Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Things

So the picture below is our newest addition to the family. It's actually a loner from a musician friend. Yes, B and I are taking violin lessons.

Ever since B started playing mandolin, I've had a quiet thought to play the fiddle. At B's urging we took the plunge. We started the same week so we are learning the same things which makes it extra fun and encouraging.

My mantra these last 6 months have been about taking risks and trying new things and this is one of them. Today I played my first scale. I'm hoping one day I'll be able to accompany Brad on some of our favorite songs.

Occasionally, the sound that comes from this thing makes my eyes tear up and I'm only bowing one single string without doing anything else! No fingerings, just bowing. The purity of sound is really something.

I have lesson #4 on Friday and can't wait.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Holder of Family Secrets

I've been pondering a lot about this notion of family secrets and how they impact not only the generation most closely affected but also subsequent generations.  It's the moon impacting the tides.  Two seemingly separate things, but intimately bound together.

A dear friend wrote me a personal email after reading my previous post on this topic.  We had a great conversation and she helped me gain the clarity about family secrets and what I wanted to talk about here on this blog.  I mentioned that my frustration revolves around not being able to talk about these secrets within the family and yet they have shaped and still shape some of our interactions.  I feel strongly that healthily incorporating this fact into our story will enable clearer connections.  Although the topics are known, they are only spoken about in hushed tones and only for the minimalist of moments.  One particular family secret is intimately connected with our 80-year old family cabin.

Several years ago I updated my blog template and used a picture of the sky above the cabin as my banner.  I took the picture on a day trip with my dad back in 2006 during one of our visits to Colorado.  I took lots of photos both inside and out and later used them in a video montage Brad and I put together for my parents 50th wedding anniversary.

Sky above the Nash Fork of the Little Laramie River in Wyoming
The cabin was built in 1929 by my great-grandparents on my dad's side.  They along with several families from the community built "summer homes" in a cove off the highway.  Little of the physical structure has changed over the years.  The most "recent" was adding electricity in the 1950s.  Although we have an electric hot plate, most food is cooked in a wood burning stove which keeps the cabin warm along with the fireplace.  We have an enclosed porch with a bed, a fairly good size living / kitchen area (all one room), and a back bedroom with two beds and a back door which incidentally is the way to the outhouse ~ correct no indoor plumbing of any kind.

My dad at the entrance just off the highway.
Our cabin is straight back and to the left just inside the cove of trees.

(circa 2006)
My great-grandparents had four children and the cabin now belongs to their families.  Ownership is governed by a trust put in place by my dad.  The last of the original four died earlier this year and due to my dad's declining health he wanted to understand me and my sisters' wishes regarding our fourth of the cabin.  This summer he talked to each of us individually trying hard not to influence our decision.  If we were not interested in keeping it then he thought it best to release our fourth before he died. 

Our Cabin - circa 2006
The cabin has always been a special place to me and for a long time was my most favorite place on earth.  Only two and a half hours from my childhood home and 45 minutes from both sets of grandparents, we traveled to the cabin multiple times every summer.  We opened it Memorial Day just after the last snow (removing internal posts and external shutters) and closed it in early September before the first snow (putting up post and shutters).  Usually we went up at least one other time during the summer and sometimes just for a noon picnic while visiting our grandparents in Laramie.  Names like Lake Marie, Brooklyn Lake, Little Brooklyn Lake, and Medicine Bow Peak have many attached memories.

My dad tells me that my great-grandmother and great-grandfather often went during the winter and even my oldest sister and brother-in-law honeymooned there after their winter wedding back in the early 1980s.  Snowy Range Road (Highway 130) closes to vehicle traffic several miles east of the cabin during the winter months so snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing a requirement.

