Topside; topsy-turvy. That's how I've been feeling temporarily living/working up at nearly 10,000 ft. elevation these past few weeks. Getting my sea-legs though- or more like lungs... I've definitely noticed how my breathing changes when I'm up there. Human biology as influenced by the environment (altitude)- more on that concept below...

Topside; the 'high country' of Tuolumne Meadows. Yea, that's what I call it. I've always liked (re-)naming things to better fit my perceptions of something. Stored lesson plans that I re-use over and over again, or one-offs suddenly gather together under the umbrella organization of "Holly's WMDs" on my Mac. Anything remotely controversial, or needing to remain anonymous, OR I just have a brain fart and can't remember get catalogued under "da kine"- which has sub-listings, of course... Because da kine.

Sunday morning: Coffee, bed, Sierra Nevadas, da kine. See! It works. Some know da kine. Some suspect da kine. Some of da kine have no knowledge of da kine.

I just spent the past 2 weeks living/working up in da kine. It was a nice break from hot, smokey El Portal. This whole 'mountain girl' experiment presses on. I am soaking in so much different energy than I've previously been exposed to. I"m trying to think if I ever lived 'in the mountains'. I think this is the first.

I'm getting to know my mountain home, slowly. I feel the subtle weather changes. It's still summer, but there is something different. I can't exactly place it, but I know it.

NOTE: Currently honoring my auditory canals and treating them to my fav new station that MeGra turned me onto:


Kit Kat Max, Pure Pepper,  Bimbo Bimbo, The Roots, April Showers, Doing Me, I'm Waiting For My Man... and the music continues to delight

S/he who feels it, knows it. Yea. So, what am I feeling lately?  Let's see what lexical choices I can muster up to attempt to describe this feature film that plays through my being. Always on, always trying to capture a moment and weave it into something lasting. Why? I don't know. Or I do, yet words fail me. Or they don't. Maybe words evade me. Yes- that perfect word to summarize a feeling; it gets lost in translation quite frequently. When can, can. When no can, no can.

Hollyday's surfing highlights from the recent past:


A series of Stanford University lectures on human behavioral biology by a funky professor, who I would be honored to be a student of. Ar turned me onto this site. I'm finishing up the 1st one and know (feel) I'll be sticking around for the entirety. Human biology; I've always had a flirtatious relationship with this concept and want to delve deeper into its connections with the environment and hormones, etc. Another thing I love about this link is that it's in itself a cultural interaction; my Turkish friend turned me onto this American university lecture. I love learning about my country through the lens of my foreign friends' eyes. This is one of my most favorite exchanges to experience when living abroad- talking to others about our countries. Sure, politics tends to surface first, but then we get into music, street life, food. Unfolding soon after is our quirkiness, or our personalities start to well up and present itself outwardly as a precious stone shines after some polishing. Then we start to understand each other. What makes someone tick? Is it biology? Is it culture? Is it the environment? Yea, all the answers.


MoGra turned me onto this site.  She's all into spinal research & alignment right now, so when we talk-story these days I'm all ears. I love when I understand how much a friend has done research on something, so I know that I don't have to- I can just glean off their data results first, and then go from there- if need be. I just recently did this with my roommate BrGra concerning water filters. She is working out in the back-country wilderness- at times for nearly 2 weeks before resurfacing in the big city here in El Portal... (ahem) Anyway, I ask the question, and BOOM, I get an answer. An answer that I don't even have to question. I mean, she's still walking and breathing after drinking her Sawyer water filter so... there's that.
I received further confirmation about Sawyer water filters from KaGra,  while chatting it up one night I asked her about the filter she used when in Iraq. She said, of course, Sawyer! See?
Another cultural experiment, concerning science, and revolving around human behavior. Ahhh biology- love you. I have one question though: Is biology considered a 'soft' or a 'hard' science? I've read up on the dilemma a bit. The jury is still out.

Continuing on with my scientific conquests, I like to delve into the abyss of space. Space matters.

You plug in your location and get a listing of International Space Station (ISS) sightings for a certain time period. Cool. Period. How did I discover this gem: Solar eclipse mania has been occurring across the U.S. for a while now, which culminated on August 21st when the eclipse was visible throughout a band-arc across country.


Omniglot: all tongues. All the languages and writing systems I want to devour- at times, all up in my head space, I think this would be my super power I would want. I"m thinking of my superhero name right now in fact. Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Homonym Hollyday? Nah.

Kurdish is the next upcoming tongue I will rub shoulders with. So, omniglot I must. ASAP.

