Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I thought I had posted this here once, but I can't seem to find it.  Maybe it was in one of my other blogs.  Or maybe on Facebook.  Either way, I want to post it here today, because I find it so wonderful and so valuable.  Maybe some of its juju will rub off on me if I keep it here among my virtual "things."

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its shams, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.
                                                                               --Max Ehrmann, 1927


I should probably relegate this entry to my “bitch and moan” journal, but I’m going to post it here…just because.

I love it when the Universe finds a way, even when I seem to be doing my best to retreat back into my head, to drop little bombs of insight on me.

Yesterday, a woman from a local carpet store came out to the house to take measurements for the carpeting I hope to have installed before the holidays. Now, you know you are somewhat starved for human interaction when you manage to buttonhole the carpet lady into a forty-minute chat about things that have nothing to do with carpeting. (Insight #1…) The conversation started when, by way of apology for the atrocious condition of the carpet we’re having removed, I mentioned that my husband and I had recently given up possession of a local restaurant which had kept us from doing much besides sleeping in our house for five years.

Whereupon the carpet lady and I discovered we had this in common. She had owned a restaurant for a decade back in the 80’s. So we shared little reminiscences about the difficulties of controlling food costs, and dealing with customers, and relating to employees, and…husbands.

“Yeah…I was married back then,” she said. “Until we found out my husband was embezzling…”

My eyebrows shot skyward. “From you?”


Turns out that she—being a CPA as well as owner of a successful pizza restaurant (in her twenties!)—used to calculate and fill in all the tax reports, and then turn them over to her husband, who was in charge of dealing with the mail. Husband would then cash the tax checks, trash the reports and, since he was in charge of mail, dispose of any and all correspondence from the IRS. After about five years of this, the young entrepreneur discovered that she was married to a scoundrel and had a $200,000 debt to the IRS hanging over her head. Yikes!

And here I’ve been whining because my husband wasn’t emotionally supportive enough to suit me! Insight #2—or, more accurately, giant dope-slap issued by the Almighty.

Looks as if Someone wants me to know that if I’m looking for a reason to feel sorry for myself, I need to look elsewhere…

Monday, October 29, 2012

Deer Me

As an aspiring shamanist, it’s incumbent upon me to take note of unusual animal encounters.  I personally tend to focus on my encounters with birds, since I seem to be particularly sensitive to their presence and/or message.

But when we were on the coast two weeks ago, we had an encounter with a fur-person.  And she was neither elusive nor shy.  In fact, I think she was trying to wangle a dinner invitation.  Yes, I know there are a lot of deer in the forests; and I know many of them have become savvy about the dining opportunities provided by people living in little metal boxes in the woods.  But in all my years of camping, this is the first time I’ve had a deer follow me home.  So I guess you could call this an unusual encounter…one that could contain some signal or advice from the Universe.

Here’s what one of my reference tomes had to say about an encounter with Deer:
“When deer shows up in your life, it is time to be gentle with yourself and others.  A new innocence or freshness is about to be born.  There is going to be a gentle, enticing lure of new adventures.  Ask yourself important questions.  Are you trying to force things?  Are others?  Are you being too critical and uncaring of yourself?”

Interesting that I should discover this today;  last night I started incrementally moving toward a search for “The Next Thing.”  From the point of view that I should think outside the box and explore something completely different.  I could use a “gentle, enticing lure…”  An explosion of inspiration might just send me high-tailing it in the opposite direction.   

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Wow…  Some interesting feedback on my last post, from the audience I didn’t think I had. 

Have to admit, I’m a little taken aback…  I didn’t mean the post to be that negative.  I think it was  that parting shot about my blog being a place to come to be alone.  Evidently, this was not only untrue, but it was hurtful to those of you who still come here.  Please accept my apologies. 

My journey continues.  I spent many months simply resting and recovering from my over-extended café years.  Looks like that phase of recovery is officially over.  Now, I’m moving into the fussing, fuming and chomping on the bit phase.  I’m ready for the next thing and have no idea where to go with it.  And for my characteristically hyper-active self (imagine being a hyper-active introvert!) this is not a comfortable state of affairs.  It’s going to make me grouchy and grumbly, paranoid and moody.  More than usual.  Ack.  Not something, apparently, that anyone wants to come here and look at.

