Friday, May 30, 2014

Everyday Happiness

This is not really on topic for what I intend this blog to be about, but this is as good of a place as any for long form writing.

Not long after I moved in with the person who would become my (ex-)wife I was trying to describe what it was like growing up in my family.  I used the words that sprang into my head and in a few sentences gained clarity for myself about what I wanted in life.

Life when I was a child had rhythm, a cadence.  This was the pace life worked.  Not too fast, not too slow.  Don't chase the lofty highs to avoid the crash that would follow.  Whether or not it was intentional, my parents seemed to strive to keep cadence.  As a child or as an adult the happiest memories I have come from times in my life that had a rhythm, many of my worst memories come when there is none.

Having cadence does not mean being boring, emotionally reserved or quietly trudging through life.  That's not what I want, I wish that on no one.  I want to be active, emotionally boisterous and inspire laughter.  I want to internalize the hard lessons of the last year, grow, have adventures.  Cadence does not prevent those things, it engenders them.  I look around me and the most joyful couples and families have caught their own rhythm, accumulating happiness at a steady pace.

So, as I'm build my life into its new configuration, I try to add people and things that inspire cadence.  I'm thinking about it in the choices I make, as I get to know a new friend.  When I meet a woman who may make a good partner, I think about if we could have a rhythm together, and the everyday happiness that goes along with it.

I can't say when all the pieces will fall together, or even if they will.  With the help of friends old and new I am better prepared, and I know so much more about what I want and what it looks like when I see it.  I remain hopeful.

Bonus Track
Given the nature of this post, I thought I'd highlight a song from Jonathan Coulton that highlights some of the subject.  If you have never heard of Jonathan Coulton, well, bad on you.  Go here and be enriched.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Blood Mountain and a new Hiking Pack

As part of getting ready to move to Denver, I have taken it upon myself to re-take my favorite hikes here in north Georgia.  Yesterday it was Neil's gap to the top of Blood Mountain on the Appalachian trail.  It is only two and a half miles one way, but you climb about 1500 feet from the base of the approach trail to the very top.  Parts of it are steep and quite rocky, which is unusual for Georgia.

I think this is how Frodo got into Mordor.

Parts of this trek are less of a trail and more of a collection of white rectangular blazes randomly scattered on trees and rocks.  That makes it one of the toughest and most fun hikes here in Georgia.  At the end you get this beautiful view.

My parents house is actually on one of these mountains.

I sent a pic from the top to a friend of mine in Denver.  (Cell coverage at the top, not many empty places left in Georgia.)  She though it was cute that I called it a mountain.  At it is true that Colorado's mountains are bigger.  Blood mountain is less than 4,500 feet in elevation and is less than 2,000 from base to summit.  In a month I'll be living at a higher elevation than the top of Blood Mountain.

New Hiking Pack!
Over the years I've had various backpacks I've used for hiking.  Most of them were repurposed from my kids or simply cheap to purchase.  As spring approached I decided to actually get a couple of packs that are actually designed for hiking.  Both are day packs, one for shorter hikes, one for longer ones.

My short hike pack is really an oversized fanny pack with two water bottles.  While a bit eighties, it works very well for a few hour hike, or as a second pack when hiking with a group.

My long hike pack comes from No Limits.  I choose it for the amount of space it had and how it felt on my back.  I don't know how long it will last or how well it is made, but it feels sturdy.  Loaded with lunch, first aid kit, camera, phone and two genuine Science Getaways water bottles I was able to carry it for hours without my shoulders wearing out.  I'm very happy with it.

I'm not professional enough to use a neutral background.

Bonus Track
As a kid all the way to now I have loved the work of painter Bob Ross (aka Fuzz Head).  I can watch his shows (which ran on PBS for eons) simply to listen to his quiet voice and watch him create something beautiful in a short time.  He inspired me to take up painting in college and for a while it was an obsession.  I was even kind of good for a while, had a few pieces in a gallery show.

The 538 blog ran a statistical analysis of Bob Ross' paintings, and I thought it was a fun read.  Here is a link to it.