Saturday, August 29, 2015

Close Call

My brother, my niece and I went to check out a frisbee golf course a block from where he lives.  On the walk home my niece wanted to try and catch a moth in the road.  It would fly a bit and then land again, then as we approached fly off and land again.  "You can't chase things in the road honey because if a car is coming you won't be paying attention," I said off handedly.  There was zero traffic and the road we were on dead ended at a school where nothing was happening.

About a minute or so later a small SUV came barreling through the intersection completely ignoring the stop sign.  My brother and I stood stationary in disbelief.

After a bit the vehicle came back around to the intersection.  The driver's window was open so I walked up and said, "You just scared us, we were walking across that intersection with a small child and you went through that stop sign without even slowing down."

"I did? I'm so sorry," she said to me (cell phone in hand).

It didn't really dawn on me until later how close we were to being in the middle of that intersection when that vehicle came through, how much I assume a vehicle will stop at a stop sign, how lucky my niece wasn't alone chasing moths...


I never knew people gave 4 year olds make-up - but someone gave some to my niece for her birthday and she loves it.  After applying four lipsticks and eye shadow to me, she asked her mom for face paint.  I actually really enjoy it because she is so quiet and completely absorbed in the task as she works.

It was a beautiful day to bike the 17 or so miles to their place, something I hadn't done yet this year.   Then I biked a few more to my friend's to spend time with her and the kids.  When the kids found out I was sleeping over the youngest said, "I love when you spend the night!"  The oldest agreed.  The children and I built a fort out of a new construction toy then put a sheet on top.  Later I curled into bed with the youngest at my shoulder and the oldest right beside for bedtime stories.


These photos are from a couple weeks ago, while I was in North Carolina - something beautiful opened.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

10,000 Gratitudes

You know the longing that sneaks up on you? The car behind driven by a man, his two daughters in back, no one on the passenger side.

Yesterday you spent two hours with that man in the woods – a compass, a walkie talkie, bright snow, bright sun.

You didn’t notice how easy it was - stepping in line with his family, consulting a map, charting a course.

You did notice how blue his eyes were, how quietly he led, how subtly he redirected. You did notice how all comments passed from him to his girls, or you to the girls.

His youngest invited you to dinner. His oldest kept tally.

Twinkle. Twinkle. Kira. Kira.

After finding the last marker you laid in the snow. The family returned inside.
You expected to luxuriate in the sun.

But now the space felt empty. You realize the ease of the last 2 hours. You recognize the lack, now at home, in your chest.

Many times you’ve sat atop a view and it’s been plenty.

It’s been enough.

But now they continue into their lives and you to yours
yet something lingers.

On the drive home he pulls out behind you, girls in back, no one beside.

He follows a while, then passes,
and is gone.

Ahh, so goes my weekend.
Ahh, so goes my life.


I wrote this in March, one week after finishing five years of writing gratitudes, on the way home from a cross country ski weekend where I’d spent a couple hours doing an orienteering activity with a quiet, peaceful man and his two daughters.

So I suppose it is only fitting that yesterday, when I reached 10,000 gratitudes, I was returning from my first camping trip with both he and his daughters.

Then again, it is also true that we all had been camping together before, in a big group, last August, though we never spoke nor noted one another.  I can vaguely picture them in my mind’s eye, because there were many adults, but few children.

I was scheduled to post yesterday, on my 10,000th gratitude day, however I arrived home at 10pm from camping and wasn’t ready for bed for at least another hour, and this morning was an early farmer’s market one. So I made quick notes in my journal instead.

  • “Let’s go lay in the hammock and watch the sunrise.”
  • The audio version of The Phantom Tollbooth ended just as we pulled into the drive, (like the book ended perfectly our last night in the tent).
  • Hugging good-bye, I pulled away and he said, “Ummm,” and didn’t let go. “I keep thinking about taking you home with me. Someday.”
  • Getting crabby because I am getting to bed late and I have to be at the farmer’s market at 6AM and I need to bike there and there are thunderstorms in the forecast and then I got on the computer quick to print out tomorrow’s market lay-out and there was a sweet message from the sweet man which he sent a couple hours before we left to go camping.
  • Despite the message, I was still getting crabby. Becoming aware of this, that my “pain body” was slowly taking over (instead of it unconsciously taking over), then being able to laugh it a little and at the fact that I almost had a meltdown when the kitchen was out of paper towels after I dropped some cantaloupe I was cutting for the next day on the floor.
So that was yesterday. Today I am grateful -

#1 - To have had the energy to bike to the market, to have packed a breakfast and lunch, to have grabbed my extra bike bag so I could bike home with produce, to spend the day outside interacting with people, that the storms didn’t come during the market, that despite it being quite windy I didn’t have to paddle against it, that I implemented my new eat breakfast at the market strategy so I didn’t have to get up before 5AM and that my childhood friend Becky came to shop.

