Archive for April, 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggedy Plop

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2010 by Queenie

Oh my dearie me.  I have returned.  Back from all the exciting adventures, memories abounding, bruises healing.  I suppose that time always dulls the senses of “painful” things – (so they tell me about childbirth, although I never experienced that, and some women go on to produce others and still more after what I hear is rather a memorable event and one high on the pain scale category.)  But it’s hard to remember that the first jaunt down the canyon was as physical as it was, and yet I am remembering because I have that same pinched nerve somewhere that has left me with a numb hand and various other gimps and reminders of a bumpy ride.  Let me tell you, a raft trip down the canyon is not for the faint of physicality.  Let me also tell you that there’s nothing like it – nothing – and I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it.  Not the heat, nor the cold, or the rain, or the 30 to 40 mile per hour winds on the river (!!!), or the early morning calls for coffee, and the bag lines, and the chance to ride the rapids on the smallish oar boats, (a very large YaHOO on that one), rock clambering and hiking the side canyons, and the myriad other experiences that I shall attempt to describe in future contributions.  Oh, and not to forget the efforts by the boatmen to feed us to death.  Honestly, they expect you to eat like elephants, and well, I think we did.  With dessert, mind you.  And then you have to haul your increased mass up and down those rock scrambles, with camera and gear and tripod in tow….. tough duty, I tell you.  All that and the camaraderie of both new friends and old, and stories and laughter and tears and blisters and blood and bumps and whams, and sand in everything.  It was wonderful.  And I’m whipped.

So just a short missive to let you know I have survived, and Arizona is still the most beautiful of places – I truly wanted to hug the saguaros – and now I have returned to survey the mile high weeds on the place, and still to consider my bags sitting on the bed awaiting attention while I contemplate another rest period before tackling the projects of “real life.”  This stuff going on up here – it has little to do with real life.  What’s real is the cold dump of 46 degree water on your face (and into the nether regions – there is no such thing as “waterproof” clothing on the river) when you plow through a rapid.  What’s real is incomparable universes of stars above you at night as you sleep on the ground in the warmth of your sleeping bag, with the sound of the rapids carrying to you the voices of the canyon.  What’s real is depending on others to help you through the rough spots, or help pick you up when you’ve gone and splayed yourself in an attempt to board the raft.  Or to have the genuine honor to offer a hand to someone else who needs an assist.  What’s real is finding yourself on your own, alone, in the depths of the canyon, pondering the grandeur of it all, or the miracle of a singular cactus bloom, or a gathering of caterpillars on the plants near the river.  What’s real is aching muscles and blue green yellow bruises and merit badges of courage summoned and challenges met.  What’s NOT real is coming home to the “news,” (sadly it’s the same old recycled crap that I left), and reality television, (gag), and seeing kids plugged into their ipods or texting themselves into oblivion with no idea of what it feels like to come through Lava rapid in an oar boat.  Or to wonder how that single, solitary pelican came to find himself down on the river in the depths of the canyon, and if he’ll ever find his way out, or if he’ll ever meet a friend.  Reality, or what passes for it, now comes with a sharp stab, as I see how much hatred is loosed up here, along with the greed and the manufactured fear.  I didn’t see a glint of hatred on the river, nor fear.  Just respect for the forces of Nature.  By golly, I went through Lava in an oar boat.  To hell with Fear.

Lots of stories.  Lots of questions.  Lots of thoughts.  And how much time to ponder what really matters.  And here we are.  And here I am.  Back.  Re-entry is not so easy.  Part of me is still in the canyon.  Pieces of me, left behind.  We’re talking about going again in two years…. Want to sign up now?


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One Last Quickie from Queenie

Posted in Uncategorized on April 10, 2010 by Queenie

I’ve been having entirely too much fun with my long lost girlfriend to do much of this intended blogging thing.  It’s been hugs and immediate laughter and all of the instantaneous cameraderie we’ve experienced since we first met on a photo workshop those years ago.  Serendipity just works pretty well sometimes.  But then there’s the silly stuff – like she can’t remember the password into her own wireless network, so I can’t do my usual routine of writerly creativity and then tweak it and then send out that marvelous stuff to you, my minions, waiting breathlessly for my next missive.  Oh well….

And so, my faithful computer will remain behind as we shove off in mere minutes now, headed to Flagstaff and who knows what.  I shall have to wait to tell you of the mini adventure awaiting in Page.  And I shall be totally unreachable for almost two weeks.  I think that’s the good part.

So I bid you adieu.  I shall make every attempt at copious notes to regale you with wondrous stories…. (I hear there’s “weather” coming in…. gads.)  And I’m being timed and watched…. I must away.

Till we meet again, and I find out where the river has taken me.  (And now I can’t even find my fancy Font…. and so it is, and so it goes, as do I.)

