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Friday, June 16, 2017

The morning after.

Before bed last night I soaked in a tub of hot water with some Epsom salts added.  I just wanted my poor body to stop hurting.  It took me maybe 6 minutes to fall asleep and then I must have woke up 4 or 5 times to the vision of the last 400 feet that I could not make.  Ever see a log jam?  Ever see a log jam that consisted of railroad ties?  That was what the last leg had been.  As I visited with Karen today I told her that when I looked up the incline to the top it looked like everyone was crawling over the ties.  She told me it looked like that because that is what they were doing.  Praise God I had sense enough to quit when I did!

I am still sore.  I have chunks of skin missing with no explanation of where it went.  My left hip is still not completely back in the socket and my right knee will probably never bend again.  Most of my hearing has returned and my vision is almost back to normal.  I am beginning to think rationally about whether or not to try this again.  And would I recommend it to my friends?  Let me be very clear. No.  Not only no, but hell no!  And not just hell no, but HELL NO!!! I would rather be put on a Chinese water torture table and have my fingernails pulled out slowly by a drunk Chimpanzee.

Now that I have cleared that up for you, I am going to my garden and see if I can remember where I planted those damn beets.  Then I will come in and rip the rest of the carpet off the stairs.  Just nice clean therapeutic work to clear my mind and prepare my body for bed where I will sleep with no dreams of stairs that climb straight up to a log jam  4 feet from Heaven.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Gonna just shoot up that Manitou Incline and be home before 1:00!

Oh, the day started out beautifully.  I picked Karen up at 8:00 and we headed North to Manitou Springs.  I had done my research and I knew the Garmin was ready with the address in and go punched.    Now something you should know about Manitou Springs and that is there are 6, 000 streets all a block long that go straight up hill or straight down hill and they are all one way going the wrong way.  Not to be deterred we finally found the place with free parking and a free shuttle to the base of the Incline.

I had carefully packed plenty of water and toilet paper just in case.  My debit card was in my back pack along with my identification and my insurance card, just in case.  I also had rain gear, just in case.  Even took a pair of socks, just in case.  The shuttle was a little full, but free and he knew where he was going.

So off we went full of confidence that the next stop would be the top.  Just hop from one board to the next.  Yep, a piece of cake.  Well, it would have been nice had that been what happened, but sadly, the steps were not all the same size, nor were the of the same height.  Started out real good, but then the got further apart and taller.  It was hot.  The sun was bright.  The flies found me most tasty.

Karen cheered me on with "We got this!"  "You can do it!"  You know how optimistic a preacher can be.  I think the whole trip up was 2,000 steps.  After 300 I told her to just go ahead and I would plug along until I got tired and meet her later.  So off she went with her bouncy little air and I began plugging onward and upward.  Soon I had lost sight of her so I took a break.  Then onward and upward with the steps getting further apart and taller.  Damn!  This was not going well at all.  Several times my life flashed before my eyes.

I met a couple girls from the Philippines.  They were very sweet and this was their first trip up.  I told them this was my first trip and also my last!  They offered me words of encouragement and told me how proud they were that I had come this far.  I was, however, well past the point of being cheered on to go higher.  I was now putting one foot in front of the other because I could think of nothing else to do. 

Finally after about an hour or so of crawling up steps, fighting off flies, drinking lots of hot water, a very nice man pointed up the hill and said, "See that boulder in the middle of the path?  If you can make it that far it is the "bail out point for the Barr Trail."  Yes!  There was a God!   There was hope that I could make it that far and then get off this God forsaken piece of hell and start the downward descent.  Now I do a lot of walking so that is no problem.  This was different.  I walked bent forward with my knuckles dragging and counted 10 steps.  Then 5.  Breathe.  Then 7.  Breathe.

The phone rang and Karen was on top!  She was coming back down.  Great!  Meet you at the exit to the trail down.  And then there she was.  Damn!  That was fast!  I still had about 30 steps and the the little steps and there I was! 

Well, not quite saved yet.  We still had a 2.6 mile hike down the hill.  It twisted and turned and before I began to hallucinate, we reached the parking lot.  I would have fallen down and kissed the earth, but I would not have been able to get back up.  I ached in every muscle I had.  My head was throbbing.  I was sunburnt and I just wanted my mommy!

The Manitou Incline is not for the faint or weak of heart.  It will rip you to shreds.  There were times I was crawling to get over a series of tall steps and God had long since ate me up  and spit me out.  I regret that I was not there to take a picture of Karen Howe at the finish line.  I regret that she could not take a picture of me, but I learned a very valuable lesson today. 

