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December 9, 2005

Dear Folks,
    Feel a Friday night letter coming on.  Had a whole day to myself—what a selfish treat!  Finally mailed a set of greeting cards off to Ivy whose being a midwife in the Philippines—a recent email update suggested she could use Cmas cards and support.  What a gift that young gal is!  The whole Mercy in Action team is something else.
    Listening to the same set of 6 Christmas meditation CDs I've played continuously the last couple of winters.  (What about the wall stacked with CD's?)
    I drag and drag feet this time of year.  The smallest thing takes weeks, like doing bills!  Not to mention extra donations and holiday gifts and projects!
    Dr Adolphsen has me taking a break from caffeine—I so love tea—convincing me it doesn't go well with homeopathics.  But I don't think I'm sleeping any better for the change.  (I'll bet other patients keep on with the coffee!)  I'm willing to work with him in the name of balance and mental clarity.  He finally understands that I'm not kidding about having no leg strength.  I can use the “quad” machine at the fitness club without using quadriceps; ditto with the hamstring builder.  He's given me a couple of dandy neck exercises and food for thought about how to recover leg strength I've lost.  But I can't just stand straight up from a chair, Dr A!!
    Even Dr A is a little startled that I don't watch tv, something to numb and relax my hyped up mind.  So I took out a Pink Panther video when I went by the library this evening.
    Among other things, today ate the last of the potato chocolate bars we picked up at the Christmas show at the Fairgrounds last weekend.  Illini Sally Smith was down from Juneau last weekend, hoping to find an art show as good as Juneau's.  We didn't.  But I loved the booth with chocolate made with potatoes.  It went well with a bowl of onion soup made with backyard onions.  Yum.  Wish I had another chocolate chunk and another….
    Nearly 4pm before I got to the fitness club to make another try at building leg strength. Amazing how the body compensates.  Did a bit on this machine and that.  If I can take my time, I don't mind.  I like to think it helps, though people often say you gotta spend at least 20 minutes on one of the pedaling machines to get any benefit.  Ha.
    Tonight I chopped up the end of a backyard cabbage with onion and carrot and bits of barbeque from an Eagle shop.  Drinking “red” roiboos? chai today.  Then juiced carrots (still have a big bag from the church garden), apples and melon (looks like everything I stored in the garage is frozen solid during this recent very cold spell—poo).  Just what the bod craved for liquid.  My favorite getting rarer Jonathan apples went bad sitting on the counter.
    In the midst of transferring life from the computer that's starting to jam up and smell to a new Sony laptop.  So far, making the switch slowly on my own.  Haven't found a photo editor program—can't seem to move favorite over.  Like to play with digital photos, ya know!
    My Year in Review letter is pretty much written.  Trying to keep it short and sweet.  Not whine about memories like spending half a night in the Denver airport, all the planes I missed traveling about this past year.  (Not the savvy traveler.)
    Taking a night off from prison; continue to go out Friday nights a couple times a month.  The group is quite unstable, having lost most of the regulars.  More about just curious drop ins.  I'm not really a teacher, so, gulp.  Still, it's a light in my life.  Just there to love.  Yesterday 7 gals showed up for jail yoga.  That's a treat too--anything to help practice yoga this winter.
    On the to do list is to get a card/note off to California prison penpal.  And of course figure out which jellies and such to mail to which brother this year.
 Just about finished putting the last several years of photos that have sat around into albums.  Do I have a life, or what!!!
    Tomorrow night I join St Mark's “Gospel Graces” for their Christmas program.  We rehearsed 2 songs last night.  I wasn't familiar with the version of “Mary Had a Baby” Dino arranged.  We sang at his funeral this fall.  His sister beside me was quite teary; I'm glad she's singing with us. Both she and Dino have been so friendly to me.  I'm familiar with “I Wish That I Could Have Been There”, from the Concert of the Cross, we practiced last fall and winter.  Sat. night'll be my Christmas music for the season.
    After all the airport time last year, promise self to stay on the ground awhile.  Drive to Seattle/Bellingham and Oregon per usual for Christmas.  Can't wait to do nothing at Breitenbush on the way back.  Starting a stack of books and magazines.  Ha ha….
    Started reading quite a book, Lucky Stars and Gold Bars: a world war II odyssey.  The author's grandparent's kept 400 of her South Dakota father's letters-- from a semester of college through his experience in the Army Air Corps.  500 pages, filled with photos and contemporary research.  Remarkable letters.  Looks like author Sladek's dad is still teaching math in CA as of the publishing in 2003!
    Hope to look up the military historian who put the Hemphills in touch with other memories from dad's flight unit.  Planning a jaunt to Tucson later in the winter to see cousins and meet Gary too.

