I’m down. I’m out. I can’t move. I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck.
A big darn truck.
Perhaps the world’s largest — like this one in the photo. If you look closely, you can see actual humans standing next to the tire, and they only come halfway up the tire.
That’s how I feel about now, dwarfed by this big darn truck.
But my truck wasn’t sitting all polite and quiet and engine-ready. No, mine was moving and I went, well, under it.
I have some theories about my state of being. You see, I moved last summer, and I moved across the country. All the way from the west coast to the east coast. Why not go all the way while you’re at it, right, and why not with a husband, daughter and 4 animals (yes, they were small… no Doberman’s or Mastiff’s in the car).
It was no small feat, however, first — to get out of town — and second, to drive with 3 dogs and 1 cat (in one already packed-to-the-gills car) on the long road to a brand new life.
I should have made a video for Ellen DeGeneres. It would have won awards, I’m sure. Especially when the cat (who had been comatose in an impossible position under the driver’s seat, refusing to eat or drink while we drove) thought 3 am in the pet-friendly hotel room was a good time to play. Loudly. I have never had so little sleep in my entire life. At least he was entertaining, which saved his life.
Then 8 months later — oops, I did it again. Not across the country again, no! But I moved. (Am I nuts??)
I do know for sure that I’m tired.
There is something about moving that is much worse and than all the lifting and carrying. There is something way beyond the extra exercise you get picking up your stuff and putting it in the moving truck.
I don’t really know what it is.
Is it sorting everything? Sure, how could it not be? Is it decision-making overload? Heck yes. Is it the emotional ripping and tearing that goes on? Of course.
Add it all up and you’ve got the exponentially negative effect of moving.
Wham. That’s my head hitting the pillow….
Who knows if there some cure, some antidote, some fixer-upper magic for the movin’ blues?
That’s a quote from e.e. cummings, and it’s true about our weather now. Yesterday, we barely made it up the hill and it’s supposed to start to rain….more.
My car will make you smile. Take a look.
Beautiful, don't you think?
My car used to be all shiny when I lived in Southern California.
I’m thinking mud facials, mud baths, mud parties…
And if it’s not the mud this winter, it’s the wind and the snow — the most snow in 10 years — and the biting cold, the unusual temperatures for Asheville — it’s the coldest it has been in 30 years.
Wow — I moved here from sunny California just in time to enjoy it all.
As I write now, the winds are high, and the gusts are heaving huge rows of leafless trees to the left…..pause and re-group… and then to the left again. The wind is whistling.
It’s quite the winnie the pooh kind of blustery day!
It reminds us all, in case we should possibly forget, that Mother Nature is always in charge.
This is the daily reminder that I wanted from her. This is why I moved to the mountains.
Appreciating weather and four real seasons again after living in sunny California for so many years takes some getting use to. I’ve decided, in retrospect, that in California there are really no excuses for not getting work done, except “It’s sunny outside and I just had to go to the beach for a long walk.”
My friends in California want to know what I’m doing with my time in Asheville.
I’m dealing with weather.
Where I Sit When It's Warm Outside...
This is not something Ashevillians are use to, or so they tell me. Usual winters include a week or two — max — of below freezing weather. This current cold streak is apparently the coldest it has been in Asheville in 30 years and we haven’t seen the end of it.
I can tell you one thing. Time does not fly when it’s cold.
And then there’s the snow question. When I moved here this past summer, I was regularly informed from multiple (and confident) sources that snow in Asheville was not a big deal at all, and that typically it might snow an inch or two — three at the most — and that it was gone in a day.
Apparently we moved here just in time to see a brand new COLDER AND WHITER Asheville, because our first snow was 17″. We live at the top of a steep hill, and were snowbound for a week. You should have seen our first trip DOWN the hill. Mr. Toad’s wild ride….
And then it was another week before we could get back UP the hill, so we would hike down to the car, go buy groceries, and hike back up the hill. Sure makes you think about what you’re buying….
It’s OK. I just didn’t expect that regular living would take quite so much work.
(Including the work of having ongoing flashbacks to my wood-burning, wood-carrying, “staring-at-the-temperature-gage-from-the-bathroom-window-which-reads-twenty-below-zero” winters in Iowa where I grew up. But that’s another story.)
I can only imagine the brave souls who endured the pioneer days and the daily grind of keeping warm and eating. And where did they get their warm clothes and footwear? Did it come by horse and buggy to their town? By train? What if they didn’t have the right size? Did they wait another month for the next delivery of warm coats? And did they knit their own socks by the fire during long dark evenings? Heck, I don’t know.
But I can tell you I do have a new appreciation for boots and warm socks here!
