a small backpack and ready to tuck in somewhere.
Sunscreen ... might need a gallon of it.

We have a list that goes for probably pages of a small notebook.
Many of the items are checked off.
Jari will spend this week making sure every i is dotted and t is crossed.
GPS is updated with software and mapping. After all, I am married to Mr. Techie who needs to know where is he at all times and when the next bend in the river is coming.
Marine radio? Yup. We even have one of those. Where no cell service exists (like it won't here) the radio will call up any emergency personnel you need. A serious security blanket.
And even more importantly, rope to pull me along behind him because that upper body workout plan I had in mind became a crocheted rug instead.

Off we go ... 32 miles of quiet life uninterrupted by facebook or the phone ringing.
Fingers crossed for a river that is running fast enough to carry us and keep us from portaging, yet not fast enough to make it a breathless three days.
Anxiety and trepidation aside, we are off!

Monday, August 17, 2015

and now we are three

my husband and i found each other again in the past two months of being alone together
we needed that

this past weekend, tho', our home rang with laughter
the ribbing of teens
the blonde moments that bring us great joy
the piano keys turned sound into music
the car roared off down the street and came back to park in the same place again
the joy of seeing mom's cooking and appreciating it

we are again three
it won't be forever
i know that

i'm happy that is for now

Saturday, August 15, 2015

this past week

I was recently summoned for jury duty and scheduled to appear this past Thursday.
I've never served on a jury and haven't been summoned in a very long time.
So, quite obviously, I had the day off to take care of my civic responsibility.
I called in the night before as instructed and was told to call back at 10:15 on Thursday to determine if I needed to be there at noon.
I then texted the boss to let her know that I could come in for the morning if she wanted me to.

She needs a dozen roses.
She told me to stay home and eat bonbons.

I did.

Then I called in at 10:15 and found myself excused!

Free Day!!

I have long weekends all the time, but one more day is a still a miracle.

I headed straight to multi tasking for hours and hours.
I've been working on a project that I can't share here, or anywhere for that matter.

While I was doing that, I spent some time crocheting those lovely strips of peachy flavored fabric into what will soon be a completed rug.
Mom, I was wrong. It will be done before you get here.

I tried my hand at candle making and started learning the difference between palm wax and soy wax. I don't like palm wax.
My candle surfaces remind me of moguls on a ski hill.
I have some learning to do.

I cleaned out parts of the kitchen cupboards and managed to stash a few things in a pile for the girls or Goodwill. And this evening while I paused in my writing here ... 2 pieces from the stash disappeared. I knew it!
I filled the trashcan with bread crumbs that expired a year ago.
Thursday night when I crawled into bed, I grabbed my camera and got a picture of this.
For the past 2 months, this has been my dimly lit view as my head hits the pillow at night.
Always facing the same direction and always seeing the same glow.
It has been a hiatus or vacation of sorts ... akin to a honeymoon.

Friday, August 14, 2015

finding fifty: a case of put it where it belongs

At the moment there are two of us who live here.
Both of us are over the age of .... yeah, that.
So when I open the refrigerator and find this .....

as long as I've not been home alone for a week and missed it somehow, I can safely place the blame elsewhere.


Because I think this is worse than placing an empty milk jug in the refrigerator.
Like, really, you just took the jug of milk out of the fridge.
It only makes sense to put it back there.
But the canning jar aka cup you used to drink your orange juice?

Maybe you got up a bit too early this morning after all!
After all, we know that putting things exactly where you took them from ensures you might just find them again.
It doesn't ever guarantee it, but it helps.
Being as the memory is going, the post it notes are plastered everywhere, the notebooks of lists are piled into drawers, putting things in proper places helps.
Then your mind is off somewhere and you're running on auto pilot and oops!
You fall right off the track.

And the glass ends up in the fridge.
'Cause maybe you forgot that you already ate your breakfast this morning?

