Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Procrastination. It's occasionally delicious.

Mom, plan on making these cookies to mail to me on the trail. Sea salt & demerara sugar encrusted chocolate cookies (I overdosed on the sea salt a little, but that was ok!). Recipe via Orangette (I couldn't find a direct link, but it was a fairly recent post).

I have a million things I should be doing, but instead for the past two months all I have consistently been productive at is baking. There are worse things to waste time with, I suppose.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shaker spirit/gift drawing.

"In 1853 visiting spirits dancing in twisting circles were seen and recorded (by Timothy Randlett) at Enfield, New Hampshire..."

"To be sure, the term drawing is a misnomer, because the Shakers did not use it themselves when they were referring to these works. In the few Shaker documents in which the gift drawings are mentioned, they are typically referred to as sheets, rolls, signs, notices, tokens of love, presents, rewards, hearts — sometimes prefaced by the adjective sacred. This definition focuses on the function of the works as gifts from heavenly spirits, rather than on the form in which the gifts were materialized. In fact, the gift drawings often include titles, captions, inscriptions, and extended texts, in English as well as in scripts written in indecipherable tongues, that place them on an uninterrupted continuum with other manifestations of belief, such as inspired writing, ecstatic movement, and spontaneous speech, especially in the form of song."

France Morin, in Shaker Gift Drawings and Gift Songs, The Drawing Center, New York, and UCLA Hammer Museum, 2001 (above image sourced from this publication via the internet)

This is cool/strange on so many levels. More information here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Journey of Dreams.

I had the privilege of meeting Ron and Diane while hiking the Appalachian Trail. They are wonderful people who love life and adventure and truly thrive off of learning, connecting with others, and sharing inspiration. Check out their kickstarter project, support it if you can, and be sure to watch some of their videos for gorgeous shots of the Appalachian Trail and a small window into some of the characters who hike it (myself included, you can see me here).

Friday, February 24, 2012

Perfect playhouse.

Although frankly forget the play, because I would flat-out LIVE here. Building a version of this is going on my long-term to-do list. Right. Now.

(My apologies for failing to document my home inspiration properly; my guess is that this is via my standard go to for awesomeness, Cabin Porn.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Meet Moss.

Moss is... me.

I have an entire set of friends who know me solely as Moss. A soft plant classified as Bryophyta. A single name, occasionally altered to Mossy Pants or Moss the Boss. This is not a delusion of grandeur or me trying to be a more earthy crunchy version of Prince. When you hike the Appalachian Trail you earn a trail name (usually inadvertently). Mine was given to me by two friends who were unusually kind in bestowing a moniker. There are far worse things I could be called (trust me)!

I'm telling you this because I am about to revert back to being Moss again. It's good being called it. It envelopes me back in that strange/comforting/stifling/freeing/simple world of long distance hiking. In approximately two months I'll be walking from the border of Mexico to Canada. I'll be surrounded by people who don't need a last name and all have (mostly) equally foolish nicknames and who will be able to identify me as a long distance hiker instantly by three things: my pack, my filth... and of course, by my name.

I let go of my thru-hike identity when I stopped long distance hiking. When I became a caretaker, I didn't see the need to resurrect it. I was no longer one of them. I wasn't in the thru-hiker club anymore. And in fact, I actually enjoyed being outside it. But it feels like it's time again.

There's a lot of different ways to look at my decision to return to this sub-culture. Right now though, all I'm going to do is introduce myself and tell you that in two months you can call me Moss, because in two months I'll begin hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

With every day that goes by I feel more ready for it

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Summit graffitti.

Peeping out from underneath layers of ice are signatures, some scrawled over a hundred years ago.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

You say dystopia, I say utopia.

 I've been on a dystopian future literature kick lately: rereading The Road, revisiting Margaret Atwood's books the Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake, and finally getting around to reading America Pacifica. There is something incredibly fascinating in thinking about how nature will eventually reclaim our dwellings and erase the scars we've left on the landscape.
I find a lot of beauty in decay and I hate most commercial architecture so I find it particularly soothing to envision it abandoned and overrun with vines and brush. I'm secretly cultivating a strident anti-consumerism stance (and a healthy dose of self-loathing for my role in perpetuating the cycle) and the thought of civilizations crumbling is no longer a depressing prospect but just an inevitable reality given our current trajectory. (Take note: apparently this blog is about to start documenting my transformation into a misanthropic hermit. I was definitely born in the wrong era for this, but I'll do my best to make it work.)
I really enjoy Alex Lucas's work for the reasons noted above. Frankly, I'd be way happier picking through briar bushes in a spray-painted shell of a Walmart than I would be digging through the sale racks of one in its current state. I especially like the fact that the top piece is acrylic and silk screen on book pages. Neat. His work reminds me of something else that I've already posted about: the 100 Abandoned Houses project. Also neat (albeit slightly depressing if you care about the economic health of the US).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sore shoulders and solo walking.

