December 2012

My word of the year for 2012 was “Flight” and/or “Fly” depending on the application.

It came to me when the Swainson’s Thrushes at Esalen confirmed I’d earned my wings after years of working toward a real, satisfied, quiet, all my own kinda happiness.

Joyous with the news, I leaned off the ledge into the wind and did fly straight through this year; breathing deep at the birth of Sydney Morgan, dancing into the arms of a wonderful man, flying over the ridges of some of Sierra’s highest passes, and letting the love of my family (blood and chosen) land deeper into my own mysterious heart.

I crossed a few things off my bucket list too. What about you?

k?s bucket list ~ started early 2008

1. speak spanish

2. scrub out a mean jig on the fiddle

3. ?.in a country pub in ireland

4. play a sweet finger pickin song on guitar

5. dance a tango in argentina (well)

6. snow camp for at least one night

7. write a living trust

8. live off the grid in the country

9. ?.with chickens

10. live one month in a big city

11. take a sabbatical per work decade 40 50 60

12. whisper love poetry in french and know what it means

13. know about clouds

14. enjoy a handstand off the wall

15. down dog to utanasana in one hop

16. get a financial coach and stick to a plan for 3 months (savings goal?)

17. create and use my own website 2008

18. reduce my home eco-footprint each year

19. sit one week silent 2009 w Dona

20. meander the backcountry a month JMT2012

21. backpack the Adirondacks in Fall

22. hike chalet to chalet (alps? china?)

23. marry a true companion

24. remodel an old house

25. secure a large foundation grant for some good work

26. eat and flirt my way through italy

27. train and sketch through europe

28. sun my buns a week in greece

29. get high by foot in patagonia

30. be wide eyed at an east coast fall 2011 mom

31. make love outdoors, slowly 2009 worth repeating!

32. backpack the desert

33. ?.and drink from a tinaja

34. look out from the deck of a ship to no horizon for a day and a night

35. swim with a turtle or a dolphin or a whale

36. have at least a weeklong affair with a wild river via raft

37. knit a sweater that i love

38. trail a vegan diet for one month

39. experience easeful full pigeon pose

40. see the sacred plains grouse spiral dance

41. take six months off before retiring

42. photograph myself daily 365 days and post (?)

43. stay up all night somewhere dark, sober and curious

44. cook and eat wild mushrooms i harvested 2011

45. a fiddlehead fern too 2011

46. see what?s up whitehouse canyon

47. ?.and that amazing drainage across from Scarconi road on highway1: Majors Canyon

48. summit Half Dome (how about the Hermit?)

49. live in a house with a radiant heated earthen floor

50. give and receive intimate watsu tenderness with a lover 2009 Thanks Robby!

51. spend one month in retreat (yoga or meditation)

52. see the northern lights

53. experience complete abandon in lovemaking 2009

54. edible or native landscape my yard (or both) 2012=back!

55. get messy in esalen?s art barn 2010

56. sit at tassajara zen center and eat their famous bread with a quiet smile 2010

57. lay in the center of an oak grove meadow of wildflowers near ft. hunter liggett 2012 Ventana Wilderness Alliance

58. write and read my stuff in a poetry workshop

59. dance in a flock of fireflies

60. meet all of natascha?s immediate family

61. row across the Monterey Bay

62. backpack the Ohlone Regional Wilderness Trail 2009 Heather

63. learn how to tell at least one good joke well

64. hike the backside of Diablo 2010

65. make a painting on a canvas that I love 2010 w Dona,Kyrrha

66. hang out at 170 pounds again, at least for a few months 2012

67. help my kids financially with their young adult dreams

68. ensure each kid gets one tracking camp experience

69. visit half the places on my Trinities/Warners wish list

70. hike the JMT 2012

71. tube down a river 2011 in Lyons at Rockygrass

72. backpack the Lost Coast

73. eat Mole in Oaxaca on dia de los Muertos

74. sleep out on Angel Island overnight with a view of the City 2010 with Debo

75. experience a human birth 2011 Stella bean thank you Dona!,

2012 Sydney Morgan thank you Heather and Pete

76. experience a human death

77. mineralize myself in the Travertine Hot Springs or other Eastern Sierra wonders

78. glissade down a sunny sparkling blue sky day snow hill

79. get a tattoo

80. hardwood floor my current home

81. write a clear vision for my EA purpose and being and manifest that.

82. Pilgrimage a week on el Camino de Santiago de Compostela

83. Run a Half Marathon in the hills

84. Learn the Ventanas like Blair knows the Trinities

85. Gape at the Cutthroat Trout spawn in Yellowstone

86. Dive and swirl in ocean night?s phosphorescence

87. Duck under the aqua magic of Havasu falls

What else? What will my word of the year for 2013 be? What will yours?

