Alfred Korzbybsk

Some people think they have their lives mapped out for themselves, then an unfamiliar landscape rises up and changes the map.

That is what has happened in my sisters life.

She worked as a legal secretary, now days called paralegal. She was very good at her job. She always had a very precise mind. Neat and orderly. A place for everything and everything in it's place.

Lois has always taken great pains to order her life and surroundings in a way that gave her control over them.
She is a very Private person.

I'm sixteen years younger and have always thought of her as my elegant sister. She has style! Even now, when she isn't feeling well, she is up and dressed, her hair perfect, lipstick on. You get the picture. Her look is very important to her.

I've always said, "You could wear a gunny sack, and still look stylish, I don't know how you do that?"

We are moving her up to Bend to assisted living. A very nice place just a few streets away from where we live and where our in town brother works. As I wrote before, it is very hard to be making these decisions for someone else, but that responsibility has basically fallen to me, with the moral support from the rest of the family, I'm doing my best for her. I want her to be as comfortable as possible.

Dementia is not something I'd ever read up on before, no reason, until now...
We still don't know what this will mean for her immediate future, or even the long run, but we know her life map has changed, and that right now she needs help.

She ask me last week, "When you lose pieces of your mind, where do they go?"

I didn't have an answer.



Fear Not.
What is not real, never was and never will be.
What is real, always was and cannot be destroyed.

Bhagavad Gita

Another sleepless night.

A few weeks ago my sister, who lives alone in San Francisco, hurt her back. I was in Portland visiting our sons when I got the call that she needed me right away. I fly down from PDX and arrive in an hour and a half. She was in a lot of pain and on pain meds, not very cogent in the middle of the night when I arrive. Pain meds make you loopy.

I spend two days lining up in-home service care. One twelve hour shift a day. Hugely expensive. I think twelve hours should be enough as she will be sleeping most of the other twelve hours. When I get home and call the care giver, I discover in talking to her that is not going to be enough. So another twelve hour shift is added.

Fortunately, my sister has been frugal all her life and invested well and has a good retirement and insurances, but in home service care is not sustainable on a long term basis. I'm her executor and power of attorney in case of death or incapacity. Health and financial.

You say yes to this sort of thing because of love, wanting to set their minds at ease, never thinking what kinds of choices you may have to make for them when and if a break in health comes before death.

I never knew how hard it would be to make those choices. Is this the best thing for her, physically, financially, emotionally? I have all the necessary paper work, but what is right for her?

She has agreed to move up here to Independent or Assisted living if her health doesn't allow for a return to Independent living any more, but this has been the most difficult decisions I've ever had to make on behalf of someone else. Where to move her to, how to change over the insurance coverage. Finding another Doctor.

I know I'm not the first to go through all this, but it's the first time I've had to.

I want to make choices she can live with comfortably and that I can live with too, where ever that takes us.

In moments of panic, I think, I'm the baby sister, what do I know? How can I do this? Why did I say yes?

Then I think, its an adventure. (Duncan reminds me.) Like the river rafting trip. Not all quiet waters. O.K. I suppose some of it can be fun. (Once it's over, and she is living up here just a few minuets away at Aspen Ridge.)

So why all this being awake in the middle of the night and not being able to get back to sleep. Searching the Internet for answers.


Wanting to make a positive difference in her life.

The one real thing.



"You know what they say about good intentions? Hell is paved with them."

My father used to say this. I've heard it all my life in one form or another.

I'm a procrastinator, that's true, and I always have good intentions, but I hope it doesn't earn me hell.

What can I say? It's been a busy summer.

I've been to Portland last weekend and am going again this weekend. Todd, our oldest son and his girl, Sarah, and her sister Jessica, and their mother, Mary, and I went whitewater rafting on the Salmon river in WA., just across from Hood River.

That was really fun.

All of us.

Jess, in front, left side Sarah, right side Todd, left side Mary, and me with the green sleeves. And our guide in back.

The last time I went down a river like this was 12 or 13 years ago. I hadn't really planned to do it again... but there you have it. I didn't procrastinate long enough and had to wiggled into one of those ridicules looking wet suits, and booties and had a cold, wet, fun time. It was great!

The river had mainly class 2, 3, and 4 rapids. Todd and Sarah went down the big scary one, a 14 foot drop off rated a class 5. The rest of us begged off and were set ashore and walked down and watched them come over. They went completely under, but popped right back up.

We all got back in and finished the trip.

Even though the rapids were fun and it was a hot day, and getting splashed with cold water was a relief now and then, my favorite were the lazier slower times, when you didn't have to paddle and could look around. (Did I mention how sore the muscles you seldom use are at the end of this three hour ride?)

Most of the Salmon River is the remains of an old lave tube. So the rock formations were interesting and the flora and Fawne were beautiful. Especially the escaped cows from a nearby farm, that had moseyed down to the river for a drink of cold water.

The guide was a crack up, he kept telling us these outrageous stories, then he'd say, "Well, not really, I was just making that up, but..." and he was off again. We got tired of saying, "Really?" It became more like, "Really!" Or "I don't believe a word you say!"

"Do you write?" I ask, after the story about the Squirrel Bridge, "You should," I said, "You're a natural born storyteller."

He said he did write, actually, when he wasn't on the river, which he grew up on, (if you can believe that). His parents were river guides also.

The memory of this day of fun with family and friends will be with me for a long time, the sore muscles only lasted a few days. I'm ready to go again...well, maybe in a year... or ten. Maybe in a kayak, with no rapids, just a lazy float. Smile.

Toby, our youngest son, had to work most of the weekend, so I'm going back to spend time with Toby and Lisa this weekend.

I'm taking the game Settlers of Catan, maybe we can just have a quite weekend, go to Forest Park and walk the dogs, Sophie and Sasha.

That would suit me just fine, now that the aches are gone.



"There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Lewis Carroll

I had to laugh, even though I'm thinking of children in general, my nieces in specific, this quote also makes me think of politicians and corporations. They ask us to believe impossible things all the time. (And we do.)

That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what is motivating them and us to believe impossible things. The greed factor is still so high in the U.S. right now.

But that is not what I want to talk about this morning.

I choose to believe the impossible in a different way. Like writing a fantasy poem for my nieces. (Which you will find on my poetry blog.) Or writing anything that doesn't consist of facts only.

One would think that believing in anything fiction would certainly encompass the impossible, but facts don't always hold the truth, and sometimes fiction, impossible fiction, has more truth embedded in it than, "Just the facts, Mam, just the facts."

But if we didn't believe in impossible things, we would never write anything, or create anything, or discover anything or invent anything. Soloving the impossible is the lure to the human heart and mind that keeps us moving forward.

I just talked to my brother, Lee, this morning. They are back home now and relaxing from they long journey.

It was so good to see them. And I'm believing the impossible when I say I'm going to see them next year.


This is what half of 340 books looks like. They all came in today.

