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Travels with Jeannie

January 2011

Rio Grande sceneBig Bend eveningAlligator warning Sam Huston Jones Park
Warm afternoon along the Rio Grande, Albuquerque                                           Big Bend Natl Park TX                                                     Sam Huston Jones State Park Louisiana

Listening to the wind howl, snow blow, hard to believe it was flowers and low 60s in Vicksburg yesterday.  That's the thing--once I'm back, home is it.  Everything else becomes distant memories.
    Easy drive to Albuquerque to another awesome Rohr conference--this one on the Second Half of Life--bold, bold presenters.  Excellent company at the wonderfully funky, warm hostel again.  Reluctantly headed out into the increasingly nippy world.  Cold, cold nights in Big Bend NP (save time in the hot spring).  Winter softened as I got to southeast Texas and Louisiana.  Then rain began, leaving the impression the south is a muddy swamp.  Liked the Beward of Alligator sign in Sam Huston Jones park.  Would have liked seeing an alligator even more! 
    Other impressions of The South-- terrific cajun music station; awesome black gospel preachers and music stations.  After reading "The Help", seems the South has come a very long way, at least a lotta folks have.  Liked waiting in line for fried chicken with big blacks and white women with puffed "pentacostal" hair and long skirts.  Too bad the first church I came to Sunday morning was Church of God, not pentacostal.  Trip about did me in for winter travel and camping--nights too long and dark and lonely.  Wildly glad to be home, storm or not.

December 2010
Back to Minneapolis

minneapolis snow shovelerStu and family

Know better than to say never again Minneapolis at Christmas.  There I was (no airport involved).  Managed to drive between snows.  Stu's girls were away; moved into 3rd floor (brrr).  Karen had decked the house beautifully; she cooked intensively all week for a lovely Cmas eve dinner largely for friends of her son's--see picture-- (home from China).  Kids!  My highlight was making my way through the snow to Our Lady of Lourdes for a beautiful Cmas day service.  Lovely, lovely music and service in one of the oldest churches around.  Bro Stu and I talked late nights after work, experienced yet another peculiar play, art museum, and toured the city.  The daughters returned shortly after I headed south; I merely held the space.   Christmas with family.  It's been decades.

September 2010

Back to Boise

Devil's TowerFlat TopsAlcove Spring
Devil's Tower WY                                                                           Flat Tops CO                                                            Alcove Spring KS

Have prius, will drive and drive...  Memories.  Stop in Minneapolis for culture with Stu-- Erdrich play and photo exhib.  Went from scorching IL to cold clear night under stars at no electricity campground in the Badlands.  Heavy crowds in Yellowstone almost but not quite ruin park--campgrounds full--loved to death for good reason--watched distant griz feed on elk after sunset as wolves sat low in brush (I was told).  Excellent yoga anatomy workshop in Boise and visits.  Fine Colorado visit in Jct with Eve and family--whata garden!  Micro Reunion with of Illini and friends in Colorado Springs.  Love that drive across the prairie.  This time noticed turn off to Alcove Spring, a stop on the Oregon Trail.  Wagons across the plains means more to me now that I'm transcribing a Gold rush diary. 

June 2010
North to Minnesota - gathering family

photo by Timo
Photo by 8 yr old Timo

Wanna see family/brothers before I die.   For decades I've whined: all I want for Christmas is to see you.  If they won't visit, guess I gotta go fetch.  Stu responded to my threat to visit-- no weekend good some better than others.  Drove through super green Iowa for the first time.  Broke up Iowa (first time there) with a county park overnight--body likes this.  Minneapolis.... not so far after all.  GPS took me into the city, tho I suspect down a verboten detour exit (red signs, no one else exiting).  Nephew Bobby and friends biked over Friday night--v. cool to see them.  Over weekend, met more of Stu's blended family. 
    Stu stunned and exhausted me with a Saturday shopathon beginning with the huge downtown farmers market, a green fantasy to this vegetable starved Illinois winter survivor.  Stu stirfried (what made it from Jacksonville, plus his Costco favorites).  Took self to basilica Sunday to soothe cluttered soul (no family takers for any service anywhere--hoped for "free evangelical" service Stu pointed out).
    Genealogy mission accomplished also.  Old velvet photo album was indeed in the basement.  Turned out to be mom's Layer family.  I was thrilled.  Borrowed album and other black and white photos to study who might be who with magnifying glass.
    Favorite memory-- (Stu and I) dipping left over supper asparagus (farmers market, I insisted!) in mayo.  Never made it into the super crowded frig.
    Loved touring Mpls (being Stu's speed bump in his life) and of course best of all, picking up clues to the Big Mystery--family.  The Most High is a piece of cake in comparison.