I have spent the last month telling everyone that would listen that I was going to hike up the Manitou incline.  No doubt about it.  It was a sure thing.  A done deed.  Today I learned that I am not invinceable, and there are things I can not do.  This is sure as hell one of them!  I have learned that I best be for remembering how old I am. The Manitou Incline is a cold, unforgiving, hot dry, piece of Colorado landscape that I am going to keep my feet off of for the time being.  There was a time that I would have gone back again and again until I conquered it, but for now I just want to conquer this glass of ice water and think how proud I am to go to a church where the minister can march up into the clouds and not look back.

Congratulations Karen Howe, minister at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Pueblo Colorado

Sunday, June 11, 2017

It used to be a very long ways from her house to mine.

Back when I was in third or fourth grade, I had a best friend.  Her name was Barbara.  Her house was in the center of town very close to the school.  Mine was on the edge of town on the other side of the school.  Mother cleaned house for her mother so we were connected by that, I guess.  Arrangements would be made that I went home with Barbara on occasion.  Usually we just played and some times I would spend the night.  That was the best.  There were sheets on her bed and the bathroom was inside the house.  Now that was not a deal breaker, but it was really nice and I could always hope that some day I would live in a house so fine.

I don't remember what we played, but I am sure it entailed dolls and stuff like that.  Maybe we colored. I think we played hide and seek sometimes.  I liked hiding at her house because she had a garage and a car port.  I think,  I just don't remember. I do remember that her dad would sometimes make us an ice cream sundae and he always put a cherry on the top.  That was to die for and to this day when I see a squirt of whipped cream with a cherry on it, I revert back to my childhood and my friend Barbara.

I do remember that when it was time for me to go home I dreaded that long walk.  The streets in Nickerson were not paved.  Well, Main Street was.  It was paved from the school to the highway.  Then the highway ran off to Hutchinson or Sterling depending on which way you turned.

Sometimes Barbara would let me borrow her roller skates because it was so far to my house.  As I calculate it in my mind now it was probably about 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile.  The roller skates were really of little use because I only had 4 blocks of sidewalk then I had to take them off and carry them because anyone knows you can not skate on dirt.  I was careful to take very good care of the skates so I could use them again.  In all fairness, I spent a lot of time falling down and getting back up.  I could have been home a lot sooner had I just hoofed it.

Barbara never came to my house.  I always went to hers.  I guess that had something to do with her house being more modern that ours.  I sometimes wonder what became of her.  I saw her mother after I was married and learned a little about the years between.  Seems her mom and dad were divorced.  Barbara had moved to Kansas City and had a very good job and a very rich fiance.  I let it drop there, because I had no reason to pursue it.  Still I wonder.

I wonder about a lot of people back there in Nickerson, Kansas.  Sherry Stires who lived up by the high school in a big two story house.  She invited me to spend the night once, but she showed me a spider web on the outside of her house with a giant spider in it.  Scared the living pee wadding right out of me!  No way could I have stayed in her house.  I think I never went back there again.   Sometimes at night when I can't sleep I try to remember the names of my classmates.  Seems like there were about 23 or 24 of them.  I think I will try that now.  Let me know if any of these ring a bell.

Gay Withrow, Joan Moore, Barbara Hawk, Irene Reinke, Martha Knoblock, Nancy Cuthbertson, Sherry Stires, Beth McGonigle, Gary Battey, Loren McQueen, Larry Collee, Earl Kelley, Barbara Massey, Eleanor Kirkpatrick, Joyce Pedersen, Ronnie Beck, David Sjoberg,  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Starting the month off right!

 The first thing I did on Monday morning was to get on the Wii and see how old I am.  45.  That is pretty good.
Posada had fallen heir to a bunch of bananas so I made them some Banana Nut bread.  9 loaves to be exact.  Pretty good stuff if I do say so myself.
 I finished up the wax I had accumulated and they now have 4 1/2 dozen candles which they probably will not need until next winter, but they are there now.
I checked the strawberry bed and found several little blossoms, but I can not eat blossoms.

 I was very happy to see that there were several little green strawberries and I am most happy to announce that since these pictures were taken I have had 2 nice red strawberries and like the little red hen and her loaf of bread, I ate them!
I am most happy to report that I have gotten most of my broken limbs out back and burnt some of them.  Just have to finish up the Red Bud Tree.  The green beans are up as well as the zucchini.  Also up is either the watermelons or the cucumbers.  Not sure which one I planted.  I am going to have the sprinklers worked on and when that is done I should be pretty well set until winter when I will no doubt freeze my ass off, but for now...life is good.
Or it would be had I not seen the fox out by the goose pen early this morning.  No doubt she has babies and is looking for something to feed them.  Damn!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Update on the garden situation here in the Rockies.