How fast the time goes. I had to run a few errands after work and fill the gas tank and by the time I got home it was eight o'clock.

Kent, the man who works for me at the Bookmark is down in Ashland with his daughter, who has cancer. He will be there for a week or two. I know what that worry is like as Duncan's sister also has cancer, they are both doing the treatments.

Because Kent is out of town, I'm working on his Mondays and Tuesdays for a couple of weeks. I used to do this all the time. The six days a week thing, but I can tell you, having three days off in a row has spoiled me. Duncan has been working seven days a week since January and I work for him at his store once in a while, but I know I just couldn't do what he's doing for such a long time.

I need my crash days.

We had a spectacular lightening show here last night, along with a beautiful sun set. These are some of the pictures from my new camera from our back deck. I'm still learning how to do the focusing and figuring out what settings to use. I thought the colors in this one were really pretty.



"Time is the longest distance between two places."
Tennessee Williams

After Lee, Brenda and the girls left that Monday morning I went to Sun River to the book store there and bought a couple of Enya CD's and a blank book. I had lunch and eventually went home.

I began to play the small pocket flute I bought at the Summer Festival down town a few weeks back before they came and got out the blank sheets of flute tablature and started writing songs for the girls. I haven't felt like doing that for a while. So it felt good. I wrote the first song, "Once Upon a Time" and really liked it. So I did another, "Little Acorn".

I decided I'd try for 8 or 10 and make an album for them. (I have Garage Band) It has spurred a whole new series of songs. Over the years I've been playing the flute, Native American, I've made about 50 songs. A few of them pretty good, most of them mediocre at best. But I love playing and making new songs. And I think these are some of my best. So far I have five new ones.

The album will be, "The Silver Oak Tree". "Forever Oak", "Seat of Dreams" and "Branches and Roots", are the other three so far.

The weekend after they were here, Todd, our oldest son brought his girl friend Sarah home to meet us. They were camping in the area and spent one night on our back deck.

Sarah is a horticulturist. She works at a food co-op, and when she saw Duncan in our back yard pulling weeds she went out and joined him. "These are my favorite weeds," she said as she pulled them along with him. They talked about gardening and other things. When he came in, he told me, "I don't want to jinks this for him, but I really like her. She's great!"

After what he went through with is first wife, Todd and Sarah make a very sweet couple. They are crazy about each other. She is a more open and honest person, more down to earth, and loves the same kinds of books, movies, and activities that Todd does, and I never see her roll her eyes at him over something he says or does.

It was really good to meet her. It's good to see them happy.

They went home and this weekend he is back for his 20 year high school Reunion. He's a very social person and he's having a great time talking to old friends.

I want to get up to Portland soon to see Toby and Lisa, our other son and his wife, they are talking about moving to Oklahoma where she grew up. Her mom is very ill and Lisa owns some land back there, and they want to spend time with her mother. I hate to see them go so far away from me, but I also see the pull.

I bought a new camera after Todd and Sarah left. Still trying to read through all the instructions. It's a couple of steps up from my little Kodak that has been doing some wired things lately.

Anyway, change is coming. I'm going out to meet it!


The Silver Oak Tree

"As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious."
Will Durant

A couple of weeks ago my brother, Lee, who lives in Ft. Meyers, FL. came to visit. Lee is 6 years older than I am, I'm the baby of the family. Lee and his wife, Brenda, and their two little girls, Rachel and Riley.

It has been 8 years since we've seen each other. Rachel was only one the last time I saw her. I've talked to the girls on the phone on a number of occasion and sent them things over the years, but it's nothing like actually being with them.

It was great to see all of them. Be with them, even if it was for such a short time.

They spent an evening with our sons in Portland before coming to visit us in Bend, Duncan and I, and my in town brother, Dave, and then they went off to see our other two sisters down in the San Francisco area.

Uncle Dave and Riley. (and his hound dogs)

Rachel and Cotton.

Brenda and Riley.

While they were here we had a great time, though. Us adults talked, and talked and laughed a lot.

The girl are somewhat shy. Rachel is a reader, and read three books while they were here. Riley watched, Spirited Away", and "My Neighbor Totoro." Rachel watched and read.

Everyone got to pick as many books from my store as they thought they could fit in their suitcases for the trip home.

I have a small space under the stairs, my prayer room, and the girls were quite taken with it, and were going to spend the night at our house while their Mom and Dad went back to their Motel room, but at the last minuet Riley got scared of a giant mosquito eater bug and fled out of the house just as they were leaving. So Rachel stayed and slept in my prayer room. Kids love small spaces. It's about a five foot cube, give or take a bit in one direction or another.

They all came with me to church Sunday morning, Lee and Brenda Co-Pastor a church in Florida, the same church I attend in Redmond. (18 miles North of here) He saw people he knew from years ago, it was a great visit for everyone.

When we came home the girls and I and Brenda went out to our back yard and planted an acorn from my sons yard in Portland, we don't know if it will grow here in the high desert or not, but we're hoping, and watering it. It commemorates their visit. It was sprouting already.

Someday, maybe it will look like this.

They were headed for Crater Lake the morning they left and I lead them out to Lava Lands, about 12 or so miles south of Bend. A butte that used to be a volcano. A cinder cone now.

When we first got there at about 9:30 am the chipmunks were out in full force. So cute. There were signs everywhere saying don't feed the chipmunks and squirrels, but obviously people had been, as they would come right up to you, stand up on their hind legs and lean on your pant leg. The girls were waring flip-flops and were afraid the chipmunks would think their toes were peanuts.

Lee, Rachel and Riley walked around the rim, while Brenda and I took pictures of the munks.

Munk catching some shade.

Lee and Rachel. Riley and Brenda in the background.

If it takes us 7 or 8 years before we are all together again those girls will be grown.

Somehow that just made me cry. It's sad when family is so far apart and money and work don't allow for more time spent together more often.

It makes me cry just thinking about it. It was hard to say good-bye.



"If your out go exceeds your income, your up keep will be your down fall."

I've often thought Insurance companies and Banks are Pirates and Highway Robbers.

The health insurance company I pay every month on time every time, has gone to a new billing system. It is no longer done locally. The company has a local office that I visit every month. Why? Because ever since they changed their billing system, my bill hasn't been right once. That is over a year and a half now.

The things that are wrong, every single month are; Wrong amount. Wrong date. They say I'm behind three months, or two. Even with that, which they do every month it is never the same wrong amount any month.

I had to jump through hoops to even get on with them for a 2,500.00 deductible. Mostly this is home insurance for us, so if I were in an accident or some other unexpected thing happened... You all know how that goes, at least we wouldn't have to sell the house to pay the medical bills.

I do get four well check up visits a year, paying only $35.00. The last time I'd been to a doctor was eight years ago. So in January this year I went in. Everything was fine, as I was sure it would be. Other than the typical aces and pains of getting older, the doctor said I was in good health.

