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from Jeannie Hemphill, December
new email:  retro_illini (at sign) frontier (dot) com

PRAIRIE COLLAGE (letter below)

2010-1 one degree
2010 cruise color
February warm up - mission accomplished
2010 first week April blood root emma sanctuary
April 2 - Blood Root already in bloom
Emma Mae Leonhard Sanctuary, Lake Jacksonville
2010 april basket tree
Basket (by Nancy) tree - Southwest escape
2010 may waterlilies
Monet on the Illinois prairie
Rainy May kayak expedition
2010-6 island ferry
Memorial weekend
2010 wstu mpls
Brother Stu in Minneapolis
June - photo by 9 yr old Timo
classmates gather now and then

2010 aug w jamie
Brother Jamie
August (last yr's photo)
July cabbage
Farmers Mkt - oh do I have photos!
katherine ringeisen layer
Mom's ggrandmother Catherina Ringeisen Layer born in German.
Where and when did she die??   (no answers)

2010 labor day burgoo
Sean's Labor Day family burgoo!

Dear Friends!

    This 5th year on the prairie, still adjusting, still rolling my eyes, still grateful.   
    If last year was surpassingly strange, this one has been exceedingly difficult.  Had no idea my medicare year would be so tough, starting with the hard drive crash of February, taking 2-1/2 yrs of fun photos and addresses into cyberspace (notably the lone Hemphill descendant (bay area I think) who made contact fall 2009).  Reconciling the medical world with my passion for self care turned out to be upending.  Sick for weeks, starting in May following rainy day kayak outing, then again in the fall!  Currently I've let a tooth drama/ abscess/ antibiotics take over my life.  Sick again the night before the root canal.  Big lessons in surrender to health, dental work, expense.  Gratitude for guidance and help working through this-- "Courage, little piglet" Laura quoted.
Exceedingly wet again this year and exceedingly hot (sprinkler system never used; good thing-- more and more heads out of commission--another SUV backed onto lawn a few weeks back).  Pond in back turned slimy; unplugged pump.  Come fall, Pat's team cleaned pond; enjoyed watching birds and squirrels play in the water... 'til ice moved in.  I'll never get over having red birds to watch!  No pseudo lady bug plague this fall--something different in the aphid world of crops.
    Maybe I can learn something from sorting through the yin and yang of 2010.  Making sense of the decade is out of the question.  Need this review to look back, remember and appreciate what an amazing world and life it is, more often than not, to find balance in what looks for all the world like chaos!
    Friendships shifted.  Make new friends, keep the old?  Maybe, maybe not!  A small town is not an endless pool, but it is endless lessons.  Looking back at last year's ramblings, sense I'm more comfortable being the new-old kid on the block.  Rather do genealogy anyhow and practice doing one thing at a time, than try to keep up with Jacksonville's amazing social scene (no joke).

    Evidently I ran around a lot--put ~30,000 on the prius--still trying to shift; used the high clearance older RAV (w "new" white door) to take J. to hospital one terribly snowy morning (and me to dental cancellations this winter).  Two car family.
    Haven't made stollen and sandbakkel for 2 years now, but neither have I been sick for the holidays as I have most my life.  Change, change...  Every year it's own flavor (my world, nat).  Read on, if you dare, for highlights and reflections....

HIGHLIGHTS:  (might be related to photos-- note: smiley and frowny faces may convert to who knows what on other computers!  Guess what I enjoyed and didn't.)
WINTER - Illinois and Mississippi Rivers freeze--field trips to watch ice.  Successful warm up in Caribbean J.  Back to winter and the hard drive crash of 2010 - totaled. L. Tough lessons in letting go. L  Replaced Sony with mac, PC & netbook! (Bilingual. Shamed into Mac by geek challenge of 90 year olds learning)  Met Live broadcasts (Springfield) J JJ  (Cyber calendar lost, recall no more.)
APR - Prius to Albuquerque, AZ, UT, Colo - conference, camping, visits J  J
MAY -  Chicago - silent meditation; visits w Margo, Sean/his church, Art Inst; train into city JJ  Rainy day kayak through waterlilies J followed by sniffles L  Seattle Folklife (reconnected w Mary J) with bad cold L 
JUNE -  Sublime Orcas Island retreat JJ cough, cough.  Visited Stu/family, MN; retrieved mom's German roots photo album (see photo) JJJ  Super Sarah Powers yoga workshop, St Louis JJ  Long deep stretches ever since J  Heat, rain. 
JULY Not much camping or walking (muddy trails, flooded creeks).  Farmers Market highlight of summer on the prairie--early transparent apples--sauce time! JJ  Rains and heat make for fine apricots and berries; carrots, potatoes, tomatoes etc drown.  Mom's birding buddy turns 97--put photo in paper; survived threats of murder (re photo).  
AUG  - Super hot with bugs continues; Wisconsin just as awful L  Discovered Apple Canyon campground J  Brother Jamie visit!  Medicare suppl decision behind.  Tea w Sue; Sally's farm J  Collegemate Geo stops by.  BC researcher Dee finds Illinois Hemphills buried in Vancouver! J
SEPT -  Another superb local Chautauqua J West to Boise via SD, WY, CO; exc. full moon Italian dinner with IL/CO buddies in Colo Spgs J  Tooth breaks L  Autumn on return.  Local hospital "follies" - 96 yo Dr Bone sings "Climb Every Mtn" - stops show JJ
OCT - Doris Kearns Goodwin lecture J.  Mild fall follows scorching summer.  Wonderful Thicht Nhat Hahn retreat WI (photo below) JRoot canal/abscess L  First Wagner opera L
NOV Fox theater (St Louis) - South Pacific JJJ  Yoga restarts finally JJ  Y water sub.  Thanksgiving Italian style (St Louis)  JJ  Futon visitors (2 legged).
DEC  - Still waiting on crown L  Heading to Minneapolis J