Main room with the winter posts still intact.
The wood burning stove is to the right.
Recently while walking the dogs, my husband and I talked about what we (really me) wanted to do about the cabin.  I shared that it seemed "life made sense" at the cabin.  As a little girl I didn't know why my dad's last name differed from his siblings or my beloved grandfather's.  I didn't understand why my sisters and I had a "third grandmother" (actually great-grandmother) with our last name that we regularly visited, but my cousins on my dad's side never did.  These cousins never went to the cabin except when we were there.  They were always guests, a feeling foreign to me in this place.

On reflection I don't remember when I first learned our family's secret.  It seemed I always knew my dad's dad died when he was a small boy just two years old.  Knowledge of the cause by his own hand was told to me a number of years later, but I don't remember the specific conversation.  My family never talked about it openly and rarely if ever did my birth grandfather come up in conversation especially around my grandmother.  Memories and markers always avoided.

I think this is why the cabin has a mythic quality of sorts.  This summer during a family reunion I learned that my dad's dad built the cabin's back bedroom.  His hands touched these walls and his feet walked in this place.  Perhaps this is why the cabin means so much to my father.  In this place is a definite connection to his father, someone he never knew.  This importance he transferred to me and my sisters both consciously and unconsciously.

From the river below
During that walk with my husband he described this place as the "holder" of family memories, the family legacy and the family myth.  I knew he was right when he spoke these words.  They beautifully frame my experience, but until I wrote the previous paragraph I didn't grasp the full truth.  This is the only place on earth where my father walks where his father walked, opens doors he opened, builds fires or eats meals.  This is his place of connection.

I know I've got more to write and more to puzzle through regarding the ongoing impact of this family secret, but for now this is a good place to rest.


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

New Fabric Home

This weekend I moved my quilting fabric to its new home.  Several weeks ago I bought this beautiful wooden flat filing cabinet from a friend who is preparing for an estate sale.  It stored numerous prints of her late husband's professional photographs.  It has already boosted my spirits with the rainbow of colors and I hope it translates into more quilting.     

Friday, July 27, 2012

Early Dawn Sky

Didn't sleep very well last night.  Woke about 3:30 with lots of thoughts swirling around my head.  I got up about 4:30 and did some writing.  Both my cats came to be with me at one point.  Been thinking a lot about aging especially after seeing my parents recently and reflecting that I'll be 50 in just over a year. Where has the time gone?

I took the dogs out about 5:15 and marveled at the beauty in the pre-dawn sky.  Venus is so bright this time of year from my horizon.  

Last fall my brother-in-law told us about the wonderful iPad application called Star Walk.  I love it.  Here is an image of what my eyes saw this morning.  I lay down on the deck for a few minutes and took in the amazing beauty and depth.  Amazed by what I can and cannot see with my naked eye.   

Pre-dawn sky at my horizon this morning -
image from Star Walk iPad app

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Family Secrets

i wonder if I can really write this post about family secrets.  thought about this while driving home from yoga and wondered if it could be an entree into rewriting my post about our family cabin, what it is, what it means, to me, to our family, especially my father.  maybe it's too soon.  the ability to be really transparent is so hard for me.

this morning i read trisha's and misti's blog posts about their trip to taos - vacationing with people they'd never met in person, but came to know - actually know - through a facebook group.  sounds like a group where they are very real and transparent with each other.  what you see is what you get.  no hiding, no posturing, no justifying.   trisha also wrote an amazingly touching post about her new tattoo she got while there.

as much as I loved reading the posts and was touched deeply, but i also came away feeling sad because i realize only a few people really know all of me.  i can probably count them on one hand.  maybe this is normal.  i have no idea.  i just know that sometimes i wish i didn't have all these 'selves' to keep track of.

i didn't go to my 30 yr high school reunion last weekend.  i only attended part of the 10th and that was at the last moment.  i didn't attend the 20th either.  lots of excuses as to why.  a big part is thinking about walking up by myself.  it is a huge hurdle for me.  large groups are not usually comfortable for me unless I'm with my husband and can "hide" behind him in his comfort zone.  really though i realized that i wasn't sure which 'self' i should be at the reunion.  the good girl, the professional working woman, the deeply spiritual Christian believer, the "lefty" okie in a totally conservative red state.

