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October 1999

Western Colorado
   Greetings from the Road!!

    Returning from what may become a routine seasonal jaunt to Colorado for a recharge with Qigong master Ken Cohen.
    Once again, right after 10 am yoga class headed straight out in the Toyota to Colorado, stopping only at the post office.  For once packing for a mere weekend—albeit distant—was straight forward:  misc. clothes rarely worn since I end up wearing the same stuff the whole time; laptop; thermos, leftovers.  (Bag/pad/tent reside in toyota).  Most important: an especially appealing selection of books on tape:  My first Ann Rule; a southern version of "James Herriot" (still shaken by revelations of a biographer); another Jon Krahauer and an Og Mandino.  Yumm!  Lucked out at the lib!
    Gorgeous fall sunshine for the drive, followed by spectacular golden orange sunset over northern end of Great Salt Lake, back dropped with mountain silhouette.
  SALT LAKE CITY CONSTRUCTION--EEK!  Then the terror of once again barreling through the night through what reminds me of a toboggan run--the stretch of (Olympics) construction through greater Salt Lake City.  Miles of temporary, narrow, grooved double lanes lined with moveable concrete chunks shift continually:  left lane closed, shoulder added; shoulder pinches out, right lane phases in; all this at 60 mph.  First class nightmare in my book!  NDE’s flashed before me as I jerked the wheel right and left, suddenly noticing a different shade of gray, meaning wall not pavement.  Finally, out in the open, breathing freely.
    Stunning evening.  Almost full moon hanging over the Wasatch.  Off to the west, even in moonlight and city lights, barreling along with semis and an ocean of fast, new cars, spotted a meteor dropping towards the horizon!  Always a propitious omen, meteors.
    Fine drive into Grand Junction the next day and welcome from old friends Eve and Mike.  Eve and I couldn't talk Mike into coming along to the workshop (which was super); everything I'd imagined, except, outdoor cat that I am, I wanted us to practice walking outside on the fall leaves.  So warm I yearned for shorts!!
    GUESS WHO CAME TO DINNER FROM THE GARDEN?  In a surprise turn of events, Saturday night, Eve and I brought presenter Ken home for dinner.  Doing our best to honor Ken's time schedule, we hit the kitchen running--what'd Ken say about hurry sickness!!  Mike had cleaned up the house; Eve coached where to dig potatoes and carrots.  I plunged into the salad project.  Ken (consummate Chinese chef) chatted at the counter while Eve cooked fish, prepared corn; I furiously chopped and grated.  All burners roared.  Only old friends like Mike and Eve (or the Bellinghamsters) could patiently endure my endless stream of "Where's the's?".
    It was nowhere near 6pm when we sat down to eat!  Still, I know Ken appreciated the piles of fresh potatoes, carrots, chard, corn and orange squash—they were beautiful.  I was still savoring fish when Ken and Eve moved on to pumpkin pie.  Conversation was delightful; in a twinkling it was time to return Ken to the B&B and cleanup the kitchen.   As we drove across the valley, Ken described his dreams of Iceland.
  FULL MOON BLISS.  Sunday evening I indulged in my heart's desire to repeat last fall's outdoor experience.  Watched the full moon rise above globe willows while barbecuing stew meat on the cottonwood fire in Mike's fireplace and listening to Garrison Keillor.  When Mike asked Eve and I what we learned at the workshop that will help our lives, we looked at each other helplessly:  how to explain coiling silk, open and close...
    Garrison was followed by my old favorite, Hearts of Space.  By that time, Mike and Eve were happily inside, playing computer games together, making up for spending the treasured weekend apart.  Just another gorgeous evening along the Colorado River for the locals!  Whereas I lingered outside, unable to get enough of the lovely full moon evening.
