Monday, 29 July 2013

Kiama's Charm - no.21 is found - Skateboarding, Art & Poetry

I have to skip a few charms as I got a lovely reply from skateboarder, Josh, who found no.21 at the skatepark in Ellensburg, WA. I am delighted to know that Josh is a fellow 'charm placer', as you can read in his comment under the earlier post of  'The greatest gift is the present".

We were staying the last days with our friend Mary in Ellensburg, where I left five charms at different places in town. Kiama loved skateboarding, so I definitely wanted to place a charm at the skatepark but when we came there, there were a few kids around and we couldn't do it without being seen.

If you have a son or daughter in Ellensburg and you wonder why they come home without shoes, here is your answer:  zoom in and you can spot several pairs of shoes hanging over the telephone lines.

We decided to wait until it was dark and came back after we scattered some of Kiama's ashes in the fast flowing Yakima river.

I wish I could say Kiama was a safe skater, but I can't. I had to pick her up once or twice from A&E, as she had fallen unconscious after a big crash, once with some convulsions as she didn't like wearing her helmet.

She was apparently pretty good though as she got second at a national Girl Skate Jam competition in 2008. Rogue Skateboards left a tribute to her on their website.

I like how the art decoration on the ramps lit up by the flash of my camera. We also discovered some ceramic artwork on the wall. It looked like all the art work was done by young people, probably sponsored by the town's art department or so.

I was especially touched by the wording on this panel below, it really struck a chord with me and I am sure Kiama would have felt the same. She was different, not a follower and wanted to be heard and listened to.

I have an opinion
but they won't listen
I have rights
but still they won't listen
I have a voice
but they won't listen
I have a voice
that they won't hear
They, who?
Everyone, why?
Because I am different
Because I am not a follower
Nor am I a leader
What am I?
Only what I know how to be

I am also moved by this one, especially when I think of those young people that can't find their way in life and choose not to live and end their lives. It takes courage to live, especially when we have come to face some real big limits in life and realise that we have to free ourselves or accept living a life without ever reaching our full potential.

For me, Freedom is a state of Being beyond all limitations and can only be found in realising who we truly are. The road to this Freedom is not an easy one and perhaps not for everyone but I am so glad that I choose to live this life to find out.

I hung the charm on the fence next to the information board.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Kiama's Charm - no12

Leaving Lake Oroville we picked up Highway 5 until Weed where we took a more scenic drive via US Route 97.  Just about 20 miles north of Weed we stopped at the Grass Lake Rest Area.

A beautiful spot with the most amazing views of a 'lake' of soft moving grass in various colours, but
no water in sight. Although historically there was an actual lake, it is now a wet meadow.

Apparently  the water drained away in the early 20th century through a development effort, which broke the seal of the underlying lava rocks, locals call it 'The Glory Hole'.

The area was populated with the most adorable looking chipmunks. John and I had never seen them before and we couldn't get enough of watching their antics. They were very curious and came up quite close to us. I wished we could take one home for Ilana, our eldest daughter, who loves cute looking little animals.

There was a very good information display about the geology, flora and fauna of the area. A rare species of the Tiger Salamander was only discovered at the end of the 60's when hundreds of them  were crossing the road. They get up to 10 inches long.

Kiama loved little lizards and because the salamander looks like a lizard I decided to hang one of the charms next to the information panel.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Kiama's Charm - no.11

After leaving the campsite in Oroville the next day, we decided to have a little diversion to see Lake Oroville, created by the dam in the Feather River. As you see not very exiting weather, but it could be fantastic when the sky's are clear and the sun is out.

There was a Memorial Bike Trail going over the dam - I chopped the name of the photo, so we could, in our mind, make it a memory and tribute to Kiama.

John even decided to scatter some of her ashes, right here at the foot of the signpost at the beginning of the dam. It might seem odd, but somehow the place appeared to be fitting and synchronising with our emotions and thoughts. Was it the dam? Stagnating the life and flow of the Feather River? The grey weather, the memorial bike sign or something else?

