I’m not THAT old, am I?!

I’m a dreamer. I have built my future log cabin in the woods. Built it in my mind, that is. And I know what my little homestead will look like, the amenities it will have, the rooms for my books and crafts, a simple kitchen with a huge pantry. Or maybe a good-sized root cellar. (That’s probably more practical for my life.) Either way, I need to have a space for baking – and a separate area for my knitting and fiber arts, where bits of food can’t bother the wool.

I have dreams for the future and I don’t feel that old. Of course, the surgery last November played with my body a bit. But I’m ok. I need more exercise and sometimes my knees do feel a bit stiff, but that’s the arthritis I’ve had practically since birth. At least I don’t have a lot of pain. Yet. I could stand to loose more than a few pounds, but maybe that will happen this summer when I’m outdoors more often and am more active in general. You all know my feeling towards the rain and blizzards we’ve had in April and so far in May…

I’ve met a portion of my job/career goal – I’ve made it to the seasonal ranger dance with the National Park Service (NPS). It could take decades to get a permanent job. (I have one friend who was a seasonal for 10 years before she got her first permanent position. Another friend, somewhat by choice, is still a seasonal after 22 years – but she’s trying to find a permanent position now.) In other words, I have a long haul before the career is permanent, most likely. The NPS is one of the most beloved and seriously competitive agencies to land a career with, within the entire United States bureaucracy. No matter what you think about our government, Yellowstone is still damn cool. Denali is breathtaking. The National Mall has some great museums and landmarks – including the White House. Yes, the National Park Service may be embroiled in the bureaucracy, but the places we work are just stunning. And those places need us to care. So here I am.

I keep telling myself that when I get one more portion of my current debt load paid off I’ll start looking for a nice little place in the mountains – for that little homestead I mentioned earlier. Some of you know that I’ve been trying to work through the 101 Things in 1001 Days goal program. I’ve met some of those goals…. Most recently, I paid off one portion of my current debt load. It was the smallest of the bills, but still a milestone. The next budget goal involves the final amount due from my surgery. It’s less than $500, and it will be done by August. Hopefully sooner. And I’m closer to my overall debt-reduction goal because of these – even though the surgery temporarily increased my debt.

This is how I think. I see milestones. I try to find a bit of good in things, even though I know I complain way too much. Yes, lately the complaints have been the incessant rain. It’s raining again today, by the way.

But back to the goals. I guess I’m like this because I have an eye towards the future. Note, “towards the future” implies I expect there to be a future for me. It isn’t all just in the past.

But since my new roommate moved in about 5 weeks ago, I’ve had to admit that I’m a bit more out of the ‘young’ crowd than I generally think I am. She’s 24 years old. I’ve never heard most of her music – even though it’s always on the radio in the car, so I’m guessing it’s popular. (God, I sound OLD!) I thought NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! was a good show to listen to. I thought it was funny. Apparently, it’s funny for old farts. And I’m one of them.

This past Saturday, I got up in the morning and went through my usual morning routine. Then I drove over to Mika & Tom’s house, picked up Mika, and drove into the park to go hiking. Thus the pictures of the blueberry flowers that I posted in my last entry. So we walked, enjoying the sunshine and the birds singing. Even the little froggie. (Toadie? I’m so not a herpatologist.) After our hike, I ran home to get my contribution to our group lunch at Mika & Tom’s. My roommate was still in bed. I don’t believe she’s spent any non-work daylight hours in the park enjoying the trails, animals, etc. It’s really kind of sad, at least from my point of view.

Next “old” topic: the internet. Ranger Julia and Ranger Tom got back to Mount Rainier on Sunday afternoon after spending the winter elsewhere (they are seasonal rangers too). I was talking to them about a few projects we’d like to tackle this summer for the park and in our own lives. Julia always has interesting ideas. It was a great conversation. But we didn’t have a computer on at all. We talked while unpacking their apartment stuff. In fact, we talked about spinning (spinning goat hair from the Sunrise area!), weaving, and cooking, among other topics. I mentioned that the roommate spends all her time on the internet. Tom told me it was a factor of age: we grew up in a time before everything was a click away. We had to make our own entertainment. So we had hobbies. We learned skills. And, heaven forbid, we used our imaginations. And I’m only 35!?

My roommate spends every waking moment that she’s at home on her computer. It’s an addiction. If she’s not Skyping, she’s watching videos or chatting – frequently with some of the guys in the next building. (Why doesn’t she just walk the 10 yards to their apartment?) She’s found her way into the lives of a couple of guys in the next building who have satellite TV. I’m glad she’s made friends, but when she’s not online or at the local bar, she’s at the guys’ place watching TV.

She stares at the internet while drinking her breakfast juice – 15 minutes before walking to the office to spend all day on the computer/internet there too. And to think, I’ve lived for the past 14 months without internet at home. (I still don’t have it at home.) I believe she’s good with the kids that visit the park, and she seems to like working with the kids, but outside of those work duties, I can’t imagine how much boredom she must be feeling. If I was in her shoes, I’d be bored.

