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Category Archives: small town

It starts at the Marrakech Grill…


“What DO you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” It’s the same question my husband has asked me for years. Only this time, I have an answer. I hesitate before speaking, though, and think about how to respond.20160116_121227.jpg

We are at the Marrakech Grill in Denver, and I am on the hunt for the Happy, Fat, and Full. Those are three words that have become important to me. I don’t use them to describe my belly. I use them to describe my overall well-being. The short word would be BLISS. If I am happy, fat, and full in the wallet, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full in my marriage, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full spiritually, I can relax.

The Happy, Fat, and Full means I can enjoy the moment.

I look down at my plate and start the mini ritual that makes up my meal. Thinking of the salad scene in the Barbara Streisand movie, “The Mirror Has Two Faces”, I skewer the tender bite of Shish Kebab chicken on my fork. Then I add a bit of green pepper for balance and crunch. Next, I lightly skim the bite through the tzatziki sauce. Lastly, I plop it on the mound of Saffron rice, picking up several grains, to make THE PERFECT BITE. I bring it to my lips and… MMMM… it is.

The Perfect Bite. 

Munch Munch Munch. Chew Chew Chew. My husband watches me through this ritual, like he always does, with amusement and patience. He knows I am stalling, and he knows I know he knows. Twenty-four years of partnership is a good start to getting to know each other’s habits, I guess. He takes a bite of his own food, Chicken Shawarma with Basmati Rice, and seems content to wait me out. I swallow and start talking. “I want to write on purpose. With purpose, I guess. I want to be a travel writer.” My husband swallows, takes a swig of his Coke, and says simply, “About dang time.”

And it is.

For twenty-four years he has asked me what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up, and at first I thought he was just teasing me. I mean, what else could I be, other than a mom and a wife? I had started off early with those two things on my resume, and had become resigned. Eighteen years old early, to be exact. But even before that, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. The closest I got was knowing I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world.

pic of grantsvilleGrowing up in a small town had given me a taste for solving the mystery of what it was like Somewhere Else. Anywhere Else, actually. My parent’s library painted pictures of rain-forests on misty mountains, and gently lapping waves on a sandy, palm tree-laden islands. I wanted to see everything in reality. Up close and personal-like, and it all started outside of my small town.

But how to start? It just seemed a bit overwhelming.

My older sister got out to see the world. She was an exchange-student in France, and then a nanny back east, and I admired that. I didn’t like her when she left. We fought a lot growing up. But when she came back, she was different. She talked differently. She walked differently. She dressed differently. She was calm, and confidant. She seemed happy and… content.

I wanted that.

So I decided to be a nanny as well. In spite of my dislike for children. Uh… yeah. I, at 18, had no desire to be around children. And may I just give a big ‘ol apology to the kids I babysat, and also to their parents? No, nothing bad happened while on my watch. No, your kids weren’t monsters. No, I didn’t neglect them. I just didn’t know what to DO with them. So they played with board games or watched TV, and I watched them play, kept ’em safe, and looked at the clock. I had no clue how to engage with them. Mediocre, for sure.

new born baby ultrasoundImagine my surprise, then, when I picked up a permanent babysitting job. My own child. Karma started early, I believed, so I cancelled the nanny job I had lined up in Washington D.C., right after graduating high school, and began the adventure of motherhood. No regrets, whatsoever, for my son. He is 23 years old now and an amazing guy. Four sons and one daughter has given me quite a journey. However, my husband would ask that question every once in a while, and it would make me wonder.

He would usually ask while I was changing a diaper or feeding someone. And I would usually return the question with a withering look or a bark of a laugh. Being a mom and a wife was my life. My journey. My adventure. It’s all I had time for.

Right?

Well, as I finished my delicious food in the beautiful atmosphere of the Marrakech Grill with the love of my life, I looked back at my adventure. I realized how much I had hidden my head in the sand when it came to his question. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” This was a question I secretly shied away from. Because deep down, I wanted nothing more than to be out exploring as much of the world as I could get to. And that did not include me being in one spot, watching everyone else experience their life while I was “The Heart Of The Home”.

I didn’t feel like the heart of a home. It seemed ludicrous for me to play that role, actually. Especially starting out at 18 years old. I was to be in charge of prepping the place for others to enjoy. I was the warden, the custodian, the support group, and the clean-up crew for the family, of which I had created and which had come out of my loins, so they could learn, be safe, and grow.

