Mood of Solitude

I've always compared myself to a lone wildflower growing outside a rose bed. At least that's how I was raised.

Did I say raised? That's not quite true. My parents, being bohemian sorts, kind of tossed the seed out there, then stood back and said, "Let's see how she does!" They supplied me with some support against the wind, but, generally speaking, I was left to my own devices. It was good for me. I learned to dig my roots in deep when things got rough and I'm an old hand at turning my face to that one ray of sun when the storms set in. Did I turn out alright? I think so. Other people I've known, who grew up in the rose bed — tended, pruned and dosed with various "fertilizers" — have always been the ones who were most drawn to me.

I don't know what brought on this feeling of being alone, or set apart, this morning. After two weeks of feeling fully engaged, I woke up feeling a bit outside of it all. It's not bad. It's where I create from, and the weather has turned back to winter after a week of unexpected spring. I also haven't slept well all week, but I'm used to that, too. I'm going to be alone quite a bit this weekend so I welcome this mood of solitude — I'll spend my time working on my new book and reading some of those on my list over there ----->

My mother had a saying she used whenever I did something she neither approved of nor understood: "You're growing up like a weed!"

Perhaps, but a flowering one! And I wouldn't trade places with the most beautiful hybrid rose for all the world!


Photo Credit: Christine at Homesteading in the Burbs


Progress Report

But First...

You who have been coming here for any length of time are already used to my frequent template changes; as one who constantly reinvents herself, I like this blog to reflect my latest incarnation. Those of you who are new, well, get used to it. This is how I've rolled since I began blogging in 2002.

Lately, I seem to be drawn to bolder, more vibrant colors, which is very different from my usual muted tones. I attribute this to my victory over depression, which I've been battling for over a decade. Ah, well. Who knows what lurks within any of us?

Since our mini-holiday at Tenkiller Ferry Lake (that entry can be read here), I'm feeling more positive, refreshed and forward-looking than I have in many, many years. I suppose that's what vacations are supposed to do to us, but it's been so long, I guess I forgot what this feels like. Here's a little rundown:

2000: Nettl and I left our blissful life in Denver, where I had a well-paying job and tons of credit, to live in Stillwater, where she was to finish her masters degree. Unable to land a job that paid what I needed to manage my financial health, I had to settle for the amount I'd made when I first started out in 1976. That's the economy here, folks. Just the two of us, we had plans for our future: to leave Stillwater and live either in Europe or California. In November, however, my mom had a stroke. She was in Denver at the time so we brought her to Stillwater to live with is, along with my son, Joel, who has Asperger's Syndrome. Doggedly positive, we set into more of a family life than we'd at first anticipated. Plans to move had to be shelved.

2001: Nettl was thrown into a bitter custody battle over her three kids, ages 7-11.

2002: Taking care of my mother began to eat at what financial reserves we had. Her health continued to decline and my depression started to raise its head. I was suddenly hit with chronic pain, probably exacerbated by having to lift my mom all day, as well as her heavy wheelchair whenever I had to take her somewhere in the car.

2003: Many trips to the hospital with my mom, who got cancer and nearly died of a staph infection that turned gangrenous. Gee, thanks, hospital, for your cleanliness ethics. Nettl got custody of her three kids in an emergency court order. Seven people in a three-bedroom house. Fun...

2004: Moved to a much larger house and began settling the kids into their new life. Mom died right before Christmas. Extreme financial issues set in and I began feeling grossly unwell.

2005: Excitement surrounding a documentary in which we were featured. Ten-day whirlwind location shoot in Vienna and Salzburg. It was hectic and wonderful. I'd never call it a vacation, though. It played hell with my failing health and nearly killed me. Literally.

2006: After experiencing sometimes daily mini-comas, I was diagnosed with advanced Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Began the THS merry-go-round. My son, Micah, moved in with us.

2007: I don't remember anything about 2007; I was in a year-long Hashi stupor.

2008: Finances continued to plummet, I attempted to work outside the home, but soon discovered I just couldn't hold up. Began writing Beyond The Bridge in fits and starts.

2009: Realizing we needed to downsize, we moved to Bookends Cottage. All the kids (except my two sons) had moved out and the financial pressure relieved itself somewhat, although we still struggled due to the cessation of Nettl's child support income as well as my inherited annuities. Every penny had gone to basic survival.

2010: Published Book One of Beyond The Bridge. This was our worst financial year. There were days when we just didn't eat. Friends stepped in to help when they could, but the stress sent me to my bed for the next two years. All of my writing and blogging was done from there. My best friend of 40+ years, JP Deni, died. Worked on Book Two.

2011: I don't remember this year, either. I do remember living life through my bedroom window, though, wondering if I'd ever be part of it again.

2012: More of same. I did manage to publish Book Two, though! Thanks to Joel's financial contributions, I was able to go home to California for 10 days. I think this is what triggered the beginning of my slow but steady ascent out of hell. Ah, vacations!

2013: Published Books One and Two in a single edition that included extensive rewrites. Slowly, thanks to  my California trip, better awareness of my disease and finding the right medication, I began feeling better and could split my daytime hours equally between the bedroom and living room. Because I have no health insurance, I had to learn how to maintain wellness rather than treat illness. Micah finished school as a CAD engineer and immediately landed a job, helping to supplement our income.

2014: Health improved significantly and steadily. No longer in bed all day! Nettl got a better job, which she loves, and finances began to improve somewhat as well. Although things were still really tight, we were eating. At least I could cook a meal once a week! Creativity returned and I began writing music again, and water painting. Started a new book. Finally, after 14 years together, Nettl and were allowed to marry. Gee, it's nice to be included in that "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" spiel...