  FRIENDSHIP.  Suddenly, on this clear, full moon evening, as eerie autumn Hearts of Space music played, a small, poignant cloud floated across my psyche:  the realization that I seem to be in a place in my life where I no longer make new friends, twinned with an overwhelming gratefulness for the acceptance and ease of old friends.  I've friends from the '60s, '70s, and '80s, but few have been added this last decade of the millennium, who I can sit in comfortable silence (or, more to the point, let me sit in silence as they go about their way).  How I treasure the deepening that years bring to friendship.  I shake my head when I'm hear that friends are meant to come and go, disposable.  They are?
    The richness of knowing Eve, about my only correspondent still writing through the '90s, is immeasurable.  Sometimes I foolishly think that I, who have written from 7 addresses since we met, sharing the adventures of these moves, of workshops, lectures, travels, am teacher to a woman who stayed near the family ranch, raising children and grandchildren, chickens and vintage beans, am the teacher.  That would be so wrong.  As I soaked in the bliss of the cool, peaceful, moonlit evening, in a flash of saw clearly how we enrich and balance each others' lives.
    Thanks to my teacher Eve, I'm learning to know the ripeness of a pinon nut with first bite.  And to harvest lambs quarter, and much much more.
  HOT SPRINGS ADVENTURES. Promised self a hot springs stop and a night of tenting if  weather held.  As I headed west, the first clouds in months appeared on the horizon.  Verbal "directions" to new springs failed, so returned to one visited almost exactly a year before.  After setting up tent, indulging in writing, checked out the springs just before dark.  Chose to soak in the most even temperature, if not warmest pool, the one smelling of the heavenly wild mint growing around the edge.  Had just settled in when a truck backed up to within inches of the spring—this should have been my first hint.  Shortly, in the dimming light, a friendly voice helloed, "Room for a couple elk hunters who need a bath real bad?"  Bath?  I thought, quickly moving clothes and tea jar out of the path and making myself comfortable with head on a bread pan.
    Soon a large man flopped into the pool and began vigorously "bathing", submerging whole body and head repeatedly, sticking head under inflow from culvert, splashing, shaking head, sighing.  Each time the large shiny back surfaced, couldn't help seeing a hippopotamus in my watering hole!  Tidal waves raised and lowered the water level again and again—sloshing up into my hair.  So much for peace and quiet.  In my limited experience with hot springs, I've always been around folks who soaked rather than swam.  Stating the obvious, I spoke, "Bet you really like to swim".  "What?" bellowed the hippo, ears no doubt full of water.  Another try and "I just love to swim!" came back.  Shudda been my second hint that I was not with an Idahoan.  Idaho folks ain't fish.
    Fellow was splashing so enthusiastically it was hard to tell just when the raindrops began.  Yup, here came the change of weather, a bit of wind and rain.  Better put rain fly on and anchor the tent I was thinking concurrently.  "I don't feel no rain", the hippo argued.  Of course not.  Between surfacings, we hacked out a bit of conversation.  The fellow inquired if I was a local.  Yet another hint.   "Naw, Boise", I answered.  I was wondering where the "padner" was (and where he'd fit in the pool)!  "Uhhh, he's afraid of women", the hippo grunted.
    Having just hooted my way through John McCormack’s Fields and Pastures New, began hearing the conversations translated into Alabama good ol' boy when suddenly the hunting hippo (H-H) surfaced, stood, and hollered, "Hey, Buddy, bring me the soap".  Buddy, cowering in the truck (probably under a walkman), of course, couldn't hear.  After several more bellows, Buddy brought over a bag through which he dug for "one of them hotel soaps", finally declaring, "I don't see no soap".  Of course it was all I could do not to make the classic crack--what man would recognize soap!
