Thursday, October 22, 2020

Photos and Figures

Waxing Crescent Moon

I received an email from some Texas dude named Brian who said the photos and figures in Walks Far Man should have been in color. I agree with him, in fact I thought they would be in color up until yesterday when I finally got a peek at an actual physical book. Am I disappointed? Yes, but mostly I am grateful for my brother John's efforts in using his Adobe editing skills to increase the resolution on said photos and figures. They are much better than they would have been otherwise and I can't thank him enough. 

In an attempt to provide the very best of literary pleasure for my readers, I have loaded all the photographs and all of the maps, etc. on a pdf which I am offering free to anybody who wants it right here on my wonderful blog. That way, Brian and other alert bookworms will be able to open the pdf and view everything in color and at whatever magnification you choose. Hopefully, this will add to your experience and maybe even tickle your fancies. All you have to do is email me and request the pdf. I am a compulsive email checker and a gosh-durn reliable email reply guy whenever I am home at my laptop. 

So now I am going to insert the Shawn-Monique-created Walks Far Man logo below this sentence and then I will go for a long walk to enhance my own health and happiness.

Peace, Love, and Customer Service,

jim.ostdick@gmail.com

Friday, October 9, 2020

Walks Far Man

 Third Quarter Moon

I've been working on this book forever and it is finally done. I really, really hope you like it. And I really, really hope you tell all your friends about it, too. 

The stunning cover art was a creation of local artist Shawn Monique Del Gado. I have a feeling this will not be her last book cover!


Walks Far Man: In Step with History on the Pacific Crest Trail


Peace, Love, and Books Make Great Gifts!

Jim

Friday, October 2, 2020

Distraction Days

Waning Gibbous Moon

Last night's Harvest Moon was large and in charge and orange, not unlike someone else we know. The air quality here took a turn for the Unhealthy category again, producing smoky skies and scratchy eyes, but it did make the Moon look cool. This photo was taken through a telescope by local astronomy buff Ron Ober.


Rhetorical question: do we need any more evidence that we should be wearing masks and avoiding crowds, people? 

The press is no longer talking about $750 or white supremacy, so I will. 

$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750$750

White supremacy groups are f^^^ing evil. Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil Evil.

There. Got that out of my system for a little while. 

To flee from the gunk settling down into San Juan Valley, yesterday I drove up the canyon to Fremont Peak State Park for a masked, sweaty two-hour walk. The usual long views of the Salinas Valley, Monterey Bay, and San Benito County were gray and fuzzy, but the up-close details of the woods and the outcrops were pretty cool. I only saw a couple of other people up there, so it was peaceful and really really quiet.





On a marble outcrop along the trail to the peak I found a little mantis critter staring at me, completely still, trying its best to be invisible, waiting patiently for the huge, hopefully benevolent intruder to pass. I could relate. I think if you click on the photo, you will get an enlarged look (assuming you are viewing the website version of this post).



As usual, the exertion and focus of hiking improved my outlook and shook away some of the bad vibes  from the fires and the politics. I am so grateful for my health, now 1,532 miles into my 2020 in 2020 Challenge and on schedule to complete the goal on time. Next year, if I am still bound to the home front by COVID, I think I will shift to a bicycle-based workout with hikes mixed in for fun. I miss riding my bike. If I am free to roam, though, look out, America, I'm coming to get ya again, haha.

My book should be released in a week or two, if the Great Cosmic Muffin cooperates.

Peace, Love, and Pray for Rain,
Jim





Friday, September 25, 2020

I Needed That

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

After a string of twelve-hour days trying to meet a self-imposed deadline to finish my book, I pronounced it done and took off for Moss Landing State Beach yesterday to shut up and walk. It was practically perfect. To breathe freely and soak in the familiar colors of sand and sea and sky was precious. Plus I brought a delicious sammie from Lolla for a halftime picnic. What a a great day!


I ran into a little snag with respect to my book title. Evidently someone already used Spirit Walker as the name of a fantasy fiction series, so I had to go to Plan B. The new title is Walks Far Man: In Step with History on the Pacific Crest Trail. I am waiting patiently for the cover art to be finished and expect the book to be available on Amazon (paperback and e-book formats) by the end of the month. I hope you all read it and enjoy it. I think this is my best effort so far.

