Friday, September 30, 2005

cell phones for safety

as i no longer am headed to The District this weekend, i have made other plans. [how very resilient i am...] since i am still mildly sick, i will hold off on sharing my plans until i return. no fears though. my mommy says i can go.

today's fun news:
semi-annually, i send out an email at my work soliciting unwanted cell phones. i started this two years ago and have collected phones twice before. i missed this spring, but sent my fall email out a week or so ago. over the 7-10 days following an email the phones appear and multiply like tribbles-- on my desk, in my mailbox, in the rounds room of whatever service i am on. after about 10 days or when my trunk is full, i head on down to The Body Shop and unload the phones for The Wireless Foundation. some of the phones are refurbished or sold and the money donated to stop domestic violence. many of the phones, after refurbishment, are given to victims of domestic violence so that, no matter where they are should an oppressor return, they can always call 911. this is especially important when a victim is first trying to leave an abuser:
-"65% of intimate homicide victims physically separated from the perpetrator prior to their death."
-"Separated/divorced women are 14 times more likely than married women to report having been a victim of violence by their spouse or ex-spouse."

today was drop day. the first time there were ~130 phones. each time since, i end up with about 80 phones. so. my little emails and the generosity and mindfulness of my co-workers have led to repurposement of ~290 phones for victims of domestic violence. it is amazing how much we can do with so little effort when we work together as a community.

leaves me humbled and smiley.

for more information on domestic violence, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is a good place to start.

for help escaping a violent situation, call 911 or go to your nearest Safe Place to escape an immediately dangerous situation and then contact NCADV for resources.

if you would like to mount a cell phone campaign of your own but need a little more guidance (or would like to be a little more sophisticated than me), click here to visit the Body Shop's cell phone campaign page.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Estes in fog

well, i am officially sick. i am all sniffley with a sore throat and my eyes burn like the villians looking on in Raiders of the Lost Ark. that aside, life is fine.

personal stuff is still a mess. no shocker there. but last night i found myself reminding someone else that life is messy. if we wait for things to be tidy, there would be no living. as the words fell out my mouth, i found myself surprised into remembering that this is something i know. something that applies to me as much as anyone. jeesh. i guess this is why we have friends to help--helping them helps us remember to help ourselves.

was true to my resolution in the last blog and got back into the wilderness. as Saturday was National Parks Day, did trail work with the Forest Service on a heavily used local trail. met some cool people, but it wasn't exactly space. convinced one of my trail crew, Aaron, to get up scary early Sunday and go hiking again. after great debate Saturday night, we decided to head to Rocky Mountain and hike along the Mummy Range. i generally hate hiking in RMNP but it is after Labor Day, which helps a lot with the gawping tourists. although i was hoping for something in the 10-12 mile range, weather conspired to make that unwise.

Estes in fog
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
the morning started syrupy thick with fog. it was an incredible experience to drive up above the fog demarcation and see the actual interface at eye level as we continued to gain elevation. after watching two elk spar for cows, we cruised up Old Fall Creek Road and settled on the Chapin Creek trailhead, elevation 11,000ft. instead of cruising down along the creek, we took the upper fork and wound on a social trail along unstable talus below the summit of Mount Chapin. the trail is located in the middle of the windstream through the saddle between Chapin and Chiquita so the entire trip in we were buffeted by strong winds pushing us and our packs into the slope.

eventually we curved around to the saddle, elevation 12,000ft. the wind was unreal but the view spectacular. we were able to curl up behind an almost non-existent hillock to escape 'the worst of the effects of the fresh air'*. after a break soaking up the stunning view, we girded ourselves against the wind and continued on up the other side of the saddle to summit Mount Chiquita, elevation 13,069ft. here we rewarded ourselves, resting behind a stone windbreak, with Snickers bars and beef jerky. the clouds were pretty active by this point and had some gray in them so we elected to be safe and save Mount Ypsilon for another day.

on the descent we stopped to watch a chubby little pika skitter under rocks. at the saddle we took the late split to the lower trail, avoiding the talus on the return, and enjoyed the lush beauty of a meadow, thick with elk and deer sign.

overall, close to six miles hiking with more than 2,000 feet elevation gain and loss. not as long as i would have liked, but plenty for a lazy Sunday.

the downside of the trip was that we had to come back via Trail Ridge road. this of course led to ridiculous traffic snarls as idiots stopped their cars in the road to gawk at elk. we stopped to say hello to the marmots but were disappointed as they were not out to play. tourists were, though, continuing to amaze me with their irresponsibility-choosing to walk outside the six foot wide gravel trail on fragile alpine tundra in spite of the numerous signs explaining how it takes 10 years for tundra to heal from one person's footprints. because there is really a need to walk eight people abreast up there. grr. this is why i avoid RMNP- if i keep going, eventually i will throttle someone.

ah well. overall it was spectacular.

