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Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Now, WHAT was that new subject I had in mind? (Ah, yes! “Work and Play”!!!)

Smoke from distant fires --

A few disparate items had been tumbling around in my head, and for a few moments they seemed to come together under a topic heading. What was that heading, though, and what were the thoughts I hoped to connect? I’ll just start tapping away while waiting for a return phone call or e-mail and see if anything thoughts fly back….


-- I’ve got it! I’ve got it! (So I went back and added it into today’s post’s subject heading.) Work and Play!!! That will, I hope, tie together some thoughts on dogs, art, me, women in general, jobs, and business. The return e-mail came, too, so everything is back on track for the moment. Remember, though, that the moment is always fleeting....



Work and Play: Dogs


Sunny Juliet is an Australian shepherd, and many friends assumed (and still do) that her breed is the only explanation needed for her demanding puppyhood, but Sunny was something else! Yet, “She needs a job,” people kept telling me. 

The idea that herding dogs “need a job” has entered the general American consciousness and is wisdom now repeated even by people who have no dogs of any breed. But practically perfect Sarah, hybrid border-Aussie, was “something else” in the opposite direction of Sunny, laid back and easy going almost from the day she came home with us at four months of age. Peasy, that beautiful Aussie boy with his tragic issues, learned quickly and was compliant in ordinary matters; his problems flashed out as unforeseeable exceptions. Sunny Juliet? I have never had such an opinionated dog in my life! She has settled down hugely in the past year, however, and we now live together in harmony most of the time.


Sunny loves to be outdoors. She loves to go rambling with me, exploring the world, and she loves to play, chasing tennis balls or a Frisbee or a stick or anything else I throw for her. We have yet to get back to the agility lessons, but she remembers “Jump!” and “Tunnel!” and does them beautifully on command. 


The question is, does Sunny need a job? That is, does she need sheep or cattle or, at the very least, a flock of ducks to move around? 


Here’s my answer: What Sunny needs -- probably what any herding dog needs and no doubt what most dogs need – is mental stimulation combined with physical exertion

It doesn’t matter at all to Sunny if she “accomplishes" anything or not by chasing a tennis ball (or jumping a hurdle). Her little mind goes on high alert when she sees me preparing to launch the ball, and she readies her muscles to spring, run, and catch -- or run, chase, and retrieve. Which way will the ball go? Where can she interrupt its trajectory? Will there be a bounce first, or will she catch it in flight? This is more than a game to her. It is an opportunity to use her skills, and she loves it. Her eyes tell the story. If she were herding sheep, the same mental calculations and decisions about speed and direction would come into play. “Into play” = working


You see my point? I absolutely believe that herding dogs do not differentiate work from play. They love activity and problem-solving, and they seem to love doing things with their humans. Right now Sunny is lying at my feet, waiting patiently for something to happen, some move on my part that gives her a reason to follow me curiously wherever I might go next. 



Work and Play: Art


Marsh marigolds, just because.

Many years ago, a guitarist in my life noted, “Other people work. Musicians play.” We do use those words. (“I have to go to work in the morning.” “Our band is playing at Music in the Park.”) And yet a musician, every bit as much as a carpenter or a nurse, has to learn and practice to acquire skills and keep them sharp. 


Is it society’s failure to value musicians and other artists sufficiently that their work is seen as play? Or is seeing art as play a good thing, reminding the rest of us to find joy in our daily lives?


“How long did it take you to paint that?” someone would ask the Artist from time to time, and he would answer, “My whole life,” and when we were in the car, slowly driving our favorite county back roads, he was always “working,” in that he was taking in the colors and lines and shapes and richness of the land. When sitting quietly, he might be thinking through an idea for a painting, but when standing at the easel, he would tell me, “You can talk to me. I’m painting, not thinking.”

Photograph of David Grath by David Brigham


Work and Play: Me


Someone at the recycling center north of Northport saw me the other day and asked, “What are you doing now that you’re not doing?” I was nonplussed. “Not doing”? It’s true that I took six months of seasonal retirement (maybe for the last time!), but I’m certainly doing plenty now! Cleaning and organizing my house after having to empty out the Artist’s studio last fall before I left; getting my yard and gardens in order; preparing to open my bookstore for the season – and that’s only a general outline, with none of the myriad details. 

And now we have a couple more cold nights coming....

Do I differentiate between work and play, or am I more like a herding dog, needing physical and mental activity but not separating it into work/play categories? That’s my question here.


