Sunday, January 29, 2012

Muir motivation today...

 “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown,
 for going out,
 I found,
 was really going in.” 
~John Muir. 

In a few hours we will pack lunches, load the car and head to Michaux State Forest for a hike.  Our plan is to hike the Sunset Rocks trail.

Before we have even made a single peanut butter & jelly sandwich, I am already certain that while we wander I will wonder:

  1. Should we sell the television now that we cancelled cable or will Kate want it? What about the Wii and the TV stand?
  2. How long will it take to remove the wallpaper in the hall and stairwell?
  3. When will the volunteer call us to schedule a home visit so we can move forward with the dog adoption?
  4. Will Otter like having another dog in the house? How will the cat react?
  5. What do we need at the grocery store today to be prepared for the week?
  6. Should I keep the paper coffee filters now that I bought a reusable coffee filter? Do they even take up enough space to warrant thinking about it?
  7. What are we going to plant in the front garden this summer? 
  8. How can I rearrange the living room to make maximum use of the space only using the furniture/shelving we currently have?
What I really want to do when we get on the trail is concentrate on:
  1. how quiet it is
  2. the smell of fresh winter air and its sting in my lungs
  3. the rhythm of our footsteps
  4. the beauty of the exposed winter forest
Today will be a lesson on focusing and living in the moment. I always feel like I can tackle questions like the ones above after a day in the woods. I can rest my mind while I work my body.

Where do you go when you need time away from constant questioning/evaluating/assessing? Do you meditate?  Practice yoga? How do you calm your mind?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wings are wings.... right?

Straight to the point in today's blog....

Question #1: Would you pull the wings off a butterfly for a 12-month trip around the world?

I don't really want or need to know your answer, but before you continue reading, think a moment about how long it took you to come up with your answer......   Now...  please continue reading because there is more to this post (of course).


Question #2: Would you pull the wings off a cockroach for a 12-month trip around the world?

And so my friends....   this metaphorical situation makes me wonder about where we draw the line....  

Because cockroaches can carry microbes that exacerbate asthma and cause allergic reactions in some people, is it okay to kill them?  Because they are not as pretty as butterflies does it make it "more okay" to kill them?  How do you determine what makes it okay to kill the cockroach?  Because you don't like them?

Until I wander and wonder again...  would love to hear your thoughts....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Summoning staircase in twelve words or less

The staircase to our second floor summons me to leave the public places in our home and escape to the more private pockets of our lives. Each day I climb the stairs numerous times, much more often on laundry days than any other day of the week. Until this weekend I really hadn't give much thought to this physical passage from first to second floor.  I'll start at a logical spot to share more of these thoughts....

Gradually we are making changes to the house, but not wanting to invest a large amount of money until I have graduated from college (again) and am gainfully employed.  (It is a possibility that we will relocate but that is another story completely.) For now we will continue to make cosmetic changes to change it from "his" to "ours".

Saturday morning, while Scott was still mostly asleep, I was wide awake but trying to be still so Otter wouldn't want to go outside.  From my side of the bed, I see the top of the staircase. I began to think about what we could do to transform this space.  I will confess that as he slept, I began a dialogue about the process with him. I am certain his responsive grunts were affirmations of everything I had proposed.

The chore list looks quite simple. Four steps...

  1. wallpaper stripped
  2. walls painted
  3. carpet removed
  4. stairs/hall floor painted
The manual chores (1 & 3) are no-brainers.  I have no decisions to make, just effort to apply.

Fortunately I have an artistic daughter and an agreeable husband so choosing the paint colors really isn't going to be that hard either.  In fact, Scott and Katie seemed to agree immediately on a general color decision.

Logically one would think that there really isn't anything left to do or decide.  Just get busy.  But I need to add one more element... something to make it a space I am proud of. (Our bathroom has galvanized metal roofing for the shower stall -- unconventional, efficient, practical and economical.)

While I was a young adult, I visited a friend, Karen Marie Louise Farrell Treon, at her parents' house.  Her mother had artwork of children in the stairwell to the second floor. I am trying to remember the additional element... they either had pets with them or books...   sorry I cannot get that detail from the depths of my memory, but you get the gist.

When I lived in the one-room schoolhouse I always wanted to decorate the stairwell to the second floor with  art of sheep, pastoral oil painting reproductions like this.

Scott didn't really seem to leap at the sheep so...  my mind continued to wander.  After a few internet searches for "staircases" I remembered those words people have on their walls.  There are all kinds of quotes and sayings available. They are pre-printed and allegedly easy to apply and remove.  So I browsed a few of those websites but nothing really captured my attention.  Why not just choose random words... words that encourage or inspire?  

Now this has me wondering... how encouraged or inspired does a person really want to be when they are climbing the stairs to go to sleep at night? Perhaps calming and soothing words would be best?  Who is this message really for? 

