Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Floating on the river, firewood, biking, and other great ways to feel good and connected to nature

My windshield wipers couldn't keep up when I drove the kids to school this morning.  Dark, pissing buckets, and urgent need for coffee characterize January days in the Pacific Northwest, especially where we live: butted up against tall mountains, where the clouds get trapped and dump their load.

So when the weather turned unseasonably warm and sunny for a few days last week, we took full advantage of it: Namely, splitting and stacking firewood, getting urgently-needed exercise on the bike so we are not as terribly bitchy as some of us have been so we live longer, and rafting the Sauk River.

First things first: Rafting the river.  

Our kids are part of the Glacier Peak Institute (GPI), a local organization who in their own words "empowers youth, community and ecosystems to prosper and cultivate a shared resilient future through action-based education".  What this means is that they take kids out (for free) into nature, hiking, biking, rafting, and working outside.

They offer curriculum-based activities, after-school programs and summer programs.  Again, it's all free, it's awesome, and you should totally check them out if you are local.

On Martin Luther King Day, we joined the GPI and Sauk-Suiattle Natural Resources people to help them count eagles on the Sauk River.  Our whole family saw eagles, got wet in some rapids, and enjoyed a great day on the river. 

We really needed this down time in nature.  These past two months have been so intense, with friends passing away from cancer, other close friends being diagnosed with other serious illnesses, tragedies happening in our community, and dealing with head lice.

Yes, head lice.  As I've been learning, this is actually quite common at the public school the kids go to.  Now, I have said before that I admire lots of the teachers and their care and dedication for the kids in our community.  But when I called the school in horror after discovering we had lice, they said it's super common at the school.  I was pretty upset because I knew that some of our kids' friends had head lice two weeks earlier, but none of the parents were notified by the school.

Knowing that there are parents in our school district who can't properly feed their kids, or wash their clothes, let alone be vigilant about lice, I can see how the kids just re-infect each other constantly.

This thought and all the laundry, vigilance and stress is burning me out right now.

When this amount of stress hits, there are few things that help me as well as exercise does.  In this weather, I'm not getting enough of it, but when the sun came out, I hopped on my bike for a two-hour ride.  And when I was done, I was actually smiling.  Itchy head and all.

If you want me to write a blog post about how to treat head lice naturally, let me know in the comments.  The over-the-counter chemical stuff doesn't work well, because the critters built up resistance to it.

Another great way to get exercise around here is splitting, hauling and stacking firewood.  We are clearing a small patch of our land to build a small cabin.  This means cutting hemlock and alders, and since we heat our house exclusively with wood, it also ensures years of a warm house.

The boys are involved with this firewood work, and so am I.  Who needs a gym if you have to deal with firewood?

Other ways for me personally to stay healthy involve spinning and knitting, since this makes me happy.  I'm starting a project called "From Sheep to Sweater", and you can follow it on my Patron-only site here.

I started with white wool and hand painted it, which is a fancy way of dyeing.  Now I'm in the process of spinning it into yarn, and after that's done, I'll knit a sweater with it.

You can see a taste of the process on a Facebook live I did to demonstrate it.

Okay, wrapping up here, I'll show you a few more things that happened this week:

First, I'm on the front page of the Concrete Herald, our local newspaper.  Fun, eh?  It's me and my fellow homesteading blogger Melissa, and the article is about how we both teach self-sufficiency and resiliency.  It's fun how the article goes into some explanation of my life coaching, since that's part of being resilient. 

Next, there's still a lot of brewing going on at our house.  Steve just started making ginger mead, settling in nicely next to the wood stove.  And I keep making Kombucha, fermenting it a second time with juice and ginger for extra fizz and zing.  I'll teach you how to do this here.

I'll leave you with a picture of me trying to do yoga.  It's hard around here, since either the little fluffy dog wants to perch on top of me or the big dog wants to do downward dog with me on the mat.

Have a great week! Watch out for an email very soon for an exciting announcement!


  1. I didn’t realize that you spun!! This is definitely something I want to learn. We have a wonderful fiber festival here in Maine every year and watching those ladies spin inspires me. I can’t wait for From Sheep to Sweater on the patron site.

    1. Yes, I'll put on some movies of the process on the Patreon site!

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  3. Excursion by walking particularly in Oman on sweets, mountains, shorelines and towns mirrors the audacious movement of Oman trekking which is getting to be prevalent among travelers. ub-cool


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