    I of course was horrified by the prospect of the hippo, whose name turned out to be Bill, Bill-Bob for purposes of this dialog, using my hot springs, any hot springs as a bath tub, but knew not what to say.  "And bring a dish pan", I mumbled.  Bill-Bob grabbed the bag and pulled out a bar of soap and was soon happily sloshing and foaming.
    Found myself apologizing, "Uh, I'm one of those nature lovers.  Wonder if you'd consider washing off in the woods next time, so the soap will drain through the dirt, rather than straight into the water."  By that time Bill-Bob (B-B) had sheepishly admitted he and his padner were from California, giving me the upper hand.  He lathered away.  "Did you understand what I meant about taking soap and pan away from the water to wash?" I persisted, sensing  something wasn't computing.  "Uh, no", said the B-B aka the H-H.  Defensively I went on, "I know, its Idaho and anyone can do what they want here.  Has advantages and disadvantages...".  "Always see everybody soaping up here", B-B explained, "Thought all them soaps wuz biodegradable nowadays".  "Er, well, I really dunno", I stammered.  (Maybe they are!)  "I just know I wouldn't wanna to use water out of a stream that had soap in it", I said, coming right to the point.  "Thought rocks filtered everything; that's what they do at filtration plants.  My daughter's studying that; you and her'd get along", B-B went on.  "Pretty much all streams and rivers in the country are polluted", the killjoy pronounced, adding, "I’d never drink outa any of them."
    Having done my gloom and doom thing, I faced the inevitable:  "Get your elk?" and heard the story of carrying it out on horses.  Slowly I understood why the pickup was practically hanging over the pool:  California parking style.  Not that Idahoans do things any different!  In the excitement of the elk story, Bill-Bob sent more and more waves across the tiny pool.
    Suddenly conversation took a SHARP RIGHT.  "Bet you're ‘bout my daughter's age", the hippo said about as subtly as he slipped into the pool.  I yawned; my turn to groan.  "OK, 34", he began dangerously tossing out numbers.  He revealed that he'd just turned 50, startling me somewhat, based on his exuberant, childlike splashing.  In the now dark, I recalled Ben Franklin's (isn't it?) dreadful sexist line "All cats are gray in the dark."  (Vividly recall reading that one day in Denver ~1972!)  Reached for my pants and shirt (rest assured I wore bathing suit) and tea, as the numbers rose.  "I could be your mother", I growled as I packed off to the car wondering why all mixed conversations dead end at the same place.  Nasty comebacks rattled through my head, the kindest of which was something like Great white hunter, wash and hunt elsewhere!
     In my mind, the conversation continued, "Hey, Bill-Bob", how was the gurl?"  "Uhh… she told me to wash beside the stream next time."  "What!  You let a gurl tell ya what to do!  Why'd you let her do that!"  "Uh… she was real nice about it".  "What's the matter with you, boy!"  "Uh, I tried, Buddy, I tried."
    The light from their "camp"--lit up like a ballpark with 6-8 flood lamps--cast a shadow on my tent, far, far in the distance.  Gadzooks, I thought!  Back home, finally succeeded in hooking the flapping rainfly down.  For the umpteenth time, just as I crawled in for the night, rain came down steadily.  Much later awoke to shadows of full moon on the tent, one of my favorite sights.  After the mild evening, with the shift in weather, temperature dropped.  Pulled out an extra layer during the night.
    In the morning, a California truck pulled up as I was warming up in the pool before heading home.  My hands and feet were so cold they stung painfully in the warm water.  Continued my yoga stretches in peace. Whoever it was must have used one of the hotter pools.  Peace prevailed.  As I stepped out, my eye caught a small piece of soap wedged in the side of the pool.  I winced and nodded.
    Gathered a few sprigs of the mint before heading home.  Thank you, Divine Oneness, for blessed travels!