Ludicrous!

I wanted to explore the world, but did not allow myself to think about exploring, because that would be the opposite of responsible. And it became supremely important to be responsible. In fact, it became everything. All consuming. I had to show others, and myself, that I could be a grown up. So I did. I did it the best way that I could, pulling on whatever lessons and experiences I had at 18. I learned along the way.

Spoiler Alert: It Got Good.

Looking back, the journey got intense. Many times. But, along with the intensity came this: THE LOVE. THE COMPANIONSHIP. THE BONDS. I hadn’t counted on that. I don’t know why. I mean, I had heard so many times in my community that the calling of motherhood was the highest calling there was. A huge blessing. I just never believed them, while I was having back labor,  fainting with every pregnancy and earning bed rest. I didn’t recognize the blessings while cleaning up toys and books and dinner and kids faces for the umpteenth time in one day. imageI surely didn’t see any while holding a crying infant as my two-year-old screamed bloody murder at a Wal-Mart, with so many of those same community mothers looking on disapprovingly. I didn’t count on the blessings of love, because I was busy babysitting. Nevertheless, the bonds between my kids and husband grew.

That bond grew between those kids and I, in spite of the chaos that is motherhood. As they grew up, my adventure became less about being on the hunt for sleep and privacy, and more about individual memories where they would play the piano with me, or dance around with abandon while I played it. Or sharing jokes and stories while we drove around, going from scouts to camps to play dates.

Eventually, I knew what to do with these kids. I stopped babysitting, and started mothering. And it got good. Along with being responsible and in charge all the time, the good stuff canceled out the heartaches. I think it still does. So now, my journey of motherhood will not stop, if I start writing and traveling while I do it. It will just be a different role: Empowerment Coach. “Yes, it is about time, Husband.”  In the Marrakech Grill, I have found my Happy, Fat, and Full.20160116_121213.jpg

 

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The Broccoli Dilemma…


Stranger number 1. “Mormons. Can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.”
Stranger number 2. “Pssshhhhh. Can’t live without ’em, either. They’re the first ones to show up when a disaster hits.”
Guffaw.
Harrumphhh.
Clinking of the mugs.
And on to the Broncos.

I overheard the comments at a diner and it got me thinking. And feeling. My thinking was, “Amen, brothahs!”, and my feeling was, “UHHH! Ruh-ooode!” Offended, yet understanding and agreeing. Both. How can that be? How? Easy. Life is not tidy.

I am a Mormon. And… I am also, not.

I am a Mormon because I have a name and a blessing, have been baptized, and have had church callings many many times. Actively participating or not, disciplined or not, it has been part of my culture. You could say I am a native. I am Mormon because I strive to be as Christ-like as I can be, choosing Mormonism as my vehicle of organized religion. Yet…I am not Mormon in this way. I am having a crisis of faith. In praying and seeking answers to questions, I have found that I currently do not agree with all views and policies in my religion. I feel very un-faith-like, in this faith-based religion, actually. In my mind, I have divided my faith into two distinct parts. The Church, and The Gospel. It’s how I justify putting up with one so I can enjoy the other.

OKKKKK. Let me stop you right there. This is not a pro- or anti- rant. There is no platform or soap box. So if you are looking for that, head right on back to Facebook. Ahem.

So the “yes I am” and the “no I’m not” kinda feels like… like this. Like dipping broccoli into Ranch dressing. I dig the Gospel principles of love and kindness, and turning the other cheek, and peace from a source who has a much bigger design than I can comprehend. I am good with that. That’s the Ranch. The Church part, the human part, the inconsistency part where there is paperwork and differing personalities clashing and keeping the bills paid… well… that is the iffy part for me. It’s the Broccoli. The have-to have to enjoy the get-to have.

Now, you won’t catch me with the fridge door open in the middle of the night, guzzling Ranch dressing from the bottle. Rest easy, Mom. But you won’t catch me ordering a vat of Cream of Broccoli soup, hold the soup, either. My religion has been my version of a healthy snack. Kind of a no-brainer snack. Only, I am tasting the Broccoli a lot more, lately, and it almost tastes like Brussel Sprouts.

