Wednesday, October 29, 2008


No time today so I thought I'd cheat and just post this photo I found the other day. I was going through a box - a box I'd put off going through for ages. The kind of box that starts out holding non-vital but important stuff that should be sorted and saved and filed and generally organized and ends up collecting more and more such items, always with the intention that yes, when I have a moment I'll definitely properly go through that box.

Yes, well it only took four months! Anyway, among a wide assortment of things I found this. Terrifyingly young weren't we?

April 9th, 1988

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hike II

That week sort of got away from me!

We went back out to the mountains the next day. We used to have a family saying. If your knees are stained green, it's a good day. If you caught a grass snake, it was a good day. Now we can add if, only fifty yards into the hike you look up the hill and see this:

It's a very good day indeed.

We planned on heading up the canyon and then we would take a pretty steep trail to a rocky peak Child 3 and I had hiked to the week before. Except... three people who are all rather more interested in finding the fresh tracks of the coyote we had just seen - and keeping a sharp eye out for any snakes that might be trying to catch the early morning sun - aren't, it turns out, entirely capable of actually finding a trail. Which is why, about an hour into the hike, we realized we had somehow missed the small turn-off that would have taken us to that particular peak.

We could have turned around and tried to see where we went wrong but instead we looked up at the slopes around us and decided to simply go off trail for a while, choosing a peak at random to head for. I should point out here that going off trail in a desert mountainscape isn't something that should be done stupidly - and we didn't. We were going up one face - never changing sides or moving around a slope which meant the dry creek bed that would lead us back to the foot of the main trail was always going to be in the same direction and would, for much of the hike, be visible. Because of the landscape there weren't any forests to get turned around in either so while we were off trail we were certainly not lost.

It was good fun too - lots of scrambly rocky bits and a fair amount of rethinking paths and plans thanks to unfriendly looking cacti or tenacious scrubby bushes. I was rather too busy keeping three points of contact with the quite slanty and often slippery slope we were fighting up to take photos, but we did have a nice little moment with this little guy:

who was nice enough to glare at me long enough to get the camera out.

I was rather chuffed at wrestling myself up the increasingly precarious boulders but finally, faced with a crevasse that had to be leapt starting from a steeply slanted boulder and ended in a vertical face which could (as that darn Male Child demonstrated) only be climbed by wedging various body parts into a three inch crack and sort of wriggling up out of sheer determination. I sat down and admitted total and utter chicken-hood, announcing a little plaintively that I was SCARED OF HEIGHTS and this was one too much, darn it. The Children were very kind - except when Child 3 said cheerfully, "I know! Me too! I'm MORBIDLY afraid of heights!" It enthusiastically jumped across several massive gaps about twenty feet above my head and went on, "I've just learned to ignore it!"

Yes, thanks Male Child.

Still, we had gotten ourselves within a few yards of the actual top, high enough to look down and see this:

And, with only a few dodgy moments, we made it back down all in one piece as well.

Sometimes losing the path, at least only for a little while, can be a good thing.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Hike I

Hiking used to be important. Very important. Hiking was one of The Important Things when I met Kirk. It was a passion with him - he spent most weekends up one mountain or another. He and his friends had a New Girlfriend Test that involved taking the poor hapless girl up the side of the mountain to see if she a) knew how to dress for a hike b) whinged and c) looked halfway decent after being dragged 15 miles up a rock face. I nearly didn't pass thanks to the fact that I Do Not Do Heat but was given extra points for not complaining and still completing the hike.

Kirk knew the hiking trails around this city intimately. He had his favorites for different times of the years or different activities. There were places that were excellent for day hiking, trails good if you only had an hour or so in the afternoon and hidden bits, off the track that let you pack in a tent, large amounts of food and a frisbee - all the necessities to stay a night or two.

When the Children and I moved back here we weren't living very close to the mountains. It made it easier to make excuses for not making the effort, for not doing this or really any of the other things that had been so very important.

Then we moved a little closer, the Sandias sitting not in our backyard but far more reachable somehow than they had been when we were eight miles further away. They are part of the great Rocky Mountain chain that ripples right through the Southwest - great blue masses (at least at a little distance) craggy and pointed and young. There they were, turning brilliant pink in the sunset to earn their name (Sandia is Spanish for watermelon), collecting the clouds on the few rainy days and reluctantly sharing the moisture. But it was the summer and, you know, I Do Not Do Heat, so that was where they stayed.


