A couple of pics from my Tuesday Pilot Butte hike

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A couple of pics from my Tuesday Pilot Butte hike:

Pale pink desert wildflower, with white wildflowers

Desert wildflowers, Pilot Butte

Bush with red berries, growing in cinders

This bush with red berries on Pilot Butte looks like it’s growing right out of the cinders

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Soaked on Pilot Butte

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Pilot Butte Thunderstorm Sunset #1

Pilot Butte Thunderstorm Sunset #1

We’ve had some magnificent thunderheads and thunderstorms recently. This afternoon, I sat on the back porch reading {Any Day Now, Terry Bisson}, with 4 out of 5 kitties sprawled around. My left ear began to throb, which it’s been doing a lot lately. A few minutes later, I heard the first thunder. We watched and listened as the day grew darker and the angry sky louder. All in all it wasn’t a terribly dramatic thunderstorm—just long. Finally, it rained a bit, and we came in off the porch.

Pilot Butte Thunderstorm Sunset #2

Pilot Butte Thunderstorm Sunset #2

Later, it cleared up and I thought we were done for the day, so about 8:30p I started climbing the butte. On the way up, I took these photos with my phone. By the time I got to the top, the clouds had moved in. On my way back down, it started to pour. Good thing it was still very warm out, because I got soaked; It was kind of fun. It wouldn’t have been so fun if there had been much thunder and lightning, though. I thought of that as I hurried down the trail with my metal water bottle and iPod.

Nothing compares to the damp permeating odor of wet juniper and sage. Part urine, part perfume: I can never decide if it’s a smell that I actually enjoy. Colors intensify and juniper berries do sparkle in the rain—that I know I like.

A day of volunteering for the family; Alive on Pilot Butte

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The 3rd busy day in a row, but so worth it.

Today, my older step-daughter did her 2nd volunteer stint at the community theater and officially made “crew” for the kids production coming up next week. Which will mean she needs to be at the theater for several hours Monday through Thursday evenings this week. She’s meeting some interesting people and is excited about it, which is great to see in a newly minted 16-year-old.

The rest of us went to Equine Outreach. It was my hubby and younger step-daughter’s first time. This time we made it through a very long orientation in 90 degree weather (what a difference a month makes in Central Oregon), much of it in the direct sun, and then stayed to do our first volunteer stint: “picking” pens, i.e., shoveling shit. It was fun. Really! Since none of us have much horse experience, we started off with the friendliest of the bunch, cleaning the miniature donkey pen and then the pen of their horse neighbors. We can’t wait to go back and get to know the horses (and the donkeys) better. I got to see my buddy, River, from last time. He came over to sniff me and seemed slightly peeved that I hadn’t brought snacks this time.

Pilot Butte Sunset July 7, 2012

Pilot Butte Sunset, July 7, 2012

Afterwards, we had a long, lazy afternoon of picking up a few groceries, waffle making (somebody was trying out their new birthday waffle maker), reading, playing (water balloons! —well, the twins anyway), and napping. I then left about 8:45 to go walk Pilot Butte. Evenings after a hot day are magnificent up there. The air feels alive, almost as if it has arms that are enveloping you in a soft, liquid embrace. A vibrant silence surrounds you as you float above the city with the jackrabbits and the lizards, the rabbit brush and the wildflowers.

And now I’m blessed with a quiet house—everyone else but the animals long gone to bed. It’s 80 degrees in here. In spite of this, I’m trying to make bread because we’re out and have been for days. The dough turned out strangely because of the heat, or maybe because it’s been awhile since I last made dough, but that’s OK.

Once it’s done, I’ll retire upstairs to read and enjoy these last few precious moments of a good day.

Do the animals of Pilot Butte sleep with one eye open?

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A good Friday. Worked, then met some friends for lunch. We had vegan pancakes at a local Mexican place—they were really good and very filling, and it was a nice, mellow break. Worked some more, started a poster for our Forks Over Knives showing next month, then hiked Pilot Butte in the near darkness. I started around 7:40 and had it mostly to myself, except for a couple of people and the owls, ravens, mountain lions, bobcats, deer, rodents, insects, and … OK, I don’t know if there are any cats that live on the butte. But they’re around nearby, so who knows?

Interesting that it never seems to get completely dark on the butte. It’s illuminated on all sides by bright city lights. Today, Bend High to the Southwest was having a football game and the stadium lights really lit up that side. I could also hear the Star Mangled Banner pretty well and the roar of the crowd and I could almost make out the players.

I wonder what it’s like for the animals that live on Pilot Butte? Slowly, over time, their once dark and quiet volcano has pounded and echoed with the footsteps and voices of thousands, maybe millions of human animals, and their automobiles. The once midnight darkness has become a permanent twilight. Does it make them uneasy? Do they sleep with one eye open? Or have they adapted, just like we have, to the crowded neighborhoods of our modern world?

Circling back to homebody: family, bread, and Pilot Butte

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This week and last I’ve tried to circle back and concentrate on family, spending quite a bit less time on the radio show and other events in the evenings. My radio co-host is out-of-town, and we just finished a show, so that helps a little, but I need to find a way to strike a balance when it gets busy again too. The last two weeks with extra work and radio commitments colliding produced disastrous results, so this is a good time to step back and regroup.

An update on the breadmaking: We’re still going strong. We’ve made bread every day for the last week. We can get by making up the dough every other day and then baking one loaf a night. The cheap baking stone is working great and we’re getting by just fine without an oven thermometer. I now have Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day out from the library as well ( I ♥ our library). I’m going to figure out the cost per loaf the next time we buy flour. We should be saving quite a bit, but then again we’re buying organic flours and also eating more bread than normal. (Ordinarily, if we run out of bread between paychecks, then we have to substitute other things.) It’s been fun, though, so even if we’re not saving all that much, it’s worth it. And the convenience of always having various breads available is great. I still can’t believe that I had never tried this easy way to make bread before. I’m going to have to find the podcast I was listening to that mentioned the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book and thank them. And then maybe mention the book in our next episode to pass it on. Most of the breads are already vegan, so it’s a natural fit for our Vegan Bite recipe segment.

The kids and I are back in our Pilot Butte habit again. My step-son and I have just gone 4 times in a row (every other day) and the girls 3 of those times. Ruby didn’t get to go the last few times, as she’s ripped a pad the last two times we walked the Butte. I don’t know if it’s the hot sand of the trail, or just tender paws from winter, but she also seemed extra tired both times as well. She‘s been so bummed out that she doesn’t get to go with! But I’m going to take it easy with her and only go on walks around the neighborhood for a while.

We’re already starting to take less time up and back—it’s a good free workout that is so much more challenging than walking around the neighborhood. I’m waiting for all of the kids to catch up to my fitness level, but it won’t be long. Even though it’s a high desert landscape, with lots of sage, junipers, and desert wildflowers, and very popular with people, there is plenty of wildlife. In the last week we’ve seen deer, lizards, chipmunks (or ground squirrels) and many bird species, including nuthatches, jays, robins, and sparrows. I’ve seen gray jays, ravens and birds of prey in the past. We even saw a nuthatch feeding a very noisy full-size baby the other day. And there are probably mountain lions, as they are seen once in a while in the surrounding area. So if we don’t come back one day… 😉