gurdymonkey: (gurdymonkey2)
"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul." - John Muir

Thursday I felt fine all day. Then I went to practice - where I had both Brogan and Staffan all to myself because nobody else showed up. Two White Scarves ready to tire me out and overload my brain with notes for the mental filing cabinet, and I came apart. I picked up that sword and struggled the entire time with pain distracting me while two of them were trying to tell me to do things. By the time I said "I'm done," it felt like my elbow was burning inside. It hadn't felt this bad in months.

To add insult to injury, Thursday's dinner gave me the trots and I was up most of the night dealing with that as well as elbow pain despite icing it and taking ibuprofen.

There I was, Friday, trying to conceal from co-workers what a foul temper I was in, knowing I didn't dare pick up a sword the way things stood and dithering about whether I should waste a tank of gas on an event to lend moral support to people who probably didn't need it anyway, because I sure as hell wasn't in any shape to try to fight in the tourney. I was hating on the world and everything in it. I desperately needed not to be thinking about work, about rapier, about hurting every time I picked up a rapier, about the SCA and pasting a peerlike demeanor on my face when I damn well didn't feel like it, about Staffan's belief that I had the potential to be a good fighter when I could barely think because it hurt so bad.

....when I got a notion into my head.  I consulted the internet kami of the NOAA weather, the National Park Service and Yosemite Lodgings. $60 later I had a tent cabin in Curry Village booked for Saturday night and I was feeling significantly better.

I was out of the house by 6 AM Saturday morning. I took a LOT of pictures. But I didn't think about work. Or the SCA. And the only pain I was thinking about was how much my feet hurt after a day of mini-hikes all around the valley. (Though I do need to ice my elbow after I write this.)

Some of my friends simply MUST go back to Disneyland over and over and over again. Well, that's Yosemite for me.

The approach was simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring: I drove through a portion of the 400 square miles stricken by last summer's Rim Fire. The "Rim of the World" vista point on Highway 120 in the Stanislaus National Forest now overlooks bald, brown mountains instead of forests.
Yosemite 031514 005As you head east on Highway 120 you think you've gone color blind because the stands of evergreens have turned a weird, autumnal orange. Some are half-and-half where only part of the tree was scorched. Eventually, if the Forest Service doesn't clear them out (which they've already done in some sections), they will drop their needles. Then the branches will dry out and fall. The Rim Fire areas will start to look like the fired out stretch below Highway 41 inside the park - a few spiky dead trees still standing here and there, while low-to-the-ground plants grow in the open space.

Everywhere a stupid human could possible pull over is posted with signs forbidding entry and announcing fire danger, because what's there could still go up like torches.
Yosemite 031514 013

As you drive, you see places where the fire hopscotched the road. The posted burn zone continues past the Hwy. 120 park entrance, but is nowhere near as bad as it is down the hill.Yosemite 031514 166

It was the birdsong that kept me from tears as I stood by the roadside at Stupid Early O'Clock in the morning. The birds are in there,even among the burned out trees. Presumably other wildlife is as well. Seedlings will sprout. Eventually. It will come back, but it won't be like it was in my lifetime. More photos of the Rim Fire aftermath at

gurdymonkey: (pretties)
Dinner at El Huarache Azteca in Oakland was at [profile] layla_lilah 's request based on something she'd seen on "Check Please, Bay Area!" It's a couple blocks from the Fruitvale BART in a Latino neighborhood (where I felt very tall and very gringa), it was well worth the visit. I'm a wimp when it comes to hot food. The salsa verde was zingy without being painful. When I picked the Huarache Mole, our waitress mentioned in heavily accented English that I could have a huarache made from nopales (prickly pear cactus) instead of corn meal, so I went for it. It arrived a brilliant green peeping from beneath the chicken swathed in dark mole and lumps of cheese, and was a nice change from the usual maza. [profile] layla_lilah 's huarache with carne asada looked great too. She opted to have it with some huitlacoche (a corn fungus) on top. I tasted it, the flavor was very earthy and much better than I would've expected. Inexpensive, easy to get to and they serve Mexican Coca Cola if one wants the Real Thing with sugar.

From there, we made time for a stop at Nieves Cinco De Mayo, right across from the BART Station in the Fruitvale Public Market on 12th street. Featuring hand cranked ice cream in a dizzying assortment of exotic flavors (corn! garlic! pine nut and cheese!), the proprietor was very friendly and quite willing to offer us taste after taste while we dithered over final choices. I had a scoop of cinnamon (for $1.25!!!!), Ellen got a scoop each of coffee and cinnamon and mixed them together. The good news is it's close to home. The better news is it's just out of the way enough I have to make a slight detour to get there, so I maybe won't make a detrimental-to-diet habit of it. SO much nicer than that chi chi place up on College Avenue with the expensive ice creams.

Then it was back over to Alameda to check out Maze (as in MAH-zeh) Taiko at the Rhythmix Cultural Works. Six ladies rocked the refurbished warehouse with high energy and distinctly non-traditional mixes of rhythms and instruments from all over the world. I'm not kidding about the cowbell. Or djembe, marimba, hammered dulcimer, electronic keyboard or squeaky toys.

Several pieces in the second set were inspired by a collection of poems and paintings written by internees at Heart Mountain that had been  found in leader Janet Koike's grahdfather's garage.  They're well worth catching.


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