So here is a challenge...  what 12 words would you want on your summoning staircase?

Friday, January 13, 2012

What makes you Google or Bing?

Today is Friday, January 13, 2012.  Why is this a day of superstition?

It is raining this morning.  Why is it raining and not snowing at this temperature?

Certain paint colors make a room look larger. Why does this illusion occur?

How many times a day do we accept a situation or event without knowing why they occur?

What events make you stop and think to yourself, "why did that happen"?

Take it out one more step.... what events make you investigate why they happened?  What sends you to the computer to "google" or "bing"?

A few topics that have sent me on a quest for information:

  1. how to grow cinnamon
  2. what is trigonometry
  3. duck penises
Don't just sit there!  Google or Bing today!  (I am not sure that anyone Yahoo's anymore.)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wandering to the top of High Knob Vista....

Friday evening we loaded up Otter and some hiking gear and headed to Gakky and Pappy's house.  We spent the night there and as the sun was coming up on Saturday morning, Scott, Otter and I headed to Sullivan County to hike from the Hillsgrove Ranger Station to High Knob Overlook/Vista.  

The day began a bit on the chilly side and gradually warmed, but the sun never touches some parts of the mountains in Sullivan County this time of year and we had some great chances to see winter landscapes.  

The trail is a 2.5 mile trek from the ranger station to the vista.  The initial ascent is a mile long and steep.  Through some beautiful white pine and thick mountain laurel it levels out.  The final climb is through some old hardwoods and just shy of an "all fours scramble" for the last 100 yards. 

The hike to the summit was uneventful.  When we got to the vista there were two guys in a car taking pictures. Another guy showed up while we were eating our lunch.  We saw no one on the trails other than a hunter at the trail head who was not too thrilled to see us waltz past him with a dog.  Did we ruin his day?  

The jaunt back to the car was new trail for me.  We tied together a small piece of the Loyalsock Trail, Old Bark Trail and then Dry Run Road back to the Ranger Station. 

Our first surprise was a bunch of deer parts and guts a poacher must have thrown over the guardrail along the road as we started our descent on the Loyalsock Trail.  I have hiked a few sections of the Loyalsock Trail and have never been disappointed.  The Alpine Club of Williamsport does a fabulous job maintaining this trail.  

We left the LT for the Old Bark Trail.  The beginning of the trail was a bit concerning as we had to navigate through several blowdowns and the blazes were difficult to locate.  We took turns standing at the last blaze until the other one found the next blaze.  There were times when we had to let Otter off the leash to move from one of us to the other because the terrain was just too touch to navigate with him on a leash.  He was in his element and obeyed like a pro each time.  

Old Bark Trail led us back to Dry Run Road and I was afraid we would be disappointed having to hike a road for a few miles but I couldn't have been more wrong.  The sun didn't shine into that valley often and the creek was winter wonderful!  The waterfalls were running rapidly and roaring like ocean waves.  

We spent quite a bit of time at Dry Run Falls because Scott took his glasses off and then forgot to pick them up.  So ... we were looking for silver-framed, wire rimmed glasses on a cloudy day in the snow and leaf cover.  We did find them and moved on.  

Since we made such good time on the trail we went for a little drive on the way home, going through Hillsgrove, Forksville, Worlds End State Park and Eagles Mere, through Tivoli and Picture Rocks and then back on 180 to Norry.  

Alas... we got back to Gakky and Pappy's house and they weren't home!  But no worries... I knew the code to get in with their keyless remote for their garage.  EXCEPT... the battery was dead.  No worries again!! Gakky has a cell phone....  EXCEPT... she doesn't turn it on unless she is making a call.  So...

We headed to Sunbury, picked up subs at Marlins and took them to the Marina to eat.  

Everything turned out fine and Gakky and Pappy were soon home.  We worked on cleaning out Gakky and Pappy's fridge of delicious desserts and slept a sound sleep. 

The sun was just barely coming over the mountain when we began hiking at 8:30.

The sun was soon high enough and strong enough to create shadows.  I would like this rock formation to be my living room wall when we remodel someday. 

Otter and Scott patiently waited for me.  I was busy meandering and taking pictures. 

Occasionally we saw pockets of snow like this. 

The mountain laurel started to get thick....

then prohibited side-by-side hiking.

The vista.  You can see seven counties from this summit.

The village of Hillsgove is in the center of this photo.

Even though it got warmer as the day went on, the wind made it rather crisp at the vista.

Instead of an out-and-back, we hiked a loop, connecting trails.  We were fortunate to be able to include a piece of the Loyalsock Trail.  It is absolutely beautiful no matter what time of year I have been on this trail!

Scott tested Otter's response to one of us falling on the trail.  Sad to say, Otter really didn't care.  He kept his nose to the ground and just wanted to move forward. 