So while I am nowhere near finished whining, I am finished whining here.  I knew there was a reason why I never closed down my other blogs…  I shall confine my whining to my private blog, and only appear here with things positive or worth sharing. 

Taking myself off, now, to somewhere I can truly BE alone with my darkest thoughts… 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Anniversaries--Part Deux

Have you ever planned a party and no one showed up? A month ago, I “celebrated” the ninth anniversary of this, my little blog. I can’t say no one showed up… But the silence from most of my former crowd of blog friends was deafening. And depressing.

Two years ago, when I first posted about my decision to close the restaurant, I mentioned that I probably would not have the blog community to return to once all the loose ends were tied up with the café and I was a free—and somewhat needy—woman. Things in my corner of the Land of Blog had changed so much already by 2010. I knew that I would soon be spending more time there, but I also knew it would not be as if I had never left. Time and technology had marched on. Other, less intense forms of social media appeared; most of the blog community I had known migrated to Facebook, never to return.

I am Facebook “friends” with many of the folks I met online through “Coming to Terms…”. I keep up with them; I interact with them on a chummy level. It’s nice. It’s fine. But it is not the complex communication in which I positively reveled back in the hey-day of my blog. The early days of AOL J-land provided me with a kind of friendship which I had craved—and never known—my whole life. Of course, it didn’t, really. That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? This whole world, these “friendships,” don’t really exist, do they?

This is NOT yet another “swan song” post. (How many of those have I written over the years? Three? Half a dozen?) Every time I would feel ignored or hurt, I would write a farewell post and go away for awhile. It seems silly, now. Who did I think I was hurting by quitting the community? Quitting the community is no longer an option, for it has quit me.

I’ve never been any good at “rites of passage.” It seems like I just get comfortable with a place or a thing, and it goes away. I’m always the last to leave, because I don’t really want to go, and I can’t catch a vision for what I’m supposed to go on TO. This place is little more than a virtual empty schoolhouse, now; still, I continue to haunt the halls. Mostly alone…back inside my head, where it all began.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that I had been beset by this almost constant need to get away since we had closed the café. I theorized that this was because the Universe wanted me to distill my life to a few essentials in order for me to be able to hear its message. This may be true, still.

But a different explanation for this dawned on me the other day: I am alone. And that’s okay…I can deal with it. Maybe it’s what I need to be right now. But it’s really hard to BE alone surrounded by other people who don’t offer what I need, but have a great many expectations of me. Time was, I could escape to a virtual place where there were people who “saw” me as something different—more special, maybe—than those in my real life. But that place no longer exists.

Now, I have to find a new direction. Somewhere else I can go to heal…to help sort myself out and try to make sense again. So I’ve been feeling that I really need to go away alone. Where the solitude of my life is in harmony with my surroundings. It’s becoming so hard, so frustrating, to be WHO I am, WHERE I am. I know I have more to give, more to BE, but I can’t seem to find where to do it.

Funny…now that I think about it, I actually DO have a place to come to be alone, don’t I? I suppose I should enjoy this virtual solitude for now. Until I can figure out how to get the physical solitude I need…