Shalom,  Jeannie

September 5, 2005

Dear Friends,
    Truly the most wonderful thing about this birthday was your greetings in whatever way you relayed them (over the years).  I still think it's a huge gift to get a letter, and lo, for my birthday there were several!!  Thanks so for the 60th wishes, abundance of kind words and sincere greetings.  And thank you for sharing stories from your lives.  Realized I was happy because of all that connecting!
     Looking back, what a busy summer!
    This birthday month I treated myself to a silent retreat in southern CA plus visit to mom's last sister in Anaheim, followed by nearly a week of camping back in Idaho with a couple old college hiking club cronies.  All good, though stressful.  Loved camping out in my (now) old tent, night after night of agreeable weather, full moon peaking.
Shortly after he left for Colorado, old college crony George rolled his Ford Explorer, so for 2 weeks I visited him most days in St Al's hospital.  Interesting, nat, watching nurses, aids and mds.  He was beat up but not busted, stiff and sore.  On painkillers from the get go, along with heart meds which he had the presence of mind to get out of the car, as well as camera and wallet.  After a couple of days, I helped get him a new pair of glasses.  Took him a week to sit up on his own.  He flew back Saturday.  Like me, George mainly sits at his computer.  Where we differ is--I do yoga tea; he does straight brandy.  I was inspired by his inability to move to do more walking and yoga!
    Did my best to zigzag back together George's new brown Stanley ID T-shirt that was cut off in the emergency room; washed it.  Hope he enjoys the memento. Observed with interest how the painkillers scrambled his keen mind and more interesting, how he was unable to realize this.  He was an excellent, patient, patient.   Not depressed like I wudda been.  He just watched tv like everyone else (that alone wudda depressed me!)
    For whatever reason, the world seems crazier and crazier from here.  Maybe we just know about more crazy stuff because there's global coverage, or maybe we're going berserk more often, or the earth is complaining.  Or where once 100 folks lived, or no one at all, there are now 1000.  Where there were 10,000 there's now 100,000.  Each loss, each catastrophe, is bigger than the last it seems.  We used to just take a club to each other, now we have machine guns, etc. to do in everyone when we're angry.  Each storm, earthquake, plane crash, war, causes more damage and death.
    When pastor Tri recently said something about Boise being such a wonderful place to live, so wonderful that surveys are placing it up there as desirable, projecting a million population in a few years, I kinda snapped—I don't wanna be here for that!
    Having just been to beautiful LA (seriously, I was stunned by the country) I thought, I do not want or need to live with a million people.  I already spend a lotta time right now, commuting across town to this and that, spending a ½ hour here and there en route to yoga, prison, meditation, etc.
    Have a growing feeling home isn't where I am!!!  Y'all know I've never known where that was.  The last couple of years, I've revisited Illinois.  Dunno.   Gonna ramble through some thoughts about that, if you care to follow.
    And yet, last night, after having 8 buddhisty meditators sit on the porch, I lay in bed and listened to the frogs, and owls hooting.  Do love the house sometimes.  Love putting favorite old art on its high ceilinged walls.  Having a hot tub in winter.  How can I even think of moving!  Suddenly the yard didn't seem so impossible, weedy and overgrown.  Maybe Shawn the pruner can come out in October and perform wonders.
    Sure love the Vineyard/church.  Finally was in town last Sunday to be baptized in the Boise River.  Felt right.  The church garden, which is the center of my social connections at the Vineyard, is undergoing change, however, (as in no one interested in vegetables, gardening, hands and knees stuff.)  Love being a small part of a working class church under such awesome, heart centered leadership.  (Although sometimes I think I wouldn't mind being with more “open-minded” people for a while.  Last week a darling young mom in the garden said with alarm, blue eyes wide, after I'd mentioned I was going to see the Dalai Lama not the women's retreat: but the Dalai Lama's going to hell--he doesn't know Jesus!)  Holding on lightly, willing to let go.
