Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife - Almost Done

I have 60 pages left to read in The Time Traveler's Wife and I must say that I simply can't recommend it. It's only because of the coarse and graphic sexual language that is sprinkled occasionally throughout. It's unfortunate to me that the author writes so bluntly and graphically, and with a hardened sort of voice at these various points. It disrupts the flow of the story for me with a roughness I don't appreciate. I suppose it SORT OF resembles the roughness of her writing, but for me it taints the characters and taints the sweetness of their love for each other with an indelicate ugliness. That's coming from my frame of reference. I really like the overall story though. Lots. But I just can't whole-heartedly recommend you go out and read it. You have to know that some of the language and snippets of the story, contrary to my first post which I've just updated with a parenthetical retraction/correction, deserve an X rating. It's sad, that the way of things these days is to write a perfectly good story but sprinkle in vulgarities here and there, perhaps thinking it will make it better or more appealing. To the contrary, it often ruins an otherwise wonderful work of art. Sad.

P.S. Like I mentioned in my earlier post, the movie was better, leaving out the vulgarities that pop up in the book. Check the rating before you rent it with the kids.

Friday, October 16, 2009

And Then....This Morning

We were thrilled with yesterday's elk visit. And then...this morning. Lately we've been leaving the bedroom window open about an inch but last night had it closed because it was pretty chilly in the bedroom. This morning I heard a bull elk bugling pretty loudly. When I remembered the window was closed, I sprang out of bed to open it a crack, wondering could it be possible that a bull had come to the water trough. That eerie bugle sounded again. I went out the bedroom door and into the rest of the house where I saw through the windows....YES! A BULL ELK! Right on our property! Just out the windows! Oh my gosh; it was so cool. So amazing. Such a privilege and a gift! pictures, though. It happened too fast. He and some ladies were on their way back up into the woods, from whence they came last night. I think he tried to drink from the trough but his huge rack of antlers prohibited him. When I first went into the hall, I heard a clatter out the window. Then when I finally saw him through another window, he was walking in the direction of the woods away from the trough.

So now... at 3:50 pm I stand typing on my laptop on the kitchen counter, doing sentry duty looking for them to come back tonight. They have fresh water waiting for them. Our windows are freshly cleaned inside and out. My camera sits five feet away from me with a freshly charged battery in it. And I even strategically placed a bucket full of water that the bull would be able to drink from, free of obstructions for his antlers.

I am certain they will not come today.

Merely because I am so prepared, so expectant, so waiting and watching.

That water in the trough WAS pretty nasty. I don't know how they could drink from it. But I cleaned it all out and transferred the cleaner water from another rain catching trough into the one they, I hope, are learning to drink from regularly. I'm hoping that Mr. Bull has not deemed this pit stop unfit because the water was so rank or because he couldn't drink from it.

We shall see.

Watching and waiting...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I've Waited 11 Years

13 if you count the two years we owned the property but hadn't moved up here yet.

This past summer I wrote about how after 11 years since moving to our five acres I FINALLY saw some elk on our land (See July's Elk Tonight). REALLY on our land (not just running across the road), and I REALLY saw them (for a nice long while). Another thing I have longed for, hoped for and waited for, is to see - from inside the house - elk close by outside.

Today as I was dashing to the kitchen sink just before leaving for town, I looked out the garden window above the sink and saw a young elk. RIGHT THERE about 30 feet from the house! I whisper-yelled to my husband "Come here! Quietly, and right now!!" Intuitive man that he is, he asked "Do I need my camera?" "YES!" I quietly hollered.

We could see them out three of our windows and we went to each one and back again as the elk moved about the yard. We both took pictures. Some of mine came out hazy because of the 4pm sunlight and also the window I was shooting through. But I kind of like the "Doris Day" glow it adds to them. It seems to express some of the wonder and drama the event held for us.

I love this hazy bright shot of the yearling taken from the back door.

She was standing near an old bathtub we have used as a flower box. Unfortunately, nothing is alive in it right now. We may someday line the outside of it with vertical logs to cover up its bathtubbiness.