So where does that leave me? How do I categorize myself? In limbo? On the fence? Is there a fence? Hmmmm. I guess there is. And I realize that there has been, for years.
This is an opportunity to look at the fence I am sitting on.

And I know fences.

I grew up in a small town in Utah. Many fences. Way more potholes than people. No stoplight, but lots of community involvement. I, like any other kiddo growing up, had many spoon-fed concepts, from many different sources. For instance:
1. (MOM) We have inside voices and outside voices. Please use them correctly. (ME) Ok.
2. (SESAME STREET) We say please and thank you. Always. (ME) Ok.
3. (DAD) We go to church and all church activities. Every time. (ME) Ok.
4. (NEIGHBORHOOD) Many hands make light work, so pitch in and watch out for ways to help. (ME) Ok.
5. (SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER) Be kind, always. (ME) Ok.
6. Change your underpants every day because you never know when you will get in an accident and have to go to the doctor. (ME) Uhhhhh. Okkkkkaayyy….(That came from Grandma, bless her soul. Sound advice.)

The natural assumption I took on was that a line of authority wasn’t questioned. It didn’t need to be. We all had roles, and mine was to grow up, be good, and have fun. That was as far as I looked.  I naturally assumed that authority was there to protect and provide order to those with less experience and knowledge. It was a learning process, and a safeguard against being hurt. Moms and dads guided and protected us. Adults protected us. We kids respected and listened to them. It totally made sense and worked.

There really wasn’t anything to ponder about. Nothing I needed to change because everything ran smoothly. Not that I always followed them in real world applications. Ask anyone in my family. I was the middle child. Boo Hoo. It was HARRRRRDDDD to follow every assumed custom AND every rule EVERY time. So I messed up. Sometimes I tried really hard to keep it all together, and sometimes I got fed up and did what I wanted, knowing there would be consequences. My choices, my consequences. Pretty cut and dry, right?

You see what I’m saying.

Stay with me here. Many assumptions. My easiest assumption, by the way, was that because I learned these things in MY home and neighborhood, everyone learned those things in THEIR home and neighborhood. Everyone, everywhere. And, I lived a very cut-and-dry, right-or-wrong life. Simple. Until the ripe old age of Kindergarten.

When I was six, I went to elementary school and noticed that not everyone had the same experiences and opinions, or even habits that I did. It was just a quick adjustment, but by the end of the first day I had learned about Root Beer Bubble Gum, Puff The Magic Dragon, and just how many kids there were in my grade. I saw that manners were subjective. (Nose-picking was a lot more common than I thought.) I learned that some girls knew how to do back flips, and immediately wanted that in my life. (Gymnastics was a passion for me for the rest of the week.) I saw a 4-square game outlined in yellow paint on the black-top at recess and immediately needed the giant rubber bouncy ball in my collection of toys. (I didn’t get one.) There was a lot of cool stuff to take in, and I wanted to know about it all.

Well, almost all.

I experienced bullies at recess, right along with back flips and 4-square. They were different than the big-brother bullies, simply because they clashed with my sensibilities so much. (How dare they not be polite? They don’t even know me, yet! We are all supposed to be kind, except for big brothers!) Sometimes, as I went through the grades, bullies would be in packs, and other times they would be on their own. Now I wasn’t always subject to them, but all the classes knew them. We knew who they were, and unofficially formed plans to counter those attacks. Luck helped sometimes. Sometimes not. When a plan fell through, and we would see a victim come back with a story, we shared in that hurt. (Here. Have a piece of Root Beer bubble gum. It’s my last one, but you can have it.)

So here’s the thing. I went out into the wider world, but when I came home, there was a sense of safety and peace. It was a familiar place where I belonged. I could tell my family about the good and the bad, or come back with scrapes and cuts, and my mom and dad would make things right. They never went after those bullies, but made the place where I lived a safe haven. Yep, there were arguments and things I didn’t want to do. Yes, I felt very picked on sometimes. But overall, it was an assumption that when I was home, I was safe. So when certain people were invited into our home, people who were assumed to be safe, but weren’t, it rocked my world.

It didn’t make sense.

