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Wind. I’ve never liked it, except when it rustles the fronds of the palm trees. Contradictorily, that’s my favorite sound. But I’d scarcely call that wind. That’s a breeze, gentle and joyful.

Wind is what we get here in the Front Range and the Wet Mountains. This is what took down a 75-foot tree that miraculously and by the slimmest of margins missed the Carriage House. This is what makes me look with great skepticism out of the living room window as another giant pine tree bends and twists against the blue sky, its trajectory perfectly aligned with my bedroom.

Wind is what never hesitates to remind me of the ruptured eardrum that I suffered at age two when my mother was in the hospital with pneumonia. Each time the wind, anywhere from lukewarm to freezing, gains access to my right ear, it hurts like the dickens.

Wind is why I don’t like Wyoming. It seems ever-present there. I recall spending a night in the back of my truck the summer after college trying to sleep through it – wasn’t sure if I was going to freeze or go mad, and it was June.

And wind is what led to the destruction of the Cozy House and an entire community. Wind that decide to dance with fire — and what a dance it was.

From the Retreat, I can’t see the wind coming because I’m already in it. But further away from the mountains, it’s easy to tell when it will be a day of the warm, dry, harsh winds that indigenous people used to call “snow eaters” and which we call Chinooks. There’s a bright clear sky and over the mountains, a thick shelf of white cloud in a straight line. If you’ve lived here long enough, you know to hang on to your small pets and tie down your trampolines when you see that anytime between November and April.

Ages ago, I read or someone told me that the indigenous people called them “the winds of madness”. I’ve never been able to find a source for that, but I don’t doubt it’s true. The sound, the uncertainty, the constancy of them can indeed make you feel more than a little crazy.

Unfortunately for too many of us, they now raise feelings of pain, fear, loss, anger, and trauma, digging into wounds that are only barely starting to scab over. I have reminded myself a dozen times today of the freakish circumstances that made me lose the Cozy House and that there’s nothing left to lose there now. But at the Retreat, I have the rest of what’s left to lose. It’s impossible not to think about it, about what I would take, about how to arrange the house so I could quickly pack those treasures I didn’t lose. About how a single spark from a cigarette tossed out of a car window on the Frontier Pathway could take all this away from me.

About how little control we actually have.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Decent sleep
  • Wise decisions
  • Experimental cooking
  • Good books

I emerged from the Retreat today to go to the market and the post office. As small a town as we are, we do have a fine post office. And I discovered that Monday is THE time to go to the market. They only seem to stock fresh produce once a week and today’s the day. I was not subjected to the combative little old ladies who would not hesitate to break your ribs to get their hands on a good head of lettuce in the market in Georgetown, Bahamas, but had I gone later in the day, hand-to-hand combat with Valley moms might have been required.

The clouds today were all astir. From the cotton balls poofing above the Retreat, to the mare’s tales swishing above Linger Longer Lane, to the rolling waves at the edges of the Frontier Scenic Byway, they were a melting pot of weather portents all swirling together. My Mother loved clouds…she would have loved today. By sunset, the clouds had all settled into a gray stew (how unromantic) as if all of today’s activity had exhausted them. Now it is night. Now, they sleep.

Daily gratitudes:
Black squirrels
Meeting a neighbor
New tires for Truck
Experimental cooking
That my lungs are starting to acclimate to 7200 feet

Dear World,

There are some days when I don’t interact with anyone, which leaves little room for love notes to humans, but that doesn’t mean that there is nothing to which to write a love note. Tonight, I write a love note to owls, and send it to them on the black wind.

To the Long-Eared Owl, glimpsed through changing aspen trees many September ago, in the woods somewhere outside of Crested Butte, on one of those journeys that shaped the years to come. To the baby Western Screech Owl, nestled in the corner of a porch, so still that I wasn’t sure it was real. To the Barn Owl in the Portland Zoo, whose ghost face leapt brightly from the shadows of a rough-hewn roof beam. To the Great Horned Owls who lived in the towering White Fir tree outside my pink cottage, who hooted to one another in my sad darkness, gently, until I learned their language and could hoot in response. Especially to the one who, one night as I made my way across the cold dead grass, swooped so low, so huge, so close to my head that I had to duck, that I could feel the draft from the beat of his wings. And finally, to the pair, as yet unseen, that speak softly outside my window on rare wee hours in the Bungalow. I hope that one day I can learn how to talk to them as well.

great horned owl

#yearoflove

I know I promised Canada, and will deliver on said promise, but today the Front Range was so lovely, I just had to share. I worked late last night, not getting home until 1:00 a.m., and only falling into a fitful sleep between 4:15 and 7:15. Throughout the night, I heard rain, which was a becalming sound. Being a woman who takes short 45-second private tropical vacations because of my internal magma, I continue to have the bedroom window open a few inches, even in the sub-zero nights, so last night, I listened to the comfort of rain falling on the dead leaves of the evil Chinese elm tree, and the long slow soothe of a freight train whistle a few miles up the road. I tried to remember what the whistle signals meant, as my father gave me a document long ago that explained the whistle “morse code” that engineers used. The grey of the morning wore off, MKL arrived, we bought a lovely little Christmas tree, saw some llamas, sheep, goats, and BMWs, braved the weirdness of WalMart, went out for coffee and listened to the bluegrass jam session at the East Simpson Coffee Shop.

