Backpacking to Bee Branch Canyon

By now I’ve hiked most of the trails of the Sipsey Wilderness. As a kid, my parents took me deep into the heart of the Sipsey to Bee Branch Canyon. I’ve always vowed to go back, but until a few weeks ago I never could quite get there. There has always been some extraordinary reason – The group I was with got lost, we decided it was too far, the trails were confusing, people got tired and set up camp elsewhere.. I could go on forever. But, as it is with most things mysterious in life, I am drawn to learning what at once could make those things clear, less perplexing, and understood. Yet maybe it’s not the complete understanding that reigns supreme, rather engaging more with this mysterious thing. I can say with no hesitation that I still am mystified every time I walk into the woods of the Sipsey; it is like a monstrous natural force that draws us in, tears us down to force ourselves to examine the primal beasts we are, and then regurgitates what is left of us when we drag ourselves out of there, and at the same time endowing us with an earthly wise wisdom you can’t obtain any other way.

So we set off, and this time succeeded, into an unmarked outlaw trail whispered into our ears like fate at the trail head, and finally got to the heart of this majestic forest.









selfieSipsey Selfie 😛

Foraging and Flower Picking

It’s been excruciatingly hard for me to contain my enthusiasm for Spring (all of the 5 minutes of it we had) while I sit inside an office all day, so when I get home I usually spend a couple hours outside walking around observing, foraging, or picking flowers. I mostly picked the violets so I could extract the colorful dye, but it ended up a flop; I don’t think my flower per water volume was correct. I’m collecting the dandelions and honeysuckles for wine and mead making in the fall. From what I’ve read, using only the petals yields the best results so it’s a time consuming process to collect and prepare them for storage. My goal is around 3 qts of petals by summer’s end (!)








Sunday Observations: Southern Wildflowers

Everything looks so beautiful after a long period of rain. Things are untouched, because nobody can cut grass for days, so there’s a sense of wildness about the neighborhood that I really love. The diversity of plants in the Southeast is always impressive. I’m slowly trying to identify all of these; if there are some incorrect ones please comment.





fieldRobin’s Plaintain

flyingantRobin’s Plaintain

cloverCrimson Clover




darkwaterRobin’s Plaintain

purpSpider Lily

purpleSpider Lily


shroom Unidentified Shroom


A Tale Of Four Desktops

The other night I made a list of a few things I wanted to do in 2015. It was the typical goals list, boring to say the least. It had a few ‘do good’ items, some creative things, a couple healthy things, things to stop doing, blah blah. Then it occurred to me that several of my goals have one thing in common – they were each borne out of procrastination, and sometimes extreme disorganization – two key things to “not do anymore” on my resolution list.

This made me rethink things, especially when I discovered something on my computer at work. This little gem is the perfect symbol for my life, showcased in one convenient screenshot:

Screenshot 2015-01-26 12.44.17
Four desktops deep. Yes, four. Each one full of hundreds of files that got to be too overwhelming to look at floating in the background, so I created a folder for said desktop until I got around to organizing.. four times. So after a good laugh, I thought I’d ditch my 2015 list and just type out a few thoughts that have been on my mind as of late.

1. In 2015, I Hope To Procrastinate Even More Than Last Year
And here’s why – Every project I delayed and mulled over ended up being the best projects I worked on in 2014. But what is really interesting is that some of my other most enjoyable and creative activities took place within those dark procrastination hours. I don’t know if I’d otherwise do those things if I perceived them as something I HAD to do. Procrastinating provides this odd and spectacular platform for your brain to be sort of tricked into doing other things that you really love. So the benefits are twofold – you get to do all those sneaky little fun things while you should be working AND you end up doing better work on your other big project as a result. I’m not sure why this is. It seems to be the same as cramming for a test in college. I almost always scored higher when I had a cram sesh 2 hours the night before rather than spreading out my studying for a week beforehand.

2. I’m Not Going To Feel Bad About It
I went through a phase a few years ago where I read all kinds of articles on how to stop procrastinating. There were guides, step by step processes, tips on what not to do, what TO do, the kinds of people who normally do this, why I’m an idiot, and so forth. I got burned out on trying to figure out what would make me a better functioning adult by not continuously waiting till the last minute to do everything in my life. So when I decided to stop worrying about it, the result was basically a whole lot less stress and a much happier me. I feel like myself when I’m doing the things that feel natural. And waiting till the last minute does.

3. Disorganization Is For Lovers
After a lifetime of observations I am convinced that either you’ve got it or you don’t. I happen to naturally be one of the poor unorganized souls. But not really. It is so very subjective. I used to believe it was a bad thing, and it obviously can be in its extreme form. Now I know that it is a great thing for me. If I cared too much about how organized and clean my car was I wouldn’t have crammed a shit-ton of dirty gear into it and experienced an awesome camping trip that one summer. And I wouldn’t have explored the woods that time during a rainstorm and driven home on the seats in my drenched clothing. My mantra – stop worrying about organizing every facet of my life and start living. Nobody cares if my hardwood floors are spotless, but they remember if I have a dance party on them.

4. Pardon Me While I Cruise
Every morning when I’m driving down the freeway, coffee in hand, going the speed limit (maybe slower), I notice something that occurs without fail. All the cars around me are FLYING past me on their way into work. Why, corporate businessman with your suit on in your Honda Civic, are you in such a hurry to get to work? My god, man. Leave your house earlier and cruise, please. Everyone is always in a hurry, everywhere. You’d be surprised how therapeutic a good slow drive to work can be. I make it my standard because I need that time. Sometimes in my morning routine I delay work for a few minutes. It’s not because I don’t enjoy my job; it is because I DO. It’s just that I also enjoy living outside of that role and taking in all the things around me when I’m not there, like the sunshine. It helps me do a better job. I believe if we all slow down a little and live life at our own pace, we are more productive and happier people.

So: LIVE, and DO, in whatever methods you choose, because they’re not wrong. Stop making goals and lists. Let your life flow. Besides, those natural moments are the ones where the real magic happens anyway.