Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Goal #1: Plant 1,000 Trees

If you look at my very first goal on this bucket list you will see that it is to plant 100 trees. I have always loved trees. I always will. Trees are a lot like people. There are billions of trees and each one is different in its own way. Another goal I have in my list of goals to be completed is to buy 5 to 10 acres of treeless land and reforest it. I think that would be so cool to plan out and reforest such a big piece of land.
Trees have a lot to teach people. They seem to have their own unique qualities. They can be intrusive at times while others live a life of solitude.

Trees seem content to count on  God to provide for them. They accept what life gives them and seem to flourish when planted in a good area. If they start life in poor soil or exposed to rough elements, they fight for survival just like people do. They may be bent and stunted because of they spend their entire life fighting the elements but they choose to live and don't give up.

In 1979, I spent a summer internship in Hood River, Oregon managing about 80 acres of fruit trees. A portion of the orchard was planted in apple trees more than 100 years ago. I especially love going into that part of the orchard when they day was hot. The trees were bent and gnarled with age. Most of them had holes in them where branches once grew out and had long since broken away. Nearly every one of those holes served as nesting holes for a variety of birds.

That entire section of the orchard was always so shady because the century old trees grew so wide. I always had to pay special attention when I mowed those trees because if I grew careless and didn't pay attention, one of those old branches could easily knock myself off my tractor, into the mower or under the wheels.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Goal #764: Sleep Someplace Wierd

I think the weirdest place I’ve ever slept was when I spent the night sleeping on a birthing table in a tiny one room medical clinic on the top of a mountain in the jungle. I was traveling with a friend of mine through the mountains on the island of Negros Occidental looking for someone I really needed to find. We traveled for about 10 hours on an ancient bus with no shock absorbers. The bus was a miserable thing but it was the only way we had to get to the village where this person lived.

Just a few miles shy of the village we discovered that the bridge leading to the village had been washed out by floods from rains earlier in the day. My friend and I, along with a few other people decided to brave the swollen river to finish the trip. We had to walk through the flooding river up to our chest to make it across. With the help of a rope and some locals, we managed to make it across without getting swept away in the flooding water. Looking back it all seems really stupid, but we were determined to get to the village and start our journey back before dark. When we finally arrived in the village, the person I was looking for was not there. She was visiting family members in a town only 40 minutes away from the village I had originally started my journey.

 The mountain village we stayed in was so small that there were no rooms for my friend and I to rent. No one in this village ever needed to have rooms to rent because no one ever came to visit. The leader of the village allowed us to sleep in the village’s one room medical clinic. My companion slept on a bench and I slept on a birthing table. Since neither of us had our mosquito nets with us, it was a long and unpleasant night. Our biggest concern was to make sure that we stay off the ground so the rats and scorpions wouldn’t bother us. The birthing table was so hard and the mosquitoes so plentiful that I slept very little that night.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Goal #886: Find and use a two-seater outhouse

Do you know how hard it is to find a two-seater outhouse nowadays?  In fact, it’s pretty hard to find a single seat outhouse any more, much less a two-seater. I remember my father telling me about the two-seater his family used to have when they lived on a farm on the plains of Minnesota. I find it amusing to think of two people sitting side by side, doing their thing at the same time. I guess privacy wasn’t a high priority back then. They were probably just happy to have a place out of the wind and weather to taken care of nature’s call.

I finally found one when I was spending the summer doing a summer internship in Hood River, Oregon. It was in 1979. I was managing an 80 acre fruit orchard. There was an old home in the orchard that must have been built in the late 1800s or early 1900s. I noticed an old clump of overgrown blackberry bushes behind the house. When I went to explore, I was delighted to find, tucked back behind the blackberry bushes, an old two-seater outhouse, just like the one my dad used to tell me about. I

t even had some really old magazines from the 1930s, which I assume were used to finish the job up. Mice had eaten into them and they weren’t much good for use as toilet paper, but it was the cool to think those magazines had been in there for so many years.

I sat down in there and just thought about how nice we’ve got it today with flush toilets and fresh toilet paper and was grateful for what I have. But I have to smile thinking about how fondly my dad remembered that old two-seater outhouse.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Goal #61: Record my dad's oral history

It was a fascinating experience getting my dad’s oral history. There was so much I didn’t know about him. I have transcribed it and added photographs to it so that it’s a very nice history.