*Ivor Cutler lyrics, of course.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

magic bullet

i would give everything i own if i could find a way to no longer experience hope. some would argue that to live without hope is to walk dead among the living. these people inevitably have significant others, close friends with free time, and dogs. realistically, they don't know jack about despair, about unendingly aloneness, about the crushing pain that comes everytime one trusts that perhaps finally things will be different. to whit, the life of the token single.

this is why contentment comes only in the wilderness, where all is quiet aloneness and i do not feel so very very outside of humanity. unfortunately, i have again returned to civilization, to isolation and to the dead weight freefall that comes from trusting someone that i would be enough. again i have returned to find myself self-castigating, 'how is it possible? how is it that again i have been so stupid? it is that thing-that stupid, malicious thing-hope; hope has become my undoing again.'


reply i got:
"you dope. you're more than enough. i had a crush on you the first time i set eyes on you. but i was chaff. you're seriously an *amazing* person. you deserve all the happiness that life can deliver. now take off Yoshimi and put on some Brazilian Girls -- not for forever, just for today. listen to some Kate Rusby, or Eliza Carthy's "Angels and Cigarettes."

you're much too much for despair."


so thanks for that, whoever left it.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

another well-spent week

the end
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
a lot has happened since i returned from playing with meese.

this week i was on clinics, covering a sister service so the facultyperson who runs it could get a needed break. although similar to my specialty, things are different enough from both medical and logistical viewpoints that it was a bit disorienting. Thursday, though, things drifted into a field that is much more familiar.

the hospital director received a call from a nearby humane society shelter requesting aid. they had taken in a substantial number of Katrina evacuee dogs that needed evaluations for development of treatment plans. given my previous work in disaster response, it seemed an excellent opportunity to give back. so i collected a number of students and another doctor, and we all trundled off in a large van to do what we could. as this information was received rather late and we had appointments to reschedule, we were unable to be there until 4:30pm. even working solid, we only made it halfway through the dogs before needing to return to the fort. given i had started at the hospital at 7am, getting home at 9:15pm made for a rather long day! we discussed the matter Friday morning and arranged to return earlier in the day to finish the evaluations. it was long work but rewarding in the end as we identified a number of problems that could be corrected with treatment.

it was only 8ish when i got in Friday night, early comparatively but not considering i had to rise at 4am Saturday to embark on my seed collection trip! all of my packing had yet to be completed as i had not anticipated the disaster work. additionally, i received an email requesting aid for another shelter for the coming week. it was a harried night of packing and recruitment emails and general housekeeping but somehow the work all got done.

Saturday morning, i awoke regretting the impending trip. originally the trip was to be a weekend project with camping but, in the midst of the disaster commute, i received word that it was to be truncated to one day. had i not been driving an extralong van and responsible for so many lives, i probably would have thought it through and cancelled-3 hours each way is a bit much for 8 hours volunteer work! but i hadn't time to think until it was too late so there i was, up and already exhausted, loading my gear into the car for a long drive before sunrise.

the drive was quite soothing as there were few people about and the sunrise was glorious. by the time i passed the Frank Lloyd Wright house, i was in a much better mood. by the time i made the trailhead for Quandary Peak, i was quite chipper as Esther had performed so favorably in spite of her advanced mileage and the elevation. [Go Esther!]

everyone in the group was nice and interesting, diverse and yet united by purpose. in addition, although we were primarily working in seed collection, there was plenty of opportunity to work with my new best friend from previous trail work, the McLeod.

also learned a new joke: What's the difference between McJagger and a Scotsman?

--McJagger says, "Hey, you, get off of my cloud."
--the Scotsman says, "Hey, McCloud, get off of my ewe."

the day was glorious and the mountain stunning. near the end of the day, the trip upgraded to 'successful hike' status, as defined by close encounter with local wildlife. while collecting seed on a sunny knoll, i was stumbled upon by roughly seven head of deer. there were about five does and two calves. the closest doe was a mere 20 feet away when she round a curve coming down the slope and spotted me. it was simultaneously humbling and humorous to watch all that majesty clatter about on the rocks.

after a beer in town with the group, i settled into Esther for the drive back. my eyes were scratchy from dust and my face too warm from the sun. i anticipated the trip would be hideous and was trying not to think about it. i had only made it a little way beyond Eisenhower Pass when i realized my concerns were completely unfounded.

sure i was 'walking dead' tired from the work and the week and the sun and the dust. but i was also deliriously happy in a quietly content way, as i get after soaking up 'nature'. the air was clear, the traffic relatively sparse. i rounded a bend to find the fat, indolent full moon hefting its pneumatic curves to rest on the ridge before me. all the drive down the mountain, the moon and i played a lazy game of tag.

