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Thank you all for your love and support from my last few postings. You are all so special to me. I read an article about the “Anniversary Train” in which we have a choice about hopping aboard the train that carries the memories and mourning from the days on which we lost loved ones. It was timely, and I wonder what choices I will make about remembering these anniversaries going forward, but as I say, I am not filled with sadness, but with a sense of honor of having been a part of such a rich and rare experience.

Enough of that now.

We had our first big snowfall yesterday – nearly up to my knees – and my back felt like I shoveled the entire state’s-worth last night, but it was pretty. And so I send you a holiday card from Colorado tonight. This was taken on Saturday up where I work on the weekends. I hope that whatever and however you celebrate this season, that your festivities are full of joy.

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Estes Park, Colorado.

Quote of the Day: “She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Daily gratitudes:
Unmet friends
Chance areas of complementary grace
Christmas lights
That Kelsea is home
As always, my MKL

MKL and I got married on Saturday. Yes, we did. And it was absolutely perfect. There were so many highlights, I don’t even know how to share them with you, and I will share more pictures over the coming months, but here’s a start:

  • Our open house the day before the wedding had the beach house bursting with friends (who are family), blood kin, and love. And the shark tacos were a hit.
  • At the end of that party, the rainy skies cleared to a beautiful sunset and a wide calm beach, and we all migrated to the water’s edge to walk, talk, take pictures, and play ultimate.
  • No one was eaten by sharks (the shark tacos made it the reverse) and the post-wedding day stingray stab on LJRH’s daughter was dramatic, but not debilitating, making for an excellent story for her to take back to Missouri.
  • My loved ones made the house and the deck (E-bro’s, rented down the beach, with more room than mine) look spectacular, and perfect for an inside (rainy) or an outside (sunny) wedding. The sun cooperated and we were outside.
  • An arc of rainbow appeared behind us as we were sitting together after the ceremony. God and my parents were smiling down on us.
  • Painkillers – the drink of the Soggy Dollar Bar, courtesy of my much loved friends Dave and Amanda, who are my family met at that spot 11 years ago – flowed like the sea.
  • The two small and gorgeous girls became fast and immediate friends. In fact, all the people, many of whom had never met, became friends.
  • Beth K., the daughter of my late parents’ best friends, and a true and beautiful warrioress, joined us. We had never met before, and now I feel I have another sister.
  • My three new stepsons, all of whom are treasures: one was the most perfect ceremony officiate ever, one steamed and bustled me and made sure I looked perfect, and one led the toasts that brought me to tears.
  • My brother and sister-in-law and their wonderful children opening their hearts and home to us.
  • My sister and niece flying quickly and crazily in from Colorado to share the day and capture it in photographs.
  • Having my uncle and aunt and darling cousin (now one of my best friends, after a gap in time of some 35 years) made me feel like my parents were there.
  • Our across-the-street neighbor who lovingly provided a sandcastle cake, delicious crab dip, serving trays, a steamer, and her and her husband’s warmth, affection, and light to our special days.
  • JJ, who continues to allow me to come “home” every year for a few brief weeks, to the house on Topsail Beach.
  • My stepson T’s toast, which touched me deeper than my heart.
  • Having the Swine Sisters – aka my two best girlfriends from when I was 17 – reunited again as if no time had passed.
  • The girlie-hen-party that was a part of my getting dressed for the ceremony. I really feel like I have lots of sisters now.
  • I sparkled. And I glowed. And my dress was awesome.
  • Wearing my mother’s rhinestones that I used to play dress-up in, and carrying my father’s handkerchief.
  • MKL’s shirt matching the sky, and being my “something blue”.
  • Beautiful bouquets from Surf City Florist, and a lovely centerpiece created from grocery-store bought flowers. And my daughter’s swagging and shell-arranging skills were front and center.
  • All the vows, including those read by the officiate, handwritten on the back of placemats from the Breezeway, our favorite beach restaurant. (I’ll share a photo later.)
  • My most darling daughter, who not only wore a dress for the occasion, but looked gorgeous, and bailed me out when I pulled her aside just after the ceremony had started and told her I had forgotten MKL’s ring and she needed to drive like a bat out of hell to fetch it from our house. She did so successfully, saving the day, and allowing her to maintain her dignity by not bursting into tears during my vows (which she read the next day).
  • Another wedding down the beach releasing Chinese lanterns after dark – it was if they were ours, but we didn’t have to go to the trouble. (Fire and I are often not a happy mix.)
  • Seeing the Milky Way in the sky for the first time in years; it was here that my father first pointed it out and explained it to me.
  • Remembering almost nothing about the ceremony but the look in MKL’s eyes, which as always looked sparkling like the sea, with a hint of aspen trees.

