Writing 101 Day 2 Assignment: Beating the Storm Home

 

4-Wheeling at the Butte

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This is Pluto, our dog, not Harv. ūüôā

I climb on the seat behind Harv on the bright yellow 4 -wheeler and wiggle around to get comfortable in my elevated position above him: ¬†“Room With a View”. ¬†Still I can barely see above the top of his head really so have to crane my head from side to side to see what’s in front of us. ¬†Sometimes I forget about what’s going on down the road and just look at the views I can see flashing by if he is going fast on the narrow, dirt paths we take out in any given direction.

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Today, the skies are full of huge, cumulus clouds that hang very low and look like they are ready to pop. ¬†We figure that maybe we shouldn’t go too far in case we get caught in a downpour and need to head back home. ¬†We choose a path leading us behind the back of Elephant Butte, a pretty drive with two accesses back home although, once we get out there we “get carried away” and forget the weather threat and ¬†verge off onto an adjoining trail we haven’t been on before that leads us further away from “the butte”, the endearing name everyone out here calls this mammoth butte that is the background of our community, whose presence is as familiar as the little cabin we built.

Riding along, Harv slows down so we can enjoy the sights and scents.  Out this far, with nothing else to compete against, the rich scent of sage fills your nostrils and you can almost feel the menthol effect even from a distance. Up close, I always slip some of the leaves off the stem, crush them a little and hold them close to my nose, sucking in the heady aroma that just about knocks you over.

Desert sage in bloom.
Desert sage in bloom.

My eyes dart from the red sand that is everywhere, to hues of sage, yellow flowers, deep greens of the pines and up at the saturation of the bluest sky I’ve ever seen as the 4-wheeler moves past these common points.

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We start heading more north now, enjoying the scenery and the air passing over our skin as we ride a little faster.  This is another fascinating ride.

We’re so caught up with the sheer joy of it we don’t notice, or care, that the clouds are gathering in tighter, piling up one-on-top-of-another and the marshmallow clouds are drawing deeper shades of grays into them. ¬†The little breeze is strengthening.

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No matter how caught up we are in other things, this coming storm is beginning to show too many signs by now to be ignored.  The one thing we have to pay attention to is the streaks of lightning flashing in all directions in the far out horizons.

We have ventured further from home than what we intended. ¬†Literally, “throwing caution to the wind.” ¬†We are a small part of this big scenario taking place, in fact, only a minor part through nature’s eyes. ¬†Just two fools out on a 4-wheeler too far from home. ¬†Realizing our mistake, we now fear there is no way we’re going to beat the storm home.

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Big, fat drops of rain start hitting us…almost one at a time at first. ¬†Plunk, one here; plunk another one there…we can almost count them as they fall.

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Harv has sped up the pace now, taking the rough little path we ride on quite fast and furiously hitting every little bump in the road and driving as one with a purpose; forgetting now about comfort and, I fear, even safety. ¬†We are literally flying home and the rain drops are growing more steady, too fast to count now. ¬†Between the rain, wind and the speed of the bike it feels almost like a sleet of rain hitting us hard. ¬†The sensation is like little pin-pricks hitting us in different places all at once. I pull my head into Harv’s back to try to cover my face. ¬†He’s put on goggles, that blur quickly from the steady stream of water running down them.

We’re really going fast now and I yell in Harv’s ear, trying to be heard above the full-fledged storm that has added some thunder and lightning to its arsenal as well, that it feels like we’re galloping a horse home at break-neck speed. ¬†We are racing over this rugged, primitive terrain still laughing like fools with a mixture of worry, fear and excitement, we feel like cowboys in days gone by flying over the ground on a pony. ¬†It’s an exhilarating experience that has seized¬†and heightened each sensory perception. ¬†The sage, now that it is wet, grows so pungent, it is the only smell out there. ¬†You could drown in the smell of wet sage!

“…Saddle up the horses cause we’re headed for the hall of fame.”

A line from the song,”I’ll be your Belle Star, You Can be My Jesse James.” ¬†From the album, “All the Road Running” ¬†by Mark Knopfler and Emmy Lou Harris

As we near our property and the familiar landmarks appear, we know it’s only a short time before we pull through our heavy, back-gate with the white Buffalo Skull Harv nailed above it.

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Safely  Home  

I jump off, like the coward I am at times, and run for the house; leaving Harv to pull the 4-wheeler into the shed, turn it off and head inside himself.  I start heating water for hot tea.  I argue, to myself, that this is a good excuse for me to get inside first; to prepare things to comfort and warm us after being soaked to the bone.

