Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Catching up a bit

Well, let's see. The second time I went to Neale Woods to hike, I very foolishly dilly-dallied around until it was almost noon before starting out. It got very hot, and I chose my trails unwisely, and suffered the heat and extra-long length of the hike quite a bit before I finally made it back to the car. I don't know how long the hike was because their maps are rubbish. But that 6th, I guess. For various reasons, I haven't made it back, though this last Monday failing to go, I made up for it by walking to Benson and back Tuesday; that was a 2.3 mile round trip, and wore me out, but I was pleased I made it with a minimum of heat problems and little foot and hip discomfort. I AM acclimating to walking! Yay! Paris looms barely [some number of] weeks away, I must keep at it!

At Joslyn last Wednesday I finally worked up the courage to get out my sketchbook. The only thing I found that inspired me to attempt to copy it was the tailor's sign hanging outside the shop in a story about the emperor's new clothes, in a book illustrated by Fred Marcellino.  I was charmed by its elegance and simplicity. Of course, I soon found out it's not as simple as it looks - but that's the point of copying fine works of art: you learn!


The image isn't the greatest, but I think you get the idea. If I tried this about  ten  100 more times, I MIGHT approach a hint of how lovely this is in the book.

I've been quite the social butterfly recently; dinner out with my sister in law for her birthday Thursday evening; a cheese & sausage feast with the Omaha Beach Party crew Friday; and attending a reading and books signing at A Mystery Book Store/A Stitch in Crime here in Omaha Saturday. That was the second reading/signing in as many Saturdays!

The one on August 18th was William Kent Krueger's launch of his tour for his newest novel, which is upstairs, and I can't remember the title and I can't FIND it online! Has he not mentioned it on his web site? Why can't I find it? This is frustrating. Well, you'll love all his books so go see his web site and buy his books. They're each stand-alones but the Cork O'Connor series is *excellent.*

Last Saturday Sean Doolittle, one of Omaha's pride and joy people, read from his new novel, Lake Country. I love Sean's books, particularly the one set in Omaha, but they're all really good. TOO good; Lake Country kept me up until 4 this morning.  Yeah, I know, saying that just encourages him. Well, dig into his books and you'll see why I think that's just fine.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

In my new agenda, Tuesdays are Home days - except that today I HAVE to get to the grocery store and pet store for food - after Mondays being Neale Woods days. Tomorrow is Joslyn Art Museum day, then Thursday's another footloose/home/whatever day. This Friday I'm not going to let anything stop me from getting to the zoo.

This frenzy of activity (that's a mild joke) is a result of some slow-cooking thoughts and feelings I've been evolving through over the past few months. I think from the moment I realized I'd been nesting, things have been shifting around in the back of my head, or the pit of my stomach, or wherever, and slowly I've been coming back into the world and away from the profound isolation and physical inertia I enjoyed for all those months. And I really DID enjoy them. I'm an introvert, which to me means that prolonged contact with other people, no matter how beloved and no matter how much fun we're having, is an energy drain. Extroverts, in this definition, are people who are energized by human company. It has been tremendously enjoyable, my solitude, all these months. And now I'm more or less recharged, and looking forward to gettin' out amongst 'em a little more.

My years in AA taught me that self-isolation is a dangerous thing for an alcoholic, and so I have been trying to pay attention to whether my inner life feels OK, not afraid, not unwell, or unhealthy in some way. I think I've avoided that, with a little help from my friends and family. I've be re-learning to trust my own instincts, particularly about when the time is right to do certain things, such as, getting rid of a memory-packed object around the house that I really have no other use for. I've found that in such cases when I turn my thought to selling it or giving it away, if resistance rises up in me (I feel it like a wall going up in the pit of my stomach), if I drop the idea and get on with life, eventually - maybe after months and months - the time comes when it's OK to get rid of the thing. To say good-bye to the object knowing the memory will stay with me (and not take up any room in the house!).

This means my house and my life progress very slowly sometimes, but after a lifetime of following other people's rules and commands and requests, I'm learning to follow my own lead now. It seems to be taking me good places so I'll continue. It is taking me a long time to get used to this life of truly being independent. It's a good process, and now I'm enjoying it. I am so very lucky.

