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DEAR FRIENDS ARCHIVES 2006November 3, 2006
November in Illinois - Prairie Home on the horizon
Still waiting for the house to close that I saw and had offer accepted on, all in one day back in September. St Dianne had just shown me yet another group of older houses about the right size, plus this newer one on the west side of town. She's long known better than me what I wanted: the impossible--a cozy, carefree, charming old home in the woods, with a large room for yoga. Ha. With the vision of the neighborhood I'd grown up in large in my mind, began to despair of finding the right home. One native summarized, "Yes, Jacksonville has a couple of those. You'll have to wait 'til so and so dies; they're quite well however." Knew the facts. Felt inordinately picky, as Dianne showed house after house I tried to imagine living in. (Looked for months in Boise too.) Meanwhile kept visiting and hearing about enviable homes--porches "in the trees", welcoming entrances, open potluck/ social rooms, not to mention fabulous trees and yards.
Even without a major front yard shade tree--how could I!--the 1970s Melrose house, whose address was familiar, seemed most like where I'd imagined living since starting the search last winter. (I'd seen several appealing places for sale as I began should-I-move-back visits to Illinois; watched real estate via internet too.) By this September, I was on the edge of desperate. Everyone else was delighted with the houses Dianne had showed me. "I'll call the Jones now, they might be interested." Sold. Felt like a jerk. Dianne worked to find hardwood floors--melt when I see them. She'd even found gas ranges!! She kept me in a reasonable price range, considerably below what I'd be getting for the Boise house.
Got practical when I saw the orientation of the Melrose house--looking south off the mound--sunset house!--or so I think--more or less as I'd envisioned, but hadn't yet seen. The backyard, however, was more or less love at first sight--a private, shady yard! Can do! Kitchen looking out on backyard. Easily imagined having folks in for tea, in the den open to the kitchen; and screening the open back porch. (Can't imagine eating with all the local flies--gave up this fall!)
The rest of the house was an after thought. Ignored full carpeting, missing open space and yoga room, lack of light, no basement, and the basic fact that the house was larger than I need, and far more expensive! Done. Big plus was that house is owned by childhood neighbor baby-sitter Betty and spouse, well kept by pet free nonsmokers, with 2 car garage for storage. Yeah! Won't have to strip carpets and paint to start. Maybe later, a little hardwood or laminate, take out part of a wall. More windows to let that woodsy backyard inside.
In the waiting months I've tried not to look back, or for that matter, see for sale signs. Folks continue to tell me about perfect places. True, still haven't moved. But I've got earnest money on one house; that's enough--probably too much! I've only seen the house briefly--the original walk through in September; at the October inspection I saw the hot water heater, furnace and crawl space (plus visit with owners). I'm like an old fashioned bride waiting 'til wedding to see husband!
After several changes in plans, Dianne's found the whole chain of us homes. She says we may be able to move the closing date of Nov. 30 a little closer--hadn't realized how long 3 months would feel. I'm grateful the Boise house sold well from afar thanks to my Boise church gardener's skill and faith.
Prairie Home Companion to be (realtor photos of former owner in house)
As previous owner of a mere 1-1/2 houses--far more years as care-free renter--I've kind of enjoyed renting for the interim. Not the challenge of having all my stuff elsewhere, in storage several miles away in a field full of crickets and mice--that's been difficult--battling critters guiltily and angrily on behalf of my treasured "stuff" for months now. Still can't find things that I know I saw in boxes early on! (Of course I shudda got rid of a lot, since I'm starting to buy things I can't get to or find.)
I've appreciated taking a break from maintaining and worrying over a yard, pulling morning glory daily, running toilets, caulking; and chasing cats. Yes, yes, I've missed tending, watching, eating and sharing the heirloom brandywine tomatoes I planted anyhow, knowing I'd be moving; and of course having backyard rhubarb. OK, I've kinda missed the yard I finally got going after 6 seasons, hearing horses 'cross the crik--though I'm delighted to be re-experiencing trees, cicadas and lightning bugs again. Of course I miss Chan's music and cooking, neighbors and our foothills neighborhood. Traded all that to live on the prairie, under a streetlight by a very active railroad intersection, in a mansion whose windows don't open. For a season.
All I do as renter is take lady bugs outside, water the fern on the stairway, pick up it's leaves, change the thermostat, enjoy a gorgeous room and keep the hall bathroom tidy in case others stay. I've even got a mini meditation side room (where the phone is), where I've finally settled down to practice sitting still and breathing.
Speaking of phones... I'm probably the last of the renters that doesn't ask where the tv and laundry are. Feel grateful for an old fashioned phone line! I've watched families panic for cable teevee and rummage through the basement for washer and dryer. Having used laundromats all my life, never gave those matters a thought. So upheaved by the move, forgot to listen to Prairie Home Companion for weeks. Finally dug radio out of storage to do so. (Have to guess what's happening while the train whistle blows!)
Since I can barely operate a cell phone, I've chosen the only rental room with a phone line. With permission of the volunteer managers, added old answering machine. I'm an old fashioned, old woman (not lady), with old, out moded "stuff", perhaps a good fit for returning to the '50s, as Jax is sometimes characterized, fondly and otherwise. My interim bedroom works with a skeleton key. "It's the last lock we need to replace", one of the rectory angels commented when I gave them the duplicate skeleton key I found for them.
Perhaps what I love most about this stay at the rectory is the team of elders I call angels that come with it--fierce volunteers who fought to save, and now maintain the old rectory when it was on the chopping block. They're the "grannies" I never knew--Rosemary, Geri, Hannah, Elaine, Bettys, Marys, Peggy--lovely, tough women perhaps a generation ahead of me, the heart of what lured me home-- to receive the blessing of elders, while I can, we can. (Grandpas mow and paint.)