Cleaning is definitely work. I won’t say that no thought and planning goes into it or that there’s no satisfaction in seeing the fruits of my labor, but I only engage in it as a necessity. Yard and garden tasks are different. Definitely work (my muscles make sure I get that straight!), but my outdoor projects are ones I choose, not burdens imposed on me, and even mowing grass is work I enjoy. 

I will be open as soon as possible -- but when? When the Fates allow!

My bookstore is chosen work, too (though not the cleaning part: that’s imposed by entropy, a fact of life). No one would start a bookstore and run it for thirty years without a love of books, and my bookstore is a world I have created over time, but it’s certainly more than play. I’m not “playing store.” Bookselling is my livelihood. 


Robert Gray wrote a piece recently in the e-mailed book business newsletter, “Shelf Awareness,” about how annoyed he gets when anyone thinks booksellers just sit around and play with their cats all day. You can follow this link and look for the last article in the issue if you’re interested in what what else he had to say. 



Work and Play: Women


I’ve often noticed that women tend to characterize their experiments and trials in the fields of arts and crafts or gardening as “playing around,” in situations where a man would never use such language. Do women (in general) take their activities less seriously than men? Are men (in general) more concerned with having their activities respected? Is “playing around” – with ideas, concepts, designs, arrangements – a belittling and overly modest way of speaking, or does it connote a joyful, playful, open approach to life?

Just because I love them!


Work and Play: Jobs and Business


A job, even when a necessity, can be chosen work, and a business had better be chosen if the business owner is going to be happy in it!


While either jobs or business can involve pleasure and even love, though, they generally need to be taken seriously, and I’d say this is especially true of a business. A job you can quit. Give notice, turn in your keys, and hit the road. Closing and then dismantling or selling a business isn’t so simple. It's more like giving up a home. – And before I am besieged with questions, No, I am not thinking of closing or selling my bookstore! I’m just thinking of ways that a starting a business and keeping it going are a pretty serious commitment.



So what is my ‘play’?


If my business is my work, and this blog is related to my work (sometimes very peripherally, I admit), and if the outdoor jobs I love are work (albeit happily chosen), and since I don’t play bridge or softball, do I not play at all? That would be pretty pitiful, wouldn’t it? 


Walking in the woods with Sunny, exploring and observing the natural world, my country drives and photography –all those I experience as play, so much so that I often feel as if I’m “playing hooky” from all work that awaits me in my house and my bookstore. 


But no – you know what? Learning and appreciating the natural world is something I feel a joyful obligation to do -- as if it is, more than anything else, my life’s most important work. My way of practicing gratitude for the gift of the world. So I guess, in the way I approach life, I’m quite a bit like Sunny Juliet!


Informational Postscript: You wouldn’t guess from the foregoing that I am in the middle of an infrastructure disaster at home, a combination electrical/plumbing crisis. If my bookstore isn’t open on Friday, as I’d hoped, this is the reason. Wish me luck, send good vibes, don’t ask questions! My plate is full enough as it is! Thanks --

Fleeting May! These blossoms are already gone!


Thursday, May 18, 2023

Feeding Body and Soul

Leelanau morning in May

Coming from one life back to another, from southeast Arizona to northern Michigan, or Cochise County to Leelanau County if you prefer (as I often do) -- however it's described, re-entry makes for a bumpy ride. That's especially true now since, like the drive of over 2,000 miles, it’s basically something I do alone. My dog Sunny seems undisturbed by change, though, as happy in her Michigan farmyard as she was in the high desert, and her equilibrium contributes to my own. 

Happy girl!

House and yard claimed my attention immediately. With the arrival of my lost wallet from Logan, New Mexico this week, where some anonymous good Samaritan turned it in to the police department, it was possible for me to take up once more some of the business aspects of life, earlier delayed.


Now my calendar bristles with appointments and dates (doctor, dentist, veterinarian, service calls, deadlines), while necessary spring cleaning goes forward inch by inch, it seems, a very gradual reclaiming of indoor living space, my progress all the more slow and gradual because our weather has been (except for cold nights and frosty mornings) idyllic for over a week now. Sunshine every day and blossoms all around contribute to my natural preference for outdoor work, and thus planting and moving plants (digging up volunteer violets for a border to keep down total costs of new plants for the summer), mowing grass, raking thatch away from an unmowed area I will seed with wildflowers, spreading compost and mulch, and not neglecting my always-ongoing battle against autumn olive makes for busy days and good sleep. Taking rugs and other indoor items outdoors to clean them in the open air is my way of doing as much housework as possible outdoors.

