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So I sit down at a coffee shop in downtown Billings, Montana, & the guy at the next table looks familiar, but I think that would be too much of a coincidence & get to work on my email. Then I look up & he winks at me & I start laughing, because it's my cousin's husband from Arizona, also here for the Melstone All-school reunion. Definitely a small world.
I know, it's been days again. R.J. the dog is continuing to do okay, so the vet is cautiously optimistic. My other sister's cat, Chocolate Kisses, did not fare so well. She was having kittens & then not having the rest of them and--no more Chocolate Kisses. The 4 kittens who were born did not survive the loss of their mother, since the aptly-named Chaos had a hissy fit when my sister tried to persuade her to nurse her grandkittens. Chocolate Kisses was a fabulous cat, so she is missed.
What have I been doing while I wasn't blogging? Here's a sample:
I think I did do more stuff, but that's all that comes to mind right now. Now I'm here in Billings, wifi-ing. There's a cousin's reunion (Dad's side) tonight. I've visited with 2 aunts & an uncle (Mom's side) already & if the cuz thing doesn't go too late & we're not too tired there's another family thing at another cousin's place (Mom's side) going on at the same time. An embarrassment of riches.
- helped clean out some junk from part of the barn so my sister & her husband could store some antiques in there & actually get to their tools.
- bottle-fed a calf who was scared of me because I was wearing a skirt & she'd never seen one before.
- helped cook various meals for all the people who were working a lot harder than I was was (swathing & baling & such)
- did some scrubbing & painting of walls in Forsyth, where my sister's new pastor will be moving in soon.
- got exposed to my year's dose of television. (not that people watched all that much, but I don't watch TV at all, so even a little seems like a lot. I think next time I'll excuse myself, because it's insidious--I'm embarrassed to admit I want to know who the 30-yr-old bachelor will pick for his true love, a woman in her 40s or one in her 20s. sheesh.
- more rubbing & energy work on family members & one of the women who was painting in Forsyth, who broke her neck as a child, so painting ceilings is hellish for her, even if they are in a parsonage.
- washed all the sheets from the beds upstairs where my nieces & nephews & I had been sleeping so they'd be ready for the next crew, whoever & whenever.
- napped & meditated. (hey, I freely admit everyone else worked harder than I did...)
I'm going to get my free refill now & relax for a second.
62. Play Battleship, or checkers, or Uno, or Aggravation, or some other childhood game. (Or, play Apples to Apples (you need at least 3, & more is better) which is a game about nouns & adjectives (it's WAY more fun than I making it sound--where else might you get The Dallas Cowboys' Cheerleaders compared to Pond Scum)
Sunday morning. I just committed Rice Krispie Treats. My parents are making a feast for their after-church visiting. A lot of people bring cookies when its their turn. My folks are bringing a crockpot with little smokies in apricot barbecue sauce (the sauce was left over from my cousin's wedding) & a veggie tray & a cheese & deer sausage tray & Lorene's nut bars (Lorene is a friend of my sister & this is a way cool recipe) & (ta da) Rice Krispie Treats.
We had steak for supper last night--specially prepared on the grill by my dad. Friday night I came home from Red Lodge (see next paragraph for why) & had kipper snacks & popcorn & beer for supper. My parents were at a wedding & I took this rare vacation opportunity to not eat a lot. Grin. Then I sat in a recliner with a great view of the hillside where deer often come & meditated. Sent out a lot of love & healing energy.
The reason I headed back Friday is that poor R.J. the dog is on really shaky ground. The vet operated again Friday afternoon/evening & found that the sutures had dissolved & some of his intestinal contents had spilled into the abdomen. She used different sutures & we're all crossing our fingers & praying & sending energy & such. It's up to R.J. now, because the vet won't operate again. He's a sweet, strong dog. Anyway, when I found out he was in surgery again, I figured my sister & her husband would be better off without company, even such delightful company as me.
(As I was writing this, my sister called. R.J. seems in good spirits & they're going to try to take him home when they see the vet at 11 or so. Home with his mama & his brother & his people he'll be more comfortable & happy, for whatever his path. My sister said they're trying not to be too optimistic & I said heck, go ahead. If he gets better, they won't have wasted that time worrying & if he doesn't, they won't have wasted the rest of their time with him worrying.)
My folks & I have been playing Pitch. Usually we play Pinochle, but when they visited me in Asheville last fall we got on a Pitch kick & it was really fun. 3-handed Pinochle isn't nearly as fun as 4-handed, but 3-handed Pitch rocks.