May 2010
Northwest - Can't stay away!

    OK, one more Folklife Festival (maybe not another airline flight tho-- I'll drive if it takes a week, which it might.  The miracle of flying is lost on me during reschedules....  Attitude, J.)
    There I was, back at Folklife's 39th annual Festival.  I've attended all but 2 (I think) since 1985.  4 days later, left reassured the younger generation will carry on Folklife in some form or another.  Meanwhile, still an incomparable festival with wonderful spirit.  Except for dancers, more of us oldsters sat to watch stages-- sometimes under umbrellas.  Coolest, dampest Folklife I remember.  Coming from 90 degree Illinois, I wouldn't complain.   Heaven to use bedding at night! 
    Stuck to old favorites-- Ballard's Sedentary Band, choral workshops, acapella groups, Balkan bands.  Thoroughly enjoyed seeing a few old friends.  How often I heard--"not dancing anymore", but the dance floor was full without us.
    Buses ran well.  We elders stood while youth sat and texted each other.  It's a new world; time to walk into the snowy woods.
   After inflicting my sick presence on several good hearted friends who hadn't bargained on housing a sickie, took ferry out to Indralaya to rest.  Couldn't get lepers and untouchables out of my mind.  Absolutely hated being sick on the road, instead of home, inflicting myself on people I enjoy.  A motel wouldn't have done it but...   Loved staying on the Sound 2 nights.  Boy do I love the northwest!  But why so far away!!!
    More quick visits and a flight almost, but not quite, home.  One more night on the road, it turned out, before my own b-e-d.

April 2010
Southwest - bliss

  SE Utah
When I didn't hear more about AZ camping this spring, signed up for an appealing sounding April retreat in Albuquerque.  I was a desperate woman, desperate for sun and inspiration.  David talked me into driving (not flying) like real midwesterns do.  ('course they drive comfy cruisers with every last bell and whistle, they'll describe to anyone who'll listen.  I've got power locks for the first time; front seats slide forward and back.   Cool, eh?
    Headed west, right after Easter, "when I was ready".  Not at the crack of dawn; more like sunset.  Across 36 into Missouri, back roads, most the way to ABQ.  Conference grand, as was an old college mate visit afterwards in AZ.  Loved car camping in SW forests again, edge of snow banks.  Enjoyed feeling western sun and air.  Some mornings took time to just soak it up.  Happened to be able to intersect with old hiking gang for a blissful night in the UT desert (their first night of spring outing)  and day hike.  How I miss these respectful desert lovers!  Felt like Gen. MacArthur vowing to return.
   Crossed beautiful, nippy/high altitude Colorado for brief visit and stay with long time college mate George, just before he flew to visit nephew.  Loved returning on 36 through small KS and MO towns.  Also  loved crawling into own bed 2 weeks later.  Wasn't I lonely, bored, etc., driving 2 days alone?  Not with the excellent company of listening to Taking Woodstock and a gripping account of George Mallory's life, Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer.  2 compelling reads I'd grabbed without realizing what I was getting!  Rather not mention another I grabbed without realizing I'd already heard it and not liked it much!!

February 2010
Caribbean Cruise!

     Winter break south.  Mission accomplished.  Joined 50 regional bank folks for 10 days of perfect weather as dreamed.  Packed tropical duds and got on the bus.  Next day we landed in Puerto Rico.
    Turns out, aside from being a severe overeater--my profile is pretty far from a cruiser.  (Duh.)  However, loved trying to snorkel in the wake of winter storms, getting on boat day trips, bobbing in the salt water.   Bring on the swell.  Also loved all the different nationalities among the crew.  Cool.
    Biggest disappointment--not a papaya or mango to be found on the ship.  Safety uber alles.  Costco style food (my cherished opinion, nat).  Nothing fresh.  
    Celebrity is keen for me to go again.  We'll see.  Maybe the Mediterranean.  Some lifetime.