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Sitting on the upper, covered, deck we sip our hot tea and gaze out at the downpour and the spectacular lightening  show preceded by deafening claps of thunder.

Lightning Sunset

We made it home just in time.  

To think, just a few minutes ago, we were high-tailing it home like outlaw-cowboys on the run, trying to race the wind.

What a life!

I Love My Bed

Often, and again this morning, as I’m making my bed, the thought goes through my mind as I spread and straighten the sheets, “I love my bed!”

This past winter, I bought heavy, micro-fiber gray sheets for it that felt cozy and warm on a cold winter’s night, inviting me to snuggle down into this warm bedding.

With the arrival of spring and the awakening of the newness this season brings, I had an urge to replace my fluffy, gray sheets with something crisp and bright. Spring colors. I wanted to feel the different texture of crisp cotton when I crawled into bed and wanted to see some bright, happy colors when I tossed back the covers. I was tired of the dark, heavy winter sheets and wanted something to match the new season. I found exactly what I was searching for, small stripes in pink, lime green, purple and two shades of blue on a white background. Perfect!

I also love to hang my sheets on the clothesline to dry.  There is nothing that can replace the crisp, clean feeling of line-dried sheets, nor that irreplaceable scent.  I say that clothes dried on the line smell like the sun and garden grown tomatoes taste like the sun.

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When I shut everything down and finally crawl into bed at night, it is my favorite time of day. My day is done, or as done as it’s going to get. I’ve reckoned with the demons who used to plague me about unfinished tasks and no longer feed them with patches of my mind. I’ve learned to just let it all go and let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

Nighttime, bedtime, is a statement that today is finished. The only next thing on my agenda is a good night’s sleep. Sometimes I get this, sometimes I don’t…but, I have found successful formulas and exercises to help me make nighttime, sleep time.

Mornings, I usually make my bed before leaving my bedroom in earnest. Smoothing the bottom sheet and pulling the top sheet up, I lovingly press out the wrinkles with my open hand and pull it up in one quick tug to the top of the headboard, into straight alignment. Again, I notice and love the colors of the sheet set I just bought. They’re a happy thing to wake up to. Next comes the white down comforter, smoothing it into shape so it lies smoothly on top of the sheets and the sides hang straight down on both sides of the bed. Finally, the white top spread, fitting it into place same as the comforter.

The pillows are last. I plump and smooth them and toss them in their place at the top of the bed….the bright striped ones first, then some fluffy white ones on top of those. My “sleep pillow” made of rice and essential oils to lay over my exposed ear snuggles up next to the main pillows. I can still get the vague scents of Lavender wafting up once in awhile as I handle this dream pillow that’s been my nighttime companion for over seven years now. A gift from a friend.

And now, the final pillow goes into place. A square pillow I made from a silk-screen prayer flag I bought years ago at the Lama Foundation (an intentional community) near Taos where my sister once lived. It has a cream-colored background with two dark purple crane’s heads coming together in a pose depicting perfect harmony. I covered the back of this pillow with a dark-blue, heavy fake-suede fabric. The pillow still holds magic and mystical events inside of it and reminds me that there is a bigger picture going on beyond our scope of vision and that inner peace is my ultimate desire.

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There, my bed is made and looking beautifully appealing in it’s simplicity. I have a padded quilt my mother made in common shades of brown, grey and light green hanging over the foot board. Sometimes during the day as I walk past the foot of my bed, my hand runs unconsciously along this part of the bed, feeling the soft padding of the quilt with the sturdy metal spine beneath it. It feels solid to the touch and brings a tangible feeling of “rightness” to my world.

So, I have this love affair going on with my bed. Some people may find this boring and think of their beds in more exciting roles. Being single, the greatest thing I want from my bed at this time in my life is a place of rest and refuge at day’s end. It is one area of my life I can manipulate and create to suit my every whim and desire.

The little white night light in the seashell in the bathroom just around the corner from my bed invokes reminders of the protective white light as I turn it on and, then, looking out into the living area at an angel night-light whose body glows changing shades of blue lava light is usually the last thing I see at night before closing my eyes and succumbing to the dark veil of night. This reminds me of Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy. I bought it to give to a granddaughter but found I liked her myself. Little granddaughters in my bed on special over-nighters get to share her and these special occasions keeps her unique and special for them. Memories of Grandma’s house.

Whatever this may sound like to anyone reading this, I just wanted to jot down these thoughts for myself about what I’ve created; a sweet sanctuary and a special place to rejuvenate my body and spirit for yet another day.