Enough of my blabbering. Send good stuff to R.J. Remember to say All is Well. (How's that going for you?) Breathe.
61. Get your hands on a camera--digital is great, but even a little disposable from the grocery store will do if that's all that's available--& take pictures of whatever you want. If you want ideas, here are a few:
self portraits of yourself as a shadow or a reflection (one of my favorite things to take pictures of)
flowers (do some of them with your hand touching the flowers--another way to do a self portait. it also gives scale & personalizes)
ground level shots of a lazy frog (or something else if you don't have a cooperative lazy frog available)
Friday. (I know, it says Thursday. It's wrong.) Red Lodge, Montana. Coffee shop. WiFi. Waiting for the dog report. (Back at the vet because he was bleeding.) Did some watercoloring, with a set of kid-level paints & a very bad brush. This reinforces my intent--backburnered for a while--to get a new compact watercolor set like the one I gave Nick. Also did some low-tech writing. Pencil & spiral bound notebook.
Talked to a couple friends. One of them was having issues with her daughter, & telling me it was only going to get worse. I gently reminded her--she really knew already, wise woman that she is--that she was making assumptions. We all do it, & I bless the friends that remind me when I'm at that place. (So, please help me out with that if you see that I need it!)
Yesterday my mom & I walked up the Gorge, where the Stillwater River gets rowdy in the canyon. We spent equal time in awe at white water splashing & crashing over rocks, & little flowers growing in cracks in steep cliffs. One of these days I'll figure out how to put pictures on the blog. (I confess I have spent zero time trying to figure this out. grin.)
We also spent a lot of time talking about our wonderful family & optimism. My mom said she didn't have a name until she was in 8th grade. There was one on her birth certificate, of course, & her teachers probably called her by it, but her family & the neighbors always called her Happy, or Hap for short. In 8th grade she decided she was tired of not having a name & asked to be called by hers, but what a fabulously revealing nickname.
Just met 3 brothers (from California, Kansas & Maine) who have a pact to get together every year or 2 & really spend some quality time. Lovely people! Lovely pact!
I'm going to go see a gallery or two, now that I've committed art.
60. Draw something with your non-dominant hand. (That way if it's good you know it's a happy accident & if it's umm, less appealing, oh well, what did you expect?) Repeat until done, & have fun.
Hello from the mountains of Montana--Nye, where I grew up. It's beautiful beautiful beautiful out here. Had a bit of thunder & a few drops of rain. Nothing compared to the deluge just before I left Asheville--omigosh, half my street was a river. I don't have the tadpole report. We'd had a soaking rain the night before as well, so I am optimistic. But then I usually am.
If you were wondering about my wanderings between Wednesday the 13th & Wednesday the 20th, here is the not-to0-many-details version:
Spent a couple extra hours in the St. Louis airport while our plane was arriving from somewhere else (Detroit?) & therefore got to Seattle 'round midnight. My friend Cathy met me at baggage claim & after I'd introduced her to a wonderful woman from the trip who lives in the area & is also a writer & claimed my baggage, we took a bus back to downtown Seattle & then a short cab ride to her almost-moved-out-of apartment. She & a couple friends just got a WAY cool apartment near the Space Needle, with a panoramic view of Puget Sound. She's not moving until the end of the month & she's already mostly packed, which is incredibly awesome.
Talked to my son Zach, who gave his girlfriend a ROCK at the end of the marathon she'd just run. (4 hours, 8 minutes, for those of you who know how good that is!)
Hung out with family & attended my cousin's beautiful & meaningful wedding. She got married on her parents' 41st anniversary. I was a 7-year-old, bespectacled, curly-haired flower girl (along with my little sisters) for their wedding & my mom was one of the bride's attendants. So, when this bride & groom fed each other wedding cake, her parents fed each other anniversary cake. It was very touching.
Got to play a little gin rummy & poker & pinochle. (One funny moment when I was playing heads up Texas Hold 'em with my second cousin who is in 7th grade (with 2 more second cousins, 5th & 6th grade, looking on) & I suggested we scoot back so I could lean against the couch--"us old people, after all" & he said, "You're not old" to which I replied I was 48 & the 3 of them looked astounded & assured me they thought I was in my 30s. So funny to hear that from kids.)
I did lots of energy work & shoulder rubbing, even at the reception. The woman who gave the first part of the service told me I could come home with her after I gave her a little session.
