Sunday, May 25, 2008

We weren't planning to see the top of Nevada Falls this year.

We felt accomplished to have made it to the top of Vernal Falls. On the last, arduous stretch of that climb, both Cam and I remembered there there was another path that would take us back down to the footbridge.

Since we expected this different way would be dry and hoped it would be less crowded, we proposed this idea to Jim and Liz who agreed those characteristics would be good.

After resting and refueling, Cam took Jim up to a nearby bridge for a better look at Nevada Falls while Sam, Liz and I relaxed by the silver apron.

(I just read that the Silver Apron is at 5100 feet and the starting elevation for this hike is 4200 feet. At this point, we'd already climbed 900 feet.)

When they came back for us, we were ready to head down but we ended up climbing quite a bit more before we were able to go down via the John Muir trail.

Cam's blog says we climbed 1500 feet. In truth, there were a few dis-
couraging moments on the last few hundred feet of climbing when we wondered what we'd led our guests into and were putting them through but; eventually, we made it to the top of and really did start our descent.

I hadn't expected to come across snow blocking the trail but on a few occasions, we did. This made things interesting and again, more strenuous than anticipated.

We were all relieved when we returned to the footbridge and forged the rest of the way down to the bus that took us back to our vehicle, our lovely rooms and a delicious dinner at Tenaya Lodge.

As much as I love camping, I was happy to be able to shower, enjoy a meal by candlelight (rather than firelight) and rest in a bed that evening. Thanks again, Jim and Liz.

This Flickr set has more photos of our hike "down" from the top of Vernal Falls

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vernal Falls Mist Trail - April 2008

We felt like we'd accomp-
lished a lot by the time we made it to the footbridge. There was some discussion of stopping but our hike to the top last year was so amazing and the end was in sight.

We suggested stopping for lunch, resting in the shade, refreshing ourselves and then seeing how we felt.

After the rest, we decided we would start up the trail, saying we could stop and turn around at anytime.

Once we started though, the thought of turning around wasn't as simple as we'd expected.

The stairs were steep, slippery and crowded.

The spray seemed to impede us a bit and presented more of a challenge than the joyous mist I remembered from a year ago.

We knew that the top would provide a wondrous view an place to recuperate and rest again.

So, we forged on.

Finally, we made it.

I appreciate Jim and Liz being such good sports and amazing adventurers.

This Flickr set has more photos of our climb to the top of Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail.

Your Voice Can Change the World

This morning, in my in box, there was a message from the Barack Obama campaign asking me to share my thoughts for the future. I was honored and appreciate them asking. I know they asked all of us but that they are interested in hearing from everyone is what makes it so cool.

After I hit submit, the following video played. I found it moving.

Especially the part at the end where he says, "Your voice can change the world." Since I've been speaking up, trying lately, it meant a lot. I hope it inspires you too.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dear Mayor Newsom

First, I want to thank you for all of the socially conscious programs and initiatives you have put into place. I am proud to have been able to show care, compassion, humanity and offer a glimmer of hope to people who are homeless as a volunteer with Project Homeless Connect. It was gratifying to be involved in beautifying San Francisco by participating in Project Green Connect. While growing up in small towns in the Midwest, I used to dream of the day I would come to live in San Francisco and be part of a community of progressive, forward-thinking, open-minded, peaceful, loving citizens – part of a cultural revolution. (photo credit)

Here, I found work as a child advocate. How amazing. I am honored to be part of an organization that recruits our citizens and trains them to be advocates for children who are dependents of the city and county.

In addition to thanking you, I wanted to tell you a story about one of the children I work with. I wanted to tell you about a teen boy who lives at Edgewood. When he was born, his mother was just fourteen-years-old, a child herself. She was not adequately prepared to care for him. While in her care, before the age of two, he sustained injuries so severe that he is permanently deaf in one ear. Since being removed from her care, he has been placed with a long list of relative and non-relative caregivers, many of whom have struggled to care for him properly. Most have fallen short.

When the place that had been his home when he was eleven and twelve years old decided they could not meet his needs, he was fortunate to have been taken in by and found a home at Edgewood. He arrived just after the first of the year, just before his thirteenth birthday. At Edgewood, he is thriving.

I have much admiration and respect for the professional who dedicate their lives to nurturing, protecting and sheltering some of our most vulnerable youth. The staff at Edgewood has been part of creating positive outcomes for many of them. Last fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Ken Epstein, director of programming at Edgewood. His belief that people are born with possibility and his determination to turn hopelessness into hope was inspiring to me. I hope it will be to you too.