It drives me crazy that they can't fix my billing mix up though, so every few months I go in and talk to someone at the local office. Bringing my dates of when I paid, and when they cashed them, I keep copies and leave one with them. I bet they hate to see me coming. They know what it's going to be about.

Their nice enough about it, and I try to keep my cool, even though sometimes I'd like to scream. I just don't get how they could be so completely wrong.

They have told me more than once, different managers every time I go in... "Well, don't feel bad, it happens to a lot of our customers." (I'm wondering why they can't get more competent help.)

The last time someone said that to me, my eyebrows tented in a meet and greet.

"Why?" I ask, "Is it a policy of yours to confuse people's bills so after an exasperating few years they quite and you never have to pay out on their policies?"

We both laugh, she a little nervously, me thinking I wasn't really joking? I do wonder, you know, is that a tactic some companies take?

Well, this month I got two bills! One on the 19th and one on the 24th. Both different. Both wrong amounts. And wrong due dates. Now they've doubled my fun! Oh Joy!

Even two different account numbers. Ah ha, I thought. Maybe that's the problem. They somehow have me with two account numbers.

So guess where I'll be on Tuesday?

I sure hope this will solve this problem and relieve this hassle every month.

I don't have the answers about all this insurance business, and the medical costs, etc. etc.but surely, there's got to be a better way than this!



"Look not for the donkey you are sitting on."
Chinese Proverb

A taste for simple things.

Simple pleasures, like the company of someone you love and enjoy while tramping through the Eastern Oregon desert.

We decided to leave Sunday night when Duncan got home and packed up for an over nighter and headed out. We took a lot of pictures all the way to Burns, found a motel, and camped out. We love doing this kind of thing, a loose destination in mind, and the freedom to go off course if we are so lead.

One of the amazing things about the high desert this time of year, is how green it is. And red, and white too. The darker stones mixed with red volcano rock. There is a wide open beauty to it that is appealing and repelling at the same time. You want to be with the land, but there is such an exposure to the elements. There is a soulfulness to the desert.

I had never been past Burns before, so we went on to Vale and then Ontario. We even went into Idaho. Payette and Fruitland.

Does an hour stay in Idaho count as being to idaho?

Ontario was much bigger and more active than we thought... going on what Duncan remembered of it from forty years ago. If the old downtown isn't the main street going through town, like most small town are, we hunt it out. Used book stores are often in the old downtown areas.

What we found was a closed up downtown though, as there was some big swap meet, Harely rally, or something, that we didn't know about going on at Sumpner. So, even the stores which are usually open on Mondays were closed.

Oh, well. The traffic was light. It was free sailing most of the way home and we turned into our driveway by 7:00 Monday night.

Duncan, took many pictures too,
he was looking for fences.
I like small roads and paths.




bumper sticker

Finally, Duncan and I are having a day off together.

New Years day was our last one off at the same time.

We will put up "GONE FISHING" signs and will high tailed it out of town for the day.

Just packing up a lunch and moving down the road.

Out to the desert. Under a tree, that's where we'll be. Maybe we'll check out the Petrified Forest. Or the Painted Desert again. Or the Steins or French Glenn and the Bird Refuge.

We're just going to point the horses under the hood and let then follow their noses.

When one day seems like a vacation, Wow, we've been working to much.

I did get to go the Portland and see our kids last weekend, so I'm not as deprived as Duncan has been. But it is always so much fun to travel down the road with him.

We always have the best time just driving and talking and stopping to check things out, or following some side road we've never been on before.

Just getting to spend the whole day together out of town is exciting.



"As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious."
Will Durant



"... that I began to feel stirring of anxiety that was unconnected to the story itself. I was distracted: my thumb and right index finger were sending me a message: Not many pages left. The knowledge nagged more insistently until I tilted the book to check. It was true. The thirteenth tale must be a very short one."

(The Thirteenth Tale) Diane Setterfield

I always have more than one stack of books of want to read soon going. I've been clipping right along this past month, as in April I had been sick, then hurt my back, and so was sort of not my usual busy self. I was able to read more or listen to audio books.

The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield was my all time favorite for the year so far. A complex store with a few surprises alone the way. Really well done. The story is about twins, books, writers. The writer, Vida Winters, within the story, said, "Every story has a beginning, middle and end, it just depends on whether you get them in the right order, if the story is to live and breath, or not."

This author got them in the right order. I really enjoyed this book. It was rich with the five senses.

I finished a small book by the Dalai Lama, which I really loved. A paper back that was mildly intertaining, and bits and pieces of interesting looking books that crossed my work table at the store.

Right now I'm reading a young adult book by an author I've not been aware of until now, I'd never seen any of his titles before. Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo, by Obert Skye. It has an ominously dark and shinny, attractive cover with a young boy and a little critter of some kind. (Have I mentioned, I'm like the crow in the Secrets of NIHM, Oooh, shinny, sparkley).

The young adult or junior readers really have some wonderful authors to choose from these days.

With "Leven Thumps" I'm only a few chapters in so far so don't really have much to say as yet, but it has intrigued onto the next page.

I'm also listening to Shelter of Stone, by Jean Auel. When the first of her books came out, Clan of the Cave Bear all those many years ago, I read it and the second one, but she spends some real time writing her books, so, I sort of moved on to the other things and never got back to them, this one is the latest one she's done and it is a few years old now. I like to listen to story's when no one is in my store, while I'm cleaning, pricing and putting books away. It makes that work go faster. Although lately, the store has been so busy, I've been listening in the car, more than at the store.

What has been your favorite book this past month, or year?



"To the dull mind nature is leaden. To the illumined mind the whole world burns and sparks with light."

There are some spring days that seem...radiant. The glow that is more than light, it's a feel to the air, a scent. A peace that seems unrelated to anything going on in your life. Like Mother Earth is saying, "I love you. All is well. Don't worry ".

When this radiance over comes me on occasion, out of a golden blue sky, the world goes away for a time and I'm enveloped in this peace, a stillness that is pregnant with potential. And a springing up of joy to meet it.

I love these moments!

They give me strength to be the kind of person I want to be. Be like Mother Earth, "I love you. All is well. Don't worry".

And somehow I know this is true, but at the same time I see there are troubles in the world, people who are hungry, afraid, suffering from all kinds of things, sometimes through no fault of their own, or because of their own poor choices. No matter, when we hurt and suffer, whether from our own actions or those of another, it doesn't make the pain less.

The thing is... We all want the same things out of life. We want to be happy and we don't want to suffer. We all need the same thing. Enough food for the day, shelter, safety. Loving people around us.

I don't remember who said it, "You must be the change you wish to see happen in the world."

When we see the Light, and understand that we are all one, there can be no enemy.

My husband, Duncan, says I'm like an eight year old girl, with a woman wrapped around her. He is not implying that I am naive, although I've been accused of that, but he is saying, I have the spirit of a child, curiosity, faith, trust, belief in people. He says I'm an incorrigible optimist.

