Author Archive

Lockdown/Slowdown #3

24/05/2020

Lots, and lots of apples. We have 111 fruit and nut trees, most of which are apple. Conner and Jess helped us with this year’s harvest.

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We then made apple sauce, butter, apple cider vinegar and maybe we’ll get at some apple crumble before we’re all done. Later you’ll see our trial and errors at making an apple press and the final results! Yum.#purenewzealand #lakewanakanz #wanaka #lovewanak
#mountainspirt #applecider #mountainspirit

We’ve Lost a Good One.

24/05/2020

This post is dedicated to the late Maria Figueroa Norabuena, who I consider the heart of my Peruvian Family. The matriarch, she died recently of complications while in Lima getting medical treatment, and is survived by her husband Daniel, (pictured), a large family of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren mostly in Huaraz, and the surrounding villages, in Peru.  She lived in a small hamlet outside of Huaraz where she and her husband baked bread for many of the townspeople and restaurants in Huaraz. They also grew crops and had farm animals.  My condolences go out to Daniel and his family.

Daniel and Maria

Daniel, and his late wife Maria of Huaraz, Peru

I met Maria through my friend David Sanchez Figueroa, co-owner of the vegetarian Restaurant Salud y Vida, (Health and Life) when I was mountain guiding in Huaraz some years ago. I became godfather to her grandchild Joseph, and have always felt part of the family. It must be a past-life thing but we’ve all been very close over the years of visits.

With the coming of video calling, I was able to keep in close contact with the whole family, and especially with Maria while she was with her daughter in Lima undergoing treatment.  I had the opportunity to spend some screen-time with her before she died and am so grateful for that time. It reminds me, again that life is short.

I have a vivid image, (and a video), in my mind of my wife Amanda, and Maria, playing “Laugh Dancing” in the restaurant’s kitchen. Someone starts a sound track, and the object of the game is partner up with someone, and dance with a straight face. The first one to crack a smile, usually caused by the opponent’s antics, loses. Maria won, hands down. I don’t remember the exact maneuver she pulled, but it had us (all generations of the family) laughing hysterically.

When I first came to Peru as a mountain guide, Maria used to pinch my cheek with her fingers, saying “Que Pena” (“What a pity”) when she learned at my age of 40+, I still had no wife or child. (Since then I’ve been married since 2009 with an eight-year-old son, which made Maria much more happy with me) Every climbing season, when I’d come back into town, she’d give me the pinching, “Que Pena” again, when I was still in the same sorry state.

Becoming a Godfather to her grandchild, Joseph, and seeing what family can really be in Peru, changed me. I grew up as a bit of a narcissist, mountain guiding, single, and although an outdoor educator, still caught up in my seeking the perfect high. A light bulb when off in my heart when I observed what family really means in the indigenous an Latino sense. We had Peru on our short list of destinations of where we were considering having a family, precisely because of that observation.

Maria was a strong woman with a keen sense of self, sense of humour, a huge heart, and a fantastic matriarch who will be missed by her large family, and even… a gringo here in New Zealand.

Since this post, I’ve received this comment from Maria’s grandaughter, Jina (translated from Spanish):

Thank you very much Randall for this publication in tribute to my beloved Grandmother, she was just as you describe her, she left such an imprint on every corner she traveled, she was a woman very loved by all of us who now mourn her sudden departure. You are right, she was in a very delicate treatment that began in January, but on 15.05.2020 her body did not resist.  I still remember every joke she made to me, even one day before her death we joked, and she laughed out loud.  Always her take on life was all joy.
Perhaps you were motivated by her to form your own home, with her phrase, “what a shame”, because she wanted to see everyone with family, family as she had it with my grandfather, who showed that true love exists.
Their advice is recorded in my heart.

I’ll never forget my grandmother. She will always be in my memory and heart.

Huaraz Maria Obit

Near the hamlet in which Maria lived, with the Cordillera Blanca, Peru’s highest mountain range, in the near distance (copyright 2020 Dexter R Richards)

Don’t do it! Don’t Go Back to Normal

24/05/2020

This wonderful statement by Sony Renee Taylor has been circulating around lately, and it’s surely a wake up call –

“We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.”
You can find out more at the Facebook page Over Grow the System

And from Brenna Quinlan on her Facebook page….

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The first step towards creating something is imagining it. We imagine the smell of fresh bread as we tend our sourdough starter. We imagine the taste of ripe tomatoes as we plant out our seedlings. When we lay down the first stone, we imagine laughter and stories from future meals shared in our new home. The ability to create, in our minds, a possible future, is what gives that possibility a chance of being realised.

If all we imagine is business as usual, then that is the world we will create. But if we draw on our curiosity and creativity, we can hold in our minds something much greater than the world we are in. And once that happens, we can begin to act. Find out more about Brennan here.

Lockdown/Slowdown #2

24/05/2020

All of our images in this series will be in mostly chronological order, except for this one, which tells the story of how we all fared by the wind-down of phase 3 into phase 2.
Our lockdown bubble was my wife Amanda, our son Dexter, and our two “Woofrs” (willing workers on organic farms) who we took in the day before lockdown here in New Zealand.

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We lucked out with Conner and Jess, professional farmers from Maryland, who rode out the uncertain times with us. This shot was taken the morning the left for another Woofing position. They worked hard on many projects here at Mountain Spirit. One of which was the design of the apple press pictured here. More on how that came together soon!

