A Breakthrough

I haven’t written here in over a year, and yesterday I saw this quote and immediately understood it was the reason I have been stuck. I tend to be too much in my head and over-analyze almost anything.  It won’t be easy, though, because I have to re-learn how to listen to my heart.  I made some bad decisions in my life, so I began not to trust my heart.
Another insight I have had lately is that faith is a journey, not a destination. It is ongoing and seems to change with the current frame of mind. I still envy my friends with unshakeable faith, but I also see that faith leads to a blindness to the excesses and transgressions of the church. I won’t say any more about that because it’s not my role to judge.


Beyond the Wilderness

When I read the book “Return to Wake Robin” by Marnie O. Mamminga, I knew it would be a glimpse into my past summers in Hayward, my hometown, although I never actually spent any time in a cabin on a lake until last summer.  There was one passage that was very familiar to me, when they went into the town and explored the various stores on main street.

I understood the expression of what her grandfather said about being Up North from my own interpretation of true wilderness.

Over the years, on one of the many endless all-day car trips Up North, when fatigue begins to set in and there are still several hours of driving left, I often ask out loud why Erle and Clara didn’t stop earlier, especially when their ride took two days of travel over dusty, bumpy roads.  Why travel 450 miles when 300 might have worked as well?

“Erle must have been asked the same question, for he was often know to remark, ‘You have to come this far north to get this kind of beauty.’

“And he was right.  Like ‘The brightest star in the Milky Way’, his love of the Northwoods shines on.

“From a grandfather we never knew, that is quite a gift.”

It’s a shame many of the resorts were converted to private property, but times had changed and people started traveling farther by air to places like Disneyland for their vacations.

I thought about writing about this a lot, but I didn’t.  I realized I had only spent two childhood summers in Hayward.  Then it came to me:  it’s not just about being in the wilderness, it’s about childhood and having the freedom from responsibilites.  That’s what really touched me.  So now I have to see how I can start feeling free from the burdens of adulthood responsibility.

Tomorrow is the first of October, and I don’t think I’ve done anything on my “Fun Things to Do in Summer” list.  It’s still hot here in Arizona, so I can still do some of them.

Today the North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota broke ground on the Hope Learning Center and Northwoods Ecology Exhibit addition to their center.  September 16 was the anniversary of Hope’s death.  Someone read the following quote:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.  Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.  We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves.  And therein we err, and greatly err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”~~Henry Beston, “The Outermost House”

I had included part of this quote in my “Sacred Life Sunday” journal when I learned of her death in 2011.   I hope the Hope Learning Center will educate millions of people on black bears and how we can co-exist.

I bought a 2011 car at the end of June.  I transferred the title of my 2007 Ford Taurus to Get Junk for Jesus on August 31.  I didn’t think the dealer would give me that much, and I can take a $500 tax donation.

I had the car for 16 years, and it was the best one I ever had.  I told my banker I was going to buy a new car in 2007.

Every time I thought about it, my stomach became queasy.  I feel like a lamb at the slaughterhouse when I deal with car dealers.  I hated the thought of making car payments since I had paid the loan off in 2004.  But that’s not the real reasons.

My mom and dad took me up to Tucson to buy a car (I didn’t think my old one would make it).  My mom co-signed the loan.

I named the car Tir Na N-og, the Irish fantasy land where no one gets old, after I learned about it from the movie “Into the West.”  A man finds a white horse and gives it to his grandsons.  The hero of the legend of Tir Na N-og meets a beautiful woman on a white horse and goes with her there.  The boys in the movie are Travellers as the Romani are called in Ireland.  Their mother died, and without totally giving away the story, the horse seems to be the embodiment of her spirit.

My Taurus was as white and graceful as the horse.  It pained me whenever I looked at her to think of giving her up.  At least she would be fixed up and given to a needy family.  The Get Junk for Jesus people had a waiting list, and one of them was really pressuring me to give it up.  Both my insurance and vehicle registration were coming due for renewal, so I finally knew it was time.  I also was tired of wondering if I would make it to work or the park with my dog.  The hot weather was coming, and the air was stuck on and not working well.  I didn’t want to put more money in her.  My friend who knows more about cars than me offered to go with me.