I remember in high school that Ani Leritz asked me to help her with a dictionary of terms she was developing as a result of our high school experiences. What did she call it? I remember helping out with entries such as 'dirtbag', 'loadie' and such... An early omniglot pioneer in my life, she inspired me.

Speaking of dirtbag and lexical choices... 'Dirtbag', I have recently learned, has been re-cycled and re-invented. The term is perhaps a result of a specific geographical area- specifically for Yosemite, and possibly other rock-climbing meccas of the world. Yea, dirtbag refers to a person/persons who live to rock-climb. From what I understand, they don't hold jobs, pay rent, and other typical societal norms that we tend to adhere to. They live in their cars in the Park and steal sugar packets, mayonnaise packets, creamers, etc. to supplement their meals.'Dirtbagging' can either be a verb or used as a gerund. I'm fascinated.


I am all things Native American now. Being back in America for this stint and working alongside Native Americans, my ears and eyes are thirsty to drink up wisdom flowing from this land. This land is a tall cup of water. I am enjoying delving deeper with each sip that I take the time to filter and digest. I love me filtered water. THAT. That is an interesting concept. That's all.

The past few weeks I've had the pleasure of working alongside living libraries of knowledge. A knowledge not often written, but handed-down in story-telling form. I had a lesson in nuances of Paiute, Miwok, Mono, etc. I'm starting to feel comfortable discussing with them stories I've recently read authored by early (foreign) travelers through the area (Galen Clark, John Muir, etc), and how those stories can be used for a variety of things, but most basically just as an understanding of someone else's world through the lens of a foreigner. You get a general idea, but how pure or accurate it is is conjecture- based on human biology and bloodlines...

Anyway, I'm asking questions. I'm listening, and trying not to interrupt... The symphony of massive trees, abundant rivers and their tributaries, animals both large and small, winds traveling through narrow canyons; all platforms of knowledge that takes time in imparting knowledge. I'm still learning to listen when I'm spoken to, or to even realize that I am being spoken to. That's how it is with learning a foreign language in a foreign land; you hear stuff in the background and then hear something familiar, so listen more intently. This. I. Love.


Currently learning how to navigate through this website. There is so much information about a topic that I am self-teaching myself, so it is a bit overwhelming. You know that feeling when you want to know more about a subject than you do, but it takes time and effort. Patience, perseverance, and those small victories keep me intrigued.

Okay, I'm burning out. This ends my communique. Time to make breakfast and greet the smoky, increasingly hot day (morning). I think temperatures are supposed to hover near 100º today, continuing on into the week and rising. So, do I drive to the Central Valley to Turlock to go to the Assyrian Festival, or do I chill on the Merced River and read my current book that I'm blazing through, "Shattered Air"?

One big accomplishment of the week: I'm not a 'Puppy Dome' virgin any longer thanks to the Topside posse. Phew. Bucket list item without previously knowing it :)

Looking at Tis-sa-ack (Half Dome), from the back door up at Olmstead Point

Checking out the solar eclipse atop Pothole Dome

Domes and domes and domes...

Topside living

I spy 3 rock-climbers

Tenaya Lake


a slice of the western Sierras

old skool

Katydid always greets me when I return to El Portal :)


Working Hollyday 2.0

Well gosh darn if this isn't the best Working Hollyday ever! Perhaps I just needed the break from teaching, but going to work 4 days a work, so far, just feels pretty damn good. The movement is refreshing. The scenery just blows my mind. Some days it's just so hot that you are stuptified. Sweating profusely and suddenly someone slows up with popsicles. That. THAT. Beauty.

Yea. Personalities, topics of conversation, etc., all of it just resonates deep. Hanging out with the various work crews is just so diverse: One crew enjoys discussing tv serials. I LOVE this because it reminds me of Istanbul and chatting with my students. Well, hardly just 'chatting', I recall a class or two almost solely taught on rating which shows everybody watched. Yea, somehow that semester that topic worked its way into every writing task... I wasn't especially fond of the writing curriculum so I diverged a smidge, or so...Fun class. Westworld was a favorite.

But I digress...So back to present herstory being made...The tv serial crew- yea I dig them. We initially bonded over The Vikings. That crew also has a collective memory of every funny dialogue of any random comedy or horror film that they can produce 'on the fly' ('quickly' for my ex-students that are reading this. And if you guys are reading this, make sure you are still using your highlighters when taking notes in your classes...). The Drunk History Channel is another topic of interest with us all.

