MILO ONE


Piles of milo

You only have to know one thing; you can learn anything. It’s amazing what we don’t know, but comforting to know that there is so much we can still learn.

Colorful milo grain lies in orderly piles on the Kansas plains, confounding the uninformed as to just what they are. Tiny beads of gold and saffron fall in random design after the harvest, ready to serve as fodder.

Seeing the fabulous photos taken by Shoreacres prompted the return of my paintbrush, for how can one resist mountains of red, orange and yellow lying where Mother Nature put no mountains.

GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN


It’s strange, but after a certain age people start worrying about who will inherit all the detritus they have accumulated during their life. What they should worry about is who the heck wants it anyway? By the time you are ready to get rid of it, any likely recipients already have a houseful of their own stuff, and none of it is part of the same era as ours. The sad thing is that sometimes the small things which are so important to us get lost in the shuffle.

jansport

A case in point is my purse. It is a prototype from Jansport which I have carried everywhere exclusively for twenty years. I carry this purse to the grocery store, to the beach, on vacation, out to dinner; you name it and it has been there. This may not seem amazing to you, but what else fits that description? It is canvas and leather, with pockets holding my life, and though I have a number of expensive designer type handbags in my closet, I opt to use this purse my daughter gave me twenty years ago.

In 1969, while at the University of Washington, our daughter met Skip Yowell, a fun loving and exciting young fellow who with his cousin had started a small backpacking company a couple of years before. People in Washington state are noted for loving the outdoors and finding out what is over the top of all those mountains. Skip Yowell and his cousin Murray Pletz, had an idea that they could make a better backpack than what was being used. Murray’s girlfriend Jan, used her sewing machine to stitch the canvas, and Murray told her if she married him, they would name the company after her. So three hippie kids with a great idea became Jansport, and the company grew into one of the largest outdoor gear companies in the country. Jansport gear has made it to the top of Mount Everest and its sister behemoths for so long now they should put a retail outlet on the top of the mountain.

I was often the lucky recipient of a prototype Jansport had made that year, and that was how I came by my very special purse.

Now that you know the story, you can see why it is important to me to know who will treasure this bit of corporate history. Antique Roadshow may someday feature it to the amazement of its future owner.

LOVE’S PHILOSOPHY


With a nod to Percy Shelley:

The fountains mingle with the river
And the rivers with the ocean;
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another’s being mingle—
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven,
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdain’d its brother:
And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea—
What are all those kissings worth
If thou kiss not me?

THROUGH A DOG’S EYES


Liza

We are a dog-loving family, never having gone more than a month or two without benefit of loving brown eyes waiting to see what else they can do for you.  After one such period, I answered an ad for German Shepherd pups, and came home with an adorable black puppy whom we named Bella for beautiful.

However, it soon became apparent that there was something very wrong with the pup, so I took her to a well-respected breeder in Washington state to have her evaluated.  The breeder was a German woman whose mother had a large kennel in Germany.  She looked at the pup’s papers and then called several employees over to see the dog.  It seems that through ill-informed breeding this little thing would have a limited life-span, demanding constant care and expense.

After telling the breeder what we wanted in a dog, she asked us to come back in a few days after she had chosen several we might like.  When we returned, she had us go into small stall with about 4 cute 8 week old pups while she waited outside a Dutch door to watch.  As the little pups scrambled all over one another, climbing over and under, one went under a small bench seemingly wanting our attention.  As we went to collect her, the breeder crossly asked “What are you doing?”  We answered that this was the one we wanted.  She said “But THAT is the one who wants YOU!”  pointing out the tiny pup who was trying to shred my raincoat!

I learned a good lesson that day.  Don’t answer an  unqualified ad, and always choose the pup who wants to be with YOU.  Training is easy and fun with someone who wants to please you from the get-go.  You can have a wonderful dog otherwise, but it will take longer to make them trust you implicitly.

I returned Liza to the breeder in a few months to have them look at her.  She was becoming a fabulous looking dog, and they felt they had made a mistake in selling her as a “companion dog”.  She was descended from a long line of international champions, and they tried to convince us to show her.  However, we opted not to take on the responsibility of long hours of care and dog shows.

