contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

We'll answer as fast as we can, but please be patient as we're relying on public wifi to keep in touch!

           

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

IMG_8412.JPG

blog

all but the cats write here ... to remember, to share, to mumble, to shout ... follow along by RSS or email if you like.

Standing in the Clearing

michael

When I was 15 my father and I took night-walks into the woods, pausing every 20 paces, listening, seeing how close to the pond we could get without alarming the peepers into silence. Often we heard deer-munchings. Once we saw a moonlit porcupine up a tree. Always we had an ear out for the Whippoorwill on the berm of RT 538 nested in the gravel. If we did hear it, my Dad would whistle back a fair but quiet imitation. (The song of the whippoorwill occupies the lower courts of whisability.) On one such occasion, having come to a star-drenched field, the milky sky-way blazing above, my father broached the subject of my romantical sighings. “I've watched you looking at a girl...” he paused, “your whole demeanor has changed. Your eyes are soft; you look sotted with love.” He was smiling. “Are you ready to get married?” I admitted that the desire was strong. All that stood between me and marriage was the scarcity of years to my name, the lack of a willing partner, and my inability to speak in the presence of beautiful girls. Other than that, I was ready.  “And how,” his voice was still smiling, “do you propose to support a wife?”

Now this was a question dripping with subtle accusation, which I readily ascertained as a trap. My father himself was the youngest of four and was no stranger to my pressing the advantage of last-born to the avoidance of Work. Yet I considered myself a skirter, not a shirker. I met my obligations with gusto and performed my chores and duties with whole-hearted energy, but the prospect of added responsibility I met with the elusive charm that only the baby of a family can wield.

20150721_102822.JPG

This cursory self-evaluation left me knowing I COULD work to support a wife, but something was wrong with that answer. It wasn't just that I knew my father was waiting for that response; there was something my heart was not articulating. So I remained silent under the stars, delving deeper into myself. An owl hooted from the end of the meadow. I eventually touched a finger to the feeling and opened my mouth. What came out was woefully garbled and inadequate. The rudderless hormonal ramblings of a 15-year-old. I'm sure it did very little to allay my father's misgivings. But now, after 16 years of marriage, I think I can finally put it to words, though I warn you, it may still be the wide-eyed lowing of a calf on the moor.

Bethany and I and the kids were on the Kaiser's garage roof, about 6 months into our trip, hammering shingles down on a cupola. It was around 95 degrees. It might have been a recipe for foul tempers had we not each held a hammer and nails.

The fundamental joy of pounding a nail with a hammer seizes our imagination as a toddler, becoming an icon; the quintessence of 'making something'. Bam bam BAM! And when we've grown to actually heft and strike the hammer we discover our childhood expectations of pure fun are delivered in full. Pounding a nail really IS the sweet spot of construction!

So we were all in fine spirits, sweating, building this little house on the roof peak, which 3 weeks before we'd had no idea was called a cupola. Now we knew how one was built.

I watched Bethany pound a nail. When she looked up we both grinned, and it dawned on me, this was it. This was the very thing I'd longed for at 15. To have a real live girl pouring her heart with my heart into the same project. Pouring our hearts together into whatever work there was. Into whatever people there were. A real live girl unafraid to hoist sails, sing songs, cross swords, and pound nails. RIGHT BY MY SIDE!

IMG_5647.JPG

I stood under a sunset sky on the Kaiser's roof, spellbound by this girl with the hammer. Tears flooding my eyes. God got me good with this one. How long had I tried working to support a wife, when all along it was wiving to support a work. Not the 'behind every great man is an even greater woman' kind of work. Not MY work. Our work. A 'weaving our separate thousand dreams into one fabric of Doing and let God blow the sail' kind of work. This was the sweet spot of marriage.

As I reveled, dusk descended on the Kaiser's garden releasing a great cloud of mosquitoes. We were determined to nail the last eight shingles before it was truly dark. Our sweat hung like stratas of soup steam, perfuming the air. The mosquito cloud (like 10,000 Bugs Bunnies, floating on their fingertips, noses in the sweet-stream) ascended to the cupola and engulfed us. Have you ever swatted a mosquito biting your person with a hammer? We were dancing the Macarena at triple-speed, but the onslaught was so relentless and overwhelming our sanity was starting to suffer. We abandoned ship leaving the last few shingles for morning.

It is a fine morning waking up with hammer girl.

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <

The Boyds

fynn

After Aran and Lexie's wedding, the Boyds said we could park at their house.  When we got there, we parked in the cul-de-sac and got unhitched. We went inside and met Bordeax the dog, and talked. 

Two or three days later, Stan offered to take us water skiing. So we went.  

We had to pull the boat out of storage so we took off the tarp and towed it to the launch. We launched and Lois was there but she had some appointment so she could only be there for part of the time. So we went on the Delta.  At first it was slow because there was a lot of parked boats. 