And We’re Off!!!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2010 by Queenie

I awoke this morning with my lips gently grazing his ear.  We were wrapped together under the warmth of the covers, entwined in each other’s beingness.  I could feel the rise and fall of his body as his breath made the most delightful noise from deep within his throat.  It had been far too long since I’d spent the night with this special lover, one who’d made such a difference when I’d showed up here years before feeling a broken woman, and he’d graced me with the gift of his undivided attention and love freely given.  We formed a bond then, which I am grateful to say is to this day unbroken.  We see each other seldom, but it’s always the same, and the nights I spend with him are bliss.

I speak of my special friend Stitch, one of the most compatible and spirit filled felines I’ve ever had the honor to share under-the-cover delights with.  I am ensconced in welcoming surroundings in the foothills of the mountains outside Ruidoso, staying for a couple of nights with my wonderful friend who lives here, and we are having ourselves a fine visit as I make my way Westward towards Arizona and the big adventure awaiting.  You know, it’s a good thing when you get to keep the friend when a relationship goes off the tracks and there were indeed friends involved, and there almost always are.  In fact I would not have known this marvelous woman had it not been for the man now left behind, for they had been some manner of friends many years before, and he renewed his acquaintance with her several years ago after I was in the picture.  He’s the one out of the picture now, and I got the gift of a real and deep friendship that I treasure.  And it comes with visits to the mountains in New Mexico, pine trees in my view, wonderful dogs, and Stitch – the cat of cats – one of my favorite felines of the ages.  Isn’t it funny how things work out.

I left Texas yesterday in a whirlwind of packing and sorting and in the end just throwing it all in bags to be resorted before the river trip.  One thing always leads to three others, and I didn’t think I’d ever get out of the house, but get I did.  And then to drive through the most prolific abundance of wildflowers the Hill Country has seen in years.  I don’t remember such an array of colors in the springtime show in many years past .  Bluebonnets thick and healthy, Indian paintbrushes and blankets both, prickly poppies, deep pink phlox the likes of which I’ve not seen …. And then yellows and oranges and purples and on and on…. all together!  It was a riot of color, and a glorious goodbye as I trekked north and west.  I had to stop and photograph – it was just too good to pass by…. or to just pass by without honoring the gifts bestowed.

I left the warmth of spring in Texas to find myself in cooler climes every time I made a stop for gas or pit, and it had made it to downright brisk by the time I landed in Roswell – the last destination point for the unfortunate aliens of legend and lore.   So when I finally arrived at my friend’s place and exited my vehicle with darkness having moved in, and a clear, twinkling night above me, I was, (but shouldn’t have been) surprised that it was downright cold.  Now I readily admit to having no blood – cold-natured they call it – and it’s a wonder that I ever actually lived in the mountains in Arizona a few lifetimes ago.  I’m seriously wondering if I’ve brought enough winter clothing to survive all this, but they tell me it’ll be warmer down in the canyon.  I do remember, with a chill, that when I did live in those mountains, we got snow well into April and May, and now I’m cogitating on just what I’ve gotten myself into.  I’ve hardly approached warm since I’ve been here, and it’s a full blown sun day out there.  Methinks that I’ve lost the edge on the mountaineering lifestyle.  I’m getting perilously close to whining here – I’d better get a grip.  Or is it “the grip” that I’m going to get while freezing those noogies off in the cold depths of the water logged realms below the rim?  I wonder how many frozen rafters they’ve air-lifted out?  (Stop it stop it stop it…..)

And so, tomorrow…. Arizona!  I will push on to Scottsdale to meet up with my photographer/fellow river rat girlfriend, and then we’ll gather ourselves together to make the final leg to Flagstaff on Saturday, to be shuttled up to  Page where all the river rats will await our communal drop off on the river Sunday morning, and then it’ll be Rafts Away!

However, I get to have another little serendipitous meeting with another of those new friends I haven’t met yet on Saturday evening.  It looks like I’ll have perhaps another story to tell before it’s all over.  And if wireless is available in the places to which I travel in the next couple of days, you shall hear more.  Right now, time to get a little rest.  That is, after I do a goodly bit of organizing all those items I threw in the car yesterday.  Another long drive tomorrow, as I see what’s in store around the next curve of the road, and beyond the rapids of the river.

And ah, Stitchie has returned to my side, gently pawing for my attention, purring with abandon, giving me the best of himself he can offer as we ponder our last night together.  All love should be so genuine, so easy, so soft…. and oh, when he looks into my eyes…..

Stay tuned…..