Another crew I practice my Spanish with. I can already feel my improvement. I can listen to them talking with each other when I'm working and think that I'm just drowning out the sound, but in reality I'm just understanding most everything. Except for that one guy- I can't pick up on his accent too well; he speaks too fast for me to comprehend much, so his words just flow into each other. His words offer up rhythmic poetry, as his intonation rolls along as fluidly as the Merced River  does just behind the job-site. These guys, mostly all of them, they know how to deal with a second language learner.

The soil compaction guy is a gem. He's like a young John Muir. His knowledge is vast concerning the natural environment. He's not a Yosemite boy by birth, but pretty darn close. One day the crew was working late and we both were taking stock of the sudden scene of impending doom up in the sky; the Empire Fire had recently broke out as a result of a lightning strike a few days before, Then, as the fire burned, it was so hot that it started a series of its own lightning strikes- that was the question of the late afternoon. At various times in conversation suddenly one of us pointed to the sky gleefully to see the lightning and wait for the thunder. As well, would it rain down in Old El Portal. Pondering these things takes time, and makes for a great afternoon of screening, taking soil samples, or whatever :) It did rain the next afternoon for one hour straight. I fairly solid outpoor- nothing like Hawaii standards though, which sets the highest standard- in my book anyway...

Well, it didn't end up raining that afternoon. Instead I received a handful of luscious purplish-red plums from his grandma's backyard. Yea, food. Sharing food and stories. Some stories are spooky! I love spooky, local lore.

(Speaking of lore, one of my newest favorite podcasts is 'Lore'. Check it out. Dude is a storyteller and his voice is soothing in a spooky way!)

One of the kin of the construction company at a job site came up to us the other day to shoot the shit. Great timing as moments later they hit a small kine feeder water line... So, I'm always spouting off about my obsession with thinking about mountain lions while on my evening run, which happens to be on the same road where the crew is doing night work, AND there was a mountain lion 'incident' there back in May. So he busts into talk-story about walking back along the road late one night and hears something in the bushes. I mean, this is a mountain-dude. He lit up as he recalled not bothering to turn around and try to see something... Yea, I dig local lore.

Speaking of local lore, there are also some original stock of the area; miwok, Paiute, Mono, Ahwahnechee... My brain is a sponge- soaking up all the words; that bush, that animal, family outings panning for gold, still, up in the hills. This. This reminds me of Hawaii, working with the local crews there and `olelo (talking story) all day.

And that other crew, and that other crew, etc... The office crew- it's all good. One thing I have noticed about working in the office, which is distinctly American- I think- is that in most work places, people are using the ergonomic computer station thingy where your desktop/laptop table lifts up so you can stand up and work. Smart cookies. 

Feeling grateful for this experience- this shift in my daily routing paradigm, what with being back in America and working for a short stint. As I said, working vacation... before the other work starts back up again- in January. Flying, the time. Coming up on 2 months here nearly.

Yea, I'm already getting stoked about the Kurdistan move. The university is starting to send me paperwork, etc. I'm back to doing a bit of research in those evenings where I feel so inclined. The anthropologist in me digs this! As of late, I find myself in conversation with folks, talking about my experiences 'over there'. I recognize that I'm always smiling in re-telling my experiences. I'm also trying to reach for the right, descriptive word to use so the listener can really get into my head-space and visualize my interpretation. I know, this is getting deep!

Since I'm reflecting on work, which I rarely do with this blog, next work I'll be camping out top-side- my catch-all term for Tuolumne Meadows. Since the work commute to this site will be 1.5 hours driving time each way and each day, there are these basic employee campgrounds that you can use so you don't have the long commute. I'm all set up; tent, sleeping bag, stove, bear canister, and long-range radio. Yea, working vacation. I'm psyching myself up to see the infamous, elusive Yosemite Pika- a super cute small mammal that isn't digging on this climate change shit that $45 (our stupid, current US pres) had once said was a yuge (the way our stupid, current US pres pronounces 'huge') problem that 'Ghina' (the way our stupid, current US pres pronounces 'China') fabricated...

I've been researching optometrists in the area so I can do an eye exam while I'm here in America. Honestly, I didn't really think either of my 2 previous eye exams for reading glasses- one in Turkey and one in Bahrain- were really the right fit. I mean, I'm still new at this reading glasses thing, but I had no idea that when doing an eye exam you are supposed to specify you need them for reading OR computer stuff... This opens up a whole new ball game I think. Might make things go a bit smoother from here on out!

The Ashland connection? Yea, I'm missing the Ashland connection. I'll be heading up next month for a few days and so looking forward to being 'home'- at another home. I really like this concept of having many 'homes'. It feels comfortable. A child of the world that feels at home in any space and time. Or I'm just comfortable with the chaos of not really having a home... But, I'm thinking about spaces lately. Portugal is a nice space...

