The Times of our Lives are a Little Weird

We’re looking ahead at 6 days of cool weather and — gasp — rain. This is a very wonderful prognostication, as I’ve attempted to explain to Bear, not just for farmers but for us because it means that, maybe, probably, we can go out into the world at the time we like to. Sunset hikes/walks are lovely, but not the favorite for either of us.

What else?

Nothing. No more excitement, no road trips, no galleries to peruse. It’s OK. I know I’ll get better at this “normalcy” and it won’t drag me out when I go visit it. Truly, yesterday I felt like I’d returned from a long journey in another country.

And, while writing another Covid post isn’t my dream of a lovely morning, we’re having a flare up here in the San Luis Valley. I had the unpleasant discovery that only 23k of the eligible people who live here have had at least one shot. In my county it’s just under 40% and I’m fairly certain the other 60% will not be getting vaccinated. Some other counties have an even lower rate of vaccination and are enduring the flare up.

Things have gotten back to “normal” anyway, with small rodeos all over the place, and the big events that didn’t happen last year are happening this year. I was happy to hear the high school band practicing last week for the parade that’s part of the Ski (sky) Hi Stampede (rodeo, carnival and fair here in Monte Vista), but I also felt some concern. That so many people are ignoring science makes me feel bad for all the nurses and volunteers who’ve set up “Covid Events” all over Heaven trying to reach people. The reality is that there are plenty of people here — well, not all that many actual people here, but among the people here — who believe Trump won the election and all that goes with it.

The bizarre double-standard that has accompanied this is so weird. I used obscenities when responding to a tweet by my alleged congresswoman and for that Twitter banned me. I thought to myself, with Old 45 in mind, “If someone in power is tweeting abusive language that’s not using obscenities and is telling outright lies that affect people’s lives, that’s OK.” And I thought, “That bitch wears a Glock on her thigh, and she’s upset by my LANGUAGE?”

She’d posted a photo of a young man in an airport in Minnesota who was holding paperwork written in Spanish. She wrote, “The Border has moved all the way to Minnesota thanks to Biden’s failed border policies” or something very close to that. Well, first there IS a border with another country in Minnesota. Second, she didn’t know who that young man was. Here is my “offensive Tweet.”

When I clicked “Remove” I got a message telling me that if I did this again, I’d be permanently expunged, exiled, from Twitter. But IS that a punishment? I was tempted to attempt to do worse, but then I thought that’s like rising to the provocation of the playground bully and I deactivated my Twitter account. Of course, Twitter KNOWS it’s addictive and doesn’t delete an account until there’s been no activity for 30 days. That’s really not going to be a problem for me.

Some time over the past year I “moved” away. I don’t know how to explain that other than I started living as an ex-pat in this foreign country. I realized that as I drove over the mountain and saw again this beautiful valley that I love so much. I thought, “It’s you, me, and the dogs, valley.”

Meanwhile, I have to mow the lawn. “Thanks for hearing my confession,” as my friend Denis Joseph Francis Callahan would say after I listened to him rant. ❤

I just got a text, a little poem from a woman I met at the Refuge last year. We always meant to go for a walk together, but both of us were hesitant. Life is wonderful and yet very strange.

The War on Christmas

I didn’t believe this was real. After saying, on Twitter, that I didn’t believe the War on Christmas COULD be real, I learned a lot. Maybe it’s an urban thing or a Southern thing, but there’s no war here in the Back-of-Beyond. It makes me very sad that people would believe what Fox and Offal say and weaponize something that is, intrinsically, so good. So, here is my stance on Christmas and religion in general.

There is, IMO, nothing more personal than an individual’s faith. I grew up in a church that stressed that each of us develop a relationship with a “personal savior.” I took that on face value. Of course, back in the day, I called that entity “Jesus” but it turned out that Jesus was just a way to say that which I still can’t say, don’t have words for. Moses and the bush? One of the funniest things I’ve ever read yet profound — “What’s your name?”

I am. That’s all you need to know.”

“Yeah, but what’s your NAME??? Those guys down there are not going to believe a thing I tell them without a footnote and a source.”

That bush was very wise. It knew that when you start naming God, you get wars. Oooops. I named him. My bad.

My town is in a very red part of Colorado, still the holiday banner across my street (a national highway) says, “Happy Holidays.” It goes up a few days before Thanksgiving and is meant to comprise ALL the wintery holidays. It faces west so anyone entering Monte Vista from that direction is greeted in this inclusive and gentle way. Most of the time this time of year people wish each other Merry Christmas, but often I hear “Happy Holidays.” I see no war on Christmas or anything else. The opposite.

Just now, as I was walking home from the golf course with Teddy, a delivery man leaned out of the open window of his van and said, with his whole heart and whole soul, “Merry Christmas!” and he waved. He wasn’t starting a fight. He was giving me the best he has on this day, Christmas Eve.

But, apparently, in some places, Merry Christmas is uttered as a provocation. I have thought about that. It seems that half of provocation is the willingness to be provoked. I think this is a war we — each of us — can choose not to fight.