This is SO close to the house. It was so exciting.

I also love this one with three elk in it, the sunlight on the young one in front, and the way the window pane makes the photo look vignetted.

They came to drink from our horse trough. We have no horses; just the trough. It was our primary source of grey water for the first few years up here - but that's another story for another time. Today, boy were we glad it had water left in it from the summer rains.

Walking over to the water, taking her turn.

Da baby!

The trough is located right under our dining room window. When one girl came up from her drink, I took these. Note the antique carpenter's level in the foreground. It's what we use as our window brace. (Rebar, hollow piping, antique carpenter's all works.) She's even licking her lips. Mmmmm, that months old water with dirt and floaties in it tastes good!

She couldn't see us, though we were right inside about 2 feet from her. The windows reflect, so for the most part all she saw was the forest reflected in the window. But she must have been able to sense us or perhaps see vague motion through the window beyond the reflection. She raised her head to get a better look.

And then ...

...she looked right at me, curious about this half sight, half sense she had.

She began to move away from the trough and the window. As she did, the baby - who had been drinking from the end of the trough almost entirely out of my view - began to follow.

I was able to get this great view of her precious face.

The mama and baby moved off. Soon the other two did as well.
A parting shot.

This was so cool! What an awesome gift to have these gals come so close. We are now determined to keep water in the trough and when in town I ran over to Wal-Mart and bought a salt lick. We want to keep them coming!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Van Camping

For all of you who are curious what it's like for us as we "Van Camp", in a few words, it's:



(The box of Sugar Pops --excuse me, my age is showing..."Corn" Pops-- is empty and makes a rather nice floor mat. (Seriously, it feels better under my boots than the constant "carpet" of gravel and sandy dirt.)


Plus: We have everything we need.
Minus: But where the heck is it?

-We have rods to hang our clothes, and Rusty's guiding gear....lots of guiding gear.

-We have a TV/DVD Player...hanging from the ceiling. (Requires minding our shins in the night.)

-We have a refrigerator in the back which we can plug in at a camp spot or run off an invertor while driving.

-We have so much extra stuff which doesn't have a permanent accessible home in the van that we are constantly shifting it all around day and night from on and off the bed so we can sleep or drive.

-It's relatively dark in there, even in Alaska. No side windows.

-The dashboard is my husband's bookcase. (I can't see over it all so when he's working and I have the van, first I have to take everything off the dash and stack it on the passenger seat. Then I have to put it all back when I pick him up because there's nowhere else to put it.)

-The door frame is his fly case.

-My armrest is the hat rack.

-The ceiling holds his fishing poles. Thanks to more broom sticks, shower rods, and bungies.

-His "dresser" is a series of duffle bags suspended from the ceiling via various shower rods and broom sticks. My dresser is a carry-on bag on the floor between the bed and the side door.

-His "nightstand" is two narrow plastic storage tubs bungied to the wall. Works great.

-Don't even ask where the bathroom is.

-Each morning we have to take down the shotgun from it's slings attached to the ceiling and place it on the bed where it won't move. Each night before bed, we place it up there, out of our way.

-Our kitchen cupboard is the big gaping hole between the front seats. Try as I may to keep it organized, it always seems to be a big jumbled pile of stuff. (How's that bread lookin' down there on the bottom, honey? Hey, look! There's those apples we bought in Canada 10 days ago. I wondered where they went.)

It can be frustrating (usually getting moreso as time goes on) but it's also kind of nice. We can go anywhere and always have a place to sleep. We can be spontaneous and stay overnight if we want. It's kind of freeing. Of course, it would be nice to have a luxurious, expensive motor home...but alas. Maybe inexpensive one. (Come to think of it, even the tiniest ones are expensive.)

But for now, we're doin' fine.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Festival #2

First off, here's a photo of our booth. Every single day of both festivals I forgot to bring my camera. So these are photos from last year's Fall Festival, but you get the idea.

And here's one of The Fisherman standing next to one of his popular bear photos. The one below it is rather popular, too. We call it Autumn Reflections.

