This is for Debbie Kim~ she knows why

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The One that got Away~ Final Installment # 21

The phone jolted me awake. I had been in a dead sleep when the annoying ringing had begun. I struggled to see the clock. One o'clock! I looked over for Lonnie; his side of the bed empty. My heart quickened with fear. No good news ever came at this time of night. Cobwebs filled my head, my thoughts fuzzy and confused.

On ring eight I picked up the receiver, speech slurred with sleep; mind racing with fear.
"Hello?" "Lonnie?"
Lonnie's voice on the other end. "Yeah, it's me." What a relief! "Are you alright?" My voice shook.
"I can't find the house. I'm sure I've passed it. I may be a mile or so down our road. I'm not sure."
Hot fear washed over me for the second time that night. "What do you mean you can't find our house? What's wrong with you?! I thought of my Dad becoming lost on his way home from the farm. A road he had traveled since he was ten. Seventy-three years he had traveled that route. Then one day, with no warning, he couldn't find his house.
Suddenly I was wide awake, remembering the evening. Remembering Lonnie calling me to say not to wait up. He had left San Antonio late, would be very late getting home. He had missed the snow. Most of it anyway. We had spoken just a moment and I agreed to go to bed and not wait for him. He seemed fine during that conversation, just tired. What had happened to him in the last five hours? On our road and couldn't find our house? This certainly did not sound good.
"Have you lost your mind?!" I shouted into the phone. " What is wrong with you! Tell me!"
The fall had left me forgetful, easily confused. After thirty years of tending to household finances, I could no longer stay on top of things. Lonnie had taken that chore over the day all cell phones and electricity were disconnected. Lord, we both couldn't be weak minded!! My heart pounded wildly; the racing sound filling my ears.
Finally, he answered. " It's this fog!! I have never seen anything like it!! I've been fighting it for miles! Have you not looked out a window?!! Turn the big outdoor lights on! (they were on.) You are gonna have to stand at the end of our drive or something. I think I've missed the house again!!"
I turned on every outside light on the place. Walked to the picture window, pulled the curtains back and could not believe my eyes! My truck, pulled all the way up to front garage, was gone! Swallowed in the fog. I could see nothing!! Freezing fog! This was freezing fog!! I had grown up on the Chesapeake Bay, then spent two years on the Texas coast. I knew fog. I had been blessed to spend a week on the Oregon coast. Watching the giant grey wall roll in off of the Pacific. So large, so thick, some evenings I was certain I would be swallowed, lost forever in the damp, grey mist. I had never witnessed anything like this!
"Put your lights on bright so I can see you. When you reach the mouth of our drive, I'll tell you to turn." The thought of standing outside in the frigid cold held no appeal. Lonnie agreed to try this method.
Soon enough the lights of his truck pierced the gray wall. "Turn, turn, turn, now!" Barely missing the roadside mailbox, he cut the truck sharply, kinda hitting the drive; enough to make it down the long driveway, rolling toward the garage. Whew!! So thankful he was home and safe.
He unloaded his luggage, dropped it in the middle of the living room floor, made his way to bed and collapsed. Asleep and snoring before I could say a word. He looked soooooo exhausted. I had no idea how long he had fought this fog, how many miles, but it had to have been a miserable trip home. Again, simply thankful he made it home.
I crawled back into bed, pulled all covers up over my body and fell back into a hard sleep.

At 3:30 Flash woke me, whining. This happened to be my cue to rise from the warmth of my bed to take him out. I swear the basset had the bladder of a pea! I felt low level aggravation building within me. I did not look forward to leaving the warmth of the bed. However, I didn't want to deal with the results should I refuse to take him outdoors. When we were going through house training his nickname had become Flash Flood, with good reason. His whining was becoming more frantic. Best get up and head outside.
I pulled on layers of clothes, grabbed my coat, slid my feet into boots, grabbed gloves then searched for a leash. All the while complaining to Flash. He answered with a hardy wag of his whip like tail. Oh, who was I kidding? This dog knew I would walk through fire for him. I believe all animals know when they are dearly loved.
Remembered where I had left the leash, rigged him up and out the door we shot.
We walked outside into the freezing fog; my first experience with this type of weather.