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Topsail Beach, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “There is nothing more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends.” — Homer

Daily gratitudes:
A couple more days by the sea
Long walks holding hands
Shark’s teeth
The smell of sunscreen
Love

He speaks (or sings) for himself.

Cripple Creek, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The experience of beauty does something profound and powerful within the heart and soul of every human being.  Beauty creates wonder in us.”  —  Steve DeWitt

Daily gratitudes:
Changes
Stillness
Book titles that come to mind and then escape me
Commercials that make me cry
The endless supply of books that have revivified Sherlock Holmes

Photo Title: The View from Olympe

Somewhere in the British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”  —  Helen Keller

Daily gratitudes
Flea markets
Baby bunnies
Cooking without burning something
Turquoise
The power of bathtubs

 

OK, so Christmas Eve was alone and New Year’s Eve is alone.  But big woo.  It’s fine.

My time at the Hot Springs was good.  I did a lot of work, a lot of writing, a lot of thinking, a lot of soaking and a bit of crying.  On some of the travel boards on which I participate, people write trip reports when they go places – sort of like a journal of what they did, where they ate, what was interesting.  Cottonwood is not exactly geared for that kind of report.  What I wound up writing was a daily lyric poem of my experience – more feelings, thoughts, sensations, revelations.  Not your typical trip report.  I’m not sure yet if I want to publish it here – still debating in my head.

Lots and lots of writers have been talking about new year’s resolutions or their lack thereof.  No reason for me not to do the same. 

I don’t have any, really.  I’m taking a different approach this year, a more psychocybernetic, secret, law of attraction approach. (Go ahead you naysayers, make poofy faces and roll your eyes, shake your heads in disdain and sign at my delusions, it’s okay.)  My landlady introduced to a strange, encouraging messaging thingy last year called Notes From the Universe.  Every other day or so, I get an email.  I really liked today’s. I’ll quote the most important part of it here.  Keep in mind that this is not to offend, belittle or minimize anyone’s religious beliefs.

“1. Give thanks that life is… just as it is (and that it’s been… just as it’s been). Because of it, you’re now “READY.”

2. Define what you want in terms of the end result. Don’t worry about the hows, or even the course. KNOW that what you want is ALREADY yours in spirit, by divine LAW, just focus on the certainty of this ownership, understand it, claim it, and “it will be on earth, as it is in heaven (spirit).”

3. LET THE UNIVERSE show you the way via your impulses and instincts that appear as you take inspired action. Don’t worry that your first steps seem silly or futile. And if you don’t know what to do, do anything! Go! Get busy! Do not insist on intermediary successes, only upon the end result.”

I like these suggestions.  I am going to try to follow them.  I have spent some time today – and will spend some more time tonight – crafting  a few powerful statements that resonate with me, that enable me to feel my future as my present, that basically act on #2 above.

Yes, it’s a new approach, but hey, why not?  Last year certainly wasn’t a banner year, and frankly, I don’t want to dwell on it anymore.  I don’t want to live in the pain of loss, loss of so many things.  That’s no way to live, and no way to act.  And according to some universal law theorists, it’s best not to say too much about your evolved reality to too many people.  So, my apologies, but most elements of my new reality will remain a mystery until I am living the end results.

Then we’ll all have even more reason to celebrate – but for now, for tonight and all nights, I wish you all joy.

It comes out shortly after Kelsea’s birthday (which is December 1).  OK, it was a little late this year, due to extenuating circumstances, but really, many have said that it’s not Christmas until they see it.  Yes, it’s the Santa Hat.

I know that Santa Hats abound in all shapes, colors and sizes. 