one of the reasons i started this blog 9 years ago was to help bridge my 'selves' together, but i still sensor myself on these pages.  some transparency yes, but the fear of saying too much or not the right way keeps me from writing.

anyway, soon i want to write a blog about family secrets and how they've impacted me. someday... but not today....see what I mean?

p.s.  i decided not to capitalize any of the first letters of my sentences as a way to write more freely.  it felt good and freeing.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


Thinking, writing, musing. This is what he does and I love it. I love him.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Love and Rejection

Earlier this year I reread Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  I first read the book about 15 years ago and loved it.  Again it speaks volumes.  I came across a line spoken by the Shepherd to Much-Afraid as she described her fears about the hurt and pain a loved one can cause.  The Shepherd acknowledges that loving means being vulnerable to pain and he says:

"But it is happy to love...it is happy to love even if you are not loved in return. There is pain, too, but Love does not think that very significant."

During lunch with a friend recently, she shared about a painful experience when she felt rejected by an inadvertent dismissal of a suggestion of hers by a loved one.  In working though her intense reaction, she held her tongue, acknowledged the pain and heard its message.  Although the pain was intense she had a light bulb moment when she realized this pain was a momentary discomfort and not a crisis.  How much she wanted to reject back, but decided not to.

Soon she found herself thinking about another relationship marked by rejection of her and and with compassion she began extending sweet, sweet grace to these old painful memories.  She knew the other person began life rejected and continued experiencing rejection during their early life.   They never learned how to experience risk by reaching out to people.  Never experienced those connections that include a give and take, compromise.  These are all part of the fabric of relationship.

My friend's experience is serving as an example for me.  This is something I need to work on this year.  I hope I can find and extend the same grace.


You have heard that it was said, 
‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  
But I tell you, 
love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 
that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  
He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, 
and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  
Matthew 5:43-45 (NIV)


Sunday, May 27, 2012


Haven't posted in awhile, but thought I'd share a photo of what's before me just now. We lit a fire in the fire pit both last night and tonight. Soon it will be quite hot and sitting outside will be miserable until the sun goes down, but until then we enjoy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Indeed Precious

Some months back I visited a friend and her little one at their house. When we first met she was pregnant with this child. He is now 6 and a half. A darling, darling little boy. When I walked into their home he was sitting at the table playing with some figurines.  I love engaging with young children especially when they are playing with something. Turns out the figurines were these really cool Star Wars legos characters and he shared the names of each one.

Then all of the sudden he jumped up to show me his light saber. The light beam flipped out and even made that amazing buzzing sounds. Needless to say I was as delighted as he was.

When I left I couldn't find my keys and he said to me, "If you can't find your keys you can spend the night with us!" It just tickled me. As I walked out with my friend she said he really liked me because not everyone gets invited to spend the night.  Just then he came running out of the house to show me his light saber again...precious, truly precious.

* ~ * ~ * 

In pondering this memory I am struck by the truth that all humanity is special, deeply loved, and indeed precious.  I want to remember this especially when one of my inner voices speaks a different message.

Friday, March 30, 2012

A day I'd do over...

March 20, 2012 is a day I'd choose to live again.  It was a breakthrough day as several things came together for me.  I've been working on some new behaviors/responses over the last several years and on this day I watched myself actively put them into practice.  I was confident, yet teachable, present with the frustrating circumstance.  I weighed choices, made some decisions and implemented them.  I asked questions when I didn't understand, requested clarification, and repeat instructions when needed.

These behaviors have been very difficult for me especially when asking for help.  Growing up I would push away my fears and "negative" emotions.  I would move to a place of "observing and watching" overwhelmed and paralyzed by tension, yet not able to name or acknowledge the myriad of feelings.