Run River Run

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2010 by Queenie

Queenie is very soon off to the river.  My my.  So many things seem to be about rivers lately.  I know I’m a Pisces, but there has been so much to-do about rivers these days that I feel somewhat like a salmon planning to head upstream to spawn, and we all know that comes to not such a swell end.  Perhaps I can turn this into a metaphorical drift and say that I am heading to the river to renew my life, and really, that’s exactly true.  I suppose if George Sr. can fling himself out of airplanes at his age, I can take myself for another ride down the river.  It must be time, because I seem to be going.

I have spent inordinate amounts of well-earned money for more supplies, adding to or even replacing some of the things I amassed the last time I went for a river ride. Now I know that rafting the river is really no excuse for a fashion show, but surely Queenie deserves a couple of updated duds in honor of her royal adventure.  But of course.  And sometimes it just does an old girl good to have something new about her.

I don’t have nearly the photographic technical dohickies and multitudinous lenses and a gaggle of unbelievable megapixels like some of my fellow shooters, but I’m just not that kind of photographer.  I like to shoot from the hip, and shoot a lot, (lordy mercy do I love digital), but I will break down and use a tripod when I have to.  And I will likely have to do just that some goodly amount on this trip.  (Or should….. And well, we all know about those Shoulds and Have Tos…. Pesky things.  A lot of them actually good and rewarding for us, but still they often feel pesky and weighted down.  I guess I’m opting for Should Lite.)  I have a quite capable camera, – a better one than I had on the first run – and it should do me absolutely fine.  And yes, I bought a new tripod.  I am nothing if not reasonably responsible.

A very good friend who I barely know and hardly ever see will be with me on the river.  Her third round, my second.  She’s gone rather large time with Arizona Highways, (having even gotten on the cover now, not once but twice!), but she still allows me to speak to her and even deign to play with her in the canyon.  We have been on two photo trips together, and get along quite famously.  She may soon perhaps have more time for traveling, and maybe we can just figure out a way to do that….. sort of a Photographic Not Quite Ladies Version of Thelma and Louise, maybe, with fun shenanigans and no end in sight.  Likely not in a convertible, either, and no Brad Pitt moments.  I’m putting her on notice now that I want to drive across Utah for about three weeks in the fall, and hike, and maybe kayak on Lake Powell.  I’m manifesting as I type.

I know a little more this time about being on the river.  I will soak my hands in lotion or creams at every good occasion and sleep in gloves with fingers slathered in salve.  The river – the sand and the water and the antibacterial soap used at every turn – all those take the hardest toll on your hands than most any other part of you.  Unless you take a whack on the knee or twist an ankle with a fall on the rocks, not an unknown event, and one which I intend to avoid at every opportunity.

If there are as many wildflowers and cactus blooming down in the bottom of the canyon as there are here – it will be no less than fabulous.  After last year’s drought and heat, there was a dearth of wildflowers in the spring.  But this year is already fabulous, and bluebonnets are thick thick thick.  Last I heard it was still snowing somewhere, maybe out West, but it’s going to be what it is, and I shall just be prepared for whatever.  I am taking what I believe to be a very reasonable amount of warm clothing, for there is not much more that Queenie dislikes than being cold, and possibly wet – a situation she finds most distressing, and especially so both at the same time.  It’s easy to wear less.  It’s hard to wear more if you don’t have it.  I shall be having it.

Just a few more days now.  Probably no more time than it will take to get all these piles and intentions and supplies and earth dreams and necessaries together.  I know I’m in the middle of a big change.  I’ve been in it for a long time, and there’s a limit to how long you can stay in the birth canal.  I have heard all about Patience, and know it’s one of those life lesson things, (comes under the Pesky category, if you ask me), and I try to respect and honor it.  But after that long while, perhaps you sort of just lose interest in Patience and want to get along with whole thing.  I mean – surely, SURELY I have learned, finally, some amount more of these life lessons to get down the road a ways with a lighter heart and better prospects.  And yes, I know, all that is up to me, and has not so much to do with Patience, but Preparation.  And Preparation takes DOING, and practice.  Comes a time though when you hope your Practice has turned into a doable life – one in which you do your thing without so much thought anymore as to HOW you’re doing it – that second nature thing – and one you’re truly satisfied with.  Seems like Satisfaction would be a wonderful thing, and no wonder I was never a Rolling Stones girl.  Why I would I want to hang around with anyone who couldn’t never get no Satisfaction?  Especially myself.

It’s April now.  The birthday celebrating is over for another year….. and just in time.  And now time to just celebrate living, and experiencing a life instead of a bad movie.  Sometimes movies are just bad enough to be camp and you can somehow enjoy them, but you wouldn’t want a steady diet of it.  I’m eager to see what comes next, and nothing like going a thousand miles to take yourself a ride in the River of Life, and who knows what’s around the next bend.

Time to start packing.