Friday, August 7, 2015

finding fity: love the old stuff

A while back I sold the dresser that we acquired with this.
The mirror never went to the dresser but came in the same truck load.
They were 3 of the pieces that we packed into a 20 foot trailer of our possessions
when we moved back.
The mirror has moved from place to place.
Finding a new perching spot here and there.
It was a very unfinished and beat up looking thing,
but I love it.
A bit of sandpaper, off white paint and a dusting of stain gave it life.
A hanging wire because these old things are rarely light weights
and it found a home.
The second piece was a nightstand that matched the dresser.
Our nightstands in our room are mismatched.
Jari's matches the dresser .. mine didn't match anything.
Until now.
It was naked. Bare. Boring. Sad.
Not a remnant of finish even existed anymore.
And it was on the list of old things to make young for several years.
It got the same treatment as the mirror did.

This one also received a coat of age defying polyurethane to keep it happy.
That little blue/purple bowl up there?
I'm a sentimental sort.
It holds all of the flowers removed from Jari's suit lapel following the weddings of our children.

It has lived a busy life .. sort of like all of us.
Needed a bit of rejuvenation ... like all of us do at times.
(If only a dip in the paint and stain vat would do the trick!)
Is well loved .. just like us.

Monday, August 3, 2015

when the dear hubby goes camping ...

After he left on Friday I started my day out with dying fabric.
Using 2 colors of Rit Dye, I mixed and matched, dyed and redyed until I almost had what I wanted!
What a process!
The rug is going to look beautiful when it's done. I hope.

In between loads of rinsing fabric strips, I moved outside.
This little beauty started out being a porch swing for me and ended up being a plant stand of sorts.
Bullet, the puppy, would really like some dirt to dig and took up dumping my pots.
They had to move up higher and I wanted something done with this.
I spent much of a hot day outside, sweat running and burning my eyes.
My list of want to get done was much bigger than the one of accomplishment,
but I did get a few things checked off before I gave it up!

Saturday, while I visited with my sister Jen on the phone, I drove around looking for some prickly pear cactus to pick. I'm just a little too shy to be hopping through fences or picking out of people's yards. There isn't any to be found if you head toward Lake Pleasant, but if you head for Cave Creek .... it is boundless! I think I came home with 3 gallons worth of the pricker laden pretty stuff.

Alyx came over and helped me with this bad stuff. We had a few prickers before we were done, but not bad! I did find what might be an easier way to this ... after we were done. But our system wasn't bad! Isn't the color of this just gorgeous?! Was ready to try dying some more fabric!

Yup. Evidence of mean prickers. Plenty of those little ones that you can feel but can't hardly see
making removal just a challenge.

Before sending these to the cooking pot, they were cut in half. The fruit, known as tuna, is so seed filled it is incredible. Reminded me of making jelly from cultured rosehips as opposed to wild rosehips!
I added only a titch (I just googled that word and learned that it means small person!) itty bit of water to the bottoms of the pots to keep them from burning.
It didn't take very long for them to cook down and I only used the potato masher once.

The pulp.
At this point I was sort of thankful that I don't have a compost bin. Imagine the nightmare growing in there! You might notice I'm not using cheesecloth. I tried it with home picked berries that I made into jellies while we were in the land of berries aplenty. Then I used this fine mesh colander and didn't notice one bit of difference. I might end up with a wee bit more pulp left in the bottom of the juice after it sits, but nothing that's worth having cheese cloth having around.

The juice headed to the stock pot with scads of sugar, lemon juice, butter (to prevent foaming) and pectin. Cook and boil ....

and voila!
I can cross make prickly pear jelly off the list!
I opened this jar and tasted.
So, my goal for making this is to bring it to a church craft sale.
I like my jams and jellies sweet.
I can't even let Sweet Tarts pass my lips.
Crab apples? Perhaps that might be a close comparison ... at least for me.

My girls both spent the day here and I was so happy!!
Not only for their company, but the little boys as well.
And ... they dined with me.
Jari can't eat Tortilla Soup so it is a treat reserved for when he is gone.
Yum. Yum. Yum.

The girls topped off the evening with a haircut for the little guy.
I wonder if all of his haircuts will take place in our bathroom sink. It works very well.
The cold water faucet is highly entertaining and it works!

That wraps up my Friday and Saturday ... and led right to my serious nap on Sunday.
Incidentally, during that nap I dreamed that I quit my job.
I was nearly hyperventilating when I woke up!