But I jumped the gun, and those little okra plants were frost-killed.

Attacking one very large autumn olive that somehow escaped last year’s professional clearing, I was horrified to find an advance platoon of the dreaded garlic mustard! Pulling up the invaders by their roots and hanging them on the severed branches of autumn olive (so as not to give them a chance to re-root) gave great satisfaction, because heaven forbid that garlic mustard gets a grip here on my watch! Look, below, at what it’s done on M-22 north of Leland. Either autumn olive or garlic mustard could take over the entire county if not checked, as each has done with smaller areas, so imagine what both together could do, laying waste to our native wildflowers and grasses.

Unwanted autumn olive festooned with unwanted garlic mustard

Garlic mustard unchecked along M-22. Horrors!

It crowds out everything else.

(And in the foregoing, I see once again my love for the present participle: coming, planting, mowing, cleaning, attacking, hanging, etc. Do you have a favorite part of speech?)


Dog responsibilities, too, are great outdoors time. Sunny needs to be outdoors, to exercise her body and mind and to explore -- physical and mental stimulation – and I need it, too, so a morning walk along the farm lane between orchard and woods leads us into the woods and eventually out again. Our country world is different every day, always with fresh wonders for me to see and for her to smell. Here is the sequence of one morning's walk, beginning with elderberry blossoming by the edge of the woods.

Into the woods --

-- and out the other end.

Next week I’ll begin at last to move toward a re-opening of my bookstore, with my goal to accomplish that re-opening before Memorial Day, fast approaching. Oh, why does the merry month of May have to speed by so relentlessly? Already the short-lived pointillist phase of the trees’ greening is past....

As was the case in my last post, when bedtime rolls around I am still taking up what to me are comfort books, the literary equivalent of comfort food. Most recently my choice was Harlan Hubbard’s Payne Hollow, his reflections on the life he and Anna made on the bank of the Ohio River after the years of drifting on their shantyboat down the Ohio and the Mississippi to Louisiana. Harlan saw their shore life as an extension and continuation of their shantyboat existence: 


…[W]e still regard ourselves as shantyboaters even though our home is a house on shore instead of a boat….


In the passage above, he is comparing his life with Anna to that lived by another shantyboater in the neighborhood, the last real “riverman” in the neighborhood, and he concludes that he and Anna “are closer to the river than Bill ever was,” because they chose the life rather than having been born into it. I pause there and want to say to Harlan that it doesn’t have to be a contest, that there are different ways to love and live in a place. Of course, he is gone now, and argument is beside the point, anyway, because he and Anna made a beautiful life together. 


On many days the work continues as long as the light lasts. On this summer evening, however, I am at rest, having done all the work that this day required, and some for which no demand is ever made. Withdrawal from all activity and a thoughtful looking about round out a day, as they do a life, in a manner which harmonizes with the sunset.


What was that work “for which no demand is ever made”? For me, it is gardening, work not imposed on me by life but which feeds my soul. Harlan gardened as I do, the quiet way, without power tools, and in winter he cut wood with hand tools, in no hurry, just enjoying the work. He also, however, made paintings and wrote books.


People are always curious about others’ ways of supporting a country life financially. I have my bookstore. Harlan and Anna had income (“passive income,” I’ve just learned that it’s called) from the rental of his late mother’s house. Harlan built the stone fireplace in that Kentucky house, and over the fireplace today hangs a David Grath painting. With all he and Harlan had in common, David was so happy about that!

Harlan & Anna's houseboat on the Ohio River, painted by HH

We all pay our rent in the universe differently. It makes me happy to think that the Artist was able to do so with work that fed his soul and that we were blessed to have so many years of life together.

David Grath's houseboat & rowing skiff, Leland River, Leland

Friday, May 12, 2023

Recovery, Phase 2: Nesting

This is what I came home to.

No, you didn’t miss Phase 1. I was too exhausted to see straight during Phase 1, much less write a blog post, having driven twelve hours on Saturday to arrive home after dark and collapse in a heap. Luckily for me, a good friend who used to teach school in Baltimore and come home to Leelanau for the summer, remembering how she felt after all her twice-annual packing and driving, invited me to dinner the next two evenings. Thanks to Susan, on my third morning home I felt nearly human again. 

The first, pointillist green flush in the woods. I wish there were a pause button for this moment.