Awesome interim home - Restored Old Rectory, Jacksonville
Imagine, if you want, Jeannie nestled in the east pink room suit at the rectory, noon chimes ringing next door at the "New" Our Saviors church. On one side of the big mirror, the Kliban cat calendar's on November. The cat has one thread of spaghetti hanging out of its mouth, eyes closed, tail looped casually over the fork in the plate. Makes me smile. On the left side of the mirror, the November model demonstrates revolved triangle on my relocated yoga calendar. A recently acquired $2 flea market christmas cactus sits on the wide dresser, replacing the one I left behind, from a Northwest woman who dropped me from her life when I became a church goer (I'm an obnoxious one). Plastic bins of food and kitchen gear are stacked near the bedroom door, while the downstairs including kitchen is rented for a bazaar. Clothes and books and suitcases with "essentials" spill all over. Somehow I didn't imagine the seasons changing completely from the time I started putting things in storage. Spring to fall maybe, but not to winter. I've pulled just enough clothes out of stacks of boxes and bins in storage to stay warm. Same with kitchen gear. The thought of holiday cooking without favorite toys makes me wince. Have to be something of a Scarlet O'Hara-- "Tomorrow", meaning next year.
A newly acquired percolator--Charley uses one for hot water--from the same flea market (the one at the Senior Center where we Sun Singers rehearsed last Tuesday)-- is also on the dresser, along with my same large read out digital clock. A "new" thrift shop candle sits safely on a can of tuna can by the loaner "St Anthony", which I suspect is really Jesus. Classmate Charley appeared with one to help sell the Boise house. Think I better leave it there until I'm actually in the new house. I'm still wearing grandmother's mustard seed earrings; I'll wear them until I'm fully resettled. Sometimes I'm so grateful I packed, left Idaho behind and made it to Illinois, I'm awed. Can scarcely believe I'm here. Not quite settled, but close. Will she make it???
The opposite wall has a built in book case filled with old books and nick knacks--angel, lamb, pig, etc--arranged by the family who decorated this suit. Slipped my small cd player on a shelf. Though book titles are different, they're much like those in the library of the house I grew up in on up the street. Feels like home. I keep bathroom paraphernalia on the desk (with the rectory basket of silk lilacs). And yes, I read and write from the bed, with my back to the windows that don't open and are never really dark. It's perfect.
Every time I reach for something I can't find in storage I remember I'm between homes. Grumbled a lot in October. One week I had to move out, put everything back in storage when all the rooms were previously reserved. Drove down to Missouri and camped in the Ozarks. Hadn't realized how good it would be to "do nothing". As I moved back into the rectory, realized it was a good time to start family research. Rather quickly learned several generations of dad's side of the family are buried in Jacksonville. His mother's Taylor genealogy has been done. But (my) Mom's Kankakee side of the family-- eek. Gonna take some doing.
Meanwhile--what am I doing? Moving related stuff. Surprisingly, with the blessing of the rectory, I voted. Took 3 long months to get a library card--yesterday. Waiting for address to get--plates and tags. Otherwise doing more or less the usual "stuff". I'm easily entertained. Don't want to feel too busy as I get reacquainted with Jacksonville. It's a time of observing and learning. Is it "fair" to come back after living twice as many years away than here? Of course I'm visiting churches, looking for that warm friendly church that touches my heart! Found a psalms study with old neighbor Alan I enjoy. The "open" book club I visited was way too large; the other is "closed". Enjoyed the "Diversity Dinner" I made applesauce for in October. Mary Ann's Tuesday afternoon Sun Singers is an easy going, stress free group to sing with. Last Sunday evening we visited 2 country churches: Durbin Methodist to see a play; and Youngblood Southern Baptist for a gospel sing along. Oh, the hospitality of small country churches! Such a balmy evening, in stead of returning home, car camped (illegally, nat) in the trees by the lake.
Miss having my own yoga classes; just started an informal therapeutic one at John's home. Three of us first time. Attend Miriam's 5:30pm Monday class to keep working on hips and shoulders. After an hours of class (which she starts lying down!), about the time I'm ready to collapse she kicks in gear and starts doing an impossible series of poses! Have to adapt everything for my vastly less athletic body; like her overall pace and emphasis on listening.
Keen to take advantage of agreeable walking opportunities around town; only done a bit. Lotta folks walk, especially around the huge new park surrounding the old state hospital. There ain't no mountains, hills, ski slopes, near!
I've got a handle on stores and restaurants (not a whole lot to get familiar with). Know enough about Springfield to get to and from the airport now; I've sat with buddhists there and found a couple of thrift shops. More than I'll ever need is right here in the Jacksonville. At the 2 thrift shops I've already more than replaced all the broken bowls I found in the first of the kitchen china boxes I dared open. Eek. Rougher trip than I realized.
Thanks to Charley and his friend John, I'm meeting enough folks to say hello to at most concerts and events. Charley has a standing date with his aunt Mary Francis. There's a loose "singles" group that pals around, centered on Sunday nights at the VFW. Haven't made the scene. Bless, Jacksonville, despite it's elderly population, smoking is welcome in restaurants. Blew my nose throughout my first breakfast at the VFW.
The Farmers Market closed for the season. I'll shift to frozen dinners, onions, cabbage, broc, carrots, potatoes, pasta and frozen salmon. A healthy balance of food and exercise is the current issue "on my plate". Haven't adjusted to the abundance and frequency of high cal opportunities here--community dinners, potlucks and refreshments abound. Had no idea Jacksonville still would have the Kiwanis pancake breakfast dad was a part of and church dinners identical to when I left. Every week and weekend there are several. Wednesday evening I came home from Grace Methodist men's ham 'n' beans/slaw/cornbread dinner incredibly satisfied. Never seen a church with it's own china! Bet the town cudda been lit by bean gas that night, I mused. If I don't work on discipline and mindful eating, I won't be around to enjoy the new house. Jacksonville could be treacherous going. It's changed from a hardy, slender 1950s (ddt spraying era) farm community to an overweight, less than healthy, contemporary Walmart dependent community, heavy with syndromes and disabilities. I'm hanging out between french toast friendly John and no sugar-salt-fat Charley in my unzipped, back to Jacksonville corduroy pants held up with an extra long belt, plus favorite XL Idaho t-shirt. Just say no, no, no to Country Market discount desserts, Jeannie!
I remember what happened when I took orange wedges to church in Idaho and set them with the cookies! (Got to take 'em back home after personally peddling what I could.) Potlucks--get ready, folks, for oranges and apples, green beans and jicama (if I can find it)! Help me eat right!