Monday, October 22, 2012


Sometimes it’s a dangerous thing to be away from the internet.  Trying to alleviate the boredom of a drippy day on vacation, I dove into my archived journal drafts.  I spied a file called “Matt letter [1].”  Oh my…these are never good.  I don’t know why I save them.  I only write my husband letters when we are at the stage of impasse where full frontal communication has been rendered impossible.  So, of course I had to open the document and read it.  Nothing like scratching open a nearly-healed scar and rubbing salt in the wound…  
But it gave me an opportunity to assess the progress we have made (or not) since I wrote that letter last July.  Honestly, back then, I was still trying to figure out whether I should stay or go.  The only time we had peace was when we stayed away from each other.  It was plain to me that he was going to be no part of the healing I so desperately needed at the time, and that our relationship itself needed healing, something upon which I was in no condition to focus. 
Eventually, I came to understand that the only thing I could change in this whole mess, the only thing I could heal, was myself.  In retrospect, I’d pronounce it a blessing that I had neither the strength nor the will to try to fix our marriage.  It’s probably why we are still together today.  Two years ago, I gave my husband the gift of choosing our marriage over continuing with the café—though it was not consciously intended as an anniversary gift, and I would not have been certain it had any value, at the time.  Absent that choice, we would never have made it to the 36 years we celebrated last Tuesday.    
Still, I know my marriage is not what I would have it be…what I believed it was, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, for many years.  As surely as I know that the peace we enjoy today was bought with my capitulation.  As the years piled up and we, along with our partnership, lost the freshness of youth, I stuck to the conviction that I was married to my best friend; that sole fact would outlast and outshine the cooling passions and yawning distances of a love gone mundane.   The pressures of joint entrepreneurship proved even that conviction a misapprehension; because when the shit hit the fan, it turned out we were anything but best friends.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  
So I’ve spent the past year trying to figure out my own life, attempting to jury-rig  what was left of me after the café debacle back into some kind of functional, tolerable human being.  I haven’t been altogether successful.  I still have no idea what I am, but I know what I am not:  I am not an exhausted, overwrought ball of kinetic insanity.  Not anymore.  And that counts for something.  It counts for everything, in fact, when it comes to my marriage.  That person drove my marriage to the brink.  The husband had no tolerance for her at all.  He wasted not an ounce of understanding, patience or pity on her.  He scraped her off and kept as far away from her as he could possibly get and still qualify for the dual titles of “life-partner” and “business partner.”
To put it bluntly, I acted like an ass, and so did he.  But I’ve learned something about “unconditional love.”  Mainly, that it’s a crock.  So many chapters in my life—most recently this journey with the husband—have proven to me that love does indeed have conditions.  That it is not possible to have love for someone—or give love to someone—no matter what they do.  “Love” requires a person to act in a certain way; when one steps outside of those bounds, love goes away.  Or at least, it changes into something that is no longer love.  That has been my experience.   
I now understand that in order to secure my husband’s love—or at least maintain the amiable state of co-existence which we now enjoy—I have to BE a certain person.  A person who is not necessarily who I am right now; a person I suspect I have never been.  It isn’t necessarily who I am NOT, either…I really don’t know.  But I’m not being given the luxury of a choice. 
There are times when the old wounds produce waves of phantom pain, like the ache of an amputated appendage, which usually manifests as a burst of unreasonable anger ignited by some insignificant catalyst.  (I’m shocked by how much anger I still have, and how close beneath the surface it lies.)  And if the husband happens to be within my airspace during one of these episodes, he meets it with an ice bath of cold, haughty meanness—his go-to weapon of our café years.  Proving that there has been neither forgiveness nor forgetfulness on his part…any more, it seems, than there has been on mine.  If I do not want to challenge the status quo, I need to make every attempt to pilot my little boat on an even keel.  I have chosen to do that, as much as it is humanly possible for me to do so; because I don’t want to fight anymore. 
So we live peacefully, most of the time.  We get along as long as I mind my p’s and q’s.  We even enjoy each other’s company.  Which is a far cry from where we were not long ago.  I should be happy.  Content.  And I am.
Most of the time.    

Monday, October 1, 2012

...that Mother Earth Mourns

Last week, my little campsite seemed to be located in the middle of an “Ax Men”  set. (Much of the footage for this reality show is shot around these very parts.) Every morning, as I sat outside with my coffee watching the birds, a parade in celebration of the logging trade took place up and down Highway 47. Empty log trucks flew past from the north, and trucks laden with piles of fresh logs chugged up from the south. The logs were headed, I believe, for the port at Longview, where they are then shipped to the Far East. In their raw state. So we send both our logs AND our jobs to China and Japan. A pretty crappy deal, really.

Judging by the volume of logging traffic I witnessed during my week in the woods, it would seem the logging trade is enjoying some good times. And the once tree-covered hills of Columbia and Clatsop Counties bear the clear-cut scars to prove it.

Sure, there are a lot of trees around here. And there are still more trees than naked hillsides, in most places. But these are not old growth trees. There are precious few old growth forests left; had they not been fiercely protected by the “tree-huggers,” there would not be any, I’m sure of it. When I drive up into the wild hills of our county, I am astonished at the width and breadth of the forest. The little roads wind and climb and twist, and sometimes you break out into the open on top of a ridge and all you can see for miles in any direction are tree-covered hills. It’s breathtaking.