October 2009
East Coast Autumn Shopping Tour

    Instead of sitting zen with Wisconsin lady beetles this October, flew to Boston for (an LDS) leaf peeping tour, called "The Hemphill Reunion".  Turns out I wasn't always acknowledged as one of the Hemphill tribe of 16 (but that's another story) (maybe 'til the brothers' DNA is checked?  ha ha.)  Hung out with delightful retired LDS couples, while the Hemps stuck together.  When I realized we weren't gonna sit around and talk genealogy (seems I dreamed that up), made a point to meet the Hemphill descendants from Quincy and the group pres.  Passed what I know about dad's line on to a couple who know a researcher of old world Hemphills.  Mission more or less accomplished.
    Well organized tour--well fed, lavishly housed and entertained; and turned loose to shop and shop.  The fancier the digs, the more uncomfortable I was, the more I thought about camping in the rain.  Whatever was I doing burrowed into a king sized bed with 5 pillows!!!  Regardless, I don't fit groups well.  Unless I were deaf, I'm miserable entrapped in a dark, sealed windowed bus with a PA system designed to wake and entertain the dead.  I was incredulous when an Indian Jones type video was forced down our throats one afternoon as we were driven through the autumn woods (initially on overcast days).  What surreal torture!  My strong reaction must be directly connected to my appreciation of silence and lack of need for entertainment.  Fingers in ears with earplugs helped but was tough going.  Most politely slept as best they could between bombings and shootings etc.    Presumably leaders enjoyed controlling their captive audience enormously.
    Of course the White Mountains--or were they Green--were stupendous, should one have the good fortune to be able to stop and enjoy them.   No illusions--realized we'd be following a company's idea of "your vacation".  Over several days we stopped for 2 canyons, 1 waterfall, 2 or 3 scenic overlooks.  (Next trip I'll wander in the trees.)  As usual, when following someone else's schedule, much was a blur.  "Seen one tree, seen 'em all", my lutheran buddy kept reminding me.  We bonded crossing perilous highways by our hotels in search of evening meals.  One of the pluses of the group, was being with healthy, slim, trim elders, folks who didn't live to eat or drink, nor to shop, though that's where the bus did stop--tourist epicenters.  By and large my companions were a breath of fresh air.  "Go shop! be back in 2 hours" the guide blasted, as he headed off with the bouffant wife.  I begged to be dropped outside towns and walk in.  Pleaded for reading lights to be turned on so we could see maps or read, but they weren't turned on 'til an LDS fellow asked the last day.  Clout.
    The evening we spent in Boston, after flying in, managed to connect with old Idaho buddy Kirk over seafood.  Towards the end of the trip, spent a brief Rhode Island evening with cousins.  (Missed old college buddies when our schedule was changed.)  Loved seeing the Norman Rockwell museum--but never again on a crowded fall Sunday.  My eyes ended up wildly strained (as in flashing inner lights and blank spots) from peering at labels from severe angles.  At our final stop in light rain at Plimouth Plantation amused self snapping photos of recreated native nuts and pilgrim digs, naming them for our recent one night stands.  Acquired a new addiction at Plimouth--cranberry fudge--and invested, as the prominent sign quoting the late Edward Kennedy urged us to do.
    Waited to fly back to Chicago beside one of the ever so polite, long suffering couples.  They confessed their keenness to get home to peace and quiet.  What would have happened if someone other than this infidel whiner had asked the leader to turn down the volume?  No one else made a peep.  Might things have been different?  Small things make a world of difference on a bus!
    By the way, one hasn't lived until one has experienced LDS entertainment--passing the microphone for jokes--as well as witnessing near porn (the lutheran pointed that out) group drawings.   Cross my heart.  You'd have to be there--excrutiating, amazing.  TRAVEL!!  Always good for stories and making home look like John Denver's, "Almost heaven, (West Virginia)"!!

