Tag Archives: the laugh you know

My New Favorite Place and Bartender

Recently, I took off with the car loaded to the gills for camping.

I was headed up to a high altitude lake at the top of Poudre Canyon.

One of my sales guys from work, had implored me to stop and eat or at minimum, have a beer at a place called Mishawaka as I was to drive right on by it. This is the guy to give me a hug when I need it and shares in a love of rocks and outdoors.

Mishawaka is a concert venue and restaurant that was on my way, so I mentioned it to my pals also heading up camping.

I was ahead of the other two vehicles also coming up to camp, so as I made the turn off up into the canyon where cell service is not attainable, I let them know that I was 13 miles from my pit stop.

I realized as I parked on the side of the road, that it likely had never occurred to me to stop here prior as the outside looks like it could be the log cabin of just a small country store or bait shop. Once inside, the bar area that I had stepped into, was rustic, eclectic and still not veering far from my original thoughts of a hole in the wall. As I stood taking in my surroundings, I noticed they had a makeshift hostess stand, and I was asked if I had a reservation? I almost giggled – or maybe I did and didn’t catch myself doing it. I said that no, I didn’t have a reservation and I might have people joining me.

I was seated in the “sun room” indoors instead of out on the deck outside because I did not have a reservation and I had no real idea if and when my friends might be there to meet me.

The bartender came over to take my order of a beer while I waited or at least just parked myself for a bit to really get the feel of this place that was nearly demanded that I go to.

The sunroom was a small four table area built out slightly over the water with plexiglass windows enclosing it in. From there, I could see a larger patio area built further out over the River that held many more tables.

There were signed pictures of bands and entertainers who had played here on every wall space that wasn’t a window.

I decided to take a pic of myself in the sunroom to show the sales guy that I had made it, but found that there was no service for which to send it.

I asked my server/bartender Brian (I has asked his name and introduced myself so that we could address each other by name and not by a ‘hey’) if there was WiFi there that I could tap into. “Nope, you’re not going to Snapchat from here”, he said unapologetically. I laughed and said that I don’t have Snapchat, but ok.

A few minutes later, he came over and sat down and asked if I was wanted to order something from the menu I had been reading. I asked what was good and what did he like? He said the Reuben was good, the fish was popular, he liked the French dip and the fish taco wrap was actually really good as he had recently had it by chance. I think I was making some faces of ‘yeah maybe’, ‘not today’, ‘not sure’, and scrunched my nose and said that I wasn’t really a French dip kinda gal. He looked me square in the face and called me on my statement. “Well Sally, you didn’t ask me what you like, you asked me what I liked”. I laughed loudly and knew that I now had a new favorite bartender. You see, I love a person who can be honest and throw back at you the little bits of ludicrous that we all try to absorb without offending. And by no means had he offended or been disrespectful in his tone. It’s like the people who won’t tell you that you have spinach in your teeth. I am thankful for the people who take the moment to point out that I’m making myself look ridiculous.

So, I ordered the fish taco wrap and said I was going to now explore the place. I really didn’t know if my co-campers would stop by or not as they had said that they would eat in Ft. Collins before heading up the canyon.

The room away from the bar area had a rustic wooden stage that looked like something the Blues Brothers may have performed on. The room also had a fairly wide open area for dancing and six or so tables off to the other end that had lunch patrons starting to fill. I wouldn’t consider the space a concert venue though as it only would hold maybe 50 to 75 patrons.

I then walked past the small bar that was meant to help serve that room and out onto the highly desired eating deck. Twelve or so round tables with happy orange big umbrellas sat atop the rushing River below. Off to one side there were fly fishermen casting into the aerated waters caused by big and little rapids, and occasionally you’d see white water rafters and kayakers navigating the creek and yelling their greetings to the folks on the deck.

Walking out further, I found the concert space. Here also along the river, hidden from the road by a wooden fence, was a larger stage, much bigger open area to hold the masses and bars along each edge to keep everyone from having to go into the restaurant for refreshments during events. This was no Red Rocks, but I could see a couple hundred of my closest friends happily jamming out to a concert in this hidden gem.

To one side of the stage was the equipment tent that by chance – or not- was decorated with the paintings of an artist that I had just met the year prior in his shop in Boulder as I was scoping out his paintings. And as threads go, the friends that were to meet with me have one of his prints in their home. I was feeling more and more at home in this place.

This is his wild animal art
This is the print my friends have

To the other side of the stage was a metal sculpture of a woman with wings. Her arms and one leg up reminded me a bit of the crane kick pose in the Karate Kid.

After taking it all in, I went back to my table. Brian came over and asked if I’d like another beer. I said I had been admiring how the bloody Mary’s were going out as it had enough garnishments to qualify as a salad. Yeah, he said as he walked back to the bar, but you need to try this beer and poured me a sampler. He gave it to me and said that it would go good with what I ordered for lunch. I tasted it and it was delicious albeit several degrees lighter than my first beer. I mentioned this to Brian and speculated that I probably should have started with the lighter beer and then moved to a hoppier variety as a second choice, not the other way around. He started pouring the beer and said that in three swigs the change will be complete and I’ll love it. He admitted that it was his new favorite beer as he sat the tumbler on the table. (No glass to be broken over these beautiful waters).