How could people so deceitful and sneaky and terrible be allowed in my home? I had no answer that made sense, and at six or seven, I needed a simple answer. Nothing made sense, so I went with the logic that was available at my young age. I simply understood from that time on that because they were in our home, the logical conclusion was that my parents were somehow fine with it in our home. Ergo, they were fine with something terrible existing right along with the safe environment, even scolding me when I didn’t want to be around those guests. That was something that did not make sense, but nevertheless WAS happening in reality. The REAL WORLD stuff was not in alignment with the SHOULD-BE’s. That’s how I knew that life wasn’t black or white.

The reality is that my parents did not know. They were unaware that a terrible thing was happening. In fact, it simply was not a possibility to them that someone would take advantage of the love and kindness that they showed. And because they did not think of that possibility, they came to their own conclusions about my lack of civility to these guests. It became apparent to them that I was moody and over-dramatic and prone to over-exaggeration or fibs, even. My truth became that my mom was cruel on the inside and kind on the outside, and dad trusted mom’s judgement. We all formed our opinions, and life went on. That became the reality.

I bring this up, not to bring you down, but to look at something. I experienced something completely different than my parents did. In our safe haven. In our same family. At the same time. Simple as that. Our experiences led to assumptions about ourselves and each other and that became our reality. Were we both right? In a way, yes. We acted from interactions that actually happened. The actions were obviously right there. And yet…in another way, a resounding NO! I had only one view of an event.

So did they.

The events in their entirety did not just reveal themselves to me, on their own, by the way. Nobody came to me to clarify what was going on at all. It took me actively questioning my side of the past events over years, as an adult. It took talking several times with people about uncomfortable things. It took me allowing myself to follow my gut feelings as well as my head. It took getting out of my comfort zone. And I became the target of some pretty unpleasant words from those completely outside of the situation. What I found, over years of digging, was an opportunity for information to be shared, for relationships to be strengthened, and for my angst to be laid to rest.

So back to the diner. And my fence.

My relationship with my faith has been complicated. Am I Mormon? Yep. I was born and raised in the faith and know how to do all that is asked of me. I have felt love and peace many times over the years, through my faith. Do I feel Mormon? Not exactly, simply because I am questioning the reasoning and accountability of certain parts of my religion. And feeling uncomfortable doing it. My logic says that it should be cut and dry. There is a natural line of authority, put in place to lead, guide, and love a group of people who want peace and joy and love in their lives. The same goes for a natural line of authority in government, companies, and any other leadership organization. It is trust. It is there to give direction to those who do not have all the answers or experience in an area and are wanting that safeguard.

I am having an event, which is a part of a series of events, that I have felt is the whole event. Until now. Now, I feel there is a major lack in the whole picture that I am experiencing.

So do I rock the boat? The Church boat? We-heh-heh-hellll. Let me tell you, rocking the boat is… exhausting. Fighting for answers takes time and commitment. Going up the chain of command is frustrating to me when answers aren’t easy to explain or find. I hear it is the same in the military, the education system, and in corporate life. So the big question for myself is, “Do I want to go here?” I have kids, exercise, work, bills, husband, sleep, fun, reading, living of life to do. Do I really want to move that stuff around? Hey. It’s only my spiritual, eternal self I’m talking about.

Sitting on this fence is starting to get mighty uncomfortable.

Now, my experiences and assumptions are mine. Only mine. Some may have similar stories, and others may not relate at all. A few may even doubt my honesty about my stories. Some have. But worrying about someone else’s opinion is not my business. What I do with my experiences and assumptions, are. So this is what I choose.

1. I choose to use information and facts over opinion and assumptions. It’s certainly interesting to get everyone’s input on a subject, but it is subjective, in the end.

2. I choose to listen to my gut feelings, and temper them with my logic. Because if I don’t, then there isn’t a complete picture.

3. I choose to have a line. I am allowed to form a line of safety. My safety and moral compass is on one side of the line, and on the other side is the stuff that I don’t want in my space. Not for manners sake. Not for comfort sake. Not for other people’s comfort sake. It is a line.

4. I choose to question things so I know how I feel. I am ok with going on faith in some instances, and questioning in others. BOTH.

The diner experience leads me to realize that it is time to search for the questions about certain policies that I have just been waiting for others to answer. It is time to be proactive. Right or wrong? For or against? Yes or no? Puh-leez! Those are about as polarizing as it gets. And that just doesn’t work for me.

