Elephant Adventure 29: Look Up!

Look up! What do you see?

If I’m outside, blue skies, fluffy clouds, and nature. And the occasional utility pole, plus wires.

If I’m inside, mostly utility fixtures. Lights, microphones, wires, vents. Looking up is an afterthought to most of us, which is perhaps why we put all that up there.

The final discussion talked about how adults don’t notice much about their environment in comparison to children. It’s true, and our indoor environments are clearly a reflection of that.

Elephant Adventure 30: Defining and Defending

Update: 2018-04-26 @ 6:43 PM

I’m visiting my folks right now, and while running around the indoor playground at South Shore Plaza, Penny laid down on her back and stared at the ceiling. “I like to look at the clouds,” she said. Turns out there’s a skylight above the play area, and the clouds are beautiful and fluffy today.

Look up!

Tall Walls

Spent a couple hours on the top rope walls for the first time in weeks yesterday. Some observations on what it’s like to boulder for weeks:

Endurance, ugh. Power through!

I’m better at hugging the wall when needed. It got me all the way up a 5.11a with the tiniest (to me) of holds. Thinking about it now, I remember the bouldering problem that taught me that.

I used a heel hook mid climb without thinking about it. Worked beautifully. Yaaass!!!

I found myself looking at a mini leap 20 feet off the ground, realized I’d done this without a rope many times before, and went for it. Turns out it was it wasn’t even hard. Just mentally hard.

If it’s not hard it’s not fun?

Stubbornness, It Gets The Job Done

One month ago, I spent a morning doing this, over and over:

I must have jumped and failed 20 times that morning. I probably jumped and failed 20 more times both before and after that morning.

I refuse to admit defeat, so I kept at it. I thought about what I could be doing differently. Jump harder? Pull up more? Pull in? I was so close. All I needed was another couple inches to wrap my hand around the hold. I climbed it in reverse a few times just to get a feel for the body position.

I knew I could do it. I just had to do it before they refreshed the problems.

I watched many try and fail. I watched a couple succeed. They were just… stronger. Quite simply, they could jump higher.

I could be stronger too. But I also knew I could find an extra couple inches with technique. I just didn’t have that technique yet.

Last weekend, I watched a high school kid do the jump. He was super excited about having just figured it out, and was practicing it over and over.

His jump had a weird kink in it. What was that?

It got me thinking. Perhaps a single leap wasn’t what I needed. Maybe I needed to push with my feet, pull up and in with my arms, and then finish the move by pushing up with my left arm.

Three attempts later, I got my hand around the hold and hung on to finish.

Success! Joy! Relief.

Climbing has been a fantastic exercise in grit and deliberate practice.

Hola Google

Yesterday, I took the plunge. I set my Android system language to Spanish.

This changed not only system text to Spanish, but also application text in apps that use the system setting.

No big deal. I’m used to deciphering headers and menus now. I’ve been doing it for a couple months.

The big deal is that Google Assistant now listens for Spanish first, and translates my English into Spanish garble unless I Speak. Super. Slowly. And. Enunciate. Very. Clearly.

It’s easier for me to speak Spanish. So I do. Google even understands me most of the time.

In other news, I realized today that I don’t translate peligro and advertencia to English. These words are all over the place, so I’ve learned them from context. It’s interesting to understand a word simply for what it is.

Gentle Flick

As if to test my new approach to spiders, one of them took up residence in my car and proceeded to run across the inside of my windshield while I was on the freeway Friday night.

This happened once, two years ago. It did not end well for the spider.

As Friday’s spider veered upward directly in front of me, I gently encouraged it to alter course by blowing on it. It turned around, hid in the corner, then reappeared on the windshield directly above me.

It ran some more, then hid in the corner again, by the door.

When I got home, I opened the door and thought about how to get the spider out. I settled on a gentle flick with a credit card.

I learned that “gentle” and “flick” don’t exactly go together.

Sorry, dead spider. :(

Coffee Tasting

My local Philz held a coffee tasting yesterday. I signed up. Of course I signed up.