As for me — Christmas begins at the beginning of December when my friend Lois comes to visit for all the holiday markets in the valley. This year I had the opportunity to read from the China book. That turned out to be a wonderful thing. I teeter through the month — bad days and good — but usually good. It’s impossible NOT to reflect on the past if you’re 67 years old and live by yourself. Impossible not to remember Christmases you shared with family that you loved and can never see again. I learned some time back just to surrender to whatever emotional rollercoaster shows up. That stragedy has proven to be a great way to live through the holidays. Every day for the past two weeks some lovely thing has happened as a result of my just being receptive and looking at it not only from the actual perspective, but also the metaphorical.

Yesterday, I took the skis to the golf course (I drive because the skis are awkward to carry and no one can walk in those boots). When I got out of Bella I saw a guy approaching that I know, Fred. Dusty loved Fred and Fred loved Dusty. Whenever we met, I let Dusty loose and he ran to Fred as if Fred were the realization of all Dusty’s dreams. I told Fred I’d lost Dusty this past year.

“He was a great dog,” said Fred. “Whenever he saw me, he hugged me.”

It’s true and Dusty didn’t hug anyone else. We shared some Dusty stories, reminisced about their first meeting on the golf course. Dusty was barking his head off, scary, at Fred. I said, “Do you like dogs?” Fred said he did, if they were friendly. Dusty didn’t seem friendly, but Fred held his ground while I let Dusty go. Fred spread his arms in welcome and Dusty ran some 50 yards and hugged Fred who hugged him back. Now Dusty was big. If he stood on his hind legs (which seldom happened) he was taller than I am, over five feet.

Fred and I remembered the first big snow last winter, in January, and how we were out there post-holing and Dusty almost knocked Fred over because the snow was so deep. Telling Fred about Dusty, I felt like the circle of Dusty’s life was now completely closed. It was a kind of memorial for my barky black dog that I still miss.

We talked about how we never see anyone else outside walking in the snow.

“What’s wrong with everybody?” I said. We laughed because, honestly, it’s kind of nasty out there. Today is the first day in two weeks the temperature has gotten up to freezing.

“It’s great here on the Valley floor,” he said. “It never warms up. The snow stays.” Both he and I think that’s a good thing. Then Fred said, “What are you doing for Christmas, going to family?”

I said I didn’t have a family anymore, or, rather, that I did, but I’m at the point in life when I can choose my family. “I have a great family, but we’re not related to each other.” I laughed.

“Thats the way to do it,” said Fred. But I could see he felt sorry for me. Fred’s Italian and, you know, la famiglia is everything. “You mean your parents and all your siblings are gone?”

“Yep.” Then I decided to tell him a little about my brother and how, after he died, many of his friends and I became acquainted and some are now family to me.

“Some people wouldn’t see it that way.”

“Yeah, well, I lost my dad when I was 20. I’ve had a long time to get used to it.” I laughed.

“And you’re happy.”

“Yeah,” I said. “Why not?”

“Lot’s of people wouldn’t be.”

“I miss my family,” I said, “But I’m glad for the times we had. They were precious. Anyway, how could I not be happy with those mountains,” I motioned toward the Sangres, “this sky, the snow, living here?”

“Lots of people can’t be happy.”

Somewhere down the road of my life I had decided that happiness is a choice, just like, for me, believing in “it who shall not be named (aka God)” is a choice. I chose that, too. I’m happy with anyone’s celebration. I’ve learned that people seem to need something when the days are at their shortest. I understand that I’m a little different in that for me this is the BEST time of year, dark and cold.

We talked a little more, he wanted me to remind him what I did before I moved here, then he said, “Merry Christmas!” whole-heartedly, warmly, sincerely.

“Merry Christmas to you, too!” I said, equally heart-filled. Is it possible to MEAN that without being a Christian? Absolutely. Its meaning is, simply, “I wish you all the good things, peace, joy, love and beauty.” Because that is what that little baby in the manger symbolizes, what we all hope for whatever faith or non-faith we follow.

Dusty and I in the Laguna Mountains of Southern California, Christmas 2012

SO, from Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog, Teddy Bear T. Dog and I…

Merry Christmas!

This Looks Like a Fun Writing Challenge!!!

http://outdoor-society.com/naturewritingchallenge-is-back-for-season-two/

It is with much excitement that The Outdoor Society announces Season Two of #NatureWritingChallenge! We took a break for the summer months, but now that signs of fall are all around us, it is time to pick back up this awesome writing exercise. With a whole new layout and new topics, those who love writing about the wonders and experiences found on Public Lands have another chance to share that passion with other like-minded explorers. Starting on September 10th, 2018 and running through Spring of 2019, Season Two of #NatureWritingChallenge is going to be awesome.

I may try one or two — the one this week I’ve already written; it’s about my encounter with a mountain lion and none of my animal encounters equal that, but I’m going to try some of the challenges coming up.

You get the challenge on Twitter here