Hilton Massachusetts

August-Sept 2009
East-West Retreats -- Pennsylvania-Oregon

    Driven by “oughta go somewhere”, PA workshops called—either Breathing or an East-West Religions seminar.  Breathing it was.  Signed up once I was reassured one would be ok without reading the recommended list; no need to worry about upper bunks; come when you like; stay as long as you want, etc.  All fears put to rest in one phone call.
    Having missed a few turns between airport and destination, drove onto lovely grounds later in the day than planned.  Names of 3 new arrivals waited at the by now closed reception area with handouts and maps.  Nothing like the Berkshire experience writing a check at the door.  Lo, a woman drifted by and fed the late ones tabouli, bread and grapes in the dining room, a perfect traveler greeting I thought gratefully.  How often I've just missed supper after a day in airports.  I appeared to be arriving on the heels of a distinguished couple with whom I sat, eating and listening awkwardly; they were greeted warmly by another Indian.  Oops, just remember I did say something.  As the cyclic dates of various gatherings in India were discussed, suddenly I could relate.  "Sounds like the 13 and 17-year cycles of cicadas", I chirped, halting conversation.
    Across the hall I found ever ready teas and hot water, a few folks, one of whom said welcome.  Wow.  Sensed I’d be in good hands.
    After walking the halls of the enormous center (another former seminary?), made nest in nearly empty dorm.  Hot, hot, hot, another dorm over a kitchen, I grumbled; but I was thrilled that dorm room doors were open to the hall in case of air.  Fans purred at both end of the aisle.
    Before folding for the night, followed signs to pond; also stood in the cool, quiet parking lot—perhaps there were stars—yearning to sleep outside.  A sturdy, confident cat patrolled.  Pets! I thought with mixed feelings but fondness for no nonsense cats.
    Slept the sleep of a grateful traveler, with barely a sheet, thanks to serious heat training in Illinois.
    The following night new women arrived.  One kept a light on and rustled around ‘til midnight.  Then in the dark, one by one there was silence, as the fans stopped.  In summary, watched my monkey mind all night.  Since I was near one fan I wrestled with-- do I turn the fan back on?  Never did get a hold of my mind.  Still sulking when it turned light.  Sulked so hard I finally fell asleep through what was prob the best yoga class to be offered, I later heard.
    The next day one of the new women said she'd pay me to say something to the woman who turned off the fans (because she couldn't sleep with them on).  When I realized I was not the only dorm res who appreciated the fans, decided, as elder, that night I'd go over and say we had to keep the fans on; and recommend getting a private room (as I've done before).  Fans stayed on, but of course I still couldn't sleep, in the humid heat, with my monkey mind.
    The next morning the No Fans woman asked to go the glass museum with me, and other women talked with her about the fans.  After the 2nd night with fans back on No Fans got a private room though didn't like the bed.  The rest of us slept well to the purr of fans, no late light and rustling.
    That evening No Fans and I walked up the hill and sat in the kiosk overlooking the valley.  A newcomer to this country, she wanted company badly.  Think we all did well by speaking out clearly. How often I remembered the teaching story of the abbot going after the obnoxious monk the monastery drove out while the the abbot was away.  Yup.  Deal with it, saints.
    Monsoons continued.  When it cleared, went sightseeing this time with myself.  Another morning, walked into the woods for a supremely satisfying sit by a woodsy stream.  No wonder I love the new waterfall at home.  How I enjoyed taking dozens of (blurry dark) photos!!
    Excellent seminars with 3 senior presenters.  (As I suspected not enough interest in E-W wkshop--canceled).
    Easy conversation, little of the angst of other retreats, and the most agreeable to my stomach food I'd ever experienced.  Something v. right about the orange robed center with its warmth and graciousness.  though I'd read about eastern gurus and perhaps seen a few, had the good fortune to witness the glow of several more.  The luminous presence of one I'll not forget.
    Recently a friend said she wants to see the gate "where east and west meet".  Uhh I thought, where in the world would that be?  So many possibilities.  I'd just observed east and west meeting in PA.
    The first morning I looked out the window and saw an orange robed swami sitting on a bench, talking on a phone.  Everywhere on earth, same, same, the dalai lama might say.  Everyone, visitors, swamis and all, walked the grounds or sat, cell phones clapped to ears, connecting with loved ones.  Indoors, however, programs and prayers were entirely sincere.
    Left surprised and delighted by this retreat, hugging the last of the dorm mates, with plenty of time to bungle my way back to the airport and bungle I did.  This or something better.  Once again, Better.