I learned some interesting things from the experience. My father was an alcoholic for about 30 years. He eventually got to where he no longer drank much. While interviewing him, I discovered that there is a 30 period of his life where there simply wasn’t much he could remember. I told a friend of mine about this Ah Ha moment and he said that this wasn’t uncommon for alcoholics. They are so focused on their addiction that they almost completely lose touch with the world around them. They are either in a drunken stupor or they are completely focused on getting to that state. Because of that, they lose touch with the world around them and the people who make up that world. That appears to be the case with my dad. He had very few meaningful memories of drinking years.

I also discovered something I had never known before. I found out that my father was born with a different name than I knew him as. He was born with the name Lyle Anderson. When he was about 6 months old, his mother took my dad to visit her brothers in Oregon. They complained that Lyle was silly name to give a boy. Grandma told them to be quiet unless they could come up with a better name that she would approve of. After some thinking, they decided that he was more of a Theodore Roosevelt Anderson than a Lyle Anderson. Grandma liked the new name and kept it. So my dad left Minnesota as Lyle and came back as Theodore Roosevelt. I’d love to know what Grandpa thought of that when they came back home.

I wanted to check on the accuracy of that story because it just sounded to much like one of those old family myth kind of stories. To verify the story I went to the city hall to check my father’s birth record. Sure enough, the original birth register had Lyle Anderson on it. A big red line crossed out the name Lyle and in black lettering was written the name, Theodore Roosevelt Anderson. Dad really was telling me the truth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Goal #120: Experience a grunion run in real life

Have you ever heard of a grunion run?  I didn’t either until I moved to Southern California. When my friends told me about it they told me that it had to do with the lunar cycles and you had to wait until midnight to see them. You were not allowed to catch grunion with a bag or bucket. You can only catch them with your bare hands. That’s it.

As far as I was concerned, this had all the markings of a great Snipe hunt adventure. So, on the first hunt I went on I was just waiting for my friends to leave me on some remote beach at midnight holding an empty bucket. That is not how it happened at all.

Grunion are small fish about the size of a sardine. They are long and thin; about 3 to 4 inches long and ¾ inch wide. A few days each month they spawn on shore to lay and fertilize their eggs. The females burrow into the sand with only the upper third of their body exposed. The mails then gladly wrap themselves around the female letting their seamen drip out into the sand to fertilize the eggs. This is all done very quickly because the next wave or two washes them back into the ocean.

It all starts after it gets dark, usually starting anywhere from an hour or two before midnight to an hour or two after midnight. I found that just before the action starts, the grunion usually send up a few hundred scouts along the beach. If it looks safe, they go back and somehow let the rest know that it’s OK. Within 5 or 10 minutes, the beach started glimmering with the slivery pulsating bodies of literally thousands of grunion, carrying out one of the most hedonistic show of debauchery ever put on by nature. It’s really an amazing thing to see.

Just by coincidence, my very first grunion run just so happen to take place during a phosphorescent tide. That jacked up the excitement a whole level or two higher. With all the phosphorescent in the water, each grunion swimming along left a glowing faded blue light about 3 feet long. It was just unbelievable. I've posted a great YouTube video above that gives you a feel of what a grunion run is like.

So far, I have found Doheney Beach to be the very best place to see a grunion hunt. Doheney Beach is located in Dana Point, California. I believe they still allow camping on the beach there, which makes it especially fun. Check it out. Believe me, this ain't no snipe hunt.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Goal #38: Experience some awesome things in nature.

I have always loved being out in nature. I grew up in a small rural town on the plains of Minnesota until I was 16 years old. A river ran through the edge of my town, providing me a place to spend my free time. When school was out, I lived at the river more than I lived at home. I spent as much time as I could at the river learning everything I could about the plants and animals; the weather patterns and the changing seasons.

As I have traveled the world, I have made it a point to seek out the unusual and the awesome. I have never been disappointed. What a shame it would be to leave this life one day without having done all I within my power to see everything I can. 