This was the same night I experienced ice crystals. The night the crystals floated and danced all about me. The night my camera had not been at the ready. The same night I frantically scrambled to capture that perfect shot. The night my Dad's voice rang in my ears. The long night the perfect shot had been lost. It was the one that got away!

Whether aliens or light and ice crystals, I had not felt that drive or single mindedness since I closed my business. The sheer challenge of chasing that perfect shot!! The overall "rightness" of the entire experience. While I missed the shot, the sheer excitement which filled me was staggering!

The visit to Jan's had played a major part in my shift within.
The move from the town I loved, the death of my Dad and ensuing legal battle and finally the accident. All of these events, compressed in a relatively short period of time, had taken a toll on me.
Being with Jan, who knew me so well, loved me as only she could, had been healing. Jan accepted me, flaws and all. Reminded me to laugh at myself. Sweet Jan, who took the time to help me remember who I used to be. She made me believe not all of the best parts of me were lost. To have the courage to return to living in wonder. All these gifts given freely and unknowingly. All while we talked, giggled and cried surrounded by the love we shared for the other.
Jan, horrified to learn I had stopped writing years ago. I felt I had nothing worthwhile to say any longer. I argued this point but to no avail.
Jan, who believed in me when I could not believe in myself. Who reminded me writing had once been a part of my soul. Silly Jan, setting up a blog for me and telling me,"now write!"

Now, because I had been with Jan just a few days earlier, I could look at the last two years as a blessing. I had been given the time and opportunity to explore writing, just refused to see it.
With the healing of my body, I had been blessed with the time to return to the two activities I loved most as a young person; writing and riding.

Somehow over the last two years I had lost my way. The overwhelming grief of losing my Dad. The anguish of the following lawsuit. The fall from the gray horse, causing physical pain and frustration due to my newly limited lifestyle. All of these events had made a profound impact on my very core. Yes, I had lost my way.

Until now. I had missed my shot, true. Clearly, that shot was never meant to be captured. I had been pulled outside for other reasons.
I turned toward the house once more to visit the beauty of the tree, light and freezing fog. Within seconds this story came to me. Almost instantaneously, this long tale shot through me and was written before I made it to the front porch. Most all of these 21 installments flooded out of me in a matter of a few days. I knew the title, themes, characters before I found the warmth of my home. This story, while true, came from a place not of me. It wrote itself.

I understood fully I was the one that got away. And on a cold night in February, lost in self doubt and freezing fog, searching for that perfect shot, I rediscovered myself instead.


Epilogue
Several weeks ago Maggie and I got lost, I mean lost! in the Grasslands. I had intended to ride maybe a couple of hours. Instead, I was in the saddle almost seven hours! We slid down steep sandy slopes, swam through many deep water crossings, climbed up steep rocky inclines and found ourselves in dark, cool woods. The day was magical.
I thank God for the profound physical and spiritual healing I have undergone.
For those of you who have stayed with me through this long tale, may God bless you as well.
Thank you for helping me feel I do have something to say. Stay tuned. Many stories to come and many many blessings I wish to share. ~ with love~ TB


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The One that got Away~ SNOW! part 20

Heading east the weather remained dreary. No hard rains, just bleak. Gray and bleak. I remembered all too clearly why I hated West Texas, also known as the ninth ring of hell. I spent seven long years at the base of the Panhandle and pray I am never asked to do that again. Coming from the Carolinas and Virginia, the flat, treeless plains looked more like a war zone to me.

I don't know why anyone would choose to live there. The people I suppose. Some of the best people on earth live in that part of the world. It sure ain't for the scenery.

