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Sassea Sails

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Hiking

Five years of Mourning –WTF

The other day I had the opportunity to turn an acquaintance into a friendship. Until I get her permission to use her name I will call her Sophie. We met on a planned hike with two other gals. Sophie was introduced to me as a nice lady whose husband also died.

Just hearing those words sent a jolt right up through the crown of my head. A few seconds passed when I reckoned to myself, “At least we have a common ground though my immediate prayer was that our hike would welcome the silent solitude I had been craving. The leaves brushing on my sleeve, the crackling sound of drying leaves beneath my feet, and the breathing of cool air tickling your cheek is what I wanted. Perhaps as mother nature intended Sophie and I broke the sounds of silence.

It seemed that as soon as we took our first 3 or 4 steps we began to converse.  It didn’t take long for me to hear Sophie’s story. Her husband died after several years of chronic health challenges. It was now five years later when Sophie decided to get out of the house, go hiking, and enjoy the company of others. Five years, I thought, I won’t mourn for five years. I will cherish the fortitude brought to my life each and every day of my life. I will socialize. I will read and relax.

I will take pride in my house and our property. I will continue my ukulele, piano and band playing. I will eat vegetables every day. I will maintain my current weight (or lose just five more pounds.) I will be kind. I will finish the slides for Ron’s memorial.

I will end this blog so I can finish the slides for Ron’s memorial….

The Magic of Day

From darkness to daylight is magical, my favorite time of the day. Living in Cocoa, Florida the darkest hour meant get up and drive to the beach to catch the first wave at the crack of dawn. Living on SPRAY, dawn’s early light signaled the time to weigh anchor. After a good morning stretch, I would step up into the cockpit and be amazed as if I were in some wonderland. The sense of accomplishment resulting from forty years of learning what I could about sailing, the people who taught me and those who shared my many adventures all came into view. To this day every morning is greeted with the recognition of someone in my life; a principal I worked for, a student who touched my heart, or a disgruntled parent have equal time in my personal benediction.

Now, far from the sea, on the arid southern Colorado terrain, 7000 feet above sea level the miracle of daylight brings that same appreciation for all who have been a part of my life. From cousins like Peter Pearsall and Jane Trudeau Weisman, who I barely know, to my sister, Jane, whose caring for others is an admirable trait I lack, to family and friends along the way, I have visions of the faces of those I have had the privilege to know.

Two paragraphs ago, when I started typing today’s blog entry, I could only see the reflection of what is inside the house out my living room window. Now the Sangre de Cristo snow-capped mountains are coming into view. Gently rocking in synch with the swaying leaves on the pinon trees, mother nature and I are waving in a new day. A hint of sunshine is adding a red tinge to the earlier morning’s dark brown ground. A tiny bird flits from one feeder to the next.

Footsteps coming from the bedroom bring the joy of having a loved one to share another day. With Passover and Easter being celebrated around the world I will take time to add another stone to my appreciation garden. Each name I paint on a specially chosen stone is accompanied by a prayer of gratitude. With all the weirdness, frustration and joy, transitions from night to day, from surfing to cruising to mountaineering, from one love toward another, thankfully, I am a better me. Bless you!

Blaming Fate

It must be fate that wiles my activities in its effort to hold me accountable. The epifocal of my plans to move to a more remote environment than the overcrowded lifestyle lived for the past 50 years, was designed to lure me into a new career as a writer. Yet, the seemingly tranquil, too cold to go outside, climate here in arid southern Colorado, has not exactly kept me indoors.

Knowing fitness would continue to be a priority, I participated in a “Hike on New Year’s Day” event held at Lathrop State Park about five miles from our home on the range. As the group of hikers, whom I had never seen before, gathered to hear the Rangers’ plan for the start of the year right adventure, I asked to make an announcement. Swallowing hard and grimacing when the ranger waved me toward the center of the room a thundering silence bombarded e my brain. “Will someone want to go hiking with me?” was the voice of a lifetime of  rejections that infiltrated my frontal lobe. Still, I persisted.

Polly, a tall radiant blonde wearing a multi colored knit ski hat with long braided tails raised her hand. Without hesitation she spoke right up.  “I love to hike and have been hoping to find a partner.” We decided to meet after the hike. It was a fairly easy climb to the summit at Lake Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, Colorado (about 5 miles from my house).  Located on the north side of the  park, the trail provided several scenic views of two lakes and several mountain ranges in all four directions. The ranger took time to explain the geological history of the park and describe the features of the varied flora and fauna. None of his words took hold. My focus was on navigating the terrain. From small pebbles to flat topped boulders I was embracing each step.

After the hour long  hike the group reconvened in the visitor center. The park ranger and his staff of one provided healthy snacks, chili, coffee, and bottled water for the participants. Polly and I found each other in the group.  Being excited to be meeting at least one person my confidence encouraging others lifted my spirits. I again announced, “Any ladies interested in future hikes, please join us.”