SAME:  Classmate lunches; walmart as social center.  Yoga practice deepens.  Awesome body work with Mary J.  Y water classes.  Prairie Home Companion J.  Tues. 1pm Senior Singers w coach Mary Ann.  Too much food.  Silent (buddhist) sitting in Springfield.  Prison penpals.  Farmers market J.  Fireflies J  Genealogy addict.  Super local theater J  Met Live broadcasts (Springfield). 
FAMILY:  Brother Jamie detour (Kathy's family nearby).  Visited brother Stu/family in Minneapolis twice; back by toyota for Christmas--eek.  Brother Scott represented family at FL funeral of dad's brother Bill.  Anything I know about family I learn on facebook--gulp.  Hope to visit CT and MI cousins next year. To the best of my knowledge all are busy and well, kids launch to and from schools.
HOME:  Front walk railing, thank you Gary! J  Slept to sound of backyard water again this fall.  Global warming?  (See power bills; 24 yo furnace replacement under consideration.)  Ants keep marching on L.
MISSING:  Fenderbenders = 0  yeah!  J  Irregular Bible soap attendee.  Resigned fat club.
NEW:  Email address:  retro_illini (at) frontier (dot) com.  No more lonely nights for this prodigal on the prairie-- Facebook to the rescue!!  Chiropractor.  Latest addiction - Aldi's fried onions.  Occasional drum circle J  First time ever - take out pizza (pineapple-ham) ?
FAV BOOKS:  A Little History of the World (E. H. Gombrich); Founding Fathers (Ellis); Zookeepers Wife; Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks ***.  MOVIE: Blind Side.
CONFESSIONS:  Still can't make pie crust.  No closer to simplicity.  Journal not transcribed.

    Maybe no surprise Facebook is me.  I'm a writer, communicator (some disagree).  Life is definitely a patchwork of people and places.  Facebook seems to pull it together.  How would I know cousin Craig was ill or his son went to Puerto Rico?  I'm in touch a few folks each place I've lived, loved and left--Seattle and Boise church buddies; locals & high school classmates; cousins, nieces, nephews, young and old; delightful folks from genealogy world I've not met; Chicago 12 steppers; gay musicians and performers; church activists and never agains, students and practitioners of other faiths.  Threads to the rainbow family, social liberals, wiccans, fundamentalist Christians, and tea partyers weave together.  A virtual small town.  What delights me most is having an overarching connection to positive, grateful, careful thinkers--thank you, everyone!  Several people regularly post uplifting thoughts or quotes.  (My stunning contribution in that arena slipped by without comment.  So it goes.)  Nearly all mind their manners; smut and harshness seem less frequent than real life.  Delete.
    The church I attend most often is rising from the ashes.  My prayer is for change and positive thinking.  New Thought teaches: change your thinking, change your life-- an uncommon attitude where "we've always done it this way" reigns.
    The real deal remains my every day, small town Lake Wobegon life.  Rockin' on Betty's porch hot evenings w/ J and the cats, watchin' the world go by, is one of my fondest times.  Rubbing shoulders with those who think global warming and dinosaurs are hooey; listening to stories of being raised in orphanages; amazing, intimate stories slip out between talk of pets and grandchildren and more.  (Practice silently holding my nose or, as Judith says, biting tongue, though not always -- there've been some dreadful outbursts again this year I confess.)  Unlike Garrison Keillor, I tuck remarkable stories in my heart, rather than spin them on stage.  No end to learning how alike, different and bizarre we are.  Human gems, rough and polished in the heavily worked soil of the prairie.  Though nearly everyone seems to be or have been a teacher, it's those whose lives teach how to live successfully, with kindness, humor and compassion, through any experience you can dream of, who have my full attention.  (97 yr old B. remains silent on the subject.)   Current koan: How to be healthy in mind, body and spirit on the prairie?  Dunno. 
    Genealogy-wise, it was a year to more or less wrap up the record keeping German branch of the family tree and switch to dad's missing Irish Hemphill roots, and mom's far flung Coopers.  Absolutely must finish transcribing William Cooper's gold rush journal before it disintegrates (said that last year)!  And organize!  (Both genealogy and home.)  Having hung out in early 1800s records for Philadelphia for hours and hours, now keen to see the city where Hemphill cousins lived, even if I can't divine the family connection.  Mentor Dr K says one can't even think of giving up until one has spent at least 30 years digging.  ok, ok.  He's back in the 1200s (must have skipped the 1800s I whine).
   Christmas and New Year's greetings to all!  Send stories!  Better yet, y'all come visit (good enough futon here and motels near). 
   As singing coach Mary Ann always says abruptly, "We're done now".

Love and blessings from the prairie to all,

Wandering Monk Hotei
May we be as light hearted as wandering monk Hotei(?),
 (laughing all the while he's tormented by five "little rascals"!)

from fall teaching by Jack Lawler