The dogs were restless most of the way home. They had been good where it counted; certainly hoped Jan felt the same. They followed my rules, all business outside, don't tear up anything. No telling how many of Jan's rules may have been broken. Maybe not too many. Flash made quite the impression on Jan's family. Think he ended up being every one's favorite. They are basset folks to begin with. In fact, my first basset came from Jan. That too is another story.

The trip going flew by! Returning home drug on and on. I simply didn't get my visit out.
Didn't help that I stopped at every little town. I flat did not want to go home. I had been in that house for soooo long. Just can't tell you how wonderful it was to get out. Even if it was to West
Texas!
My body felt good as well. My neck felt tight, but no pain. I iced at Jan's but no more than I would had I stayed home. It was too soon to call it, but I felt confident the trip did me more good than harm.
About an hour before sundown, the sun came out. My mood lifted as I watched the most amazing Rising Rainbow peek through the clouds.
It's colors brilliant! I might have about an hour of sunlight, which I oh so needed. I am easy. Look to the sky and that's the color Terri you'll get for the day. I can only go without sunny skies but for so long. My brain needs sunshine. It's that simple.
Though I was dragging tail about getting home, I did the right thing by leaving when I did. I had checked the weather for our area. The forecast called for heavy rains turning to snow. We had had a crazy winter, with more to come it seemed.
Lonnie was home preparing for an annual band convention; due to leave in the morning. He would be heading south so snow shouldn't be a concern for him.
I finally got home! Seemed to take forever! I have a big hole in my memory. I don't recall anything past Mineral Wells. But I trust the remainder of the trip to be uneventful.
Obviously I got home. I'm sure I fed and checked on Maggie. I know the dogs didn't miss a meal or their night walk. I know I must have shared my visit with Jan with Lonnie. Probably in far too much detail for him. Just no memory of any of it. Well, I did fall on my head ya know!

I do remember Lonnie leaving in a downpour the next morning. We were under a winter storm warning, but again, he was headed to San Antonio, away from the worst of it. I offered thanks for this. He can be a fool when it comes to driving in bad weather. Oh, he is an excellent driver, no matter the conditions. However, I have seen him strike out in weather that a thinking person wouldn't dare attempt to drive in. Before cell phones I could worry myself silly. Now, not so much.
Soon after he left, the rain turned to sleet. I had gotten busy helping Lonnie finish last minute packing, trying to help make sure he had everything he needed for convention.
I hadn't fed the outside animals. I grabbed my coat, slipped my feet in my muckers and out the backdoor I went.
In that short amount of time the sound of the sleet against the windows quickened.
It stung my face, pelting down with no mercy. The sting so sharp it felt more like bee stings; so very cold my skin perceived heat. I attempted to shield my face with one arm and run. Never a good idea for me anymore. By the time I reached the hay barn my fingers were bright red and numb. So numb it was hard to get the door open. Why had I not grabbed my gloves?!!
Got everyone fed and made a bee line for the house. Lord, it was cold! Decided my bed sounded good, awfully early anyway. I could get in an early morning nap.
I crawled back into the bed, making a cave of the down comforter. Flash was still curled in a tight circle sleeping; I pulled his body up to mine in hopes of stealing his warmth. He grunted, releasing a long moan but that was it. Dead to the world. Soon the schnauzer sisters and Max joined us. Old Max, circling and nesting, searching for the crook of my legs. This had been his place to nap for years. The sisters ended up on my feet, which felt good. Once they tried sleeping in Flash's spot, near my head. He warned them with a low, menacing growl. A sound unlike any other I had heard before from him. He seemed willing to share food, toys and bones; guess he had to draw the line some where. His spot had been right by my head, sometimes on my pillow. On this issue he refused to budge.
I counted on another hour of sleep, then up to start the day. Instead we all had slept an additional two and a half hours!! I woke to puppies licking my face. Their way of communicating they needed outside. Soon Flash woke, jumped from the bed and realized his bladder to be full as well. All three squirming and dancing to go outdoors. Hung over with sleep, I crawled out of bed, searching for leashes. Why couldn't I ever put the leashes in the same place?!!! The leashes were buried under my heavy coat; rigged the babies up and we were rolling. Opened the door to Snow! Big Snow! Flakes as large as my fist! Beautiful snow! I hadn't seen a snow like this since I left Virginia!!! Puppies made it to the edge of the porch, but refused to leave. Better there than in the house. Back inside to get Flash, who didn't mind the snow at all. Max continued to sleep. He'd get up eventually.