Donna, a healthy looking gal about my age offered a seat next to her. Her spoken resume of hiking many of Colorado’s 14 ers (mountains with a summit of at least 14,000 feet above sea level), and other adventures as a career firewoman were intriguing. Despite her choosing to not join us on future hikes  (at least not so far),  Polly and I marked our calendars for the following Tuesday. That was the first week in January. Ever since, we have hiked 2 – 4 hours each week; each week on a different trail.  This past week two other gals joined us. Slowly our hiking experience is growing in numbers and terrain.

Hiking provides inspiration for memoiring. Past experiences from childhood up to today my life is filled with bittersweet memories. Some bring so much joy my laugh echoes across the meadows. Others turn on the faucet that like a dam opens to let the tears flow. Still others, the ones that perplex me the most are the irritations like jealousy that infuriate. While these thoughts provide impetus for writing, fate is being blamed for spending my time doing other things than writing.

Learning to play the piano and ukulele are an example. Three years ago I began taking piano lessons. A requisite for buying a house included the purchase of a piano. My battery operated piano keyboard had become a necessary  accouterment when traveling. A real piano has class, it adds to the ambiance of a home filled with music. Still, the portable piano was to be my travel companion. Its bulky maneuvering in the van led to the purchase of a ukulele. What I acquired was three distractors from writing: hiking, and playing the piano and ukulele.

Fate further infiltrated. Moving to SOCO (southern Colorado)  held the promise of a return to another love, skiing. During the first two months it was easy to dismiss slope surfing (my interpretation of downhill skiing. Using the need to get familiar with my new life in rural America, I lied to myself. “I’ll wait until next winter to take up skiing. After all it would be a 3 hour one way drive to the slopes and being as Ron and I are renewing our lives as a couple I did not want to go out of town without him. Skiing would wait, I silently repeated almost once a day.

Unexpectedly on a chilly winter’s day watching freshly fallen snow outside our living room window, a well respected sailing friend from the ’80s and ’90s sent me a compelling text. “Hi Marlene, I’ll be skiing next week. You and Ron can ski then spend the night with me and Kris.” Can you guess how long it took to respond? Well, fate insisted I leave the next morning at 5:30 for Wolf Creek Ski Area. Ron chose to stay home.  At $100 a day for fuel, equipment rental and lift tickets, there goes the budget along with another non writing day. And, there goes the budget…

Lest I forget my agreement to create a flyer for our neighborhood “Best Tasting Chili Contest,” prepare at least one meal a day, update my computer and phone at the local coffee shop where they offer free wi-fi, a weekly trip two hour round trip to Pueblo for groceries, dental appointment, lead the one hour walk around the neighborhood,  join my sweet for our evening  fire side chats, engage in a 45 minute fitness routine, e-mai friends, play a few rounds of Words with Friends, check the mail, organize tax documents, check on investments, listen to the radio for the ubiquitous political drama, and lastly, put another log on the fire.

Whew! just listing these endeavors tires me out. It must be fate. After all, the better part of my life has been spent contriving an escape from boredom. If I believe I can control these urges to do so many different things, than I feel undisciplined. If I blame fate, I more easily accept my failure to follow through. Oh, dear, I ask, “What’s a girl to do?”

 

 

 

 

Three Strikes

Here I go again getting impatient because someone didn’t respond to my rant. So, instead of quietly ignoring the situation and leaving the ball in their park I threw another pitch. This brings me back to an old philosophy of mine.

Three strikes and I am out. Anytime I failed to do something on the first try I reminded myself to allow two more failures before changing my tune. This worked when sailing, counseling, and doing a domestic chore.

In sailing it was imperative to keep a roster of five for each race. My roster included up to ten. How many times did I call each person? No more than 3. I figured if someone didn’t respond after that they either didn’t want to say ‘no,’ or were too busy. I certainly didn’t want to be a nag.

In counseling I would allow three sessions to solve a problem. In the school system counselors rarely have time to engage in long term therapy. Hence the genre ‘brief counseling’ was coined. If after the 3rd session the problem wasn’t solved a recommendation another counselor with whom the student, parent, or teacher might want to consider meeting with.

In the domestic arena I was negligent. There were too many other things I would rather do. Domestics included dinner with family like those Thanksgiving traditions where everyone would sit around the table and overeat. Then, the men would plop in a cushy chair and fall asleep watching football on TV. The women talked about future plans, bashed the men or  gossiped. I probably tried a zillion of these experiences. Way more than three.

With relationships I always want to end encounters in  peace. Although it took me some sixty years to come to this position with my sister. I am thankful her and I have finally met in the middle. At the first inkling of a misunderstanding or annoyance we confront each other. Within a day or two we rehash until we reach a satisfactory understanding. In some cases we decide a topic is not one we choose to engage in. And, so it goes with my mate.

On another tack, when I want to turn an acquaintance into a friendship do I use the same baseball rule before giving up?  I think I will because just like calling a dear friend if they don’t return my calls after 3 attempts a voice shouts in my head, “Quit being a nudge or an annoyance, they will call when they are ready.” Current score is two to none.

OOOOOOOO, I almost forgot between now and my birthday a hiking friend, Polly, and I will attempt to climb our first 14er. If we fail, do we try two more times then give up?

Happy Trails

 

 

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