Unpacking car and bags and boxes, putting things away, clearing clutter left last November, and beginning – only beginning, so far – to deal with sawdust in living room and porch (thanks to a big and very welcome project that took place, surprisingly, in my absence), I find that deciding what to do first, then what to do next, is about all that occupies my mind right now. I'm cleaning up my nest for the season ahead. But with weather as beautiful as it has been the last couple of days, indoor tasks get pushed to the back burner while I work outdoors, pruning berry canes and picking up branches, spreading compost and mowing grass, all tasks Sunny Juliet considers nothing but interruptions in our real northern Michigan country life, which in her mind is chasing tennis balls! 

"Get with the program, Mom!"

Errands, too, of course: banking, paying bills and taxes, updating car and dog licenses, laying in groceries and other supplies, and on and on and on – all part of settling into our little home nest again, Sunny and the momma.

 The whole Leelanau world is blooming and nesting, it seems. And as always, the month of May is speeding by way too fast.

What with everything that taking leave of Arizona entailed, then the drive of over 2,000 miles, and now the work of re-entry, come sunset I’m looking for bedtime reading that prepares me for sleep by silencing the ever-growing to-do lists in my head. (Challenging ideas and deep thinking can wait.) Currently I’m alternating a re-reading of Adele Crockett Robertson’s The Orchard with Anne Tyler’s French Braid: a couple chapters of Robertson’s story first, about trying to keep her family farm in business -- and thus in the family -- during the Depression years, then as much of Tyler novel as I can absorb before Morpheus claims me. 

One more note on my cross-country trip, solo except for canine copilot, and on my life in general. I am not “brave.” Soldiers and support staff and journalists going into war zones are brave. Hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail could qualify. Going to law school. Donating a kidney -- which means you leave yourself without a spare. It takes courage to make such choices and face the uncertain outcomes. All I’m doing is putting one foot in front of the other, doing each day as much as possible of what needs to be done. The unexpected occurs, one deals with it. It’s just life. 

The second time we married each other, we both cried with joy.

What I notice, though, going into my second year alone, is that life for me has flattened out considerably. Morning birdsong makes me smile, as does my dear little dog, but nothing gives me the piercing joy that so many moments brought in my life with the Artist. On the other hand, panic and despair have become more or less distant abstractions rather than, as far too often in years past, my immediate response to difficult situations. Is this good or bad? Or, as I always say of life in general, just another double-edged sword? Call it what you will, it seems to be where I am now, and there are worse places to be. 

Loving family and friends, a constant canine companion, beautiful northern Michigan spring – I can deal with these days, full as they are with hard work. 

Always nearby.

But I miss my love. In our years together, we often spent time apart. When we lived in Kalamazoo, I would stay behind to work while he went north as often as possible. Our early winters in Leland, he drove to Florida and I stayed home to write. But he always came back. So it isn't being alone, working alone, that is so dreadful -- though when we were together, working or playing together, that was always the best. The awful part now is knowing that he isn't coming back. And still not quite being able to believe it.

"Forget me not."

I never will.

Friday, May 5, 2023

An Adventure I Didn’t Need

Adios, las Dos!


The car was packed, dog exercised, and the fact that the U.S. road atlas had gotten buried beneath all that great packing didn’t upset me much because my planned route would be a familiar one, a trip the Artist and I had taken more than once, one Sunny Juliet had done last spring, and our first planned overnight stop in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, a town the Artist and I stayed in many times. (Sunny and I had been there last year on the very same date, May 1.) There was a little glitch when my credit card was declined in Santa Rosa – for absolutely no reason -- but after I paid cash for a room and made a call to straighten out the problem, the card was “re-set” so it would work again. 

Santa Rosa sunset

I used the card in the morning (at the pump) to fill up with gas, and we were on our way again.


Route 54 is the same as I-40 between Santa Rosa and Tucumcari, but at Tucumcari I got off the “superslab” (there’s a long David Grath story associated with that term, a story for another time) for my smaller road. Somehow, though, not taking the Business 54 direction, I found myself on old Route 66, following along beside the superslab. Well, okay. While not my intention, I remembered being on I-40 and looking over with longing to the old Mother Road. Now, here I was! Serendipity.

Click to enlarge for full effect.

Shoes on fenceposts

Tuesday's flower of the day

Old Route 66. Two-lane road. Right down in the landscape, not on a conveyor belt keeping me at arm’s length. So I was happy. Free to stop, to pull off the road, and photograph interesting sights, such as what I called my “sign of the day,” three different kinds wildflower, and a fence with every post topped by a shoe. Don’t ask me what was with the shoes, but I chose the Indian blanket as my “flower of the day,” so perfectly New Mexico, even as I remembered from the previous day all the beautiful blooming prickly poppies, or “fried eggs,” as the cowboys call them, along the road on the Alamogordo side of the San Augustin Pass.