I tilled a couple weeks ago, being careful not to till up the asparagus or the green onions.  (Which I missed harvesting last fall because the weeds took the garden and I could not find them.)  At that time I planted green beans and potatoes.  The green beans came up, but they froze last week under 9 inches of snow.  Potatoes did not even make an effort!  The strawberries, which I planted in the leaking horse tank that I filled with dirt and covered with a tarp before the snow, are doing beautifully and have tiny, teeny green strawberries about the size of a turnip seed setting on them.  The 6 tomatoes that I planted with the strawberries after the snow are setting on little bitty tomatoes.  Now if I could figure out something that uses both strawberries (which I really do not like) and tomatoes, I could have something high fiber for lunch.
The Red Bud tree is broken in the middle and looks very sad.  That happened when it snowed.  The snow was very destructive and I am now losing 2 of my evergreens.  The wild rose bushes fared well and I am happy to report that not a weed was damaged!  The bind weed is in full bloom and has leaves of record size.  (Sarcasm in case you do not recognize it!)
Patty and Bill were here for a week and Bill got a lot of my chores done.  He moved the books in the garage as well as the boxes.  We treated the stumps and he cut the broken limbs and drug them out back to the burn pile.  He took over "goose duty" thus freeing me up to watch Jeopardy!  He mashed all my aluminum cans and we took them to the recycle.  My car was full and we split $12.00.  May not seem like much but it is $12.00 more then we had.  His thumb is healed and they are going to try to lengthen his tendons this next week and hopefully it will be back to work for Willy!  Hats off for a job well done.
My daughters, Patty and Dona, along with my niece, Michelle attended my High Tea at the church the day before mothers day.  That was a rousing success, but I see a few flaws I need to iron out before the next one!  Then on Mother's Day they fixed me a wonderful lunch on the grill.  Bret and Amanda and the baby showed up to eat.  Pork steak and sirloin were on the menu along with asparagus fresh from the oven, baked potatoes, garlic toast, angel food cake and on and on!  Thank you children!
So that about winds up my week.  Oh, crap!  There was that trip to the dentist.  Did I ever tell you how much I like having some one's fingers in my mouth?
Last night I was home all alone and the solitude was different.  Makes me wonder if I really want to spend my waning days alone?  The solitude was broken by the sheriff cars in the drive way, but that is another story.
For now, I am pulling on yesterday's jeans and the ragged tennis shoes and I am off to attempt to till the garden so I can replant.  Oh, but first I have to find some breakfast.

Welcome to my world!

Friday, May 19, 2017

An epiphany by any other name, is still an epiphany.

