Archive | September 2012

Boulder Mountain Overpass. Capitol Reef to Tropic Utah. Ridge Elevation 9700 ft. And the Aspens are on fire!

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Here is what I don’t get, this was one of the most spectacular overpassses I have have ever seen, and I have seen a lot. There was essentially no one on the road, maybe three American couples and five European couples. I guess it is good few people go here, because it will perserve it. But nonetheless, if you have a chance to drive it in peak fall color, you will be blown away.

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“The Memory Chalet,” by Tony Judt

The Memory Chalet
The Memory Chalet by Tony Judt
The Memory Chalet
by Tony Judt

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Cindy Knoke‘s review

Sep 23, 12  
Such a haunting and beautiful book by such a brilliant man.While dying of ALS Judt envisions heaven as a train on which he rides continuously through the Alps. This evocative imagery has stayed with me and probably always will.While becoming progressively “locked in” by ALS, Judt’s mind remains very much alive. He escapes into “the memory chalet,” a Swiss chalet he stayed in on holidays as a child. He recalls in his memory every room, nook and cranny, the smells, the food, the snow, the happy memories.He does this with other memories of his life as well, and shares these memories with the reader. We are the better for it.Judt who had made such a huge contribution to all of us through his life long scholarship, continues to make a huge contribution to us as he dies. He let’s us realize the power of our minds to help us escape from intolerable circumstances and shows us that memories can be almost as powerful as reality.

Somehow, through brutal honesty, and no-sugar coating, he makes the process of dying from something as horrific as ALS seem less terrifying. His memories provide great comfort to him and to the reader.

Highly recommend this inspiring and moving book.

I wish Judt endless sunny skies  as he rides over the Alps on his never-stopping train.

 

 

The WOLVES RULE YELLOWSTONE ONCE AGAIN!

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Hayden Valley Yellowstone

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Buffalo Hayden Valley
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As a child I used to be sung to sleep in a cabin by Fish Creek in The Tetons by the wolves howling in the distant mountains. I was quite sad to hear they had all been annihilated and hopeful when the wolves were reintroduced to their home territory in 1995. I can now testify that THE WOLVES RULE THE NIGHT IN YELLOWSTONE ONCE AGAIN!
We asked a ranger where the best wildlife viewing options were in Yellowstone and she advised us to get to the HaydenValley just before dusk, as wolves were active in the area, and had made a recent kill. We left around 6pm. En-route we saw a lone wolf resting by a herd of about 300 buffalo, including calves. The wolf was resting, biding his time, waiting.
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We arrived at HaydenValley just before sunset and very quickly spotted three resting wolves, one grey and two black. The wolves were strategically positioned around a largish herd of elk that were already highly alerted and terrified. The bucks were on land trying to protect the herd, blowing and warning. Most of the rest of the herd around 50 or so were tightly clustered on a shoal in the center of the Yellowstone River. Scattered mothers with calves were standing in the middle of the river clearly terrified.

The wolves were resting, biding their time, waiting. Letting the herd agitate and get cold.

Most likely this had been going on long before we arrived. Very soon after the sunset, the wolves started to rouse. They stood up. Stretched like dogs, and began to move, slowly at first, in a walk, than a slow trot.

This caused blowing and bellowing from the bulls.

All of a sudden all three wolves were at a full run, streaking like bullets in unison, and precise formation, at INCREDIBLE speed, from their three different locations, fanning out after the herd.

The herd starting screaming and running, helter-skelter, in blind terror.

Watching with binoculars, we saw the three wolves converge on the racing elk.  We saw one bull hit, several times by the wolves, but not taken down. The entire elk herd were screaming now at full volume. Running in total pandemonium. The wolves pursued the elk into and out of the river. Several elk who broke from the herd escaped towards us and many other elk escaped up-river in the water. But the hunt continued after it became completely dark and the wolves communicated by howling to each other as darkness fell and the hunt continued.

It was incredible. I have never experienced the panic of the hunted as immediately and personally as I did for these elk. The challenge for the wolves seeming so daunting, that I was rooting for both victim and prey simultaneously. We left driving carefully back to the lodge in the dark, just pumped up with adrenalin that took quite awhile to subside.

We also saw another grizzly on a back country hike earlier the same day, but he was father away and we had our pepper spray. Lots of Buffalo on the road as well, and of course scenic Yellowstone in the fall.

But nothing compared to the wolves.

Yellowstone Lake Hotel where we stayed is near HaydenValley and closes in a week. I think this is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone as the animals are clustering in preparation for winter and the crowds of humans have thinned markedly.

There are an estimated 98 wolves in Yellowstone now, in ten packs. They are ruling once again!

