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You Make the World a Better Place

Recently, as I went into one of our local thrift shops in Evergreen, a woman and her young daughter were also entering. There are two shops in the same parking lot and this was the smaller of the two, so unless one party is only looking into one section, you are likely to cross paths as you peruse the departments. As I was exiting the housewares section, the girl was showing her mom something in hopes of purchasing it. I did not hear the conversation of what the child’s sales pitch was to her mother nor did I hear the mom’s initial response, but as I passed them in closer proximity and earshot, I did hear the mother say no to the purchase and then she added: “You make the world a better place”. She was obviously saying this in praise of what the girl thought they could do with the item if they did make the purchase. As I passed and let her words catch up to me, I smiled and thought to myself what a wonderful end of a discussion to be privy to. It took me a few more steps to have someone else’s words ring through my brain that good things should be pointed out and acknowledged. Upon this realization, I turned and caught the duo as they were nearing. I then relayed how wonderful it was to hear those words that Mom had said to the daughter. I commented that if people could feel and say that sentiment more often, then this whole world would indeed be a better place. The mom smiled and agreed and once more I turned and left them. It took me just three more steps to realize that the Mom deserved to hear those same words and so once again I made an about-face and went back to the duo and said that I wanted to say to her, that she too was making the world a better place. She took the compliment with a smile and a look of acceptance that she then understood how good that can feel.

I finished with the store we were in and made my way to the second, larger store at the other end of the small parking lot. I was lost in thoughts of items and prices and had not noticed that the mother/daughter had also come into this establishment for more shopping. My lack of awareness to familiar faces was interrupted as the mom, nudged me as she traversed the area and said – as I was passing – that I too, made a difference in this world. I chuckled to myself as this had now become a ‘pass it along as you go’ activity.

Since that day, I have strived to remember to say those words in cases where kindness was shown, an award-winning smile was given, or services rendered that were above standard expectation, or really, instead of a thank-you. It has been a beautiful thing to witness how these words are accepted and responded to. So far, without fail, I have noticed a pause in the person’s reaction. Whereas a standard “Thank-You” is polite and expected, I have observed what I perceive as something similar to a ping on the phone or a pin on the map. Something happens that drops a marker onto their psyche – if only for a minute – and allows them to see the ripples they leave by their goodness. A few times, someone else in the circle of conversation has seconded the comment and agreed verbally and with a smile stating that they too knew this to be true of the person the comment was directed to. It’s fun to see positivity swirl up into a treat for all who are near.

Try it for yourself. One – looking for goodness is a really wonderful thing in and of itself, but two – watching how you change the gratitude from a single moment’s act to one that has farther reaching effects is pretty fun and amazing.

Love you and I do know that, “You make the world a better place”

Sally

Leap Day

I looked it up this morning. I have lived through 16 leap days in my life thus far. It has become a tradition in the last few February 29th’s for me to go skiing. In my mind, I could swear that Ted and I skied at MaryJane on 02/29/2016, but beyond a faint memory (or maybe even a conjured memory), I have no proof. On 02/29/2000, I skied a beautiful day with the Hamill’s – others might have been there too, but since memory isn’t always my strong suit, I can at least verify through pictures that I was indeed with Lucia and EJ.

This year, 02/29/2024, I skied with my friend Judy. Side story: We call her Mary sometimes when we ski and she is being absurd. She got that name some 20 or so years ago when she was skiing on a pair of rentals that had a sticker on them with the name Mary on it. She did some wacky things that day, so we said that she must be incorporating the previous skier’s presence – Mary – into her skiing. Since then, when she does something like ski down to where I am stopped and she also stops, but for some unexplainable reason, becomes unbalanced and falls over while not even moving – more common that you would think for it to happen to any skier – we just say it is Mary. While EJ and Lucia were not in attendance for this leap day, one of their offspring and her hubby was. We didn’t get coordinated so as to ski with them – it is hard as cell phone reception is spotty on the mountain, but we did meet up for a beer and to catch up on their lives. It was another beautiful leap day with peeps I love.

I cannot say that I had put words to what 2/29 had become to me, I just knew that it was becoming a day that I wanted to commemorate with people and activity that I love. I came home and was happily exhausted. It wasn’t until the early morning hours this morning that I heard an explanation on Instagram that made complete sense to me. I love those Aha moments where you read or hear something that feels so true and right, that you feel that you must have felt that all along and was overjoyed to have someone rearrange what had been jumbled in your own mind into something that is now so very clear.