On another note, I’ve got a bit of background in photojournalism and newspaper writing (United Press International, local papers etc), so I hope to provide you with some useful and entertaining posts going forward. Amanda will also be posting. I think you’ll enjoy her perspective.
So that’s the lockdown crew.
#purenewzealand #wanaka #lovewanaka #lockdown #mountainspirit

Lockdown/Slowdown #1

24/05/2020

Let me catch you up on Mountain Spirit New Zealand during these “interesting” times. The first post, was first published on our Instagram feed in March 29th 2020. I thought I’d include it below as a starting point.

May 25, 2020
As New Zealand comes out of lockdown from “Level 3” to “Level 2”, things are still pretty quiet in Wanaka. The kids are back in school which frees me up a bit to post what we couldn’t during lockdown. I thought we’d share what we did here at Mountain Spirit in the following posts. Maybe it will give you some ideas, good for thought, or just some entertainment. Let us know what you think as well.
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March 29th 2020
As New Zealand went into lock-down (Stage 4) a few days ago, we had a beautiful sunset to signal our weeks of isolation here in the Wanaka. Although we are home bound, there’s lots of activities and jobs to do. We’ll fill you in as we tick along during this pandemic. We send you well wishes during this time.

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Another Study Proves It – Gratitude Rewires the Brain

17/11/2019

Tulip at Mtnspirit

Editor’s note: We host a weekly Sunday meditation here at Mountain Spirit New Zealand near Wanaka. Yesterday, it was my turn to host, and I re-introduced the simple three items of incense, flowers and a candle. The flowers especially are a great reminder to be grateful. I used to use the simple three items during my meditations after a family loss some years ago, and although I use them off and on, now I’ll make it a more regular thing. Its funny how simple things can bring you back on track even during the toughest of times. It’s all about gratitude. If you’ve not seen it, check out What the Bleep! movie which also served, and still does, as a good reminder to be grateful for what we do have. It’s along the same lines at the article below – showing, through science what the Eastern Mystics have known all along. Randall Richards

Neuroscience Reveals: Gratitude Literally Rewires Your Brain to be Happier

 

by DailyHealthPost, 2019

When you say “thank you”, do you really mean it or is it just politeness to which you give little attention? Neuroscientists have found that if you really feel it when you say it, you’ll be happier and healthier. The regular practice of expressing gratitude is not a New Age fad; it’s a facet of the human condition that reaps true benefits to those who mean it.

Psychologists Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami published a study in 2015 that looked at the physical outcomes of practicing gratitude. Read more…

 

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

17/11/2019
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Amanda Richards, Summit of Mt. Roy, Wanaka, New Zealand

By Alanna Ketler of Collective Evolution

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!
Hiking in Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin. Read more….

Learn the Real Reasons of the Bolivian Coup of President Morales

17/11/2019

Bolivia CrossTalk RT“The pattern” continues, now in Bolivia, as explained by these well-informed international experts on a show called CrossTalk. For a different take from the MSM, check out this interview. Although I’ve not yet heard any comment from Confessions of an Economic Hit-Man author John Perkins on the subject of Morales’ departure, I think he’s working on something so keep an eye out.

I’ve spent some time in Bolivia, running a few educational programs with Mountain Spirit, and even  considered moving there at one time. It was uplifting to see what Evo Morales as doing for his country, and I was surprised to hear about the election improprieties. When I dug into the story a bit, it started to make sense. It’s all about lithium.  Also see Lee  Camp’s Redacted Tonight Episode 268 for some eye-opening facts on Bolivia’s Coup. Also see a past Mountain Spirit Blog post on Morales and Bolivia

REI: Closing on Black Friday for Good

14/11/2019
REI Closed Blk Frdy

REI’s Seattle Store..Take note of the “day out” banner. Regaining sanity

Below are a couple of excerpts from Jerry Stritzke’s piece on REI (Recreation Equipment Incorporated coop). A great idea started four years ago, it seems to be catching on. Even though REI loses a lot of revenue in some ways, they’ve made great strides in re-instilling a sense of sanity in an otherwise completely “world-gone-crazy” holiday shopping season.

By: Jerry Stritzke on #OptOutside 2018

Thursday and Friday, REI will be closed. For #OptOutside, all of our 12,000+ employees will be paid to take time off and be with family and friends. We’re asking each to take someone they love who might not get outside as much with them. If we’re honest, these are stressful times, and we hope it will help bring people closer together.

When #OptOutside started four years ago, it was about reclaiming a day that was distorting a time to give thanks for what we have, and re-grounding in what we value most in life as an outdoor community. Back then, closing down on the busiest retail day of the year shocked the system. Now, millions of people have chosen to make a walk in the park part of their family tradition.

We have been inspired by the momentum. Being together outside has brought us together as a community. It’s unusual in today’s atmosphere to find a movement that unites rather than divides.

That’s why, this year, we chose to focus on the healing power of being outside.
Read the rest of this article here…

Sage, Not just for Smudging Anymore

03/10/2019

Study: Burning Sage Kills 94% of Airborne Bacteria, Disease-Causing Strains Stay Gone for 30 Days
Sage
From Returntonow.net

The ancient ritual of burning sage to purify the air turns out to be more than a superstition! The Native American ritual of “smudging” or burning sage to clear the air of “bad energy” turns out to ward away more than just “negative vibes.” Read more…