28 January 2011

January!

Well, it has been a piece. What have I been up to? I'm not even sure.

I've been on a tear with historic non-fiction. It started with Alfred Lansing's Endurance, was followed by Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage (about the Lewis & Clark expedition), and went back to the early 1900s for The White Cascade, a detailed account of the Wellington avalanche disaster in 1910 on Stevens Pass. When I lived in the treehouse, we were a few hundred yards from the east mouth of the tunnel, so this one was an excellent find. Next up was the Summer of 1910, and Timothy Egan's The Big Burn, when a huge portion of Idaho, Oregon and Washington went up in wildfire. Then back to Ernest Shackleton with The Endurance, another telling of the attempted South Pole expedition, but loaded with photos from the expedition's photographer, Frank Hurley. Now I'm on to an 817 page biography of Teddy Roosevelt, The Wilderness Warrior. In the midst of all this, Devon and I watched the PBS series The National Parks: America's Best Idea. Perhaps obvious: I've been fascinated. Helps a little, too, to realize that there have been plenty of fights already for wild places and proper land use, and that they have often been won by the "right" people; and that we have had a problem with monopolies and big businessmen running things, and that we had a president just over a hundred years ago who had the balls to tell big business to fuck off, and tried to help out the lower and middle classes (and was followed a couple decades later by a cousin who came up with the CCC, of all things). It's given me a sense of optimism that while things have been better, things have been worse in different ways, and that perhaps not all is lost. It could happen.

It's a little too spring-like around here (not that I dislike it, but it makes me nervous). The Scouler Willows are leafing out, and birds are singing, and Devon says he heard a couple of frogs the other night. I've learned in the last week that Sheep Hill Lookout won't be opened this year, due to federal budget cuts. My position is far from the only one lost by the Red River Ranger District. This is heartbreaking news, but I have been realizing how excited I am to have a big garden this summer, and to go backpacking in the North Cascades, and to make a trip to Idaho, so I can hike in to some of the other lookouts, something I was, of course, unable to do while sitting at mine. I am excited to actually train like I am going back--and to enter a 5K race in May, instead of doing a pack test. Maybe I should wear a 45lb pack, just fer shits and giggles. Ummm, maybe not. I am excited to get over to the Olympic Peninsula, and hike at the ocean. To join a CSA again this summer. To make jams and pies and such.

For the next two months, I'm taking a class in website design, so that I can be PetroClean's web consultant, instead of paying someone literal thousands of dollars. We are launching a side arm of the business, too, so it will be more useful for me to be around--I am grateful that federal budget cuts made that decision for me.

Mixed blessing, to be certain, but I am very much excited for the year ahead.

(to end, a curious quote, courtesy of my dear friend Jodie:)
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism 
because it is the merger of state and corporate power." 
-Benito Mussolini