Yellowstone Lake
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Yellowstone Falls
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“Brooklyn Zoo: The Education of a Psychotherapist,” Darcy Lockman

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Brooklyn Zoo: The Education of a Psychotherapist
by Darcy Lockman

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Cindy Knoke‘s review

Sep 06, 12  ·  edit

I wish someone had helped this author put off writing this book until she got some more experience and insight. I feel like someone should have protected her from publishing this. She seems like a caring person, with good intentions, but remarkably naïve. I’m trying here. I did not dislike her. I’m not angry at her. I am just sort of chagrined by the whole thing. Maybe she just needs time and more experience before attempting this?Here are some examples of statements that dismayed me:Dr Wolfe, a psychologist supervisor, makes a totally obvious inappropriate sexual reference to her regarding her blushing:

She says, “…I couldn’t stop myself from thinking like a therapist. My training had taught me to pay attention to associations….I believed Dr Wolfe believed my blushing a sign like the interviewee in his story, that I was harboring purient thoughts. Given our age difference, I hoped he’d only be flattered, but in moments like those I often felt I’d rather not be privy to the ways of knowing of my field. I certainly was not a mind reader (she certainly is not) as strangers I met at parties sometimes seemed to fear, but like a telepath I did have clues to bits of others private thoughts that a non-psychologist was spared. I guessed I could never go back to being that, and my chest filled with regret.”

Where to start with this? How narcissistic is this? If a rock fell on her toe and it hurt, would her “special ways of knowing” help her realize telepathically that it hurt?

Her chest filled with regret?

I do get that strangers might fear her at parties.

Come on, how many women have sexually inappropriate things said to them from clueless horny men, often in positions of authority? Does it require “telepathy” and special “psychologist ways of knowing,” to identify? We all understand this and pretend to ignore it as a strategy. Recognizing this is nothing special. Sadly.

Sadly, I also completely get why her supervisor gave her a bunch of 2’s on a 1-5 Likert scale rating her performance. I wish she did.

Plus, I really didn’t know anyone believed anymore that schizophrenia’s origins came during the first year of life from “not achieving”… “basic trust and faith in the fact of (your) existence.” I thought the “schizophrenigenic” mother thing got debunked decades ago, when genetic and biochemical correlates to schizophrenia became clear. “Auditory Hallucinations result from the projection of the pathological introject of the mother.” It goes on and on. She is bogged down by psychoanalytic excess.

Plus if you want to be thought of as a caring therapist, you shouldn’t title your book, “Brooklyn Zoo,” implying your clients are animals, your colleagues zookeepers?

She is out of touch with her patients, too involved with herself and her ego, and too critical of allied professionals and colleagues, like other psychologists, psychiatrists, and clinical social workers, even recreational therapists for gosh sakes.

She lacked the experience or competence to write a meaningful book about a therapist’s perceptions. It frightens me when professional reviews say things like, “Want to know what your therapist is thinking? Read this book.”

This isn’t what your therapist is thinking, trust me on this. Bottom line, this book needs to be written by a better therapist, with more experience.

Someone should have protected her from publishing this.

“The Cure For Anything is Saltwater,” by Mary South

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Mary aboard her trawler Bossanovaimages (10)

The Cure For Anything Is Salt Water
by Mary South 

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I confess to having a weakness for non-fiction books about women who check out of their “normal” hum- drum lives, do interesting things, preferably on their own.
I admire this.
Mary South is an interesting woman who did an interesting thing, on her own. She up and quit her job because it was annoying her, and wasn’t working for her, and found a better life.
I’m always am in favor of this if it’s not working for you and you can do it.
Plus I did it, so I’m biased.
She said re: her job environment, “”I was in a contamination zone and I felt panicky about getting out.”
Many of us can relate?
Anyhoo, Mary quit her successful publishing job, took a tough nine week mariners course, met some really interesting people in the process, like a successful high powered attorney, with chronic insomnia, hypertension and a drinking problem who also chucked his job.
“Good for him,” I thought.
In the midst of this she bought a boat.
Your thinking sailing boat, I know, and maybe your thinking, “Oh I’m tired of all these lucky people who buy yachts and sail around the world. The oceans must be littered with all these unemployed people sailing around in them.”
Probably, really, not. Although it does seem like this, to me too.
Anyway, she didn’t buy a yacht. I had to look this up to get it right, she bought a motorized trawler.
Google it. .
She motored it with John from Florida to New York. He is the smart attorney she met in the mariner’s class, who chucked his job.
This trip is what the book is about mostly, but also her life and relationships.
She is interesting and writes well, for example, “The worst of the (storm) front just turned and wandered off, like an exhausted bully with attention deficit disorder.”
She is a person who wrote a memoir who I would actually like to meet and that is saying a lot. Many of these authors, I think, great memoir, probably don’t want to meet you. Augusten Burroughs comes to mind.
Love his books, a lot. Don’t want to meet him.
Anyway, she seems interesting and her book is good. Augusten’s are better….but she is probably a lot nicer.
Recommend if you are interested in this sort of thing.
It isn’t like climbing Mt Everest and being John Krakauer.
But then, what is?

