Weekly Bread #206

The stream of atmospheric rivers has finally paused for at least a bit and we were able to get out on the trails a few times this week. But the damage from the storms was widespread and obvious. This bridge leads to a trail that you can’t see for the downed trees. It is a connector trail, so is of lower priority for the trail crews to work on clearing. We stayed on the wider more popular trails and will likely need to do that for awhile. Sometimes it isn’t wise, or even possible, to take the narrow, more adventurous route. Loop trails are also even riskier than usual as a swollen stream or a fallen tree might make completing the loop more difficult or even impossible. Mud is unavoidable but nothing compared to the other hazards. It can get your feet wet if the waterproofing on your boots isn’t great and can be slippery, but is so much better than trying to get past a rock or mud slide. It is different, though, to worry about navigating a trail you have chosen to take than it is to try to survive when the flood waters arrive in your home. Or even worse, to try to stay warm and dry if you live in a leaky tent in an urban area.

So the storms rage and we can only hope they will subside for a time. Our forward paths are littered with with debris, Bridges are washed away. The trail crews will be very busy for months it seems and God Bless them everyone. There are times when the sun is shine over your head, but you can see rain in the near distance. The reverse is also true and that patch of blue sky ahead calls you on. No matter how hard the rain around you, there is always a rainbow somewhere.

This week I recovered from some of the backsliding potato chips have caused me, and managed to lose some of my recent gain despite two dinners out – one was at a Chez Panisse (a Christmas gift from our daughter) which is famous for its healthy food so even with enjoying drinks and both bread and dessert the weight bump up was minor and only lasted a day. It was my first time eating there and I wish I could afford to eat like that everyday – without the bread and dessert it could even be a weight loss program. The food is so tasty you just have to savor each bite. Smaller portions are completely satisfying. Small walks in the woods can work that way too. Not every hike needs to be a long one and not every meal needs to be Thanksgiving.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was down 1.8 pounds for a total loss of 146.3

Advertisement

Weekly Bread #205

When something isn’t working for you, try something else. I got these hiking boots awhile back, but had a lot of trouble breaking them in. First it was blisters, but then I got better socks which helped some. After 4 or 5 miles though, my right foot would start hurting and I would have a hot spot on the side of my foot. The shoe was just too narrow for that foot, which is shorter and wider than my left foot due to the polio I had as a child. Then I read about this lacing hack and tried it. It works! No pain and the boots are now great for however long I wear them. Just in time too as they are more waterproof than my old boots, and the trails are plenty soggy these days. Wet feet are no fun. Falling trees, eroded trails, and landslides also aren’t fun so with the constant rain we aren’t getting out hiking much these days. Better safe than sorry. We did get out twice in the last week and a half and are hoping for a couple of dryer days to do some more. We will keep our trail choices sensible, – fairly flat, wide and rocky of graveled. Safer for us and we won’t be making work for the trail crews.

The rain is getting to me. I know we needed rain – just not this much! Our house has been fine, so the storms haven’t harmed us in any serious way, but other people are hurting. I really shouldn’t complain, but I really miss being out on the trails. My exercise bike gets my heart rate pumping, but it doesn’t do anything for my soul.

If something isn’t working, do something else. Mistakes are inevitable, we are human after all. But because we are are human, we can sometimes try different things. Of course it also depends on how much power and privilege we have. Some people struggle just to survive and have very limited choices. I can afford new socks and yes new boots. I have the luxury and time to figure things out, to try different things. The only real struggle is the internal one. I have to silence the voice that says don’t bother, that it doesn’t matter, that nothing will change, that nothing will work.

Then I discover a new way to lace my metaphorical boots.

This week didn’t go well for the scale, which is a little disheartening. I could play games with myself about extra dinners out or the fact that my weight gain was somehow less because most of it was at the end of the week before. Really, I pretty much maintained this week with a mere 7 tenths of a pound range for all seven days. Statistics can be twisted to tell the story you want to be real, however. It isn’t how you measure or track. It is what you eat and how active you are. For me, it really is mainly the potato chips. I can have one cookie, no problem, I can have a small bowl of ice cream and be satisfied, but I have a very hard time stopping with the chips. Something about that crunchy saltiness draws me in and keeps me going back for more. But chips offer pretty much zip nutrition, even when comparing them to ice cream or cookies – or especially those salty peanuts or almonds that are packed with protein and much healthier fat. I think it is past time to stop having potato chips in the house – at least where I can find them. It isn’t working for me and I need to try something else. I need to go cold turkey with the chips. Turkey is still fine, however. It can matter how you lace your boots and how you care for your quirky sometimes individualistic feet.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was up 1.6 pounds for a total loss of 144.5

Weekly Bread #204

We only got out on the trails twice this last week because of the rainstorms that have been hitting our area. “Atmospheric Rivers” they are calling them. We used to call them downpours. If the downpours were too intense and lasted too long, the rivers and creeks flooded. They are comparing this series of storms to the ones in 1955 and 1982. I remember both of them. I was only 5 in 1955, but I remembering walking with my mother to look at the Pajaro River, which normally flowed behind a levee six or so blocks away from our house. We got to the river much sooner than usual and I could see houses with river water up on their porches. “It won’t get to our house,” my mother said. I don’t remember whether I believed her or not, but she was right and the rain stopped and the water went down. In 1982, I was in San Anselmo, in Marin county, and the creek flooded the entire downtown. Again, my house was fine as it was the other times that creek flooded while I lived there.