The snow continued to come down. So heavy the hay barn was barely visible! The red trim allowed me to make out the outline of the building. That was it! Too bad we had had so much rain. No way would we get any accumulation with the ground so wet. I reminded myself to catch the noon news, hoping none of this would turn to ice. Ice storms could get nasty in north Texas, nasty and dangerous.
The noon news indicated we could receive between 7-9 inches of snow! Despite the wet ground, it was sticking. The whole place, now covered, looked like a post card. Pulled on all of my heaviest outer wear, including gloves, grabbed my camera, and off I went.! I wished Lonnie could have been here! Hated he missed this snow!

Ended up with some beautiful pictures. The snow kept falling well in to the afternoon and early evening. I tuned in to the six o'clock news. Ten inches had been called in for our little community. Maybe, just maybe some would be left for Lonnie.
Fed after dark and while the snow still fell the temp didn't seem quite as bad. Wrangled supper up for myself, fed the dogs and prepared for the last walk of the day. The puppies were becoming braver with each trip out. By bedtime walk they actually played in the snow! Diving into deep drifts, only to disappear then reappear. Snow clumps packed in their little beards as well as the rest of their furnishings. What a mess! oh, well, they would clean up.

By ten o'clock we had broken many snow records for north Texas. We had received an official
12.2 inches!! Didn't sound as if it would last long. Temps for tomorrow were to reach the mid 50's. This was Wednesday night. No chance of Lonnie seeing this record breaking snow. He wasn't due home til Saturday.
By the next morning the snow had started to melt. Still much on the ground and I was able to get some great photos, but clearly things would be a mess in another day.
Sure sorry Lonnie wasn't here to enjoy this with me. Couldn't wait for him to return home. Perhaps he would enjoy the pictures and most of the slosh would be gone by Saturday evening.

There was always that hope.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The One that got Away~ Road Trip~ part 19

The thunderstorms varied in intensity as I made my way west. At times the steel gray skies dumped torrents of rain, others barely a drizzle.

The dogs had been unusually good, sleeping most of the way.
At some point we pulled over at a Dairy Queen for a pit stop for all of us. I don't even remember the name of the town, but I knew I was in west Texas. All small towns had Dairy Queens; a sure sign of being westward bound.
The cold rain had slowed to a sprinkle. This being a good thing. I dreaded the thought of traveling with three soaked dogs. Not being a good planner, I had only packed one large towel. Not enough for all of us should we get soaked. I watched the skies, telling each dog to,"Hurry, Hurry, Hurry!"
Because of the chilly drizzle, they complied. Ready to return to the warmth of the truck.