Please let the staff at Edgewood continue to serve our youth. Please let them continue to serve this boy. He doesn’t need to be displaced again. He doesn’t deserve to be displaced again.

Thank you for your consideration.

Write the mayor yourself.

Some hope...

More than 20 days after natural disaster struck Myanmar, there is a glimmer of hope that the humanitarian tragedy the world has been watching, suffering people being denied available aide, may be coming to an end.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on a mission to open Myanmar to international disaster assistance, said the ruling junta agreed Friday to allow "all aid workers" into the country to help cyclone survivors.

I was uplifted after reading about people like dissident comedian U Thura and other volunteers who have been lugging relief goods into remote villages in the Irrawaddy Delta over the past two weeks.

That story and this photo have me singing Rhianna's Umbrella song.

You have my heart and we'll never be world's apart... When you need me there, with you, I'll always share.

Because when the sun shines, we shine together. Told you I'll be here forever. Said I'll always be your friend. Took an oath, I'm gonna stick it out 'till the end.

Now that it's raining more than ever, know that we'll still have each other.

You can stand under my umbrella.

You can stand under my umbrella.

When the world has dealt it's cards, if the hand is hard, together we'll mend your heart...

You can stand under my umbrella.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Made it to the footbridge.

Our first morning in Yosemite, we started hiking towards the top of Vernal Falls.

Being back there a year after our last trip brought back lots of memories.

This Flickr set has photos of our trek to the footbridge.

More to come...

Father and Son - Yosemite April '08

To celebrate Cam's birthday and their anniversary, Jim and Liz came to Northern California for a visit at the end of April.

The first day we were together, we drove to Yosemite. After checking into Tenaya Lodge, we stretched our legs by walking around Wawona Meadow then shared a meal at the Wawona Hotel. The frogs in the fountain in front of the hotel were croaking loudly when we left.

Follow this link for more photos of our hike.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Beach & the Woods by Sam Engle

To: Mary & Cameron

We enjoy the mysterious woods and the beautiful beach.

We see a lot of the bountiful nature we love.

We greet nature in a kind manner. Then, we walk away on a bright hike.

We hike down to the beach. We walk together on the bright, hot sand.

We all love each other so very much. We are family.

By: Sam

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

You can help protect polar bears today.

It is overwhelming to watch the disasters unfolding in Asia and easy to feel powerless, unable to help the victims. Today, prompted by Barack Obama's campaign I gave $25 to the American Red Cross (and another $25 to his campaign). Last weekend, we purchased mother's day roses for my mother and maternal grandmother, making a significant donation to Save the Children but we only have so much money. (photo credit)

I was happy to learn about something I can do, something you can do, to help our world, to help polar bears, that doesn't cost a thing. Please join me in signing the We Campaign's petition to put polar bears on the federal Endangered Species list.

The Bush Administration has until May 15 to decide whether to place the polar bear on the Endangered Species list. Tell Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne that the polar bear, and its fragile Arctic habitat, requires protection from the effects of global warming. Sign the petition today.
(photo credit)

While you're at it, sign the petition for a global treaty on climate change.

The We Campaign is an effort launched by Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection to promote solutions to the climate crisis. It's an urgent issue, but the climate crisis is also solvable if we work together and unite our leaders around solutions like renewable power and enhanced energy efficiency. We can leave the next generation a healthy climate.

Solutions to global warming exist. Calling on leaders to make them happen.
Join We.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

It has been a happy Mother's Day weekend.

Yesterday, Cam, Sam and I thoroughly enjoyed being part of Pangea Day and exploring the city. I like Cam's idea of celebrating Mother's Day Eve. Bearded Papa's pop-overs are all that. Next time, Liz.

This morning, I was proud of my CASA kid for being able to buy the thing we've been saving for for almost three months. He paid for about half of it with his own money.

Then, when I came home, I was touched by the beautiful gift Sam made for me (see right) as well as the newly vacuumed floors, clean laundry, homemade chili, cornbread muffins and fresh berries.

Thanks, Guys. You're the best.

wards, we got some exercise and fresh air by hiking to Tennessee Valley Beach. On the way, we enjoyed bird calls, wild flowers and made clover bracelets. Then, per his request, we took Sam to get a buzz cut and shared dinner outdoors. Cam and I had fish tacos with assorted salsas while Sam had Quiche Lorianne.