Sometimes we escape the floods, the fires, the falling trees, and the howling winds. Sometimes war and violence seem like maybe they will stay far enough away. How high is the ground where we have built our shelter? Are the walls sturdy enough? Will the roof hold? Should we believe those who tell us we will be safe? Maybe “if”… and there is always an “if” .. If we only..whatever it is… everything will be fine.

But our safety is not guaranteed, no matter how hard we try to achieve it. And I fear that it is really too late for us as a species, having build our castles out of sand that can too be easily washed away. Even stone will become sand once the water has its way.

And still, despite “natural” disasters and even despite the horrific acts some of we humans continue to commit, there are still breaks in the rain sometimes. There is sunshine through the clouds, even a rainbow or two, and the trail calls out to us, again urging us on. Hunker down when you need to, when the storm or just life is raging, then put your boots on and venture out again.

Choose your path wisely though, avoid the mud when you can, and watch out for falling trees and rising tides. The danger is always increasing, but staying inside won’t save us in the end. Enjoy the beauty that still surrounds us and hold in tenderness all that you love.

A small miracle that my weight is slightly down after two dinners out this week as well as fewer hikes. A faint rainbow.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was down .3 pounds for a total loss of 146.1

Weekly Bread #203

Trees are all different, individual and unique. But some are more so than others. Ronald Reagan was infamous for saying, “if you have seen one redwood tree, you have seen them all.” I was appalled when he said it and certainly don’t agree with the statement. True, though, younger redwoods look more alike than the old growth giants do. Age brings character to trees and to people. These oaks I saw on Mount Burdell while on a recent hike are good examples. They are wounded, with broken limbs, rotten places , and insect infestations. And how beautiful they are, the trunks twisted but still supporting new life, still offering shelter, still producing acorns and leaves. There is wisdom in the trees, examples of courage and endurance, and a reminder that true beauty is not outward perfection but is the luminous grace of survival despite the odds.

So here is to surviving another year! Spellcheck just tried to make that “surfing” rather than “surviving,” so here is to surfing through the next. Ride the waves, and hang 10 from your board if you can. Notice both the trees and the clouds.

The holidays have not been great for maintaining my weight loss. I am 4 pounds heavier than I was before Thanksgiving and there is still one more celebration to go. My plan, such as it is, is to enjoy my anniversary dinner with my beloved of 48 years, and then, if I can, get back on track. I am not pleased with the 18 pounds I gained in the last year. If I am still gaining after the end of January, I am going to go back to my support group at Kaiser. Sometimes we need others, an accountability group, to keep on the path we have chosen. It can be hard to hike alone.

I hope 2022 was kind to you and that 2023 will be even better.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was up 1.1 pounds for a total loss of 145.8

Weekly Bread #202

Sometimes Santa comes on a dinosaur. Why not? We are never really sure what might be lying behind the next bend. One of our son’s surprised us with the inflatable. It was weird enough to be really fun. Ya gotta have fun, at least sometimes. I had fun this week and enjoyed the holiday and my spouse’s birthday celebration the day before.

Not really a week for either dieting or maintaining, but my average weight at least didn’t go up this week, although it was higher at the end than it was at the beginning. Time to get back on the horse – or maybe the dinosaur.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was down.2 pounds for a total loss of 146.9

Weekly Bread #201

Hiking is like living in a metaphor.

I have gone on 151 hikes so far this year. The sun has shone and the clouds have sent me coded messages. I have walked through mud and sand, scrambled over rocks, gone up steep trails and inched around drop-offs that terrified me. I have also enjoyed a few fairly flat strolls. It’s been fun mainly, although my muscles have ached and my feet get tired. I have fallen a few times, luckily with only minor damage. And even a day pack gets heavy after awhile. But my eyes are almost always delighted. True, one of my eyes wasn’t happy when a bug flew into it. (Did it bite me too?) The swelling was painful and scary, but it was a fluke, because it only happened once. That’s part of my definition of “fluke” anyway.

If you cover enough miles, and I have close to 1000 this year, a lot of different things happen. Most of my hikes were close to home, but I also ventured out in the Canadian rockies, packing bear spray in a holster as the rangers advised. But the clouds and the trees are what have amazed me the most. Ok maybe I should include in the “most” category water, the lakes and streams and more than a few waterfalls. Oh, and the ocean, let’s not forget the ocean. And the wildlife: the turkeys, the deer, the elk, coyotes, hawks, eagles, egrets, a few snakes and a couple of bears and bobcats. We are never really alone out there. Be prepared for the unexpected. It is always OK to ask for directions.