Back on the road, I too was thankful to be in the cab of my truck. February rains in Texas could turn nasty. Unconcerned, I continued moving west. As long as I could see the road I knew I would be fine. Should the rain turn extremely heavy my first instinct had always been to pull over. My father consistently had reminded me this to be a dangerous practice. The risk being other drivers inability to see me only to smack square into me. Perhaps the rain would back off, not letting loose into a full blown west Texas thunderstorm.
Topping a small hill, I looked forward to see my first wind farm. The size of these things were staggering. I felt I might be in a sci-fi movie. The propellers stretched up into the clouds and were difficult to see. As they rotated, fog and clouds were pushed aside to reveal one to two propellers, only to disappear, being swallowed by fog again. The sheer size of these things frightened me, yet I found myself mesmerized. I pulled in to a safe farm entrance and grabbed my camera. Stepping outside the truck, I anticipated the maddening hum I had read so much about. Silence. Perhaps I wasn't close enough. The white propellers were too hidden by the fog and clouds. I knew any shot I took would be wasted. Maybe on the way home skies might be clearer. Perhaps then I could get my shot.
Back on the road. We were making good time, despite the weather. We could possibly be at Jan's in as little as an hour or two. I could feel the excitement mounting. The dogs were still asleep. Good for me, potentially bad when we reached Jan's. They would be loaded for bear. I prayed they would behave themselves. Passed through yet another small town, noticing my gas gauge. " I should get gas," I remembered thinking. The rain beat down on my windshield, making it difficult to see. I decided to wait to the next town. Hoping the rain would let up.
Through the driving, pelting rain I read the highway sign, next town 38 miles. I checked the gauge again. It sat dangerously on empty, not convinced I would make it to the next gas pumps.
Stupid!!!! I had forgotten how far apart these towns could be out here in no man's land. I thought about turning around yet I had already driven almost 20 miles. Broad as it was long.
The only thing to do was to press forward, all the while praying I had gas enough to make it.

I continued pushing onward, thinking of plan B should one be needed. The safest thing would be to hit a farmhouse, explain my situation, then hope pity be taken upon me and gas shared. I loved the people of west Texas. Most all were willing to help a stranger.

I did not have to depend on the kindness of strangers after all. We made it to the next community and I made sure I topped off my tank. We were only 11 miles from Jan's! Wow! It had been a fast trip! I called her cell and let her know I was getting close.
She talked me in, helping me find her FM road. Dark had caught me. I suffered a mean case of night blindness. I had told her once dark, I would need help.
Finally, I saw She and her husband, standing on their well lit front porch, waving like fools!!

So many emotions filled me as I slowly sought the mouth of her drive. I wanted to forego parking, slap the truck in park, and run to her. I didn't. I've been told my energy is very expansive and can be quite overwhelming at times. Instead, I parked, forgot about running as I didn't do that well anymore, walked to the porch and hugged her. I felt the years melt away with that one hug and knew I had done the right thing by coming. Sometimes when friendships lapse for long periods of time, they can't be rekindled. No matter how much one might prop, strain, work to regain that closeness, it's gone. This one thought had stayed with me during the whole drive west. No, we were fine.
We entered her home and it felt wonderful. So welcoming. I met the two younger children, who were no longer children. A pang of guilt struck deep. I had missed their entire childhoods. How had I allowed this to happen? I wanted to take them both in my arms; but they were strangers.
In my excitement I all but forgot about the dogs in the truck! Back to the truck I went, whispering up a prayer for the three to behave themselves. I knew the basset would behave. He has yet to see a stranger, human or animal. The schnauzer sisters were, well, schnauzers. If you know the breed, you understand. Stubborn as mules. Very loving, but strong willed. At six months a day came when they had driven me to distraction! My riding crop just happened to be in the house. I grabbed it, whacked the wall with it and screamed "NO." Then stung two little bottoms. Just one pop a piece.They were more frightened than hurt, but it worked. I packed my riding crop just in case they needed a gentle reminder. Since that day my crop has hung in plain view on the key pegs in the kitchen.

After much circling and smelling, the dogs settled in. Thank goodness Jan hadn't a problem with animals on the furniture. All my dogs are cuddlers and enjoyed a good lap on which to lay their heads. Regretfully, I have only two rules. Do all business outdoors. Don't tear my stuff up. That's it.

Suddenly I became tired. The road started catching up with me, the initial adrenaline began to wane and I wanted a bed. Jan's face looked pinched with pain. Oh how I knew that look. Not just from the mirror, but from all the years I worked with folks in chronic pain. Yes, time to rest. The kids had school the next day as well. Jan and I could visit the whole of tomorrow.

