You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘thoughts’ tag.

The Uvalde Massacre has broken my heart. It’s been 20 years since the Columbine Massacre and nothing has changed. Not in protecting our children, not in sensible gun control, not in police practices in these unthinkable scenarios, not in politicians’ responses. I thought that somehow Sandy Hook would have been a catalyst. Then I thought that Parkland would have been a catalyst. What’s the saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me? I won’t waste my spirit thinking that Uvalde will be a catalyst. Our society is so broken, so irrational, so angry, and so polarized that we are sunk in an impenetrable fog and cannot see our way out. At least I can’t. I still have faith. I’m just not sure what I have faith in right now.

My coffee and I sit at our round table with our unconventional breakfast, looking through cookbooks to plan our week’s meals. My own handwritten notes are familiar even though they were written 20 years ago. Books being sacred objects, I was aghast the first time ex-Pat made notes in a cookbook. Over the years, he convinced me to do so, but only in pencil, and as minimally as possible, to convey the changes I’d made.

Those notes from 20 years ago….they transport me back to the Cozy House, to my slope-floored kitchen with its knotty pine cabinets. To the Mother-in-Law’s tongue that my co-worker Sandy gave me decades ago, thriving in a pot in the corner. The dogs’ and cats’ food and water dishes slightly underfoot on the lavender linoleum. The Asian blue patterned containers holding the cooking utensils on the counter next to the little one cup coffee maker. The bottom drawer where the casserole dishes lived, the one that always went cattywampus when I tried to close it. My beloved Norge stove.

We never ate dinner at the kitchen table, only breakfast on weekdays, just as it had been at my parents’ house growing up. I tried to get us to do so once and only once. It was disastrous and all three of us wound be miserable.

Doing dishes, by hand as we never had a dishwasher, standing at the sink looking out into the backyard from the white-framed casement the window. My view was beneath the arch of a tree that was slowly growing its way into the house, bending the gutter a little more each year. Ex-Pat and I talked about one day remodeling the kitchen, making it bigger, though it was a good size already. We would have built out the kitchen around the tree, leaving it free to grow as tall and as strong as it wanted.

That view from the window had grown over the decades from a dirt yard with giant wooden spools as tables in various places, to a bower of beauty, with the greenhouse that ex-Pat had built by hand as its centerpiece. Beautifully cold in winter but always warm with memory of summer. Sparkling with promise in spring. Glowing with trailing golden cottonwood leaves in fall. And raging and singing in its glory on the warmest days and nights of summer,

It all lives only in my memory now, as I sit at a different table in a different life, the wind swishing the pine boughs outside the door, the blue sky shy beneath sheer white clouds, the Stellar’s Jay keeping silent company, my coffee now grown cold.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • That I’m alive
  • Cats
  • Music
  • Driving
  • Sweatshirts

I’ve driven hundreds and hundreds of miles already this year. My drives have been from The Retreat to MKL or to the ruins of the cozy house. Of course, it’s wonderful to have time with MKL, but most of my trips north have involved my sifting or just sitting in the ashes or managing some detail of recovery. In other words, these drives have been taken with a heavy heart.

Yesterday, though, my drive was different. Instead of turning north, I turned south on the highway and headed for New Mexico to meet up with K for one night in a town about midway between us. As soon as I hit the unfamiliar blacktop of I-25 South, I felt free. The sky opened up to a vast blue and I felt tearfully excited that I was going to see my girl.

It was a lovely, easy drive, with Truck most eager to hit illegal speeds. It was warm and sunny and I had Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers as musical accompaniment. I blew kisses to the many herds and singleton antelope I saw along the way, they being my comfort and shamanic power animal, so often appearing in my travels.

While I’m not choosy, particularly when it comes to New Mexico skies, I prefer a few clouds to add some extra drama, but the clarity of the day, with a three-quarter moon resting in the crook between the mesas, made for a liberating trip. I love how, heading south from the Retreat, the Spanish Peaks appear suddenly before me, welcoming and enticing. Across the border, after Raton Pass, a New Mexico snow-capped mountain range peeks out from the west horizon, dipping behind the brown hills and reappearing unexpectedly in a slightly different place a few miles down the road.

Once, years ago, when K was in high school, she was having a rough patch and she said, “I just want to get out of this state.” And I said okay. So we got in the truck and drove to Wyoming, thrift shopping, exploring, and stopping at the hoodoos at sunset to clamber around. That change of scene, that change of state, was just what she needed. A day with her in another state was just what I needed right now. I’ll share pictures in the coming days.