Back in May 2009 I enrolled in Susannah Conway's eCourse, Unravelling: Ways of Seeing My Self, but did not finish.  During Week Two on Reflections, I had a health scare.  It turned out to be nothing, but the fear overwhelmed me, tormented my thoughts, and twisted up my emotions for several weeks.  Facing the fear and "Unraveling" at the same time was too intense.

I wrote ferociously in my journal, sobbed buckets of tears, but during that time I faced the tormenting fear of receiving a life threatening diagnosis.  I like to say that I faced DOWN the tormenting fear and learned I could be present in the fear without it overwhelming me.  I learned that the fear came in waves, but would soon go back out.  I learned I could get through each wave.

During lunch the next day with my dear friend, I shared the health news (still undiagnosed at the time).  I asked where the fear comes from and why it comes.  I was in tears and feeling the fear again...feeling each moment of the tormenting fear.  But in the safety of her friendship I could acknowledge that the wave would not kill me.  In that moment my feelings, thoughts and observations were integrated and "with me".  I didn't push away the fear, but let it be present in the same room with my thoughts and observations.

This was a new behavior for me and brings me back to March 20th and why I am so proud of myself.  I almost gave up something I enjoy very much, but in the discouragement and frustration I took some courage and asked for help.  It seems kind of silly for it to be about snow skiing, but I'm okay with that.

I grew up skiing and skied regularly through college, but over the last several years (after a 15 year hiatus) I could only ski 3 to 4 hours a day.  My thighs would be completely shot for the rest of the day.  I blamed it on being out of shape (which is true), but recently something made me wonder if maybe my technique needed help especially since skis now days are shaped differently.

So on our most recent trip to Taos I decided to take a lesson.  My ski instructor was wonderful and I could tell an immediate difference.  I relearned how to turn, to allow the skis to do the work and not muscle each and every turn myself.  I skied the full day and my last run was an absolute blast.  With arms raised in sweet victory I finished my last run with a huge grin on my face.

I heard something revolutionary (at least to me) from a friend about ten years ago about emotions.  She said we can pay attention to our emotions and understand the signals they send without being controlled by them.   It's taken me some time, but I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Connection to my Grandfather

On our recent trip to Taos, we stopped at a Texas rest area just outside the OK-TX border.  I took the camera with me, not even sure why.  I'm sure glad I did.  Inside the ladies room the walls were tiled with an interesting mosaic of the North Texas landscape.

The tile work triggered a special memory of my grandfather.  He and my great uncle designed a number of buildings on the University of Wyoming campus and one in particular has a special place in our family's lore.  The story goes that the inspiration for the Classroom Building came from one of my mom's casserole dishes.  The exterior of the building is quite stunning and for its time was forward thinking in the amenities for classroom instruction.

UW Classroom Building (center) - Photo courtesy Wyoming_Jackrabbit
via  Creative Commons copyright
My grandfather and great uncle envisioned four mosaics in each of the directional corners to represent the state of Wyoming.  Each mosaic was designed by an art professor at the university.  As a little girl I remember my grandpa sharing about the project at their dinner table and I remember seeing the mosaics for the first time.  The building was dedicated in 1971 and underwent significant renovations in 2007 to bring it to current standards.

Several years ago at the suggestion of one of my husband's friends, B and I got copies of the architectural plans from the UW archives (American Heritage Center) and put together a beautiful remembrance for my mom and dad.  We spent several hours looking through boxes and settled on a few drawings.  It was a sweet treat to watch B in the archives, a place where he's spent many hours.

Here is a picture of my dad after opening the Christmas gift.  I know that gift touched a deep place in his heart that day.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

4 pairs of gloves

Somehow I ended up with four pairs of gloves on our trip to Taos. I needed ski gloves and wanted a pair of light gloves in case it was too warm. I also wanted my driving gloves and on the first day I found a pair of gloves in my pockets. So between the two of us, B and I had maybe 9 pairs.