    WA/OR.  Less than a month later, not as smoothly as I'd flown into Michael Werner’s home town, but only 4 hrs late, I was West back in Boise, determined to walk along the river, though it was almost dark.  I was personally escorted back to the rental car by a polite but nervous river front property owner and dog.  Trust me, I wanted to say, I'm not a bur-gu-lar (I like to misspeak).  Piece o’ cake to catch this slow nature girl.  Much harder to catch the hidden “undesirables”, like the 2 mysterious sneezes both my escort and I heard in the woods.  Ahhhh chooos!
    Another excellent workshop.  Unlike PA, grand visits with old buddies, and a knockout of a church service, before heading to OR to relax and breathe.  Seemed a mellow summer in IL where I continue to root.  Hadn't realized how badly I needed to let go of layers of stress.  As if a second fender bender the afternoon before the flight wasn't enough of a hint!
    Roommate not made in heaven this visit.  By the 3rd day I'd changed cabins and began chatting with folks.  Try hard not to be passive-aggressive now that I've heard of it.
    Apparently September in OR foothills is bliss.  Essentially no bugs, perfect temperature, starry nights, big time bliss.  Bless the dire yoga teachers (asked one if he'd been in the marines) and spicy, complex food (just thinking about it stresses hemorrhoids).
    An early, early morning soak in a meadow pool healed most everything.
    Any one of the ecstatic experiences of this trip—tri teaching, norm’s empowerment, dancing freely in the lodge, singing in the river yurt, watching the day open from a meadow pool, learning more history of the community, dr a's clear mind, chan's incomparable cooking, connecting with gardener bill, other old friends—any one of these blessings was worth the (rather spendy) plane ticket and car rental.  Not to mention surprising a young bear--almost forgot that split second glimpse!
    May I cherish and remember the sense of balance retreats renew.  May I be a blessing 'cause I've been blessed.

Into The Pennsylvania Woods

Through the Oregon Woods

June 2009
Just a bit north
  By the time I'd recovered from CT I'd missed Folklife and my right ear was still plugged up, so an early June trip to Y camp in WI was about as much excitement as I could handle.  Learned instantly that Y camping is not a good match for this introverted naturalist.  (No kayaking alone; continual threats of talent shows.)  “It's never too late to become a team player”, one elder purred at me, still trying to fix this woman who is cutting her own hair again.
    After the weekend I fled happily into hail, wind and downed trees, full of unhealthy camp food, without ever kayaking in the appealing swamp.  However, I was inspired, by the naturalist's talk on ticks (how soon I'd be trying out her recommendation for extraction); the nutritionist's presentation on healthy eating, and the realization that any kind of laughter is healthy, per the laughter PhD.  Good programs, thank you Y.  Also inspired to find solar lights and silver stars, thank you bunkmates!
    What I thoroughly enjoyed following “camp”, was visiting old Chicago area schoolmates.  Chatting, seeing Chicago—art museum, play.  Are old friends best?  Great fun.  I dream of Renoir and Monet.  Wow!

May 2009

Aunt Pat (R) with flower girl 1949

    Mid May, Hemphills gathered in Greenwich CT for a memorial service for dad's brother's wife, Aunt Pat.  (Earlier memorial in FL for friends there.)
    My claim to fame was having been her flower girl.  I'm told I did as we practiced in rehearsal—pretended to throw flowers.  After we grew up, I'd not seen Aunt P.  Learned this was a blessing in disguise.  Having got on the genealogy track, I'd tried to visit her in Florida, in hopes of last recollection of the 3 Hemphill children—she'd have been ‘bout the last.  She'd received the brothers over the years.
    At the memorial I learned she'd been something of a Miss Manners.  My not infrequently mumbled over appearance and manners would have been a disaster.  Perhaps best our paths never crossed after my initial fax pas.  In Greenwich I listened to stories from a cleaning woman, sorority sisters and realtor buddies.  Aunt P was regaled as such a holy woman.  Things weren't adding up— finally inquired and got a reply on the order of… uhh she  went to church when she could.  Good.  Afraid I'd missed a saint.
    During the small clan bbq following, I rephotographed old Hemphill and Taylor photos, while brothers and cousins compared boasted offspring.
    Best of all this trip was sharing digs with brother Stu: detouring for Friendly's shakes, walking at night, enjoying a Chinese hole-in-the-wall, seeing downtown Hartford (I was smitten by the spirit of the stupendous episcopal church and congregation) and a bit of the countryside, and of course, comparing memories.  It's the only thing I ever “want for Christmas”-- to learn how brothers and families are.  However did nearest brother become such a nifty adult!  I was awestruck.