” Crazy Things We Do”

My Mother’s Gold Plated Hand Mirror ~

For as long as I can remember, Mom always had a special hand-held mirror that she took extremely good care of.  I remember her cautioning me to not play with it or break it.  She always wrapped it in a soft cloth before putting it in the bathroom drawer.

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Along with her mirror, whenever we would travel (usually on a short trip “up home” to visit her parents) Mom would take her cosmetic case. ¬†Mom was so good about visiting her parents regularly and going through Grandma Milne’s home, cleaning it from top to bottom. ¬†It was just a small 2-bedroom home that didn’t take too long to clean.

This first cosmetic case was a red leather one. ¬†I think it was leather, back then you didn’t see the vinyl of today. ¬†Any time we traveled, Mom’s case was packed and came along.

Eventually, somewhere along the way, the red cosmetic case was replaced with a blue one. ¬†It became her standard “go to” case for traveling and, as with the mirror, she took good care of it and seemed to value it a lot.

Blue Travel CaseAs Mom aged and eventually began showing signs of dementia, later diagnosed as Alzheimer’s, I became her main caretaker. ¬†My first concern was Mom’s safety. ¬†She would forget to turn off the kitchen stove top when boiling something so, before too long, something had to be done about this situation. ¬†A simple solution involved removing the knobs on the stove. ¬†This frustrated her but was better than having her burn the house down. ¬†She was actually quite easy to manage; her irritations would soon be forgotten with a short ride in the car.

Eventually, one of my priorities began to be to help my mother retain her dignity. ¬†I thought to myself, “if I were in this condition, what would I want someone to do for me that I couldn’t do or would forget to do for myself.” ¬†Mom was physically able to do most things but her mind was not tracking on the things she once considered VIP, as in her personal hygiene. ¬†An old friend of my mothers has often mentioned how she would never see Mom outside the house with her hair not done up perfectly. ¬†Mom was not “over-the-top” into fashion nor beauty styles but she did always take good care of herself and her appearance.

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This became my job. ¬†I felt like, as her daughter, I should try to keep Mom looking as nice as she always had, both in fixing her hair, doing her make-up and even keeping her toe and fingernails clipped and polished. ¬†I also made sure her under garments were clean and there weren’t any foul odors about her. ¬†I became vigilant in helping Mom maintain her dignity.

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I hope if I ever get into that shape, my kids will do the same for me…or, more realistically, ¬†I hope that I ¬†won’t ever have to live through such a horrendous disease as dementia in the first place.

¬† ¬†Moving on and getting to the point of my story, Mom’s condition worsened (as Alzheimer’s patients do not recover). ¬†I began taking note and categorizing which stage she fit into along this road to total memory loss. ¬†She never did get to ¬†the end stage of Alzheimer’s, although she did reach the end stage of life. ¬†Feeling through these last few years we were almost attached at the hip, it took awhile for me to free myself of the habitual thoughts of having to do these everyday things for my mother, even after she was gone.

For instance, after Mom died, I moved some of her things up to our very small home and stored them out in the storage shed my husband and I just finished building.  I narrowed her belongings down over time, hauling many things to the second hand stores she had loved patronizing.

The one item I could not bring myself to get rid of was her blue, cosmetic case. ¬†I didn’t want it for myself. ¬†It held no worldly value or use for me as I had one of my own. ¬†So, I stuck it up on a high shelf in the bathroom, thinking, someday I will find someone to give it to. ¬† As things go, we ran into a situation where we had to de-clutter our little home very quickly to get ready for an appraisal we were having done. ¬†We really swiped it clean, ridding it of anything and everything that didn’t belong inside. ¬†In a quick decision, I got the cosmetic case down, put it in the car and hauled it to the second-hand store without a backward glance. ¬†There was a slight sadness in doing this but it took a back burner to the flurry of speed in which we were working to get our house in tip-top shape for the appraiser.

After getting rid of the cosmetic case, I tried to take extra special care of Mom’s gold-plated hand mirror. ¬†I even began using it myself to view the back of my hair. ¬†I would lay it in a drawer in the bathroom on top of soft wash cloths. ¬†Once while using it, I felt the handle kind of turn when I picked it up. ¬†Always too busy to “do it now” and a great one for putting off today what can be done tomorrow, I ignored the signs of the handle getting looser and looser.

