Who Am I?

David Bowie passed away last night. That’s the first thing I saw this morning when I woke up. He was a part of my childhood. I remember when Labyrinth was released. I was bound and determined to go see it. Took the paper out, got the show times, and plotted my ride on public transportation to get there. As I was only 12 at the time, my mother didn’t seem to think that riding Tri-Met all the way to Jantzen Beach by myself was a good idea, and alas I had to wait until it was released on video.


At any rate, his passing last night has gotten me contemplative this morning. One of the last great rock stars has left us. There will never be another quite like him. He was never afraid to push the envelope, and be exactly who he was. I think we can all learn a lot from that. Which gets me to thinking….why do I find it so hard to be myself?

I have been through a lot the last year and a half – my oldest daughter leaving to go live with her dad and the legal fight that followed, some health issues where the word C was uttered as a possible diagnosis more than once (and thankfully that was not the case), separation from my life partner of 10 years and taking the first frightening steps to go out on my own in the world again. In doing that, more than one person – my grandmother, my oldest daughter, a close friend or two – has remarked how much “more myself” I seem.


Here’s the thing – I really don’t know who myself is anymore. It feels like my entire world has changed, and me along with it. I know what I am passionate about – my girls, photography, and FOOD (cooking it, eating it, reading about it, etc.). I am blessed to have a group of friends to call family – that are always there for me even if I don’t see or talk to them every day. As I took those first few tentative steps to living on my own again, in my cozy little cabin near the Salmon River, I was overwhelmed with gratitude at how so many people came forward to figuratively and literally hold my hand through that. As I was born stubborn, the hardest thing in the world for me to do is ask for help, let alone take it. I have to learn that reaching out to others is not a sign of weakness, but strength, and generally people will be more upset if you don’t ask when you are truly in need.

There were times, more often than not, where I was overwhelmed and just wanted to collapse, but kept putting one foot in front of the other, for the sake of my kids and MYSELF. This shit is hard. I am not going to lie. I’m not just talking about my financial hurdles. At times I am very emotional, mourning my life as it was, wishing nothing more that I could go back to my old life. Though I know that wasn’t truly living. I often feel lost – like there is some hole inside me and I am not sure what I am supposed to fill it with. Maybe that void has always been there, and with all the dramatic changes I am just realizing it. It is all too easy for me to shut myself in my own little world and be afraid to venture out into the bigger one that is out there. I find comfort in being a hermit, not having to face things such as all my insecurities. If I don’t have to see people then I won’t feel so awkward and like I don’t really fit in anywhere anymore.

What is my identity now? I feel like more than just a mom. I am no longer anyone’s lover or wife. I am never happier than when I go out and put my eyes behind a camera lens. Though sometimes I think people see me just as the girl who is a little overly passionate about bacon. What is it that I need to find inside of myself to make me feel complete? What should that hole I feel be filled with?

So, I am going to take some inspiration from Mr. Ziggy Stardust – go out in the world and find who it is I am, with no apologies. I still don’t know who exactly the reborn Cari is but I am looking forward to getting to know her better.


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Frozen Horsetail Falls

Despite temperatures in the mid 20’s and gusty east wind, I couldn’t resist taking a drive out the Historic Columbia River Highway to see if any of the waterfalls had frozen over. Usually it only takes a couple of days in these conditions to turn it into a winter wonderland. Maybe one of the many tourists visiting on this holiday weekend was Jack Frost?


To be honest, I am not really happy with how most of my photos of the day turned out. I was testing out a new to me tripod, on top of the wind blowing and the light not being completely right. But, a couple managed to turn out.


I am especially happy with this one of my daughter, Sage, and my little dog Pixie Lou. They were both shivering, but were real troopers and let me take their photo.


I have had a lot of life changes in the final half of 2015 – separation from my spouse, moving into a new little cabin on the Salmon River, and other normal life events that have kept me from my photo adventures. Today was the first time since my birthday trip in October that I had picked up the “real” camera and gone out exploring. Feels good to be back out in nature, being creative and spending time with those I love at the same time. I am looking forward to much more of this in 2016.

Photo courtesy of Sage Reeves

Photo courtesy of Sage Reeves

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Big Spring Creek Falls

Last weekend, in celebration of the start of my 41st year on the planet, I spent a few days with my pal Sassy exploring areas around Hood River that I had not visited before. Believe it or not, there are still corners of the Gorge I have not seen before.

On the last day of our trip, we decided to take a drive up to Trout Lake, and spend some time exploring around Mount Adams. I haven’t spent much time around that area, so we were kinda flying blind. We picked a Forest Service road, and just started driving.


Big Spring Creek Falls is one of those spots we stumbled upon. We were overjoyed to find such a beautiful, moss covered waterfall. Sassy sat and took in the peace of the place, while I climbed all over it with my camera and tripod.


This truly a magical spot. Granted it was Monday, but we only passed a handful of other cars the entire day. I look forward to going back and exploring this area more, away from the crowds that you find in other parts of the Gorge and around Mount Hood. There is nothing these two explorers enjoy more than “discovering” a new waterfall.

Where will your next adventure take you? – Cari aka “Cookie”


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National Eat Your Vegetables Day

“Down South, even our vegetables have some pig hidden somewhere in it. A vegetable isn’t a vegetable without a little ham hock.” – Paula Deen


All of us probably had a Cast Iron Women at some point in our life tell us to eat our vegetables, so here is your friendly reminder. Enjoy some today, no matter how you like them – fried up with a little bacon, in Thai inspired stir fry, or maybe a tasty summer salad.

What’s your favorite way to eat your vegetables?

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Mount Hood Wildflowers – Bear Grass

Bear Grass, also known as turkey beard, squaw grass, elk grass, and soap grass.


Bear Grass – Umbrella Falls in the background

Actually a member of the lily family, it grows in subalpine meadows from British Columbia south to California, and as far east as Montana and Wyoming.


It is sometimes referred to as fire lily, as the rhizomes survive wildfires and it is often the first flower to bloom repopulate the landscape after such an event.


Bear Grass is more than just a wildflower. Native tribes had many uses for this plant. Poultices of the roots were made to treat wounds.

The leaves a favorite basket making material – as they dry they become tough and durable, are easily dyed and made into watertight vessels.


Image courtesy of Maryhill Museum of Art – http://www.maryhillmuseum.org/

I like it because it’s pretty. Right now these flowers are reaching peak bloom. You can find them almost anywhere around Mount Hood, above pass level. The snow free slopes of Mount Hood Meadows are a particularly good spot to see them. Or, if you are traveling through Government Camp on your way to mountain adventures, you will see them almost everywhere along side the highway.

Bear Grass Meadow at Mount Hood Meadows

Bear Grass Meadow at Mount Hood Meadows

 Want to take the hike and see for yourself? Click here for all the information on the Umbrella Falls Loop Hike you need to plan your own adventure.

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