Well, Brian was right again and in three swigs, I no longer had a taste for the first delightful beer at all.

My food came and it too was better than I had thought it might be.

My friends showed up just a few bites in and tried my wrap and beer and soon we were all eating and drinking in triplicate.

I relayed the stories of Brian thus far and they too were giggling at this big dude in shorts, long socks, hiking boots and the required Mishawaka T shirt. After they had eaten, I asked if they thought that I could get Brian to pose for a picture with me. He was just finishing up with the table behind me and so I jumped up with my phone before they could even reply.

I said something like, “Hey Brian, would you mind taking a photo with me?” I held out my phone in the ‘selfie’ pose and went to put my arm around him. He said sure, put me in a choke hold like a brother would do and that was our one pic. It actually felt perfect.

My friends and I joked that if the weather was too crazy bad while camping, we could just come down and spend time at our new favorite hangout.

We didn’t of coarse, as while it did rain and was colder than anticipated, the beauty of our spot was too much to give up until we had to leave.

Once packed up and heading home though, we did stop back at the new hangout, sat out on the outdoor deck under the sun and once again enjoyed the ambiance of the place, service and food. No, Brian was not there that day.

I hope you are getting out and meeting some of the great restaurant people who have been hobbled by Covid and are now getting back to a regular scene.

Love Sally

Bullwinkle Pays a Visit

Yesterday, we had our first corn hole tournament of the summer. It is a bit later than normal, but we had snows up until June and then camping trips, so it really was the first available weekend for it.

We played most of the day and was taking a break to eat all the delicious food that everyone had brought to share, when a moose came walking through just below our playing area.

There has been a few moose in our area for several years now, but usually to the south of us. Never had we seen one in our yard.

He then took a swim in the neighbor’s pond.

After a cooling dip, he went through the horse pasture and up the valley.

What a treat for everyone to see.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday with surprises and wonder as well.

Love,

Sally

Looney Tune Characters Abound

I was going to write about our little Bugs Bunny, but then I realized that he wasn’t the only Looney Tune character that we’ve had in our midst lately.

I’ll start with Bugs though. A month ago while Ted was moving things around in the garage, he found a bunny nest amid some piles of wood he was storing for future use (always future projects in the back of his mind). Anyway, he tried not to move it too much after exposing it and took some pics and sent to me – I was in the Pacific Northwest for some time with our friends and a visit to Olympic National Park (I’ll review that area on another post). He then got out some of his surveillance cameras and put them along with a motion sensor near the nest so that he could make sure Momma Rabbit was going to come back and take care of the kittens (yes, the term for a newborn rabbit is a kitten). Ted wanted to allow them to live there until they were large enough to show the neighbor kids.

Well, momma did come back a couple times each day for the next few days to nurse the tiny kits. That was, until the neighbor dogs wandered over and into the garage and also found the nest. No, we weren’t home, but cameras don’t lie. The shepherd mix tore up the nest, killed one bunny, broke the back of another and when Ted finally found the other two later, they were shivering and not looking great. He put the broken one out of it’s misery and then took the other two inside and warmed them under the heat lamp we have for the chicks when they are young. After remaking their nest, he put them back outside hoping Momma would return.

He didn’t see Momma that next night and got quite worried. He googled what to feed the tiny things and went out and purchased some goats milk powder, heavy cream and a tiny bottle. The word is, you mix the goat milk powder with water and add a spash of cream. He was successful getting one of them to eat, but the other just would not even try. That second night after the attack, he feared they would get too cold without Mom around and so brought them again inside. Halfway through the night, the Mom showed up on camera and found no babies. Ted put them back outside, but she of coarse was already gone. He placed a heater under the layer of rocks and materials their nest had been built upon so that they would have some heat from below and hoped she would return. It never happened.

Peter, as Ted now called the thriving bunny, was taking to the bottle and bits of greens that Ted would provide, pretty well. The sibling did not ever take any food and thus the little thing also passed and we were down to just one baby.

Ted soon established a routine with Peter aka Bugs (as Devin and I called him) . Ted had the sensor set to his phone and if the bunny was up and moving about, the alarm on the phone would go off and Ted figured Peter was looking for food and family. Ted would then feed him and snuggle a bit as he did so. Devin helped out while we were at work and would take the mid day shift. Just like any baby, he grew quickly and adjusted to his environment. Ted learned that after a bit of milk, the little dude liked to have some greens and was partial to fresh dandelion leaves from the yard.

As he progressed, Ted would then put him in the yard under a basket and let him graze on the grass in the section in the containment area. One evening just as we were getting ready for dinner, Ted put Bugs in the basket and went about his business. I let Ted know that dinner was ready and noticed that he was out walking the yard. When he came in to eat, he simply said: “I didn’t know baby rabbits could burrow so quickly”. Turns out, while he was busy in the yard, little Peter/Bugs had burrowed his way out from under the basket and set himself free. We looked for a bit, but if you have ever seen our yard, you know there are a million places for a tiny animal to hide. We had done what we could for the little fella, so if he decided it was time for a jail break, then we could only hope for the best for him. It took several days for us to look at every movement in the yard and not hope it was him.