Maybe I'll be too busy moving out of storage to notice the holidays this year! If I can't find my red and green wool coat, they're notta gonna happen!
Let me know how you are!
Warm Midwest blessings!
August 16, 2006 - resumed in September
Subject: Week #2
Went to bed content after an evening with Connie and Linda. Bought a mound of vegetables at the Farmers Market Saturday. Recruited high school classmate Connie, who brought Linda, for green beans, yams, squash; baked tomatoes, eggplant and garlic. Lotta vegetables to share this week before I take off again. Like me, the gals used butter and minced onion. Water to drink; no one whined. Nothing fancy chez rectory. Afterwards, on the unscreened front porch, catholic Linda and sometime catholic Connie told rectory stories, and more. Lovely evening, good conversation; cicadas called; we brushed off evening bugs. Life seemed to slow down. It's why I moved.
Folks still enjoy laughing at me. Connie and Linda laughed when I took peels off the baked tomatoes And having a storage unit full of stuff, worrying about crickets! Ever so funny to these oh so rooted long time homeowners. They really rolled their eyes when I mentioned attending the (catholic) Prophets seminar this summer--thought they might be interested. Wrong. "Profits!", they hooted! Why would anyone would go out of their way to listen to priests and nuns talk! Both women attend their childhood churches; know who they are. They aren't seekers. They can't imagine why anyone would be visiting churches, as I am. Interesting difference from my experience Out West. Both claim they don't know everyone in Jacksonville; cudda fooled me. Couldn't talk 'em into walking downtown to show me the sights. Not walkers. Me neither, lately.
Soon I'll walk down to find the coffee shop I keep hearing about; learn what an aging, non coffee drinker does in a coffee shop. (Later-- Hold her breathe and Use the wIreless; didn't stay long--hot, smoky, loud teen hang out. Bet those who recommend it don't hang out.) Soon I'll start on the volunteer application for the prison.
Sept 2, 2006
Waiting at O’hare. Paid off hours of karmic debt, sitting in the kids section of the plane. Folks smiled benevolently; I put in earplugs and made faces at the kids now and then, who didn't look, because they knew they were getting away with murder, bless their parents. Long flight; mercifully had 2 seats to slouch in. Read through 2 entire yoga magazines. Chanted Why Me, Lord and drew cartoons in my head. Aer Lingus gals so pretty in aqua.
Live & learn-- monastic pilgrimage Ireland was not. The leader's rap about the phoniness of Celtic spirituality was classic defensive flailing, even the religious sister noted.
· Dublin: Actor Neil O'Shea's 1 man Irish Writers play. Experienced traveler Sue came along. Wish she'd included others in her side excursions. 31 control freaks abroad, apologies to Mark Twain.
· Dublin. Followed Fr. and buddies to museum of illuminated manuscripts from all religions. Gasped audibly at every beautiful page.
· Dublin - National Museum. Lo, there were gold "torks", like the one I'd read about being hauled up in a fishing net off Scotland. Some of these came out of bogs. Over heard a Brit comment, "Well, I'll be". (?) The museum was beyond words. Stood my feet into oblivion that day.
· Glenstal Abbey, a working abbey that's picking up monks when other monasteries close. Fr. arranged for brother Colman, library scholar, monk extraordinaire, to talk with us. What a teacher! God still gets the best, Corine commented.
· Off the beaten path ruins with Marilyn from TX, who didn't go into visitors centers or on tours.
· Bathtub! Final 4 night stay, Esker Retreat center.
· Good food. Real cream and butter; rhubarb yogurt.
· Ireland--nation of slender folks, rapid walkers, foreign language speakers. Cute clothes; not my size.
Once out of Dublin, we boarded a bus and saw ruins… and more ruins.
One yoga magazine article on the flight back was about slowing down! Almost cried--felt so wrong to have rushed across Ireland, yet I didn't have the confidence to leave the group. Fine tour for type A's. When I whined about not having time to see the ever so photographic Clifden Abbey and Gardens, I heard, "You gotta choose", Returned on time and waited on the bus for whoever chose to be late that time. Truly a do-it-yourself tour.
Survived! Clock and sleep-wise the day flight back was much easier than the night flight over, which was like losing an entire day of one's life.
In some ways the trip was vacation, especially after moving all summer. Only checked email 3-4 times at cyber cafes—close to a computer fast. No phone or music (radio on ferry). Weather cooler than ID or IL. Walked and walked; slept well, except 1 night. Abundant opportunities for spiritual practice. As Garrison Keillor quipped once, the only problem with vacations is-- you gotta take yourself!
“Home”, Illinois. Moving and Ireland were sufficient birthday events if I wanna think of them that way. Feel ok, if dislocated and disoriented, back in the Midwest. I'm observing Jacksonville like the outsider I am. Can't tell you how many times the CD "Returning" has come to mind. Is that why I liked it so much the first time I heard it? Did I know I'd be returning to my roots? The last page in Yoga Journal tells how David Swenson ended up returning from a lifetime abroad to where he grew up in Texas, finding all he needed there.
I'm back to wearing earplugs at the rectory--trains are so very near and frequent--yearning for a window that opens, all of which probably contribute to the confusion of this surreal experience! Listing trains today—4:30am; 5:40am; 6:09am! Must be 2 different tracks from the sounds of them….
So wanna have yoga classes again; gotta let go, practice patience, accept what is, and listen for possibilities. Sounds like faith! Big hole in life without a place to talk and practice yoga with a familiar group. For a small town, Jacksonville has a fair number of beloved yoga teachers. So far all the teachers I've visited are fitness instructors who include yoga in their list of classes they teach.
God's also in charge of where I'll live. Lotta letting go, letting God on my plate. Some things I worry about a lot, others not so much. House hasn't sold, Boise market just fell I gather. Watch thinking.
Read a pretty funny article in the Chicago Tribune about the booming storage unit business. Had my name on it!