Schnauzer pups made the night just fine in their crate. Flash however, spent his night playing musical beds. Apparently, he began the night with me, then went visiting everyone else as well. Now when I say visiting I mean he literally spent the night going from bed to bed, sleeping with
everyone in the house. Flash thinks everyone loves him. This could be my fault. He had a rough go of it his first year, prior to being rescued. Wise or not I cut my rescues more slack. They usually have so little confidence; I spend the first year attempting to rebuild self esteem. This took no time with the basset. And while I do my best not to have favorites, he knew. The connection I had made with him ran deep. But that is another story for another time.

Jan and I spent our days visiting, eating, taking naps, then visiting some more. I wished she had felt better; that being my only regret.
She pulled out an old high school annual which triggered a flood of memories for us both. There we were, so young, so fresh faced. Smiling up at ourselves with big dreams and raw determination.
The younger versions of ourselves locking eyes with the women we had become. "Didja ever
think we would be sitting here at fifty, still friends?"she asked, a look of disbelief on her face. The silly answer on my part was yes, I never doubted it. I always believed we would be friends. I found it harder to believe we had drifted apart. Guess I never really expressed how important she was to me, how loved. If I ever took our friendship for granted, I certainly regretted it now. Jan had always been a treasure to me. A friendship, just like a marriage, must be tended. Perhaps I had stopped the tending. I made a quiet promise to myself to not allow that to happen again.
She asked if I still wrote and I shook my head no. I made all manner of excuses but the real truth was I had convinced myself years ago I had nothing worthwhile to say. Writing was a childhood dream.
Oh, I had written some stuff as an adult; most of it landed in the trash. Then I got busy. Told myself I hadn't the time for such anymore. As I repeated this to Jan her jaw slowly dropped. "Never throw away anything you have started! You may revisit it later and all kinds of ideas may come to you." Well that ship had sailed. Too late now.
"Come here," she motioned me to follow her to her computer. With the touch of several buttons up popped my new blog. She told me she was going to do this. I half hoped she had forgotten.
She asked some basic questions, all the while striking keys, making magic happen.
"Now, here is your new blog. You are gonna love this, Terri." She had to be wrong. Then Jan handed me a set of handwritten instructions; how to open, how to close, how to post. My head began to swim. "Jan, you don't understand, I have no computer skills!" She brushed her hand in the air as if to say,"don't wanta hear it." I had seen her in her classroom years ago. She was in full blown teacher mode. "OK, I'll try." I knew she was not going to take no for an answer.

I felt I had no sooner gotten there, when it was time to go. I still don't know where the time went. I think I had added an extra day to my trip as it stood. Still, I didn't feel ready to leave. The weather stayed nasty for my whole visit. Gray, damp and drizzly. Other than the weather, it had been tons of fun. I thought about asking if I could stay another day, but then decided I best not wear out my welcome. Besides, I needed to get home. Checked the weather on my phone and we were in store for yet another snow. I sure didn't need to be caught in that.

Had my things packed and back in the truck the next morning. Actually, I started in the morning; I think it was closer to noon before I backed out of Jan's drive.
I would feel ready to leave then convince myself I had left something behind. Another walk through. Nothing. Again I would head toward the truck, stop, return to the house. I became certain I was leaving something important behind.
Well, what ever it was, I couldn't see it. Shoot! Whatever it was, Jan could mail it to me.
I refused to walk through her home another time. I had to get on the road!

She stood in the drizzle on her porch, waving goodbye. So much like I had found her just a few nights earlier. I wonder if she knew at that moment, just how much I loved her.
I learned two things on my trip west.
I had reached an age that I couldn't make new old friends.
It sure was nice to have an old friend to help you remember who you used to be.

I had driven maybe 50 miles east when I realized what I had left behind.
I had forgotten a little piece of my heart.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The One that got Away~ Old Friend~ part~18

By early winter, I could saddle my own horse, with no help. I could feel the strength slowly returning to my body. The feed bucket I had used as a mounting block had long since been tossed.