The next character to show up in our yard was Wile E Coyote. As Woody and I enjoyed the evening on the deck several nights back, the coyote trotted into the park space just outside of our fenced area and stood and just looked at us. Woody took offense and ran down through the yard, out the gate by the garden and chased him off into the park. Quite close for the lone prairie wolf., but that wouldn’t be our last time seeing him.

Sunday night as Ted was doing some last minute work with the mini backhoe he had rented, I saw Wile E run across the road down by the neighbors. Woody and I was making our way down the drive checking out the flowers and shrubs that were starting to get more growth when we heard the chickens scream. I ran down just in time to see the coyote with a chicken in his mouth. I was the next one to scream as I ran after him. He must not have had a proper grip as the chicken wiggled loose and took half flight over the wood pile to hide somewhere. The Coyote, not wanting to leave a fresh dinner he had just stolen, kept approaching.

I tried to keep an eye on the thief all the while making my way down into the yard and to another section with a gate to let Woody out once more and see if between the both of us, Wile E would finally leave. Woody immediately gave chase and I then noticed a chicken on top of the outdoor coop area. The chickens have a fully enclosed outdoor area with fence above it and even buried down into the ground so that predators cannot dig their way in. Problem was, we also have a free range area that only has fence around it and not over or buried. It was this free range area that the chickens had been allowed to journey about during the day that he had pushed his way under a section of the fence. Three times Woody chased the coyote over the creek to the other side of the park area and three times the coyote came back. On the last one, when I called for Woody to come back, the Coyote began a chase on Woody and tried to snap at him as he got close. I screamed a warning to both Woody and to let that coyote know that if he didn’t take off, I was about to envoke the presence of one Elmer Fudd with the gun. The neighbors will confess to calling Ted Elmer Fudd on more than one occasion.

As Woody was keeping an eye on the Coyote, who was beginning to see that this wasn’t a drive thru take out diner, I retrieved the chicken on top of the run and made a quick count. It was not the chicken that had been taken as I was still one short. Leaving Woody to guard the area, I went and signaled Ted that I needed help. With the help of Woody, we found the abducted chicken and she seemed no worse for the wear. Realizing that he wasn’t going to leave with who he had come for, the coyote skirted off into the park area once more.

One might think that this is the end of this cartoonish story, but you’d be wrong.

Yesterday morning as Ted was loading up his car for work, a little ball of fluff and ears hoppity skipped out from under the old truck and was making way for the next hiding spot when Ted saw him and called out: “Hey Peter, how have you been little buddy?”. The bunny, now about the size of a softball, stopped, turned and looked at Ted like he was someone he hadn’t thought he would see again.

I like to think he was thinking “What’s up Doc?”

Oh, and we have also had visits from Pepe Le Pew again this year. We lucked out and his spray missed Woody this time (he got sprayed 3 times last fall). Ted found him in the compost bin and decided to douse him with ice cold water a few times to see if negative therapy might be a deterrent. I guess it worked (and thank goodness those glands were empty and Ted didn’t get retribution from the skunk) as we haven’t seen or smelled him again this spring.

“Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” …

A Day of News

Monday was a day of news.



Sad news and happy news.

The Happy News was when I received a call from Galen’s girlfriend, so excited to relay that they had just been out to dinner and Galen had proposed marriage and she had said yes. They are such a wonderful couple and we are delighted. She was the very first friend that he had ever invited over to our house when they were both in kindergarten. They were not close all of the way through school, as friendships can ebb and flow in those years, but they reconnected a few years back and it is wonderful news.

The sad news was that my friend Judy had died. It wasn’t a surprise, but then that doesn’t lessen the loss. I had called the previous Thursday and left a message that I was thinking of her. A few minutes later, my phone rang and it was her number. Her sister was on the line and explained that Judy really couldn’t speak, but wanted Audrey to call me back. She had me on speaker phone so that Judy could hear both sides of the phone conversation and Audrey would answer for Judy when the questions were asked. We all got caught up in this three way communication with only two voices, talking of life and events, even though we all knew there wasn’t much left of it, in this realm, for Judy. She was frail and could not manage to get around much. Sips of water were all that her body now desired and without nourishment, she was in the stage where sleep was more common than wakefulness. We all knew it would be the last time I would speak with my friend yet when it came time to say goodbye, the flood of emotions filled my vocal cords and all I could say was that I loved her. Why is it that words fail when you need them? There was so much emotion and so many memories flooding my body, the the voice was lost in it all. I did follow up with a message the next day that I may as well share:
“Judy,