The instagram story was from Lara and in it she said:

“Today is the 29th of Feb.
This day comes once in four years and it makes me feel like it’s gathered time, because it is!
For some reason we’ve structured time in this way, where we need to collect the overflow every four years.
It’s silly, but it’s special.
It makes me think of the little moments I might’ve missed in the past four years.
The special ones that deserved more of me; more of my attention.
Those little moments that escaped.
This year my dad isn’t around for this though.
He doesn’t get to make his collection.
Who knew four years ago would be the last time he got that ‘bonus’ day.
The best kind of bonus.
A bonus paid in time.
I’d give anything for a bonus day… hour… or even minute with dad again.
But death is the one thing that won’t pass.
And instead I’m thinking of how to use this day in a way I will remember, or at least be satisfied with.
I guess that’s what it means to lose someone you love so much.
Extra time is a burden as much as a blessing.
We’ll never be able to share any more of it… of time.
This might be a leap day, but I’ll be strolling slowly through it.” Larika Mallier

Here is the link to the post if you would like to hear it in her own voice with the beautiful array of snapshots accompanying it.

https://www.instagram.com/p/C39WkOBrO_ob6W4O6yq_ZUkM2Df6NXPYoNtkgg0/?hl=en

I love the thought of 2/29 being an overflow day. A life lived so full that every four years, you get an extra day for special moment to bubble over into. Her words had me also reflecting on if my attention had faltered to grasp or notice the magic, miracles and synchronicities sometimes and therefore I needed the extra day to catch up on those missed moments. It was like waking up to a banquet of morning thoughts and emotions that I got to feast on. Oh, how I love when something or someone gives you something to chew on that satisfies all the emotional tastes. Thank you Lara for that.

I pay for my hosting, site name and all other fees for this blog every three years (the least expensive option), and once again I have been pondering if this is something I should continue with. The conversations in my head weigh in all kinds of talk from both sides of my brain, but it is days like La’s post that makes me want to continue. If, like her, I can make people laugh, think or even cry every now and again, then besides being a spot for me to lock in stories that I may likely forget as I age, then it is worth it. Hey, I think I just recognized one of the little moments of clear vision that will bubble into the next leap day. And so the 02/29 cup begins to fill for 2028.

Love,

Sally

764 Days

At the end of September I wrote about Gus and Maranna going back to India to face and tackle the cancer diagnoses that Gus had been given. As they boarded the plane, I sent them a text expressing how sad I was that they would no longer be a semi-short plane ride away. I included a prayer for the help and guidance to get through this next challenge and these words that came to me as I was feeling through all of the emotions:

As the distance between us increases, I will remind myself:
When my eyes cannot see you, my heart still will
When my ears cannot hear you, my mind still will
When my arms cannot reach you, my prayers still will

Typical of Gus, he was positive in attitude towards the treatment and prognosis. I tried sending a card each week with some of the artwork that I had pulled out of the kids doodling books and sheets from school, but after 9 weeks of sending cards and only one being received, I gave that up. I had updates from Yolekha, Lara and Adrian in a shared chat with them and conversations with Maranna and Gus from a separate shared chat, so while I didn’t feel out of the loop, I did wish that I could be there for support.

I knew in reality that they had all the support that was needed right there and had loads of people who would jump through hoops to do anything for them. One of the things that I had learned in becoming friends with the family, is that whenever possible, Gus and Maranna were changers of lives. There are countless stories of how they changed peoples lives: through personal interactions and giving of time, education or money: through the volunteer work in agencies they supported: through their daily lives of openness and kindness.

At the beginning of December – Midway through the progressively grueling first two months of chemo treatments, the doctors performed another pet scan to see the effectiveness of the chemical cocktails. The news was brutal: the chemo had done very little or nothing at all in stopping the cancer’s progression. The teams – medical and family – huddled back up and called upon a new strategy. Word was: if he responded to new treatment, he might get six or more months to live, otherwise it would likely be around three months. It was surreal and heartbreaking.

An example of Gus’s dedication to making this world a better place: the day that he was to be admitted into the hospital to start the new treatment, he paused to complete some work he had started for one of the foundations he was helping out. I think Henry David Thoreau would have said this quote about Gus:

Gus finished the project and went into the hospital and the bottom dropped out further. Every procedure they seemed to do caused a negative ripple effect. Gus was sent into ICU, would stabilize enough for hope that he would get to go home for the holidays, only to have another crisis arise sending him back to the ICU. By the end of December, everyone was just desperate to get Gus home to where he would be surrounded by the generations of love that might be the only miracle drug left at their disposal. They didn’t get him home for Christmas, but they did take him home just after the new year on 01/03/24. It was a blessing to all to have everyone together.

Gus lost his battle on 01/06/2024. Barely over three months from the initial diagnosis. 764 days after Ted died. Two years, One month and Three days. That is how long the universe took to rotate and bring back into full view the painful time of seeing a loved one go from healthy, to a battle that they were unable to win. The loss of Gus was different, yet so eerily similar that it cracked my heart back open anew. It stirred up all of the emotions and even had me feeling the remnants of emotions that each generation of the family was feeling. It brought back the ache and the feelings of missing. Missing the person. Missing the connection. Missing out of future memories.

Ted was not the traveler that I am. He wanted to know what his personal space and bathroom would be like before going anywhere and there were many places he would never consider going to. India was one of those places he had placed onto the list of not wanting to travel to. He had heard stories of India’s crowds and people sometimes not having the same issues of concern for a bathroom that he did, yet, when he met Gus and Maranna, he pledged that he was willing to put away those concerns to go to India to see them. Top to bottom, they are a family that we both loved right off the bat.