Now when I say saddle, that is a stretch. Maggie allowed me to waller the saddle up her side, then back. I couldn't have asked for a more forgiving horse.
Our rides consisted mainly of working in the arena. We both needed much reteach time. She had forgotten nothing, only grown lazy. Guess she decided she had reached full retirement and wasn't quite sure she wanted to return to the workforce.
Some rides we accomplished a great deal. Some she actually acted a fool. I understand I have painted a fairly benign picture of this horse, but she is far from a beginners' horse. I learned early on why lunging was so important prior to riding. Alexis had explained she needed to work the vinegar out of her. I disagreed.
Every day brought a brand new day for Maggie. She was the dominant mare, my alpha girl. Each day the record had to be set straight. The groundwork provided this for both of us. It allowed me to reinforce the very real fact that I was the true alpha mare. Sometimes I hated the fact this time had to be wasted prior to riding. The times I skipped this step the ride usually ended up being unpleasant. Other times I loved watching her mind work at the end of the line. Oh, the bucking, the kicking, her drama. I found all of these amusing. After a bit, her body would relax,
accept my cues, and finally, when asked to whoa, that short stop, her spinning to face me, licking, sighing, all but asking, "What might I do for you now?" I loved her most at these times. The last test. Standing completely still, lunge line on ground, holding eye contact with me. Oh so tempted to move toward me, but not allowed. After several minutes of standing and maintaining eye contact, only then would she be cued to move to me. By patting my hand over my heart, this gave her permission to enter my space. At this point, we were ready to ride. At this point she realized I was the alpha mare.
Winter would soon be here. I understood we were to have a harsher winter than usual. I hated the cold, especially the wild north winds, so piercing, so unforgiving. I found soon enough my body could no longer tolerate the cold. The neck spasms returned, along with deep, aching shoulder pain. It took longer to dress to feed than it took to feed.
Back into retirement Maggie and I returned. I prayed for an early spring. Instead, winter of 09 became one of our coldest; we even had a white Christmas! Our first in 80 years! Oh, how I wanted to ride in the snow but I knew better. Best to stay inside.

The winter days drug on. Again, I had lots of time to think, which isn't always a good thing for me. I felt trapped back indoors. Most importantly, I had to accept the fact that my days of doing bodywork were probably over. This issue I had ignored for months. I had renewed my license in October, knowing the whole while I would probably never use them.
For everything there is a time and a season. I don't know how I knew, but I did. That time in my life was over. It was supposed to be over. Intuitively I understood should I attempt to replicate that experience, I would fail. I had accepted this.

I felt stuck. Winter has always been a hard season for me, particularly this winter. I filled the days caring for my animals, kinda cleaning house and running mundane errands. This had become my life. The key~stay busy. I looked about the house. Everything was cream colored.
I am anything but cream.

I started in the living room; a rich earthy red. With the white trim and mouldings, everything popped.I loved the color, so warm and inviting. This was close to the same color I had painted my waiting area. By the time I finished with this room, my legs had gained quite a bit of strength, just from climbing the ladder.

I moved to the cream colorless kitchen. BLAH! Back to the paint store. I found the most lovely
shade of almost periwinkle, named thistle. If you don't have thistle weed in your state, sorry. I don't know how to describe it. It is spot on the color of the thistle plant. Very cool toned and the most amazing array of accent colors can be used with this color. When I climbed down the last time to wash my brush, the waistband of my fat jeans had loosened. I was working off some weight!!!
Next to the bathroom. I loved the master bath. It was a large room and with the huge mirrors, it tricked the eye in believing it was even larger. It too was cream. Cream had worn me out!
I found a rich mink brown. This took courage for me. I feared getting too dark, too extreme.
The brown ended up being perfect. This room also had a large east window; combined with the mirrors it did feel spacious. In the pre-brown morning light, this room could be blinding. The brown took care of this as well. And like the thistle, so many accent colors complimented the rich mink. And, once again, more weight had been lost.