    After a year and a half of going into prison--love those felons--realize their anger is bigger than me; not bigger than God, or Buddha, but me.  The men I know the best will be getting out the next couple of years.  Perhaps that circle is closing?
    Let go of the Buddhist meditation group a while back when it became so clear even I “got it” it's a closed social group more than practice group!  Humpf.  The new Christian meditation group is good, though I may be learning more than I want about Catholics.  Willing to let go….
    The house I've worked on for 4 years?  The new wood floors and remodel.  So often feels like it's too much, not warm, cozy and welcoming in winter.  Fine for summer (turn on A/C and hibernate)!  Recently realized maybe I could let go?
    The small yoga classes I've had for 4-7 years aren't replaceable.  Takes years to build classes, like friendship.  So good for body-mind-spirit, regular classes each week.  Classes I have, friends I don't.
    Cook Chan is one of my steadiest acquaintances; sense he'll be retiring; he's dreadfully tired, not real well, working himself to death.  The fellow I often chat and eat with, Dane, just left for former Russia as a Peace Corps volunteer!!
    Probably my strongest attachment to Boise (aside from the unthinkable thought of moving) is chiropractor Dr Adolfsen whom I started seeing last Nov.  It's a gift to be working with a keen, nonjudgmental physician I fully trust.  He's only begun to untangle the imbalances of my mind, body and spirit.  Can't say enough about him.  I no longer have whopping stomachaches and now understand how severely scrunched up I am.  He works with out of area patients, but it can't be the same.
    The crazier the world gets, the more I want a slower, more stable feeling place.  The idea of a small town that I can get around in in old age, appeals.  Since I didn't settle down and make a family or career, or fall terminally in love with any person, place or thing that might have rooted me forever, it's my call.
    I was keen to go to the church Sunday to get help putting Katrina in perspective.  I'd only watched bits and pieces while at the hospital with George.  I've always stayed away from the drama of news, having had a horror of accidents forever.  Walked or drove out of my way to avoid accidents, while others went to watch.  (Must confess considerable interest in natural “disasters” like forest fires and landslides however.)
    Knew leaders from Vineyards would be connecting with churches in the Gulf area.  Tri told us reconstruction and lessons will be going on for years; Red Cross teams are asking for people who can commit to 3 weeks away.  The first training is filled.
    Buddhism continues to help out in these crazy times.  I'm joining the foray “to see the Dalai Lama” in Idaho.  Know from trying to see him in Salt Lake that I neither heard, saw, or felt a thing--way too far away for me.  But this is Idaho, so I'm doing it again.  Buddha got me a ticket, not through any of the Boise local sanghas I sit with, but the boatman who ran us down the Middle Fork of the Salmon in July.  I'm putting up 2 Coeur d'Alene women and their 8 year old daughters that weekend, while I'm away.  Adventure #?!
    [Later.   The Dalai Lama event went well.  Perfect day, following an early Sept snow, which helped put a big fire on up the valley.  The governor's remarks were appropriate.  The businessman behind bringing His Holiness seemed wonderfully sincere, warm and pleased.  I was grateful to him.  Sat close enough to hear and see ok, near a woman from Boise who hadn't heard of Thich Nhat Hahn, etc.  “Just curious”, she thought most folks were.  His Holiness’ comments were short, sweet, clear and compassionate.  Oh, the Dalai Lama's fine sense of humor and chuckle.]