Many of us wrote something to put into a memory book about Gus. I may as well share mine.

“Gus’s journey in the past few months cracked open my heart to so many emotions. I would find myself crying at one side and then memories with him would flush through and have me smiling: remembrance of our first meeting and Gus handing Amara over to me so willingly for my first cuddles with her. Our visits both in Seattle and in our home in Colorado and him commandeering the kitchen wherever he was. Gus and Maranna both singing John Denver songs at the gift shop of Red Rocks Amphitheater. His first sledding experience in our yard – albeit a very short run built more for Amara- but his joyfulness and adventurous spirit emanating as he too sledded down the hill. The candid and honest conversations of life that we would have driving in the car or around the kitchen table. Gus’s curiosity in life and the continual willingness to grow and change with it always inspired me to emulate.
It was evident to me that Gus had an impact on this world which was vast and deep and with the kindness and love that we can all only strive to mirror. I am so thankful that I have gotten to know him so that I have my own stories to share of the legendary life he had. I am incredibly grateful for his sharing of himself and his family with me.
I lack further words to express all that is in my heart, but you can count me as just one more person in his life who loved him.”

Recently, Maranna shared with me a letter she wrote to Gus as she deals with her grief. With her permission, I will also share with you as it is a prayerful poem that touches upon what many of us feel as we lose a spouse.

“My Love,
Enjoy being in that land of freedom and song…
I struggle without you as I travel on.
In this overpowering void I know you’re there..
In my heart, mind, soul..almost everywhere!
In dreams you hold me and whisper near,
To remind,prompt,assure,p’raps wipe a tear;
And Life sweeps up and presses on…
Disguised in Smile and Bustle, the ache’s long drawn.
Tears moisten the eyes but drop from the nose..
A weariness travels through, right down to my toes.
A dry sob camouflaged emerges a sneeze…
I resist being the wet blanket
In surrounding sunshine and breeze.
Even as a warm blanket of love,care and thoughtfulness spreads,
I’m grateful and lucky…..makes my path easier to tread.
Rest easy my Gus..I love you.❤️”

In loving memory Augustus (Gus) Mallier

Sally

December 2023

December began and was frequently filled with many holiday gatherings. Friends, neighbors, family, framily, it seemed like every spare space had a gathering to it.

Part of those gatherings were in Ohio. I went to help my sister prepare and have a baby shower for my nephew and his wife who were expecting their first offspring. Also on the agenda, was a retirement party for my sister in law. Unfortunately, my sister in law and brother were sick and so that party was cancelled. I had a great time visiting several friends and spending more time with my sis since we avoided the farm this time due to whatever crud they were dealing with. We even had a last minute visit over in Pennsylvania with my Aunt and cousin. Luckily they knew the owners of the cafe we ate in, as otherwise we might have been kicked out for the level of laughter we generated in our getting caught up on each others lives.

I arrived back home in Colorado and my nephew Ian followed me out the next day so that we could all go ski/snow boarding together. Galen, Devin, Ian, Molly and I met up at Arapahoe Basin once again and had a super fun day playing on the slopes. This was the first time I had skied with both of my boys in decades, so it was really nice to be up there all together.

Not just settling for skiing, there were hikes, walks and parties every night as everyone wanted to spend some time with Ian.

I finished off December with a low key Christmas, some beautiful snowy hikes in the woods below us and a meet up with my friends.

Fun fact: In the last photo are the two reasons that this blog was ever started in the first place. Anita – to my right = was Wilma in the earliest blogs. She is my friend who had moved to Australia and was doing a mud obstacle race. Jane – to my left – was the team captain of our obstacle team. Lucky for me, Anita moved back to Evergreen, and Jane was here visiting over the holidays. It was another good night of fun.

2023 was an intimate year with so many extra special times for connection, reflection, joy and heartache. But then, that is life, isn’t it.

Love,

Sally

October 2023 part 2

My return trip home driving their Honda instead of taking the plane trip back was still up in the air when I left Seattle. All I really knew for sure when I took off from Seattle was that I was heading to the Oregon coast to Cannon Beach. In the past week or so, Mollie (one of Ted’s ICU nurses) had texted me that she had purchased her desired car -4 Runner – from a dealership in Portland, Or and was flying out and picking it up the day I was leaving. Being too coincidental to be so close in proximity, we knew we needed to meet up. In our texts of possible options and directions to head after meeting up, we settled upon meeting at Cannon Beach.

I drove south on I5 and crossed the Columbia River where there was the largest logging port yard I had ever layed eyes on. I wondered where all of the logs could have even come from. That question was answered as I ended following a different road than previously intended and going through major logging areas instead of following the river as I had thought I would do. I was not upset about the mistep in directions as the foresting, deforesting and afforesting was fascinating. I made it to the coast and since I was ahead of Mollie, I first went up to Seaside and checked out their beaches first.