In doing some background research, whilst I am writing this post, I found out that 34 construction workers died during the building of the Oroville Dam. Although quite some time ago, maybe we picked up the energy of those tragic losses of lives.

Kiama's Charm - no 11 hangs on the railing next to the map.

Kiama's Charm - no.10 - Life is a Gamble

After 4 beautiful sunny and dry days at Yosemite National Park we started our journey back to Washington in the pouring rain. Our first over night stop was in Oroville, North California, where we hooked up at the Feather Falls Casino KOA.

With some free game vouchers (from the campsite reception) plus $1.00 each we spend an hour or so trying our luck at the slot machines. John and I had never gambled in a casino before, so it was great to make some small winnings at this first experience. John made a grand total of $ 11.00!!!
We were even given a free courtesy car driving us back (2mins. across the road) to the campsite.

For all non-American readers here, lots of casino's in the US are owned and run by Native Americans on tribal land because the tribal laws don't have the same restrictions on gaming as the US laws.
The beauty is that the money they make is put back into the tribal community, basically using the greed of the white men who robbed them in the first place.
I have put a link here to the Tribal History of Feather Falls Casino if you are interested to read a bit more about this.

Although I do have mixed feelings about gambling because of the danger of addiction - there were some 'sad looking', mostly elderly people out there - I do think it can be a bit of fun when you use some common sense. After all isn't Life one big gamble?

I think Kiama would have agreed on that and would have approved of the creative idea of using casino's to support the Tribal communities of the Native Americans.
Although I took a charm with me when we visited the casino I actually forgot to find a place there so I ended up hanging it of a hook in the washroom facilities of the campsite.

I hope that who ever found it there, at Feather Falls KOA, appreciated the red feather - as a little tribute to all Native Americans.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Kiama's Charm - no.8 and 9

The next 2 charms where placed on a trail we walked to Mirror Lake. It's an area in Yosemite where the Mountain Lions like to roam. There was a sign giving advice of what to do when you cross their path - "If attacked, fight back!" A bit unsettling, say the least, although a part of me would have liked to tell you we had spotted one. (Un)fortunately we didn't see any.

The first bit of the walk was along a path, also used by horse riders. Very smelly! Kiama would not have liked  that. I remember her complains as a child when we were out walking in fields with cowpads or sheep dung. But she would have loved the excitement of a possible encounter with a Mountain Lion, so we hung a charm on a tree root along the rocky path.

The big rock in the middle of the lake was perfectly mirrored by the still water.

The whole place was filled with the reflection of inner beauty, space and stillness.

We had to make a choice, either walking a lot further to see if we could cross the Tenaya Creek without getting our feet wet or go for it... As we had no idea how long it would take us to find a dry crossing we decided to take our shoes off and wade the waters. Oh boy, that was cold, not surprisingly ice cold, as it is the last remnant of a large glacial lake!!

To our surprise there were some people swimming and paddling further up the creek in that ice cold water, something Kiama would have done.

High up the granite walls John saw this figure - graffiti or nature's doing??
Don't you think it looks like a person walking with a child on it's back, dropping his comfort blanket?

Kiama loved a good graffiti and was a great admirer of Banksy. See here below.
She once made her own stencil and set off for London with a bag of spray cans to add her mark in a tunnel close to Banksy's work. Several weeks later when I was visiting an exhibition with her, she took me to this tunnel to show me the amazing work people had left on the walls.

The little figure with the wings is hers.

Soon after her death a big graffiti of her name appeared overnight in the city of Norwich in memory of her.

When we walked further we saw this amazing piece of wood sculpture next to the creek. Definitely made by nature, but did nature put it there on this beauty spot or were there some creative helping hands involved?

Anyway I decided to hang Kiama's Charm no.9 on it.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Kiama's Charm - no. 18 is found

I had a lovely Email/comment from two children, Makayla and Charleigh, from Odessa in Washington, who found charm no.18 hanging of a park bench. Thank you both for your comment, I published it under a previous post, see here.

The shadows on the grass were created by this signpost sculpture, which is why I chose this site, as it looked a fun and creative way to direct people to the town shops and services. There is even a symbol with an artist palette on it, making an association with Kiama's love for art.