A few minutes of rest on the LT. Otter has no patience for these photo sessions.  He wants to get moving and keep moving.

Otter at Dry Run Falls.  

Dry Run Falls.

How could I pass up a photo with a dog at "Old Bark Trail"?!

Back at the van.  We all had a snack before heading home.

Otter pulled Scott's clothes out of the open suitcase and proceeded to attempt to curl up in it to sleep on the way home.

When we got back to Gakky's she had hot apple pie, hot tea and ice cream for us!...  Eventually

One very, very tired dog.
Otter sleeping with Gakky on the couch.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I took a sick day today.  I think it was the third one I have taken in about four years.  I went to bed last night feeling miserable all over and woke up this morning feeling like I had just finished my first day of basic training and been left out in the cold all night with every inch of my body hurting...  even the hair on my arms.  I slept for about 18 hours with a few potty breaks.  After being up for four hours, I am ready to go back to bed.  I am obviously sick.  Yet...  I feel so guilty about calling off sick from work.  REALLY???  What is that about?

Is this a mom thing?  I know there is rarely a time that is convenient for moms to be sick but honestly...  my mom hours are very limited these days... I don't have a child at home to take care of.  In fact, Kate is in Oklahoma visiting for a week so I am essentially excused from all mom duties except an occasional worry that she is eating right and exhibiting good manners.  

Is it because I am a woman?  I know most women, moms or not, overwork and have full agendas 24/7.  But... with no college classes right now, and a full time job that really only requires 35 hours a week, I am not locked into a strict schedule.

Is it because my job is so important?  Well...  this is kind of a secret but... no one will die if I don't go to work.  They might think they will if their printers don't work, but the truth is... they will live through the day. The other girls on the team have the building covered and under controlled.

Is it a generational trait?  I don't think so because other people in my generation do not hesitate to take sick days.  But I will confess ignorance here... just where does one generation end and the next one begin?  I'm not exactly sure what generation I am part of.  

This guilt, like so many other pressures is simply self-imposed.  I have to get A's in all my classes.  I have to walk the dog three times each day.  I have to wash the sheets every weekend. I have to be up at 0500 every morning.  I have to clean the litter box on Sunday and Wednesday.  And if I don't, I feel guilty.  

The timing of this bout of illness and resultant guilt just might mean I need to make a resolution for 2012.....  

Wendy - be more flexible and don't sweat the small stuff.  Anyone want to define "small" for me?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Want or Need?

On Saturday Katie and I went shopping.  She felt she was in need of some retail therapy.  For a change of pace, and because we had the time, we headed to Lancaster with the Park City mall as our intended destination.  On the way over I proposed a change of plans and we sailed past the mall and headed to the outlets.  Heading east on Route 30, Tanger Outlets are a logical first stop.  After a rapid sweep through the entire outlet complex, we decided we just weren't doing well as outlet shoppers.  We headed directly across the street, ate at Sonic Drive-In and then headed west to Park City Mall.

While Kate made a few purchases, I found myself struggling to find a store I even wanted to enter.  I spent a few minutes at EMS browsing some hiking boots and Smartwool socks but left the store with all the green backs still tucked safely in my wallet.

After just four hours we crossed the river and headed home exhausted.  How could that even be possible?

I've actually given it some thought since then and it occurred to me that there was absolutely not one single item in that mall that I needed. In fact, I cannot think of a single item in any mall that I "need".  I began to wonder about all those people who bought something there...  how many of those items were truly a necessity?

Many times I have considered the fine line between want and need.  How do you separate the two?  If you are not going to be happy until you have a particular item, does it immediately become a need? When is the last time you bought something that made you happy? Does the cost of an item determine if it is a want or a need?

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is below...  

How many of these cost money? Can you find creative ways to meet these needs at a minimal cost? Would you find willfully living on less money freeing or debilitating? Just a little something to think about as you begin your new year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Welcome to Wandering and Wondering

Welcome to my first blog post.  Scott thinks "Wandering and Wondering with Wendy" is a lot to live up to.  I'm going to be honest and say I'm not even sure how this blog will evolve. I have no grand plan or vision statement. The bottom line is that I think my life is almost perfect and I want to share it.

I cannot promise profound ponderings on a daily basis but I do know that as I walk Otter each day, my mind certainly wanders and regularly I stumble onto some questions or dilemmas that I would love to present to others for consideration and most definitely discussion. The names will be changed to protect the innocent if I think there is any hint of shame or embarrassment.

English scholars... I beg your forgiveness immediately...  sometimes my mind goes so much faster than my fingers can type and if I get hung up on grammar, punctuation and spelling, I lose the thought.

I would love to hear your comments and hold no grudges against those who disagree with me. It would be a terrible world if everyone liked chocolate ice cream.

With all that said...  I hope you find this blog enjoyable enough to visit frequently and see where I am wandering and what I am wondering.