Mollie arrived shortly after I had traversed down to Cannon Beach and we spent the next several hours walking the beach and catching up on what had been happening with both of us since we had last seen one another. We then walked to a nearby brewery where we enjoyed their fares as well as a few more hours of chit chat. She relayed her timetable for needing to get back to Denver, and I divulged the overwhelming feeling that now that I had made it to the Oregon coast, I absolutely wanted to drive the length of it and would go all the way to San Francisco before heading home. We decided we would look for a spot to camp in our respective cars for the night and part ways in the morning. She called an RV park that was nearby and said she had spoken to the guy and he had spots for us. My Seattle peeps were wanting to know where I was and what was decided. We exchanged the following text.

We headed back to the beach for the sunset and there on the beach was something I would never have guessed we would see there. It was a herd of elk on the beach. Besides, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, I had not seen elk in any other spot, let alone on the sand at a beach!

We then headed to the RV park where we parked along their entrance road – by the river and next a picnic table – and headed off to find the man named Peggy – in the third RV to the left. It was a wooded area to one side and the river to the other and a dark night, so there were stories brewing between us about what we would find at Peggy’s trailer. Turns out that Peggy was not a pudgy old man chewing tobacco and sitting on his porch with torn cut off sweats and his one legged dog, but a kindly older woman who had maybe smoked enough Marlboro’s back in her day to fill up enough Marlboro rewards books to furnish her RV and giver her the raspy voice of a retired cowboy. We signed in, got the pass code to obtain entrance to the bathroom and showers and I knew we were in the right spot. The 4 digit code to get in was one that Ted always used. It figured correctly that he would be watching and laughing at us on this current adventure.

The next morning, I got up to a beautiful sunrise and started the pot for either Turkish coffee or tea. According to Devin and one of the gals he works with who makes her coffee this way, turkish coffee is when you put the grounds into the cup/mug/yeti and then add the boiling water. When the coffee grounds sink to the bottom of the vessel, the coffee is ready. I will attest to the accuracy of the method. As long as you don’t swoosh things around, you get a good cup of coffee and no grounds in your mouth – until the very end if you are not careful. I had the coffee, Mols had tea and we hugged hard as we said our goodbyes as we drove off with her heading east as I ventured south.

I rejoined the 101 coastal highway and jumped off whenever the fancy struck me. I was in love with the Oregon coast. The ruggedness of much of the shorelines, the huge rocks jutting out through waves close and far from shore, the power of the waves. It all made me wonder how any ship had once landed safely upon these shores. I stopped at an overlook just past a town that heavily advertised it’s whale watching adventures. I was thankful that I had remembered to pack my binoculars for the trip and pulled them out now to see if I could locate any of the huge beasts. I could see a few of the charted boats cruising around looking for whales, but no one was excitedly pointing and they seemed to be just scouting around. I began to wonder if I would even recognize a whale from my cliff side perch. Just after having the thought, two large masses rose out of the ocean. I could see them even without the binoculars, so, it was fantastic with them. I soon learned to scan for the blowing of air that was proceeding each rise through the waves. I kinda felt sorry for the paid customers on the boats, as the whales were never quite where they were and here I was enjoying them all without spending a dime. I am a lucky gal. Not one or two stops away from the whales, I pulled over at a turn off and was thrilled to see sea lions playing in the surf. Then, I noticed the brown rocks below me were not just rocks, there were hundreds of Sea Lions hanging out and resting on the rocks. Soon after, I passed where you could take an elevator down to where Sea Lions hang out, but again, I was feeling like my free tour likely showed more that could be stashed away in the caves. I stopped at many spots such as Thors Well and a lighthouse view and others I cannot even recall names of on my way to the Redwood National Park which was my destination for the night. I was burning daylight and hoping to get to a camp spot at the lower end of the park before dark, so while I very much enjoyed the drive, I did not stop much in the park until the campground. My camp spot was just a few hundred feet from the cliffs edge and path down to the beach. A beautiful spot, even if it was starting to rain.

I awoke to a beautiful morning, made my coffee and took a walk along the beach. I had it much to myself until surfers began to arrive to catch the morning waves. I had hit the Redwood National Park at dusk, and dawn had not long passed when I left, but light was not needed to feel the majesty of the place. I set out next for the Avenue of the Giants. There were large trees in the Redwood National Park, but the trees set before me as I drove into this scenic byway were even more massive. I’ve been through Europe and checked out every cathedral I came across and while so many of those were far above anything I could imagine, these trees with the sun shining through their canopy that brought to mind those stained glass windows, were more holy and breathtaking than any of those structures. I was loving the decision to go down the coast. Between the redwoods and San Fran, I got to enjoy some pretty spectacular wine country. The skies were clear all day and I was looking forward to seeing San Francisco, but true to it’s reputation, the golden gate bridge was blanketed in fog even while all around it was clear.

This post is getting a bit long, so I guess I’ll try to finish up on a part 3.

Sally

October 2023 part 1

October was a weave of so many unexpected threads.