Blessings and PEACE!

January 24, 2004

Dear, dear friends,

  Who says I don't have a Life…
  ( maybe it's sense of humor I'm accused of missing!)

    It's Saturday night semi live in Boise.  Beautiful little snow today.  Several inches of new fluff sit on the cedar rail that needs sealing again around the upstairs porch.  Every now and then I pushed a shovel width path to the sidewalk, then into both neighbors unshoveled territory.
    I'm holed up in the upstairs bedroom—my winter home—for the evening.  Plugged in Christmas lights around the window--sitting around in chenille-ish heavy pj’s writing you, watching the Red Green Show.  Red just said women look at men as do-it-yourself-man kits.  It's the only time I'm somewhat riveted to tv.  Love that show, but seldom remember to turn on.  But it's winter and I lay lower than ever, doing things I never thought I would! Like…
    Never thought I'd actually get around to trying (to cook) burdock!  Noticed recipe for burdock and carrots in an old Yoga Journal--burdock's supposed to cleanse blood.  Bought a piece (of burdock root) at the coop last week.  And instead of letting it go bad like I do so many things, tried recipe tonight!  Didn't much care for the smell of fresh sliced burdock, or the smell as it cooked in sesame oil and seeds.  Added carrot. Was wondering if I'd be able to get self to eat this burdock that was undoubtedly difficult to harvest ($3 worth for a short piece!), when I remembered I can eat most anything with onion and garlic.  Added that, simmered in water.  With salt and touch of soy sauce--good and earthy.  Simmering mellowed the strong flavor I dislike in many roots (dandelion, valerian…)!
    If Chan's Wok Inn Noodle delivered, I'da had him cook this snowy evening.  Warmed up a serving of left over moo shu pork following the burdock adventure.  Yum.
    Feeling so virtuous about the burdock, my mind swung 180.  To sweets.  The memory of an emergency brownie mix that's been in a plastic bag for years (I think it's from mom!!!) appeared and wouldn't go away.  (Isn't this where the mind control of meditation practice comes in?)  The thought of baking brownies without a potluck was frightening and imminent.
    Yesterday Marilyn made one of her quarterly visits to yoga.  Afterwards we lamented the damage we reek evenings.  “It's amazing what I'll find to eat even when there's nothing in the house”, she said.  “Me, too”, I nodded and hooted, wondering what might be left in the camp food box in the garage.
    Although I hadn't consciously sited it for years, the brownie box was quickly located and mixed up.  Added two healthy brown eggs to the family sized box of sugar, flour and cocoa.  Family sized—hardly! I snorted, putting back the big glass pan and using a smaller corning ware casserole.  Fortunately/unfortunately, didn't burn them--wudda served me right.  Family of 6 if 5 don't like chocolate.  Rolled my eyes, as I spooned out the first ¼ of the dish and headed upstairs.  The greater the virtue, the greater the temptation?  It'd be nice to blame a devil!
    Downstairs, I just replaced the four candle lights in the narrow front windows--orange since Halloween--with red.  Then thought better of it; used 2 clear.  Ready for Valentine's Day—blech.  Don't know if I can find green for St Pat's now that Christmas is history.
    Last night I went to the state prison with Bill to observe the Buddhist class he's offered 4 or 5 years!  He warned me one must have an well established practice in order to teach.  (Rats!  What a concept!  Ouch.)  Afterwards I asked his philosophy on discussion.  He said he was there to teach, not ask personal questions.  I guess not.  Hmm...
    Today Chia returned Ram Dass book on aging.  She helped me validate other dimensions of teaching.  I couldn't replicate Bill's class; maybe could do my own thing someday.  Very helpful, Chia.