I was laying in my be the other night and I was thinking back to when I was a teenager.  When I was in the 7th grade mother had her hysterectomy.  I must have been about 12 or 13 at the time.  Mary and Dorothy had gone to stay with Flo Roberts and the rest of us stayed home with Dad.  We were on Strong Street at the time.  It seemed like she was in the hospital a week and then came home.  As small cot had been put in the front room by the window so she could see out.  That is all I remember of that time period.  Out of this experience came a need to attend church.  Mother said so, so as soon as she was able, we went off to church. 
There were only 3 churches in town.  The Baptist church was closest, but they hollered and raised there arms and waved them around when they sang and that scared us.  The Methodist was closer to Main Street, but it was for the rich people.  Everyone knew that.  The First Christian was on Main Street right beside the school, so we went there. 
It was a beautiful red brick building with stained glass windows all around.  Miss Barkiss, the school music teacher played the piano and directed the choir.  I forget who played the organ.  Miss Matters sat in the seat at the end of the last row on the right side.  No one ever even looked like they wanted to sit there.  She was, or at least appeared to be, very mean.  The school principal attended with his family.  So did the sheriff.  A spirea bush grew near the stairway that led to the basement.  The basement was where we had ice cream socials, cake walks and Sunday School for the younger kids.  It was also where the bank for birthday money sat on the table.  I remember putting my pennies in and everyone counting when it was my birthday.
The minister was Rush J Barnett and his wife was named Genevive.  They were wonderful people and loved children.  Very soon I had found my life calling.  I memorized many Bible verses.  Mrs. Barnett was always working with us kids.  I decided early on that I would be a missionary.  Africa sounded so good to me.  I would go save the souls of all the little black natives.  Pastor Barnett gave me lots of books to read and I devoured every word. 
As with any church, there were workings going on that us kids knew nothing about, and the time came that Pastor Barnett was replaced by Pastor Johnson.  In churches, when one pastor leaves the new one comes in and brings his or her own way of management.  The old pastor is not heard from again.  I was devastated that I had lost my mentor.  Reverend Johnson had a wife who did not want to lead the youth group and a teen age son who was , for want of a better word, a jackass.  We should follow him and that was not happening.  He was a jerk to the max, so slowly we just quit going to church.  It was no longer a safe place or a place we even wanted to be.  On to my epiphany.
I soon became clear that I would never be a missionary and I would never make it to Africa to save the wretched natives.  There was no one to lead me and when you are a young girl in search of a future, dreams die easily and quietly and are replaced by reality.  And Strong Street in Nickerson, Kansas gave way to Avenue A in Hutchinson.
Fast forward to the present.  The kids are raised and living fruitful lives in other places.  I am all alone on my back acre and I stay very busy.  I work tirelessly for anyone who wants something.  I feed the homeless, work with the migrant center, volunteer  and sit with people who are ready to cross the bar.  I give rides to those who need them and am busy every day with one thing or another.  So last night it dawned on me, that the girl named Louella is a frustrated missionary.  It is 60 years later and I am once more trying to save the world!  I have no leader and stumble around blind, but my heart is in the right place. 
So, all you therapists and psychoanalysts out there need to come to my rescue.  How do I stop this insane behavior?  How do I get off this merry go round called life?  Do I just have to keep beating my head against a brick wall till the good Lord calls me?  I know I can not feed all the hungry people and I can not save all the wretched souls.  I can not set on all the committees and there are not enough dollars in my bank account to keep everyone warm and fed.  Will that 15 year old girl on Strong Street ever go away and leave me in peace?
I guess my life has become rather like that story I heard about the man who was throwing the star fish back into the ocean and someone asked why he did that because they just kept washing up and he could not save them all;  he could not make a difference.  He threw another one back and replied, "It made a difference to that one."

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Louella is still in there!

It is sad that after all these years I finally realized that the little girl on Strong Street is still in there and still hungering for acceptance.  I thought she would have learned by now, but she hasn't.  The saddest part is that she comes out at the damnedest times and I have to talk her back in.  Always craving acceptance and validation.  I think I may have read somewhere that we have to confront and comfort the inner child before we can be a complete person.  Maybe so.

The world sees the fascade that I present.  I tell it like it is.  I am dependable.  The "go to person" when something needs done.  I am honest to a fault.  I would give you the shirt off my back (as momma used to say) and the last dime in my pocket.  But under all that callousness and crap is still that skinny little girl back in Nickerson watching from the sidelines.  While the other girls went to the parties and cheered for the boys on the baseball team, I stayed inside and drew pictures on the black board with the "nerds."  We were drawing fins on Cadillacs before they were even thought of by the company!

I never doubted for one minute that my mother loved me.  Dad was a different story.  Grandma Haas and  Great Grandma Hatfield loved me.  They never kissed me or hugged me, but they fed me and smiled at me sometimes.  Touching didn't used to be a big deal back then.  I wonder why?  Aunt Mabel and Uncle Goll used to come see the grandma's from Coldwater and Aunt Mabel would let me rub cold cream on her face.  Once she sent me to Hinshaw's General Store to buy a towel so she could teach me how to do textile painting on fabric.  When I got it home and opened it up there was a brown "shelf mark" on it.  I wanted to take it back and get one without the "wear" mark, but she told me it was "good enough" for me.

And thus set the tone of my life was set.  I married a man because he was the one who asked me.  I stayed with him because that was what we did back then.  I had babies because that was the way it was.
When I divorced and was a single mother with no child support I survived.  And I married several times thinking that was the answer, but it was not.  I came to Colorado.  I divorced.  I married. I divorced and then I met my last husband, Kenny.  He did not know about my hungry inner child and he loved me for who I was.  When I opened up enough to share my childhood with him, he laughed.  And when I told him my first husband called me a "nickle bred gutter rat" he found that hilarious and began to call me  a "gutter bred nickly rat."  Life took on a new perception when I looked through his eyes.  But now he is gone.

So here I set crying over some slight that happened at church, or not having someone to hold my hand when I go walking, or wanting to run an idea by someone, and no one is there.  Nights get cold and lonely and very scary sometimes.  That is when I close my eyes and feel the wool blanket against my cheek and hear the coyotes yip in the distance and sometimes, the lonely scream of a cougar down on the river.

I guess it is all coming full circle.