When we got out of the slow zone we went for awhile.  Then Stan showed us how to ski and did a test run. 

Douglas went next, he got up for about one second. 

After Douglas went, we took Lois back and dropped her off.  Then we went back out. I went next but the skis didn't fit so I kneeboarded.  I lasted for about a minute. 

IMG_5325.JPG

I think Mom went next. I don't think she could get up so she kneeboarded.  My dad got up for about 3 minutes ...

... then I went again on the kneeboard.  I was able to stay up for about 5 minutes, until there was some sort of waterfall and it made waves and I was getting pulled into it. 

We went around a bit and looked at some houses, and started to go back. When we got back we went and towed the boat back and put the tarp back on and went back to their house.  

The next day we went to Aran and Lexie's.  When we got there we talked awhile until me and Douglas went to the park across the street. After we came back we went to sleep on the floor.  The next morning we got up.  Aran went to work and we all walked to the park.  Me and Douglas played awhile while the grownups talked.  When we got to the apartment it was time to go. 

We got back to Stan's house.  He offered to take us flying that day.  We went to the airport and Stan drove us there.  We had to wait for the plane.  Stan checked the plane. 

Everything was good.  So we waited for the runway to be clear and Stan put it into full throttle and we took off. 

We flew for awhile until we got out of range of the airport and Stan said I could fly the plane and showed me how the controls worked. 

IMG_5765.JPG

After that we flew over the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Not long after that we started heading back. Stan did a partial dive but we couldn't do the death drop of zero gravity because my mom got sick.  

The next morning we left. 

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <

Westward Ho! / Wrapping it all up ...

bethany

Twelve days from Indiana to San Fran, intense and packed and sometimes heart-wrenching days. Emotional ones at the very least. So much to process, so much to see … life to live, relationships to work on, kids to grow, feelings to feel.

It's funny how, from the outside, it sometimes looks like we're on a multi-year vacation. Yes there is freedom to this life, huge amounts of it, but there are many many balances to it too. Large amounts of insecurity, if you're hoping to know what's next and how your daily needs are going to be met. Great stretches of loneliness, and disconnectedness, punctuated by intense interactions and deep conversations. Bouts of hard work, followed by dearths of any known opportunities to jump in and help.

I've been reading a Louis L'Amour book to the boys for bedtime story recently, and there's a line in it that really struck me. The main character (Echo, a spitfire crack shot 16-year-old-girl outrunning some would-be thieves, of course) was planning to hitch a ride with some settlers going west in a wagon, and the boarding house owner she'd been staying with disparagingly referred to those headed west as “Movers.”

Her response …

“We were all movers at one time, Mrs O'Brien” I said. “Even you when you left Ireland.”
“I suppose so, but somehow it seems different.”
“Settled folks always look down upon the unsettled,” I said, “but somebody has to open the new lands. When they are settled in their homes, they will feel just as you do.”

We're not doing anything new, but we're doing something Other. And I often feel the Otherness of it, keenly, even though the comments made and the sentiments felt by others are not disparaging, but wistful or a bit jealous or just plain encouraging. There's often the feeling of a complete disconnect … this isn't fathomable or understandable. Or perhaps just romanticized in the same way that I intently identified with Laura Ingalls standing and watching the long lines of braves and families wending past her house on the edge of the prairie as they left a council of war … wishing she were a wee one tucked in one of those saddle bags. I so wanted the very same thing, and I think I've gotten it as much as is possible in the year 2016.

There's some Mover in most of us … that bit (tiny or huge) that wants Other, and seeks out new experiences and places. Whether it comes in armchair galloping with Louis L'Amour, Netflix soaring over some new continent, trips of a lifetime that span the globe and inspire FaceBook envy, or choosing to live for decades as an RV gypsy … we get that itch, and we do our best to scratch it however we can.

I'm afraid I've rather systematically tried to debunk the notion that this is a relaxing vacation, or anything other than Life, made mobile for now. I keep bringing up the downsides, the struggles, the hard bits, and don't tend to sing the praises as loudly as I could be. I'm interested in keeping it real, and I think I've always been more fascinated with the messy bits than the pretty bits. Life, and relationships especially, are inherently messy and anything that seems to focus too much on the happy/solved/perfect parts is highly suspect to me. We're all broken, all imperfect, all unfinished.

I find something innately invigorating in the messy stuff, and while it may hurt like mad … it's a chance to change, to grow, to see things differently, and to maybe find a new viewing point. Asking what possible good can come from it, even if it's painful? There's always some answer.