'it could not get any better,' i thought with big spacious joy as i rolled out from the foothills into the last half of my trip. then, from quite a distance as the plain are so very very flat, i was surprised by a spectacular and ongoing fireworks show to the north and east of the highway. the show continued 30 minutes as i approached and finally passed it.

home i rolled and into bed, exhausted but grateful for this precious gift of a day. how luxurious it is to just stop. stop worrying about all the petty little nothings that fill a day. stop rushing and gnashing and trying. stopping to just watch and do and breathe.

Monday, September 12, 2005


moose butt
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
it has been a busy week of work interspersed with hiking. Tuesday i went to Comanche Wilderness with a friend and enjoyed a delightful 10 mile day hike. sadly, we were turned back 0.4 miles from the lake by a thunderstorm. the icy rain chased us all five miles down, speckling our skin and clothes with 'cold measles' against the radiant warmth created by crystal clear sunshine on our necks and arms. it was extraordinary and magical to look up into the too perfect sky and feel the raindrops come out of nowhere to strike my face.

yesterday i continued my extravaganza- enjoying the hard labor of volunteer trail maintenance. the day started magically with sighting of this spectacular beast just before Cameron Pass. the wind cut bitingly as i braced at the pass for this shot. it was much warmer where we worked in State Forest State Park. the first 6 1/2 hours were fun enough but the last 30 minutes felt hateful as our muscles bonked. the group agreed that before next we go we should practice some songs for our 'chain gang' to help raise our spirits when carb depletion hits.

this week i am back on clinics but next weekend i will be performing seed collection on Quandary Peak. wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

top shelf

further evidence why the Christies are the bestest kindest most wonderful people in the whole world:
"I have a quick kitty question. Another cat has appeared in our back yard that appears much larger than kitty and likely older. Could be mom or dad (haven't looked too closely!). Do vets conduct any sort of DNA tests? I thought about hauling them both into our vet and see if they could match them genetically. I don't want to separate a family, and if they are related, we'll need to find a way to reunite them."

and also:
"That's our Kel! Here's an article that appeared yesterday in the Business Week online site describing the actions b-schools are taking in response to Katrina. Kel is quoted in the underline section, and is the ONLY school official cited in the entire article!

I am so proud!!!"

nuff said.

Monday, September 05, 2005

welcome to my center

here little fella
Originally uploaded by jacquichris.
as promised, Sunday was a full day of hunting at Rawah wilderness. we hiked a different trail this time and put in 8.5 miles with about 1500 elevation gain and loss. it was a spectacular, blustery day well-suited to the somewhat otherworldly landscape of the Link trail.

on our previous hiking on the McIntyre trail, we encountered a few elk, a ragged coyote and a family of frolicking beavers. we also came across too fresh bear scat which encourage a slight route change.

luck was with me again on the Link trail, and we saw no deer though plenty of deer sign. the high point though occurred as we were resting on a summit rock, enjoying lunch.

after a few unseemly squawks of decreasing distance, we were happened upon by an elk cow and her calf. the calf we did not see, for it was hidden behind her in the brush. but momma came within 10 yards of us before the wind shifted and she caught our scent. it was amazing. unfortunately, the trees were too dense to capture her on film so you will have to trust me as to her beauty and profound enormity.

it was a wonderful day overall. after we wrapped up the hike we cruised north past the Hohnholz Lakes and into Woods Landing for a beer and some local color. finally we meandered back via Laramie which brought a treat as i had not seen free antelope before. i actually did not realize they still ranged loose on the prairie. they were gorgeous, though the word is annoying because of their want to destroy fences when they scrabble under them, and i got an excellent shot of a regal buck.

the full trip is located here for your enjoyment.

today i changed plans. although i originally intended to climb Long's Peak, i felt uncomfortable with both the crowds anticipated and the lack of a person experienced with the trail as climbers are occasionally killed on this well-marked trip, either by lightning or when ripped by wind from the mountain at points of exposure.

instead, i opted to get some work done in the lab and thus have fodder for my next post on key lessons in the life of a lab rat. stay tuned!

Saturday, September 03, 2005


today i have spent recovering from 'hunting' with a friend. he had a late season high altitude deer tag and i had a desperate need to leave town and clear my head. so Thursday we took off shortly after i finished teaching.

i know there are those who think you know me who are shocked or appalled or both. the way i see it is--if you aren't vegetarian, you shouldn't have a problem with hunting (for meat). although i strongly hoped we wouldn't find anything Dennis was allowed to kill, i figured i had no business eating meat if i had a problem with him shooting something.

happily, my beliefs were not tested. although we encountered much wildlife, no deer were seen [photos to follow].

by the GPS, we logged 18 miles in under 24 hours. by my calves, we logged more. and by my soul, we logged enough that suddenly breathing didn't feel like sawing with my flesh against a sharp metal vise.

today i have spent recovering.

tomorrow is the end of deer season it turns out so i leave before the break of dawn for another day of [hopefully unsuccessful] hunting. after which i will either have time to edit and post pictures of baby beavers from yesterday or will be summitting Long's Peak. we'll see how things go.

with love from the frontiers-