As for the title, when I got home from my coast to coast walk in 2016, my friends and neighbors Laynee and Sonne gave me my Indian name, "Walks Far Man." I was humbled to receive it and I kept it to myself as something special. They didn't tell me they got the idea from Raquel Welch!

In the process of re-titling the manuscript, I googled Walks Far Man, not wanting to make the same copyright mistake twice. Nothing came up for that, but Walks Far Woman did. That was the title of a 1982 movie starring Raquel Welch as a Blackfoot woman in a serious pickle. I won't spoil it for you, but you can watch it on YouTube if you want. The sound quality is comically horrendous (sounds like everybody was inhaling helium the whole movie long) so I recommend clicking the Closed Caption button right away, haha.

Anyway, the beach was great. I saw sea otters and sea lions, cormorants, pelicans, snowy plovers, curlews, and gulls, a long, hairy beach caterpillar, and assorted beached jellies. I had the stretch of the beach between the jetty and the Pajaro River to myself for the most part so I was able to coast along (bad pun intended) for a few hours with the aforementioned halftime picnic providing the fuel. 



The surf was so-so, but the sound and the rhythm of the waves were perfect. Just what I needed.

Peace, Love, and Relaxation,
Jim

P.S. Cud'n Mindy sent me this yesterday. Her timing was excellent for my book release and my beach walk:
“When Einstein gave lectures at U.S. universities, the recurring question that students asked him most was: - Do you believe in God? And he always answered: - I believe in the God of Spinoza.
Baruch de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the great rationalists of 17th century philosophy, along with Descartes.
(Spinoza) : God would say:
Stop praying. What I want you to do is go out into the world and enjoy your life. I want you to sing, have fun and enjoy everything I've made for you.
Stop going into those dark, cold temples that you built yourself and saying they are my house. My house is in the mountains, in the woods, rivers, lakes, beaches. That's where I live and there I express my love for you.
Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you there was anything wrong with you or that you were a sinner, or that your sexuality was a bad thing. Sex is a gift I have given you and with which you can express your love, your ecstasy, your joy. So don't blame me for everything they made you believe.
Stop reading alleged sacred scriptures that have nothing to do with me. If you can't read me in a sunrise, in a landscape, in the look of your friends, in your son's eyes... ➤ you will find me in no book!
Stop asking me "will you tell me how to do my job?" Stop being so scared of me. I do not judge you or criticize you, nor get angry, or bothered. I am pure love.
Stop asking for forgiveness, there's nothing to forgive. If I made you... I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies... free will. How can I blame you if you respond to something I put in you? How can I punish you for being the way you are, if I'm the one who made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who behave badly for the rest of eternity? What kind of god would do that?
Respect your peers and don't do what you don't want for yourself. All I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that alertness is your guide.
My beloved, this life is not a test, not a step on the way, not a rehearsal, nor a prelude to paradise. This life is the only thing here and now and it is all you need.
I have set you absolutely free, no prizes or punishments, no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one keeps a record. You are absolutely free to create in your life. Heaven or hell.
➤ I can't tell you if there's anything after this life but I can give you a tip. Live as if there is not. As if this is your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.
So, if there's nothing after, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, rest assured that I won't ask if you behaved right or wrong, I'll ask. Did you like it? Did you have fun? What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?...
Stop believing in me; believing is assuming, guessing, imagining. I don't want you to believe in me, I want you to believe in you. I want you to feel me in you when you kiss your beloved, when you tuck in your little girl, when you caress your dog, when you bathe in the sea.
Stop praising me, what kind of egomaniac God do you think I am?
I'm bored being praised. I'm tired of being thanked. Feeling grateful? Prove it by taking care of yourself, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That's the way to praise me.
Stop complicating things and repeating as a parakeet what you've been taught about me.
What do you need more miracles for? So many explanations?
The only thing for sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.
- Spinoza”


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bat Ray Man

 Waning Crescent Moon

As a child, probably like most folks, I had several nicknames or pet names bestowed by different family members. I was Jim, Jimmy, and Jimbo, or Ray (short for my middle name Raymond), Rayman, and Rayme, depending on the whimsy or mood of the addresser. There were a few others, but these are the common ones that I can easily recall. 

The only one that I kind of relate to in this day and age is Rayman. The first thing I do every morning when I awake is to stretch my arms and hands and fingers into the air, as well as my feet and toes, and say to myself, "Shine like the Sun, Rayman. Be kind." The stretch makes me feel good and the words reinforce my positive intention to try to be a good person. I don't know if the rest of my family does that or something similar, but I will  bet that they do, here or up in the stars.