Speaking of socks, do you know what it means to “darn a sock?” When my father’s socks got holes in them, we didn’t buy new ones. We mended them. My mother taught me how to put a light bulb up inside the sock (it’s lightweight and the needle slides right over the smooth surface of the bulb), thread a very big needle with darning floss, and mend it. First you make rows across the hole, then you weave the thread the other way, and vwaaaa-la. You have a sock with no hole.
But I digress.
Even the outdoor creatures are cold. This morning a mouse found its way into the warm (relatively speaking). I don’t know if one of my cats brought him in or if he just saw the doggie door and went for it. My suspicions are in the direction of dear young Bella, the enthusiastic new feline hunter.
Anyway, right along with making the fire and brewing up some coffee, I had to catch the little gray guy in a towel and send him back out to find the warmest place he could. I felt bad, even for a mouse, but I’m at least he’s used to this survival stuff.
Here’s what’s going on at my house in Asheville. We’re renting, and just for our winter entertainment I’m sure, a little drama is going on with the family who owns this property. One of the landowners passed away, and now there is a mad scramble because the one in past control, is no longer in control. The power and say-so about the house and the land is now divided.
In some kind of effort to punish her children, she emptied bank accounts, cancelled family cell phones, and ran off to another country with the money and a big attitude which, granted, was not developed over night.
No, this drama has been building for years. The really silly part is she already nabbed a well-to-do husband there who provides everything she needs. The human race is an interesting species. This woman is like the obsessed squirrel who keeps gathering nuts, even though there are plenty, even for a long winter.
Oh, and she stopped paying for certain things, including our utilities.
Shall we say this makes my life more survival based than I had planned? Yes. My day today is about keeping warm. The children have stepped up to the plate, but even so, our propane delivery is days overdue, the tank is almost empty, and the delivery guys say they are coming, but meanwhile, I’m building fires in the wood stove to keep warm. Several days ago, I turned the heat down to 50 degress in one part of the house, and I don’t open the french doors to the land of the frozen — the kitchen — unless I have to make something hot to drink or see about food.
Excuse me, I have to go put more wood in the stove. I’ll be right back.
Ok, getting warmer now! Ahhhhh….
When there’s no family drama going on, there are other ways nature creates a little survival drama. First, there’s some kind of storm and the electricity goes out. Pretty often, actually. When that happens, there’s no heat because the furnace needs electricity to kick on, and no water because the pump is electric.
Oh, the joys.
Well, in any good crisis there’s always irony. Here’s one. My electric dryer is running. I’m watching wonderful, heavenly, moist, warm, steamy good heat going by my office window. I would give anything to have the strength and where-with-all to pull the dryer away from the wall (my hubby is on a business trip) and vent all that good moist heat INSIDE.
If I could do that, I’d be enjoying indoor tropical weather right now…
My Wood-Carrying Helper
‘Scuse me. I have to put my heavy clothes on, my wool socks, my boots and hat…well, you get the idea. And tromp out to the big tree with my new best friend, the red wheelbarrow, where the scrap wood is and bring some more in here because my inside pile is getting low.
Hey, it’s good exercise. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. Then I think I’ll have soup for breakfast. It’s WARM. And I’m going to eat it right out of the pan so it stays HOT.
I don’t know how it all went so wrong, so fast.
But it did.
It began so innocently…
A long time male friend of mine came to visit with his new girlfriend. I’ve known this gentleman long before my (now 19 year old) daughter was born. I have photos of him holding her in the gray striped baby sling, walking through the pink azalea blossoms in an arboretum on a beautiful day in Los Angeles when she was about nine months old.
My friend and I have history. We’ve talked for hours, we’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve given each other a comforting shoulder from time to time, we talk about relationships, where are lives are going — the usual between friends.
We’ll call her Roxie and we’ll call him Jerry. Yes, the names have been changed.
Anyway, Jerry showed up pulling his trailer with plans to stay for a couple days to explore Asheville and visit friends on their way to the West Coast.
We decide to go shopping for food, which prompts a conversation about eating. Roxie begins a commentary about Jerry’s eating habits — something about how he never turns down good food, and he must eat about a pie a week, don’t you think? And he eats a lot of meat. All of this is done in a somewhat “friendly” way.
I find myself recoiling at this whole interchange, however, in an almost out-of-proportion way. My stream of consciousness thinking sounds something like, “that comment didn’t sound so bad, in the grand scheme of things, maybe this is how they talk to each other and it wouldn’t work for me, but it’s just fine for them — but why does it FEEL so bad???”