January 2009
Lone Star State!

    Dug self out of winter burrow and headed south by Toyota, after years of threatening to do so.  As new Illini Larry calls it, decided the trapline of folks I know in the south was strongest in Austin; headed there.  But first, had to get life together, which took all weekend.  Like always wearing clean underwear? had to bring the house out of total chaos.  (Who cares, in the winter?)  On a Tuesday noon, got in car.  Temperature on the bank sign said 19 above (overnight low much more impressive).  The only blatant thing I forgot--long underwear (speaking of which) was quickly remedied by a swing into Goodwill out of St Louis.  Wore it out of the store after telling clerk what I was wearing.  Yum, just the ticket.  Onward, slowly warmer and warm.
    Things I learned in the Lone Star State:
    +   Texans still smoke in restaurants!  Fried oysters with cigarette smoke!!  Blech.
    +   Appealing State Parks!
    +   Austin = grackles!
    +   Wonderful trees--live oaks!  Loved 'em!
    +   Outdoor swim, Big Racey Pool, Austin.  What a treat!
    +   Shown Austin area sites by adopted Texans.  Excellent city food and grocery stores.  Sigh.
    +   Glimpse of Whooping Cranes on volunteer led birdwalk at Goose Island State Park!  T-shirt weather.  Read in tent by candle light.
    +   Good mega church visits.  Stunning stained glass from Philadelphia orphanage.
    +  36 CDs of Team of Rivals-- awesome road company.  And for balance in these Blago times: The Good Rat, Breslin on the mafia.
    +  Travel tough on hemorrhoids.  Blech.  (Eating oatmeal ever since.)
    +  Thanks to years in the west, knew how to drive (and when to stop) in the ice storm in Arkansas on the way home.  Frozen wipers, windshield squirters not working.  Been there.  Overjoyed to get home!  Arkansas looks like good country.
    Wonder if there's a warm place closer....

Summer-Fall 2008
Out and about

eastern Illinois 

  northern Illinois 

Portland Arch, Indiana

Family Search continues in IL 

Mom's class reunion organizer with good buddy

Mindful weekend in Wisconsin

    Agreeable summer and fall weather lured me out and about for more exploring this season--Illinois into Indiana and Wisconsin.  I'm surrendering spring and summer to bugs and poison ivy, in exchange for fall!  Returning to Portland Arch, Indiana, site of numerous college weekend outings, on a hot sticky afternoon, after all these years was special, though I wasn't certain where we used to cavort.  Most folks grow forward and up.  Apparently I'm regressing back and down.  Love finding family graves and cemeteries, staying with a welcoming childhood friend of mom's, getting to know the midwest again.  Enjoyed seeing Starved Rock for the first time, during a rendezvous with college mates.  I also seem to be going bonkers taking photos again, like old times, seeing old and new things through new eyes, 40 years later.  I'm particularly obsessed with benches and windows.  Though I can't forget aspen and clear streams, might as well surrender to what is, thank you mindfulness teachings.

August 2008
Northwest hello and goodbye

     Goodbye celebration of life party for Carl brought me back to Bellingham; picked a few huckleberries in the Cascades; visited good buddies from Bremerton to Whidbey.  Rented prius, car camped under stars and rains.  Bliss to return to the northwest.

