Friday, December 30, 2016

Keep Saying I Am Not Sad

I received a message from my sister Lisa this afternoon:
Ed sent me this to send to you. Hope you like it. Happy new year to you both..........
This is my Grade 7 school picture taken in Australia.
I'm in the middle - second to back row.
I remember a couple of the girls in this picture - their faces but not their names.
I remember the teacher well - him, but again not his name.
But I liked him a lot.
I remember liking him.
A lot.
He was a no nonsense teacher.  I clearly remember him walking around the classroom always carrying a long switch under one arm.  Always walking the aisles between desks and occasionally slamming the switch down on the desk of anyone who annoyed him in some way.
When it hit the desk it was very loud and startled everyone in the class.
Every time.
In the context of school in 2016 that sounds horrendous, but back in the 70s he was a great and caring teacher who pushed students to do well and learn well, and I liked him very much.
Seeing this picture threw me for a loop.
A big one..................
My response to Lisa:
You want to know something? My whole life I remembered myself as being fat and ugly as a young girl. Seeing this picture - and other pictures from around that time tells me that I wasn't either of those things. It's a weird feeling to be an adult and remember yourself as something you never were. Please thank Ed for giving you this picture and thank you for sending it. It is Seans' birthday today. He would have been 33. Found out yesterday while surfing around the net that Jessica (Seans' wife) just remarried. It's been a rough couple of days. Take care Lisa and please say hi to Mick for me. 

 He awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad. As if he might one day convince himself. Or fool himself. Or convince others--the only thing worse than being sad is for others to know that you are sad. I am not sad. I am not sad. Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad..........Jonathon Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Deer In The Back Yard

It has snowed SO much recently.
More snow than we have ever seen in our four winters in this small town in the desert of SE Idaho.
But much earlier in the month - before we had day after day of heavy snowfall - I had a quiet and wonderful interaction with some residents of this town.
The numbers vary from year to year.
Sometimes they are gone for many months at a time.
But invariably a small herd of deer, at some point in the year, decides to make Atomic City their temporary home.
Usually there are 13 or 14 or so - a small herd that wander alone or in pairs throughout the summer but who (as the weather gets colder, the days grow shorter, and the cries of the desert coyotes grow louder) begin to band together.
They wander through town together throughout the winter, enjoying the relative safety that comes with numbers and becoming tamer to humans by the day.
This year there are about 14, and for the first time there are two young bucks that are traveling with the does and last springs' fawns.
Two little bucks with sweet little racks and cute little faces.................
One day early in December I looked out the front window and the young and healthy herd were wandering together on the opposite side of the street from the house.
Quickly pulling on boots and sliding on coat I grabbed my camera and headed for the front door.
Pushing my dog back from the front door I quietly opened the storm door and slowly walked outside.
By the time I reached the front of the house I looked towards the kitchen window and saw my pup standing on the kitchen table watching me.
Patting the window where her nose was located on the other side, I smiled at my dog.
A PIA sometimes, but she has her Kory-Ways that make my dog who she is.
Turning my attention back to the deer I realized that they had wandered into the middle of the road.
The Love-Hate relationship I have (actually EVERYONE who lives in town has) was in full force as I watched these quiet and gentle creatures.
All spring and summer we curse at them because they decimate trees, bushes, flowers, vegetables, everything and anything that residents try to grow in their gardens.
We put protective fences around some things last summer once we realized that the deer (that had been MIA for over four months) had returned to town.
Mostly perennials and young bushes that we had recently planted and that needed time to become established.
But all our annuals, all our other bushes, all our trees were trashed not long after their reappearance.
And so we need to put up more fencing next spring.
Come fall (when everything has stopped growing) I watch as summer fur begins to turn into winter fur.  As girls go into heat.  As huge bucks mysteriously appear from the desert, stay in town for a couple of weeks, and then just as mysteriously disappear back into the desert once their job is done.
And then winter.
When they easily wander from yard to yard (often bedding down under a huge pine tree we have in the back yard), when the other human residents of Atomic City go into hibernation, and when Kory and I more-often-than-not have the entire area to ourselves.
Just me.  My dog.  The deer..................
I stood in the front yard for a while, bundled against the cold, snapping pictures, watching the deer mingle on the road and then one by one make their way over to the fence leading to our side yard.................
Heading back into the house my dog jumped off the kitchen table and excitedly greeted me.
Leaning down to rub the top of her head and stroke her ears I quickly headed towards the center of the house.
Kory eagerly followed me, but for the second time in the past thirty minutes I had to tell her to "stay here"
She looked up at me with the disappointment and sad eyes that could break your heart.
She wanted to go outside with me, but she couldn't.
I was heading into the back yard to see if all the deer were there, or if they had simply wandered to the back fence, jumped the fence and continued on their way.
Kory couldn't be out there.  She chased them.  One of the does had already turned on Kory a couple of times, intent on protecting her young.
No pup.  Stay here.
Cutting through the laundry room I walked to the back door and then headed into the back yard.
The deer were all wandering around.
Beautiful.  Graceful.  Seemingly in no hurry to move on through town.
I stood still, 10 feet away from them, watching them, watching them watching me, occasionally snapping pictures................
One of the little boys............
By the time the last deer had jumped the back fence, walked down the grassy and snow covered alley and headed to other parts of town, I had turned, walked to the back door and called Kory.
Eagerly she ran up to me and I smiled at her as I moved out of the way. so she could head into the back yard  to play...................