It seems hiking is still very important - to Children who take survival classes for dangled prospect of an overnight camp, who come home full of busy plans when various group leaders lose their minds just enough to decide they are willing to take a van-full of teenagers up one set of hills or another, to an overly busy Child who needed to find a bit of space to just breathe for a little while. And it isn't summer any more.

So this weekend two of the Children and I headed up to the base of the mountain and hiked into Embudo Canyon.

In case you think I exaggerate about the area I live in, this is near the base of the trail where the vegetation is rather lusher than other regions

And much of the plant life is warm and welcoming - practically demanding a cuddle:

Notice in particular the rosy glow on the two inch spikes of doom:

However just a mile or two you find yourself in the canyon where there is just enough shade and just enough trickling water to allow some cottonwoods to grow while the cliff walls reach up in fantastic rock formations (excellent for photography but I will not inflict my Granite Series I [ooh! With lichen!] upon you) which is perfect for sproinking:

Which I couldn't join in as I had saddled myself with a massive camera bag. I pack camera bags like some women pack overnight luggage. I might NEED that lens! However the children did an excellent mountain goat impression over both sides of the canyon:

Until one of them had enough leaving the other to sproink alone:

While it found a warm rock to sit on and contemplate its excellent boots.

It was a good day.

NOTE: In a spirit of political unity I would like it noted that both parties were equally represented in today's only slightly modified Children photographs.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Child 3

October first was Child 3's 16th birthday - which makes me about 1,478 in parent years (parent years are like dog years only sliiiightly more intense). It dithered for weeks about telling us what it wanted for gift type things and what it would like to do and only very late in the game did it admit (roundaboutly) that it didn't want to put anyone out or make anyone do anything they didn't want to do. I rather loudly pointed out that we LIKE IT and it is OUR CHILD 3 and IT WAS GOING TO HAVE A BIRTHDAY OR ELSE at which point it decided that maybe it could agree to at least a dinner and things without the world coming to an end.

Because, it turns out, that's what it really wanted to do - just have dinner with its family. So my father (who was temporarily abandoned by my mother who had sibling type things to do) came over to have baba ganoush and dolmas while we had gyros and then we all enjoyed Non Fat Birthday Brownies and a choice of mint chocolate chip ice cream or fat free sorbet. We did NOT have candles since 16 candles plus 70 candles makes rather a lot of candles and our slightly elderly fire detector might not have survived the experience.

Yes, 70 candles as well as 16 because Child 3 shares its birthday. It's due to me realizing wisely that if one is going to inflict a husband and 2.5 children on one's loving parents one should make darn sure that when the .5 child hatches into full personhood it does so on one of said parent's birthdays. So Child 3, whenever it's convenient, shares its birthday with its grandfather which, I think, says a great deal about the style and sophistication of both of them.

I gave Child 3 an electric guitar for its birthday. It seemed a goodish sort of 16th present, and I'd like to say it was mostly due to Child 3's excellent musical ear but that's only partly true. Actually I knew it would love it AND it came with its own amp which has a plug in spot for headphones. Granted, we don't currently have an adapter dingus that will allow Child 3 to play all be-headphoned, but if I ever get over to the guitar shop near my work we COULD and that's what's important.

Child 3 picked up its new guitar and completely irritated its siblings by promptly learning and playing (by ear alone) four or so popular songs. It general foodles around a bit, then announces "Hey! Listen to what I figured out!" and rips out the first eight bars or so with admirable nonchalance. Child 1 put up with this for two weeks and then gritted its teeth and bought itself an ACOUSTIC guitar which it is already learning to strum out power chords on. This, of course, totally negates the whole brilliance of the amp-with-headphones thing, but it means Child 3 is happily acting as tutor - only two steps ahead of the student - and they both seem quite content.

This has been a year of challenge for Child 3. Not that it has had a hard or horrible year, it has simply opted for every difficult thing that has crossed its path. This summer it signed up for four camps - and not the kum-bah-ya singing, let's macrame a toaster and then do some interpretive dance: you can be "Lightning Struck Pine Tree" and I'll be "Spirit of Nature Overwhelmed by Selfish and Evil Human Kind!" sort - these were more, hey let's get up at 5 in the morning and run five miles! It has also signed up for every last honors or AP course(Advanced Placement for the non-American folks - if you do well enough on the test you can get college credit and earn your way out of some of the boring freshman stuff!).