The Labor Day weekend I returned I went out to the 2nd 2 evenings of Jacksonville's 8th annual, old fashioned tent. Prairieland Chautauqua on Illinois history, nat. A pretty young college prof (woman) sang 19th century hymns as lovely as anything I'd ever heard and boy did the gray heads sing along. Instead of hiking, rafting or hunting, some folks seem to enjoy things like re-enacting poets and old fashioned music. V. interesting, v. different. Lots of reasons to sit here; gonna have to make myself walk. My travel legs immediately geared down.
August 9, 2006
Subject: Returning to Illinois
This phase of life is surely entitled: I don't know!! As in, where's the Illinois map? (Why did I pack it up rather than put in car--Where did I think I was going!) I don't know! How long does it take? Dunno! Dunno! Where will you stay? I dunno! Folks want answers and I only know I'm pulling up stakes, leaving Boise, packing up, heading back to Illinois. Then I'll go on to the rest of the questions.
On The Road--finally--/mid afternoon August 4th! Dazed, drained, relieved, for better or for worse, Boise's in the rear view mirror. Mailed a zillion boxes; I'm numb or teary. Moving 6 states is too big to grasp, returning to roots. No wonder I've love the CD "Returning" ever since I heard it in Sue's yoga class. As I drive east, only sacred music sounds right, especially Thomas Otten, whom I first heard in Jeannie D's yoga class.
How can some folks move regularly!
Twice in Idaho a loud pickup roared by, pair of large testicles swinging from trailer hitch. Either he (I assume) passed twice, or there is another rig, same, same. On I-84 and I-80 I was passed by Uhaul after Uhaul, a veritable river of us hauling stuff across the country.
Especially Dan B, whom I met early in Boise through Religious Science, appeared at exactly the right times to help move. He's an extraordinary organizer, can't say enough about his good nature, good sense and heart. Only saints could have put up with me... Dan, Gary, Sally...
When Tri announced Boise Vineyard would host Tending the Garden: environmental stewardship conference August 1&2, realized attending it would be the perfect closing for Boise. Tri ended up calling it a summit meeting, since attendance was uh... light. Peter Illyn spoke the first night. Both his upright posture and message are stunning. Particularly appreciated his story about building a screen porch to die on after a serious diagnosis.
The following morning Tri mentioned he'd been weepy all that first day. Me too. Couldn't sing that first morning I was so choked up, especially when I saw Tri's mom and daughter in front, father in evening. Imagine such family support!
The final evening elder Calvin DeWitt spoke, starting with his story of growing up, loving his home zoo. Soon, we were all singing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below….” with his strong bass.
A conference validating (my) passion for the earth, sponsored by a nondenominational church (where leaders still bother to point out that Henry David Thoreau wasn't christian) is ground breaking; meant much to me. Who cares who's christian, who's black, who's white, who's divorced, who's gotta prison record? Who are we who abuse the earth to judge someone like Thoreau who walked gently!! Snort, snort.
Maybe I'll write a wrap up letter about my 7 years attending the Vineyard--what a pleasure it was to experience such functional leadership, watch the church bloom. Maybe not. My offer to teach yoga, like my request to join a prison bible study team, was "answered" with silence. I'd be tempted to mention how I was called in by a pastor and told not to mention yoga and the Vineyard; how a church leader pronounced the catholic meditation group I love to be a cult. I felt judged. I'd be tempted to share how I finally found a way outside of the church I love, to volunteer in prison , how awesome it was to facilitate meditation. Don't think BVCF's ready to hear that. But they've accepted the E word, Environment, so there's hope! Without the Vineyard there's a Grand Canyon sized hole in my life. Perhaps my mission in Boise--sitting in the congregation praying and yearning for consciousness to be expanded--was accomplished. Time to go.
Like a good steward, most of the holes I dug in Boise were filled. Mike from near St Louis is much, much more than taking my place in the church garden. Bill's thrilled; so am I. Linda expressed interest in the prison class when one of the inmates personally wrote the local addresses I rustled up for buddhism. Bless him! She has a lot of stuff going on. It's as though I'm handing her the key to heaven, healing, a winning lottery ticket, and she's hesitating. Her heart is right. The Boise "buddhist" leaders I queried about interest in the class, failed to respond or circulate my request. What rascals! The incarcerated have no idea how imperfect the "real" world is! Administration wouldn't permit her visit with me my final evening.
Folks in “my” long time noon yoga class are switching to Jan's class nearby. They signed a lovely card of the Sawtooths for our last class. Claudia and I couldn't speak, say good-bye. John emails they're pleased with Jan and her big class twice a week for which she is well paid. Meow.
Jacksonville!! Slept in clothes in toyota for 3 nights--don’t mind sleeping with semis at rest stops. ( Interesting how more and more semis are driven by couples and eastern Europeans.)
Staying at lovely old "restored" catholic rectory. Room #4 uses a skeleton key. Cool, eh? It's bigger 'n' nicer than any place I've ever lived. However, no windows open in the entire building! And it's a block from the railroad which has tons of trains! Hear that whistle blow! And that, and that! May stay 'til I buy, or decide to rent, long term, quite a few moons. Don't have it together yet to make that kind of decision. Still feels like I'm visiting or on vacation. Haven't seen right place. I'm obsessed with wanting trees and a porch! Please and thank you, God! Having just packed up Boise, I'm still overwhelmed by the homeowner thing; yards are kind enormous here. Looked at house on a double lot with Diane last night (and another on a lot and a half, without mature trees. Who mows the (huge) yard I exclaimed! "Ralph does", (long retired husband). Tougher folks than I!
Old/new buddy Charley, who moved back home a few years back, reports he's amazed by the people who've expressed interest in meditation—he's been researching on my behalf. He's a first class net worker. He's headed east for 3 weeks. Meanwhile high school classmate Brenda from Rhode Island and I visited while she was back for family reunion.
Good news: thanks to Idaho's eye ball baking 100 + degree training before I left, Illinois weather's not shocking. Humid breezes, soft sun and the roar of cicadas seems rather pleasant. A few lightning bugs still blink. Love hearing cardinals and their occasional red flash.
The second morning I awoke at the old rectory, as I started downstairs I was startled to see rain running down the street, big drops splashing-- couldn't be Idaho!