San Jon probably doesn't have many tourists.

Arriving at little San Jon, New Mexico, I took what at first I thought might be a new two-lane north, only to realize quickly, from familiar scenes, that the Artist and I had traveled that road before. We’d been on I-40 and gotten off in search of a gas station, then taken 469 north to Logan. Maybe I’d even photographed this intriguing abandoned ranch house before, but don't you think it was worth stopping for again? 

Again, click to enlarge for full effect.

Logan, New Mexico, presented another irresistible photo opportunity -- and this isn't the last you'll hear of Logan, either. 

Wouldn't you have stopped for this shot?

Then, Nara Vista, the last named town before the Texas state line, emptied out by changes long ago, but with some lovely old buildings, albeit abandoned and ruined. Besides the attraction of the ruins, I remembered vividly the drive east in 2020, the plague year, when the Artist and I stopped in an empty parking lot in Nara Vista to walk our Sarah. When I presented the Artist with a plastic cup of “fruit cocktail,” the ubiquitous 1950s accompaniment to cottage cheese, he was delighted to have something other than jerky and granola bars and congratulated my “brilliance.” So Nara Vista, sad though the place would be to the eyes of almost anyone else passing through, holds a happy memory for me, invisible to the rest of the world. I’d been lazily snapping away with my phone camera but got out the real camera for a couple of long shots.

(Formerly) Ira's, #1

Ira's, #2

Ira's, #3

Most of Nara Vista looks like this.


Across the road


Next, Texas panhandle, Oklahoma panhandle – and I barreled through those two states nonstop, aiming for Liberal, Kansas, another place the Artist and I had stayed many a night, enjoying dinner at the Cattleman’s Café. Gas prices were pleasingly low in Kansas, and I was ready to gas up again.


Photo taken for a Kansan friend transplanted to Arizonan.

That’s when terror struck! My billfold was not in my purse! I’d used it in Santa Rosa but not since. Now what?


Did I drop it at the gas station in Santa Rosa? Found their phone number on the receipt and called. No, no one had turned in any lost items that day. At the rest area on the staked plains? No luck on that possibility, either, when I called the New Mexico State Police. No, no personal items turned in at all so far that day, other than a gun. (Really! Someone lost a gun? Not me!) What to do?  This unexpected challenge was not at all the kind of adventure I’d been looking for on this trip.

Pajarito rest area in eastern New Mexico


The problem was that I’d developed the habit of sliding the billfold into my left front jeans pocket occasionally, rather than putting it in my purse. Easier to grab that way. But the jeans pockets weren’t all that deep, and it could have fallen out – almost anywhere!!! I’d been in and out of the car, photographing (as you've seen) all manner of random, rural sights. 


The most important items in the lost billfold from a practical point of view were my credit card and my driver’s license, but there was also a scrap of paper with the Artist’s last written words on it. Illegible those words had been to me at first, but I’d finally deciphered them and did not want to lose that precious note. 


And yet, I had to be practical -- thus my Tuesday thanks list:


➡️ Thanks to the UPS driver I flagged down there in Liberal, who helped me find the police station. Note: Washington Street in Liberal has two discontinuous stretches, and there is a 325 on both pieces of the street. 


➡️ Thanks to the dispatch officer at the police station, who told me I should cancel my credit card and explain the situation of the lost driver’s license, should I get stopped on the road for any reason, and then file a report from my home back in Michigan upon arrival. 


➡️ Big thanks to the pleasant, very helpful young woman at the visitors center, who did not have any Kansas state maps but printed one out for me from her computer. I knew I wanted an east-west road to a certain town but didn’t remember either the number of the road or the name of the town. U.S. 160 to Winfield. Good!


Two hours were “lost” there in Liberal, but back on the road again I felt pretty calm. With cash from an ATM in Willcox, AZ, on my way out of town, I was confident I could make it to Illinois, where I’d write my sister a check and get more cash for the remainder of the trip. I also had dried mango slices, Kind bars, beef jerky, and rice cakes for that night's dinner, along with foil packets of chicken for Sunny Juliet, plus the last of the rice and green beans from our cooler to mix with her chicken. 