I can't help it.

Spring gets in my bones and I want to dance.

So what do we do with all these difficult feelings and experiences that seem counter to the message of spring, the song in the heart of Mother Earth? How do we live with the reality that seems to be in our face everyday?

Well, that is the personal struggle we each face. No one else can give you your answer. And yet we can support each other on our search.

Love is a verb. That mean it has hands and feet, ears to listen with and a mouth to bless.

If you think this is getting all to sappy sweet, just think of the work ahead of us in a changing world. Me and mine has not worked all that well, maybe it is time to think of We and Us instead. And if you think that is sappy sweet, it's just plain hard work we're looking at, but could have huge dividends.

I had a dream not long ago, where I was walking in a beautiful woods. I heard a woman crying. It was a heart broken weeping. I went looking for her. When I found her, I knew she was Mother Earth. I ask, "Why are you weeping?" She said, "I am drowning in human flesh and misery".

I don't know exactly what that might mean, except the feeling I have that Love weeps for the suffering happening around the world.

Does the earth feel? Is there an awareness there. Who can say for certain? But it is a true fact that there is pain and fear out there. We all feel it. It's part of the human condition. The question is can we change it? Even a little more Light would be good.

We need spring, and the message, "You are loved! Somehow all will be well! Don't worry!".

Now, get out there and do something good for someone.



"All know that the drop merges into the ocean but few know that the ocean merges into the drop."

Anyway, that's what the birds are saying.

I love this time of year. Duncan and I began dating in the spring and married in the fall. They have always been our favorite times of the years.

Never to hot or to cold.

As I was checking in with some of my favorite blog sights, and because it's spring, I just have to mention the #1 on my list.
Red and the Peanut

The reason I love this blog is the obvious joy in what Kelly is doing. And the pictures. It is like an educational visit every time I go there. I'm not a bird watcher, per say, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate what Kelly is showing. I'm a natural nature watcher.

It's like I get to go on her bird watches with her. I can hear the sounds of nature and feel the human noise sluff away into a silence that hears the voice of nature alone.

I'm always so amazed at the talents and interests of the people at these places I go to in my blog time. When I read their posts, I always wish I could sit down with them and just talk. Find out what lead them to the loves in their lives, what drives their passions, and where do they think they get the welling up of their creativity. Did they have to work at it or was it just ...there?

Thank you Kelly for the joy you share with every post.



Deep peace of the
running wave to you.

Deep peace of the
flowing air to you.

Deep peace of the
gentle night to you.

Moon and stars pour
their healing light on you.

Deep peace of the
Light of the World to you.

-A Gaelic Blessing-

Last night I heard of the death of a friend of mine. He and his wife attend the same faith community as me. About eight months ago they learned he had cancer.

It has been a long eight months. And not long enough.

There are no words to express my feelings right now. The loss of his presence, for his wife, their children, and grandchildren, and our group, is simply to sharp to form words on that edge.

You always wonder, how will the family adjust. I don't doubt they will though. The love that is in the universe will support them. And so will we.

My sister in law, is in the hospital today, with problems due to cancer. We are waiting for the results of some tests and the sibs are all flying in, the oldest brother, and two younger sisters. Duncan and I went to meet with her two best friends at the hospital last night. We all talked about what we can do.

The Dr. said he couldn't say how long. It could be soon, or it could be two years.

My prayer for us all right now is Deep Peace, that peace that knows and swallows up sorrow and loss, and fear of loss.



The shortest way to Good Health is the Natural Route.
By Dr. R. A. Riggs

I found this quoit in a small blue book, publication date 1940. "Gold Nuggets of Health" abundant health, natures gift.

Thinking a lot about this sort of thing right now as yesterday was my first day back to work after four day at home. The first two I slept most of the time, the third day I had to drop my store rent off. And the fourth I actually had to do some errands. By the time I got home I was ready for my comfies, but then I remembered the Readers Group that meets at the store the first Tuesday of the the month and knew I'd have to go open up for them, but I just gave them the key to lock up and came home.

Looking at this little blue book, thinking about all the advances in medicine and health since 1940, 68 years ago.

Right now, when you tell someone you've been sick, it's, "Oh, Yeah, I had that...." "Just got over it..." "Yeah, a whole bunch of people at school are out with it..."

You get the picture. It sounds like everyone in town has been touched by it. If not them, in their home with the children.

We sure don't like to get the flu these days anymore than any other age in time, but for the most part it is not killing us off by the thousands like it used to do.

We can all be thankful for that.

I know the medications may help us recover more quickly, but I've got to say, some of the side effects of the over the counter medicines are about as bad as the flu. I debate with myself every time I take them, "do I really want to take this stuff?"

We just had our spring break a couple of weeks ago and we figured, that this could have been an out of town bug.

Nothing like a little dose of illness to humble you and remind you we all come from the same weak flesh.

That no one is above the forces of nature we are all a part of.

That life is precious.

And good health is not to be taken for granted but lived with thankfulness.



I'm still sick, and have been home for three days with this. No energy yet. Don't eat much. Upset stomach.
I know it's going around, but I don't usually end up with bugs. We've worked with the public for so long we are usually well exposed to everything though.

I'm going back to bed.

I think Utah recommend chicken soup when she was sick. I think I'll go get some.

Can't believe Duncan can still be working through this.



"Birth is not one act; it is a process. The aim of life is to be fully born, though its tragedy is that most of us die before we are thus born. To live is to be born every minute. Death occurs when birth stops."
Erich Fromm

My Mother and I were close. I was the last child at home. My Father had died when I was 14. Mom and I talked about everything. Anything that troubled me, or her, or things that were curious, interesting, different and just every day things.

We shared many interests in common. She was my Mother, but she was also my friend.

When I turned 18, I was ready for my life's adventure to start. Wasn't that what Mom had raised me for? All the other kids had gone off at 18. I didn't think about Mom being alone. She was an active person engaged with life and the community.

I was on my way.

Years later a friend of hers told me she cried for two weeks she missed me so much. I never even knew. She seemed as excited for me to go and try my wings as I was. She never tried to lay the guilt on me to stay at home, she could have, and I might have stayed. But she didn't even hint at the fact that she would be alone. I never once felt compelled to stay. She opened her arms and let me go.

She even let me take her car. (anyway for the first few weeks of moving and finding a job in a town a hundred mile south.)

I think now of that selfless act of love, which exemplifies the way Mother was with each one of us five kids.

When she died, at age 95, and all the kids had gathered in her home, we were sharing memories as we read her wishes. As sad as that gathering was, we also laughed. One of my brother said, "I've always felt a little guilty, because I was her favorite." My other brother said, "wait a minute. I was her favorite." We all laughed at that, because we had all known we were her favorites.

That was the way she made people feel. Special, loved and unique. She had an incredible gift of helping people see the best in themselves. And also areas where you might need some self examination, but without being made to feel like you were bad or of less worth.