I neglected to explain in September’s post how shocking it was to have any negative health news about Gus to begin with. He had always been a healthy, athletic, vibrant, soulful individual, so to have anything slow him down by any degree was dismaying. Since getting back to their own team of doctors and new oncologists, it was determined that they would begin with chemo for 8 sessions -checking for changes around half way mark- and then likely do surgery and then evaluate the situation once more after the completion of the rounds. Chemo was an overnight admittance to the hospital for the administration of the drugs and this pattern would commence every other week.

Meanwhile, we soldiered on with the kids activities, playing Uno with Amara all throughout each day – as it was her new obsession. Her strategy and card awareness increased by leaps and bounds over the next weeks of playing – that occurred during any pause in other activities. There was also trips to the playgrounds to swing, practice the monkey bars – something Amara also excels at, slide and just release the kind of energy that all kids store up to be released in fun ways.

The first week without Nana, Baba and Mom felt delicate as we were also suddenly dealing with additional life and death events. We received news that one of Lara’s housemate’s and dear friends younger brother had just died from a motorcycle accident. The tenuous structure of life as we were also packing and dealing with the ever changes in existence was an elixir that left us unsteady at times. I will say that the energy in the house, while sometimes fragile, was also strong with the support and reliance that Adrian, Lara and I were developing and drawing upon. It was a very intimate time of being a part of this group and in working through all that was a part of each day. We had all started this with a great bond, but the intricate weave of all that we were navigating through was a beautiful web stronger than could be measured.

Then, as if we weren’t having enough to steer through, Galen called to say he was going to see a Dr. about a lump he had on his leg. This was on a Friday and his report after the appointment was not alarming, so he was just to await the report from his consultation. On the following Monday, he called me while I was out running errands and told me he had received his report and that he had lymphoma! My head began to spin at the implications. He said that they wanted a follow up procedure, but didn’t know when it would be scheduled yet. I questioned if there had been a biopsy? What exactly had they done at the appointment? What the heck? I also told him to pressure them for the next follow up appointment as this cannot be taken lightly. He said I need not come immediately home since they did not yet know more. We spoke for a while and I then relayed that I needed to get back to their house and needed a moment to process this new information. He said he understood the need as he had been processing it for around three hours prior to calling me. I told him to send the report to me and I would call him once back at the house. I was incredulous at the amount of really hard crap we were all dealing with. While driving back to their place, I contemplated if I could even tell everyone this new bit of awful news.

I stopped the car nearby the house and pulled up the email that Galen had texted to confirm he had sent. Taking in some deep breaths, I read the medical terms and analysis. Shaking my head with incredulity, I began to process the information under a new lens. My son was not suffering from a cancer of his lymph system, he was instead sporting a fatty lump beneath his skin and apparently, a deficiency in reading comprehension. I immediately texted him to re-read the info and gave him a link to what a “lipoma” is so that he could stop going down the road of terrible news. Lymphoma, Lipoma – close? Not really. When I later told Devin this story, (to which he thought was hilarious), his response was, “it’s the extra letters that will kill you”. Easy to laugh about it later. To finish this thread, he did have an ultrasound to confirm the lipoma diagnosis and was told it will likely go away on it’s own.

Yol’s decided to stay a bit longer in India to be there for the first chemo and make sure all of the help that they had set up was working out as desired. Back on our end, one of her oldest friends from childhood who resides with her hubby and two kids in Chicago, had planned to come out to see them all before the move to Korea. She was bringing the family with her and had been warned that by the time they arrived, there would be very little furniture left as the movers would already have come and taken away most of the household. Luckily for the rest of us, they had been able to push the movers out a week, so that most of our time there was still in a well stocked and furnished home -albeit a bit disheveled from all the sorting. Malika and family were not as lucky as us.

I had wondered about the wisdom of Malika and family still coming with all that was happening, but in the end, it was really nice for all of us. Yes, there was some sleeping on the floors, but I for one, got the chance to hear stories of childhood in India that I had not heard prior and while I have gotten to know many of their friends over the years, it was really good to go deeper into the well of friends and get another sip of the long history. We hung out in a cavernous house, where it actually gave the kids tons of room to just run and do anything. We also went to the beach and shared in good times together.

Lara flew back to San Francisco to complete necessary tasks and work out the logistics with her job for her to get to India as quickly as possible. The plan between the girls was that they would do all that they could to make sure one of them was in India for support as much as possible. As Lara was no longer going to be in San Fran as much for the foreseeable future, I floated the idea that I should just take the extra car to Colorado until it was needed for longer term in California. Everyone agreed that the idea made sense, and now it was just a matter of deciding if I would still take it first to SF to unload the boxes that had been set aside as belongings to be available for future visits or just take the car and contents to CO.

I had purchased a cold weather sleeping bag and a single burner stove figuring that any route I chose to take home would likely be a multi-day excursion and I could simply camp in the car no matter the route taken.

Yols returned to a near empty house, a list of last minute duties to be completed before they left the country and children overjoyed to have their Mom back in their space. I packed up the items to be stored either in the car or in SF and my things and left the following morning.

Read about the next part of the journey in part 2.