I hope this text arrives while you still have the desire to even read one. I feel like there is a slowing happening to you and your body. One that could have the feeling that maybe the rest of the world is just too busy and fast for you now. I wonder if it is like sitting on the deck where there is the slightest of breezes that almost feels non-existent, yet out in the yard, the wind chime rings with fervor or the wind flower is spinning madly. Your are the one quiet soul on the deck and the world is that wind flower – whirling a speeds that seem impossible from your current view.
Yesterday, when it came time to say goodbye, I had no words. It was as if all of the years of experiences we had together suddenly flooded the space between us. The shared times, the laughs, the tears, the talks, the years. It felt to me that suddenly all of those moment hung between us and the only words left were that I loved you. I wish I could have said more in that moment, but the air was so full of memories that it felt like it was better to let that play through my heart and brain and pray that you too felt that volume, than to voice something that would seem to lessen or stop the flow of all of those moments. I cherish the long and short moments we have shared and know that I will rely on them when you are gone from my view. I also feel that while you lose the body, we will not lose your presence. I thank you now for the essence you will still provide to the many of us later. I thank you for your friendship and I thank you for the gift of time in the call yesterday. I will be praying for a gentle transition from this life to the next. I love you.”


I feel like no matter what I would have said, that those emotions were shared and she felt them with or without the words as well. That is my wish anyway.

I managed through the week fairly well juggling the happy and sad news until Friday. The day began with the wave of the feeling of loss that happens as is prone to occur as one deals with grief. It was the high tide in the wave series. One of the younger sales guys got me talking and I spilled that I was sad for the loss of a friend, but quickly added the good news also received of Galen’s engagement (they all know Galen from when I’ve had him help at work) The sales guy immediately got up to give me a hug. I tried to stop him, as I knew that any genuine kindness and sympathy would bust the protective bubble that was imaginary around me. Not taking no for an answer, he enveloped me in a long hard needed hug. True to prediction, it tore through the thin veil and I began to cry. The problem with a small rip when there is pressure behind it, is that it opens up to a gaping tear before it can be stopped. Thus was my day – trying to patch a seam that no longer had good edges to sew. I had friends checking up on me and again, it would bring up the tears. I almost wanted someone to be mean to me so that I could build up the protective field around me once more.

I finally took some moments and let myself feel all of the emotions and put names to them. Ever notice that when you feel overwhelmed and stop to actually feel each emotion and name them, that they loose their punch? Something about calling out the emotion that makes it loose it’s power. I could still fell the sadness, but once I named the sadness, then gratitude came in and shook hands and the two together were like friends who could now share in the loss.

I know the waves will still come and go. I’ve lost loved ones before, but I also know that they will never leave my heart and therefore are not gone at all.

Go Hug your loved ones today.

Love, Sally


Emergency Contact List

At the beginning of one recent weekend, one of our neighbors sent out a group chat to everyone in our little neighborhood reminding them that if the snow storm is as bad as some forecasters would predict, then don’t forget to fill the tub or buckets with water in case power is lost – for cooking, washing and flushing. It was a reminder to prepare in case of emergency.

Well, the storm hit a bit later than expected. Saturday had been a non-event, but Sunday started with some accumulation and bigger flakes and continues heavy all day. By Monday morning, we had well over two feet. Luckily the snow blowing that Ted and Devin had done had stayed in place and I was able to get out of the driveway. Fortunately, part way through the storm, a neighbor in the hood -with a plow, had made one pass around our little Circle Drive. There was still maybe eight inches of snow in the swath he had previously cleared, so it was a bit like four wheeling on a thin one lane path, but I was able to make it to the main road.

I tell you this to set the scene that it was like this all over, so I knew that we would have people calling out from work that day.

One of my newer gals had just started working Saturdays and had taken her work computer setup home for the weekend, so we had agreed, she could just stay and work from home on Monday so that she wouldn’t have to brave the roads. She, along with my other work from home crew should be enough to cover with the brave hearts who did make it into the office. Soon after my arrival to the office, I received a text from my weekend gal that she had lost power to her home, so she was going to load up and come in. That was 6:45 am. She doesn’t normally start till 8:00, so in my head, I figure that gives her time to dig out her car if it hasn’t already been done.

The roads are mostly plowed, but as time rolls by and she doesn’t show, I shoot off a text asking if she had changed her mind and is just staying home? I get nothing in reply. The entire day is a blur as we have just a handful of people covering for all those who couldn’t make it in or were at home without power – she hadn’t been the only one to loose electricity. I send her a message that I hope she is okay and that we will see her tomorrow . Still crickets.

Tuesday comes along and everyone else is back to work except my weekend warrior. I call several times, send texts, but still no answer or response. She is not the type to quit without a word, or to just not show up without a word, so by end of day, one of my other managers said she would swing by her address to check things out. I provide the address and show her what car is hers – thankfully google had a shot from the street view with her car in the parking space.

I later receive a call from my team mate that she had been by and the car was there, the window blinds closed, and no answer at the door. She asked if she should call the non-emergency police line and ask them to check on her? I agreed that she should and to keep me posted. Better to be safe and embarrassed we had overstepped personal boundaries than sorry was our thinking. Well, it took them several hours – in which time we had already conjured up many scary scenarios, but they called back saying that they had found her at home, in a not very conscious state and she had been there for the past two days and she needed to be checked out by doctor. The paramedics were there, and could not find anything obvious as to what caused the semi-unconscious state. We where just happy that they had found her at least somewhat ok.

