Hiking Alone

Posted on January 9, 2014. Filed under: Photography, Poetry, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , |

winter field

Trudging along in the cold
Pumps the blood and keeps me bold.

To hike alone this vacant path
Means watching my back for lunatic wrath.

Yes amid this beauty here
I have to control vulnerability and fear.

Even with defense tools close
Surprise would aid my foes.

So I meld into this placid scene
Prepared, confident, and with senses keened.

This hiking is its own meditation
Random thoughts brought into consolidation.

The beauty, the danger, the focus
Provides me freedom, mental clarity the bonus.

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Can You Eat a Puff Ball?

Posted on October 21, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, Plants, Safety | Tags: , , , |

Food - Puff BallTo answer my own question in the title, yes!  Generally they are washed, sliced, battered and sautéed in butter.  You must make sure it IS a puffball and that it isn’t too old.  There are good websites out there for this like the Mushroom Journal based in Illinois which is a good one for me to look at.  You should always check sources that are as local as possible.  Do not eat any mushroom based on information you are reading here!  I’ve heard of disasters where foreigners found mushrooms in their new locale that looked just like some from their native land, but they were deadly varieties and wiped out the whole clan.  So KNOW before you eat.

I’ve been watching this puff ball for a few days.  It started out about softball size and has mushroomed (ha, ha, love that pun!) to basketball size.  I just photographed it, though, because we don’t eat them at out house.  Bill has a very rare reaction to puff balls where he just can’t digest them at all.  When he eats them they just lay in his stomach like a rock for days.  Very painful.  I actually don’t think they taste all that great.  They remind me of eggplant, rather bland.  So, we pass on them here.  But they are fascinating to watch progress on the forest floor.

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10 Safety & Health Tips for the Tour du Mont Blanc

Posted on May 26, 2013. Filed under: France, Health, Italy, Safety, Switzerland, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Travel - TMB Safety

1.  Keep your valuables with you or your partner(s) at all times.  This would include passport (US or British passports are worth €1000-2000 each on the black market), cash, credit cards, camera, airline paperwork.  One would like to believe all the fellow hikers are just like you, but they may not be.  Acquaintances on our trip lost their British passports at a refuge when they left them in their packs to go to dinner.  They had discussed leaving them in the presence of a lot of other people too.  2 big mistakes.  This ended their trip because getting to an embassy and getting it all sorted out required a lot of time.  Take along some little bag that can hold your valuables when you don’t have your big pack and just keep everything in there so it’s easy to take with you at all times.

2.  Even non-valuables:  keep an eye on them.  At big stops along the trail with lots of hikers coming and going in both directions we assigned one of our group to stay with the packs/poles while others went for food/bathrooms, then we switched.  It’s just good common sense.

3.  Water.  Really, only get it from places that are clearly safe.  That hose hanging on the building right next to where the cows are standing, don’t fill your bottle.  3 days down with bacterial infection really takes a bite out of your trip.  I missed doing this by chance, but my friend paid for it.  Hind sight is 20-20, try to keep foresight in play and avoid problems.

4.  Think about daylight and how many hours you have left to get in.  You do not want to be out on the trail in the dark.  Get a move on if needed to get in before dusk.  The mountains become a lot colder, windier, and overall more dangerous in the dark.

5.  Pay attention to your pace.  You do need to do #4, but you don’t need to run the whole thing and miss the day just to get in super early!

6.  Address small health issues early.  A small irritation is felt in your foot?  Stop and inspect right away.  Treat and cover to avoid a blister or cover the blister to keep it from bursting and creating an open wound that is open for infection.  The sooner you address problems, the less likely you will experience a health emergency.

7.  Prepare for the unexpected.  Take extra cash, carry a first-aid kit and all-weather gear.  It will be fabulous if you don’t need any of it, and you will be congratulating yourself if you do.

8.  Be extra alert when you are tired.  Later in the day you are more apt to lose your footing, become forgetful, and less observant.  Know this and try to counteract it.  When stopping, look carefully around your pack before leaving to make sure you have everything.  Slow down a little to keep your footing sure.  Look carefully at signs to make sure of the way before you waste time down the wrong path.

9.  Watch your alcohol intake.  In the evening it can be tempting to celebrate too much.  Along with this is:  use a flashlight in the refuges.  Falling and hurting yourself isn’t worth wrecking your trip.

10.  Relax!  The TMB is fairly safe!

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Posted on May 7, 2013. Filed under: Health, Safety |

Plants - crocusLong ago in a self-defense class I heard that criminals carefully pick out their marks, that the victims actually stick out to them as easy prey.  This is stunning news but not so surprising if you look at it from a criminal’s point of view.  Why pick someone who is likely to make the job harder?

I’m not advising you what to do should you be confronted with a violent situation.  I’m also not blaming victims who have been traumatized by a unique situation for doing or not doing something.

But I am saying that I will not be a victim willingly.

  • I will be aware of my surroundings by actively using my senses when I am moving through the world.
  • I will make good decisions about where to go, when, and with whom.
  • I will listen to my inner wisdom which is there to protect me.  When something is off I will not conform to conventional politeness to risk my safety.
  • I will continually prepare myself by training and reading resources that can help me to be ready if the need arises.
  • And in the end, if I am confronted with a criminal who intends me harm I will fight with everything I have without giving up because no other person has the right to take my life.

There are few true guarantees in life.  And there are none in a potentially violent situation.  But I will be a formidable opponent should the situation arise.

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Martial Arts – Day 1

Posted on April 23, 2013. Filed under: Exercise, Health, Safety | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Health - Martial Arts 1

I have, just an hour ago, become a white belt at our local Karate place.  Don’t be too impressed because it’s the lowest level, but hey, I got a belt.  I did have to complete my first class to get it and it came complete with a little presentation ceremony.  I’m feeling rather fit and smart right now!  I can see that martial arts are a whole new world.  So far I like it.  I like the formality of the body positioning.  I like bowing to my instructor and my partner.  I really like learning to punch and kick.  I think my hips will get stronger and stay that way if I keep this up.  I’m signed up for 2 intro classes this week, after that I have to make a big financial decision if I want to continue.  That’s because it’s rather expensive.  This is all relative, of course.  What is strength,  fitness, and the ability to defend myself worth to me?  Quite a lot, actually, because if my body loses strength and I become vulnerable to attacks from within and without then what good does it do me to have saved a lot of money?

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