Namaste, Jeannie

Fall Equinox 1999

Idaho Camping Notes

Dear Anne,
   Happy Equinox—maybe no big deal in HI?
    At last we're having a real fall!  Last summer changed to winter about this time o’ year.  It's Glorious!
    Even though I camped over the birthday and coming back from OR in July, still didn't have that wild experience I crave.  So drove an hour plus north, back to a spot I'd camped last fall.  Nothing super special—no lake or mountain peaks.  Small meadow, trees.  And cows.  They--cows’ve trampled and pooped everywhere, drowning out the faint smell of rose geranium that so enchanted me last year.  Believe me, cows graze all night.  Stumps sported cans shot full of holes.  The tiny, tiny seep in the meadow sparkled with bullet cartridges.  Ah, Idaho.
    But the breeze ruffles aspen leaves pleasantly and I have a sense of peace.  No guns or generators today, as I swing over the cow pies in my "new" hammock!
  WILD NIGHT SOUNDS.  Last night was totally wild--my kinda night.  Got comfy in tent, wrote ‘'til fingers got cold, then blew out all but one candle.  And the show began.  Earlier thought possibly I’d heard an elk bugle.  (Ever savvy this one, I know this time of year, its more likely to be hunters practicing.)  Definitely this was the real thing and not far off.  What a strange, strange sound.  Took me right back to Colorado where I first heard elk.  Back to camping with Avalanche Arnie who'd jokingly complain about distant bulging elk and owls interrupting a good night's sleep.  Also reminded me the last time I’d heard an elk bugle:  one fall night on the edge of Spokane—honest! [ed:  we both lived there]
    If that wasn't exciting enough, as the moon rose, coyotes began calling, closer, louder and stranger than any I’d ever, ever heard.  After the initial howls, unsettling yipping much like the sound of stepped on dog.  Way wild!
    Their ruckus seemed to awake a distant owl, which began hooting!
    Cycles of bugling-yipping and hooting repeated.  And the cows kind of stampeded over my way—as if to seek protection by the great white hunter in tent?  So close I could hear each annoying crunch, grind and breath.  Cows!!  Arg!  God's children I kept reminding myself.  Thought of running out and clanging pans!  But what if....
    Another night I mighta been unnerved by all the action of my neighbors, even cows.  After all, what is a tent with little sandals sitting outside to hundreds of pounds of hamburger and steak?  Last night, I simply enjoyed it all.  Slept and slept, 'til the moon was down and the sun was up.