Below is just a sampling of some of the remarkable and awesome things I've seen in nature.  

• Walked through the Redwood forests in Northern California’s
• Hiked through tropical jungles in the Philippine Islands, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and
   Costa Rica
• Deep sea diving off St. Thomas Island and Puerto Rico
• Lived through a tornado in Luverne, Minnesota
• Went night diving off the coast of Puerto Rico
• Lived through a tornado in Luverne, Minnesota.
• Left my body and experienced the world around me as a spirit being
• Saw a salmon run in Alaska
• Took part in the birth of each of my children
• Witnessed the completion of the 17 year development cycle of the Cicada
• Swam with the Manatees off the shores of Puerto Rico
• Watched the mass migration of caterpillars in the desert near Death Valley
• I stood inside a rainbow
• Viewed a red tide
• Watched the birth of a butterfly from the chrysalis in which it was encased.
• Experienced cold temperatures of 40degrees below zero
• Saw  5 water spouts off the coast of Puerto Rico
• Saw the migration of whales off the coast of Southern California
• Experienced a phosphorescent tide
• Experienced a red tide
• Heard the honk of thousands of migrating geese
• Soaked  in a hot pot in Yellowstone National Park
• Experienced the monsoon season in the tropics
• Saw hundreds of thousands of starling flying overhead
• Delivered a Morgan colt at birth when the mother could no longer finish the job herself
• Witnessed a night in Alaska where the night never got dark
• Saw the swarming of several wild bee hives
• Watched the birth of a bird from the egg
• Listened to Sand Hill cranes in Yellowstone National Park
• Watched lunar and solar eclipses, meteor showers and other celestial wonders
• Experienced a grunion run on Doheney Beach in Southern California
• Lived through a level 4 typhoon in the Philippine Islands
• Experienced several awesome earthquakes
• Found some Native American holy places that had the Shamanic signatures of the
   yellow-ochre X, signifying their sacred status
• Felt the unique “feeling” of running around in Goblin Valley at night during a full moon
• Saw the green flash that sometimes takes place just as the sun sets into the ocean
• Experienced a mass migration of toads in the Philippine Islands
• Heard the incredible sound of ice cracking across the surface of a frozen lake
• Took a caterpillar from larva stage to chrysalis to butterfly stage
• Watched a bird hatch from an egg
• Viewed the magic of hundreds of fire flies
• Saw tens of thousands glowing red eyes of tiny shrimp during a night dive in the tropics
• Saw a falling star break into pieces and create quite the light show
• I heard the earth speak
• Enjoyed the scorching heat and discovered life in the midst of Death Valley 
• Saw the geysers and other wonders of Yellowstone National Park

This is only a partial list. I expect this list will grow on and on over the years. I have only started to actively go out and seek the awesome things of nature in the world around me. It's like traveling; the more I experience the more I am compelled to do more.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Goal #12: Win a cooking contest

I have this recipe that is pretty unique. It's mushrooms made out of meringue and chocolate. You make the caps and stems out of  meringue. After you cook and cool them, you carve a hole on the underside of the mushroom. Then you dip the underside in melted chocolate and insert the stem into the cap. When the chocolate dries, it holds the stem in place. To top it off, you dust them with cocoa. They are really cool looking and they are fairly easy to make. These meringue mushroom have been Thanksgiving/Christmas tradition in our home for about 22 years.

A few years ago, my wife and daughter went off to visit my wife's
family in Chicago. I heard about a cooking contest that the Target store was having. Things were quiet at home so I thought I see if my son-in-law wanted to make and enter the chocolate meringue mushrooms. What the heck. Is all we had to do was incorporate the Target brand logo into the dish. We needed up piping red and white colored glaze on top of the mushroom caps. At the end of the day, we took 2nd place and won $1,000. Not bad.

A year earlier, I entered the recipe for these mushroom in a Weight Watcher's magazine cooking contest and won 1st prize, which was a 8 place setting of very nice china. This has been a great recipe to have around.

What did I learn from this? I guess I learned that you don't win the prize unless you get in there and at least try. In both cases, I didn't think I had a chance. It always surprises me when I see that things are so different than what I imagine in my mind. I really like the thrill of winning.