There is more to it than either/or. Life is not tidy. My grief is about my conflict. I am grieving the simplicity that I so want in my life. I am grieving my former reality. I am conflicted because I know that I am coming down off the fence. Not only coming down off my perch, but I will be pulling up the fence and seeing what leaves my space, and what stays.

I know I want love and light and peace in my life. I know that duplicity and deceitfulness and looking the other way have no part in my space. Not from myself, and not from others. Even when it would be simpler/easier/nicer to just do nothing.  Am I Mormon? Am I not? Do I believe?

Meh.

How bout…. I am… Hungry. It’s time to hit the fridge and browse. Ranch can go on many things. Not just broccoli. Who knows? In my search for the perfect snack, I just may create a fantastic meal.

 

Glorious Mountain Time…

Glorious Mountain Time…

So. This is what beautiful means. Another kind of beautiful. A not enough oxygen for the Every-Day-Joe kind of beautiful. A Travel-Here-At-Your-Own-Risk kind of beautiful.

Worth it.

We arrived here at the tail end of a thunderstorm. The wrong end of the thunderstorm, I clarify. Actually, we started at one end of the thunderstorm, traveled up the mountain in growing darkness through the middle of the thunderstorm, hydro-planed around semi rigs and a Volkswagen bus on wings of guardian angels, and sluiced to a stop at the resort, clean air and slightly dripping aspens all around.  End of thunderstorm. No big deal.

There is a reason this resort is here. In Vail. It had to be here. Vail had to be the backdrop for twinkle lights drenching the pines, and customer service draping over us the second we pulled up. The temperature, the crispness of the air, the sincere pride the staff took as they welcomed us… All of the elements had to work together to create the ambiance that is this place. And I love it.

Even now, it is raining, and it is enchanting. Wait. It “rains” in other places. Here, it RAINS. The raindrops frolic as they reach the resort. Then some dance on the surface of the infinity pool, bringing steam up invitingly. Other drops lazily make their way down aspen leaves, pitter-pattering to the stone, and gurgling down the gutters. All the rain forms together to make a filmy, misty sheet that flutters down the mountain, across the pines, and onto the property.  That’s what the rain looks like here.

I get to witness it from a plushly padded lounge chair, just under the eaves of the outdoor rooms. Talk about bringing the outdoors in. And the resort does do that. Three beautiful fireplaces ring the saline infinity pool, one for the hot tub and two for gathering spots. They are inviting, with their rocking chairs and outdoor heaters. They just beg guests to enjoy hot chocolate out in the rain, snow, or chill of the air.

As the days and nights progress, I truly experience the consideration that is seeped in this place. From the sights of the outdoor property, to the scents of the on-property restaurant. A hamburger is NOT just a hamburger here, by the way. It is a culinary delight. Onion ring, pesto aioli, and beef or buffalo cooked to specification (mine was beef, cooked medium), set off bells of pleasure on my taste buds. Even something as mundane as french fries took a ride to happy town with chives, garlic, and mushroom wreathing the steak cut morsels.

As rain came down on the beautiful village of Vail, people took the time to come together over drinks and food. Or a game of chess or cards. People read in the lobby, or library, sure, but the stories flowed from the mouths of people wanting to make connections with others, right there in the conservatory.

In that room, with huge windows showing the beauty that was nature on one side, and a roaring fire on the other, people would gather in twos, or fours, or more, and talk about their lives and what brought them to this spot at this particular time.

Many came for a conference. “Hello, how are you? Are you here for CIMA? Do you know…” And simple as that, they are off and running on system security management for the here and now.

Others, however, are here for weddings and family gatherings and such. I met some interesting girls this way. They flitted here and there popping around walls and bouncing wherever they went, happy as clams. They flopped down next to me and asked me why I was here? I told them my husband was speaking at a conference here, and they sensed it was their turn to speak, so they did.

A lot.

They let me know they had flown in with their family, from New Jersey, for a cousin’s wedding. They were also a bit sad that their grandpa couldn’t come because he was so funny. I asked why he couldn’t be there, and they said, finishing each other’s sentences, that he was 89, was in a home, but had just needed to go to a hospital for something. He was very funny, they said, and the nurses laughed a lot around him. I said it must be nice to have a funny grandpa, and they said yes, grandpa Yogi was the best.