Forgotten Antarctica Journals!

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My husband, Jim, handed me a travelogue he kept of our Antarctica trip in 2008. I had forgotten that we both had written trip journals and it is interesting to see a lot of the details I had forgotten. The following include excerpts of these travel journals that weren’t included in my prior post.

Day 1-2: Jim’s notes state that we cross the 400 mile Drake Passage with Beaufort force 3 winds. The Beaufort Scale winds range from force 1-12, and relate wind speed to observable effects on land and sea. Force 3 winds are gentle breezes that create wavelets that begin to break, causing whitecaps, i.e., easy-peasy seas.

We pass the Antarctic Convergence in the afternoon. This is a continuously circling body of water where cold Antarctic waters converge with warmer subantarctic waters, causing the colder water to sink, leading to upwelling where marine life is intensely prevalent, including pelagic birds such as several types of Albatross, and Skuas.*  The Antarctic convergence is the largest biological barrier on earth. Crossing the convergence marks entry into the Southern Ocean which has it’s own currents. We are entering the world’s largest wilderness, with the highest concentrations of wildlife on the planet. It is also the coldest, highest, windiest, iciest and least visited of all the continents i.e. PARADISE!

Map of Antarctica Convergence:
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Day 3- Reach Elephant Island part of the South Shetland Isands, that is named after resident elephant seals.  Along with the seals there are several species of penguins. Air & water temperature mid-day, 1 degree. Floating icebergs becoming impressive. Our naturalist explains that most of the bergs we are seeing now come from The Wedell Sea, via The Antarctic Sound. When we leave this area, we will be sailing on seas that will be covered in sea ice all winter.
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Day 4- Cross the Antarctic Sound enroute to the Esperanza Research Station run by Argentina. Winds are force 8, which is gale force, wind knots 34-40, waves 18-25 feet. Cannot attempt Esperanza due to conditions. By mid-afternoon, weather improves dramatically, captain sets course towards to Admiralty Bay on King George Island. We reach the Chilean and Polish Research Stations and visit with the Polish Scientists, who after many attempts board our ship for dinner. By now penguins are everywhere in the millions, Gentoo, Macaroni, Chinstrap and Adele. Later we will see Kings. The weather is excellent and the scenery magnificent. Sun sets at 1 am rises at 4 am.
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Day 5- Captain sets course south through The Branfields Strait. Continue southerly course. Navigate through the incredible Gerlach Strait. Force 3 winds, air temp 1 degree mid-day. Ice surrounds us everywhere. The ship, navigated by the ice pilot, seems to sail through ice not water. It is daunting. Growlers slam against the hull. We hold our breath when the ship approaches the larger ones, they bang along the hull making constant noise. 

Day 6- We head to the Neymayer Channel with incredible scenery, glaciers calving into the ocean, craggy cliffs, ice precipes and peaks, boundless untouched snow and ice, sea mammals, birds and penguins everywhere. They are friendly and approach. We see Wedell, Crabeater and Leopard Seals, Orca, Humpback and Minke whales.

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Growler

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Day 7- Course to Deception Island, a collapsed volcanic caldera. Deception Bay is stunning and the island is full of very smelly, very friendly penguins. The waters are warmed by volcanic process which also makes the island the most ice-free that we saw. You can take a dip if you choose. The water is a mixture of very hot and cold currents, moving in little riverlets around you. Weather this day was gray, foggy, and overcast.

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Day 8- Course north back through The Drake Passage. As we cross the convergence, the temperature rises to 7 degrees, the warmest in a week! Again we have smooth seas and the albatross are our friends. Enroute to the stunning Beagle Channel and Strait of Magellan.

Towards the end, we get our roughest weather yet, force 9 winds, 41-47 knots, waves 23-32 feet. Strong gale. Wow! It was spectacular and unforgiving. And then we are in the blissful Beagle Channel, through the straight of Magellan to Chile.

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We are going back in 2013, to Patagonia & The Beagle Channel. Less than 30,000 people are visiting Antarctica annually now.

* Note: we saw a similar fascinating upwelling phenomena crossing out of the Sargasso Sea which is essentially a large gyro, an ocean bounded and defined by currents. We sailed through the Canary Current where the upwelling attracted scores of Blue Whales, Pilot Whales, Orcas and other marine life, everywhere in incredible quantity! The Sargasso Sea itself seems desert like. Crossing it for eight days, we saw no animals, birds, or ships. Will write about this trip, that we did this year, in another post.