This is where I admit to consuming my daily coffee(s) with liberal amounts of dairy.* Blasphemous, I know.

Blasphemous, and exactly why I wanted to go to a coffee tasting. I wanted to learn to appreciate coffees on their own, and also compare different varieties and roasts side by side. We cupped, we slurped, we paired.

The verdict: I still wouldn’t drink a cup of black coffee on its own.

That said, I discovered that black coffee can pair amazingly well with food. The trick is to match the bean and the food.

Buttery, chocolatey, fruity pastries and buttery, chocolately, fruity coffees. (Not all at the same time.) Like flavors paired well together, and finally made all the pastries at coffee shops make sense. Not that I ever thought coffee shop pastries didn’t make sense. Pastries are always make sense.

My favorite pairing, and a surprise to some at the tasting, was dried mango with the Fair Trade Peru. Coffee and dried fruit? It works!

On the flip side, I mixed my various pairings to experience what doesn’t work. Lots of things don’t work. How, then, are we supposed to find these magical pairings without months of trial and error?

By going to a coffee tasting!

Thanks Philz! Y’all are the bestest.

* This is also where I clarify what kind of dairy is allowed: extra heavy whipping cream for coffee, whole milk for lattes. I’m at least not watering down my beans with fat free nonsense. Fat is flavor.

You’d Better Not Be Here When I Come Back

For the most part, I’ve learned to coexist with spiders. I’ve not been nice to them in the past, but now I understand they’re not out to get me.

Mostly, they’re trying to stay out of my way. So now when I see a spider in my house, I say to it, “You’d better not be here when I come back,” and leave the room.

They’re generally not there when I return.

This arrangement seems to work well for both of us.

The other day, I saw a silverfish out of the corner of my eye. I dislike silverfish a heck of a lot more than I dislike spiders, but before I could get to it, it started spazzing out, wiggling in place. The next thing I knew, a spider a third of its size was on it, wrapping it up. The next morning, not a trace remained.

I was so impressed.

Elephant Adventure 28: Water

Water. Notice it. It’s everywhere. It falls from the sky, it’s part of us, it’s in the air, in the foods we eat. It’s one of the things that makes the Earth what it is. Water is everything. Water is life.

Water is also that stuff I’m learning to swim in. Because water is powerful, and if we’re not careful it can also claim our life.

Like these past few days. The floods in Massachusetts. The avalanches in Tahoe.

I breathe water. I drink water. I swim in water. I skate on water.

The final discussion talked about how ubiquitous, flexible, and impermanent water is. Can we be the same? I feel this is one of the key concepts on this journey of mindfulness. And really, understanding and embracing it makes all the small annoyances of life not matter.

Understanding this is crucial to achieving equanimity. Or, in my words, becoming imperturbable.

I love that when I wrote that post, I had no idea I’d make the connection I just did here. Impermanence wasn’t even a concept in my head. Progress. It feels… peaceful.

Elephant Adventure 29: Look Up!

Elephant Adventure 27: Silly Walking

In a nutshell: Do a silly walk and watch how it changes your mood.

This was a fun and easy exercise. Silly is my jam! I’m prone to random silly walks even when I’m not Adventuring.

I usually silly walk because I feel good, though. This exercise was meant to lighten a not so good state of mind.

I guess I can say that silly walking makes a good state of mind even better.

This exercise was meant to show us that we can affect our own mood by giving us a tool to do so. There’s no learning curve and it gives immediate results. Perhaps this would be a good exercise for kids.

Elephant Adventure 28: Water


I haven’t written about climbing in nearly 2 months. I make it to the gym about twice a week these days. Not often enough to improve by leaps and bounds. Also not often enough to totally stress out my hands. Often enough to keep things interesting.

I’ve mostly been working my way through V3s. I’ve had to work through many of the current V3s piece by piece, then put everything together. I find this process incredibly satisfying. I actually like it more than flashing them, because it makes me think and try and think and try and think and try again, sometimes over several visits. It’s great for honing technique, and learning to trust my abilities.

So no, I’m not climbing V5s yet, and that’s okay. I’m building a solid foundation for the day I do.