All this painting answered no life questions. Maybe I could hire out as a painter. I must say, I am good. Had an uncle that was a professional painter. He and my dad had left me with tons of pro painting tips. Yes, I can paint, but I am sloooow. If paid by the job, I would starve to death. Besides, I had to be careful with my neck. I had to take many breaks during the day to ice my neck. This added to the time as well.

Nix the pro painter idea.

Oh, what to do? I had always worked outside the home. I enjoyed people. I loved the stimulation of being around others. I so missed this.

Lonnie had gotten an iPhone for me plus opened a Facebook account. His sweet attempt in helping me feel less isolated. This was for Christmas. I had messed with it a little and knew how to operate the simplest of apps.

My neck had become sore enough I knew I needed to take a break from the brush.
I opened the FB app and began looking. I think I had about a dozen friends. I began making contacts. Most were casual friends. We could chit chat about weather, current events and the like.
Let me explain. I came into the 21st century kicking and screaming against technology.
I refused to use computers. I hated them. I believed the more electronically we became connected, the more disconnected we became personally.
I still wanted paper mail. I wanted to see handwriting, as personal as DNA, scrawled across an envelope. I loved hearing voices on the other end of the line. I still mourned the death of my rotary dial phone!!!

I was the original neo-Luddite.

Soon I realized if I wanted any contact with my children, I had to learn to text. We all know we will do anything for our kids. Today, I text.

Maybe having FB friends wouldn't be so bad. It might actually be fun. I found myself thinking of so many people I had lost contact with over the years. What had happened?

I no sooner had this thought when her name jumped off the screen at me. It was Jan!
My Jan!! Jan who had been my dearest friend since high school! Jan! My writer friend! She was editor of our little school paper. I was her sidekick. We were going to grow up to be writers!
We cheered each other on, always had the others back.
We married within the same year. We had our daughters 11 months apart. Unfortunately, we divorced within a few years of one another, then later remarried and had sons 3 weeks to the day apart.
What had happened? We had not talked in years. She continued to have children (2 more) and they were very close together. About the same time I was back in school and had moved many miles away. I suppose our lives had become busy. Poor excuse but that was all I had.
After several postings and a few phone conversations the 15 years melted away. We were caught up and continued to chatter as if no time had passed at all.

She had had surgery at Christmas. Continued to be in much pain asking,"When ya gonna come see me?" I think she was half kidding. Too bad. "Let me make arrangements for all my animals.
They keep me pretty home bound. I'll see if I can board them." "Oh Lord, just bring em. We even have room for the horse." Clearly, she didn't mean it. "Bring them, Terri! They can't hurt one thing!"
I promised to call her when I had made all arrangements. "We'll talk soon!"

I hung up more excited than I had been in months! I couldn't wait to see her, be in her kitchen, see her children, and get out of this house!!!!
The distance of the trip concerned me. I'd be traveling half way across Texas. Think I was looking at 6-7 hours with 3 dogs. Maybe longer. Well, there was no way to know if my neck would make the trip without driving it. This would be the longest distance traveled since the accident.
I loved rode trips! I had not been anywhere in so long! Ordinarily I would dread the ride to her part of Texas. Not much to see and nothing to do when ya get there!
But I was going to see Jan! I could so understand how she was feeling. When I was at my very worst, some days I would cry. Just the chronic pain and loneliness drove me to tears.
I prayed my visit would lift her spirits.

I left a couple of days later. The guys had full instructions on Maggie's care. Max, the 16 year old mix breed wasn't going with us. This trip would be too hard on him.
My travel buddies would be one basset hound along with two schnauzer sisters. I figured if our friendship could withstand 4 muddy dogs(counting her one and it was storming) 2 teenagers and 2 old women in pain........well, we could withstand most anything.

The rain beat down as I headed west. West to the flat lands. West to find her home on the range. West to find my old friend.

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Texas, United States
Wife, mom, sister, friend, seeker, mystic

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