Yoga classes at the Y and college seem to be on vacation--(Jacksonville's population is only ~19,000). I'm in great need of continuing yoga! Delighted to learn the fitness center by the hospital offers easy yoga! Keen to attend, meet instructor--oops she's an aerobics instructor who read an article a couple weeks ago. Maybe I can get back into late night walks like I was talking in Boise, before packing overwhelmed me, although I don't feel comfortable with my neighborhood here. Classmate Connie's a couple blocks away; maybe we can walk with her fierce basset. Nope, she can't do summer.
Phoned local prison volunteer coordinator; he sent volunteer application.
Several things have gone amiss in Jacksonville while I was gone 40 years. In addition to the downtown square being closed up, killing the heart of the town, it lost any "real" grocery store, is left with bulk chains on the highway/strip. Never thought I'd miss Albertsons. Perhaps the v. worst news is the amazing, unique row of community signs that stunned me when I visited maybe last fall, have all been removed--what a statement of missing community. Told classmate Teddy who's involved with the visitors bureau.
Good News: the Farmers Market in Jacksonville is stellar. Unlike Boise where the Farmers Market can't find a home, there's no competition here! It's held in a big parking area on the main drag. Bad news is the frig at the Rectory froze the rest of the tomato I picked up from Brenda's brother. It'll be good to have my own place when the time comes. With windows that open, and an Illinois screen porch like Randalls and Duane's family have! .
While Cathy, Bob and others celebrated Charley's especially good buddy Ruth's 80th on my first Saturday evening in Jacksonville, I rooted in my west facing storage units, sweat dripping. May be years 'til this strong willed spirit finds a place in community. Or, maybe next year my fellow Leos and I can celebrate together--how's that for optimism! Thanks to Idaho I realize I prefer my own thing--like go into prison Friday evenings--rather than watch videos with the gals. But also thanks to Idaho, I realized I wanted community more than mountains, and possibly my own thing.
All the boxes I mailed plus the Budget Truck load of odd shaped stuff I brought out in May are stored--2 big new units, out in a field. There's an inch gap under one door! Realized these new units, like the field, are full of crickets, which eat most anything. Stuff, stuff; attachment, attachment!! As I moved clothes into new plastic tubs--buy them in 2's/3's or 4's--whatever I can lift and fit in the car-- murdered crickets, one per dresser drawer. They squished kelly green. What do I have that color? Don't wanna know! Resorted to a bug bomb in the older unit, shortening my life, since I didn't know what a fogger was!. Pesticide shelves are full of possibilities!
Ever since I pulled off the highway, looking for a car camp site the first night back, and heard the roar of cicadas and crickets in the woods near Barry, I've felt as though I've gone from desert to jungle. (Rather not remember the Uhaul jackknifing on the fresh gravel, deciding where I slept.) Needless to say such extreme measures--using insecticides-- in the name of worldly attachment are causing moral and health angst! Using a camphor Vick's-like vaporizer Charley suggested, pouring into bedding boxes. Plastic isn't perfect-- gaps and mold holes--but I hope it keeps critters at bay until I get own place. As I left last night, sprayed along the door with the gap. Carefully pointed the can--backwards!!--spraying up my arm! I remain on the sanity/insanity borderline.
I'm back in the wilds for the night, celebrating my 61st, writing my way back into perspective, car camping on the flats in the Jim Edgar Panther Creek SF&WA/state wildlife area, near where I spent my first steamy Illinois night blocking the road (not one car came by!).
June 27, 2006
Subject: June moving report
Musta been a hundred today! 85° when I flew in late last night from Illinois (via Phoenix—106° there). Tried sleeping upstairs with fan; relocated downstairs to porch—still barely cool enough for a sheet. Up unusually early, watered tomatoes, listened to answering machine. (By afternoon I was ready for a nap. Tired? Dr A, asked. Of course. Always on the verge of sleep when I see him.)
Overwhelmed as I am about the remaining sorting and packing, still clear about a few things lately—hints like: wait ‘til morning to listen to weekend messages. Good thing--Polly’d called to say friend Paula’s ”no longer with us” (years of mental health struggles). Paula was part of my Seattle life, Polly’s pea patch partner. Best to hear that as the sun turned morning clouds orange, celebrating her passing, rather than before I tried to sleep on a hot night. Sometimes, good instincts.
Just back from another Illinois trip. Learned I'm a picky gal in terms of house hunting. Saw a couple of yards I liked (would almost, but not quite, sell my soul for the woodsy one). One house had a dreadful smell; another, a stairway right inside the front door, quite like I have now and hope not to have again. Lovely homes, but all I saw were huge utility bills, upstairs rooms roasted by summer sun (know about that), bare yards, without even teenage trees. One location had more traffic than I have in Boise. Another, a perilous upstairs catwalk between rooms—you’d have to see to believe. Between me and the realtor it's fairly easy to spot trouble. The pricey house (2 big trees in front!) I insisted upon looking at had a dreadful floor plan, helping me realize doubling the price range isn’t necessarily the answer.
By the end of the first day, realized I'd be renting ‘til something feels right. Seem to want to be as close as possible to the old neighborhood that was once home, near the “new” Y (that wasn’t there when I was). Patient realtor Dianne realizes one’s requirements fly out the window when the right house comes along!
Stayed at the Old Rectory on East State, where train after train blasted and rolled by in the next block, especially late at night. No windows seem to open but air conditioning was good. Lovely, restored building.
Fetched the dozen plus boxes I'd mailed back to PO Box 72 and moved them into a second storage unit, west of town. (We need proof of residence, postal clerks reminded me. Like, I'm packing and mailing just for fun!)
Spent evenings on Charley’s roof watching fireflies in the giant trees in his old neighborhood, entertained with marvelous stories, history and thoughts. What-a-mind. In between, class reunion organizer Connie brought together several of us classmates for agreeable get togethers. Very fun, reconnecting. More socializing in one weekend in Jacksonville than a year in Boise! Or so it seemed.
Nearly everyone I met, paused, rolled back time—dad died in 1977--and said, “a Hemphill wrote up the papers to… adopt our children, buy our house, insure…. Obviously, I'm returning to reap dad’s legacy, and mom’s (more generations on dad’s side). Stopped by down-the-street neighbor’s estate sale. All 3 kids home; knew everyone, greeted by all.