Quick trip back with my parents. About 1000 miles. We were going to do it in 2 days, maybe stop & visit my great-aunt in her assisted living home, but Montana got lots of hail so we had to hustle back so my dad could start sending new corn seed around. I drove a little bit, from George, Washington (where Martha's Inn has closed, more's the pity) to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We were in Coeur d'Alene for about 7 minutes, so I didn't get to visit my former cat (still a cat, but now living with a friend of mine who pet-sat so long I decided it wasn't fair to be able to separate them) & my friends & my cousin & his family there. Arrived here at Nye around midnight.
My dad had to head out at the crack of dawn--I hope he got a nap today!--but my mom & I had lots of lovely talking. A friend had just sent her Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. I've read about a third of it already & I can tell you it's going to inhabit my bookshelf.
People's crops have been smashed by hail & windows broken & siding & roofs ruined. My sister's dog had to have surgery after eating a piece of plastic wrap & is still in shaky condition. Don't know what's going on in the world, but I'm guessing there's still pain & suffering. Still, I know the good that lurks in the hearts of men & women & children. I know the tenacity of the earth & her systems. I know there is new love & love renewed & love yet to come. What can I say? I'm still an optimist. Got it from my parents. Who knows where they got it from, but I'm glad we all have it. Silver Lining Specialists, that's us.
I should have at least semi-regular internet access during this trip, so I'll try to keep the posts coming every few days. It's likely to be mostly dial-up, so I won't be lingering online, or answering tons of email.
59. Get ahold of a basketball & a friend or 2 & play a game of Horse. (Except, make it a little more interesting & play Okapi or Python or something. If you're not evenly matched, one of you can go for Gnu while the other is spelling AlbinoPygmyHippopotamus...)
It's raining again! We're not even on the plain in Spain, & yet the rain. Again.
I'm not going to linger long at the keyboard because there's this wonderful key lime something to eat. My executive assistant just helped me hang some pictures in my apartment. It's like I live there now. We're rewarding ourselves with wifi & key lime cheesecake & iced mutan white tea. Delish!
A meditation from the other day at the Arboretum:
here is my peace.
By receiving it,
I offer it to you.
(& then you do it again with love, & joy, & whatever else is good.)
58. Walk around your home with a hammer & nail & a painting or photo or somesuch. Try it in different locations. (It helps if you have a friend or an executive assistant (or, as in my case, both) around to assist you in the execution of this plan.)
(As my friend Cathy puts it, "I don't understand the blogosphere." This was supposed to be dated Tuesday the 12th. Ah well.)
I have made my travel plans: I was going to drive to Minnesota & Montana & back, but decided that was a lot of driving. Kind of a long trip as well, since I'm going out to Montana again at the end of July for my 30th high school reunion.
So I decided to fly.
Huh? I can hear you thinking. But Seattle's way the heck wester than you need to go.
Au contraire! I counter. I am going to my cousin's wedding in Bellingham, a week before all the other stuff I was going to do. I'll ride back to Montana with my parents & somehow magically get to Minnesota (probably involving a car) & fly out of Minneapolis.
You shake your head, thinking, no doubt, that I was already thinking the trip was kinda long & involved a lot of driving & now here I am actually adding driving, including a car trip with my parents (some of you are pulling your hair at this point), & another week. But my parents are actually fun & I like to hang out with them. (No, really!) As for the extra week--you know how it is when something is exactly the thing you ought to do. You just KNOW it's right. (Plus I got this really great plane ticket deal.)
The only bad thing about the trip is--
I'm going to miss Coon Dog Days in a nearby town. I'll have to plan ahead for next year. (I almost spit chips & salsa across the table when my executive assistant told me about Coon Dog Days. Not sure the wait staff would have noticed--they were high on something or other.)
Now that we have had our moment of silence for the fact that I will miss Coon Dog Days, I want to enlist you all in a project. At least once a day, or as often as you think of it, say--silently or out loud--"All is Well." (Not will be or might be or once was or should be, dammit but is.)
All is Well.
You don't have to believe it. Pretending is all right. Just saying it is fine. Believing--even for a second--Great. Imagine you're in a story & around you--or not around you, but around someone--things look bad & you can't see how the happy ending could possibly happen but you know the book ends well. However you want to get yourself to say it. But say it. Purty please. (Might even make you feel a sense of relief for just a second, & that's worth a lot.)
An update on the tadpole situation. The little shaft of deeper water was sunk down into less deeper. Some of the tadpoles in it were swimming & some of them were floating belly up--or belly sideways, if you want accurate reporting. A frog did jump into the depths. But clouds were rolling in. I cannot guarantee that it rained at the Arboretum, but rain it did in Asheville. Yay, hurray! Tadpoles, take heart.