But as you catch your breath, you realize your immediate surroundings look like a battlefield. The tallest features are bleached stumps of trees, and the other vegetation, this time of year, is parched and brown and desolate. You have topped a clear-cut ridge; this is why you have such an astonishing view of those miles and miles of forested hills. This one is supposed to be forested, too. But it’s not. So while the view is gorgeous, for me, the air is heavy with melancholy. I can feel the sadness of the earth…the mourning for what was once here, what should still be here.

Years ago, when I was a child, my family used to vacation in central Wisconsin. We had a favorite park where we frequently camped, and we explored the back roads—the little county roads that were designated by letters: “County Trunk D” or “County G.” Those roads rambled through fields and forests of stunted pines. I’d like to say it was a lovely break from our suburban Chicago environs; but there always seemed to be a pall of sadness over that area. I thought at the time that it was the obviously depressed economy of the region that gave off those strong vibrations of misery. This entire area had been logged; the logging companies had cut down all the trees that were economically feasible to harvest, slapped new seedlings in the ground as a shoddy homage to reforestation, and moved on. Took their boom—their logging operations, their mills, the entire economy that surrounded them—and moved on.

But though the streets of the little towns were lined with shuttered businesses, and the country homesteads looked unkempt and squalid, I realize now it was not the people from whom that pervasive melancholy was emanating. It was the land. The Earth herself was mourning. Mourning for the trees.

I get that our little county is desperately broke. Our unemployment rate here is 11.9%--well above the state average of 8.9%. There are not a lot of people here, but those who are here and who have been here for generations have been highly dependent upon logging and mills for employment. The Boise Cascade Mill in St. Helens closed last year, costing the county between 400 and 500 living wage union jobs. A large portion of our tiny county budget comes from a Federal program—the Secure Rural Schools Act —which funnels money to timber-dependent states. This legislation has been on the chopping block for at least the last five years, and gets re-instated at the last minute in one-year increments at progressively lower levels of funding. Which means that our county is basically being water-boarded by the high jinks in Washington: Just when we are on the brink of asphyxiation, they pull off the rag and we can breathe…for a few more months.

So I know it’s tantamount to treason for me to loathe the practice of cutting down the forests. But my spirit simply cannot acquiesce to it. And, in the end, those truckloads of murdered trees are not even providing the life blood to this county that they should be. Sure, the loggers are working… And the truckers, and the longshoremen. But WHY is this precious material going elsewhere to be processed? Why have all our mills closed down? Why are the Lumber Barons allowed to devastate our natural lands and then send the jobs overseas so they can line their pockets with more profits?

And what if the lumber and its jobs were remaining in this country? Would that somehow justify the carnage? I don’t know. I have serious doubts about a society that has kicked thousands of families out of perfectly good homes that now stand empty (owned by banks who will now attempt to sit on them like some kind of soured asset until they regain enough of their lost value to become once again piles of “funny money” accepted as currency in a corrupt marketplace); which then, inexplicably, uses the building of MORE homes as a leading indicator of the strength of its economic recovery. Why the hell are we building homes when there are perfectly good ones padlocked and empty in nearly every neighborhood across the country? Can’t we just leave the trees alone for now?

And here’s an interesting coda to all this: Over the past several months, our area has been presented with opportunities to gain jobs by jumping on the export bandwagon. There have been proposals to allow the piping of liquid natural gas, and trainloads of coal to pass through our county on the way to the export market. The hue and cry against allowing these “polluting!” industries to get any kind of foothold in the area has been loud and strident. I can’t help but shake my head and wonder at the blatant hypocrisy of my suddenly environmentally responsible neighbors, who would have no problem whatsoever leveling every tree in sight if it meant one stinking job would remain in the county, but cry “Ew! No! Dirty!!!” when an alternative—and no less destructive—proposal to create jobs is put before them. They don’t really have problems with destroying the environment…they just want to do it in their own, comfortable, familiar way.

If there’s an answer to all this, it’s not a simple one that can be described in a sound byte or mapped out by a legislative culture that could not even agree that the sun will rise tomorrow without derisive partisan bickering. All I know is, we need to stop cutting down the forests. We need to stop plunging daggers into the breast of Mother Earth and believing she doesn’t feel it. Right now, she mourns…she weeps. She fills the air with sadness and melancholy, as she has for hundreds of years, while we have degraded, debased and denuded her for our own gain. And we ignore her.

We had best hope that she doesn’t, in time, become really angry. Because I’m afraid the human race would not survive her wrath.