I received a text the following morning from our missing gal, thanking us for calling the cops and paramedics. She said she was in the hospital having all types of tests run on blood, body and brain. We realized in this semi-emergency, that we had failed to gather everyone’s emergency contact person and number when they were hired.

As with so many reminders, it comes after a near tragedy instead of the part of proper planning.

I haven’t seen the employee yet as she was not cleared for work until Friday and I had taken Thursday and Friday off for skiing.

I almost was heading up to ski alone as our NC and MO friends had all cancelled their trips and Ted said he had to work. As I prepared to head out, I decided that it might also be a good idea to put some emergency contact numbers in my jacket pocket just in case something happened to me on the slopes.

Turns out that I didn’t need it since Ted’s plans changed just before I was going to leave and he was able to join me for a beautiful powder day on the mountain.

So, this is just a reminder to check in on one another if you get concerned and get an alternate contact on those that you need a backup contact for.

Love,

Sally

This Weeks Amazing Moments

Life is full of Amazing moments. Some make you go WOW more than others. Some are so quick, that unless you slow your thoughts down, you just think that it was like a shooting star – you caught it out of the corner of your eye, but it was gone before you could yell it out for someone else to see. This week, I experienced many moments, but here are a few that didn’t just streak across too quickly to be caught.

My first amazing moment of the week came when at Sunday dinner. my friend pulled out a little painted wood piece that she had grown up with and had just rediscovered on her recent trip to help her mother go through items not yet sorted since her mother’s last move.

This is one of my Framily friends – the one we have dinner and a show with most Sunday evenings. The one that, when our office moved several years back. and I would lunch at the cemetery down the street – don’t knock it, cemeteries are a great place to spend a quiet hour, I found tombstones with my maiden name and her married name in plots just catty corner to one another. Literally arms reach from one another. I told her then, that we were meant to be friends through all times.

So, imagine my delight, when She took a little wood painting out of its frame and sent me under the lights to take a close look at it.

We had to ponder, was she destined to find me later in life by having walked past this paining every day as a child? Was that a product of her angels planting the subliminal seed that when she came upon the next Tomlinson item – ME -, she should keep it too? I like to think so, and I’m glad it worked.

The next whisper from the universe happened on the way into work. I vary from driving into work listening to an audio book, listening to the radio, or just in silence with the thoughts that come my way. Have you ever noticed that sometimes, the radio plays exactly what you need to hear, or that there is a message or theme that come out of your radio? Well, I do. It happens to me a lot, like my angels know one way to get me to listen, is through the times that I do play the radio. As an example, we had a call at work from one of our past team members asking if we were hiring. She had been let go as a reduction of staff six years ago, and so, we were bringing her back in for an interview. Her name is Tiko and since I had just put out four offer letters to others, I wasn’t sure about bringing her back. I was thinking about this on my silent drive in and got that whisper thought in my head to turn the radio on. The radio was on the upper end of the stations, which are the rock and roll presets. Not feeling that was where I needed to be, I started flipping to the lower presets which are more jazz, npr, 40’s big band and coffeehouse. I settled on NPR to see if it was anything that triggered a recognition and it wasn’t, so I continued the shuffle to the next station and there it was. The song that was just beginning was called “Tico Tico” by the Andrew Sisters. I smiled and said an aloud “thank you” and decided that if the interview did go well, I would make room on the team for her. I mean, I had never even seen or heard of that song, it couldn’t be coincidence.

The last amazing moment that I’ll share from my week, I would say, really belongs to my good friends family. I’ll take that back though, because once it was shared, it becomes communal.

My friend sent me a text with this photo.

She wrote: “My sister going through DIA today….this is a life size poster of my Mom! She was on the flight that carried the first polio vaccines to Denver. It was in the newspapers….”

That her sister was just then walking through the airport in Denver, and on one of the walkways where they were displaying airline photos from years past, stood a life size poster of their mom is nothing short of remarkable. She had been a stewardess when she first met their dad and her being a stewardess was crucial for their romance blossoming as they were initially in separate cities. Their Mom passed away just this past fall, so to see her in full size in front of her, must have felt amazing and full of emotions.

I immediately shot back a text of: “That is just what I needed – a Hello wave from Bonnie today. How flipping amazing is that! Thank you for sharing! My heart just got happier and a little melancholy all at once”

I could also in that moment of seeing the picture and reading the text, hear her mom’s laugh in my head. She had a really good laugh and Bonnie had great stories. And now we have another great story of her as well.

I hope you had a week of moments that caused you to pause and appreciate as well.

Love,

Sally

When the only “No”, comes from your Mind

A couple of weeks ago, I received a notice that my site hosting plan was soon to expire. Last time I renewed it was three years ago. The three year option was the overall lowest monthly cost once broken down. I am, after all, frugal nearly to the core. It also keeps the “Should I stay or should I go now” song out of my head.

So, when the notice came up once more to renew, the accountant in my head, wanted to know if it was worth the money. This is where the debate begins between the heart and the head.

Ever notice how your head talks in the negative and your heart in the positive? Not always I guess, but on average it seems to go that way.