When my brother "the favorite" called to tell me she had died, (he had been living at home so she could stay in her home to the last), I felt a flood of gratitude and joy. She had been expressing how tired she was over the last few years of her life and was ready to cross the river, she would say, and now she had.

My oldest sister was there with two of her daughters, visiting Mom. They had had a wonderful time together and on the last full day they were to be there, they were all visiting at the kitchen table and she said she was going to let them finish up with the breakfast dishes while she took a short nap.

She lied down and slept, and didn't wake up.

I've always thought she had a sweet death. It wasn't a struggle, there was no pain, other than the aches and pains of old age. She wasn't afraid.

I think of her often and especially on the 31st of March. As I know my four Sibs will be thinking of her today too.

It was harder for some of us to let her go than others, and yet I felt her presence with me so often that first year after. We all did.

Something happened at work one night shortly after and I sat down at break time and started writing her a letter, I was upset, half way through I realized she was beyond a forwarding address, and I sat there and was comforted by her presences.

Even after eight years I still miss her and think sometimes, "Now, that would have made Mom laugh!" Or, "I wish I could show her that."

I see her in my siblings, and her grandchildren, a turn of phrase, body language, an attitude, we all carry her with us, and today she will be remembered. She lived a full and happy life.

Over the next few days I will be posting poems I wrote for her. On my poetry blog, Sagewind Voices.



"But it's always interesting when one doesn't see," she added, "If you don't see what a thing means, you must be looking at it wrong way around."
Agatha Christie
English Mystery Writer

There were 89 customers who came through my door yesterday, plus really, as I lost count a few times. My record high count is 112. I average 55 to 65 per day, most months . For one person clerking the store that's a lot of people, and a lot of books coming in and going out.

This picture is from my intake table, where I clean, price and put books away.

I like what I do, but there are times I can feel overwhelmed. Yesterday was one of those times, I came home really tired.

Sometimes I think I should hirer a person a couple of hours a day just to put books away, so I wouldn't have to stay after work, or come in on Sunday afternoons, but then I get worried about making that kind of commitment to anyone.

I dislike with a passion firing people if it doesn't work out. If they can't alphabetize, (everyone says they can - I need to devise a test) or figure out how to move books up and down the shelves to make more room, even after being shown over and over. Or are so slow they can't get a simple small job done in an allotted time.

There are more books in the world than you can imagine. I know because I've got at least 70 thousand of them in my store.

These are the intake shelves where I put the books after I clean them. Full, and over flowing. Blessings of every kind. Hours of adventure, mystery, romance, for you to curl up with in your favorite chair.

This is the doorway into my storeroom. 100 sq. ft. and it's full too.

It's looking sunny and clear out there this morning. Aw, blue skies, and another beautiful day.

Books will be on some one's To Do List.

I'll be there.



"This is It
and I am It
and You are It
and so is That
and He is It
and She is It
and It is It
and That is That."

James Broughton

We have a modest home, 1,550 sq. ft. on a large corner lot. No one lives with us but our space cat, Panga.

We live a comfortable life, frugal, yes, but comfortable. We drive cars that are almost 20 years old, and we baby them. We don't travel much out side Oregon and bordering states.

I guess we are a little like Candide who after many adventures found contentment in tending the garden in his own back yard.

Sunrise's last apple of fall.


From our three decks we get some fantastic sunsets and sunrises. As I was going through my pictures to find the Forest Park picture for the last posting, I kept finding sunsets and a few sunrises. I never seem to be able to catch the best ones, but here are a few I liked.


You don't have to leave home to find contentment, when the joy of simple things is present off your own back deck.



The trees wear coats of moss, adornments of fern.

This is German town Rd, that cuts through the park north to south.

These were all along the road, as the trails I tried were to muddy for me, as it had been raining most of the day.

Even though the moss and ivy or ferns may be beautiful, if they grow on the trees it eventually kills them. A beautiful death.

At home after my trip. Sunset from my back deck.

I love seeing and being with my kids, and their families and dogs and cats, but it is always good to come home to Duncan and Panga.



"There was a young lady named Bright,
whose speed was far faster than light;

She set out one day in a relative way,
and returned home the previous night."

Arthur Henry Reginald Buller

When I visit my kids and their dogs and cats, it is always over to quick.

I'm fortunate that both sons and families live five minutes apart. We've watched movies, eaten good dinners, visited, more movies, pop-corn... You get the picture.

Today is Monday and everyone has to do some work. So I'm on my own for a few hours. We'll all get together again this evening for dinner.

Yesterday while they were all busy with some different things that had to be done before going back to work, I took off and drove around Forest Park.

For those of you who have never been to Portland Oregon, it is famous for its parks. Forest Park is the largest urban forested park in the United States. 5,400 acres. More than 70 miles of trails through out.

There are over 112 species of birds and 62 species of mammals in residence in Forest Park.

I did a perimeter run of the Park because I have part of a story I'm working on, set there. I wanted to get the feel of how big, how it connects up to the city and just to feast my eyes on the greens, of moss, fern, and the blue of sky and creek.

My oldest son lives next door to a large forested park in the St. John area. I can't remember it's name, but we take the dogs walking there. It's around 80 acres, I think. I know to get that beautiful green you have to put up with a lot of rain, fog and overcast... but it is magnificent.

I love running around on my own too, while the family is busy, because I love to see the places they see everyday. I love knowing where they are in a physical sense, as well as how their doing emotionally.

Later this afternoon we are going to Powell's Books, it's a tradition. I have to buy a blank book while I'm here.

Maybe two.

And check to see if there are any of my husbands books in stock. Star Axe. Snow Castles and Ice Towers. I always check.

I always get turned around at least once per trip, and have I frustrating time getting back to where I want to go, as there are a lot of no left turns around here. I had to buy a new map as I had forgotten mine. And a map set of Forest Park.

It has been windy, rainy and a little sunny, yesterday while in Forest Park it was a beautiful sunny patch. I took many pictures. I tried to post up a picture, my lap top is different from my home computer and couldn't get it done. When I get home I'll try from there.

Our last evening tonight. Tomorrow, no matter the weather, I'm on the road for home and hubby.

The time here always seems to be over before it begins.

But I love every minute of it.



"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born."
Anais Nin

Friendships. (Listen to Guy Clark's Old Friends)

A true deep friendship is a rare thing.

A moment of meeting, a first conversation, and it seems like you've known them forever. Some mutual response that each recognize.

Over the years of my life I've only had a few of this type of friend. I think there could have been more, but life circumstance and distance prevented it.

Not only is there a mutual recognition, but there is a mutual admiration. Not perfect...but perfect, even in that lack of perfection. Understanding where a friend is coming from and the direction their going in. Not even disagreeing breaks that bond.

