Sunday, December 30, 2018

Smelly Train/Nice Bag: Winter Edition!

Awhile back, I did a couple posts using the Smelly Train/Nice Bag idea that I stole from a UK blogger. I don't remember who it was, and have lost track of the blog, so if it was you, sorry (and post your blog link).  The whole premise behind it was that if you have a negative thought, you should counteract it with a positive one.  The writer was traveling on a stinky train, but she was carrying a nice purse.  So here we go, with the winter version:

It's cold out!/I can wear cute sweaters and boots!

I don't want to shovel snow!/Now I don't need to go to the gym and lift weights!

There's not very much daylight!/You don't have to feel bad about calling it an early night with a book!

It's hard to run in the winter!/It's still better than the treadmill!

Heat is so expensive!/Now I can break out the fuzzy slippers and fleece blankets! Also, in the words of moms everywhere, "Put on a sweater."

I miss wearing my cute summer clothes!/Two words: down miniskirt. Also, jackets! (yes, I have a jacket problem. I can't stop buying them).

It's icy out!/My microspikes work great!

I can't hike!/But I can snowshoe, snowboard and cross country ski!

Winter is so long!/It really makes me appreciate summer!

What am I missing? What are your smelly train/nice bag moments lately (they don't have to be about winter)? Love winter and dislike summer? Throw some out there!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Dog Days

Dear dog owners,

I know you think your pooch is the cutest, best doggy in the world.  I get this, because my cats definitely are the cutest, best kitties in the world.  I don't dislike dogs, even though I was traumatized when I was little by a huge bloodhound running off with my Barbie.  Sometimes I wish I could have one (but can't, with my job).  This isn't really about your dog.  It's about YOU.

I'm a runner.  I've been a runner for 40 years.  I've run all over the world, on trails, roads, in bear and mountain lion country, in places where I've had to turn around and retreat because of sketchy people, and in all kinds of weather.  Despite all that, dogs have been the worst of all these obstacles.  Yes, DOGS.

When running, I've learned to be very cautious when approaching dogs.  I usually slow down and sometimes even stop, depending on the pup's behavior.  I've taken other routes when I know a mean dog is there, and even cut my run short to avoid one.  I talk to the dog and the owner in a friendly way.  I step aside on trails for them.

Despite this, I've been bitten, barked at aggressively, chased, jumped up on and scratched, bumped into so hard it caused a bruise, and had my hand grabbed in dog's mouths with their teeth clamped down on it.  Meanwhile the owner usually says the dog's name ineffectively, claims "she's friendly" as it snarls at me, and refuses to accept any responsibility.

Your happy pup running up to me to say hi is fine.  I don't expect all dogs everywhere to be on leashes, or to be perfectly behaved all the time.  But let's share the trails and be courteous.  Please train/control your pooch so we can all have fun out there.


A runner
I have a "niece," Ruby.  She is very well behaved!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

more sweet than bitter

If a young girl were to read the latest stories about becoming a female wildland firefighter, she would be horrified.

Rampant discrimination.  Harassed by men at every turn.  Forced to quit, even.

This isn't my story.

I'm not saying this doesn't happen to some.  It has and it does, and it shouldn't.  But it wasn't and isn't the reality for me.  Yes, there were times when there was inappropriate talk and behavior.  When men closed ranks, shutting me out of discussions and decisions.  But it wasn't enough to make me leave.

What made me stay? Something must make this dirty, dangerous, underpaid, male-dominated career worth it.  We don't keep doing things if there is no benefit.  Even the addicts I have known wouldn't quit chasing the high, despite the inevitable low, until the negatives outweighed the positives.  The juice must be worth the squeeze.

When I think back over the last 30 years, the answer to that question doesn't come fully formed.  Instead, there's a series of flashbacks, pieces of memories, that run through my mind: the sweetness, without any of the bitter:

-My first fire, staring incredulously at 200 foot flames as they rolled over the mountains;

-The sudden surprise of a snowfall on a fire high in the Cascades;

-In Mesa Verde, the pilot steering us past an Anasazi ruin with a circular tower built in the middle of it, in the middle of nowhere;

-Spotting smoke in the distance with  my coworker Ron in the Tetons, getting on the radio and saying "we're ten minutes out," no matter how far away we were;

-Evacuating people ahead of fires and knowing we saved their lives;

-The exhilaration of climbing out of a wrecked helicopter and knowing I was alive;

-Sleeping on a remote rappel spot while elk bugled all around us;

-Lighting fire around cabins in a last ditch effort to save them, and celebrating because they made it;

-Flying through Glacier Park with Chris the pilot, looking at lakes and mountains and glaciers, both of us incredulous at our good fortune to be there.

It's been bittersweet, all these years.  But it's been more sweet than bitter.  It was all worth it.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Better get new clothes!

As if I needed another reason to love Iceland, they seem to like cats there.  Reykjavik is sometimes called "the town of cats."

Cats can often be seen strolling around; while there is a cat shelter there, most of these patrolling felines have owners and are just on walkabouts.  Someone seriously posted in an Iceland travel site that she wanted to "see cats" when she was in town.  Nobody thought it was weird or funny, and a local Icelander charmingly answered her by stating the names of streets on which cats can usually be found.

It's estimated that there may be as many as 20,000 cats in the city, or one for every ten people.  In contrast, dogs were banned in Reykjavik from 1924 to 1984!

The most interesting Icelandic cat is the Yule Cat.  This sounds kind of nice, like a fluffy kitten in a Santa hat.  But it's not! In Icelandic folklore, the Yule Cat is giant and terrifying. It prowls around Iceland on Christmas Eve, looking for lazy people who haven't done their chores, especially children, although it doesn't sound like anyone is safe.

Supposedly if you did your chores before Christmas you were rewarded with new clothes. Some people say that this tradition was started by farmers as an incentive for workers to finish processing the autumn wool.  Those who did got new clothes. Those who didn't, well...

If the Yule Cat looks in your window and sees you with a  package that looks like clothes, it will hiss and move on.  If not, it will eat all your food before eating you!

Although I love cats, just to be on the safe side, as I bought Christmas presents I also added in a new sweater for myself.  It's just common sense!
Image from National Geographic