But mine is special. I got it about 20 years ago at McGuckin’s, which, for those of you unfamiliar with Boulder, is the one of the wonders of the hardware store world, and the place that you go in this town to find the thing you can’t find anywhere else – whatever it is, they probably have it.

It has withstood the test of time in perfect condition, although after a dry-cleaning experience, the ball had to be stitched back on.  It’s beautiful – nice ruby-red velvet, good quality floof – and always makes people smile, comment and compliment.  I wear it constantly when I am out in public from the day it goes on until Christmas, and often forget that I have it on, so I am puzzled by people’s stares and smiles.  Until I remember it.  And it makes me feel special.

The hat carries with it a certain code of behavior.  For example, it’s much more difficult not to give money to homeless people when wearing it.  And I have to be very careful to be more polite and considerate in traffic.  I just wouldn’t do to have a woman in a Santa Hat flipping someone off.

My dear departed friend Andrew so admired it that he went out and bought an identical one that very year – which was wise, because I have never, ever seen them again anywhere.  There have been others, but none of the quality of ours.  He always got the same reactions I did, and he loved making people smile.  This is the first Christmas since his death, and I wondered what happened to his Santa Hat.  I hope it found its way to a good home.

As I said, it’s been hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year, so it took longer than usual for the Santa Hat to make an appearance, but it has, and I’m glad.  I like the smiles.  They brighten my sadness.  And I hope the magic of the Santa Hat will last for years to come.

I’ve taken a few steps back to the bad place tonight – who knows why, maybe it’s because Kelsea’s not here, maybe it’s the approaching lonely holiday, maybe it’s just that I don’t know what to do with myself.  But at any rate, Santa Hat or not, I’m pretty down.

Regardless, gratitudes for today: geese in flight, the Red Letter Bookstore where treasures abound, my Mother’s creche, warm weather today, finding my old film camera that I’d been looking for for a year – I wonder what’s on the film inside?

I wrote before about losing my friend Andrew to a tragic accident on September 1.  Today was the day of his memorial service here in Boulder.  I had definitely shed a few tears, but as is often the case with me, I had delayed my reaction to his death for several weeks.  I was tearful through most of the service, but once I hugged our friend C.J., the emotional dam cracked.  I started to weep.  After composing myself slightly, I sat and watched the slide show that Drew’s nephew had put together; then I lost it.  Just lost it.  The dam broke.  His dear friend Tom came and sat with me, clearly beaten down by his own grief, and let me cry.  He gave me one of Drew’s many (many) bandanas to cry in, to dry my tears, to remember him by.  Then I got better.

It is so hard to know that he is gone, that I won’t see him again. SO hard.

This celebration of Andrew was exactly what he would have wanted.  It was exactly what he DID want.  All his friends together, from all over the country, telling stories, laughing, crying.  So many of us walked away today with the same resolution – to be like Andrew and keep connected with our friends.   If there was one thing that stands out for me about him, it was his remarkable gift for staying in touch, for caring across the miles, for making sure you KNEW that he cared.  The best way that any of his friends could possibly honor him is to live our lives in that same spirit – the spirit of letting our friends know that they are not forgotten, not alone.  That is the simple, priceless legacy of this oh-so-human man.

One of the nicest things about today, aside from seeing some old friends, was making a new one.  What a wonderful surprise, what a wonderful gift, that I sat next to a woman I had met before, and we discovered we hit it off like we’d known each other for years.

I had been talking with a friend about this last night, about how bad I am at staying in touch with people who I love.  After today, I am more resolved than ever to change that facet of myself, to shed my own perception of myself as someone others don’t care about staying in touch with.  That perception is built solely by me and my own actions.  If I don’t like it, I can do something about it.  And that something will allow my life to be fuller and richer, just as Andrew’s was.  He never did anything halfway, and no one who knew him could say that his life was half-lived.  There were bad times and wonderful times, and he lived them all to the fullest extent possible.  The pictures of him on the slide show, on the cubes on the tables, all showed his joy.  I now wish I had been able to share in that joy even more than I did.