I told Tir Na N-og how much she meant to me and thanked her.  I had not run her since about a week after I bought the new car because I didn’t want to get stranded in the monsoon, but she started up every time.  Some people may not understand this, but my boss had a new engine put in his dad’s truck because he couldn’t give it up, and I once worked for someone whose husband had made his engine into a coffee table (now that’s love for her to be able to accept that).

My new car is a silver Honda CRV, and it’s quite a different driving experience.  I haven’t named it yet, but it has more of a masculine feel.  I used to think a car was just something you drove and could never understand why people (guys especially) seemed so attached to them (or maybe it’s a status thing for them to have so many cars, I don’t know).

There were tears, and I posted on Facebook that I felt I had taken my dog to the pound.  But later that day when I was on my errands I began to feel a sense of freedom, of finally being able to move on in the loss of my parents.  And I think I’ll be able to let go of a lot more stuff and have the home sanctuary to retreat to that I crave.

(The photo was in one of my grandmother’s photo albums.  I thought it was taken in upstate New York, but my sister who used to live there thought it was probably from Germany.)

Heat and Dust

“If the desert is holy, it is because it is a forgotten place that allows us to remember the sacred.  Perhaps that is why every pilgrimage to the desert is a pilgrimage to the self.  There is no place to hide and so we are found.” –Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

I wrote this on June 4th:  “It’s such a cool morning, it’s hard to believe it will be so beastly hot this afternoon.  It’s the kind of morning that’s the start of an excellent road trip, full of possibilities and discoveries.  What a shame to be stuck in an office where the most exciting thing that can happen is likely some misfortune, like someone falling down the stairs again.”

Those cool mornings didn’t last.

This is the time of year I think about the British rulers of India, who always sent their women to the mountains in the summer.  June is my least favorite month. Like India, we have monsoon rains, and the deadly heat is necessary to set up the monsoon season.  But the intense heat seems like a heavy price to pay for the rain and the mild winter.  Of course, I complain about the cold in the winter, too.  We don’t have short-sleeved winter days anymore like in the seventies when my parents moved here.

I have never done well in heat, even when I was young.  I get nauseous when I’m hot, my face gets all red, and it drains me of energy.  You can always put more clothes on when it’s cold, but there’s only so much you can take off, in public anyway.  It’s like the Wisconsin winter.  I just want to hibernate/stay in my house.

It was always my intention to move to California.  The almost-perfect weather is surely the main reason so many people live there.   But I realized I could never afford it without roommates, and I did not want to live like that.

But Arizona has not felt like home since my father died, perhaps even before that when my mother did.

I bought a book of essays and poems by southwestern women writers, thinking that it might re-kindle my appreciation of the desert.  It did the opposite.  It made me realize anew how deadly it can be.

There are devil winds that spin the sand into dirt walls that cause pileups on the highway. There is scorching dry heat that can suck the life out of you if you’re not prepared or you get lost.  A couple of weeks ago two young women died while hiking in the Tucson mountains in separate incidents.

The monsoon can be dangerous, too, with sudden, blinding walls of water that can wash away trees and boulders.  But when you’re home on a Saturday afternoon and don’t have to go anywhere and the first rain you’ve seen in months comes pouring down and the thunder and lightning isn’t too close, it can be glorious.  And the sunset can be, too.

Monsoon Sunset


Nostalgia comes from the root word “Nostros” which means “homecoming.”

For some time I’ve been wondering why I kept thinking about my hometown in Wisconsin ever since my trip back there last summer.  I know I don’t want to live back there, but I just kept thinking about it, searching for web sites, and thinking it would be nice to have a summer cabin there.

I also had sent someone some photographs of her grandmother, who did a lot of traveling with my grandmother until they had a falling out (no one knows what it was about).  She thanked me but I never heard another word from her after I sent them.  We also never heard from the relatives that held the reunion, and I had sent them some photographs, too.

I thought part of it was because nature and the outdoors is so much in peoples’ lives, and I envy that.  There’s a more pronounced four seasons than in Arizona.   But I don’t have any close relatives up there any more, and there are other reasons I choose not to live there which I would rather not reveal here.