She teases me about being old. She’s got a very good-natured sense of humor, but I’ve really wanted to tell her that she needs a hobby and maybe a few life skills other than Cloroxing door knobs, drawer pulls and refrigerator handles when she’s got a cold.

Then yesterday, a miracle happened. She asked me how to marinate and cook some cubed chicken to serve over rice. One of the boys was coming over for dinner. The meal turned out well; she said she wanted to learn to cook more things because it tasted so much better than her frozen dinners.

I have yet to tell her she’s growing up. I’ll sit back and enjoy watching this process while I can. It’s cute. Wireless entertainment.


Spring is finally here. (I hope.)

Mika and I walked along West Side Road this morning. It was sunny, with big puffy white clouds and warm temperatures. The perfect day for a walk! We both love to pick berries in the fall so we were eager to see the blueberries setting flowers!

I know this means one less berry in the fall, but we had to open one flower up and look at it’s cross-section. Hey, it’s what I do.

Thoughts on History

In my blog entry this morning, I mentioned that I’m going to be talking about the park’s history and founding legislation next week to a bunch of high schoolers.

No problem, I know the key dates, names and locations. In fact, I probably know a bit more than I’d really need to talk about.

But putting this history in the context of U.S. history is another thing altogether. I’m attempting to set up a mini-debate (case study?) for the students to learn about a few of the major factors / stakeholder groups that affected Mount Rainier’s becoming a National Park.

So for the past few hours, I’ve been reading up on parts of the Civil War, the California Gold Rush (the Klondike Gold Rush – which weighed heavily in this region – hasn’t happened yet for the scene I’m trying to set) and the Oregon Trail.

All in one afternoon? Not even possible.

I’ve come across a few names I know a bit about: Zebulon Pike, Stephen Long, Rocky Mountain Jim, Dred Scott, John Colter, etc. etc. Off the top of my head I could probably name at least one thing each was famous for. But there is so much more. And some of this is just fascinating.

So, this leads me to the question: Why weren’t my history classes in high school and college more interesting? Those classes worked better than Benadryl at putting me to sleep. I was a math and science girl. History and English classes bored me to no end.

Thank God I didn’t give up on reading and literature. Jane Austen cracks me up today. And I find myself wanting to study history a bit more now.

Busy, busy, busy

It has hit me like a brick wall yesterday and today: we are busier here at the Ed program than I expected we’d be.

We are still snowshoeing. After the new 12+” of snow at Paradise this week, I believe we’ll still be snowshoeing with students through mid-June.

We have a variety of programs coming up in the next month, including several visits to schools. This means writing a few new programs. Next week, we will be working with the same students two different days; the first day will be a visit to their school to introduce the park, discuss history and park foundation, etc., and then the next day, those students will be coming here for a snowshoe hike. I’m the lead ranger on this adventure, and I think I’ve changed my in-school (park history-focused) program about 6 times now.

I’ve also taken on a small project for my office days: compiling visitor use statistics on the schools that participate in our programs (both in the park and schools we visit). My previous boss either didn’t keep such records or didn’t leave them here for us when she left last October. However, we really need these types of data and records. (Why did Anne not do this? I’m NOT going to open THAT can of worms.) So Fawn and I are researching, I’m building Excel spreadsheets full of data, and eventually, we will be able to formally report to the superintendent’s office and our park non-profit partners about our audience, potential visitors, etc.

The weather here is a bit disappointing this spring. The flowers here at lower elevations are coming out. But winter is still holding on, complete with snow, rain and grey, cloudy skies. I’m ready for sun, warm weather and wildflowers in the subalpine meadows.

More Rain and a Blizzard. Is it really May 3?

Yes, I know I’m living and working in the Pacific Northwest.

But seriously.

I think we’ve had *maybe* 3 hours of sunny skies in the past two-three weeks. I awoke this morning to yet another gulley-washer. My skin is beginning to mildew.

For a wildflower enthusiast who loves to hike in the mountains, this weather is impossible and rather maddening. I should be out exploring the park. I should be noting which plants are up, which are blooming, how the Rubus sp. and Vaccinium sp. are leafing out and setting flowers. Instead, I’m indoors, being lazy and staring at a computer.

I’m trying to find the good in this, but seriously (yes Bill, there’s THAT word!), I WANT SOME SUN!!!!!!!

I did have a productive weekend. I nearly finished the blue cable-knit hoodie that I’ve been working on since last fall. I just need to seam up the underarms and weave in a few stray ends and it will be wearable.

I’ve made progress on the red/purple sweater I started during the Olympics in February. Of course, I didn’t like the way that project was originally going, so after the Olympics, I ripped out the whole thing and started over. “Progress” here is relative.

And I watched the entire eighth (last) season of Monk. It ended well, and I did shed a tear or two. And then I watched a few episodes of the old standby – Northern Exposure. I love that show!

One thing about I’ve noticed about seasonal park rangers – they all come with many DVDs. You’d think we all live in the middle of nowhere, without cable/satellite TV and/or internet connectivity. I bet I could easily find 300+ movies and TV show episodes (without duplication) amongst the transient rangers here at Rainier.

Wait! I must go. The sun is trying to break through the clouds. I’m going to go outside and stand in the field for a minute, all the while praying for a sunburn.