For example, my head interprets numbers and stats with questions like: “well Sal, you didn’t exactly write a lot in the last three years. How much did each of those posts cost you? If you broke it down per reader, would you be better off just sending a letter? Why would you even think that people would want to continue to read the stories if you do continue to write? Are you willing to pay and write even if no one reads?’

And why is it that the questioning voice is always the loud one? The heart responds with answers that are quiet and can’t quite be quantified.

I’m trying to think just now, who that negative voice is that I’m fighting with. I mean, if this naysayer in my head calls me by Sal or Sally or Sally Jean or Minnie Lou or any other personal name, how come it has power to call me out by name, yet I don’t reply to this negative Nelly by any name? Another post to figure that one out I suppose.

So, the meeker, softer voice chimes up that it’s not about money, it’s about sharing. Sharing my thoughts and stories and thus, getting shared responses in return. The payoff is in the connection to whomever decides to read, yes it isn’t many, but the few who do are more dear to me than anything I’d buy with said funds. And yes, to stay connected to them is worth any amount of money.

For days, the naysayer continues to rant in a loud voice that it doesn’t make sense or add up. Just let it expire, you can still write or text people, you can use the money to actually go see them. The justifications are there from the naysayer and when the negative voices are loud enough, it’s not hard to jump on board.

As the internal war rages on periodically throughout my days, my heart isn’t ready to give in, so I think that maybe I need a mediator. I’ll text someone or put it up for debate on the blog. The naysayer scoffs and reminds me that those are the ones who encourage me, of coarse they aren’t going to tell me to pack it up. So, I think about reaching out to people who don’t read my blog, but the naysayer rejects them as well on the grounds that everyone will be supportive to something creative if they aren’t paying for it. The naysayer accuses me of only fishing for compliments or false accolades. Alright I begin to think, if I cannot find anyone to give me good reasons not to continue, then why is my mind saying no. This is where the light turns on into that dark space without a name.

My heart starts to feel the responses, the encouragement already voiced directly to my face, through mail, text and replies to posts. Shoot, my Aunts alone are enough support to keep me going. “Hello, my brother even chimes in for support these days”, I say in thought to the naysayer.

Then, in the quiet hours of one morning – the time when it feels like all truths are spoken – I remember something about learning that you don’t break through out of your comfort zone and into new amazing spaces by listening to the negative voice in your psyche. In fact, the louder that voice is, the more likely it is that you should take the step or leap of where your heart is directing.

Before the simple basic facts could get clouded by partial truths. I got out the credit card and paid for another three years. It’s still the cheapest option if broken down by month. and I won’t have to have this mental argument again for another three years.

I jumped in the shower and since the naysayer had been silenced on this topic, a new justification came to mind. Suddenly, I was saying to myself that if I had something to share, and it was a small semi-private space where people could pop in and look around and we could chat, then that was worth way more money than I was spending. Essentially, that was exactly what the hosting site was. A spot along the dusty road where mostly my relatives and a few friends swing by as they have a cup of coffee or tea and give a nod of acknowledgement or a few words. Every so often a stranger even stops in. Sure, it could be that they didn’t recognize the sign out front, but still it is interesting when they pop in. “Where was this argument when I needed you against the naysayer”, I think to myself. I suddenly feel like George Costanza from Seinfeld who could never think of the proper come back response until it was too late.

Partial truths can create a bucket of doubt, but when that bucket gets kicked over, those doubts drain away pretty quickly.

Besides, for now, I’ve said I would put up a story every now and then for distraction/amusement/thought or just to pass some time, so may as well put it where it can be shared.

Thanks for the support to get the through those mental arguments.

Love,

Sally

Digesting the Book

I’ve still been listening to that same book that had me pause and write last weeks blog. I’ve listened to two thirds or maybe three quarters of it, but currently have it paused for a few days. I’m at a lovely point in the book that I’m not ready to let go of. I know change is about to happen in the story but it’s like having the perfect bite in a meal, you know you’ll keep eating, but it seems unlikely that you’ll get another perfect bite, and you just want to savor it for a few moments.

The book is about the ordinary man – the one who it was told – “he had a story, but didn’t know what it was”. So, he does have quite a story, but it takes him walking across country to remember what it has been, see who he is now, and where he wants to go with it.

He has recently retired from a job that paid the bills, but never excited him. His wife has been mad at him for nearly twenty years and there is no real communication there, so his days are mundane.

Then one day, he gets a letter from a gal that worked in accounting at his place of employment long ago, saying she is in hospice with cancer and she just wanted to say thanks for being a friend. So, he tries penning a response and starts walking to a nearby post office box to drop it in and can’t get himself perform the action of actually mailing it. He walks past many until he needs to stop for nourishment and the clerk at his stop, relays a story of her relative who had cancer and survived. He then has an idea land upon him that he will walk the nearly 600 miles to where she is, and in doing so, this will keep her alive. He phones the facility of where she is, and tells the gal who answers the phone (his old friend is unable to take the call), that he is walking to see her and she must wait for him. He does not pause to go home and get his phone, proper walking shoes, more clothes or anything. He just begins before something or someone in life convinces him he cannot do this unimaginable thing.