My pack bounced uncomfortably as I huffed and puffed my way towards the trail head on a snowed-in road that meandered for three miles at a gradual incline. I ran because my competitive side refused to allow friends on skis to overtake me and my hour long head-start. I ran to escape the cold even as I began sweating and stripped down to a tank top on a cold New Hampshire winter's night in February. I ran because it hurt. And I ran because I love the feeling that comes with being alone in the woods headed towards a destination on a trail, moving fast. It's a feeling of purpose. A feeling that I am using my body the way it is meant to be used.

The other day I looked over my photos and felt overwhelming longing; nostalgia for even the mundane and dreary aspects of hiking and backcountry caretaking. It's almost beginning to feel as if the only thing I can excel at is living in the woods. This is both a good feeling and an unnerving one.

I had almost seven miles by myself to think about this, walking through the night to reach a hut filled with warmth and friends. In the eyes of a long distance hiker it was a small amount of mileage but it was just enough time and distance to think about why this lifestyle is so important to me. My departure from comfort and financial stability happened for a reason. It's changing me. I need this.

So now I sit gently probing my bruised shoulders where the pack's weight bore down. It's a nice reminder of what really matters in my life.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Annie Leibovitz is an iconic American photographer who really needs no introduction. I am super inspired by her most recent publication, which differs from her other work in that there are no portraits of people: it consists solely of objects and places. It's a documentation of places she had always wanted to go to and things she had always longed to see. I love this concept and want to create my own version eventually. Seeking out what matters to you, taking the time to truly view things, even simple objects, with clarity and appreciation, documenting them in book format... what's not to love? The photos from Pilgrimage are currently exhibited at the Smithsonian

Images are Georgia O'Keefe's hand made pastels, Annie Oakley's target shot, and Niagara Falls on the cover of Pilgrimage. “I would encourage everyone to make their own list,” she says. “My book is a meditation on how to live. It’s an old-fashioned idea, but you should always try to do what you love to do.” - Annie Leibovitz

Happy Friday!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

My favorite illustrator.

Carson Ellis is the bee's knees. I love everything that she creates and her style of linework is pretty similar to mine (albeit far superior).  I mean, look at the pictures below... you can't lose with Trillium, invertebrates and badgers with rickshaws! She and her husband (Colin Meloy, lead singer for the Decemberists) have teamed up and created a fantastic children's book that is pretty popular with adults, too (myself included). If you like a good lighthearted fantasy/adventure read or children's literature, I'd suggest checking out it. You can even download the first four chapters for free! Check it out here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Yes, please!

You can download high-res images of nebulae via the Hubble Site! HOW COOL IS THAT?! I'm definitely getting a poster (or three) printed, regardless of the fact that I'll be homeless in two months. Thanks to Michelle Armas for blogging about this!

Top to bottom: Horsehead Nebula, The Carina Nebula: Star Birth in the Extreme (is that not an epic title, or what?), and Close-Up of Helix Nebula. (If the universe doesn't blow your mind, I don't know what will.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What holiday?

Do you like my rock? I found it in Maine on the shore of a pond that the Appalachian trail meandered past. I squirreled it away in my pack thinking maybe some day I'd find the other half. And no, that isn't a metaphor for a secret yearning for a love life. I just think it'd be pretty neat to have two halves of a rock that form a heart.

I don't have too much to say about Valentine's day. I could rant about commercialized consumerism, but that's not very fun. My plan for Valentine's day is to do a solo winter hike somewhere... however, if I show up at a site and there's an intrepid couple with the same plan as me that will just be terrible for both of us. I mean really... just flat-out TERRIBLE.

As much as I enjoy solo hiking I have done an awful lot of it... enough to be appreciative of company when I have it. However, while other people are watching movies together or enjoying a nice dinner or doing whatever the heck it is that couples do I will be spooning in my zero degree sleeping bag with my cuddly, loving ice axe. It should be pretty darn romantic... the forecast isn't exactly balmy, as you can see.

ps: update - after spending the night in my car at the trailhead (it was cold enough to need both my zero degree bag and another as a supplement even at that elevation) and waking up to predictions of 70-80 mph wind and windchill of minus fifty below I've decided to downgrade my plans a bit!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let's make this happen.

Dear Jonathan Levitt: I know almost nothing about you, but I do know that based on your photography alone we should probably hang out. Yes, you take better photos than me... but in terms of subject matter, I am willing to poke around the woods and eat berries and admire fungi and take pictures any day. Can we be friends?

Jonathan's photography:

Proof that I can hang:

ps: Jonathan's website has more of his work. I first discovered his photography via Miss Moss.

pps: The forecast predicted minus fifty below zero for windchill and I'm going hiking... WISH ME LUCK.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Did you know...

that there is a trail called Hall of Mosses? Located in one of the most lush temperate rain forests left in the United States? I will be visiting it AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Primitive nature.

I wish I could invite these artists to collaborate on a mural on my imaginary cabin's wall.

From top to bottom: two by Megan Diddie,  two by Maria Mantello, one by Sofia Arnold, one by Deedee Cheriel.