Seven Years of Bad Luck

Today when I picked up the mirror, to inspect the back of my hair the whole handle fell off then next the casing holding the two-sided mirror together dropped off and in seconds, everything came crashing down on the floor around my feet. ¬†The magnified side of the mirror broke. ¬†Stunned at this sudden chain of events and then remembering breaking a mirror means seven years of bad luck, I ¬†stood there, aggravated at myself. ¬†The thought about the superstition was only fleeting of course. ¬† I’m not really a superstitious person. ¬†Who has time for that!

I scooped up all the parts and pieces of broken glass and threw them in the trash. ¬†I felt a sting of guilt in not taking better care of these prized emblems of my mother’s life. ¬†For a moment, guilt ridden and forgetting the past five years my husband and I had spent taking her with us on many outings and doing so many little things to add to her quality of life, I felt like I had somehow let Mom down.

After throwing the broken mirror away, thoughts began tumbling around in my head and I began forming a story in my mind that I wanted to put down on paper. ¬†I am sharing it on my blog for other care-givers as well as¬†sons and daughters of healthy, elderly parents just to remind you to love them while they are with you and don’t let any guilt creep in, knowing you are doing all that you can do to the best of your ability.

Your best is always good enough.

Gold Hand Mirror

Related Quote (Sort of)

Good Enough

 

“Tree Huggers”

As a little girl growing up in my first neighborhood in Las Vegas, NV  I was exceedingly happy with my life and my Love Bucket was overflowing.  I remember one day, wrapping my short arms around a big Elm Tree in our front yard and hugging it.  The rough bark rubbed against me and reminded me how little and weak I was compared to this strong and loyal friend.  I loved that old tree.  We had a China Berry tree as well that I was instructed never to climb as I could break the more delicate branches.  I longed to climb that one as well, and tried to now and then, doing it with the gnawing feeling of doing something wrong and hurting the guardians, my aunt and uncle, I loved too much to disobey.

Little did I know that someday…in the far future, this would exemplify a whole group of Eco-Minded folk in our society who would be called Environmentalists. ¬†People working hard to preserve the natural realm of things. ¬†I am proud to be a card-carrying member of that group, in a more subtle way. ¬†Too bad, that as adults, we have to go over the top with things and then have to defend our right to our beliefs and actions. ¬†Too bad that our world is growing too small to hold so many conflicting opinions, rubbing up against one another and being annoying.

Going back to a smaller self, a smaller world, those were not issues at all.  The only world I knew back then was my own little circumference which barely extended past my front yard.  To cross the street now and then and play with my best friend, Mikey Brown, was what I considered venturing out into the world.

 My tree hugging days were uncomplicated and unreported

Below are photos of a new generation of tree-huggers. ¬†They aren’t ¬†bonding with the trees to save the planet or save an¬† insect close to extinction.¬† They don’t consider what drives them to cling to a tree.¬† Children just love trees!

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“Yellow, Wild Roses”

This is a true, short story:

Years ago, when my kids were all young, living in Panaca, NV; we were building a new house on a lot we had recently purchased in the middle of town.

We bought a very small 8 X 40′ trailer we hauled to the building site and lived in that while we were building.¬† With a family of five children crammed within, we were literally living on top of one another, like sardines in a can.¬† We did build an additional bedroom onto the trailer for the kids to sleep in.¬† We pretty much threw it up just to suffice our short stint till the new house was finished.¬† In the winter, ice formed on the inside around the door and window.¬† Sounds pretty dismal but looking over at the beautiful, new home going up made it all very bearable.

Everyone pitched in and helped on the building project, by the way.¬† I have photos of even my two sons up on the steep pitched roof helping their dad shingle it.¬† My ex-husband had a saying, “Small houses build character.”¬† That must be true because each of the kids coming out of this union are solid adults, true and capable. This is a great story in and of itself but today I am narrowing this broad story down to a particular moment in time, focusing on an incident that happened in this tiny trailer and with one son in particular, Ryan, our eldest at nine years old.

I was fixing dinner, the  house was in a shambles (as usual) and hot in the middle of summer with the screen door to keep the flies out and help the air circulate.  I was fixing supper over the small stove in the cramped kitchen area.  Ryan came through the screen door and I instantly began scolding him for not hurrying up and shutting the door behind him as he was letting the flies in.

Busy with fixing a meal, I didn’t notice his hands were clasped behind his back.¬† After he came inside and I quit scolding him, he pulled what he had been concealing behind his back, a huge bouquet of wild, yellow roses that grew profusely in the area.¬† I was so taken aback at this surprise he offered me and feeling very guilty for getting after him.