Sally

September 2023

The month began with another quick trip to the cabin for what would be the last “chillin” around the Colorado river for the year. I hadn’t planned for it, but when the peeps call and say they are going, then I surely try to join them.

I ran back from the cabin and loaded up the camp stuff and joined the camp crew for the last camping and tubing of the year. The mornings and evenings were chillier, but we still managed to soak in enough sun and warmth in the day time to float and savor the last of the season. We also explored a canyon that we all hadn’t checked out in many years.

While there, I was also getting information and possible changes on a trip later in the month to my Seattle squad.

As the month progressed, I was striving to get as much done as possible as my planned trip to Seattle toward the end of the month was beginning to look like it might be open ended until some logistics were worked out. The pieces of the puzzle that were not yet fitting was was that Yol’s and A were packing up the house and moving to Seoul, South Korea and her parents were headed to India for the winter. The house needed organized and readied for the movers which they were trying to schedule for the beginning of October. Also in the equation was that Yolekha’s dad Gus was having some health issues and they had not yet had enough tests to solve where the leading cause of his symptoms were coming from. Additional consideration was being given to which of their autos would go to San Francisco to be with her sister Lara and so would also be available to the parents when they came to the States to visit. I had offered to help with sorting the house (there was to be an air shipment of things they would need right away and an ocean shipment of the rest of the home that was going the slower route) and to help drive the car – either with one of them or alone – from Seattle to San Fran and then fly home from California instead of from Seattle. I booked a round trip flight knowing full well that I may not be using the return portion, but it was there in case they did send me home.

I arrived just as the results of some diagnostics came through for Gus and it had been determined that he had – at minimum – stage 3 stomach cancer. With a new shuffle of the deck, it was decided that Yols would accompany her parents back to India where their doctors were already scheduling follow up appointments and readying for treatment. She would navigate the details for assisting them in setting up the network of help, doctors and treatment timetables and I would stay along with her sister Lara and Adrian and help with the kids and the house sorting (the movers would actually pack everything) ferrying the kids to and from school and daycare and afterschool activities as needed.

I drove Yolekha, Gus and Maranna to the airport and sent them all across the world with hugs and hopes of seeing each one of them again sooner than later.

Our last day of September and the first weekend without Nana, Baba and Mama was spent at Remlinger Farms Pumpkin and amusement park with their community of friends. It was a fun outing for all.

We finished September, with lots of love, joy, and a decent share of anxiety and worry.

Sally

August 2023

August began with a few house projects that had creeped up while I was out galivanting all through July. The thistles in parts of our yard and in the field below us had gone bonkers this year. Devin and I spent a few weeks topping the flowers off of the plants and pulling the stalks in hopes of making a dent in what would come back next year. Gutters all of a sudden were needing put back together and sealed. Flowerbeds needed weeding. Stuff needed done, and with ten days in a row at home, I set to it.

The middle ten days of the month were spent in Yellowstone National Park where we got to see Grizzly Bears in fields, on dead buffalo, in streams. We watched a coyote limp through a field crisscrossing it with a badger always close behind. We speculated if the badger was stalking the limping coyote, or if they were pals that each just needed a little space between themselves. We later looked it up and found out that they are often companion hunters. Very interesting and cool to watch. We went to our favorite waterfalls, our favorite lookouts, did artsy projects at any moment, created our own post cards and had the best of times. You can read about other portions of the trip on a previous post: https://www.thelaughyouknow.com/words-and-wonders/

Ok, so that wasn’t the coyote and badger that we saw, but it was just like that.

And when you have given it your all and have nothing left, you look like the photo below. 🤣 We were all both replenished and spent by our ten days in the park.

The rest of the month was more house and garden work.

Love,

Sally

July 2023

This T-shirt I recently saw at the Denver Stock Show would likely best represent a good summation of July. In case it is hard to read, it says, “She’s Sunshine mixed with a Little Hurricane”

As was referenced in the June page, July began again this year at the family farm in Ohio. We were minus two of our Colorado Framily as their flight was cancelled and couldn’t be rescheduled in time. To say that they were unhappy about missing a second year of fourth of July activities at the pond would be a massive understatement.
What they missed this year was breaking in the newly added porch at the cabin at the pond: Amazing food where every meal is consumed in the camaraderie of the various friends, family or neighbors who happen to show up for any particular meal. Float time. Play time – washers, cards, cornhole, and this year, Shelby brought a badminton set and we found ourselves playing like a bunch of twelve year old’s (until my knee reminded me that I had torqued it with that whole safe escapade and was forced to retire from that activity). They missed the home made ice cream that was cranked out by Duke and Shana’s contraption of an antique John Deere hit and miss motor (actual terminology according to my brother) with a belt and pully system to a 5 gallon Ice Cream maker. So yummy and fun to watch. There was Big Uncle John taking his dad’s tractor for a spin and Devin taking one of the antique tractors to and from pond as well. The fireworks were stunning once again. Sunset cruises on the party barge (daytime ones too, but sunset ones feel extra special) And of coarse there is the 24/7 fire with chimney logs to keep our attention until the wee hours of the morning. Great times.