We lived in the country at that time, with a horse corral in the rear of our property.  When a very young grandson came to visit, Liza herded him away from the fence and back into his proper place.  She guarded us that same way the rest of her life.

Liza was our constant companion for many years, going everywhere with us, whether camping, to the mountains or the seashore, or simply grocery shopping.  She was a fixture in my sculpture studio greeting people as they came in to chat or to share a cup of coffee.  She was a party animal with a big tail wag for everyone.

There is a small sculpture and a large photo of Liza in our home, reminding us that she was a great part of our lives.  Though we have had a number of lovely dogs since then, including a terrific Jack Russell terrier now, Liza will always hold top honors in our hearts.  She was truly a Champion.

HIKING 101


It became much more fun when there were four of us instead of just the two, and we couldn’t wait to introduce both grandsons (there were only two at that time) to the high country we loved.  They had been good campers since the age of two, but children were not allowed to backpack until the age of seven, so only the older brother went first.  To illustrate our enthusiasm for the long hike, I made a quilt showing everything we might see (excluding the bears!)  As children do, he became an instant expert when we got on the trail, and after a week of sleeping under the stars and catching the small silvery trout which waited for his hook, he was ready to go home and impress his younger brother with tall tales of the weeks’ events.

Two years later, both boys were able to go, and as sometimes happens with all of us, the things you have most looked forward to become a little scary when you finally get to do them.  The older brother was in a state of high excitement, but the seven year old approached the start of our journey with trepidation.  This hike was in Desolation Valley, and  would eventually take us to 9600 ft. elevation.  We joined a small group in a boat which took us across the lake from civilization to the trailhead where we were all on our own.  Dr. Advice and I had climbed in this area a number of times and though we would cover a lot of territory, it would be an easy hike for the boys.  We paired up with me walking with the younger boy who gradually seemed to become more comfortable both with his pack and with the whole adventure.

Though it was August, as we climbed we ran into snow, which became a little deeper as we progressed.  In the mountains you become used to looking for landmarks, and there are many along this trail including the lake where we would be spending our first night.  The lake lies at the base of a group of rugged peaks which resemble nothing more than a moonscape.  Quite recognizable, and not too far from where we started.  We learned years ago to carry a police whistle in case of emergency, and though the boys each carried their own sleeping bags plus their whistle, Dr. Advice and I divided the rest of the gear.  I could see a familiar dogleg coming up ahead, and told my small companion that we would take it and catch them up as the trail straightened.

However, all trees look alike in the forest, and all trails look alike under a blanket of snow, so when I realized we were not coming out in the same spot I had hoped for, I blew my whistle and we listened for an answering tweet which came right away, but on the second try there was no reply.  Not to worry , I told my little friend whose blue eyes were getting larger and more concerned;  we will recognize those crazy moonscape mountains in no time.  By this time, I was getting a little worried myself, and did not follow the second rule in mountaineering:  stay where you are and wait till you are found.

By this time it was afternoon, and we had climbed atop a large rock to see if either the lake or the craggy peaks were visible.  My small partner was in a state of despair, and in no mood to play games such as blowing our whistles and yelling for help.  He worried about where we would sleep or eat, and I assured him we had all the right stuff to survive the night if it should come to that (which it would not of course).  We blew whistles and counted to ten, and after a few minutes of this activity, we finally heard the welcome answering call.

It seemed we were about a quarter mile above the lake, and they had been waiting for us to arrive for some time, with the older boy also anxious about sleeping and eating.  They actually DID have all the food, and we had the small tent in case of a sudden rain squall, which happens frequently at that elevation.  So we climbed (slid) down and they climbed up, and we set up camp for the first night in the Wilderness.

The rest of the week went well, and the rocks were bare of snow which made climbing easy.  The boys were delighted with the small alpine lakes where they could bathe and fish, and once they were convinced that no one else was there and could not see them, they stripped off their clothes and jumped in the icy water.

That trip took us to Dick’s Peak at 9600 feet, and was a great introduction to the pleasure of wilderness camping and gave them a good foundation for many years’  of enjoyment.

My  little trail partner has become a wildlife biologist, and his older brother has the  avocation of horses, fishing and hunting.