I'm putty in realtor Dianne’s hands. Met her at 7am in the French green bean line at the Farmer’s Market, every bit just as delightful as she’d described. [Exactly like the Boise Farmers Mkt down the street from me that was nuked a couple summers ago for “insurance reasons”. Speaking of Boise becoming unreasonably legalistic—which is what I'm suggesting--the public library CD I alleged “lost” (and bought a replacement for) can no longer be accepted. Instead--$25 fine!]
Meanwhile, back in Jacksonville, returned to the rectory kitchen with bags of beans, onions and early corn; mini gooseberry and apricot pies; blueberries. Gonna have to try black raspberries another year! (Stopped for butter and half and half.) Cooked, photographed and breakfasted on fresh Illinois produce. Cool!
Writing back in Boise, savoring the pint of Hagen Das Crème Brule (HDCB) I just polished off. What a discovery! Bought enough HDCB at the Boise coop to get through July. Boise doesn’t have Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Learned St Louis has closest ones to Jacksonville.
That’s more or less the report from Boise where both my Glenwood house upstairs and downstairs floors are covered with boxes, loose stuff—truly horrible mess. Downstairs backroom is piled mainly with “to recycle” or “give aways”. (Alas, church rummage sale canceled. Made $7.50 at the neighbor’s June yard sale; spent $25!) Front half of garage holds empty boxes. Back half, packed boxes, to mail, or perhaps for a small trailer end of July; and of course, beaucoups boxes yet to be gone through.
Snail’s pace. But yes, great satisfaction finally getting a box packed. Sorting through tapes, listening to old favorites, being startled how much I still love some (which go into go-to-Illinois piles, or realizing I can live without others.) It’s good. Washing, mending, making decisions. Yes, reluctant satisfaction, doing what’s needed to be done for decades. Extremely grateful for the time to do so.
Want to have house show-able and sell-able in July! Be in Illinois first of August.
Thank you all a million for kind words, prayers, patience, letters and calls cheering me onward. Now and then someone (in addition to me) goes berserk on me, reminding me to be happy where I am, one can't run away from one’s self. When I can, run off to tent in the trees Sunday nights to listen and ground; sort through the range and barrage of emotions, dust and dirt stirred up. Face clutter, eating, relationship issues; celebrate wisdom and clarity. Own what I'm leaving, trading off, open to what’s next. Can’t even “go there” in terms of leaving the mountains, the west—too big! Practice remembering it's not all about me (sure sounds like it). Listen for guidance, breathe.
Ten thousand blessings from Boise,
May 22, 2006
Subject: May Moving Report
Achoo, achoo. April showers bring May flowers. Indeed. More likely it's just me stirring up old dust in the house any time I move, let alone open a cupboard or box!
Maybe I can get in Ripleys Records as the world's slowest mover. Some claim to fame! Always schlepped slowly.
Pastor Tri's new series of talks on simplicity are stunning (no evidence they're helping me literally get rid of stuff!) Haven't ditched anything startling yet. He says it's a 7 week series. I like the way he keeps uncovering stuff; hope it lasts longer. True, I might not be around, but I'll listen online. Not like being there, nat. Simplicity! Yeah! He's really saying the un-sayable to us. Less is more, etc. The sanctuary hasn't emptied; but I bet there are more garage sales this spring!
Such a blessing, meeting the Vineyard. The Big Reason I landed in Boise? I'd like to write an exit letter to Vineyard staff; keep thinking who cares? Definitely one for myself. What outstanding leadership! Just have to let the rest of the imperfect human stuff go. Can do, when it's so clear the rest is in place. Can't not love a church that's going to show Fiddler on the Roof first Sunday in June and serve kosher hot dogs.
Still not keen about leaving the yoga or prison classes; everyone knows I'm moving. An absolutely wonderful thing happened at prison the other night I need to tell someone about! A couple of weeks ago men who've visited classes maybe just once the last couple of years, started stopping by to talk, since no one's been showing up for the first hour of class lately. Hispanic Pete—always liked his spirit--bared his heart about falling back into old habits when released next year. Of course we talked about families (tough, tough, tough I agree). Having just read a story of how a mother in prison connected with her dying 5 year old via drawing pictures, I asked if that would be a way to communicate with his youngest. He shook his head—“can't draw”. Could see how tender his heart is. A couple of regulars arrived for the 2nd hour of class; Pete stayed and the Asian prayed fervently for all. (Well worth my time and the drive.)
The following week, Pete stopped by briefly and left. Talked with another inmate first hour (looked unsuccessful around the chapel for Pete when we meditated). Pete returned 2nd hour, pulling out the letter he'd received from family--the first in 3 years, he claimed—showing me a photo of the young son he is particularly concerned about, another of his strikingly handsome incarcerated son. I was struck dumb as it were, at how fast God can work and deeply moved. “You shudda seen me!” Pete says. Soon four of us were back on our knees in Buddhist class while the Asian prayed in his languages. “What are you saying?” Pete asks with slight Mexican accent? The Asian replies in heavy accents I only catch a few words of, feeling out the rest. Something works, we all agree.
Anyhow. The “heavy stuff” of my life is in storage in Illinois--dressers, rocking chair, boxes of books, 13” tv-vcr, stepper, picture frames. Now that I've recovered from that adventure, starting to pack up the rest, in small micro-bursts. The other day I learned how to post for sales on Craigslist. What doesn't sell means give away. (Hope to hear of an agreeable rummage sale soon.) Futon bed and table don't go to Illinois, though after all these years, finally found a highly comfy combination of padding for the futon. However, even I won't move a broken futon frame. Life will be rather mono dimensional, aside from folding chairs and dressers.
Started to move onto the porch for the summer when the 90s hit last week (preparation for Illinois, I figure.) Most evenings there's wind and rain (spectacular trees snaps last weekend), so I retreat upstairs, under the fan. Favorite porch mattress is in already in Illinois; haven't found comfortable replacement in what's left.
“Thought you were in Minneapolis, Minnesota, somewhere east”, an acquaintance said last night. Another says Ohio. Whatever. Still here, folks. Not all my stuff, or my full attention.