Festival #2 was a wild life festival. We waffled back and forth on whether or not to actually show up. The organizer was very nice and said she understood totally if we chose not to come. There was only going to be two other actual vendors there besides us. Verrrry small festival indeed. We hemmed and hawed, asking each other repeatedly, "So what do you think? Should we do it or not?" We finally decided, though it would probably be a lot of work for a little money, we should go ahead and give it a try. In the morning, the winds were picking up, which took the wind out of our sails. We decided to cancel. Then, my always-thinking and ever spontaneous husband came up with a set-up idea that would be virtually wind proof. We were on again at the last minute. We showed up later than intended and were encouraged by the weather and the feel of the place so we went ahead and did a fairly full set-up. It was a fun festival. Very small, but fun. We made a couple hundred bucks, too, so it was a good day.

Since it was a wildlife festival, most of the booths were informational and/or educational. Fish and Game had a booth that included bear hides, bear skulls, a big horn ram skull with HUGE curling horns, as well as several table-top enclosures each containing one of Arizona's native rattlesnakes. Mmm, boy. Actually, they were very interesting. During set up, one of the guys raised his voice a bit and said, "Uh oh! We're missing two snakes." Funny guy, that one.

There was also a live Red Tailed Hawk and a live Bald Eagle. Very cool. they stood on their handlers' arms or on an astro-turf covered perch while the handlers gave info and answered questions about them. (Average wingspan of an adult bald eagle: 6.5 feet.)

The wolf that was here in August was back. He has actually GROWN in the last two months. He looked a lot beefier to me, much more filled out. This time he was enclosed within a fence and the director/handler sat inside with him. I was sure glad I went in August where the wolf was leashed and walking around the whole day. I got a good share of petting him this time, though, during set up and take down times when he was being walked. We are looking forward to visiting the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in New Mexico sometime in the next few months.

THEN, there was this indoor avian show. They gave a talk - in the acoustic nightmare that was the metal garage in which it was held - and brought out three different birds. One was a black and white crow that did a cute demonstration of flying back and forth from the handler to volunteers (aged 5 to 75). The crow landed on each volunteer's arm and then took from their other hand a pop can in his beak which he flew back to a little recycling bin across the room. Another bird was a huge owl from Africa. When the handler came out from behind the screen with it on his arm, the crowd erupted into the oooooh's and aaaaaah's of surprise and awe. It was very impressive.

But the best, most thrilling part for me was the flight of the Auger's Buzzard. We learned that only Americans mistake "buzzards" for "vultures." Actually a buzzard, in the rest of the world, is a hawk. We're the only ones that think the term means a vulture-like creature. You can see a photo of this hawk at the Avian Ambassadors website. They had handlers set up at diagonal corners of the audience. I had the perfect seat. I was sitting in the last row, two seats in from the center aisle. The hawk flew from my front left to the back right.... right behind me and to my right about 8 feet. Before beginning the flying demonstration, the speaker explained to us that birds conserve energy by flying low in a swooping arc. He said essentially, if you're in it's direct path, you might get scared as you see it flying low toward you, but don't worry. And don't make any sudden movements like raising your arms or freaking out. I love birds but I get an involuntary skin crawl and body shudder when they fly real close to me. I was imagining what it would be like to have this thing fly a foot or even 18" over my head! Well, it's a good thing I didn't have to find out because this hawk swooped down from the man's arm and flew literally inches from people's heads! Inches! It was amazing. The family sitting in the end seats just three seats away from me had this beautiful, BIG, grey and white hawk with a 3 and a 1/2 foot wing span flying right into their faces just a couple inches above their heads as it made it's slight ascent toward the other handler's outstretched forearm. WOW! I wish I could have gotten a picture. But not only did I not have my camera with me, I was also so awestruck that I wouldn't even have been able to shoot. I noticed some friends sitting toward the front on the left hand aisle and the bird flew right over them each time. When it was over I talked to them and the wife said the hawk actually caught a little bit of her hair while flying past!!