May this next year bring you joy and may all your metaphors be mixed!

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was up .8 pounds for a total loss of 146.7

Weekly Bread #200

The tree mimicked the shape of the cloud, both of which were hiding the sun. It was a dark day after some rain and before the next storm. The trees and clouds were amazing though, even, maybe especially, when they blocked the sun. “Enjoy the journey”, I tell myself that often, and mostly it works.

The days are shorter as we approach the solstice, and given that we rarely get out of the house before ten, our hikes haven’t been as long. Stumbling down a trail in the cold and dark holds no appeal for me, so we are careful to get back to the car before sunset. I do carry a small head lamp just in case, but would rather not have to use it.

Always racing the sun home can be a bad habit though. “Enjoy the journey.” Up hill and down, through the meadow and through the woods, in the sun and in the shade, alone and in a crowd, joy and in sorrow, in pleasure and in pain. “For all that is our life, we sing our thanks and praise,” is a line from a favorite hymn of mine. The journey isn’t always fun. but I am grateful to be able to travel the road.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was down 1.1 pound for a total loss of 147.5

Weekly Bread #199

I am noticing the madrones lately. Maybe it is the time of year. They have lost most of their leaves and the bark has peeled leaving that gorgeous red-orange color. But it is their trunks that are drawing my attention. Gnarly and battered though they are, they keep sprouting new growth.

I am feeling my age these days. The cold weather isn’t good for the aging joints. Still, like the madrone, I haven’t completely stopped growing and learning new things although I do find myself reflecting back on things, sometimes remembering things (ideas, concepts) that were important to me earlier in my life. Those newer shoots really do spring from ancient places in my spirit. Why am I, me? (and why are U, U?). My answer is because of where I come from and where I have been. Gnarly roots can nurture very sturdy trees, and the results of wind, and even fire, just make them more interesting and weirdly warped. Fertilizer helps too, Most of us been through some very useful shit in life, and that can be a helpful perspective to recognize.

Growing from pristine potting soil could have had a downside, leaving us both clueless and defenseless. We might even wonder why those crying for bread couldn’t simply eat cake. Our heads would deserve to roll. I am still impatient which those who have experienced an excessive amount of power and privilege in their lives. Those hot house plants may be fragile, but they continue to block the sun and suck up the water from others plants struggling to survive. How’s that for a jumbled metaphor?

My average weight was up a bit, a leftover from the holiday, but the trend line was down and I ended this week 2 pounds lighter than I started it.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was up 1 pound for a total loss of 146.4

Weekly Bread #198

Thanksgiving is kind of a weird holiday. We want to express gratitude for family and friends, for all the blessings that life can offer and then we celebrated by overeating. It is hard not to though. In 2018, I measured everything I ate on Thanksgiving, a tablespoon of gravy, 4 ounces of white meat turkey, a quarter cup of stuffing, a tablespoon of cranberry sauce, and some green beans. No potatoes, yams, bread, butter, appetizers, pie or wine. It was sort of OK, but also a bummer. But that kind of attention meant I was able to consistently lose about 2 pounds almost every week, even holiday weeks, for close to two years. I recovered my health. But I haven’t been weighing and measuring my food for a year now, so Thursday I nibbled and munched, sipped and piled food on my plate, hoping it would fit. I overate. Not as much as in the old days, no seconds at all (except for wine!) but I had some of everything and there were a lot of everythings.

And I loved the day with family and friends; we played games and laughed a lot, so the holiday gathering was a success by any measure.

I did exercise on the stationary bike before everyone came, so that helped some. But maybe I didn’t really need to taste everything. I won’t bring out the measuring cups and spoons next year, but will try to be a bit more sensible. I can practice more restraint at Christmas. That holiday isn’t quite so much about food. Meanwhile, I will have a few weeks to get back on track. Pacing is everything.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was up 2.1 pounds for a total loss of 147.4

Weekly Bread #197

I must have hiked by this madrone tree more than 20 times, but just noticed this week that is only one tree, not a bunch of trees. The root ball creates a large mound in the earth. Whether from fire or wind, or a ranger clearing the trail, the original tree was likely damaged somehow, and like the mythical hydra whose head way cut off, and it then grew even more. One sees redwood trees growing this way all the time, but I never noticed a Madrone that had done this before. Of course the name should have given the secret away. Madrone comes from “madrona” which means “married woman”in Spanish. Just another mother (this time a tree) creating precious new life out of the trauma of her own. You can see how her bark is peeling, such beauty exposed in the tender flesh beneath.

Survival can make us stronger – if the initial trauma doesn’t kill us. We can heal and go on to bless the world, even though our scars remain as witnesses to history.

L’Chaim

Average weight this week was neither up nor down for a total loss of 149.5