I'm also a huge believer in community, fellowship, and sharing the load when we can. Chasing the joy to be found in connecting, in being seen, and in sharing whatever is to be shared, heavy or light. The joy at the end of this trip was palpable and filling. We shared in Aran and Lexie's joy, and it fed my tired spirit in a way that brought balance to the personal relationship work that kind of dogged the last half of the trip, evening up the keel for awhile. It was delicious. We've had many chances to share sorrow and hurt too, and it's always an honor. Being trusted with someone's pain isn't easy, but it's still a real connection. It's a window I try to never close, so help me God.

I said I was wrapping it all up, and I seem to be wandering in all directions. I've written and erased about 5 different endings actually, and none seem to do the job. I started out writing a travelog and ended up getting personal again … had to balance out all those pretty pictures, right?

So … it was messy, it was beautiful, it was worth every minute.

Onward ...


previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / Wedding Weekend

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <

Westward Ho! / The Wedding Weekend

bethany

Saturday August 27 ... The Pre-Party

The bliss of Saturday morning's hot shower cannot be underestimated. Boondocking doesn't generally allow for showering, mostly because we don't travel with enough water in the tanks for it as every gallon adds almost 8 lbs to our total weight. So despite the fact that we were in a drought-stricken state, I allowed myself to stand there as long as I wanted, and it was a delight.

A quick morning trip to the thrift store (I was having serious doubts about the wisdom of platform heels) netted Michael a new tie, and I settled into the feeling that wobbly or not, I'd be wearing the shoes I already had. I've never been a heel-lover, and teetering just isn't my thing.

We took off for Golden Gate Park, where the pre-party was to be held … and as we approached the Golden Gate bridge it finally hit me that we were about to see Aran and Lexie for the first time in several years! The grin started spreading :). A last minute change in parking plans got us a lovely free street spot right in the park, and we walked over to the meadow and dove in for bear hugs.

 Lexie and Aran, summer of 2008

Lexie and Aran, summer of 2008

We met Aran and Lexie back in 2008, when Michael moved to MASS MoCA for 6 months to help install a huge retrospective of Sol LeWitt's work. The boys and I stayed in the city, but went up for two months in the summer, and got to know a lot of the crew Michael had been telling me about … including these two lovelies. We stayed in as close touch as we could, but once they moved to CA, it got a bit harder to get together. This was the first time we'd seen them in at least 4 years.

 Lexie and her Mom

Lexie and her Mom

As at any wedding … it's a relief when you know more than just the bride and groom, and we happily found a few familiar faces, as well as some lovely new ones. There were some lawn games, a food truck that came just for the occasion, and lots of fun and conversation. A great way to set the stage for the next day, taking some of the awkwardness out of meeting so many people for the first time. Maybe that's just me?

I have a lot less tolerance for new social situations than I used to, meaning I find big groups harder to deal with as I get older. My claustrophobia in packed crowds is far worse than it used to be … I could never do the Taste of Chicago on July 4th again, at least as it used to be done, with millions packed along the shore and no place to go. Makes me shiver to remember it! But I also find that I have to do a bit more mental prep for going into new situations than I used to. I don't like it, but it's where I'm at. I think a lot of the redefining of my identity in the last 10 years has added some new insecurities, but taken away a lot of others. It's different terrain now.

We helped clean up and then made our exit, comparing Golden Gate Park to Central Park as we made our way back to the truck. It was delightfully wild, and much less manicured than most of Central Park … a very welcome change.

We made our way back home over the procession of bridges that had gotten us there, gawked at San Quentin in the deepening gloom, and called it a day.

The Wedding / Sunday August 28

We went, we watched, we talked, we loved, we hugged, we took lots of crazy photo booth shots, we devoured, we listened, we met cool people, we toasted, we laughed, we danced, we dragged ourselves home, we slept.

0828161552c_HDR.jpg

I'll let the photos tell the wedding story here, but add in that getting to be almost 6' tall for a day was really really fun. I'd do it again in a heartbeat! I didn't take my camera for once … it just felt like too much, so all these pics are from Michael's phone.

0828161613_HDR.jpg
0828161748b_HDR.jpg

lots more pics here

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12

one more wrap-up post to come tomorrow ...

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <

Westward Ho! / Day 12 ... We Made It!

bethany

Friday, August 26

The pre-party for the wedding is tomorrow! Time to suck in whatever leftover bits are still floating around, and get in gear. Tumey Hills was a beautiful spot to wake up, with light on golden hills, and whatever latent fears I had about trespassing were annulled when the Park Ranger drove past and waved. A good start to the day.

0826160647_HDR.jpg

Just as we were about to pull out, Michael noticed that the two tires on the passenger side of the trailer were nearly shot, worn almost threadbare and really torn up. They hadn't been that way 2 days before, and so we concluded that heat + I5's construction zone had done them in. (In retrospect, it's likely that under-inflation played an even bigger role).