Off to Seattle and Folklife over memorial weekend. Thought last year was my last, but another excursion feels right--visit, walk and camp by the Sound.
Planning weekend to hear Sister Joan Chittister and Father Richard Rohr in Albuquerque the weekend before 4th of July. Gonna need clarity and inspiration during this transition back to roots—more than a weekend, at least a full years worth. Yes, yes, it is time to “listen with every fiber of our being!” Plan to fly to Illinois some weekend in June and serious scout lodgings. Again in July, maybe a final drive (perhaps rent small trailer). Mail final boxes. June and July--empty house, get ready to sell. Keep packing CDs, stuff, Jeannie
Such a blessing the way God raps things up. Gospel director Cora returned from Seattle for another benefit concert last weekend. I was surprised that I wasn't included in the potluck that welcomed her when she arrived. This time I had an even clearer sense that her need for perfection in choir was beyond me--I merely make a joyful noise. OK to let go of singing with that group again. What a minister, Cora! Her micro preaching about why she writes each song is finest gold.
I've appreciated the Episcopalian women who've let me attend their women's circle (reading Joan Chittister) this past year. Last week I finally “got it” that they need to talk about Bush and Iraq every time, so I will let go of my expectation for a group to discuss how not to judge politicians, the younger generation, etc; how to keep minds on the high ground/God, to focus on what's working! Let go, let go. (Though I know inmates, yoga students, and (chiropractor) Dr A. will remain close to my heart!)
Of course the house suddenly seems wonderful, as it has less stuff in it; the peonies (I planted) are finally prepare to burst. Columbine bloomed, a small group of lilies of the valley finally bloomed earlier and the step-able thymes I put between the paver rocks by the front door are spreading and blooming. As I leave, at last the yard is no longer a dog run! Sniff.
Thanks so for all the prayers and good wishes.
January 1, 2006
Another letter arising on the heels of the December one!
It's the New Year and I'm at Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat in Oregon, enjoying R & R, doing battle with ye olde ego and past/ present/future--the usual suspects! Something of a relief to be around west coast urban folk—the oh so wary and wounded gay—after White-a-ho. Especially delightful to meet a Muslim practicing at Ananda—only in Seattle! Still, didn't take long though to realize it takes more than “progressives”—actually heard the word aloud—to feel at home. (As if I'm an expert on home!)
Finished reading An Outrageous Woman: a true story of shrimpers, politicos, polluters and the fight for Seadrift, Texas by Diane Wilson. Went on to the next most urgent due date, an interlibrary loan: Joan Chittister's, Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope. Wasn't worried about Joan's little book getting misplaced. If I'd left it by the coffee epicenter, it would have been an invisible Hope Diamond, utterly secure. Sensed few at this self focused venue would wanner read “everyone goes through pain and sorrow… the necessary struggles of life stretch our soul and enable us to go on with life.” [Paraphrasing inside cover.]
Sociable “What are you reading?” [Joan Chittister] was followed by silence (and perhaps a quick reach for an amulet to ward off evil Christianity!) No one expressed even a spark of interest, curiosity or familiarity with that Benedictine nun, possibly one the strongest feminists and political radicals of our time. After all, she's religious, like Bush, the pres I haven't thought about for a week.
One roommate read Sea Biscuit. Another woman told me mentioned she and her husband preferred to read books for work.
Although I've been attracted to Breitenbush by the green forest, hot springs and the unhurried atmosphere, I see more clearly this visit that the community isn't spiritually anchored. Duh. It's a do-your-own thing community dancing with contemporary entitlement attitudes. Folks didn't even seem particularly earth muffin-ish. Helpful to remember and appreciate that the community keeps the hot springs from falling into private hands, off limits to the public. Good luck and God bless.
I was surprised no one expressed even nominal interest in Diane Wilson's Outrageous Woman book, even when I snorted and laughed aloud. Here I was in Oregon, leader in matters green and growing! Turns out Wilson's a modern disciple of Gandhi!!! (I sure hadn't known that.) Not an easy read due to her extremely colorful, regional style that kept me continually backtracking for subject and verb. But oh, what a story. First time I've so clearly watched the movie at the same time I read the book. I'd absolutely love to hear Diane read or speak. Certain she has more to write. Whatawoman. Whatamind.
Early on when a woman had asked what I was reading I'd tipped up the cover so it could be read. “Just tell me”, she ordered. [Progressives! Thought I missed ‘em!] “An amazing woman took on pollution in Texas all by herself.” Not a flicker. “She loves the coast and silence like life….” The inquirer was loooong gone. I clamed like Ivar said, or Diane might write. Boy does she set one free! The same inquirer, I think, posted a private sign on the sanctuary where I especially liked to read and rest, in order to read tarot cards to a client!
Environment—passé?, like religion, morals, thank you notes, phones that stay home! I'm a dinosaur in my own time, even as I write on this artifact of a micro computer off ebay (first and last excursion.)
Food--Breitenbush is famous for serving organic food. And NO desserts. (A common liaison I'm learning!)
I pulled into camp at the end of dinner to find, of course, the big teapot canister was empty. “Please don't run out of tea” had been my plea on my evaluation last visit. Ha. Squeezed between tables to sit down with dabs of what was left of dinner. Someone sat close avoiding eye contact. When the partner arrived, I understood why the first ignored me. Partners—boundaries of affection…. welcome to the holidays with all our baggage!
Having pretty much missed dinner, the next morning, while it was still dark, heard the distant breakfast bell with hope. In the short serving line I was momentarily pleased the fellow in front seemed friendly, commenting that he really liked the miso soup, which I was also enthusiastically heading for with a “Me too”. “Then why don't you just go to the store”, he jabbed. I “kept clam”. Breitenbush visitors--a psychiatrist's dream.
Next to the miso soup-- couldn't believe my eyes searching for my idea of healthy, protein-like food--cinnamon rolls! Here I am trying to stay away from bread, sweets, wheat, dairy! I can walk away from the average cinnamon roll, but home baked? (There was also oatmeal and fresh fruit.)