Love and Light,

August 1999 Birthday "Camping" trip - Idaho

Dear Friends,

    Takin’ meself campin’ to celebrate another year o’ gettin’ better (the way my Aboriginal guides look at it).  Also a wonderful opportunity to experience Oneness with all-American summer vacation consciousness, as trail bikes zoom around kinda like mosquitoes, chain saws whine, generators gen.  In accord with new thought I bless it all.  I do?  That's why I'm taking time out in the wildermess, to insist!  At this age, I at least know there is no alternative but gratefulness.  Gulp.
    Just gonna wander through my thoughts, a favorite thing to do, most of you know.  Big Gulp reminds me that I believe I've finally found my community in Idaho!  Since the beloved high mileage toyota prefers high octane, I go to the only source I've ever found, Idaho's line of Stinker gas station where we (both the toyota and I) fill up, the toyota on 94 octane gas.  Not only do they have gas that keeps the toyota from knocking, they have everything you'd ever want.  Earlier this month, during a heat wave I succumbed to drinking coke, the first serious soda quaffing in my adult life.  Of course it upsets my stomach, just as it has since high school.  On the other hand, whatever it takes to survive summer, I’ll try.  After indulging a couple times, weighing both financial and moral issues, bought one of those huge, refillable, insulated mugs (the 32 oz, not 54—maybe next year) with a pictures of Fearless Ferris the Skunk, making me a part of the Stinker community.  Now I proudly pad in with all the truckers and pickup regulars whose cups are scarred, to refill my still new one with bubbles--for 26 cents.  A welcome feeling of belonging swept over me on my first refill!  Discovered Slice at one Stinker station—Nehi orange was an early childhood love (along with grape).  Sometimes in the morning, ice still rattles in the mug!  Ain’t technology awesome?
    Talk about being Of The World.  Not even straddling this one.  After 40 years of sipping ice tea, seemingly I've totally jumped track!  Its the heat, I declare.  Don't even wanna turn the stove on.
     Earlier this summer, while blissfully lolling about on my new yellow, $1 thrift shop air mattress in the nearby gravel pit, realized it was time to replace the waterbed I've always missed and promised I wouldn't go through another Boise summer without.  Figuring if I got a small enough one, I might not need sides—don’t ask—began accumulating parts from the thrift shop "as is" yard.  Keep it simple, I told myself.  Kept falling for the fella crooning "Give ya a deal if…".  By the time Phoebe called to tell me she was donating her son's waterbed to the Youth Ranch, I already had a substantial smelly pile of used waterbed paraphernalia.  And was still sleeping with my arms dangling off, on a narrow foam pad downstairs.  Again, the rationale for trying a new bed is, anything to survive the heat (and help relax shoulders).
    To make a long story short, I now have a freshly painted green sided smallish waterbed upstairs, flush with the floor.  The first night I slept on it, in it, one of—well, my only framed picture—crashed off the wall and I was sure that the waterbed had been involved in some way, stressing floor and wall.  In truth, the first night was more of a half night.  Since it's significantly cooler downstairs than up, thrashed away the hours downstairs per usual, late, late into the night.  Finally realized the upstairs would have cooled off so migrated, dragging pillows, sheets up the stairs.  As soon as I lay on the waterbed, thrashing mellowed.  Still love a waterbed.  But if it's 130 degrees upstairs, even a waterbed won't kept me there, so it really isn't the answer to summer after all! [Ed. waterbed history by Oct., another story].
    Now to the pleasant but challenging topic of FOOD.  ‘'Tis the time of year I go wild over tomatoes, corn, cukes, beets, sweet onions, treasured local harvest.  Only last weekend found where last year's Farmers Mkt relocated.  Ahhh, dashed home to make fresh basil, cuke, tomato, onion, blueberry vinegar and oil salad!!  Been so long!
    Unfortunately new mkt location is adjacent to not 1, but 2 $1 stores, another newly acquired addiction, like coke.  Once one of them carried Vortmann almond cookies like I usually only get in Colorado.  (Luckily they're all gone; enhancing my practice of impermanence?)  Now the other has boxes of pecan-brownie cookies that I can polish off in one munching.  Also like the loc ness monster shortbread cookies made in Scotland--eat those one by one, tho.  Aye!
    Which brings to mind a very embarrassing paradox I wince to confess.  Breathe, Jeannie.  Dunno know how I can do these things—maybe it's the birthday—waddled out of the $1 store not only with brownie cookies but popcorn and potato chips, to add to the mustard pretzels already in the car (with the fresh vegetables).  All things I used to turn my turned-up nose up at in ye good olde skinny days!!  Headed off to the wilds full of Stinker gas, class coke and an unprecedented load of junk food… and here's where the story plummets to it's lowest level… all the while I am listening to Kathryn Spink’s biography of Mother Teresa.  Is there that much forgiveness in the universe!
    Do I not get it or what!  How I can sit there stuffing my face with junk food, while Mother Teresa refuses banquet after banquet, drinking only water, I don't know!  At any rate, have fully recovered from growing up anti-Catholic:  adore Mother Teresa!  But obviously don't connect the dots home yet.
    Despite my new yoga "career", the balanced eating aspect of yoga has yet to manifest.  Since March, have enjoyed opportunity to teach 2 morning classes of yoga a week at a spiffy new Fitness Club.  There are at least 6 of us "yoga teachers". Attendance has been light, 1 to 9 folks this summer (room is small)—a completely new experience--steep learning curve.  The regular health club staff who teach most of the yoga classes are confident, comfortable as teachers—they’re excellent—whereas I know the technical stuff but am still kinda nervous.  Their classes are way too difficult for me—can’t begin to do the stuff their bodies beautiful can.  Every health club needs a token toad (saw a big bellied one looking at me in the mirror one evening) who doesn't threaten mucha anyone.  Good thing I didn't know one of the young club owners was in one of my first yoga classes--I'da been terrified.  Couldn't figure out why he couldn't put his fingers on his shoulders; now I know that's what can happen to body builders (as well as those of us with frozen shoulders.)
    Working in fitness clubs is about the last thing I ever thought I’d do, or "teaching" yoga for that matter!  Ain't life a trip!
    Later.  Like so many other times, as soon as I crawled into the tent, light rain began.  Thank You!  Morning brought sun through heavy mist on the tiny lake.  Late night generators were still.  The woods are full of mariposa lilies.  It is indeed my bliss to get away with a stack of books and writing materials.  The popcorn went to the birds; then the potato chips.  Dined on fresh green beans, corn and potatoes.
    So that's how I (and half of Idaho) spent my birthday—camping.  Doing what I love outside—reading, writing, paddling, walking, eating, sleeping…


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