#2 – I had not seen the aforementioned friend for a few years. Her husband was with her and he thanked me for encouraging him (when I last saw them at the market) to try the community ed tennis league. He said he’s played a few years and that he’d loved it. I didn’t even remember the conversation.

#3 – Being able to drive to clean the yoga studio because if I had to bike I would have had a serious attitude problem. I knew I was going to be tired, so after about 20 minutes of cleaning I took a 30 minute or so nap. It totally shifted me into a quiet space. I wasn’t in a hurry to get done, the only other “thing” I had to do today was type this and I surrendered to the task and the cleaning and I really enjoyed it. I lisened first to nothing, then to the Peter Mulvey CD I recently picked up at the library and then to Prairie Home Companion.

#4 – I’m pretty tired, but the house is quiet, the windows are open, the sky is a stormy shade of yellowish-grey, the rain just began to pour down and I’m about to take a shower and climb into a safe, sheltered bed.  Well, I was about to and then realized I probably had a couple emails I should respond to from last week.  And then I started getting crabby from being on the computer and then I took a deep breath and slowed the crabbiness down.

Slowed down enough to decide to stop, and leave you with this


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Waterski Show

#1 - Seeing my niece excited to actually "swim" because she knows she can do so now while wearing a life jacket.

#2 - Making up a song about the gifts my friend's child got for his birthday - carrots, mushrooms, a heavy watermelon that he had to roll all the way home and ice cubes.

#3 - Sitting quietly beside the sweet man on the banks of the Mississippi river while we watched the waterski show.

#4 - How my niece ran up to hug that man's youngest child when they arrived.

#5 - That he didn't buy his kids a foam sword (the souvenir of sorts at the waterski show). I doubt he realized it, but I would have had serious concerns if he did. I do not want to spend my time around children who expect to be bought things everywhere they go. You would think my niece was one of those children based on the way she insisted, no demanded, I buy her one. However, I know my brother is not that type of parent so I guess she was just practicing her leadership skills.

Which reminds me of a gratitude a while back. My niece was being commanding and my brother said, "Are you practicing your leadership skills?" Apparently he heard a story like I did, that when girls elicit such behavior they are often called bossy but when boys do so they are seen as leaders.

(Photos are still from Asheville, NC - Craggy Gardens to be specific).

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Asheville, NC

I could, like usual, focus on gratitudes for today. Like the new name given me by my niece, "Stunky Kofer". Instead I am grateful to have a format to share some stories and beauty from my recent visit to North Carolina.

These first two are at Chimney Rock State Park.

It was obviously a beautiful place, but in fact I enjoyed myself more at the Carl Sandburg Historic Site. I didn't think I'd have time, I only wrote down the info because Sandburg is a (unfamiliar to me) poet. But after I left Chimney Rock it was still early afternoon so I went.

Was it the fact that a poet lived here that made the place so peaceful?

Or the fact that poets in the U.S. don't draw crowds of people?

Didn't matter. I'm so grateful I had the time.


I wanted to spend a little more time at this waterfall than a quick photo. Maybe I could do some yoga?

However despite the beauty of this picture, there was a fair bit of trash strewn about. So I went and got a plastic bag out of the car and picked up all the recycling. Most of the trash was either beverage bottles or discarded clothing and towels. I didn't help with the clothing situation, but the trash situation looked better as I left. It also made me happy to know that if the sweet man were with me he would have jumped right in, because I've witnessed him do such things fairly early when we'd walk together.

I haven't been excited about a waterslide in 20 years, but when I heard there was a natural one near Asheville, it was my #1 priority.

I had been warned in multiple ways that this place can be really busy, so I planned to go on a Tuesday. When I arrived at 9AM or 10AM (I forget) there was ONE car in the parking lot. I'm glad some teenagers were there with their grandparents, otherwise I wouldn't know what to do.

Or get these photos taken by the grandma.


This is Mount Pisgah, my favorite hike. It was three miles from my campground to the top which I find to be the perfect distance.

Near the top

Although it seems like I went to North Carolina to enjoy the nature. The original prompting for the trip was guitar and folk week. So I'll end with some possible options for my album cover ;).