What will I cross off this list before again the year turns?

They tried to plan our whole trip for us, those Southerners. Buy tickets for events they weren’t even joining us for. Call around for dinner recommendations even when we weren’t staying at their B&B. Such hospitality before we even landed on Louisiana terra firma. Or, should I say, terra aqua? so much of the place under water or just a thin skin of land floating on it.

It was our first trip away, and we’d agreed to share the window seats. Weather well we did the travails of travel and arrived late but ready to the Big Easy where Allison gracefully chauffeured us through downtown streets already cordoned off for Sunday’s game.

Lap of luxury historic hotel as our landing spot we headed out for a drinking to the wee hours of the night bar to bar and band to band jaunt that took us well into Sunday.

Then, the game. Cloistered in a pack of enthusiastic red and gold fans we bussed to Happy’s and were ensconced in the private upstairs lounge complete with a wrought iron balcony overlooking the bustling booming walk to the Superdome.

We took advantage of N’awlin’s open container law (as in it is recommended you have one while out in public) and headed into the lovely stadium. Loud. Unique concessionaires. And “Who Dat?” everywhere until of course the Niner’s won, then it was “Who Dat??? 49ers – Dat Who!” but we kept quiet on the walk home just to keep ourselves bodily intact.

A luscious evening then unfolded with a bottle of champagne and a trumpet/banjo natural bass trio at Arnauds where Jasper the Captain took good care of us, then a long walk the entire length of Bourbon Street for another round on Frenchmans. Got back before 3 AM this time and hit the sack to rest up for our next adventure.

You haint visited Cajun Country until you actually get into the country, and so we did, driving westward toward Abbeville to stay in converted servant’s quarters at the Rip Van Winkle mansion and gardens. Its “high ground” there, being at the dizzying elevation of 50′ above sea level – the land heaped up resting on 5 mile deep salt columns near the shores of Lake Peigneur which adjoins the property and was accidentally once drained in a matter of hours when mining in the salt columns nearby punched a hole through the crust under the lake level.? We arrived to the surprise of the only other guests there being from Paso Robles when they are not sailing the seas on the world’s only residential cruise ship (think: condos meets Love Boat).

A quick visit with them on the porch then we headed out on our own in the dark night to dine at a packed Shucks in Abbeville and were beyond well taken care of by Miss Morrisey who piled on the “sugah”s and “baby”s till I thought I would burst. The locals eyed us sideways from under their large cowboy hats or duck huntin caps knowing we were out of towners as we tasted our first alligator, sassy friend shrimp and the best bread pudding and hard sauce we’d try on the trip. Returning back through the locked iron gate, down the drive lined with 350 year old oaks, we covered the car to protect it from pecking peacocks and walked the dark gardens and lake shore in the moonlight wondering about ghosts. As a friend of mine later said about the plantations: “they’s all haunted shugah, just some of dem ghosts is bettah behaved than othahs.”

Plans to go fishing the next day were foiled by windy weather but we convened with our Baton Rouge friends Scott, Allison and Amy just the same.? They brought along Chris and Dan, a french cajun dance couple who ensured we all got on the dance floor at Point Breaux, formerly Mulates, a local institution of french cajun culture which hosted bands even on Tuesday nights and served what I thought were very large portions of gumbo that the locals were quite nonplussed about.

We squeezed in some more south on our last morning, hunting down Miss Brenda’s Dine in and Take Out (across from the parts yard in New Iberia) and a sweet stop at Morning Call for my first beignets of the trip. At every gas station quick mart we saw at least one Gallo brand wine for sale – including my favorite: Night Train Express.

Yet more travel travails awaited on our journey home with west coast storms shutting down SFO at just the wrong time. Pam was our hero and came and fetched us there late. In return she was the first to hear our ghost stories on the way home and about how welcomed and warmed we felt by our time in Cajun Country south.

Us too.

Full set of pics here.

It seems as if I am in the early fall of my life; Harvest. Ripeness. Just on this older side of 40.

But it again could be winter, not knowing like any of us when this season of Kirsten will end.

Wherever it ends up being though, and cold enough out it is, it feels, inside.? like.?? spring.

Stole him away from harvest for a weekend stay over at Shell Beach, delux din at Ventana Grill in Pismo, and 80 degree play day in Avila.? Dreamy scenic dirt road drive home, windows down, signing at the top of our lungs and breathing in the trees of See Canyon. Cresting the ridge the sky opened into a wide vast blue. He stopped the truck in the middle of the blind corner one-lane road and put the flashers on. Smiling, coaxing me out to finally stand there in his arms – our hearts flying with the hawks through the big air over the canyon, over the roundy hills, out to sea.