June 2008
Boise and more - mind-body-spirit

     On the road again.  Flew to Boise for yoga workshop, visits and 2 nights in the Oregon Cascades.  Although nothing could convince me the world wasn't all as hot and sticky like 90+ degree Illinois, reluctantly packed light sweater and rain gear.  When I lived in Idaho, sure didn't think of Boise as a future vacation destination.  Once I wanted to leave, now it's everso good to return--stay at the nazareth ctr; visit old buddies; enjoy great oriental food; lovely river walks; excellent yoga trainings; beloved church.  What more could one want (besides somehow being able to camp)!  Knew it was a "good" vacation, because I found myself taking heaps of photos, especially when I got to the Cascades.  Could hardly do anything without pulling out the camera.  Sun danced everywhere.  We looked at each other, gasped, and kicked back in the gentle sun. It all looked like a picture, a veritable screen saver vacation!  I ran around like a tourist with a new camera.
    Business accomplished, hadn't relaxed that much in ages.  Cool nights, maybe even cold--no way I'd complain--were such a treat.  Sound of river all night (Oregon).  Bliss.  (Favorite campground snowed in!)  Didn't get that book read, journal written, a thing done 'cept relax!  Thank you was the mantra.
    Returning West must give a helpful balance, or so I think.  Not surprising, since I spend more than half my life there.  Friendships continue, expand, change; irreplaceable.  I tell myself it's all in my mind.  I remain profoundly attached to the west.  I always get far more than I give on these sojourns, me with the suitcase, finding hospitality.  Humbling.
    Then I stepped off the plane, back into IL, like it was home.  Luckily it had cooled a bit.  Drove straight over to Quincy to gawk at Mark Twain's lawless stream (Mississippi River).  Wow.

May 2008
Northwest Folklife - Seattle

    West to Seattle for 10 busy days--visits in Bremerton and Bellingham; Folklife at Seattle Center over Memorial weekend.
    Folklife was same old, same old, except with a backdrop of Seattle 2008.  (Despite obvious improvements in vehicle traffic (but breakdown of bus service), I'm pretty much terrified of Seattle traffic.  Rather ferry over to Kitsap than drive through Seattle.  City I am not.)  Loved overnighting in Bremerton at Marcy's cozy 1940s home and bunking with folkies in Greenwood--falling asleep to Dikka on the trombone, awaking to Valerie on fiddle or concertina.  Music!  Nothin' like Seattle.  Only in Seattle.  Walked feet into oblivion, going from bus to car, from venue to venue; shins and ankles still recovering.  Enjoyed ethnic food.  Will Folklife survive?  Kept thinking about the discordant transition of generations we're in the middle of.  Angry kids meet old fogies.  Onsite shooting this year.
    Loved riding the ferry from Kingston to Pt Townsend.  Falling asleep on a partly sunny beach at Deception Pass.  Hearing Mozart sung at the Intiman Courtyard; aprticipating in Pat Wright's workshop there; hearing Chris sing again.  Connecting with Marcy over halibut at the airport dinner.  Her wiz techie fixed the laptop I dragged along; more than worth it.  As if I didn't lug enough this trip what with the full sized laptop and Folklife gear, bet I dragged 20 lbs of beautiful, water smoothed rocks back.  Homeland security took yogurt and dessert away but I kept the rocks.  Seems much more likely to do someone in with a rock than yogurt.  If one doesn't start out a terrorist, one could easily become one.  A government that takes water and lunch away from old ladies is one that's desperatedly ill!!
    Good to be home.  Went from 59 degrees at noon at SeaTac to 79 degrees in Springfield at 9 pm.  89 degrees today.  Change, change.  Kathianne's Sunday morning talk about letting go of form was just what we needed to hear.  More than once I witnessed the pain of holding on this trip, mine, and others.  So good to connect with old faces I was teary as I drove the rental car to the airport; touched by the kindness of strangers helping strangers through traffic.  Yes I miss foreign films, ethnic food and people trying however unskillfully to walk gently on this earth in urban community.  How could I leave?  How could I stay!  Kinda heavy going back; guess that's why a lotta folks don't do it.  Balance, Jeannie.  Writing this in the wake of yet another midwest tornado.  Kerosene lamp ready; candle lit; new wind up radio on (thank you D).  Whata world!

April/May 2008
Back East

     Flew east between Monday night yoga classes to visit Hemphill cousins, classmate Brenda and attend qigong refresher in Lenox.  Looked through family lore, photos and letters--Pallett spoons below--stored in a Glastonbury basement, where the twists of family dynamics landed Hemphill-Taylor keepsakes.  We were able to plug quite a lot into the research I've been doing.  Shared the Taylor genealogy booklet with the cousins; seemed to be especially meaningful to largely-raised-abroad J to learn how deeply rooted Taylors are in Illinois.  Maybe I can give them a cemetery tour next summer!
    Visit with classmate Brenda in Providence included a sunny day tour of Newport!
    Zigzagged in rain up to Lenox for the perfect basic qigong refresher with Ken.
    Zoom, zoom, zip, zip, back to IL in time for the last yoga class of the spring series.