Doll picture from
©2000 Denise Van Patten - 

Monday, August 06, 2012

My second hike at Neale Woods this morning wasn’t really morning, for one thing. I dilly-dallied around home so much that I don’t think I got there until - well, I got there then:

(Click on the pictures to see a bigger version.)

…And I think I was looking at this sundial upside down but it doesn’t matter because I don’t know what time it was. We’ll come back to it; I decided I’ll take a picture of it at the beginning and at the end of every hike. Some days will be overcast and I won’t.

Anyway, It was nice and sunny, with a light breeze. Weatherspark tells me it was about 86 degrees around the time I got there, and about 92 when I left. Warmer than I’d like, actually.

I spoke with a couple of consultant guys at the start, who were there scoping the visitor’s center out preparatory to submitting a plan to FFNA for replacing the building. Nice guys. I’ll be interested in what FFNA finally does with the place. I’m kind of surprised they’re considering replacing the old Dr. Neale A-frame; I’d have thought the old-timers on the Board might object on the grounds it’s holy, or something, but apparently not. Nice to know they have the means to do such a project, though.

Their trail maps are worthless for estimating how long your hike is, I have figured that out already. I’m guessing I hiked about 2 miles, which is a mighty long hike for me, and oh momma there are some hills in there. Ye gods.

The stairs of Cirith Ungol.

I did surprisingly well, for how out of shape and overweight I am. I didn’t start to suffer until maybe 3/4ths of the way through. Saw some neat stuff:

Two deer - one is on the right and all you can really see is deer-color beyond the thick dark trunk.

I’ll have to try to find out who this belonged to. It's about 8 inches long, and I don't think you can see the beautiful iridescence up toward the tip of the feather. I first saw just this one feather on a nettle bush. Later on I saw several in one place and it didn’t look like a happy ending to this bird’s story…

On my hike today I developed Terry’s Rule of Hiking Photography: No matter what cool things you see on the first 3/4th of your hike, they are NOTHING compared to the coolness of what you will see on the last 1/4th when you are exhausted, shaking, overheated, needing a bathroom NOW, and your camera battery is almost dead. I don't want to talk about it.

The last 1/4th of mine was Frodo’s climb up Mount Doom. I swear, at one point I was actually stumbling along swatting at imaginary gnats and mumbling about “the Eye…”  But at last, I saw this:

Downtown Omaha from Neale Woods

And I knew my long ordeal was almost over. I made it to the sundial, where it was this time (When I got to my car a few minutes later the clock said 2 p.m. Exactly):

It looks like only maybe an hour had passed, but I'm sure that was just Sauron messin' with me. And I swallowed the last mouthful of water in Sam’s my canteen BPA-free sippy flask, cracked open my store of lembas nuts and raisins, and headed the car towards home.

Neale Woods had kicked my ass again, but I have a secret those old hills don’t know: I’m getting stronger.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Took my first lone foray into Joslyn Art Museum today. My lofty goal was to walk into every room on every floor, not focus on any particular pieces, just learn the map. HAH! I headed for the oldest works in the permanent collection first (being somewhat of a linear completist) and I didn't even get to the first room. No, I was stopped by the ancient Greek, Etruscan, and general Mediterranean pottery (and some coins) in the *hallway* leading into the first room. What a feast! What a delight to have all the time in the world to look at each piece from as many sides as possible, to read the explanations, and take notes on the words strange to me. I guess I had a *Greek geek-out*!

THEN I moved into the first room. Medieval and Renaissance paintings. I'm trying to remember if *any* of them weren't religious in nature. Ah well, I admired their talent anyway. From there you can look through a succession of rooms that take you chronologically clear into the Impressionist and post-impressionist periods. These are familiar to me. Yet I still spent a good 45 minutes in the very first room before moving on. Maybe 30 minutes in the next room...THEN I picked up the pace because it was obvious I wasn't going to even get to the other side of that floor before fatigue and hunger would drive me home.

I *did* go downstairs to see the exhibit of the works of Fred Marcellino. WHAT a delight! Unfortunately, the gift shop didn't have the only book of his that I wanted right now, "Ouch!" I'll get it someday.

When I left, I took a tour of the sculpture gardens. Very nice, but will be more enjoyable when it's not 98 degrees outside. 

I'm looking forward to Wednesdays at the Joslyn! The do allow photos without flash, and I'll eventually try to do some sketching but I have nothing to post that's of any visual interest today.