The other day I had an “Aha moment” as Oprah says.  Some of the people have lived there their entire lives.  I knew I was mainly glad I had lived the life of an Army brat, and we never lived in one place more than three years (until Arizona).  But there was also a small part of me that wondered what it would be like to walk down Main Street and see a childhood friend.  So I think it is that part of me that keeps thinking about it and tried to make friends with the granddaughter and our relatives.  I still consider it my home town, and in fact that is where I will be buried, next to my parents.  The cold won’t bother me then.

But lately I’ve had thoughts about having some of my ashes scattered at sea, too….I liked the life of a sojourner.

“The Sea is our mother rocking, rocking.  See how she fills her blue arms with gifts ~ with slippery bits, weed, white shells, fish as bright as wisps of moon.  Hear how her voice lifts, falls, lifts while she sings our life.” – Tony Johnston

I have always loved that line from “One of These Nights” by the Eagles.  I think that’s where I’ve been these past few months.  I once Googled it (or maybe it was “Shadows and Light”) and got some porn site, but even that isn’t as yucky as getting another one when I Googled “Disney Girls” as in the Beach Boys song.

The Winter Solstice and Season of Light of the various holidays draw us once more to the Light.  As you probably know, 2012 is supposed to be a tumultuous year.  My most trusted sources say the end of the Mayan calendar in December will not be the end of the Earth as others are saying.  Personally, I do feel it will be a powerful and life-changing year, but that is only based on my instincts.

My word for the year is Clarity, and I also have a vision of  “Embracing the Seasons” instead of reacting to them or ignoring them.  I have found two resources for this journey:  “The Sacred Journey Daily Journal for Your Soul 2012” and the “We’Moon 2012 Gaia Rhythms for Women” weekly calendars.  I’m not posting links because I’m not in any way affiliated with them, and I haven’t really used them yet.  You can Google them if your’re interested.  The first doesn’t have any photographs but has a lot of room for journaling and reflection.  The second does not have a lot of room for writing but is full of beautiful art and poetry.  Both relate to the earth and seasons.

With all of the bizarre weather of the last year, I feel that connecting to and healing the Earth is one of my top priorities.

Blessings for a peaceful, happy, and Earth-friendly New Year.

Roots Bound

As in spellbound–hopefully it will make sense if you read on.

Last week my sister e-mailed me that the immigration and travel records would be free on ancestry.com for the week.  I plan to do a lot of family research when I retire and have more time, because a subscription isn’t cheap.

So I started my search.  Actually, I wasn’t able to find much in those records, so I went to my other sources of family history to get more information, mainly https://www.familysearch.org/.  The more I found, the more I was intrigued.  As a friend said, it’s like a puzzle, and it’s exhilerating when you find something (and can become addictive, I’m sure).

I was trying to find immigration records for my great-great-great-grandfather, who immigrated from Norway.  The spellings depend on the interpretation of the transcribers, and a lot of ship passenger lists were very splotched, undoubtably by the sea air.  Part of the difficulty was the naming conventions in Norway, which were unlike those in this country (the surname became the father’s first name and -son or -datter), and they changed again when they immigrated here.  But along the way I came across a person who had done a lot of research on my great-great-great-grandfather.  I tried e-mailing her but got an error.

This obsession took up half of my Labor Day weekend.  I gave up.  But today I did a search on the history of the town where he lived, and while I didn’t get any information on that, it did bring up more information from the mysterious researcher, as well as a new e-mail address for her.

So I sent her an e-mail, and I received an enthusiastic response of 14 pages of information, including every encounter in his Civil War unit’s journey to the sea with Sherman.  I had not learned about his marching with Sherman until many years later than I lived in Augusta and Fort Benning, Georgia, which is fortunate since we never got past the Civil War in school (I know nothing about World War I and II).

I just wish I had found all of this out many years earlier and could have shared it with my dad.  He loved history so much.

(The picture is of my great-great-grandmother Christine (right), a librarian, pianist, wife, mother, and painter, who  tragically died because of the great flu of 1918, and her sister Anna (on my father’s side of the family)).