In this kind of relationship you both act as a mirror to each other. Somehow true friendship helps you see yourself more clearly. When a friend like this moves away, or dies, there is a gap in the fabric of your life. These are not people you can replace.

There may be a new friend just around the corner, but it will be a different world. A different experience.

Not better or worse, just different.

Looking back over my life, from child, teen, young married to the present. I can count on one hand that kind of deepest friendship.

There are many, many other friends who fill my life with love, joy, and fun, but that bounded, heart to heart, like twins somehow, that is not common.

If you have a friend like that, tell them how much they mean to you, before you can't.



"Do not take life to seriously - you will never get out of it alive!"
Elbert Hubbard

Or maybe we will.

I have a friend who once ask me if I believe in life after death, as a close mutual friend had just died.

Recently we were talking about this friend and the impact she had on our lives, and the fact that even though it's been several years now since she's been gone how much we still miss her.

I can't prove that we are spiritual beings, anything more than just flesh, but I believe we are.

I believe we came here from somewhere and will go to somewhere when we leave.

I think we are larger than this shell, this garment of flesh, we wear.

What difference does this make in the way I live? It makes me fearless to be in this little blip of time we call life, because I believe death is not the end. And there is a reason we are here.

There is no empirical proof of this, only a lot of words and strong feelings, written and spoken, from the western belief systems to the eastern. The sacred books of every religion speak of some form of After Future.

Some people tell stories of their Before History's, or speak of such beliefs. Again, what proof?

There are many people who say without proof they can't believe, although I say we believe in things we can't prove everyday. There is no scientific test for love, but do any of us doubt it exits?

Even though I believe there is a Before History and an After Future, I don't dwell on them, I am here and now.

Like a race horse with blinders on, we can't see to the left or the right, it would only distract us from the present moment, and that's what we're here for. The passion of life, different for each one of us, is what we race to.

My friends race was cut short because of the demon jockey, alcoholism, before she reached her finish line. Her presences in my life is still a testimony to me that her spirit was larger than the small moment of time she had here.

Who can understand these things? Who can know? We can only believe, and live in that belief.

Life's a Mystery!



"Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow."
Mark Twain

My husband, Duncan, blogs every day. In the Bend Blog circles he is unusual in this way. Now that I've been blogging for a couple of months, I see just how hard it is to be consistent.

I've been reading. Spending time in the fictional cocoon, with Robert McCammon. l and ll of "Speaks the Nightbird". 1699 a witch trial. People making an enemy out of someone different.

Then I got hooked by a memoir. My Lobotomy, by Howard Dully.


If you go to NPR My Lobotomy, you can listen to his story.

When I was about 12 or 13 I had a friend who's Mom had a lobotomy. It was always a very scary thing to think about. I don't remember what she was like before, or even if I knew her before, but she was not engaged.

There, but not there.

I don't know if this helped her, or hurt her. I don't know if it made life less difficult for the family or not.

When I ask my friend what a lobotomy was, she said they cut my mom's brain.

I don't remember much more than that. But I saw this grinning woman every time I went to visit my friend at her home. Her mother would stare and grin and laugh, even when no one was talking to her.

It always made me feel sad. I would wonder what was she thinking. And why they had done that to her?

Personality, and experience is all such a complex mix that each one of us has to deal with in our lives, if only we could see more clearly what Longfellow once said, "If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."

Of course this does not answer all, or excuse bad behavior, their is always the why. Why me? Why now? Why?

That is a question everyone of us has had to struggle with at some point in our lives, and most of us would like to put it off till tomorrow or day after tomorrow, because we think difficult things are better done in the future.

Mark Twain didn't know what he was talking about.



White mountain velvet night
Following moon-silver owl flight
Looking into the well of Self...
I fall into the heavens.

Linda McGeary

I have an obsession!

Blank books.

I've been journaling since I was a teen.

I started a book journal in my twenties. (title, author, date and rating, sometimes comments about the story, and quotes if I really liked it.)

In my thirties I started dream journaling. I have at least twenty years worth of dreams.

Sometimes I look at that box of old journals, and my stack of new ones waiting to share my life, and wonder why I do it. Is it a sense, or touch of immortality it gives? That something of me, my mind, my heart, will remain. That maybe my sons will find them interesting someday. Or not. Maybe they will never read them, even as I have not finished reading all of my Mother's.

What is the value of a journal then?

I can get lost in an old one, rereading, seeing where I've grown or not, and maybe where I need to focus some time and attention in silence and deep thought. The cascade of memories, and where they find place in my life now.

There is joy, sorrow, pain and healing in those pages. Humor too. Poetry, story ideas, and sketches. But really, are they or will they ever be of value to anyone other than myself?

Maybe a dream researcher might find those journals interesting, if that's not a thing of the past by the time I return to the stars.

I spent a number of years reading volumes of dream books. I've always been interested in dreams. When I was a child and had a dream, my Mom and I would talk about it. What did it mean, or an image she would encourage me to draw, or make a poem or story out of it. I loved those shared times. She would tell me her dreams too, sometime they were dreams that would make me see she was worried about me in some way. They would make me think.

I got so into dreams and the meaning of dreams and the value of them, that I spent a couple of years doing dream workshops to help others understand their own dreams. Helping people find the tools to interpret their own dreams and use them in personal healing, or in creative endeavors. It was great fun for a time.

Then life just got to busy to do the kind of journaling I used to do. My theater job, working 55-60 hours a week, more or less broke me of the consistency I used to have when I was younger. I'm more hit and miss now.

That's O.K. Who has time for everything?

But the obsession remains. I discovered it's the blank books I crave. All clean white pages, or cream color, or some other pastel hue.

And the covers!

I love shinny, sparkly things, just like the crow in the Secrets of Nhim. I think I have about ten ahead of myself, and I know that's not the end of it. If I go into a book store and they sell them, I'll buy one. Something different than any that I have.

It's crazy! But I just love blank books.

The day after I couldn't make my mind work backwards to catch the threads of detail for the post I wanted to do, I went into my store to attend a writer's group that meets there after hours, two times a month, and there on the desk was a beautiful little leather bound black book. Blank book! Never been used.

I thought how marvelous, just what I need. It will be my Blog Notes book, small enough to put in my purse.

Now, just to find time to note that fleeting thought, or simmering image.



"It's all over. There isn't anymore. It's all over. But what's it over for? Just when you think the party's starting... It's over."
It's Over - Squirrel Nut Zippers

This album, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Perennial Favorites, 1989, was a christmas gift from my oldest son the first year he was living on his own. I love it. It always make me think of him when I play it.

Sunday night, like most of us movie fans, my husband and I were watching the Oscar Awards.

There were five of us. My Seattle sister-in-law. My in town sister-in-law, and one of her friends. Duncan felt lost in a sea of comments about gowns, suits and jewels, and would jokingly throw in a bawdy remark like, "Wow, look at those rockets," just to break up the banal.

We had a good time and laughed a lot.