Yogi is not a common name, and I thought it was also the name of a bear, and then some other guys name, maybe a football or baseball player from long ago. That’s as far as my line of thinking went, as these young ladies, vivacious and glad to chat, kept up a history of their lives as they knew it. Staying with their grandpa Yogi. “He reminds us of a gorilla!” The younger girl, maybe 7, said. “His ears, you know… They are preeety big.” The elder sister, around 9, chimed in. “He kind of walks funny, too.”  I learned that he was indeed named Lawrence, but that no one called him that since he was a catcher in baseball long ago. His team mates, then just people, called him Yogi and his last name was Berra, and wasn’t that funny?

The girls went with their parents to Florida every spring break, and… Their dad used to play sports as a job, and … Then the two blonde haired, talkative gems were hustled out of the conversation by a 50-something year old man, fit and trim, that wasn’t too keen on my friendly smile. He seemed in a hurry, and that was that.

I had just had a fun discussion about and with the great Yogi Berra’s grandchildren.  I think so, anyway.  Maybe not. I confirmed some things with my husband later, and with Wikipedia. Yessirree Bob, I had been brushed off by a retired ball player/dad, had a chat with a legend’s grand kids, and enjoyed the weather while doing it.

Nice place.

My last night found me down at the hot tub with my husband. We enjoyed the stars hanging in the sky, the trees swaying in the cool, crisp air, and the steam rising off the stone hot tub water. A fire blazed just a few feet away, beautifully corralled by stone and wrought iron fancy.  We soaked for a bit, marveling at the adventure we had experienced, and caught up on our day. He nailed his presentation, had been productive at the socializing that went on at these things, and now he was ready to relax and go home. I shared with him my time and observations, and we both laughed. Then sighed.

It was good to soak.

After a quick dip in the pool, and a spell by the fireplace, we retired to our room.

Our room. Our room! Big, beautifully well-appointed… Our room was a vacation in and of itself. On the top floor, we got a beautiful view of the pool and mountains. The room housed a plush king size bed with a suede headboard. All soft and inviting, I spent a few hours curled up in it, I’ll tell you. Large closets, well stocked mini fridge area, big bathroom. All done in woods and stone and glass. An office area for hubby to do his conference calls and business. Nothing was an afterthought. Everything was warm, yet elegant.

Our morning was spent packing and smiling because we knew that we had loved this place.  The sun was out. Our trip would be dry. And it was the perfect end to our adventure in a truly breathtaking spot in this world.

 

 

 

Dallas Ice Storms…

Dallas Ice Storms…

Alright. This is the last thing I wanted to see on our last leg of a 14 hour-long journey. Granted, we we’re traveling over Thanksgiving weekend from Denver to Dallas, so we ran a bit of a risk, but Google maps simply said there was a “30 % chance of weather” in the Oklahoma/Texas border area. Did we know what Google meant when it showed a yellow blob representing “Weather”?

No, we did not. A’tall.

Well now. We went from cold (and I mean COLD) breezy weather in Denver, to windy and freezing gusts in Hays, Kansas. Holding steady to Salina, Kansas. That was our half way point, and I thought we had it down pretty well. A lot of stops for gas, snacks, and Subway sandwiches (The smell of Grandpa’s extra onions still makes me shudder) got us to Oklahoma City.

Then it got real. I mean really bizarre. Because, look… I have only ever heard of ice storms, and my thinking was, “Boo Hoo. What’s the big deal? I live in Denver, and we Coloradans get snow and blizzard conditions a lot. We get icy roads, and we deal with it just fine! These Southerners are lightweights!”

Those were my thoughts and my attitude as we drove into North Oklahoma City. We weren’t expecting to drive into anything specific, you remember, but ice storm was way down on my list of worries.

Until, we stopped at a rest stop. The first thing I noticed was car after car pulling in from the direction we were going. They looked like they were wrapped in cellophane, from a distance.  As they came closer, I saw strange little ice daggers slanting off the mirrors, the door handles, the radio antenna, and even the tire wells.  All were slick and shiny-looking.

This did not look good.

I got out of my car and walked over to where a man was cracking open his truck. The ice crackled and fell off from only around the door. The rest just stayed put.  I just had to know. I mean, part of me knew that if there was an overwhelming amount of ice on a car, then logically an ice storm had to have put it there, right?  But my head wasn’t having any of it. So I just asked him what direction he had come from.