A few weeks ago it asked to be dropped off at the foot of the mountain so it could just climb for a bit - away from the people and the school and the seventy-bajillion things it had fighting for space in its head. It climbed for 5 miles, and up about 2,000 feet (we sit at about... I don't know... 5,500 feet at our house? Something like that) and it found what it was looking for on a mountain top. What's really amazing though is that a couple of weeks later it peeled open that alone space and asked me to come along too. So I climbed with it (regretfully opting out of the sproinking mountain goat part of the program - I simply watched and admired) and we sat up on that rock and looked down over the valley alone together.

This weekend the siblings are coming along too, with the enthusiastic support of Child 3. It had found perfect solitude and because that solitude was so perfect it wanted to share it with us. Because it loves us.

Happy birthday Child 3.

ETA: This evening Child 3 found itself in sole command of the one working television in the house AND the game system. Its homework done, its parent busy with a print ad that has an unfortunate deadline, it was offered its choice of movie, tv or video game. It was waffling a bit when I happened to mention the presidential debates were on. Its deranged little eyes lit up - lit up I tell you - and it flung itself at the television, because, and I quote, "I like to figure out what they're really saying." I refuse to consider what this says about Child 3 but I do admit to feeling a little - just a little - smug that it picked this over our extensive DVD collection OR the chance to drive a digital car at unrealistic speeds around city streets that have walls that bizarrely do not crunch said digital car into oblivion when they are driven into at 100 mph. It is still watching. I'm beginning to be a little afraid...

ETA II: I admit that I am working furiously on said print ad (and I am nearly blind btw with the need to be original, eye-catching and sincere in a doggone 1/3 page vertical!!) with the door closed AND a bit of music on (which I hardly ever do because I get distracted by the music) simply so I don't hear said presidential debate. It's cowardly. It's wrong. But I would rather read it calmly and coldly in the morning and NOT shout at (often both) candidates when they say something inane. Or the question askers. Or the commenters. Or probably the innercent little watching-type people either. I admit to being a bit het-up about this here election.

Monday, October 13, 2008


For anyone who stumbled their way here through the AP news story - welcome. If you want to read Kirk's story you can start here. You can read about the CID (Criminal Investigative Division) at the start of the blog here. The CID's conclusion to the investigation (conclusion is misleading - the investigation is still open) is here.

I've tried to do some housekeeping (late and probably insufficient) and tidy the "story" things into one category so they can be read reasonably logically - just click on the story link in the "posts by topic" list to the right. The "Kirk" link is a little less focused but does all relate to Kirk and my (our - Children are involved too) relationship. Everything else... well is a fairly thorough mix.

I do read all the comments and emails and do my best to reply (NOTE - PAM!! I can't get my darn email to reply to you although I do keep trying - I do get your emails and I do write back it's just... well, the email monkeys apparently eat them) although life sometimes gets a little frantic and I fall behind.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I don't write politics. I think them, all the time. In times like these I feel like I swim in them. But I don't write them.

I also try not to watch political ads (save me from the sound-bite solution to the world's problems). I avoid editorial articles if possible - although I read a select few. So many are so biased that I find myself arguing for the under-dog (of the moment) no matter what my personal inclination is. I don't get a print newspaper so the latest graphic zinger from the cartoonist has, sadly, passed me by. I also don't watch Biased-News-R-Us of either side but try to glean as much as I can about the candidates's actual stands on actual issues that mean something to me (recognizing that my Issues are not your Issues or even his or her Issues - what else am I supposed to vote on?).

However, in this election I honestly hope that if one particular candidate wins rather than another it will be not because he is black, not despite the fact that he is black, but because the majority of people (should they do so) felt that this candidate would speak for them in the places that need a voice, would act for them in the moments when a strong leader was needed. I would hope that in the end, should this particular person be elected, it would be an issue of: this was the man the people wanted.

Because, let's be honest, he's a politician. Like all the others - whether they are good at it or not - they are professional People Persons who Know The Common Man and Speak The Language. They are a race unto themselves. And that race, please - please - needs no other definition.

At least, right now,

I hope.

Thursday, October 09, 2008