And Hilary Clinton seems to finally be losing.
Who could ask for more?
I hope your Mother's Day has been happy too.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What I want for Mother's Day.

I woke up this morning at 4am feeling rested enough to face the day. Seeing an opportunity to steal an hour or two for myself, I decided to get out of bed and get online. I thought I'd post photos of our recent trip to Yosemite or read up on the latest election news.

Instead, another link caught my eye. It said, 10 million children worldwide die from lack of health care. I read the article and learned:

Use of existing, low-cost tools and knowledge could save more than 6 million of the 9.7 million children who die yearly from easily preventable or curable causes, the report said.

They include antibiotics that cost less than $0.30 to treat pneumonia, the top killer of children under 5, and oral rehydration therapy — a simple solution of salt, sugar and potassium — for diarrhea, the second top killer.

I was compelled to visit the website for Save the Children, the organization that was the source of this news and information, to learn more.

There, I learned about their response to the deadly cyclone in Myanmar.

Their article said the death toll could reach 10,000.

This morning, I read other reports that say the death toll soars above 22,000.

(photo credit)

This news and information is truly mind-blowing.

I felt powerless and ignorant at the thought that I couldn't even find Myanmar on a map.

I now know it is near Bangladesh, where in mid-November 3,000 people died from what was called the worst cyclone in a decade.

Save the Children is helping there too. (photo credit)

I read about five of their other current emergency responses and started to feel discouraged.

I wanted to go back to bed or just turn off the computer. I can maybe give a little but lately, I've been giving to Barack Obama's campaign with the hope of getting a president who seems genuinely committed to facing real atrocities. (photo credit)

When I explained to someone recently that the shirt I was wearing was part of the Product (Red) Campaign, they responded that they prefer for their money to stay in the United States.

This mindset is difficult for me when I know children are dying elsewhere but we have plenty of need here too. (photo credit)

Just yesterday, I read that kids who are dependent's of the city of San Francisco, may have to leave Edgewood, one of the best (and only) treatment facilities we have for troubled youth in our city, by June 30th, if funds aren't found. One of the kids on my caseload was moved there just after the first of the year, just before his 13th birthday. He's doing well now. Thriving. What will happen to him?

I don't pretend to have the answers but do want to keep bringing the issues to light in conversation. Thinking about these things reminds me of a quote I read on my cousin Ariel's boyfriend's MySpace page last night. (photo credit)

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems. - Gandhi (I just asked Jac to be my friend.)

So what are we capable of doing?

Most of us are capable of buying a present for our mom.

This Mother's Day, give a gift that inspires hope.

Honor your mom by sending her a beautiful rose plant or a bracelet that was handmade by Navajo Native Americans
and support Save the Children's mission to help children in need in the United States and around the world. Or forget the stuff and make a gift donation.

If you really can't afford to donate any money (I've been in that boat too.), find a way to volunteer. Save the Children. Edgewood. United Way. American Red Cross. Peace Corps. CASA.

Thanks for thinking about your ability to create change. Yes we can.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Work Peeps

In March, CASA had its annual fund raising luncheon. It was moving. I am proud to be affiliated with such a meaningful and worthwhile organization. Making sure our kids are looked out for and partnering with others who volunteer as child advocates is incredibly rewarding.

I've learned a lot from Maya and Libby. Check out this Flickr set for photos of some of my other co-workers.

Kristie and Heather visited us

Last March, on two different weekends, we were visited by two of Cam's friends from grad school.

While I was working and Sam was at school, Cam spent a Friday showing Kristie and her friend, Jamie around Marin. I thought there were some cool photos of their adventures that Cam hadn't posted so I created this Flickr set.

The following weekend, Heather was here.

This Flickr set has my favorite photos of our trip to Rodeo Beach to watch the sunset.

Kristie and Heather are both beautiful, lovely, intelligent, talented, successful and fun.

I'm glad they took some time out of their busy lives to spend with us.

Fish tacos and shadows

Over a month ago, Cam decided to make fish tacos for dinner.

They were lovely and delicious.

We also had fun taking photos of the shadows the early evening light projected on the walls.

This Flickr set has a few more shots from that evening.

Muir Beach Fire

One Friday, last month, Cam proposed we spend the night around a fire at Muir Beach.

We didn't take a lot of pictures but did have a lovely time. I wanted to share this Flickr set with you.

Thanks for making it happen, Cam.