March 2008
Sacred Harp

     Last year I got a jump on spring by going a couple hours south to the Missouri's Annual Shape Note Convention.  Not quite so successful this chilly year.  Beautiful slight crescent moon hung just north of Warrenton the evening I arrived.  However, Sunday singing was full of warmth.  Difficult as shape note is for one who didn't grow up in the tradition, can't seem to stay away from the larger sings that carry mind/body/spirit away.  Downright good for the soul after a long winter to hear both men and women sing out their hearts.  Little did I realize songs are being written and books revised as fast as they can.  No wonder I feel like I rarely hear the same tune twice!  I was especially taken by the harmonies in contemporary composer Dan Gibbons' "Botanical Garden" (Thou lovely source of true delight; Whom I unseen adore; Unveil thy beauties to my sight; that I may love thee more!)  Still, I'm mighty fond of the older blood and suffering lyrics!  Tee hee.
    Tonight I broke out the DVD player and watched "Awake My Soul: the story of the sacred harp", that I'd bought the year before and never watched.  Humbling.  Immediately recognized a number of faces I'd seen the last two years, not realizing they're elders of the tradition, singers and composers, who'd traveled far.  Beautiful film.  No wonder I adore such old fashioned music--got my name on it (though my mind gets in the way of the fa-so-las).  The documentary mentioned songs are pitched in a convenient key--not necessarily that in which written.  No wonder I love this singable music of the people, for God.  One of the fellows I'd noticed last year (could be a brother of a Boise buddy) was featured as an example of a prodigal brought back to the father through music. Ah!--kindred soul!
    Experiencing Missouri makes me want to sing further south... someday, some long winter!

February 2008
Back to Boise

     Couldn't resist combining a breathing workshop back in Boise with visiting people and places left behind.  Who wudda thunk Boise'd feel like a spiritual center!!  Not me!  I've lived so many wonderful places-- Why Boise!  Little more wrenching than I'd thought returning to western air, shirt sleeved weather, snow covered mountains, comfortable buddies, healthy food and familiar places.
    After I exchanged the rental 4WD Dodge Ram charger (there was a time when I wanted one, but not to drive in Boise traffic) for an econo car--after arriving only 8 hours late, bopped all over easily, doing biz, visiting available buddies, eating asian, seeing fav sites, like the Boise River.  I was sick, sick, sick before I left, slowly feeling better as the week went on.  Don't 'spose Idaho yogis will ever forgive me for contaminating their pure air.  Cough I did.
    As I returned to the Boise airport less than a week later, well before dawn, there was a site I rarely see--a low waning crescent moon was rising to the east.  Beautiful.  Short, but sweet visit.  12 hours later I was back in time for yoga and a night in my own bed.  Oh, goody, goody.

2007 - Mar - Missouri; Apr - Ohio; May/Jun - back West; Sept - Shawnee NF; Dec.- Italia
2006-  Holidays 2005-6 NW; Jan - High Desert AZ; Apr. - Schlepping to IL Pt 1; May - Folklife; June - Illinois Schlep Pt 2; June - Albuquerque; Aug - Ireland; Oct - Missouri
2005 - Feb - Mexico; Mar - Illinois; May - Colorado, the Northwest; June & Aug - CA; Sept - East Coast;
2004 - Feb - Mexico; Mar - Pilgrim to Illinois; East Coast; May - Southwest; June - Northwest Folklife; Aug - Canada!; Sept - CA San Jose, Tassajara; Colorado colors; Fall - East Coast; Holidays - Northwest
2003 - Dec - Breitenbush, Bellingham March - Southwest Journey; Feb - Mexico!  May/June - Folklife and Tassajara!  Sept - back East
2002 - June - Nevada; Sept - Colorado college rendezvous
2001  -  Holidays - soul food; Feb - desert roots: Tucson; June - Folklife, Seattle; Nov - East Coast!
2000  -  Apr - Easter in Seattle & Indralaya; May/June - Qigong in Colorado; Oct - Midwest Mission; Holidays '99/'00 - OR&WA
1999   -  Oct - Western Colo, hot springs and hippos; Fall equinox - ID Night Sounds; Aug - ID camping