All the way home ideas where going through my mind of what I'd write on Monday morning. Good ideas. Great title. I was jazzed.

They say the first to go is short term memory. It must be true. Because in the morning. Blank. Oh the idea, the concept of what I'd been thinking was there, but the details. Gone.

I thought, O.K. I'll not focus on it and maybe catch a thread of it out of the corner of my eye, so to speak, and follow it back to the center. So I worked on that premise all day. Nothing.

My mind kept going back to the phone conversation with my oldest son, that Sunday afternoon. He's going through a divorce. It will be final at the end of the month. They had only been married for three and half years.

He said, "This breaks my heart, it has gutted me. What went wrong? I don't understand it." (She had an affair and left) "Did she ever love me? Why did she marry me in in the first place? Can I trust my own perceptions, my own judgements about people? How can I tell what is real? What did I do wrong? I thought I knew her. I loved her, and now it's over."

We talked for sometime. I knew that sorrow he was feeling. I'd gone through it too. With his father. So I knew all those questions. All those feelings.

He said, "I'm hurting right now, but I know I'll be O.K. I know in the future I'll be fine. After all, I have you as an example. You went through this and came out the other side stronger, and happy. I will too."

This is the son who waited till he was 35 to marry, skipping the practice marriage, he used to joke, but I think he really believed.

So, this past week I've been blocked, I just couldn't settle on what to write after losing my funny, cheery post about the awards.

I felt this was just to personal and raw. So I was scattered, my thought all over the place.

There are some things you hope your children will never have to experience. And then they do.

How do you hold them with the tenderest of support?

That unbreakable bond of love that says, "I'm here for you", knowing he knows that, and both of us knowing I'm not, exactly, what he needs.

What I can do is be there without getting in the way of his processing the grief and pain, without adding mine to his soup of emotons right now.

When my two sons were small, they were always best friends.

They live in the same town now, and that not only comforts my oldest son at this time, it is a reassurance to me. When either one of them go through hard times, I know they are not alone, they have each other.

When we were a single parent family I had this image of us standing on a small hill, back to back, protecting each other, like three meerkats scanning the hozion for danger, or anything interesting that might come along.

I still see them that way. Back to back.

These are uncertain times for them both, one through divorce, and one trying out a whole new kind of career.

I think of them every day.

That is one thing I'm not feeling blocked or scattered about. The way I feel about them. I'm proud of them. Not only do I love them, I like them. I always have. They are interesting, talented kids, who have enriched my life, and that party will never be over.



"The best and safest thing is to keep a balance in your life, acknowledge the great powers around us and in us. If you can do that, and live that way, you are really a wise man."

How do you follow your bliss, or your passion in life and still keep a balance on top of that ball that just keeps rolling along?

Life doesn't always give us what we want. By some peoples account, not very often do we get what we want, but we get what we need often enough to keep going.

I've met or heard about many people you would think don't have a care in the world. You would think they have a perfect life. Everything must go just right for them. Then you listen to their story, their life, and you discover their beginnings were less than perfect, their losses more than you think you could live through and keep smiling.

But there they are. Moving forward. Stretching a hand out to help someone else. Often times it seems they even draw from these hardship in life to give to others, to write, to art, to music, to make brilliant the colors of their lives by following the thing that makes them happy or where they find truth.

I'm sure none of us, in fact, have had lives without challenges. And none of us have had lives entirely without those things we are grateful for.

Life is never all one way. We have our desert times and our riverbank times.

The trick in life, or the secret, is to find that balance between the inner life and the outer. The ability to keep self safe and the desire to keep others safe. A balance between the head and the heart. Using both in a way that neither runs away with the show. And even if that should happen, regrouping and getting them back in the same wagon, working together for balance so it doesn't tip over.

It seems to me that this search for balance is not just a personal, or individual thing.

We can all see how our country is struggling for balance right now.

I've heard it said the farthest distance in the world to bridge is the 16 inches, between the head and the heart. There is an abundance of opinions out there. Multiple... On every side of an issue. Right now we can hardly afford to lose the passion for finding the best way for the most people. Nor can we reject reason and logic because we want it now.

Sometimes we need the radical fringes to bring us to our senses and show us the center path where we can find the life saving balance we need, where we can meet and learn to listen in respect, if not agree with, other people.

Balance may seem dull and boring from the fringe lines, but living out there can be a little to exciting for good health.



"And love can come to everyone, The best things in life are free."
Buddy De Sylva, 1927 song, "Good News"

Friday the 13Th is suppose to be an unlucky day as the superstitions go.

But not for the Irish! I've heard it is the reverse.

Luck is theirs on that day, what ever month of the year. I kind of like that because the 'love of my life' is Irish/Scottish. And so were my great, triple greats, along with some English tossed in on the side.

In my first marriage, my former husband announced he wanted a divorce, he was in love with my best friend. That was our 13Th anniversary.

Three years later I met Duncan at a writers group, our first date was a Friday the 13Th. We've been together 25 years.

So, for us, it's like magic.

Love can come to everyone. The best things in life are free!



"People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges."
Joseph Fort Newton

We are born to communicate. It's in our nature, the desire to share experiences, insights, hardships and good times.

Even the most introverted person needs to have some contact outside of themselves.

I'm a quiet extrovert.

I love the interaction between people. Face to face. On line. In my store. I love the deep conversations, or the casual, or even the surface chit-chat which can deliver some interesting view of life.

I like people!

Even the difficult ones. Not because they're difficult, but sometimes I see something there worth the time invested, from both sides.

There are many times in a week when I think of friends or family, some fleeting thought that reminds me of them and the times we've shared, and a pang of longing strikes.

I miss them in that moment, and send a blessing thought their way.

Even though this is so, I am very seldom lonely.

My soul is a city without walls, populated with many loved ones. There is a bridge to each one.

Sometimes a bridge will suffer neglect, disrepair, disuse, from one side or the other, or both, and can fall into the river of life and be swept away.

That is always the chance one takes when building bridges.

Being an open wall-less person doesn't mean you don't have boundaries and understand them with others.

What it means, is that your life is open... To the joys and the sorrows, the good and the bad.

Taking to heart this kaleidoscope we call life, with all its jagged colors and bright edges, willing to see the beautiful patterns which can be made from the jumble, if we only open our eyes and look.

So Recycle!

Build bridges out of old walls.



"A Jack of all trades, and a master of none."
Unknown (to me)

"I'm bored!"

I've never understood that statement. My entire life the closest I've come to it, is restless. But really, restless is caused by to many things to choose from, for me, not a lack of choice.

When someone makes that statement, I'm always mildly surprised. What does it mean?

What does it mean to the speaker of, "I'm bored."

One of my problems in life is that I say, yes, to too much. My interests span a wide range. Much the same as many of the people who blog, and list all their interests and activities.

I don't say, yes, out of some false sense of obligation, it is always because I want to do that thing. But often I find my commitments have out distanced my time and energy levels.