The man looked a bit frazzled as he ran his hand through his hair. “Dallas”, he replied. Then he must have seen the nervous look on my face and he opened his mouth to speak. At this point I thought the guy was going to soothe me by saying something like, “Its not that bad. We have them all the time down here…”

Nope.

The man looked me right in the eye and said, I kid you not, “Don’t go there. I don’t know how we got through it. People are sliding off left and right. Seriously.” and that was it. He turned around and fussed with his vehicle some, and I was left to walk back to my SUV.

We went anyway.

We went through Central Oklahoma City just fine.

I was now certifiably scared, but it still didn’t occur to me what ice storm meant until we started seeing ice on the road signs. And on trees. And on fences. The only thing we didn’t see it on was the road, and the reason is because it looked like wet roads. Like after a rain storm.

I took all this in as we slowed to a snail’s pace, thanks to the cars ahead of us. The crazy ones that chose to keep going, I mean. The blessing, and I mean  BIG blessing is that we had just missed the real storm part. The freezing rain part. We were in the after math, and that was bad enough.

And this was just South Oklahoma City.

Cars had slid off the road in every which way direction. Some just slightly off the road, and some, all the way down this hill or that. Tree limbs, heavy with ice, had broken and fallen on cars, houses, and buildings. There was no traffic, by the way. Just the few of us cars going south through the city.

And how were we staying on the road? No clue. We were traveling maybe, possibly, 5 miles an hour, and we were still sliding around. This was not a highway with slick spots. It was an ice rink. There was no respite from the skating. Thank goodness we were on a level straightaway. Not all the cars by us stayed on the straightaway. I saw one move to an off ramp. It didn’t look good, as it was on a downhill slope.

Well, we crawled out of the city and eventually we moved past the ice and into the thaw. The slush and snow had never been so welcome.  As we accelerated, I realized one thing. There was no sand or chemical salt anywhere on the roads we had just passed. WHY???

Hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages had just happened on the road, what with rescue attempts, and accidents. The roads needed to be ready, and how! I am assuming, no I know, that what I had just seen wasn’t a first time for the Texas/Oklahoma border. Where were the ground crews?

We made it to Dallas. I was rattled. We all were. Grandpa had never been so quiet.

I shook off the fright by the time it was time to return to Denver (and after we found absolutely no signs of Google “Weather”). We returned home and had a good story to tell.

But as I am doing research now on the ins and outs of weather crews for the Texas/Oklahoma area, The results are underwhelming. Sand and salt are readied for the season, however many times the crews don’t get the sand or salt out until after the ice storm has hit! And then it is spread slowly, as the slick roads impede any vehicle driving on them.

This seems ludicrous to me, but then so did the enormity of the damage and fright of a good ice storm, before I experienced one. I hope they prepare better and this was a fluke, because it is senseless to be under-prepared and let any city go through that again. Not needed a’tall.

Now that I have experienced the effects of an ice storm (and who am I kidding, I only touched the tip of it), I think about other storms that I have discounted. Sand storm… Locust storm… You know what I’m saying. I think about them and cringe inside. Then I think, Southerners aren’t as thin-skinned as I originally thought. They go through ice storms and hurricanes quite a bit, and they still live and thrive. I shudder again.

Maybe I am the thin-skinned one.

 

Social Media Newbie…


In actuality, I didn’t know that Facebook, Twitter, and LinkdIn, and Google Circles, and Tumblr, and. Pinterest, and… All the rest… Were part of Social media. Not a clue. I didn’t know they counted. Until a few days ago.  My husband asked if I would ghost write some updates, blogs, and statuses for his business. I believe it is called, “getting your brand out there”.

I said “ok”. Like it was no big deal. I didn’t want him to know how little I knew about social media. I mean, honestly, I had to be the last person on the planet to be on Twitter.  I was much more comfortable with checking Facebook a few times a day, and calling it good.

did it occur to me that these options could be used for business purposes, and for networking? Nope. (Even though I have about half of my home town friended on my Facebook account. how’s that for networking?) I just thought it was a fun way to catch up with people and see what meaningless recipes were out there.

luckily, this opportunity has fallen in my lap.

i have researched the ins and outs of many different options, making accounts for myself, and engaging in them.