Originally my eye was caught by this large grain silo near the petrol station, where we were filling up for our way back to Ellensburg.

The letters DARE made me think of a line in Kiama's Bucket list: "be spontaneous and dare yourself"
If you click on the picture and zoom in you will further read "to keep kids of drugs". This made an even stronger impact on me as Kiama was so strong against drugs, alcohol and other intoxicating substances. She was very social and outgoing, a real party girl, who could dance anybodies socks off, but she wouldn't join in abusing her body and mind. She preferred to be awake and aware and live a more healthier lifestyle.

We were staying 1 night in Odessa on the Whitaker Grassfed Beef ranch and although we are vegetarian for quite some years, I do like Richard's way of raising his cattle, with care, plenty of space and totally organic. We had a lovely time of interesting conversations, lovely vegetarian food with lots of organic homegrown vegetables, a private music gig of Richard's own songs, accompanied by his lovely wife Ladawna and sister Mary and to top it off: for John a very cold dip in the cattle trough filled with water from their stream.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Kiama's Charm - no.7

The following day we visited some of the waterfalls at Yosemite. This one is for obvious reasons called Bridalveil Falls.

It made me think about Kiama's request one day, a few years ago: "Mum, I would like you to help me making my own wedding dress. I want a vintage dress with tea dyed old lace, scraps of fabric and sepia photographs of my childhood in it." She didn't even had a boyfriend at the time but was already fantasising about her dress.
Of course it also reminds me of my own wedding, although I didn't have a bridal veil. It will be our 25th wedding anniversary this August, another celebration without Kiama.

We followed the trail up to the base of the waterfall and on the way down we stopped  to sit near the lower stream to hang a charm on the exposing roots of a tree. It was very busy with tourists walking up and down the path, so John had to do it quickly, pretending to have a rest and admire the rocks in the stream

and me quickly making a photo for the record.

For me it's all about Tao and the elements  - the path, the rocks and stones, water, wind (metal), wood and the fire of the sun. Yin/Yang - Everything changes - no-thing stays the same. Only Love will be forever, unchanged and eternal, giving life to all existence.

Kiama's Charm - no.6

The second day in Yosemite we visited the Mariposa Grove. An area with about 500 giant sequoia trees, some more then 3000 years old. They feel like Timeless Giant Living Beings, bearing witness of small, limited, over complicated and semi-conscious life.

They are pretty awesome. The wood from the giant sequoia is highly resistant to decay, so any fallen tree will lay there for hundreds of years. They need wild fires for the seeds to open and clear the ground of competing growths.

We had a hike of a couple hours through the grove and I decided to leave a charm on one of the bushes near some crossing paths.

Kiama's spirit will live on amongst these giant age old trees.

Kiama's Charm - no.5

On our first day at Yosemite National Park we visited the base of El Capitan, a favourite challenge for rock climbers. It's about about 900 metre (3000 feet) and it looks incredible steep and scary to me.
With our binoculars we could see several climbers 2/3 on the way. We learned from other onlookers that it would take them 5 days to get from the base to the summit.

I wondered if Kiama would have ever got into rock climbing, as she loved challenges and the excitement of pushing her own boundaries. She had been several times during her life in hospital with minor injuries, so there was always some weariness in the back of our mind. Looking on the web I  found out that a 28 year old British climber died in a climbing accident, less then 10 days before we arrived there.  My heart goes out to his family.

El Capitan faces Cathedral Rock with this beautiful but very cold river at it's base. Kiama would definitely not have resisted this for a plunge, so we had to find a place somewhere here for the next charm.

To the right of the river lays this beautiful meadow, where John saw a little pink flag on a metal stick.

It was a scientific marker and, as it obviously need to draw attention to someone working in the park, we decided to place the charm next to it on a wooden stick we found.

It is close to the river with Cathedral Rock rising up behind the trees and El Capitan at the back of the viewer.

I hope the bears, deer, coyotes and any other wildlife will leave it undisturbed for a human to find before winter sets in.