Breakfast at Yanacocha Lodge


I struggled to eat this morning. I mean, I already don't eat breakfast for the most part. Add altitude to the mix and food is unappealing before noon, and not very appealing after. I'm still hungry, just unable to eat enough.

Breakfast talk was amusingly about weird dreams, some sun coming out today, and double pane windows.

Apparently, unusual dreams are very common at altitude. I had a dream that Priyanka had tossed my journals at me, and was angry at me. She had found my journals, read them, and came across an entry where I had done something mean to her. I think the "mean thing" was that I hadn't paid a bill, and it had a late fee to it. I was conflicted in my dream between being annoyed that she had read my journals and embarrased that I had done the mean thing.

There are eight of us at the meals. Four of us eat left-handed, five of us are right-handed, and one of the left-handed people does everything but write and eat right-handedly.

We left for the hour drive to the volcano around 8:50.

I look forward to faster internet speeds, so that I can upload pictures for these posts.

First night near 12000'


I went to bed last night around 22:15, our first night at 11982', essentially 12000'! I woke up very confused today at 00:15. I heard someone in the hallway moving, which wasn't unusual as the shared toilets were down the hall. The retching sounds, however, followed by the splash was unusual. I lay there for a bit before realizing that if I were the one puking in the hall, I would want help. Unsure if anyone else had heard, but I had, and helping was the right thing to do, I unzipped my bag.

"It's okay, it's okay. Go back to sleep."

When in distress, sometimes people are embarrassed. When at altitude, people may not be thinking clearly. Add in the time of the night, and I wanted to confirm.

"I'd like to help. Will you let me help you?"

While speaking, the location of the spill became more obvious, and it was right in the dorm doorway. I would realize only while helping clean up the vomit that the mess missed my bag by about 12". Close!

Being new to the place, we didn't know where things were. We did our best, using the paper towels from the bathroom, and cleaned up the floor. Our third roommate was also confused by the activity, and woke up. She really needed to use the toilets, so I did my best to direct her to the least affected area. She ended up cleaning up some of the vomit with her socks, nonetheless, but went back to sleep nearly immediately afterward. One of the lighter sleepers in the boys room also woke up, used the toilet, and gathered more supplies.

Once the floor was clean, the ill teammate moved to the toilets to be. Her stomach was still uncomfortable, and the toilets seemed the safest place. She insisted it was just her stomach.

I don't know altitude sickness symptoms well enough to let the teammate deal on her own and go to sleep, so I went to wake Juliana, tell her the situation, and take over. Which she did, and I wandered back to sleep. And by "sleep," I mean lie in bed awake until 2:45, completely unable to sleep, ruminating on this week's conversations and checking internet things as best I could.

I woke at 5:15 when the place started waking up. I guess I'm awake now. That was about 3 hours of solid sleep last night. Today is going to be interesting.

Help, with a Metaphor


unfinished painting of a vase of daisies, by Helen TossavainenThis year is my Year of Healing™. That healing includes letting go of stuff, of baggage, of behaviors that are no longer useful or desired, of emotions that I don't want, of the person I don't want to be. Lots of internal things, but that first one I could use help with. I don't. want to have to move all this unwanted stuff again. I'm four months into the year, and haven't made a lot of progress.

So, I hired a personal assistant to help me out with my purging of stuff.

She started today.

I'm pretty excited about the help. I'm a bit nervous about the new Covid vector, especially so close to my upcoming trip, but I need the help, and now seemed good, both for my motivation and her availability.

I started her off with a list of 40 or so tasks, some gauged to determine skill level, some made intentially vague to understand how much she'll ask before running with the task. Some of the tasks are ones that I would really like to do and haven't done, and some were quick tasks for easy wins.

In handing the list to her, I recalled the summer a friend of Mom's hired me to help him around his place. One of the first tasks he gave me was to go buy lottery tickets. He handed me twenty dollars, and asked me to go pick numbers, bring them back to him. Off I went to the store, bought 20 quick picks and came back with the tickets. He looked at the tickets, and asked what the significance of the numbers meant. When I said they had no meaning to me, I had chosen the quick pick option, he looked disappointed. I asked him what was wrong with the tickets. "I asked you to pick numbers. This tells me you don't listen very well." It was my own personal brown m&ms moment.

The vague tasks were exactly that sort of moment. Would she ask for clarification (she did)? Would she run with tasks without checking in (she did not)? Was a good knowledge gathering exercise for me.

The big task she completed today was hanging the wall shelf in the kitchen, on which I placed an unfinished piece by Helen Tossavainen. The work is of a vase of daisies. The painting is unfinished. It has many do-overs in it. The canvas and paint are a little beat up, and yet the whole painting is beautiful. The painting is a metaphor for my life. I love it.

We'll continue next week, when we dive into a couple boxes. Most of the boxes that I haven't gone through yet are ones that are hard to go through.

This will be interesting. And fun.

Doing something correctly!

Daily Photo

I'm not good at keeping indoor plants alive. My new snake plant, however, seems to be doing well. I have babies!


fan on the floor with two dead moths next to it

As I was sitting at my desk this morning, I heard a sudden FLUP FLUP FLUP FLUP FLUP FLUP FLUP, which startled me. The sound stopped as quickly as it started. Puzzled, I walked over to the fan, just in time to see two moths flung from the insides of the fan.

How crappy that moment was: two moths, fluttering around each other, zoom this way, zoom that way, and hey, what is this neat air flow, BOOM, dead, bodies flung out of the blades.

I stood looking at them for longer than I should have, pondering what consciousness or awareness a moth may have, what this thing we call life is, and what connections my consciousness might have to these dying bodies. Of course, death and dying and the fraility of all of this has been weighing on my mind recently. Too much death in the last couple years, too much all this in the last couple days. Why does something have to die so that I can live?

The moment passed. The object that caused their deaths became the mechanism by which I removed them from my place, the whole thing making me not happy.

Birthday Cupcakes


As one does after a really hard workout: one goes for sugar (or in my case, even more sugar).

In my birthday tradition, I went to Sprinkles for cupcakes after my hike. In not my yearly tradition, I ordered only six.

As my intimate circle of friends continues to shrink, I have fewer people to feed cupcakes to on my birthday. I mean, fewer people to celebrate with. Wait, no, that doesn't sound much better. I adore that Martha messages me every birthday. I look forward to outdoors things with her some day.

Anyway, birthday number gosh what the heck is it now, something something prime it is. Time to walk across the park, singing at the top of my lungs, "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME. LET'S GO!" while waving a box of cupcakes around.

Again, tradition. You can't break from a tradition this good.