My current space continues to evolve. Yosemite grows on me. Last week I discovered Wawona/south entrance to Yosemite. Coming back from Fresno (yes folks, driving to REI in Fresno is definitely worth it!), I decided to take the long route, which didn't really show up as the 'long' route on Google Maps... I pretty much knew this already though and was looking for a Sunday drive last Saturday. I took Highway 41 back all the way to inside Yosemite Valley. Wow.

Just outside of Fresno the landscape gets super interesting. Passing through Chukchansi territory the golden-yellow hues gave way to a transitioning space washed over with a greenish-yellow lens of the Sierra Nevada foothills. Coarsegold, initially known as "Texas Flat" after miners from Texas discovered gold there in 1849, has some interesting local lore. Originally the Chukchansi homeland, there is an October Tarantula Festival on the Saturday before Halloween. Fall is mating season for these arachnids. You know there is some good local lore here. I'll be in attendance this year and get back to you on it.

I'll say I saw more than a few super interesting places to stop and check-out next time there and in Fish Camp. I definitely saw some watering holes that I wanna check out.

The sun was setting as I entered the Lone Pine Entrance of Yosemite. I could sense that I was in for a show. Wawona Road winds through the emerald-green montane forest. Giant sequoias dwell in this land, as well as Black Oak, Incense Cedar,  Ponderosa Pine, etc. For me, Glacier Point is one of the MOST amazing landscapes in Yosemite. Stunned into silence while soaking up atmospheric energy. Not to be missed, this. Next time I'll return when I have more time... For now I was racing against the setting sun to get to the spot- the Sweet Spot.

You go into the Wawona Tunnel, which is bored through granite, At Tunnel View, you pull over. You. Must. Pull. Over. Amazing vista. Spiritual vomit of landscape so incredibly overwhelming that you are left empty of all displeasing contents inside your body. It is body-chemical altering- I shit you not... El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome all compete for center stage, but the lessor actresses/actors stand out on their own individually. I didn't even consider taking a photo to attempt to represent what I was so preoccupied with. Nothing else mattered in those moments.

Because I couldn't be bothered to take a photo, here is one that Ansel Adams took around 1935.
It's a famous sunset spot on its own, but tonight was something extraordinary. It happened to be one day before the full moon, and I happened to be driving out of the tunnel after 8 pm sometime. Suddenly this glowing orange orb comes into full view, after a few miles of it playing with me as I viewed it imprisoned by a forest of trees. Driving through this forest with the setting sun, once I finally realized that explosion of color was indeed the setting sun, was mind-altering. It's like when you close your eyes, but you continue to see contrasting light/dark movements beneath your shut eyelids- that. But it was in hyper-color, instead of muted cloudy greydation masses. Soon enough, I realized that this majestic magenta color I kept seeing was the skyline. I mean hyper-alive raspberry-magenta. That's right folks- hyper-alive raspberry magenta skyline.

So, then the tunnel. As I exited the Tunnel and saw Tunnel View lookout to the left, I somehow managed to pull over in my memorized state of mind.  As Tom Robbins so succinctly expressed in one of the opening lines of Jitterbug Perfume (I think), it was like a 'mai-tai splashed across the sky', or something to nearly that effect. I have loved that line ever since I first read it, and I constantly think about that line that I read absolutely ages ago throughout various times in this existence I lead. Honestly, that is a famous line of literature for me and my 'creed' of sorts.

So there I was mouth agog, as well as a slew of local sunset watchers and grateful tourists alike. Suddenly a beer was in my hand, conversations were had, and smiled abound. Yea. That...

I've got some visitors coming up in the next few weeks. I'm really looking forward to showing them my current incarnation of 'home'. I'm already thinking about the float trip in the Valley up to El Capitan Bridge. I'm thinking of the watering hole in Mariposa (Gold Coin Bar and Tavern) and the historic sites there and gold mining lore from that famous era that more formally formed that city. I'm thinking about Tioga Road and Tioga Pass and Lee Vining- at the Mobile Gas station and their famous Thursday night music venues...


Yea, I'm thinking all the cool entrances into Yosemite National Park, and everything there is to do in this vast wilderness.


A lot to be grateful for in this life, as always.  It's now 11:45 am and I'm still on the couch drinking coffee and tearing up my keyboard with this post. Enough already. It's time to start my 3-day weekend. Correction; that already started last night with a few gin and tonics, and da kine fixings that accompany that.

No time, or desire, for editing.