2015: Finances have improved (I can cook twice a week now, most weeks). Health is good as long as I take care of my body, mind, emotions, and spirit (thank you, meditation!), and my 10-year depression is gone. We're making plans for our future and are moving into our "golden years" with our optimism and hope intact. In all ways I feel better than I have since 2000. We're about to come full circle, and it only took 15 years. Oy...

Stay tuned for continuing positive progress reports!

P.S. We're returning to the lake house, with my sons, for Memorial Day weekend!



I have very little to complain about, really, and so much to be thankful for, but it's hard, sometimes, to see beyond the crap—the financial worries, ill health, the dust of dreams—to what's really important. Sometimes it takes a wallop upside the head to wake me up to all there is to be grateful for in my life. I hope you'll forgive me for those times when I have no vision and can see no reason to hope—and feel that you are entitled to listen to my beefing.

Lately, I've been thinking about this. About how I probably hold the good things away by dwelling on the not-so-good things, but our weekend at the lake really opened my eyes. I have three friends who aren't doing well. What's Hashimoto's compared to stage 4 lymphoma, kidney failure, or a stroke? It's nothing. While it tests and tries me, it's nothing compared to those things.

I'm ashamed of myself.

From now on I'll be more aware of my ingratitude for my 1st world problems and will nip it in the proverbial bud when I see it coming. I'll also quit being so hard on people in my mind. I'm a really critical person, although I keep it in check and seldom let it reveal itself. I'm now determined to let people off the hook and remind myself that when I judge others, I'm really only judging qualities I recognize in myself and am too chickenshit to face down. No more.

"Scan not a friend with a microscopic glass,
You know his faults, now let his foibles pass."
Sir Frank Crisp


A Sacred Space

I had intended to post an entry about our long weekend at Tenkiller Ferry Lake as soon as we returned home (which was last evening), but I was hanging onto the feelings of the place and didn't want to intrude on my own bliss.

What can I say about the place we stayed? We fell in love with it as well as the area in general. Since I came to Oklahoma on August 1, 2000, I have dedicated most of my thoughts and ambitions to getting out. Obviously, that never happened, but now I understand why. What we're seeking is always found in our own back yard, isn't it? Well, we found what we've been seeking at the lake and we decided that's where we want to retire. I know it's where I'm supposed to be, because I no longer feel the urge to look elsewhere. The search has ended. Below the jump are a few photos I took. Click to embiggiate.


Far From the Madding Crowd

After days and days of grey, sullen weather, the sun has finally shown his face. It's still cold, of course, but the weekend forecast predicts it shall be "Sunny and delightful".

Tell that to my feet. I usually have my Rocket Dogs on, but they're in the wash so that they'll be nice and snug over our upcoming weekend at the lake house. Meantime, my favorite throw and warm socks do the trick.

I'm really looking forward to the long weekend (we're leaving Friday morning and won't be back until Monday evening). The lake house, which has been so generously opened to us by our friend, Amanda, is at Tenkiller Ferry Lake, about a two-hour drive east from here in a deserted, wooded area. There are other houses nearby, but Amanda tells us no one's out there this time of year. Silly us. But we're packing our favorite throws, board games, my guitar, books, wine and snacks, and are looking forward to being all alone, far from humanity both in actual life and on the internet. (There is no internet at the lake house, no cable, and spotty cell phone reception, and that's fine by us.) We can take Nigel out on walks without his lead, hopefully to the water's edge and all around the dusty lane. Of course, I'll take a lot of pictures.

I'm not sure if I'll be making another entry or not before then, so I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a very enjoyable weekend. Enjoy the sunshine, if you have it!


Black & White, 5 of 5

For my last installment of the Black & White photo challenge, I reached back to last year when I went out on highway 177 just north of here, where I'd previously passed an abandoned gas station and trailer park. I liked the windswept look of it, the tall grasses, and the rock facade of the building. It had a sort of post-apocalyptic feel about it that moved me. How many pickups pulled in to fill up before going on to the MerCruiser or Armstrong plant? How many kids walked over to the food and supplies store on hot summer afternoons to get a Coke or a Slurpee? How many mothers pushed their baby strollers over to pick up milk? If you click "Read More" below, you'll see my favorite photo from the series, one that I titled "Gash".


Black & White, 4 of 5

Photo #4. This is pretty self-explanatory; guitars and dog toys. I call it, "Artist's Life".


Black & White, 3 of 5

This is the third of my five images as per Hilary's Facebook photo challenge. This is a collection of old books that sits atop a tall barrister bookcase in our living room. I used to spend my Saturdays in used bookshops in search of old editions. I've found some good books this way, but I can't seem to find any good sellers here.

My favorite in this pile? The Lady of the Lake, by Sir Walter Scott. This particular edition was published in 1923. It's the wee book on the very top of the stack. There's nothing like cracked leather and musty paper to make me want to read whatever's printed inside!


Black & White, 2 of 5

Last spring, a tiny sprig of Virginia Creeper began finding its way across the ceiling of our front porch. By the end of summer it had covered quite a bit of it only to be stopped in its tracks when the cold set in. This is it now as it lies dormant, waiting for spring to bring it back to life.


Black & White, 1 of 5

Hilary, the author of The Smitten Image blog, has challenged her Facebook friends to post one black and white photo a day for five days. I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you're at all interested in doing likewise, please feel free to join in. This is the first of my five images.

This is L'il Mozie peaking out from under the chair beside the piano. Click to embiggiate.