After a few meals I realize how “yin” Breitenbush food is—soft, pale, bland and sweet dominate. Bread, soup, green salad; overcooked broccoli (not easy in steam trays). Not as extreme as Lenox retreat meals back east, but mighty yin. My final evening I almost took a photo of one of the worst looking and smelling stew I've seen, but I simply didn't have the nerve. The only identifiable object in the stew—my old nemesis from the dread triune olives/celery/green pepper: whole olives.
I'm getting better at taste testing a small dab before scooping onward. However, steam trays of anything tasty usually go fast, as in, gone, none left. So I'm tempted to be greedy in case it's good! Grateful to be cooked for, everyone loves the food.
After a couple of days, several folks looked pale, confessing to nausea and messed up guts. I nodded and mentioned my hemorrhoids were berserk. The bathrooms I frequent frequently confirm I'm not alone with indigestion. Tonight was beans, fried green peppers and onions; fresh tomatoes, and green salad; tortillas and hot sauce (ran out); yams ran out too. Sounds good, hard on my gut.
Following lentils, bread and salad, the flavors and spices at New Year's Eve dinner were shocking. Suddenly trays of fried foods—tempura, egg rolls, spanakopita and tamales. I composted an unprecedented quantity; never thrown out so much food in my life. Maybe I'm learning compost or be ill.
Followed by more special treats: glorious desserts. The chocolate truffles were grabbed up before many folks saw them. With enormously relief I handed half my truffle to Shebna's husband, who'd missed out.
Dinner stayed down this year, but I still felt awful. How I wished we cudda had those pretty tarts some noon! But this was it--our lone chance for dessert! Oink!
When I moaned aloud I was incapable of sitting up after dinner—not kidding--a couple of folks chuckled. Slumped against the wall of the sanctuary to watch astrologer Gretchen outline the planets in the coming year. Astrology, no cal food for thought.
Lo, back in the main room we then danced through a half dozen songs with Sister Monk's Harem. When I'd had enough rock ‘n’ roll, soaked in the dark in the medicine wheel hot tubs where a touchy stranger asked me to identify myself and shine my flashlight on my face! Then asserted herself and asked me to be quiet. Couldn't help it—burst out loud when suddenly I saw stars through the trees while it was raining! Control freaks; know ‘em night or day.
Speaking of control freaks…I is one. As an elder and Midwesterner, I'm aghast by the prevailing “whatever” attitude towards those who “miss out” on food and perhaps elsewhere. Assume I'm not the only visitor/guest paying close to $100/day for a whatever shrug! “Special diet only” is just a sign. If it looks good, it's yours. Tonight I watched a young woman empty the salsa container while another woman waited hopefully. The young one shrugged: whatever.
“It's all perfect.” “Just go with the flow.” Heard it again and again. It is? Maybe yes, maybe no. The phrase “I-centered” kept wafting by, followed quickly by “You don't know my story”. I don't.
Just as I went into cozy “Buddha's house” to read, a young gal imperiously announced it needed cleaning now. I looked around puzzled, thinking how badly the sanctuary needed cleaning, and left. Passed her later, still talking to buddies, as I wandered back, a former donor from Idaho, sensitive about supporting a community with an attitude and 3 months paid vacation.
Always dread speaking with community members. One noon I asked who the 4:30pm yoga teacher was. “He's not here”, the woman said coldly. (Not where, but who, I thought!) “He's a wise 28 year old. Sorry I can't tell you more,” she said insincerely. “Very helpful”, didn't sound sincere though I mean it. I'd stick to reading and writing.
Tried 2 afternoon yoga classes. Enjoyed the relaxing music the first young gal played at the beginning and end of class. In between things ripped. Right off we were asked to rock up and over into plow, followed by double leg lifts and lowers!! And so it went. One person's beginners class, my no way. Another afternoon, an elder (younger than me) taught a much more doable pace. Particularly liked how he opened saying yoga is listening. Liked his loose print pants even more. (Came home and pulled out mine, though I haven't worn ‘em to class yet.)
Compassion--always the answer, the practice. So difficult at retreats where I quickly judge so many as fearful, guarded and unhappy. Defensive, frightened lesbians, relieved to be where they can dance together. Eccentric gay men. Occasional odd loners like me float through. Women defensively quickly mention daughters, sons and partners. Yawn. Yet I'm grateful for a place where the socially weird can be at peace without innuendoes or slurs, for I am one. Grateful for the incredible rain--at least 2 days of heavy, continuous rain, melting December snow, swelling rivers, flooding roads. Loved sleeping to the sound of steady rain in a cozy steam heated cabin with a window open, watching rain run down the sky light in the sanctuary. Breitenbush, indeed a place of incredible rain, rust, rot and maintenance just as business manager, founder and returning elder Peter put it. Never used an umbrella so much in my life, in and out of buildings. My Idaho lottery umbrella snapped aluminum stays; dangerous little wire hooks hung, threatening to poke eyes.
Grateful for “dry”, if humid, warm buildings; food. For dry boots and patient footing through icy ruts. Agreeable young roommates even the first who wanted the room hot. For the generous origami crane facilitator; for Peter's honesty. For bits of time in hot pools between crowds. For the fellows who manage the hydroelectric system. For showers. For those who leave interesting shampoos behind. For the Muslim's warmth and openness; for the silent meditations she promoted. “I'm a meditation evangelist”, I explained, only I said “mediator”. “That too”, I added. Folks disappeared into their worlds of health challenges, professions and pets. “Retired, single, dependent free” was an utter conversation stopper with these overachievers, and of course, youth.
The final morning no one else showed up to meditate at 11am.
Grateful to have enjoyed dog free days and nights. Saw one cat. Tonight children are back in the schedule; one has perfected a hack as loud as a shotgun. Time to go.
To say good bye to Breitenbush. I'm a peace that in that moment of goodwill I made such a generous donation. I wish the community luck and bless them as they struggle to recreate community, do their rebellious thing with what feels like scorn for elders. (I've certainly been there!)
I'm extremely grateful for all those who hosted me over the holidays, from Bellingham through Bremerton to Breitenbush, and for others I would like to have visited. Come to Idaho soon, soon!
Traveling mercies, J