Wanna know what I found?

a fantastic opportunity to chat with purpose. Sharing ideas and resumes and articles and pictures and posts… They have been there all along, but I just discovered it out now. So I’m behind. Sue me. But I am excited.

Now the work begins. I know what my husband does. It is just time to soak up the info and put it into words, articles, and posts. It’s exciting and I am out of my element. Except for one thing: I love meeting people, chatting with them, blogging, and researching. It’s my jam, if you please.

I won’t be an expert for a long time. But I am almost graduated from a newbie. Wish me luck!

 
 

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The Stranger


No intro needed…

 

The Stranger.

 

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An Update…


Dad passed away on October 7th. Just 2 weeks ago now.
In some ways, it feels like years.
In other ways, I am still in the middle of it.

I see the sunshine seeping in my parents kitchen window. It’s about 2:00 PM, and it’s just that right temperature of warm but not too warm.  I still hear dad breathing hard in the other room, from his hospice bed. He is in the very last hours, and 2 of us kids hold his hands at all times. It’s not my turn. (When it is my turn, I look forward to touching his warm skin, and looking at his face, knowing I won’t have very long to do that.) His breathing gets easier for a bit, then stops. We all count, as we have been told that an apnea can come at this time, stopping the breathing for anywhere from 15-45 seconds. …5, …10, …15, and he takes in a deep breath. We all take a breath, too, and continue our scrabble game.

Yeah, scrabble. We were playing a game while my father was dying. We had been looking over and after him for 5 days straight, and as neighbors, friends, and relatives came to say their goodbyes,  or dropping off cards and food and hugs, well at some point we just realized that it was ok to do something other than watch the man die. It didn’t mean we loved him any less. In fact, it was probably a relief for him to hear some laughter and gossip coming from the next room, like in old times. (You should probably know that dad got 5 daughters, and would lament, only half jokingly, that he had somehow upset The Lord for Him to punish dad with so many chattering, laughing, bickering daughters…)

So we went on with our game. QAT was my word, and I got it hooked to a double word score. Woot! And I did woot, right out loud.  We all looked at each other quickly, and then at dad in the other room. And our voices raised even more. It was almost a relief to remember that we were allowed to be living, while he was dying. It was odd, but during this vigil, we still ate meals, and hugged each other, and talked normally.

At first this all felt like a betrayal. How dare I sleep when I should be watching over this dying man! Right? And I could not imagine leaving his hospital bed, whether to go to the bathroom or for food, a walk outside, or to play a game of scrabble. Why should I go do these things when he could not?  I don’t know what I expected. I guess for us to be hush hush around him so he could labor in quiet…. I guess that was it.

Well, life is not tidy.

What happened instead was 8 siblings descending upon the Thornton home, from across all sorts of states, all in various stages of grieving. The one thing that didn’t happen was quiet. I was stupefied. The house of grieving flipped like a switch. We had a room of crying and whispering. A room of food prep and eating. Then we had a room of catching up and visiting. And, because we are Thorntons, that room turned into a room of laughter and loudness. In all rooms, reverence was gone.

It was the best thing that happened, in my opinion.  Where I had been moping and obsessing before, being exhausted beyond belief, there was now a life and energy renewed.  Instead of literally watching a man die to death, we provided a father and husband with family living and celebrating his life all around him.

We played board games in the kitchen, just a few feet from where his hospice bed was set up.  We played the piano where he could hear his favorite songs. We put Pandora on the iPad and let him listen to the “Tabernacle Choir” channel because he loved the music so much. And it worked

Whatever IT was.

IT spread through the house gradually. Through each room of sadness, IT seeped in and smiled the sadness away. Oh.  The IT was… Peace.

Peace spread through the house and household. It made it ok for us to laugh or cry. It made it ok for us to sleep in, or stay up all nigh with our sweet dad. Peace made it ok for dad to rally at the end, for us.  He came out of the labored sleep he was in, and acknowledged those who were there in the house. He said he loved hearing the music. He touched our faces and let the little ones give him kisses or high fives. He loved our laughter and talking which, he said, just sounded like LOVE.

And that was when I let go of the process looking a certain way.  I was not in charge, and neither was anyone else. Dad’s death was between him and The Lord. My only responsibility was to be part of the peace and love that was family.  And so I did.

He passed away peacefully, between one breath and another, with family around him.

 
 
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