This is where I think that the book captures the imagination of many people. The concept, where life presents itself, and while you are totally unprepared, you start to do the thing that you feel most compelled to do – struggling, but figuring it out as you go. Then in your change or direction, comes the change also of those connected and encountered by you.

Listening to this story has been for me, a bit like hanging a crystal in a window. It looks fairly benign on its own, but as the sun hits it, you find yourself looking at parts of your space (my mind/heart/emotions in this case) that you don’t normally focus on as the colors refract out and draw your eye to spots normally overlooked or not focused upon.

I feel the connection of having someone dear, but not so near, dealing with cancer and what to do and how to support them. I feel the connection of the big and small moments you get with strangers when you go off your normal path and allow those interactions to happen.

So, I’ve taken a few days to enjoy where the characters are right now in the book and to also enjoy where I am and recount the struggles, joys, old and new friends and travel I’ve had too.

I’ll likely listen to the remainder soon. And who knows, maybe this wasn’t the spot where I took the perfect bite, but it will still have been worth savoring either way.

Hope your week was filled with moments to savor too.

Love,

Sally

Update on the interviews and book selections: Neither interview had read in a while – I guess I need to change the question to include podcasts, movies or other materials to widen the scope. #1 said if she had to choose, she liked romance and there was one called -Ride The Wind – that she would recommend. Oh, that reminds me of a story with my Grandmother that I’ll have to share one day.

#2 recalled that he liked suspense and recommended – Into the Light

Three more interviews this week, so we shall see what these prospects come up with.

Looking at People’s Stories

I was listening to a book in the car on the way home from work this week, and there was a line in the prose where someone described the main character as, “he has a story, he just doesn’t know what it is”. I paused the book to contemplate that line and have been chewing on it ever since.

The character in the book wasn’t young, although I do believe that quote was from a coworker in his earlier days in life. Young or old, the truth of the statement was still holding true. He was moving through life, but he wasn’t living his story.

It got me to thinking about the people I have been meeting or know and about their stories.

There would be a few, I feel, that are living a good life, but waiting for their story to unfold. Like they are only in the prelude to their own storybook and waiting for the actual story to begin.

There are some I know of, that maintain an old story and can’t seem to move on from there. Think of the high school quarterback who felt those were the best days ever and still lives to replay those moments as much as possible. Or those with trauma that can’t move on from the constant reliving of their horrible moments. It always saddens me when we live through millions of hours and minutes, but let a few moments define oneself.

There are those that are limited by the stories they tell themselves – this is likely a truth in varying degrees for many of us. I know that I have that “unworthy” voice who sneaks in at random times for me.

There’s ones that are in a tough chapter of what is happening to them or their family, but it’s a chapter, and not their true story.

If coarse, everyone also sees a different story in people based upon their relationship and interactions with them. I can remember sitting with a friend in the hospital and having her family walk in and immediately seeing my friend change into the person that her family had categorized and logged her as the person they knew in their lives. It was like a box was immediately constructed that she was put into – and she morphed to fit into it. I remember leaving and wishing that her family could see the version that I saw – but then, I didn’t have the same years, events and family dynamics in my version that they did. I guess, she has the same story, but like any really complex book, people read and relate to it differently.

I’ve thought about how I see people living in a state of fear, and know that it is limiting their story – or quite possibly keeping it hidden from them. I haven’t listened to enough of the book to know if that is the case for the character in this novel.

It got me thinking of the people that I have struggled to connect to in life and why. If I thumb through that file, I think that almost universally, I can’t or don’t connect to them because they only ever show one story of themselves or a constant versions of the same story over and over. Or, they don’t share their stories at all.

That is the crux of it right there, I believe. You have to share the story for it to spark the thought, emotion, connection, for someone else to pick it up and hold.

Everyone’s story, is if coarse up for interpretation and is filtered through your experiences, knowledge and connection to the others narrative.

For me? I feel like everyday is a story. Shoot, I hear one line in a book, and I have to stop the book because in my head, that one statement is a story. Is it my story? No, it’s a line, on a page, in a book(which is me) filled with many stories of which many are ongoing and still evolving.

And so, this weeks distraction story would be a prime example of how my senses (ears this time), pick up in one little thing and it pulls at me to stop and mull it over and feel it out and figure out why it caused me pause. Pretty soon, I jot down the ideas and hit send before that other voice in my head says I shouldn’t.

Thanks for being a part of my story.

Love, Sally

Side note: books recommended to read from my three interviews this week, 1. Nothing, she hasn’t read in thirty years – Really? Really? I’m afraid to know what my face reaction was (thank goodness I was wearing my mask. 2. “A Yellow Raft in Blue Water” – about three generations of Native American women and their journey through life. 3. “The Secret” – according to number 3, it provides positive ways to look at everything in life.

Until the next post, I hope you hear, see, experience a good story.