All day yesterday the sky was orange. The Sun could not poke through all the smoke from the two and a half million acres of California that are on fire. It was dark and eerie and sad. 

I needed a pick me up and some exercise, so I drove to the beach twenty miles from my camp, hoping the air there would be safer to breathe. I walked and walked and walked for three hours in the weird orange light. It was high tide. There were pretty good wave sets rolling in on a steady basis. The sea otters were playing like it was a normal day.



Pelicans put on a pretty good air show, skimming the waves for breakfast. I love it when that happens.



On my return trip along the beach, walking on the firm, wet sand next to the surf, I saw a Bat Ray washed up on the edge of the water alongside a pile of beached kelp. At first I thought it was dead. There was some blood along its fins and tail, but not a lot. Maybe it was just knocked out or exhausted from a fight. Not counting the tail, the Bat Ray was about as big as home plate on a baseball diamond. 


As I got a little closer, I was staring at its face and all of a sudden, he or she inhaled, tried to take a breath. I could see the sides of its body behind its eyes, draw slowly in and out. I decided mostly out of ignorance that I was going to call it Mr. Bat Ray, regardless of gender. I talked to him, asking if I should risk moving him into the water, which was ebbing and surging about fifteen feet away. I gently touched his fin and he twitched his long tail from one side to the other and back. That appeared to require a lot of effort. Was it voluntary or just instinct? Did the tail twitch mean yes, help me, or did it mean if you touch me again, mother-----, I will sting you and inject the last of my venom in your weak-ass hand? I didn't know, really, but when I saw the tail movement combined with his effort to breathe, I knew I couldn't just walk away. 

Toward the dunes about thirty feet up the beach, I could see the remains of somebody's illegal campfire. I said, "Hold on, Mr. Bat Ray, I'll be right back." Geez, I can't move very fast any more, especially in sand, but I managed to find a stick of driftwood about a foot long and I returned fairly quickly. Mr. Bat Ray was still trying to breathe. I told him I was going to help him get back in the water.

Well, Mr. Bay Ray was much heavier than he looked. I was pretty sure if I touched him with my hand again he would freak out and attempt to deploy that stinger, even if the effort killed him. My little one-foot stick, though, was not up to the task. I pushed it underneath his body and shoved him toward the water, but nothing happened. "You have to try," I said to him. "I'll do everything I can, but you have to try." 

Clearly, I needed a better tool. So off I went down the beach. Past tons of kelp, kelp, soggy, floppy, no-help kelp. I had to go a quarter mile or so to find a piece of driftwood big enough to act like a shovel. Then I dragged it back, half expecting Mr. Bat Ray to be goners. 

But no, he showed me he was still kicking, sucking in moist, sandy beach air, which was not doing much good. I did some more talking, saying I hope this doesn't hurt you, but I am going to use this big stick to push and shove and shovel you back into the ocean. "You have to try," I kept saying, "you can't freaking quit." 

It took about twenty minutes to get him to the foamy wet edge of the water. I could see him straining to get it into his lungs. I could see him trying. So the next time the surf retreated, I went all out to scoot him as far down the sand as I could before the next wave broke. I pushed one last time and oh crap, I clumsily flipped him over onto his back just as the water washed over him and I scrambled back in retreat. I felt like an idiot. 

Then the surf sucked backwards, leaving Mr. Bat Ray beached upside down in the wet sand, revealing his mouth desperately opening and closing, searching for water. Yes he had to try, but so did I, so back out I went to dig and push and shovel under him one more time, flipping that unwieldy home plate pancake mostly upright as another wave crashed. This one was pretty big and as it receded it carried Mr. Bat Ray ocean-ward a few more feet, keeping him covered as I watched. I could see one bat flipper flopping out of the water for a few seconds, then another surge came and Mr. Bat Ray righted himself and whoosh, he was gone. 

Did he live to tell the tale to Mrs. Bat Ray? Dunno.

Shine like the Sun, Bat Ray Man. Be kind.

Peace, Love, and You Have to Try,

Jim

Friday, August 28, 2020

Is It Safe to Turn On the TV Yet?