At 60, I've learned to step back a pace and prioritize. I notice my energy doesn't go as far as it used to.

When I was a child, I'd look out over the future and time seemed endless. Looking back now, I think, how fast it has gone. And still so many of those things, as a child, that I wanted to do, haven't been done.

True, goals change and so do interests.

But I've always kept that enthusiasm, and curiosity about life in general. There is always more than one road to follow, and interesting things to do, learn, see, read about.

I guess that makes me, a Jack (or Jill) of all trades and a master of none. Maybe those choices won't make me rich or famous, but it will always keep me from being bored.



"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; there is where they should be. Now put foundations under them."
Henry David Thoreau

The small community I grew up in, just three thousand strong, below the Oregon border on the coast was not a huge tourist draw. It was a fish and timber town. The only reason we saw tourists at all were the Redwoods, and they mostly just drove through them really slow, annoying all the locals.

Not a lot of wealth. If money is the only dimension you count wealth in.

I grew up poor. At least by some people's standards.

We lived in a house that was a composite of several out building that were skidded onto the central piece of property we owned. Twenty acres that my father bought for $2.00 an acre. The house was insulated with newspaper, and roofed in redwood shingles. Some parts of the house were built right on bare ground, or cement blocks, certainly no foundation.

It was a sight for sore eyes. Or an eye sore. Which ever way you might look at it. Mom was a gardener, though and had many beautiful trees and flowers around to hide the houses flaws.

As a kid, I loved that house. It had nooks and crannies to play in. It was large and rambling. Mom was a very neat and clean house keeper, even though what she had to start with wasn't much, by HGTV standards.

We lived about four or so miles out of town. Only a handful of neighbors early on. The folks sold a few of the acres over the years, for not a lot of money, but more than $2.00.

My Dad tried his hand at a lot of things over the years, he was never able to settle. He had so many interests.

At one time when I was young Dad started a printing business in town. He was a good printer, but unfortunately he was not an astute businessman.

There were times he was out of work or out of town looking for work, and home not being left with much while he was gone. Mom was a woman of deep faith in God, and one time when we didn't have any food left, and no Food Pantries, or organizations that took care of the poor, no place to go for help, she prayed for someway to feed her kids.

The next day a stranger showed up at our door with two bags of groceries.

Mom did a garden, and canned some. She did the odd jobs she could do from home, which brought in some money. Mom always did volunteer work around town too. We had two convalescent homes (now called assisted living) and ran errand for the people living in them. She visited the shut-ins, and brought cheer to the people in those places. I went with her.

Even though we were a family with very little means, we always had books.

We had one wall in the coldest room in the house that was all built-in bookcases. It was full, as I remember it. There was a small pop bellied stove in that room too, an old pump organ that didn't work, which someone gave to us, which Dad said he was pretty sure he could fix. He never got around to it. Other things he never finished; an indoor bathroom, running water, numerous other things that Mom learned to do herself. Dad did finally put a pump handled sink in the house and enclosed the well house to the side porch of the kitchen.

Dad was a great procrastinator. There were always a hundred things more interesting and fun to do than...and money was always an issue.

He was also a great storyteller. He could spin a tale that would keep us kids on the edge of out chairs, and keep us thinking into the night when he'd stop at a crucial point of suspense. Years later he would tell us that was because he painted his hero into a corner and didn't know how to get him or her out of it, and needed time to think on it, before he gave us another installment.

I am the seventh child. Three older sisters, and one older brother were already living on their own by the time I came along. My two brothers who I grew up with were 6 and 8 years older that me. By the time I was nine they had joined the army and were gone from home. Dad had begun having strokes, and was not in good health.

One day he stoked that pop bellied stove too hot and the chimney caught fire. That was all she wrote.

That house was history.

Mom and I got Dad out. Then made several trips into the burning house to retrieve what we could.

The amazing thing is how much we got out. Even the kitchen table, a round oak table which is in my store today. Family photos, mementos, important written records, clothes. Even some of the books.

At the end, when we could no longer go back in, there was a heap of things in our yard.

The neighbors were connecting up hoses and watering the house to no avail. We could hear the fire truck sirens, all around our area we knew they were trying to find the road in. It was just a maze of back roads then. They never made it till the fire was nearly out.

We watched our house burn to the ground.

Mom and I stood, blackened with suet and smoke, smelling like sulfur and sweat.

We were alive! We were all alright. Somehow we would survive.

There were many amazing things that happened because of that fire.

The community we lived in built us a new house. It was small. A neat little two bedroom, with a kitchen/dinning and good size living room. Mom lived in that house till she died in 2001 at the age of 95.

I had just turned thirteen the year our house burned. My father died two years later, at 73.

Even though we didn't have much money and it seemed like bad things were happening to us, we didn't doubt, we always knew, we were rich!



"You spend the first half of your life accumulating things, and the last half giving them away."

Sometimes I stand in front of my not so big closet stuffed with clothes, some of which I haven't worn in awhile. I sort of have a rule, if I haven't warn it in a year, it goes to good will or to one of the local places that gives clothes out where they are needed.

This is a good thing on several levels.

If I'm not using something, someone else should be able to use or enjoy it. Where it is something I have two many of, or just can't use anymore, it should move on with my blessing. (Duncan, who is more of a minimalist than I am, would certainly give it a parting blessing as it goes out the door.)

I tend to be a bit of a pack rat. (Books mainly)

Why is it that we are so sure, should we give the extra away, what ever it is, we will need it the next day? I hear this all the time. Stories of such things. But it has never been my experience.

Instead, I think of that extra coat I let go of last winter, warming someone this winter. Those pans or dishes, going to a table of a family who have lost everything in a fire. Those, puzzles, or books entertaining someone, who has no T.V. and can't afford to go to the movies.

They are simple things, really. Not of great value.

But when you don't have a coat and the weather is 35 degrees out, a coat is a life saver if you have to walk to work. And when you've lost everything to a fire, a simple place setting can seem like a bit of normal life in a sea of loss and change. And who doesn't enjoy something to do on a winters evening, besides worry about the conditions of the world.

For most of us, I think, as we get older, we see how short life really is and that possessing things is not what brings the greatest joy to life. We may even begin to see things that accumulate as a burden. And when we share these things more and have less we are happier.

Someone ask a minister what heaven and hell are like?

"In hell, there are these long table, full of food. It looks delicious, and smells wonderful. The tables are covered with enough for everyone. But looking around, there are all these people who are upset, angry, hateful, and staving to death, as their only means of eating are three foot long chop sticks."

The people all agreed that would be hell alright. So what is heaven like they ask.

"In heaven, there are these long tables, full of food. It looks delicious, and smells wonderful. The tables are covered with enough for everyone. They also have three foot long chop sticks to eat with. But everyone is happy and laughing, talking and enjoying the sumptuous feast."

Well, what's the difference, ask the people?

"In heaven, they feed each other."