    Maybe this is going to be a good year after the fog of last year.  Mom's estate leaves me a woman of independent means (with those new responsibilities), looking at life from a different angle, free to give and travel (always was, but didn't think so).  Making peace with being single and an elder, well into the second half of my life continues to feel like a big deal that consumes me, perhaps because dad died at my age and mom became a widow.  Physically I'm finally standing more squarely on my feet—yeah!  Beginning to visit prison at long last—yeah!  About to join the Vineyard singers, whose director(s) I learned last week love the gospel workshop first of February as much as I do!  They also kayak.  Last week I scanned the first of the stack of Hemphill records brought back from Connecticut in September.  Always wondered what happened before Grandfather Hemphill—orphan was all I heard.  Could be fun filling in the blanks; like research, sleuthing.
    Finally posted my incredibly long review of the year aka Holiday Letter on the web:
    The house feels more mine after new floors last year, though I'm at a loss how to keep the downstairs with its high ceilings warm enough for yoga in winter.  Even with furnace on, oil heater, and, on occasion, a fire going, it's absolutely frigid.  Dena's such a good sport—where else can I wear the (rabbit fur) mittens my husband made, she declares, wearing hat and mittens throughout class!  Dear neighbor Gary, who drops in when spirit moves him, had to stop making sexist cracks about my uselessness (sometimes I agree but not always) around the house when Dena started sheet rocking and mudding.  “I do the wiring”, she replied, when Gary inferred she hired an electrician.  Haven't had to listen to “What a shame your father didn't teach you how to fix things” lately.  I get defensive—Mom was the fixer.  I don't remember leaking roofs or windows, gutters being cleaned or bees living in the walls of the 1880/90s house I grew up in Illinois, built with square nails and an eerie basement.  I've lived in econo apartments all my life while you've been a wealthy homeowner, I want to snap!  Never owned a roof to fix!
    love finding the “right” frame, hanging pictures in the “right” place, then changing my mind, redoing, relocating…  The four little owls in separate frames are now side by side in one wide frame resting on top of the stereo until I can find their “right” home.  I'd like to have them peeking out of round holes, in a mat, but that's for another time.
    I declare my Mormon friends continue to knock my socks off.  The other night Carla and I had a date for Chinese food and hot tub.  I'm such a beneficiary of what seems to me the high value LDS places on friendship.  It matches mine.
    Then you're not a gardener, Phoebe emailed back, when I said I've never looked at seed catalogs.  The very thought of dealing with summer heat and a home made sprinkler system again makes me wanna hold onto winter, much as I've missed sun the past month.  Fall is such a welcome relief from struggling to replace sprinkler heads continually and power outages that shut down the system.  As long as I can find Brandywine (tomato) starts at Toby's next spring that's garden to me.  Maybe this winter's cold stretch'll thin out the earwigs so bok choy might survive next year.  That'd be nice.  That's as far as my mind ventures into the yard.
    Yoga goes on, with or without the same folks.  First new face in years visited home class last week.  The same evening, 2 founders sat outside in the car for ½ hour before driving off, never coming to class!  Even without students, the embers of the idea of a non home studio are warm again.  I'm so clear Char taught something unlike what's offered in the area; feel like the only one to recognize that.  Also clear Americans are hooked on extreme and instant values, which is more or less why I'm dropping the 3rd class at fitness club.  Folks continue to do their own thing as though there's no instructor; I'm not theirs.  But on Tuesday/Thursday mornings, people continue to be grateful, as I am, for the opportunity to slow down.  Enjoy those two classes a lot.
    Greatly look forward to gospel workshop February 7.  Another week in Mexico with the Emmett farmer, mid February, this time with old Illinois school friend meeting up.  Return to another meditation workshop at Kripalu with Ken Cohen in March.
    Hmm.  Wonder if I need to shovel the upstairs porch?  It's slatted, but holding the wet snow.

Blessings and Love from Boise,


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