As many of the people in my community are rebuilding their lives, we’ve also been watching what’s happening in Ukraine. For me, that’s raised some feelings I need to examine.

When I saw the ashes of the cozy house and Original Superior right after the fire, the most apt description I could find was that it looked like a war zone. Nothing left intact. Burned and twisted remains of homes. Blackened trees. Ruins. Here we are, nine weeks later, looking at images in Ukraine that look like our burned out town. Except they really are war zones.

I don’t want to watch. I don’t want to see that destruction, just as it hurts me to see the ruins of the cozy house. But I can’t turn away. Why not? That’s where, for me, things get complex and confusing. Perhaps I’ll list it out. My dearest people know that one of my most oft given pieces of advice in times of turmoil is “make a list”.

  • I feel compelled to follow what’s going on, as this is as close to a potential war as I’ve ever experienced in this lifetime. That’s scary, but in keeping with how disastrous 2022 has felt to me so far.
  • These images connect my empath soul to the people who have had to leave their homes with nothing but their kids, pets, and a few belongings, so like what fire victims did. Immersion (for me) opens a connection.
  • I should not be feeling sorrow about my own loss because Ukrainian refugees have it so much worse.

Those first two bullets are things I acknowledge about myself and can process pretty well. It’s the last one that’s the kicker. As compassionate humans, we compare our tragedies with those of others. In times of trauma, this can add guilt to our rich mixture of feelings…”They have it so much worse than I do — I shouldn’t be feeling like I do about my loss.” And that just makes us feel worse.

I have been doing this even before the Ukraine conflict, ever since the fire. Yes, I lost the cozy house and the precious, irreplaceable things in it, but I do have a place to live, and clothes, and cookware. So I don’t have a right to feel such a huge sense of loss. I have not participated in the incredible generosity that the community has extended, except to contribute what I can, because what I lost can’t be replaced. I don’t have the need that others do. I feel I don’t deserve my own grief.

Rationally, I know this isn’t so. We are all entitled to feel how we feel. But it’s a hard threshold to cross, feeling empathy and compassion for those who are suffering in our State and in countries thousands of miles away, and at the same time allowing ourselves the grace to feel our own pain and loss, without drawing comparisons. I guess, in short, we are all human, and all need to treat ourselves and our fellow humans with love.

Today is the 17th anniversary of my Father’s death. Perhaps that’s what started the tears flowing this morning, in the course of which I cried because:

  • a shirt I got for K was maybe too small
  • of Frank Sinatra
  • the middle school boy at our four way stop sign was handing out lemonade for free just to do a good deed for the second day in a row
  • the aspens don’t have leaves
  • of the people ice fishing and dogs playing on frozen San Isabel Lake
  • Whitney Houston is dead
  • it’s been decades since I’ve been to New York City
  • Warren Zevon is dead, and my friend Erik, who always laughed his unique laugh at the song “Werewolves of London”, is also dead
  • I’m not 18 any more and feeling like my whole life is ahead of me
  • I’ve lost my journals to the fire
  • of all of the lies my ex-fiancé told me
  • of how much I love MKL
  • I’ve lost the cozy house
  • of the burn scars near the turn for Florence
  • Clarence Clemons is dead

And all this before noon.

I felt better after arriving in Florence. People there are lovely and real, and I never seem to have enough time there. I picked up a few treasures, but I feel it’s only fitting to share some of the more unusual things I saw.

I wonder who these belonged to. And what happened to the tradition of casting a child’s first pair of shoes in bronze? And who thought of that in the first place?
These are the same blocks I had growing up. They came to me when K was born, but were consumed by the fire. I got a little tearful.
This lamp of a girl eating porridge is not creepy.
Not creepy at all.
Neither was this woman holding a pig.
Or this apparently handless man. But I guess that’s why the woman is holding the pig and not him.
I really think making a candle out of this image is adding insult to injury.
These twin Marys and their respective Baby Jesuses. Note that the Mary on the left is much more disheveled than the Mary on the right.
And while this isn’t the finest picture of her, I got to spend a bit of time petting Ella, who was a complete chonk. Her tongue is always like that because she has no teeth to hold it in.

I’ll leave you with that. I felt better after my excursion. I took some lovely images, as we had a beautiful day. I’ll share those with you tomorrow, as I’m going to be snowed in now for several days.

Living in the Retreat, in the middle of wooded acreage, there’s no predicting fire. Of course after the Marshall Fire, I know without a doubt that regardless of where you are, there’s really no predicting it. No one would have imagined what happened on December 30th.