Of course, Andrew was there.  Towards the end of the afternoon, I experienced that odd shamanic phenomenon of seeing his face in others, just a glance, a glimpse, and it was gone.  On top of my visit with him a few days after his passing, it made sense – he did love to play and no one loved a good party better than Drew.  And he wanted so much to be sure that everyone was okay – especially Sarah.  He is playing now, playing with his new abilities to stay in touch with the people he loved.  He is smiling, as always.

His sister and his friends did a wonderful job arranging everything, expressing their feelings, and helping all of us remember the joy that was Andrew.  I thank them.  And I thank members of his railroad family for coming.

But most of all, I thank Andrew for having been a part of my life.  I miss him.

I am always happiest when I am by the sea.  Its lure never pales.  Days stretch in and out of time.  Shells line the edge of the surf like tempting pastries in a bakery – I have collected so many over the years that now I can only afford to take away those that seem most perfect and special. 

I have walked hundreds of miles, just up and down this beach over the past 40 years.  I have grown from child, to teenager, to woman, to mother.  I have watched shooting stars fall to the water, made out in the dunes, nursed my baby at dawn, cried on my father’s shoulder – all here at this house, at this beach.  It was here that a long-ago boy first said “I love you” to me when I was 17.  I have quaked through three hurricanes here, watching the waves lick the bottom of the fishing pier 30 feet in the air.  If I were to really concentrate, really think, I would be able to remember my thoughts, be able to see them and to see myself evolve over all these years, bringing me to the person I am now.

Even though I have had bad-monkey stomach today, it has been a good day.  Finished another book – I find myself on the book-a-day pace now that the final Harry Potter is done.   We did normal life things, like getting the oil changed in the truck, refilling prescriptions, and going to the grocery store, all of which we could do in Porter’s Neck.  Dinner at E-Bros house. 

The ceaseless sound of the waves hitting the shore lulls me into a state of peace.  I feel as if I am recovering.  Yes, I shed a few tears for my failed marriage since I’ve been here, but that’s normal still.  It has been  6 months and 24 days, and I wonder when I will stop counting.

I caution myself about thinking that my new life hasn’t begun yet.  My new life has begun.  I just haven’t embraced the opportunity to shape it yet.  I’ve been taking some mental time off.  And I’ve discovered that I’m pretty happy.  Come Fall, I will get serious about writing and networking, and will even feel excited about it.  But it’s been so many years since I’ve had the summer off that I think it has been good for me to at least feel like I’ve had that break this year.

Just as the sea shapes the shore, though, I have the power to design and direct my life into the form I most wish.  The only thing that can stop me is…me.

Today’s guest poet is me.

A Small Requiem For A Sailor

A year passes,
Then two,
Remarked by some,
Unremarkable to you.

Your grey-blue eyes
Reflecting colors of a storm
Glowing once for years,
No longer warm.

The piece of world
Called you
Sailed off two years ago
Into some far blue

Leaving behind
Storms that raged and wept
While, within the whisper of your sail,
Your soul slept.

A sleep so peaceful
And profoundly deep
That I who loved you can but smile
To know you sleep.

When my lips part for cool green tea, my nose is enveloped in the scent of jasmine.  At first, I can’t tell where it’s coming from.  It wasn’t as strong until the tea had mellowed, the ice melting into the green.  Then, it becomes a transporting walk down a garden path with each sip.

I smell the jasmine in my throat, on the back of my tongue.  The white tulips glow.  The peach tulips glow.  The long-haired, straw-hatted, barefoot ukulele player strums Hawaii into a sunny Colorado afternoon.  He plays for the earth, not for change.

The man at the next table inquires about my book.  He compliments my smile, and spends five minutes trying to sell me on his esoteric spiritual path.  But he uses too many words.  He cannot convey his point because he cannot find the stillness within himself that true spiritual peace requires and rewards.  Every technique has failed him in his search for stillness.  I listen.  For five minutes only.

Tea finished, more books beckon.  Books are always beckoning to me, sirens on shelves, thousands of them.  I explore unchartered volumes with a small smile, finding myself drawn to writers who sound like me.  Is that wrong?  I have no idea. 

My serenity attacts another admirer.  We share coincidental memories of another bookshop, aptly named The Intimate, in a town thousands of miles from here.

I find myself with a joyful longing for a faraway love. 

It has been a luscious afternoon.

June 2019
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