Where the stories began to be shared

This weeks story

I think it is ironic most days, that I actually own a website where I can write and post anything that I wish. It is ironic because It is a potentially very public platform for something I hold quite private. I mean, I love to write personal notes or even stories to people, but having it be public is a different beast than an individual note, card or text. I think that the reason that I can write something and allow it to be read by multiple people at all, stems from one moment in high school.

Some background first:

I was a bit of a mess as for that last year of high school. I’ll say it all started when my mother and father had gone to visit friends in Xenia Ohio for a weekend. It was memorable for several reasons. One, my parents rarely went anywhere – we were dairy farmers, so you don’t get to leave, as cows always need fed and milked. Two, Xenia was the location of one of the largest most powerful tornados ever to hit the state of Ohio just several years prior and we were curious to have eyes on the changes to the town.

Three, our world changed forever that weekend. While staying in their friends home, my Mom had what they thought was a stroke. After a night of fun, games and conversations, they went to the guest bedroom and she later awoke and could not speak or move properly. They called an ambulance and took her for medical attention. I don’t recall them being gone for any longer than they had scheduled to be away, so she must have recovered in the hospital fairly quickly to be sent home. The directive was that she was to see her local doctors as soon as possible once back at our house. It shook my Mom for that to have occurred. She had felt embarrassed to have had it happen in someone’s home when all was to have been a joyous time. It also scared her – that her always reliable body – had failed her without reason. The reason came not too long and several tests later when they diagnosed her with a mass in her brain. They then cut open her skull to look and see what type of mass it was. It was not a hard definable mass that they could cut out, it was a soft tumor that grew onto her brain and they could not really take more than a sample out as to do otherwise would have caused more brain damage than what the tumor was already doing.

So, all of this was going on, and I guess that I handled all of those emotions of what was happening better some days than others. I’m sure that I was way more sullen some days than I thought I was showing. It’s funny how when you shut down your emotions thinking that it will hide them from view, it instead acts more like a billboard stating there’s a problem.

Back to that one memorable day. I was in an advanced math class and instead of my normal rapt attention, was lost in the fearful thoughts of not knowing what was going to happen with Mom. Towards the end of the class, the teacher, irritated with my non-engagement in a problem, asked if I was ok and could I join the rest in paying attention. I honestly don’t exactly recall what my reply was, but I was feeling so fragile at that moment that having someone direct any attention at me was more than I could handle. I stood up and said no I wasn’t fine and asked if I could please be excused as I started to cry and headed for the door. Not a known cryer, she nodded approval and I left for the restroom. Problem was, I was in near full bawling mode and knew that I couldn’t regain composure by the start of next class as the bell was about to ring for change just a few minutes after I left. Never one to just ditch a class, I decided to reach my upcoming English class early and ask to be excused until I could get it together once again. She said sure, take what you need, she would be reading stories to the class that we had all been writing recently. We had been directed to write short stories. I think it was maybe a mythology unit that we were studying and we were all to create mythological creatures of our own.

So, I made my way back to the girls bathroom trying to make myself invisible to everyone now flooding the halls in the change of classes. I cried out of frustration, fear and now embarrassment that I had had a public breakdown. My face was red, my eyes puffy, my nose running and while the cold water I was using to try to calm these manifestations, felt good and calming, it did little to hide the obvious results of a really good cry.

When I could again breath in a normal rhythm and felt I wouldn’t relapse and loose composure if someone looked or spoke to me, I ploddingly made it to the English class. I had missed most of the class by then and was relieved that she just let me get to my desk without a word or reference to my sad state or length of delay in showing up. She merely continued reading the current story.

My relief was short lived as the very next story she began was mine. First of all, I had hoped my story wouldn’t have been read at all – even if she didn’t tell the class what stories were by whom, I still felt that my horror of having it read aloud would give me away. The thing of it was, it may have been the first real creative writing story that I ever did and I found that it was fun. For me, it was like making mud pies and structures as a kid, as long as no one was critiquing your creation, you could make anything and just enjoy the process.

So there I was, just fresh from crying my eyes out, feeling I had maybe dodged too much humiliation of self exposure and now all of a sudden, I was again feeling exposed as she was starting to read my story. If I could have made myself disappear, I absolutely would have. I’m sure I must have looked up and given her a “Please No, please don’t do it” look, but in her ever confident, melodic reading voice, she read.

I remember initially thinking that this was perhaps a betrayal or assault to purposefully now bring attention to me (even if it was only she and I who knew it was my story) when I was already beaten down for the day. But, beneath the panic of the moment, I felt her support, her purposeful act of holding onto my story until I was in the room to hear it read. Her allowing me to absorb bits of appreciation and plant that seed that stories can be shared and the world doesn’t stop when you do so even when you feel it might.

It was also a lesson on how hiding your fears gives them power, while shining a light on them gives you power.

So, if you like that I write a note, story or blog to share every now and then, you just might want to send a thank you to my English teacher turned advisor, friend and pal. She doesn’t grade my output any longer -although my sentence structures, punctuation and grammar probably make her wish she could – she does still fully support me in sharing some stories.

Acknowledgement: my memories of this time period may differ from others around for those same times. We all see the world from our own lens and this was mine alone.

Love, Sally