Surrounded by pines here, it would be hard to see a fire coming. Today on our local news, there was a headline of a wildfire in the Southeast part of our county. I’m in the Southwest part of the county, about 50 miles away from this fire, which is 72% contained. I figured all of this out in about one minute and then I started to cry.

Is this what it’s going to be like? It’s bad enough the I have what I call PTWD (Post-Traumatic Wind Disorder). We have big winds here in the Wet Mountains, big enough to topple 75-foot pine trees onto garage aprons, barely missing buildings. (Perhaps some of you may know of my history of near misses with falling trees.) Am I going to burst into tears every time there’s a fire within 20, 50, 100 miles of me?

Once I got a grip on my silly self, my next feeling was a subcutaneous panic. I had no idea what I would do here, if there were a fire, what I would rescue. I’ve given this considerable thought, obviously, after the loss of the cozy house, but I’m still living in Boxlandia. I have no idea where the journals that I moved here from the Bungalow are. Do I just put all my most precious possessions in a trunk and drag it to the truck in case I need to evacuate? Two trunks? Something fireproof (though that was completely useless in the Marshall Fire, given its tremendous heat)?

I know that everyone who lost their homes or evacuated now has these thoughts, these fears, these plans, and feel pretty sure that I’m not alone in my sense of underskin panic. I wish we didn’t. I wish I didn’t. And I wonder if this is something that will be with me for the rest of my life or if it will find a place to live in my soul where it takes up only the space it needs.

Rescued image. Jost van Dyke, 2004.

I keep trying to find the right analogy for this particular grieving experience, which is different from any other. Rollercoaster feels wrong because there are no highs. ‘At sea’ works for me often, in part because of my love of the sea and how well it knows me. It is always changing, sometimes still, sometimes raging, always beautiful and unpredictable. At sea, you don’t know quite where you’ll wind up. The shore is not always in sight. You can be under your own power, at the mercy of the wind, or simply adrift. It depends on the day. Or the hour. Or the minute.

Lately, I’ve felt that my grief is like a drive on an unfamiliar mountain road. I can be cruising along, feeling like I may be okay, like I may have a handle on my emotions, and all of a sudden, there’s a curve. A sharp curve. A curve where, if I don’t take it just right, I’ll crash into the side of the mountain or fly off the edge of the earth. Those signs that say “sharp curve ahead”? Well, I’ve never been one to pay much attention to those, until I’m in the curve and discover I’m going too fast.

Today was a day for hairpin turns. A neighbor a few doors down from the cozy house kindly and at my request shared some images from their Ring camera that gave me an inkling of what it must have been like. I needed that, needed it to try to visualize it. And I was okay with it. Until I was driving back to MKL’s house, along the magic road, and a cloud over the mountains looked like smoke and some piece of music came on the Bluetooth, and I started to cry. Again. How many tears can one body produce over two months? That sounds like one of those word problems from the unforgettably evil little green spiral math book from the 5th grade.

But it’s okay. I’m okay. I’m continuing along the road, curves and all. This morning at the Retreat, the sky was so blue that I noticed it and then did a double take to really appreciate it. And I was grateful for it. For me, that’s a good sign.

Dreams. Not always the friendliest place to find yourself. Particularly after something breaks your heart. While my dreams have always been exhausting and vivid and usually make me feel like I need a nap, they’ve been particularly poignant since the fire.

I don’t dream about the fire itself. Last night though, waking at 3:00 a.m. from a dream in which I was living in the Lamplighter Motel in Longmont, K hated me, and I couldn’t find my truck, my half-conscious brain went to a tough place.

What if I had still been living at the cozy house when the fire happened? I’d have been working from home. How would I have known to leave? It seems just sheer luck that some neighbors up the road happened to notice workers running to their personal vehicles and someone shouted at them to go. As stubborn as I am, would I have listened?

Would I have bundled Roscoe into the cab of the truck and tried to find Dusty, carrying him unrestrained to the truck as well? What then? Would I have noticed the smoke? Would I have seen the flames coming? I know I would have grabbed the wood box with the important papers and the rock doorstop. Would I have thought to get the photo albums? My wedding dress? The blowfish? Would I have tried to load the two trunks into the back of the truck? Would I have had the presence of mind to do anything? Would I have had the time? Or would I have pushed the clock too far to be able to get us out?

One time, years ago, it looked like Coal Creek, which runs by the cozy house, was going to flood. That actually happened twice, but only one time was I home. Ex-Pat and I calmly loaded the car with the most important things we could think of, letting a small K think we were having a fun adventure. The creek didn’t flood that time, but the house did flood in 2015 when the 100-year flood happened, ruining floors, carpets, the root cellar, and some books. I think I’d have felt more panic,more adrenaline, facing the fire than facing the flood.