Hmmm. Weird. It’s the most unexplainable feeling. Her comments have an oddly-ever-so-slightly-ripping-edge to them, producing a microscopic tear in the fabric of one’s heart. Just the smallest cut. Practically imperceptible. It’s the oddest thing — you can’t see it happening if you listen only to the words of the communication.
But — you can feel the tearing as the words pass over, like a fog with tiny needles in it. And suddenly, you’re bleeding just a little bit and it’s a surprise, like how in the world did that happen? It’s a slight of hand, the soft handkerchief covering the knife — words said with a smile, but underneath, the vibration of the message isn’t kind at all.
Wow, we’re off to an interesting start. “Not exactly safe ground for anybody here,” I think to myself. I wish a great big crane would come and lift me right out of here.
Alas, there’s no crane.
I notice I’m not breathing much, so I take a deliberately deep breath. My kitchen is a safe haven at my house. I imagine white light everywhere and send a whoosh of love out of my heart.
All of this white light will hopefully lighten things up, don’t you think? But all in all, I figure it’s none of my business and do my best to disengage.
So here we are, getting to know each other, a bit of a rocky start, but things can change. I have hope. Maybe there is some kind of underlying misunderstanding causing all this trouble, who knows.
“What shall we do together tonight,” I ask. A movie?
Roxie mentions the idea of going to a David Wilcox acoustic guitar concert . I’m relieved to be talking about music. What a good thing!! Maybe all the “ouchy” stuff will go away now.
Apparently, he’s an acquaintance of Roxie’s, and based on her glowing comments about David and his guitar, we decide to go. We get the last three tickets to a sold out concert. Things are looking up. A musical evening could save the day.
After picking up the tickets and shopping for food, we eat a bite and get back in the car to go to the concert. I’m not exactly looking forward to making more conversation in the car.
Unfortunately, Jerry’s not talking. He’s practically absent. Silent as a mouse. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try to prompt a conversation with him, but it didn’t. Since his lights weren’t on and nobody was home, I didn’t try.
So I continue talking to Roxie, because not talking seems weirder than silence. There are times when one should bow to silence. This was probably one of those times.
Roxie doesn’t initiate conversation, so I do. What could we talk about that is common ground or interesting to her? That always eases the way, doesn’t it?
So I ask her more about her work. She teaches non-violent communication.
Wow. Hold on. I reflect momentarily on the complete irony of this, since I experience her conversation as, well, violent.
She says she hates cities, and avoids them at all costs. She teaches exclusively in lovely retreat centers along the coast and doesn’t deal with cities. Well, good for her.
For a moment, I notice I feel wrong for ever having lived in a city. I smile to myself. There’s that “thing she does again.” It’s not what she says, it’s what she delivers energetically with the words.
I suppress sudden inner laughter. Call me crazy, but it struck me as funny how hard I was trying, and how badly I was doing in the conversation with her.
What the heck. Let’s see. What else can we talk about?
I ask her about other teachers she likes. She likes a few, Eckhart Tolle for one, and tells me she spent 80 days with him before he got famous. I wondered how it helped her. She told me that it was wonderful just BEING with him. She had listened (or tried to listen to him) on CD but it wasn’t even close to what it was like to BE with him. She mentioned the 80 days several times. Maybe it’s her trump card, I don’t know — that nobody can come close to her level of — whatever — because she’s spent 80 days with Eckhart.
We talk about Eckhart for a while longer, but it’s a report from her, and there’s no real interchange, no curiosity, no exploration, no discovery. It is my least favorite kind of “conversation.”
We haven’t arrived at our destination yet, so I ask about another teacher, and I see that she doesn’t seem too wild about this subject and states her (very negative) opinion about these people. Thank goodness we finally arrive at the concert location.
As we step out of the car, the evening air touches our faces — cold, clear and beautiful. We walk into The Grey Eagle — it’s a super casual venue, with folding chairs for the audience, and a short order type restaurant and bar. We find seats, leave our coats, and Jerry says he’s going to go get something to drink. He asks Roxie what she wants. She mentions lemonade.
I notice my thirst as well, and realize that, in the rush to leave and get those last three available tickets, I forgot my water bottle, and so did everyone else. I decide to buy water for all three of us.
My path to the water puts Jerry and I next to each other in line. I think to myself, “What a good time to talk to him by himself — how cool is this! I can finally SAY something to him — maybe wake him out of that deep slumber and have a little more fun. At least there would be one more person to talk to, a friendly face and a big heart to relate to.
“Jerry, do you think we could be a little closer while you’re here with Roxie…”
I’m saying those last words of the first sentence of my incomplete communication, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?
Unfortunately, not a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer….
Right. Roxie on his left.
She interrupts and starts talking to Jerry. I can’t really hear her, but she whisks him away before buying anything to drink, and I continue standing in line to get my water, wondering — what just happened here???? Since Roxie said something about lemonade, I buy one for her and three waters.