At first this felt very uncomfortable to me and a bit extravagant. Perhaps it is, as I am well aware that many people have no gloves.

I could feel myself tensing up and becoming critical toward myself and toward B. I realized something, though, as I started listening to my thoughts. I realized that the four gloves are kinda how we live life right now. It works for us and when we let go of how we "should" be living, we are more comfortable with how we are living.  We are at peace and more open to others. No justifications, no defensiveness, no comparisons, just our delightful selves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Today's Smiles

* Venti half-caff one-percent latte

* Lunch with my best friend who happens to be my husband

* An email from my mother-in-law about her great visit with one of her grandchildren (one of my nieces)

* Nuzzling with my kitty, Molly

* Looking out my front window at our beautiful daffodils and pansies

Friday, March 02, 2012

Waiting for me...

When my husband calls from our home phone this is the image that displays on my phone.  It makes me smile.

When I leave in the morning I see a similar pose when I look back at the house.  This view breaks my heart, but the good news is I often see this pose when I pull into the driveway.  Usually she's sitting on the couch and then jumps up when she sees the lights of the car.

As soon as I open the front door her wiggly body makes it clear she's glad I'm home.

I'm glad, too.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Second Blessing

I hand wrote a blog entry about Abbie back in the spring of 2008 about 8 months after Alafair died.  I found it the other day and decided today seemed the perfect day.  :)

I've been wanting to post this story on my blog for awhile and today seems the perfect day.  Both B and I feel a lot of sadness over missing our Alafair.  Although we think of her daily, the tears are not as frequent.  For whatever reason we miss her very much today.
Earlier this year over New Year's weekend two of our nieces and my in-laws came for visit.  During a conversation with the 16 year old, she asked why we named our newest addition "Abbie".  
Our Abbie -
taken Jan 1, 2012
Abbie came to us named "Maggie", but one day shortly after we adopted her from Second Chance, I was hugging on her and talking to her.  I accidentally called her "Abbie" without even thinking.  After the words passed my lips tears unexpectedly welled up in my eyes.  The name seemed a perfect fit. 
I told my niece this story and she said the sweetest thing.  She had wondered if we named her Abbie because the name means "Blessing" and she saw Abbie as being a "second" blessing to us.
The thing is Abbie has been so good for us since the first day we adopted her just a few weeks before Alafair died.  When Alafair was so sick Abbie would do something to make us smile.  And after we said our goodbyes once again Abbie helped us get through those initial heart breaking days.
She loves us and we love her.  Abbie truly is a "second" blessing.

As I complete the finishing touches on the blog entry, my Abbie is sleeping right next to me on the couch with her head touching my thigh.  Yes, she is an Abbie.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Sound of Music

Of late I've found myself listening to George Winston's December in the early pre-dawn hours.  Waking about 3am racing thoughts of incomplete projects and open issues swirl around my brain.  Listening to these piano compositions slow my heart rate and calm my thoughts.  Usually I fall back to sleep during the opening track entitled, "Thanksgiving."

I first heard the album in 1982 while studying in the Music Lounge during my freshman year of college.  Several years later we bought cassette tape and eventually the CD.  Fast forward to 2006 and the music found its way onto my first iPod, but remained unplayed for many years.

I'm not sure what prompted me to call up the album recently.  Of late I've discovered that music infused with piano leaves tracks of something good in me.  My husband and I recently heard Jimmy Webb play his original compositions on a huge grand piano in a 100 seat venue.  At times tears welled in my eyes from an unknown place.

As I've been musing about this, I remembered that most afternoons while growing up my mom played our piano for an hour or so before starting dinner.  I expect this was something she did even before she and Dad married.  I can't help but wonder if since my conception piano instrumentals have been part of me.  Who knows and in some ways it doesn't matter.  I just know that this sound of music is delicate and tender in my soul.