So we spent the night in Winfield, Kansas, in the same friendly motel we had stayed in the year before. No time this trip for the dog park, though. We arrived too late in the evening (after sunset) and left too early in the morning. But my dog girl is a seasoned traveler now. Last year, less than five months old, she wanted to play in the evening when we arrived at a motel, when all the momma wanted to do was crash. This year she seemed to understand and settled right down. 

Sunny settles down.

Day 3 got us to my sister’s in Springfield, Illinois, after a 600-mile drive (maybe my longest driving day ever), and I slept all night, not waking once. Exhausted.


Oh, but on the way through Missouri (determined not to spend a night in that state), I had stopped again for gas in Wheatland, across the road from a little motel where the Artist and I had stayed once with Sarah. Maybe we stayed there once with Peasy, too? Wheatland is the home of the Lucas Oil Speedway (the Artist swore by Lucas products), as well as the Lucas Bull Ranch, and the Sinclair station sells much more than gas. They have seed & feed, baby chicks, nursery plants, groceries (including fresh produce), and of course anything you might need for a car or a truck. There’s a café attached, where the Artist once bought us a fried chicken dinner.

Why, other than general reminiscing, do I mention all this? Because since my New Mexico loss, I was traveling only with cash, remember. And when I went inside to prepay, I told the woman behind the counter that I wasn’t sure how much the tank would take -- I knew it would take twenty, but would it take twenty-five? -- and she said, “Why don’t you just go out and fill up and then come in and pay?” “I can do that?” “Sure.” Stranger in a strange place, and I was not made to prepay! When I went back inside to hand her a $100 bill for my $23+change purchase, I mentioned having lost my billfold back in New Mexico and not realizing it until Kansas, and she commiserated, saying how much trouble it could be to lose credit cards. I shrugged then and told her, “My husband died a year ago, and other problems that come along now --.” She interrupted to say, “I know what you mean. I lost my husband this past October, and everything else is ‘small stuff.’” “You go on, but nothing is the same, is it?” “Certainly is not.” Loss of a credit card made for kind of an “adventure” I would not have chosen, forcing me to rise to an occasion imposed on me and to improvise, but that was peanuts compared to losing the love of my life. A stranger and I had that in common.


How many strangers heard the story of my lost billfold? And yet, I didn’t share it with friends or family before arriving in Springfield. Why worry them needlessly? Once in Springfield, I wrote my sister a check, which she deposited in her bank the next day, handing me cash I knew would be sufficient for the rest of my trip back to northern Michigan. We went to the dog park. Sunny was the only dog there, but we exercised her pretty thoroughly with tennis balls, a Frisbee, and agility stations provided. After that it was on to the doggie wash to rid her of months of desert dust! 

Sister Deborah helping with Sunny Juliet's bath. Easier with two!

-- And now, another unexpected development --


I was relaxing with maps and snacks, not fretting, when a call came on my cell phone. Traverse City. Not a number I recognized. Didn’t pick up. A few minutes later another call from the same number, so I answered. It was my credit union. They’d had a call from the sheriff’s office in Logan, New Mexico! My billfold had been found and turned in! I should call and tell them where to send it. Hallelujah! 


What can I say? Is there a moral to this story? Not panicking, I guess. You just do what needs to be done, what you can do, and hope for the best. Do I wish I’d stayed on expressway and not taken the road less traveled? No way! Credit cards can be replaced. A driver’s license can be replaced. My memories, though, and the familiar scenes that evoke them are irreplaceable. And how many pleasant, friendly, sympathetic, helpful people I met along the way!


Occasionally the Artist called on a phrase to describe this or that person whom he failed to find congenial: “He knows the price of everything and the value of nothing." Maybe that’s the moral of my story, the difference between price and value, between the replaceable and the irreplaceable.  

Random Illinois squirrel, just to break up the wordy stuff.

Officer Slate from Logan told me, when I asked, that whoever found and brought my billfold to the sheriff's office hadn't left their name, so I have no way to write and thank them. "There are still honest people in the world," he commented. Since I couldn't thank the finder, I offered profuse thanks to the woman at my credit union and the policeman in Logan, the people on the phone who made my day.

Another moral? It isn't only bad things that happen unexpectedly. Good things happen, too. An even better happening was a three-sisters get-together, but we all agreed the pictures taken would not be made public. We were not looking our best but were happy to be together.

So expect good things to happen, I say. Because they do. And HUGE thanks to the anonymous stranger who found my billfold and took it to the sheriff's office in Logan, New Mexico -- and to people everywhere who do kind things for strangers every day! You make the world of other people a welcoming place for us all to live.

This girl is sometimes naughty, but always pretty, especially after a bath.