I changed the sheets, cleaned the bathroom (not enough), watched an episode of “Sherlock” on PBS. I had a baked potato, having decided (in a rather numb-nut fashion) to stop eating sugar and flour now, just before Christmas celebrations. After all, it’s 10 weeks to Costa Rica.

Now, I am cuddled with Mr. Man, trying to adjust to how my body has  been today, how my spirit has been today, on the 10th anniversary of my Mother’s death. As I have said before, I can instantly place myself  back in each moment of the nine days that I was with her up to her passing – and the terrible days afterwards. I physically hurt, and have shed tears a few times when talking to MKL, who is extra adorable, because he never fails to have a handkerchief handy for me to dry my tears.

While I only occasionally have visitation dreams from people who have passed on, it is clear when they occur. I would love to have my Mother visit me, and it has happened only twice in all these years, except for this year, when she stopped by every night for about four days, as she was poised to assist a friend to the next place. No matter how much I want her to come to me in my dreams, she doesn’t. It’s a hard thing for me to understand, but I know it’s in both of our best interests. Still, it adds a caul to the sadness that I feel for the loss of her, which is there daily, but more potent on anniversaries. I cried through the parent/child dance at the wedding I catered last night. I haven’t done that in many years.

But today was a good day, a beautiful day, and I know that would make her happy, as it made me happy, even with the ache throbbing in my heart to the beat of the bluegrass.

20161211_124006-cropBoulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There is something about losing your mother that is permanent and inexpressable – a wound that will never quite heal.” — Susan Wiggs

Daily gratitude:
The smell of the little Christmas tree lot
Today’s clouds
Siting a bald eagle in flight
Clean sheets
The seasonal reappearance of the Santa Hat

 

 

 

A warm memory of an autumn Saturday. We have drifted into snow and cold and wind, and I am happy to remember a peaceful day.

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Hygiene, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “It is in the turmoil of chaos that we discover what, if anything, we are.” — Orson Scott Card

Daily gratitudes:
Blue skies
Clean dishes
Prayers of friends
Cozy couches
Good walks

 

Still not ready for words. Let us be led by love.

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Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “There is no ‘way to peace,’ there is only ‘peace.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Daily gratitudes:
That MKL makes me laugh
Peek-a-boo with a baby
Sharing feelings with Mohammed
Having a voice to help others
Kelsea’s new job

Darkness comes too early now, but I know that golden leaves and sun-bright streams exist.

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Outside Morrison, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” — Lauren DeStefano

Daily gratitudes:
The lady who complimented my outfit today
MKL
Puppies
Almost the end of the election
A clean living room

 

 

Yes, I do mean encroaching. Encroaching on the richness of summer and the bright days that stretch into soft, long evenings with nine o’clock sunsets. It was a shock today to leave Job #2 at 8:15 and have it be dark. Over the weekend, we did get into the mountains for a quick overnight in Cripple Creek with an interesting side dish of a ghost hunt at the Cripple Creek Jail Museum, which I’ll share more about once I’ve gotten my thoughts in order and it’s not so late in the evening.

Here’s a simple, rather abstract image that feels to me like it captures the essence of fall. (Kudos to anyone who can discern what this image is and how it was taken.) Let’s hope we have a gentle fall into winter here in Colorado.

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Buena Vista, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.” — Stephen King

Daily gratitudes:
The woman pushing her two yorkies in a double stroller
The split of political views in the office
Easing of the spiritual stress
MKL
Being more organized

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell, especially when depression shadows you, constantly grabbing for your hand to hold you back. Even when I know the things I need to do to come out from a bout, I sabotage myself by not doing them. Sigh.

IMG_8419Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Quote of the day: “When you’re lost in those woods, it sometimes takes you a while to realize that you are lost. For the longest time, you can convince yourself that you’ve just wandered off the path, that you’ll find your way back to the trailhead any moment now. Then night falls again and again, and you still have no idea where you are, and it’s time to admit that you have bewildered yourself so far off the path that you don’t even know from which direction the sun rises anymore.” — Elizabeth Gilbert

Daily gratitudes:
Rabbits
Clean dishes
An empty drawer
Birds flying in formation
The Olympics

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These lovely flowers lined our ever so random routes in and out of dirt roads, their blooms glowing and inviting. Later in the summer, these same roads will be lined with sunflowers – one of my favorites. And we will go back, and wander some more. I sometimes think that stubborn things planted in harsh environments bloom all the more beautiful. Rather like people.

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Prairie Grasslands, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “I am one of the searchers. There are, I believe, millions of us. We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life, hoping to uncover its ultimate secret. We continue to explore ourselves, hoping to understand. We like to walk along the beach, we are drawn by the ocean, taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty. We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well. Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter. To share our sadness with one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know – unless it be to share our laughter.” — James Kavanaugh

Daily gratitudes:
My trashy TV watching companion
The final tree pruning
MKL
Looking forward to the weekend
Being sleepy

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