I go looking for them and find them deep in discussion and not in a fun way. I hand her the lemonade. She practically scowls as she states she’s having an important discussion and can’t drink that right now.
OMG. Everybody’s in trouble. I can feel it. All Hell Has Officially Broken Loose. Where are my supplies to survive this disaster? I hand them a bottle of water and walk away leave them to their important discussion. Maybe this will blow over quickly.
The concert begins, and it’s fabulous. David Wilcox is a master storyteller with his guitar. He makes us all laugh, he moves us deeply, he makes us appreciate life and all of the hard lessons, and how to learn from even the most difficult circumstances.
Perfect message for me right now. I begin to relax. This man can play a guitar, his all-knowing fingers move effortlessly through the cords and he tells stories in the most intimate way. How beautiful.
The two seats next to me are still empty, however.
At the break I go looking for them and Roxie explains how there is a big upset going on.
I see what happened and how my incomplete communication got interpreted by Ms. YouCan’tAndWon’t TakeMyManFromMe, but since I didn’t say what she thinks I said, not even remotely, I say, “Well, I didn’t say or want what you think I said or wanted. So there’s nothing wrong. Why be upset about what never happened?”
She’s been around Eckhart Tolle. She’ll understand that.
I turn to Jerry and say that I just wanted to have a better time with him, and that he seemed to have left his body and I missed being able to talk to him.
Didn’t matter. She “knew what I really meant” and was not having any of this follow-up explanation stuff.
And I thought to myself, “NO.”
“No, I’m not walking into that dimly-lit-MUD-up-to-your-neck-CAVE you’re in. Nothing of any value will come from three out of three folks sinking not so slowly into the dark abyss.”
They told me they were going to continue the conversation on their own. Not long after that, they called me saying they had taken a cab to a hotel for the night and would come get the trailer in the morning.
I listened to the second set of David Wilcox, and it was fabulous. Every song gave an answer to the dilemma/drama that had been created. Every song told a story with a suggestion about what works in relationships. Every single one.
My favorite song of David’s said exactly what I wanted to say to both of them. I don’t remember the name of the song, but it contained this line: “…beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, lies a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Maybe someday we can find that field.Continue Reading
This one surprised me totally.
Just goes to show you how long I’ve been away from country living…
The BIG Difference between city and country?
Everything is cleaner in the country.
There I said it!!
Whooooo da thought? The wind blows in the country, and that must be dusty, right? Sure, I grant you that. And rain and snow and dirt roads and back country driving.
Yes. But still it’s cleaner than what ended up on my glasses sitting quietly behind doors in my kitchen cupboards in beautiful and balmy Orange County, CA.
Go figure. And cleaner than what ended up on my dining room table on an average day. And on my outdoor patio furniture. And on my car. Wow, on my car. Now that’s GRIME.
So it has surprised me how much less I have to clean here. And how the dirt is just dirt, not grime. There’s a difference. Grime has goo in it. Seriously. (And was I breathing that? Yep, I suppose….)
I can walk around the whole day here with no shoes on and my feet are cleaner at the end of the day than they ever were in the city. Wow. Stunning.
Oh, well. I’m in the country now. No use worrying about the past. I’m breathing deeply now.
Want to come visit?
Today, I’m sharing a story about how I accidentally accomplished something on my bucket list. I ran through an exit gate while looking the other way. The hood of my car is scratched up, and one windshield wiper is a mess, but let’s have a good laugh about how we never expect what “getting what we want” includes!
It seems to be a growing fad these days to call someone a narcissist, or declare they are toxic.
Political name-calling is similar—we assign politicians and voters to categories, and brush them off as if they are unintelligent, inferior, or even worthless.
By labeling others, we miss their humanity. We gloss over their struggle, their best effort at dealing with life. We dismiss them.
We do to them what we believe they are doing to others.
Look past a label, and in the soft light of day, there stands a person like you or like me, coping as best they can. At the end of the day, no friend, parent, or lover making conscious choices intends to be mean, or to ignore, or to embellish. There is always more to the story.
If we label others, then for sure we label ourselves. We trap ourselves into believing we are less than. Or not enough. Or we don’t give ourselves the time and forgiveness to work through our “stuff.” Maybe, if we stopped accusing others of narcissism, we could forgive ourselves for those moments when we were narrow-minded, inconsiderate, or afraid.
When it comes to labels, nobody wins.
So, my dear people, I suggest we peer a little deeper into ourselves to investigate a need to separate ourselves from others by tacking them with a label filled with disdain or scorn.
It is my wish that you view this video and take it to heart.