I probably would have had Fearful Nature Encounter #3 and had to write some pathetic, humiliating account of it here. (To read about Encounters 1 and 2, see September 7th's post entitled Leaves Are Turning Yellow. The account of our Bear Mountain hike is under the sub-heading of Sept 5th.) As it was, I was so thankful for the beautiful, amazing things I saw so close up. I love the gentle flare and curves of the very outside wing tips.

Back out at our booth, there was one woman who came to the booth while The Fisherman was away. I could tell she was another festival participant by her hurried only-have-a-second manner. She only stayed about 30 seconds but was so full of energy and enthusiasm, exclaiming how awesome the photos were and that she'd be back. I noticed then that she had on a radio station jacket. After lunch she came back to meet The Fisherman. She was doing a live remote and wondered if he would like to do a a brief on-air interview. A couple minutes later, The Fisherman was on the radio. She talked up his photos, gave out his website address, and asked him a couple questions about his work, how close he gets to the bears, etc. I didn't hear it, of course, but the whole thing was pretty exciting. Later, as we were forced to start taking down 30 minutes early due to increasing winds, a dad and sons came by saying they'd heard him on the radio and wanted to come see. Cool!

All in all, we had a lot of fun at this small kid-oriented festival. We're glad we did it but are uncertain about doing it again next year. If we don't participate, we'll probably attend it because it's so fun to see the creatures.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blogging on the Porch

The sun is beginning to set and the evening chill is setting in. The 64 degrees of earlier has given way to a seemingly much chillier 60. The sky seemed to turn a switch and suddenly it grew grey and still. The last beams of bright sunlight shine on a distant hill to the east. I can see it's top through the trees. Elk are bugling in the woods around the meadow just a couple hundred yards away from me. Nuthatches are clicking and clacking their ways up and down the pine trees. A silent bunny hops from underneath one juniper to another. A chipmunk scampers onto the porch. When I look at him, he darts off as if his very life depends on it. Grey Breasted Jays land clumsily on the feeders that are too small for them. Gravel clatters from beyond my view under the porch as birds scratch out the bird seed flung out of the feeder by the jays seeking only the sunflower seeds.

As I pause and just take in the stillness of the trees and air, I feel myself receiving the restfulness of it all.

The elk. Two bunnies hopping. Birds scratching. Wind in the tree tops. A moment of complete silence. Then they begin again.

All but the elk seem to be quieting down. It seems they are taking the cues of the greying light and are thinking about heading in for the night.

I will do the same.

Jehovah Rapha

I'm doing a Beth Moore Bible study this year. I've never done one before but have heard she is a gifted teacher. Her studies are combination workbook and video studies.

This study is called "A Woman's Heart - God's Dwelling Place" and studies the Old Testament tabernacle. People have told me this is a fascinating and inspiring study (be it by Beth Moore or not) but, frankly, I wasn't all that interested in studying the tabernacle. I did so in a Bible class in college for my Religion major, and I was simply not into it at all. But, since this particular Beth Moore study has come so highly recommended by friends who did it last year at our old church, I was eager to accept the invitation to join in.

We do homework in the workbook and today I came across some great stuff. Just have to share it. I don't think I'm breaking any copyright laws by quoting a few passages.

In Exodus 15, God has just miraculously brought the Israelites through the Red Sea on dry ground and subsequently drowned all of their enemies, Pharoah's armies who pursued them. The Israelites were being led by God through the wilderness by way of a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. After the Red Sea, He led them three days to a place with water that was not drinkable. The Bible says the waters were bitter, therefore the place was named Marah, which means "bitterness."

God commanded Moses to take a nearby tree and throw it into the waters. When he did, the waters became sweet and Israel's thirst was met.

The passage concludes with verse 26 in which God states that if Israel will follow Him closely He will "put none of these diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer."