57. Come up with a so-far-from-the-direct-route-it's ridiculous trip that encompasses several locations where there are things you want to do. Look at an atlas & think of the road trip, or check discount airline websites & click on the multi-city option. (Bonus if there's a magic-happens-from-here-to-here portion.) (Extra bonus if you take the trip.)
We got another couple tablespoons of rain. Since last I blogged, I've walked at the Arboretum & at Flat Rock (the Carl Sandburg estate). Happily, at the Arboretum I discovered that at least some of the tadpoles survived--there's a couple foot square deeper shaft of water that may go to the lost waters of Atlantis. When I started toward it to peer into it, there was a frog-sized splash! Hurray for the transformation of tadpoles.
I feel like a tadpole now, swimming toward great & greater growth. I can feel my little legs forming. Not exactly sure what they're for yet, but give me time.
I came up with another analogy. I just LOVE analogies. (Not allegories, though. Can't stand them.) (Hmm, wonder what the difference really is....) Okay, while I ponder that, I'll share the analogy with you.
If things are blurry or unclear, you don't go & put a big magnifying glass on each thing. You correct your own vision. Slowly. Incrementally. Moving toward clear vision.
Those of you who've been to the optometrist know the drill: Of these two blurred lenses, which is best? This, or this? This or this? which you answer in a (sometimes) gosh-who-can-tell? fashion until you have a prescription that allows you to see better.
As your eyes change, the prescription must change as well. Old glasses on new eyes leads to yet blurrier vision. Sometimes you're wearing someone else's prescription, so no wonder things look messed up & confusing. Sometimes they (society? the education system? your church? your employer? fill-in-the-blank) put glasses on you because you're seeing things differently & they can't have that...
56. If you're lucky enough to live in a place where there are street musicians (In downtown Asheville they're sometimes 3 to a block!) stop & listen to one. Don't just throw a buck in the guitar case or hat. Really listen for a song or two. That is almost more appreciated than the buck--but go ahead & give that as well.
A pessimist plucks one petal from a daisy, says, "She loves me not." He tosses it aside without plucking another petal, thinking, just as I thought.An optimist starts with "He loves me" and keeps plucking if a daisy ends up on "...loves me not." As many daisies as it takes to give the desired, required answer.Some people--planners? control freaks? Over-analysts? I don't know exactly what to call them--count the petals in advance, divide by two, decide whether or not to add in reverse psychology, figure out where to start.And now, no matter what type you are, I want you to imagine an infinite meadow of daisies, as far as the eye can see, and farther. (Bigger than the field of poppies in The Wizard of Oz.) This is my daisy meadow and every petal you pick, no matter who you are, is "She loves me." She loves me. She loves me. As many petals as you want to pick. Fill the ground with petals. That is the natural order here. Petals like confetti, if you like. She loves me. She loves me. She loves me. Mark the path to the meadow. These aren't any ordinary daisies, or any ordinary love. This is infinite, eternal, immeasurable, unconditional love. She loves me.
And then, if you don't have one already, turn over a little ground in the field of your heart, and start a daisy meadow. I love me. I love me. I love me. Infinite, eternal, immeasurable, unconditional love. I love me.
I hope this isn't too hearts and flowers for you. I can't help it; I've just had another Laurel sort of day. (Funny how I keep having them, isn't it?)
55. Based on a phone call with my friend Cathy in Seattle: Sort through your mind (or your living room) & put nonessential things in neat boxes at the side of the room so you have room to deal with the important things you really want & need to do. (Hey, if you're really motivated, even throw away the nonessential things that are really nonessential & not just not now.)
A thunderstorm is teasing us. I hope it's still teasing us anyway, & will drop more than the several teaspoons of rain it has deigned to bestow thus far.
I am not going to linger here, but will head out walking, in the hopes that the thunderstorm will think Aha! a pedestrian emerging from an internet coffee shop with a backpack. Probably a computer inside. I think I'll get her wet. I'll even hide my umbrella before I get out where the clouds can see me.
The neighbors saw a black snake with white spots on its sides slither into a hole under a stump in my yard. I hope I get to see it.
Everyone sing along: Happy Birthday to you--etcetera, etcetera--Dear Donna--etcetera, etcetera.
Lots of love to you all. Happy June.
Quote of the day:
"People suck at driving in the rain."
"I know. Rain equals stupid. Like orange equals stupid."
"Orange?" (Which is what I was wondering, too.)
54. Get out an atlas and study an area of the world--or the country--that you're not familiar with. Figure out what borders Tennessee or Tanzania or somesuch.