I don't have to take a trip around the world or be on a yacht in the Mediterranean to have happiness.  I can find it in the little things like looking out into my backyard and seeing deer in the fields...........Queen Latifah 
The more I see of deer, the more I admire them as mountaineers. They make their way into the heart of the roughest solitudes with smooth reserve of strength, through dense belts of brush and forest encumbered with fallen trees and boulder piles, across canons, roaring streams, and snow-fields, ever showing forth beauty and courage.
Read more at:
The more I see of deer, the more I admire them as mountaineers. They make their way into the heart of the roughest solitudes with smooth reserve of strength, through dense belts of brush and forest encumbered with fallen trees and boulder piles, across canons, roaring streams, and snow-fields, ever showing forth beauty and courage.
Read more at:

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Little Color In A Black And White World - Part 2

LC and Kory coming back after clearing snow away, warming up the Suburban and driving it through town.
As they roamed through our snowy town I continued to wander in the yard, in child like awe of how different and how beautiful everything looked covered with a blanket of snow..................
In our black and white world the few things around me that were colorful popped in pictures..............
By the time we cleared snow off vehicles, cleared snow off driveway and walkway, warmed up vehicles, drove around town, and took pictures in the back and front yards both humans and one dog had been outside for a couple of hours.
Temperatures were mild, nobody else in town was outside or had dared to confront the day, and so we had the world to ourselves.  
Or so it felt.
After building a fire in the living room wood stove, drinking more coffee and warming up I suddenly had the desire to cross country ski.
I was gone for an hour.
I still suck but I can get around on them, and just as importantly I could be alone outside without having to keep one eye on a dog (that can disappear in moments when she has a mind to).
And so I skied, slid and unceremoniously wobbled my way down the center of an empty road before bushwhack-skiing across a field and picking up a trail that circled me back to town.
Within minutes of returning to the house it began to snow again.
It snowed for the rest of the day.
And I loved it...............
It snowed all week. Wheels and footsteps moved soundlessly on the street, as if the business of living continued secretly behind a pale but impenetrable curtain. In the falling quiet there was no sky or earth, only snow lifting in the wind, frosting the window glass, chilling the rooms, deadening and hushing the city. At all hours it was necessary to keep a lamp lighted, and Mrs. Miller lost track of the days: Friday was no different from Saturday and on Sunday she went to the grocery: closed, of course...............Truman Capote

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Little Color In A Black and White World - Part 1

The snow was forecasted and by late in the evening the snow began to fall.
When I woke up early the next morning I looked out the bedroom window and saw the the world had turned entirely white.
The snow was still falling as I quickly pulled on some clothes and sleepily wandered down the hall, through the living room and into the kitchen to make some coffee.
As coffee was heating I opened up the kitchen curtains and the living room curtains and peered outside.
The road was gone.
Snowing was coming down in those big heavy flakes that are so unusual in our high desert plains environment, and it did not look like it was going to stop anytime soon.
Good, I thought.
Bring it on.................
30 minutes later I heard Kory jump down from the bed in the spare bedroom - the bed (and indeed the bedroom) that she has claimed as her own.
As she reached the entrance to the living room she stretched her long body in one final wake-up stretch, and then stood watching me intently with wagging tail and expectant look on her sweet face.
OK - let's go outside.
She eagerly let out an excited yelp and I quickly ssshhhdd her, hoping to keep her from waking a still-sleeping LC.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
It was early but it was light outside, and I didn't realize how little light there actually was until I downloaded these pictures and  saw that the camera had transformed this early-morning world into beautiful shades of blue.
As Kory sprung through the snow, happily jumping and playing, I wandered in the shin deep snow.
For all the small snowfalls that we had had for the past month or so (that had mostly fallen overnight and then disappeared during the day) this was the snowfall that officially introduced us to winter 2016.
This one would stay.
Kory continued to happily play in the snow while I wandered the silent yard and silent fenced-in world snapping pictures....................
By late morning we all took a break in the snowfall as an opportunity to head outside once again.
The world looked so different from the world of yesterday.
Atomic City is not a pretty town.
It has pretty qualities about it that I can find to take pictures, but overall it is a non-descript community in the desert.
But when the snow falls?
When the snow falls this BFE town turns into something special.
Snow smoothes out the towns rough edges.
Makes art out of the monotonous.
Makes frozen still lifes out of the everyday.
As I wandered safely into the middle of the silent street and looked in both directions I was gratified with what I saw.
Beautiful winter................
And a joyous dog relishing being able to do what she normally is not permitted to do - run down the middle of the road...............
The blue world of the morning had been replaced by the black and white world of the remainder of the day.
Our 7 foot standing horse in the snow.
Although it had started snowing again the day felt mild, and while Kory continued to happily wander between the front and back yards, LC cleaned snow off and warmed up the vehicle while I shoveled the walkway.
It was a beautiful day..............
My treasure chest.
The old, heavy metal strong box that my youngest son retrieved from a creek bed in Tennessee when he was 13 years old.
The box that probably weighs 40 pounds and that we have dragged all over the country with us because I refuse to leave it behind.
The box that I asked LC to dig out of the frozen ground up in Juneau Alaska, because I refused to give that city one more piece of me.
The box that is worth more to me than almost anything I own because my son found it at a time when I had placed him under house arrest for a year.  
When he was on probation with the courts.  
When I pulled him out of school and then home schooled him for a year.  
When his room was tossed weekly, he could not accept or make phone calls, could not visit or have visitors, and when the only time he was out of my sight was at a church youth group once a week.  
When he found the "treasure chest" and wanted me to have it as a gift.  
When he waded in thigh deep water to get it, struggled to pick it up, struggled to bring it back to me, and then happily handed it to me.  
As a gift.
It means the world to me..................
I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.............Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland And Through the Looking Glass