Beth Moore notes the same oddity I felt when reading that. She notes how curious it is that God chose this time to introduce Himself as Healer, Jehovah Rapha. It seems kind of out of place. Bad water turned good, then suddenly God is talking about diseases and being their healer. Why not after the Israelites had come down with some sickness and He miraculously healed them all? No, He chose to introduce Himself as Healer within a circumstance whose focal point was the turning of bitterness to sweetness.

Beth writes:
"He introduced Himself as Jehovah-Rapha by demonstrating His power over the most common disease from which His children would suffer - bitterness."

She continues:
"Bitterness is a spiritual cancer, a rapidly growing malignancy that can consume your life. After it consumes the soul, it begins to eat away at the body. It is so contagious that we can pass it on to our children, who are often oblivious to the source.

...No amount of distractions or busywork - not even church work - can treat this spiritual disease.

...Bitterness cannot be ignored but must be healed at the very core, and only Christ can heal bitterness. No one can do it for you, and no one can tell you exactly what is required for your healing. Others can direct you to Jesus, but you must show up for your appointments."

It was at this point that my thoughts turned to the question, "Am I bitter, Lord?" Evidence would indicate that yes, there are areas where things have been left unresolved, hidden, and stashed away, areas where bitterness has crept in. Then I asked myself, "What are my favorite distractions? What tends to satisfy me on the surface and keep me from seeing the things that need changing?"

Beth continued:
"In order to heal, you may need to start by forgiving.

Yet you may fear, as I did,
'If I forgive
that will make it all right
and it's not alright.'

Let God whisper into your ear what He whispered to me,
'No, My child; forgiving will
make you all right.' "

Good stuff.

Just when I thought I'd had plenty to work with for the time being, she gently reminded me that:

"Healing is a cooperative effort."


"Often, believers let their Healer extract a portion of their spiritual malignancies, then force him to cease because of their lack of cooperation."

and then, the personalization:

"Will you allow Him to finish the good work He began in you?
Are you ready to trust your life to your Healer?
Peace awaits you on the other side of your Marah [bitterness].
Let Him take you there."

Like I said, I just had to share this with you. Good stuff. Worthy of self examination, of much meditation and prayer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

I went and saw the movie, The Time Traveler's Wife, last month. I liked it so I bought the book and am now almost half way through it. It's about Henry, a man who is mysteriously and genetically prone to time travel. He has no control over when he time travels or to when he goes, but he often re-visits places and times familiar to him. Because clothes and possessions do not transport through time he always arrives at his travel destination unclothed. As you can imagine, unlike other such stories, time travel is not all that fun for Henry. He spends much of his time trying to acquire clothes, money, and food as well as fighting off people who find these activities objectionable.

Through his travels he meets Clare. She is a little girl when they meet but over the years of her growing life they become sweet friends. As she gets older, they fall unofficially in love. Eventually they meet in the present where the love story unfolds.

Both the book and movie are very interesting in that you are dealing simultaneously with the past, present, and future. Any one scene or chapter can be about Clare's past but Henry's future, or Henry's future but Clare's present, or perhaps both their presents.

The book is written "by" both Clare and Henry. Each section begins with the date and year as well as both Clare and Henry's ages at the time. This is the clue to whether Henry is time traveling in the section or not. It also lets you know who is speaking by declaring "CLARE:" or "HENRY:" before the narrative. Everything is written in present tense, which at first I found kind of annoying. But then I realized that it could be written no other way. To speak in past tense as most books do would confuse the already confusing sense of time. I now appreciate the literary brilliance, per se, of such an awkward, daring, but necessary writing decision.

The book is somewhat raw in places, a bit raunchy in language and subject when it comes to some sexual references. The movie, as I remember, doesn't seem to include this element of crudity. I seem to remember it as a mostly sweet story, though it is not without it's share of life's pain and tragedy. Not worthy of a G rating, but I wouldn't say R either. The book is more like a PG17, if there were such a thing, but only in some places and not as a whole. [update 10/21/09: I think the raunchy parts might deserve an X rating, but otherwise the rest of the book would be PG13.)

Anyway, since I'm enjoying reading this book and enjoyed the movie, I thought I'd write a little bit about it for you.