We looked up tire shops, drove very slowly and carefully to the closest one and had two new tires put on, very thankful to have enough funds to do so!

Back on the highway, we made it to Tradewinds RV Park in Vallejo by 1:30, relieved to have a place to stay for a whopping 3 nights in a row ... no breaking camp in the morning! I hadn't done bridge research on getting TO the park however, so was a bit shocked at the $20 bridge toll, thanks to having the trailer in tow.

We found our spot and got parked ... tight quarters but clean enough and just what we needed.  We emptied everything out of the back of Matilda and stowed it under the trailer or under a tarp, locking up the go-kart too. We didn't want to add to anyone's temptations when parking in the city the next two days. Did a bit of housekeeping too, got groceries, and tried to relax a bit. So very glad to be settled after 2500-ish miles!

Finally starting to think about getting a long hot shower in the morning, coming to terms with my choice of wedding outfit (vintage, borrowed, wildly colorful for me, and crazy platform heels), and getting my mind around being social and formal. The gears were shifting, though a bit creaky in the process.

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <

Westward Ho! / Day 11 ... The Golden State

bethany

Thursday, August 25

I woke up gritty-eyed, and once armed with caffeine I set right to researching SF campsite possibilities and transportation options from various outlying areas, while Michael made breakfast.

Did you know that campgrounds in SF proper are over $100 a night? I didn't, but had suspected they were at least pricey. Our budget was about a third of that, and so after RV park pricing about 10 places and guessing at transit times to downtown, calling a couple for availability, ferry pricing, downtown SF parking restriction research (Matilda is 20' long and oversized for many places), and parking lot hunting … I found and booked a spot in Vallejo, about an hour northeast of downtown by car. Just having that settled took a huge weight off!

We packed up and headed off towards Bakersfield, through the desert, past more ghost towns and dust bowls and random-seeming factories, and then started up I5. I'd never seen so many almond trees in my life! We passed countless miles of groves, laced with canals and signs arguing about water rights. There were citrus groves too, and we stopped at one orchard to guzzle some fresh orange juice and pick up some dried fruit. There was road work on 5, and many miles of ripped up pavement, making for a rough ride.

We found a boondocking spot called Tumey Hills Recreation Area, not far off the Interstate. We arrived just as the sun was setting, only to find the gates locked, and the sign “No Motorized Access April – November” attached to it. Which I had seen on my app, but mis-read in my head as Accessible April - November (thanks to my midwestern winter=snow assumptions). Hah! 

The road seemed quiet enough, with a vineyard off to the far side and virtually no traffic, so it was decided we'd risk just parking right in front of the gate for the night, as we weren't blocking the road at all.

The boys scampered off to collect bullet shells in the hills beyond the gate, and I made supper, only stiffening slightly with each passing vehicle. I had no desire to be told to pack up and move on, and thankfully we weren't! The shooting stars and deep dark skies were a gift and a balm to tired bodies and hearts.

lots more pics here

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <

Westward Ho! / Day 10 ... In Which We Get to California, Though a Bit Wilted

bethany

Wednesday, August 24

With the parks behind us, we had to do a bit of emotional shifting. It had been three days of visual overload … heart stretching, eye-straining, camera imploding beauty … and now that we were through the mountains and headed towards the flats of Nevada and CA the focus of the trip suddenly shifted towards the end point. Aran and Lexie's wedding, on Sunday, at The Presidio in San Francisco.

I didn't even remotely feel ready. Things were starting to boil over in the heart department, and the fact that we still didn't have a place to camp near SF (not a decision to leave till the last minute!) was adding to the stress.

This set the tone for the day, as we rocked our way out of our campsite and onto the last few pretty miles of Rt 12. We stopped at one pullout to stretch our legs and look at a lake, and ended up having a lovely chat with two couples that were touring on their Harleys. The chance encounters and conversations are always a delight!

Once we hit I15 and headed southwest at 75mph, it started heating up. The tensions seemed to rise along with the temperatures, and by the time we went through a wee corner of Arizona and hit Vegas, it was 99° and still rising. We took in a few miles of the strip, just for kicks, and then headed on into California. Finally hitting a West Coast state! Only took us until day #617 :).

We gawked at huge solar farms and endless tracts of windmills, wandered through a wee ghost town, winced at rising diesel prices, and found ourselves a cheapish campsite on the edge of the Mojave desert.

At 105° the boys ran for the pool in the gathering dusk, jumped in and yelped at the frigid water, and had to be convinced to swim a few laps before jumping out again. The cats found the hot sand disorienting, and didn't stay out long either. Michael and I spent awhile hashing things out once the boys were in bed, and survived it … every marriage takes work, and this was one of the heavy lifting days :).

lots more pics here

previous posts : DAY 1  / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5 / DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9

subscribe via RSS or e-mail

> archive of older posts here <