We flew home the night of the fourth and it was fun to see the fireworks going off all around Lake Erie as we left at dusk.

I was home long enough to swap travel bags and head to Ft. Collins to where Galen’s best friend was getting married. I think all weddings end up having one main memory or talking point about them and I will always remember this one for it’s punctuality. Dustin is a planner and it held true to his form. It was lovely and the quick stay also afforded Judy and I a brief meet up with the kids old youth pastor to reacquaint ourselves to the paths everyone’s life had taken.

Wedding festivities over, I once again came home, did laundry and packed up for a trip to Albuquerque to stay with Jas and play with Kai while Rohan was out of town on business. Cooing, smiling, almost rolling over and lots of floor time made for a beautiful stay.

I made it back from ALB and got busy getting everything ready for a camp trip with my peeps to Silverjack reservoir,  a beautiful, remote lake located in the Uncompahgre National Forest. We left a few days later, but not without another incident with the truck – fuel pump had been replaced after Ian’s trip here but now it would seem the starter had failed as now you could only start it with the drop of the clutch. There was also an unidentified incident between Galen and Ciara that neither was talking about except to acknowledge that something went down. Knowing I couldn’t fix either situation, off to camping we went.

This camp spot is easily one of the most remote spots that we frequent. It is 40-50 minutes to the main highway where a pie shop resides as part of a gas and super small convenient store. Over the years we have tried all of their pies and couldn’t say a bad word about any of them. Cell service is farther away than the pie shop most days and in the other directions from the camp spot, you can rise up over your choice of passes and descend the other side and that too is over an hour to obtain cell reception. With statuesque mountains all around, a lake in the middle, it jaw dropping gorgeous on any given day. We took the kayaks and got to explore the lake a couple of the days we were there. We used the Paton’s jeep to explore the various passes and up a road to an ever so elusive waterfalls that we always struggle to find, yet somehow manage to locate sooner or later. One morning, we heard some cracking of wood and each of us gals wondered which of the guys was up and splitting or breaking wood for later fires. Traci was venturing over to the bathroom and on her way, checking out where the sound was coming from. Turns out, a good sized brown bear was cracking open logs and looking for grubs. The bear was only about 50 feet from where Martha was still waking up in her tent. She opened the window on that side, saw the bear and decided to exit the tent and join us watching at a slightly farther distance. I have to say it was really refreshing to see a bear in the campground but doing what bears are meant to do and not going through someone’s left out cooler or food bin.

As we left the campsites and ventured back into civilization, and started to receive cellular service, my phone erupted with urgent messages from everyone to contact Galen. It would seem that whatever the previous issue was had taken another turn and they had now split and Galen was beside himself. I’ll likely never know the entire story, but we rallied some friends to go down and help move his things out of their condo and back in our home. It was heartbreaking to watch and to experience another loss.

We finished the move just in time to have Shelby and Cole come up for a visit. We were lucky to host them for a few days in which we did a little Evergreen brewery hop through several of our local brew pubs plus a stop at the infamous Little Bear Saloon. The next day we took the Mount Evans (now Mt. Blue Sky) drive to the top parking lot and hiked the final few hundred yards to the peak. Having Cole and Shelby was a very good distraction from the most recent event and likely kept me from the non-stop questions that circled my mind.

After Shelby and Cole left, I got a call from Lucia to come up to the cabin for a few days. Knowing I had better give Galen some space to settle in a bit more, I loaded the kayaks back up and joined her. We explored different lakes on different days and she was my sounding board as we paddled and talked and talked and paddled. Nature and friends and family were the keys to a good month.

July was a full month.

Love

Sally

June 2023

We ended May with the corn hole tournament and then I was again sick for a few days. Meanwhile, as I kept to my bed and slept for the better part of two days, occasionally I would be alert enough to notice banging outside the house. I’ll tell you a secret. If you are lucky enough to have my sister and her hubby stay with you for more that a day or two, and you innocently leave a list of projects lying around, then, whether you are up and about or not, those projects have already begun to be crossed off as completed. They had helped prep for the cornhole tournament with some extra sprucing that I wasn’t sure about tackling on my own before the party, but now they were onto the meaty parts of what needed addressed. I had sections of soffits that Ted had removed for some reason or another that I hadn’t tackled the replacement of, as I just wanted the extra mental input along with the hands and muscle. The front porch had also been stripped of most of it’s siding and needed replaced to spruce up the front look a bit. We had another big party planned for my friends retirement party (my house, yard and parking availability lend itself to bigger parties than theirs), so we now had a deadline for the bigger projects. Hey, my peeps are use to our disheveled look, but we were hoping to put on a better face for the collection of guest to be coming to the retirement party. Siding was pulled from stashes in the yard (under tarp from salvage of when the neighbors removed same style cedar siding from their house) and from newer pieces purchased for some project in our garage. Lucky for me, TC and Roger had cleared out and organized the garage on their extended stay last year and it was easy to find – mostly.

