Robert Burns Day and Happy Birthday, Nevis!

Robert Burns' birthday is celebrated worldwide on January 25, and we celebrate Nevis' birthday today also.

The birthday boy is quite the dignified wee Scot.

Today is Robert Burns Day, the day set aside to celebrate Scotland’s first national poet by drinking whiskey, eating haggis, and reciting Burns’ poems while wearing a kilt (for the gents, ladies wear regular evening gowns).

Nevis was whelped on January 20, 2012, close enough to Burns Day to celebrate them together. Nevis is definitely down with the eating haggis part of the festivities, lol!

In honor of these two great Scots, here is a little excerpt from Burns’ poem, The Twa Dogs: A Tale, which describes his own dog, Luath:

The tither was a ploughman’s collie—
A rhyming, ranting, raving billie,
Wha for his friend an’ comrade had him,
And in freak had Luath ca’d him,
After some dog in Highland Sang,
Was made lang syne,—Lord knows how lang.

He was a gash an’ faithfu’ tyke,
As ever lap a sheugh or dyke.
His honest, sonsie, baws’nt face
Aye gat him friends in ilka place;
His breast was white, his touzie back
Weel clad wi’ coat o’ glossy black;
His gawsie tail, wi’ upward curl,
Hung owre his hurdie’s wi’ a swirl.

You can read the rest at Burns Country, dedicated to all things Robert Burns, including an online anthology of the poet’s works with links to the translations of the Scottish dialect that Burns used.

Happy Birthday to Nevis, my own gash and faithful tyke!

On my walk: Snowshoeing at Aspen Vista Trail

Snowshoeing in the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico with 2 Scottish terriers.

Off-piste fun with the Scottish Terrorists!

Last week, the Wrenaissance Man and I went snowshoeing at Aspen Vista Trail in the Santa Fe National Forest. We were surprised to discover very little new snow on the mountain, since we had been getting frequent and heavy snow showers over the first half of the week out in the “flat” lands outside of town.

View of off-piste snowshoe trail in the Santa Fe National Forest, NM.

Heading uphill into the aspen forest in search of fresh powder.

We had some great fun going off-piste up through the forest along side Tesuque Creek. The Scottish Terrorists were having a ball running along side us, poking their noses into snowbanks to snuffle out the hidden tunnels of mice and voles. Corrie eventually got too cold and wet, so we carried her back down to the trail in the Wrenaissance Man’s day pack. By the time we returned to the main trail, she was ready to run again.

Ponderosa pine forest in the Santa Fe National Forest.

We could hear Tesuque Creek running under the blanket of snow as we hiked along the trail made by snowboarders and skiers.

Aspen Vista Trail is the last trailhead before the Santa Fe Ski Basin. It is very broad and easy hiking because the trail is also a utility/fire road for NPS vehicles. The Big Tesuque Creek Trail below connects with Aspen Vista about 10 minutes walk uphill from the Aspen Vista trailhead. During the winter, it’s a popular outing for cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the Santa Fe area.

Snowshoeing is a great way to get some intense cardio in during the snowy winter months. The great thing is that if you hike or cross-country ski, you probably already own most of the gear. Here are some tips on what to wear and what to carry with you.

On your back, thin, light layers you can pull on and off:

  • A light- to mid-weight, wicking base layer, top and bottom. Ladies, you’ll want to add a medium- or high-impact sports bra.
  • A light- to mid-weight insulation layer on top, like fleece or wool.
  • Light-weight, water-resistant, (insulated optional) pants.
  • An insulated, water-resistant top layer. I like a fleece-lined, wind-stopper vest.
  • Hat and mittens/gloves.
  • Light- to mid-weight wool socks for cross-country skiing. Thor-Lo and Smartwool are good choices.
  • Either hiking/cross-country ski boots with gaiters, or waterproof, insulated winter boots with traction soles.

In your bag, depending on how long you plan to be out:

  • Water
  • Map and/or GPS
  • Snacks
  • Lightweight down jacket, in case the weather changes or you stop for lunch
  • Lip balm, sunblock, kleenex, a zip bag for trash/waste

Modern snowshoes come in several styles. Snow Shoe Magazine has a good guide for beginners. REI also offers a thorough buyer’s guide with video. Basically, the shape of the snowshoe will vary depending on the type of activity you will be doing out on the mountain. There are very small, narrow snowshoes for trail runners, broad and stumpy styles for the average hiker or snowboarder, and very long snowshoes designed for the backcountry and steep terrain.

There are two basic styles of binding: fixed-rotation and pivot-rotation. Before you invest in a pair of snowshoes, I recommend renting a pair at a local ski center and trying them out to see which design works for you. After researching, we decided to get the following snowshoe models at REI, where we purchase most of our outdoor gear:

Some thoughts on completing the PiBoIdMo challenge

Nevis the black Scottish terrier dog has a dignified and thoughtful appearance

Sexy beast. Nevis would love to pen rabbit murder mysteries. Sadly, a lack of opposable thumbs has stymied this talented storyteller.

This morning I jotted some notes down for my final journal entry in the Picture Book Idea Month challenge. This is the first time I’ve ever completed an internet challenge event. I’m not really one for these public group goal-meeting activities: In fact, I usually avoid them. What made this one more accessible for me was the fact that we didn’t have to publish or upload our work online, thus sidestepping the whole exhibitionistic aspect of so many of these events.

Some things I noticed as I wrote my daily entries:

  • Quite a few entries were based on New Mexico life and culture. This is the first time in the 2 years I’ve lived here that local flavor has influenced my creativity. I guess it means I’ve finally settled in! 🙂
  • A few entries came out of some deep childhood memories, not always pleasant. After I wrote them down, I said, “Whoa, that’s kind of scary. Let me sit with that a while.” Don’t know if or when they’ll get more exploration.
  • At least 2 entries were snippets of conversation from the day before.
  • Characters predominated over plots.
  • Often, I’d jot down a brief idea, opening the door to other, more detailed ideas.
  • Other times, I’d write a quick idea on one day, only to have more details for it the next.

Tomorrow, I’ll go to Tara Lazar’s blog and sign off in confirmation of completing the project.   Thanks to Tara Lazar for her hard work in organizing and hosting this large event and all of the guest bloggers who provided inspirational essays about their experiences as writers and illustrators over the course of the month.

Did you participate in this challenge? What did you notice about your ideas or the writing process?

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