As I stood there, in the middle of dinner preparations, feeling very sorry for being so hasty to chastise him for “dawdling”, he went on to tell me in a meek little voice that he had picked all the thorns off of the roses.¬† What a mixture of emotions were swimming around in my head and heart.¬† Mostly, an overpowering feeling of love and gratefulness for this precious little boy along with feelings of anger at myself for ruining his big surprise.

This is one of those bittersweet memories, a mother stores her whole life in her memory bank, pulling it up either at will or having it flash across the screen at random times.¬† My “boy” is now 39 years old.¬† Rather shy and sensitive by nature still.¬† Having been through the “Hard Knocks of Life University” himself by now and much too old for me to take upon my lap and cuddle and assure him all is right in the world with a kiss and a hug.¬† How I miss those simple times, those easy fixes.

I hope I did something, somewhere along the road of parenting, that he can pull from his memory bank, to set him back on course when he feels life weighing down upon, a childhood memory to help get him through the hard spots.  He has grown into a good person, a responsible adult who holds down a steady job and his word is his bond. But, oh, how I love and miss that little boy of long ago, standing at my doorway with a beautiful bouquet of yellow, thornless, wild roses for his mother.

This is a story about love.¬† The purest kind.¬† When we give everything we have to give.¬† One of the greatest gifts Ryan gave me that day was to overlook my brash first reaction and wait patiently for me to calm down then pull his surprise out and offer it in his sweet, childish way, even explaining he had picked all the thorns off first.¬† I’d say, this is one of my most treasured gifts.

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Quote by Tasha Tudor from the book ” The Private World of Tasha Tudor” :

” When I’m working in the barn or house I often think of all the errors I’ve made in my life. ¬†But then I quickly put that behind me and think of water lilies. ¬†They will always eradicate unpleasant thoughts. ¬†Or goslings are equally comforting in their own way.” ¬† ¬† “…..Oh, it’s very soothing.”

Lake Mead, Arizona Springs and Roger Springs: Memories Galore

LAKE MEAD:¬† Taking the¬†long way there…..

My husband and I took an exciting road trip a number of years ago.¬† Although we didn’t have a solid agenda, just a scratchy idea of where we were heading, it turned out that we made a full, sweeping circle, beginning at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then on to the South Rim and everything in between.

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A Photo of the Awesome North Rim of the Grand Canyon

This trip actually took in the three prominent waters of my childhood and youth.  We took our truck and camper.  One thing that stands out for me were the gourmet meals we cooked enroute when we pulled off the road, to a hidden location, stopping for the night.  We brought a small grill top and all the ingredients to maintain our healthy eating habits.  We fixed some pretty fancy meals, right there on the ground on a grill we balanced on the rocks circling our small fire pit.  The fare was something I felt proud to have prepared in such crude conditions.

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After visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, we drove on towards AZ following historic highway 89, ending up in Sedona and then on to Jerome (two of my favorite towns in Arizona).  We camped in Jerome that night then visited this artistic, touristy town that teeters on a hill-top the next day.  That afternoon, we took an unknown road out the back end of Jerome that looked like a short cut to our next destination.  Truly, this was the scariest road I have ever been on.  Practically a one-lane road with sheer drop offs the whole way!  We met a car coming in the other direction and I told my husband I had to get out and walk.

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Mineral Springs: A Thirst For Life

Being a water person, I know that my body, mind and spirit need this to maintain my sense of well-being.

Most of my water activities take place in the typical lakes, reservoirs and swimming pools around our area.  Swimming, snorkeling and kayaking maintains my mental acuity and balance.  I actually prefer swimming in some of the reservoirs found nearby over a swimming pool.

The image below is of me and my oldest granddaughter.  Our adult kids and grandchildren like to come to our home and  take the kayaks out to a reservoir nearby to swim, kayak and fish.  The kayaks (two so far) have been a great investment and we want to get more!

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Gliding through the smooth water with a little one sitting in the kayak with me is an opportunity for a hushed conversation in awe over an other-worldly experience as we look down in the water-forest below us and up at the strange rock formations above us.¬† We are adrift, existing in an alternate world for the moment.¬† I am thankful for a chance to share in an activity that will help seal us against the fast-paced, complexities of today’s lifestyles.

I am dedicating this post to an entirely different water experience though, one that supersedes the above mentioned in therapeutic value.¬† The natural mineral springs that exist all over this wonderful world of ours. SPA is the acronym for the Latin phrase Salus Per Aquas, which means “health through water.”

I have been lucky enough to discover and dip in a few near and far and want to share¬† these soaks and the experiences I’ve found in each on this, my first blog of this new year.

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