We took a break one day to drive down to eastern Colorado to where my cousin John had moved to, as Tc and Roger had not seen the new Berger ranch. It wasn’t just John who moved out farther east of Denver then they once were. Victoria and her crew were within sight of Johns house and Valerie and her family were just five minutes away, so we headed down to see all the family. Even Luke came out with his two kids. It was a beautiful day and fun to see all of the Littles that are now a part of their crew (I think that they had 10 grandkids under 5 at the time). Watching the dynamics of all of those cousins together made me wonder if that is what the Hively clan cousins were like when we all got together for reunions. So fun to be around and even a better time to leave behind when everyone was ready to crash from play, sugar, excitement and a long visit. And that was as true for the seniors as it was for the littles.

The retirement party went off without a hitch despite the rain and cooler temps of the day. We must have done a decent job of it as one of the guests asked if she could host her family reunion at our house in the event that they had bad weather. I politely thanked her for the lovely complement and dropped the subject.

My nephew Ian arrived in the wee hours of the morning on the 17th and so we had a day together for everyone to catch up before TC and Roger left for Utah to see one of our cousins there and Ian and I headed to go camping with our standard camping crew plus Devin, Riley and Mollie for a few days. We floated, played games, ate, drank, laughed, hiked and on one Jeep trip with Jeff, the boys even got to see a bear. Oh, and we had a beaver den just on the other side of the river we were camped at and saw him several times and had an osprey perch in a nearby tree until he swooped down and caught a fish in the river and then showed it off by circling several times above us. Ian, Devin, Mollie, and Rich also fished, although, I think the osprey caught the biggest one.

Upon returning from the always fun camp trip, I had tasked Ian with finding me a gun safe to put into the house. To get a safe, we would need the truck and I had been having issues with the truck stalling under a load going uphill the last time I had hauled wood. I had since changed the air filter and it seemed to run ok now, but I hadn’t fully tested it. So, when he found a safe in Arvada (just down the hill a spell), we drove the truck to the gas station as a test. The truck never hesitated on our little test run, so we put in some gas and ventured onward to check out the safe. Ian haggled some, I paid, and we loaded it onto my dolly and next to the truck. I was to get inside the bed of the truck and direct it from above while Ian and the dude we purchased it from, lifted it onto the bed. I was fully unprepared for the speed and weight of the monster as they shoved it in my direction. I was knocked backwards and suddenly in the need of ninja moves so that the behemoth would not land fully upon me. I jumped a little and torqued my right knee so that the handle of the dolly landed between my legs and I was saved from any crushing blows. I got up, they pushed it the rest of the way in and I figured it was just another injury that I could walk off and be fine in no time.

Ian and I got into the truck and started our way back to the house and as soon as we hit the foothills, the truck bogged and stalled. We had just past the frontage road exit, so we were committed to trying to limp our way up to the next exit and evaluate our options. The gas filter was the next possible option for the symptoms were were having, so after 40 minutes of going in sections of a few hundred yards and then having to rest, we made it to the exit. Ian looked under the truck and decided that if we could get another fuel filter, he could replace it there. The auto part stores in Evergreen were already closed for the day, but we found the part in Golden, so I called Devin to come and fetch me so that we could swap out the filter. I also called Jeff and Traci to see if they could bring their truck if needed because I didn’t want to leave the safe in the back of the truck should we have to abandon it for the night. With just a handful of tools that we scrounged from the truck, Ian had the filter pulled and replaced in no time. Jeff and Traci came with the truck for backup in case anything else went awry and we headed up the frontage road. We were cruising along nicely and feeling great that all had been taken care of when just before the final rise to the buffalo exit, the truck once more bogged down. Once more limping our way to the top of the hill and just having mostly downhill stretches from there to home, we decided to forge onward. We made it all the way through Evergreen and around the lake and were headed the final two mile stretch when the truck died and would not restart. Our thoughts at that point were that we may as well tow it home and unload the safe and then the truck is home and we can decide what to do next. So, with Jeff and Traci in front with the tow rope and Devin following behind as a safe car, we made the final few miles home and coasted it backwards down the drive so that we could take the safe out closest to the entrance to the house. It wasn’t easy or simple, but everything was at the house.

The next day, I awoke to a knee that I could barely walk on. My neighbor provided a knee brace and with stabilization, I was good to go. Couple of days with that and all seemed fine.

We again met up with the camping crowd to celebrate Mol’s birthday and hang out one more time together at Prost Brewery in Denver. Then Devin, Ian and I went out east so that Ian could see cousin John and also check out one of the biggest John Deere collectors in the state. This guy has barns and barns of tractors each of which he can tell you the serial number of, where it was made and how he came to own it. It was very impressive. Then to top it off, he had an entire shop of miniatures that he has refurbished. Good tractor fun.

Ian left Colorado and by the end of the same week, he again had parts of the Colorado Camp crew again hanging out with him albeit this time at the pond with the Ohio crew.

Yes, July will start at the pond.

Love Sally