 Waxing Gibbous Moon

There is the Pandemic. Racial Injustice. Climate Change, Fires, and Hurricanes. Up in Flames End of Democracy/Acceptance and Worship of Autocracy. Endless Hypnotic Binge-Rot Numb-Dumb Stories. Plenty of Stuff I Am Probably Leaving Out. TV is essentially unwatchable. Somebody let me know when this is over.



Every Friday I volunteer to help with food distribution to local people who need it. Lots of people show up, mainly people with families, many of whom work their tails off picking the very same produce being distributed. How bizarre is that? How is it that there is so much food available to give away? Each brand new, very clean, sturdy cardboard box contains a gallon of milk, a pound of butter, a block of cheese, a sack of onions, a sack of apples, a sack of potatoes, some lettuce, some carrots, some oranges, sometimes some frozen meat, sometimes some canned food. Somebody made all those boxes. Somebody put all that stuff in the boxes. Somebody loaded them in the truck. Somebody paid for the gas to move the truck. Somebody (me and my dear masked friends) unloads the truck and hands out the boxes.  It's amazing! Where does the food come from? Is it subsidized by tax money? Tax money that comes out of the paychecks of people who aren't paid enough money to purchase food at the store? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?


I am still wearing my mask in public, avoiding crowds, keeping my distance, scrubbing my hands and face and floors and door handles. I am still eating right and exercising. I am still praying and centering and presenting my best self to the Chaos. That is my revenge.

Peace, Love, and Life in the U.S.S.R.,

Jim

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Beach Trip Two

Waxing Gibbous Moon

For just the second time since Rona overtook my senses, I buzzed over to Moss Landing for a beach walk on Monday. The sky was overcast and gray, but I did not even care. It was wonderfully uncrowded and pretty clean overall, two things that increased the fun.

I kind of knew it was going to be a good visit. All the way there, the little things added up - green lights, easy traffic, a serendipitous clear space when I needed to left-turn on Jetty Road off Highway One - I barely had to stop the whole way from home to the dunes.

And then, after walking maybe a mile along the low-tide surf, I happened upon a rare little treasure - three unblemished sand dollars just sitting there waiting for me to say hello. I did not touch or move them - just took a picture and smiled. Leave No Trace.

Lucky Day!
Like I said, it was low tide so the surf wasn't super-great and everything was a muted grayish color, but still, walking with the Pacific as  your partner is always special.

I tried and failed to make a California surf movie with my phone. Sorry. I called Blake Lively's people to see if she was available. Evidently, though, she has been pumping out babies like a 1950's Vatican-approved, Hoover-vacuum, Swanson's-TV-dinner house-mom and can no longer fit into her sexy wet suit. So this is the best I could come up with for now.

Needs sharks and gratuitous Lively cleavage.
Once again, just like last time, there were no pelicans. Bummer. But the gulls, the curlews, and the snowy plovers did their best to amuse me. This gull appeared to be lecturing a class of snowy plovers on how Earth's ocean tides work. You might think the plovers are too close together for safe schooling, but if your were to measure a plover's foot and times it by six, you would probably see that they achieved pretty good social distancing. With the hardy on-shore wind, masks were not really practical or necessary.

Professor Gull orates.
Another gull and a curlew had a brief standoff over who had the rights to a tiny brown sand crab. The curlew, who had filched the crab from the sand with his or her long curved beak, prevailed. But shortly thereafter, another curlew showed up and bullied the harried crab away from him or her. Rough day at the office.

In my opinion, gulls are lazy opportunists.

Most of the time curlews are fairly peaceful, hard-working, sociable creatures. They seem to get along quite well, as in the photo below. Basically, they just want to eat, make babies, and not get munched by coyote.
Curlews dig low tide.

Toward the end of my walk, I found a bunch of clams hap-hazardously arranged on the sand in juxtaposition to a picked-clean sun-bleached fish bone. Make up your own caption. Whatever you come up with, it definitely won't favor the fish.

Insert caption here.
All that was left to do after a couple of hours was to climb back over the dunes and head back to Spugly. I took one more long look at the kind of meager break and thanked the nonetheless mighty Pacific for soothing my COVID-ragged nerves.

Adios, mija.
Peace, Love, and That Sound a Wave Break Makes on the Sand,
Jim

P.S. My 2020 in 2020 Challenge is going well. As of today, I have walked 1,175 miles with no days off. So I'm right on schedule for 2,020 by New Year's Eve. I'm going to need one of those noisemaker celebration dealies for sure, maybe a small vial of confetti, too.