My Mother always told me, “Never think about anything important after 2:00 a.m.” It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten. In the wee small hours this morning, I could almost place myself in the house as the fire was coming, almost see the trees catching and burning like matchsticks, almost feel the heat as the walls disintegrated west to east. In a half-dream state, I could almost crossover, playing with time and reality. I understand why she gave me that advice.

Image from visitlongmont.org

I do not really know how to tell the age of a seashell, and apparently Google doesn’t either. So I’ll just go with my own, more romantic, mermaidesque interpretation. Having gathered thousands of shells in my life, I know when one is recently vacated by its resident. It tends to look shiny, with sharp ridges and vibrant colors. Given that bit of wisdom, I can only imagine that this conch, with its wave-beaten sworls worn down to soft semblances of their former selves, has seen a century or so in the sea. Its shadow, however, somehow reflects its past glory, with edges seemingly still honed. The shadow of a memory, perhaps.

Worn By the Sea
Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “I seek truth and beauty in the transparency of an autumn leaf, in the perfect form of a seashell on the beach, in the curve of a woman’s back, in the texture of an ancient tree trunk, but also in the elusive forms of reality.” == Isabel Allende

Daily gratitudes:
A crescent moon
Corgis
Work
MKL
The first hearing of the twee-woo bird, a sure sign of spring

The discussion about how we were all so focused on saying prayers for the citizens of Parls, and yet not for the citizens of other terrorist attacks in 2015 gave me pause. I feel no less sorrow for victims of terrorist attacks in Beirut, Syria, Thailand, or yesterday’s attack in Nigeria than I feel for those in France. And I feel the pain of those who suffer ongoing terrorism in countries such as Rwanda and people such as the Yadizis. As an empath, I have had to learn how to shield myself from my own feelings about these world events, and to some extent, from stories about poignant tragedies and disasters, while at the same time immersing myself in those stories until I can comprehend them, instead of just feel them. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I am.

The uproar about our world’s lack of caring for other countries suffering similar attacks made me recognize (again) how our perception is driven by the media. Had we had minute-by-minute coverage on CNN about the Beirut attack and its aftermath, swarms of reporters heading to the scene immediately, and interviews with survivors and those who lost loved ones, perhaps our own sympathies would have been equaled stirred. But that’s not what happened. That’s not what happened with the terrorist attack in Yola, Nigeria yesterday. That same kind of intense media scrutiny might have generated similar sympathies. So yes, the media partially responsible for our reaction. It’s the only way we know about what’s going on thousands of miles away. In the early 19th century, it would have taken weeks or months to learn about a tragedy within a family if one branch were far distant. I don’t doubt that people lived from birth to death without knowing about atrocities committed on other continents.

(I will say here that the media did a good job of covering the horrific attack on the school in Kenya last April, and that my spirit was heavy with pain for the victims of that tragedy.)

Paris is a city that has been much more romanticized by western civilization than Beirut, Yola, Aleppo, or Kunduz. It has been the setting for films, novels, advertisements, vacations, and dreams, much more often than other cities that have undergone the trauma of terrorism, and that is another reason that last week’s events resonated more with many than did the other acts of terror. That doesn’t make it any more or less important. It just puts it more to the forefront of our personal vision. Had I known someone that had spent time in Beirut and fallen in love with it and shared that feeling with me, I don’t doubt that I would be more attuned to the daily events there. But, unfortunately, I don’t.

I appreciate the discussion about why we as a society did not seem to care as much about the other countries that were victims of violence last week and earlier in the year, and in the years past. It has made me recognize that I want to be more aware of what’s happening in the world, of the places that need the strings of my spirit to reach out with love and support across the miles. That’s now something I am committed to doing. It doesn’t minimize my feelings of empathy for Parisians, but it does make my empathy for other countries shine.

Like many, I wish there was more I could do. I am just one person. But all of us are just individuals. If we approach each other with empathy and love, perhaps all of our feelings of compassion combined can make a difference. I hope.

Love

Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” — Jimi Hendrix

Daily gratitudes:
Confirmation that my pregnancy radar is still functioning (no, I”M not pregnant)
MKL
Getting things done
Heightened awareness
Talks with Kelsea who will be coming home on Tuesday!

August 2022
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Archives

Make your life a little sweeter every day! Sign up for an email subscription to Seasweetie.

Join 2,472 other followers
wordpress stats
plugin
%d bloggers like this: