No Longer a Gun Virgin

On the last day of school/work before Christmas break, I was already so happy, my need for break was not as big as usual. I had just spent a week with a single friend who had been recovering from surgery and I got to help her out in some minor ways like walking her dog and getting meals together, etc. Mostly we just had fun being together and I was thrilled to be able to be in a helping capacity since, as a single person, I know how hard it is to ask for and to accept help from others.

When I told my building Principal my busy two-week break itinerary, she asked if I had a AAA card, then she said, That’s all you need. I repeated That’s all I need…and this cell phone. (Who remembers Steve Martin in The Jerk?)

So, I hit the road on Saturday morning once again feeling free as a bird on a windy day and heading northeast to Angola. About one week before, I had had a brief conversation about guns with a gun-loving friend and I had mentioned that I had never fired a gun. Many would call me anti-gun, but I am really anti-killing-with-guns. I have been a vegetarian for 40 years because I don’t believe we have to kill animals to survive. I hate the gun violence in our country, etc. You get the idea. At the time of that conversation I fully expected that I would never fire a gun in my lifetime.

So as I was standing in the kitchen talking to my sister-in-law shortly after arrival on Saturday afternoon and when Brother Tom burst in the back door and told me to put my coat on, I instantly obeyed.  He told me that we had something to do together.

If you recall from an earlier post, Tom lives out in the country on 40 acres of heaven. I put on some country-stomping boots and we took off in his candy-apple red truck with three types of guns that he said we were going to shoot together.

So, how quickly did I change my mind from not wanting to ever fire a gun to deciding to fire three guns with my brother? In the second my brother told me what he wanted me to do was the second I decided I would do it. I am in a phase of experiencing new things and I am not about to turn anything down that is not going to hurt anyone.  So here we go!

tom and gunWe drove down to the back part of the property where he has his targets. On the way down, he explained why he had wanted this particular Henry 357 Magnum rifle made from walnut wood and brass. Brother Tom had just received this beautiful gun as his retirement gift from his chiropractic practice. He hadn’t even shot it yet, so I felt honored that I was going to be the second person to shoot it.

He shot it three times hitting the mark each time. Tom was clearly excited at the quality of his new gun and the overall feel. His happiness was palpable.

jyoti and rifleThen it was time for my instructions. I think Tom wanted me not to break any bones. I didn’t either. He explained how to hold it on my shoulder, I pulled back the hammer. I aimed the best I could, although a bit skakily. The time had come. The rubber had met the road. I was going to fire a gun.

Ka BOOM!  I screamed!  I missed the target but Tom said I was close all three times. My hand is not the steadiest nowadays, so I wasn’t surprised that I didn’t hit the target. (This smiling picture is clearly not the moment I fired.  HA!)

jyoti handgunI next shot a Colt .45 double wide and a .22 was the third and last gun I shot that day. I screamed at the kick and loudness of the Colt .45. Tom said that I also dropped my bottom, left hand. I shot each gun three times…nine total.  I wonder if that will be my lifetime total.

After spending the rest of the weekend celebrating an early Christmas with all of Brother Tom’s children and grandchildren, I headed to Brother Mike’s also-heavenly farm in Logansport–two hours away. If you recall Mike is the storyteller of the family, so I spent much of a day sitting at his kitchen table hearing stories about 10,000 things.

When I told Mike about the firing of Tom’s guns, I of course had to learn about the mathematics of guns–why a .22 is a .22 and a .45 is a .45.  Most of you may know that, but I didn’t.  He also showed me a fired civil war bullet, among other relics.  (P.S. Mike did get his other barn door built and put up before winter!)

So this morning, I hit the road again!  I am tonight back in Indianapolis where I will see people who are traveling in from St. Louis, NYC, and Los Angeles as I dine with neighbors and good friends from my old neighborhood. After literally sleeping on a couch tonight, tomorrow I will lunch with Brother Pat who is in from Alabama, then I travel east to Sister Julie’s house in Ohio!  I may even be able to fit in a visit with my niece from Michigan as I pass through her Indiana hometown.

I’m jamming it in! I will have visited with four siblings, and many friends from seven states in five days!  HAHA!  See what we meant by all I needed was my AAA card and cell phone? Some of these arrangements were just made today!

See you on the road!

The Future’s Never Coming and the Past has Never Been

Today is my birthday. 65th. Not sure how life passes so quickly. It just does. 65 cycles, 65 full rotations. You young folks hear us all say it: We don’t feel old—until we look in the mirror.  HAHA. No celebration is planned; life is low-key. I have a Skype date tonight with my two daughters and my one-year-old granddaughter who all live in Oakland, California.

Marigold backWhen this darling toddler sees me on the screen she kisses me and I can feel the love. (I completely ignore the fact that she kisses her stuffed animals as well!) She doesn’t really know how far away I am. In her short lifetime she has seen more of me on the phone or a computer screen than me in person. She doesn’t even know that her existence is a mighty force that pulls me west.  My granddaughter doesn’t know that she looks like her Mother and her Grandmother when we were young. She doesn’t know she will grow up in an urban setting of great diversity unlike anything I ever knew as a child. She doesn’t know what an awesome future awaits. She indeed is living in an Innocent Age: her life involves only today.  And in reality, that’s all any of us ever have. Today.

fogelberginnocentThe lines of life are never long
When seen from end to end
‘Cause the future’s never coming
And the past has never been.

Dan Fogelberg

I’ve been at Poppy’s house since November 4, except for the one wonderful week that I spent with Crusty in Broad Ripple over Thanksgiving.  If you recall our story from my earlier post, Poppy and I have lived somewhat parallel lives.  But let’s all remember that even though I am friends with the people I move in with, I have never LIVED with them before. So, we never really know how compatible we will be as housemates.

As it turns out, living with Poppy has been as easy as putting on an old pair of jeans.  We cooked and ate meals together, we built fires when we were chilly, we watched the Colts win and lose, we raked leaves and cleaned out gutters.  Clearly I fulfilled with Poppy #4 of my original goals for embarking on this adventure.

But one magical day came last weekend when we decorated the Christmas tree on December 6th, her daughter, Morgana’s, 31st birthday. We put up and decorated the tree because Morgana is coming home from California for the holidays.

I went through Poppy’s albums looking for Christmas music and found instead that our music collections (mine is now gone, of course—daughter and her hubby took many of my classics and I gave the rest away) contain the same musical selections!  Besides the aforementioned strong women singers mentioned in my previous post, we were both surprised to know that we knew all the words to the whole album Last Train to Hicksville by Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks! Who knew?!

dove of peaceWe both have always agreed that Dan Fogelberg was the best poet/songwriter of our times and we listened to and sang along to the songs on both albums in the set Innocent Age as Poppy told me family stories that accompanied the ornaments that I unwrapped and she hung on the tree. We discovered that we both have the very same Dove of Peace that we put at the top of our trees. (I suppose I should say ‘used to put’ since mine is now gone with the rest of my Christmas ornaments.)

peppyAt one point, the lights inexplicably went out on the Christmas tree. We ignored them, hoping they would magically just come back on. Minutes later, as she took out one ornament, Poppy shared with me that one morning years before, she woke up to these Fogelberg lyrics in her head: Death is there to keep us honest and constantly remind us we are free. Then in her story, her phone had rung, the person on the other end telling her that her father had died. The exact second that she told me that, the Christmas tree lights came back on (we weren’t near the tree), never to go off again. She looked up, said “Thanks, Dad!” and we kept decorating.

We never did get to any Christmas music. The depth of Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics were not to be trivialized with seasonal songs.

Staying with Poppy, I have relived some of my past, embraced my present, and feel rested (like I have been home) and ready to jettison into my future. (I mean…I unpacked and had my stuff in a closet and drawers!!). I move today to another friend’s house to help her out after surgery that she had this week. I feel so fortunate to be able to have the time and freedom to do so.

And as Robert Frost said Freedom lies in being bold.  I hope to boldly move forward letting go of yesterday’s pathways, forging some new ones where possible.

Time stills the singing
A child holds so dear
And I’m just beginning to hear
Gone are the pathways
The child followed home
Gone, like the sand and the foam.

Dan Fogelberg

The Morning the Sun Rose in the West

sunrise1I got out of the shower and saw the orange brightness of the sunrise through the trees.  It started small and got a bit bigger and brighter in the few minutes that I dried off.  Then it hit me: This second-floor bathroom window faces west!  In the next few minutes, I was trying to figure out if I was in the Twilight Zone or not.  I methodically mulled over the direction of the house where I was staying—back, front, north, south—and swiftly came to the conclusion that if all else that I knew to be true was indeed true, the sun appeared to be coming up from the west.  I didn’t know what to think or do next, so I kept getting ready for work.

When I moved to the other end of the large bathroom and looked out the window from a slightly different view between the trees, I then clearly saw that there were a couple of tall downtown buildings about a mile away that was reflecting the rising sun IN THE EAST!

Don’t judge me. I’ve lived in quite a few houses in the last four months.  I’ve had some moments—only a few—of disorientation.   I always know where I am when I wake up; only one morning I awoke and expected to see the nightstand and lamp from my old house. I missed a haircut appointment, which I NEVER do. I remembered it in the morning, remembered it in the afternoon and left work only thinking of returning to ‘my home’ in Geist. I lost my glasses somewhere in one house where I stayed. I was so glad that I had a spare pair—but I didn’t know where they were and couldn’t find them. They certainly aren’t in the containers in the car where I expected them to be. I was then homeless AND glassesless. Fortunately my regular glasses were found under a couch a few days after I left.

And, yes, I obviously know that the sun rises in the east.  But what would you think if you actually SAW it rising from the west?  You’d probably do exactly what I did.  You’d keep getting ready to go to work.

For Thanksgiving, I Decided on Indian Food and Other Random Thoughts

rusty1I’m staying in one of the most popular sections of Indianapolis—Broad Ripple. ‘My’ condo is right on the Monon Trail, and when I say I am right on the trail I mean I get to watch the ‘traffic’ go by out of the front window. It’s an interesting cultural study to observe the runners and walkers and dog walkers and baby walkers and bikers. It is where I walk this cutie patootie named Crusty (name changed to protect his identity as usual) at least three times every day.

This location is FAB-U-LOUS!! One or two blocks to any kind of restaurant you’d want to eat at (or order take out). Little local grocery store? One block. Starbucks? 2 blocks. I’m not a drinker, but there are bars and brewpubs in big numbers. I signed up for the Drumstick Dash, the Thanksgiving morning race. The start of the race? 2 short blocks. The finish? 2 short blocks. I’m really excited; the weather is supposed to be beautiful tomorrow.

monon trailYesterday, as I was walking on the Monon with Crusty, I was imagining the trail when it was a railroad. I imagined women in a passenger car with huge, long dresses and coats to ward away the autumn cold. Their hats would be huge as they looked out the windows traveling to the big city—Indianapolis. I thought about how exciting it must have been to be coming to “the city.”

And then I wondered— how on earth did women PACK for trips back then? I mean…one outfit wouldn’t even fit in one suitcase!! I have at least one friend who would have loved living in that era. Not me. If I could live out of my backpack and have only two outfits to my name, I would love it. Hmmmm. That’s funny. I guess I’m kinda doing that now. HAHAHA. Sometimes I crack myself up.

river front stageOn another Monon walk this week, I walked through the grounds of the Broad Ripple Art Center and visited the tiny, rustic River Front Stage where I took the girls to (free) live Blues concerts in the first few summers when we moved to Indianapolis. 5 & 6-year-old Sierra would dance her little heart out in front of the stage…which was also in front of the whole audience sitting on the lawn. She danced with absolute abandon and a complete lack of inhibition, coming up with every wild move her little body and mind could concoct. I stood at the exact spot she used to dance and I might have shed a few tears. If only we all could stay as uninhibited as adults, life would be so amazing.

I had two things to get at Trader Joe’s today and as I drove into the parking lot, I thought “this is stupid…going into a grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.” Yet there was a parking spot right in the front. And there they were!! The holiday evergreen swags that I buy every year for my front door. I was excited to be able to get one early! Wait for it…one second…two seconds…three seconds…oh, that’s right. I don’t have a front door any more. Sigh.

I picked up take-out Indian food (way better than that Pilgrim food any day–HA) and after the Drumstick Dash tomorrow morning, Crusty and I are going to nestle in for a day of Netflix bingeing and Palak Paneer. (Well, he gets to eat his regular doggie food. Sorry Dude.)

I can’t even begin to list all that I am thankful for, so I won’t even try. Life is great. Life is grand. Life is fluid. And that’s pretty exciting to me.

The Circle Game: Past Meet Present

Life can be softly circular sometimes. At other times it can be downright blatant. I’m going through a blatantly circular stage.

I unpacked a couple of my tubs last weekend. I have a sock and underwear drawer. My toiletries are in a drawer in the bathroom. I actually have some clothes hung up in a closet. I left my home on July 16th and for the first time in four months, I’ve settled in to a home for a smidgen of time. Why? I have only one pet-sitting gig (starting tonight for one week) during a 6-week period, so I took my friend Poppy up on her kind offer to move in with her for that period. Poppy has been a single mother/homeowner for as long as I have been and her place feels as close to home as is possible.

Poppy and I led parallel lives on so many fronts. We both came from large families. We lived in Boston at the same time in our lives. We lived in two coastal Maine towns that were right beside each other at the same time. We had our first daughters the same year. We woke our daughters up in the mornings by playing the same song (on a record) every single morning: Chelsea Morning by Joni Mitchell. Poppy was friends with a girl who grew up in the house that I just sold and played there often as a youngster. The list goes on and on. Poppy and I were introduced as adults about 15 years ago. We still enjoy discovering new parallel experiences. But here’s one of the best ones.

Our daughters enrolled in a drama class in an extremely large high school and when my daughter heard the life-story introductory speech of Poppy’s daughter, she went up to her at the end of class and told her that they were going to be best friends. And then they were. They now both live in California—at opposite ends of the state. The most fascinating part of their story is that their friendship started at about the same time as Poppy’s and mine, but the two pairs didn’t know that we were mothers and daughters. Our relationships each developed independently. Some things just seem meant to be.

Last night Poppy and I reminisced about when our girls were young and how much fun we had raising them and how miraculous it was that they found each other the same time she and I found each other. We remembered the fabulous music by Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Carol King and Bonnie Raitt and how those female artists all played central roles in the raising of our girls.

Sierra's dresser[This is my daughter’s dresser top today. Carly Simon, Carol King, Linda Ronstadt. The influence lives on.]

However, the lyrics of Joni Mitchell provided such a strong musical (and artistic?) foundation for all of us. It provided a perspective of the circular nature of life. And as I last night snuggled in the bed of my daughter’s best friend, feeling warm and welcome, Joni’s lyrics (that both families sang hundreds of times) come to my mind.

“Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when you’re older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.”

crazy dollP.S. I found this crazy woman doll on a bookshelf in my room last night. My daughters and I always called ourselves the Wild and Wacky Weaver Women. I know that Poppy and her daughter lived on the crazy side of life as well. As Joni says, “we can’t return, we can only look behind from where we came.” I think I got to glance backwards a bit tonight. And I also have to say, I really, really love this wacky doll. Past: please meet Present.

Let Me Be On the Street Where You Live

CinnamonI cried last night. Cinnamon cried too when I left her. Pets are unbelievably adaptable. Of course, they always desperately miss their owners, but they learn very quickly that when they have a new caretaker, you are the one who feeds them and plays fetch and takes them for walks. So of course, they enjoy your presence. You can’t tell them that their Mom and Dad are coming back. You just have to make them happy while you are with them.

So last night while I was packing up my tubs of clothes, I let Cinnamon hang out in the back yard, coming in and out as I came in and out, packing up the car. She sensed what was going on and got quieter. I could tell she was worried.

The house where I stayed was located close to the Blind School which plays full songs with their chimes every hour on the hour. For the 10 days that I stayed with her, as often as we could, Cinnamon and I would hang out in the back yard to hear the hourly song. It was a particularly sweet and special experience for me. I’ve always loved chimes (although I didn’t keep my own Grandfather clock wound up…go figure). So at 6pm, we got to listen to My Favorite Things. I’ve always loved that song and considered it apropos to my current life, since I had to spend so much time sifting through my accumulated stuff to end up with only my very favorite things. I thought of some of the things I had to give up and some of my few favorite things I’ve saved for when I have my own home again.

Then at 7pm, we heard Moon River. “Two drifters, off to see the world; there’s such a lot of world to see….” I loved seeing the wider world as a Pan Am flight attendant and now I am LOVING seeing the more micro worlds of different peoples’ lives through living in their homes and living with their pets. Cinnamon and I then went for our last walk together. When we got back, she hid under the kitchen table, which she had not once done in the whole time I stayed with her. She clearly knew that I was leaving her. We were both sad.

I was ready to go. I put her in her crate with her peanut butter-laced Kong, left the key on the kitchen table, locked the door and sat on the back patio to wait for the 8pm song of chimes. [Mom and Dad were arriving home at 9pm.] Sadly, before the chimes started, Cinnamon started crying inside which I hadn’t heard before. My heart broke. I cried too. Then an owl in a nearby tree hooted at us both…a harbinger of what? I wondered. And then the 8pm song started: Nat King Cole.

Cocoa

People stop and stare
They don’t bother me
For there’s no where else on earth
That I would rather be
Let the time go by
I won’t care if I
Can be here on the street where you live
Let me be on the street where you live

Cinnamon cried, I cried, the owl hooted, and chimes sang about wanting to be on the street where someone else lives. I got in my packed car and drove to my next home.

Terror on Halloween

Cinnamon and I were hiding out in the TV room, with the house dark, hoping to evade the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. I didn’t know if there were any or if there were hundreds of costumed munchkins and I didn’t particularly want extra candy hanging around because we all know that it would disappear and how it would disappear. While we waited out the onslaught, I decided to roast some eggplant for a dish that I will make tomorrow.

The back of this house backs up to a big berm of trees between the yard and the Monon Hiking/Biking Trail. Clearly the connection from the trail to the house has been disguised and discouraged, so no fears there. This neighborhood is a very normal, middle-class, large-tree-filled neighborhood—identical to the one I lived in. I am a trusting person in general and often leave doors unlocked when I am home. I mostly leave doors unlocked when I am home.

12191738_10153183618541200_1678265871964965910_nSo, long after the threat of the last trick-or-treater was gone, Cinnamon and I heard a huge CRASH that sounded to me like a metal door had just been forcibly smashed to the floor. Doggie went roaring out, barking like crazy and I just instinctively followed her. I didn’t plan anything, but in mind, I thought, well, this is it….something really bad is about to happen. I fully expected to confront a person in the house. I was beyond scared…to the point of calmly accepting whatever was going to happen next. It was a wildly eerie feeling.

I knew by the intensity of the sound that whoever/whatever made it, that I would be no match for whatever they/he/it had in mind. So I went to meet my fate with my protector dog barking ahead of me. [As I write this, it sounds rather stupid, but it’s what happened.] Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have fought or screamed or tried to prevent being hurt, but I knew I just had to go out and deal with it. I suppose hiding would have been an option, but that didn’t occur to me at that moment. My fate awaited. I went to meet it.

Locked front door was intact. Unlocked back door was intact. I locked it. We both walked around the whole house and tried to figure out what had happened. Nothing. Then BAM! I figured it out. The very thick metal cookie sheet upon which I was roasting the eggplant had bent/snapped like they sometimes do when they get very hot in the oven. Oh.My.God. It had been SO LOUD. That had to be it, though. No other explanation.

So, the ghosts and goblins (and Elsa’s and Anna’s) are hopefully all home, and I’m going to go cook some dinner. Will I leave the door unlocked again? Yup. I’ve never let scary things take away my desire to live a free life. And besides, I have Cinnamon (pseudonym used to protect her identity) to protect me.  We’ve both moved on already.

Work and Not Work

Tonight, as I was driving ‘home’ from work, I came to a quick realization: Home is wherever I am that isn’t at work. I realized that my life is divided into two categories on the physical plane: Work and Not Work. Work is finite: one school building. Not Work used to be finite for the last 26 years as I drove home to the same house. Not Work now happens to be different houses but that doesn’t seem to affect me at all. I always have a place to go, make dinner, sleep. All my basic needs are taken care of.

Pan Am MECome to think of it, for 14 years early on in my adult life Work was not a finite location when I was a flight attendant. I flew in different planes, stayed in different hotels, worked with different co-workers, ate different food, saw different surroundings. So, for now, I’ve just switched those life roles around. HA. I’ve not thought of that until this very minute. I just cracked myself up again. [I just added this picture, because, why not?]

I think one’s philosophies must be tested to see if they are truly ours or we are just spouting what we’ve heard elsewhere. I’ve never been comfortable calling the trees and plants at my house MY trees and MY flowers. In fact, the phrase MY house always seemed a bit weird to me. In the Hindi language, possession of something is a much more elusive concept. A phrase that describes an object being NEAR you is used as ownership because, really, what does owning something really mean? Things are today near us and then later they are not. I’ve come to accept that philosophy.

So. I often wondered how I would feel when I left MY house and MY gardens and trees…the place I raised my girls, the gardens I designed myself. Would my heart break? How would I really feel when I left it all?

I drove away and never looked back. The sense of possession really wasn’t there because none of it ever ‘belonged’ to me in the first place. It was a space that we inhabited for a while and I worked on making it a comfortable place for my family of three and now we’re not there. And now I am here. And next week, I’ll be over there. And the next week, I’ll be someplace else. And life is good. And I am happy. And I am VERY happy that I have a place to come ‘home’ to from Work. Because sometimes Work is very, very hard.

cocoa1P.S. And having this fellow, Cinnamon, to come home to every day is a real plus right now.

Officially Homeless

Person on the phone: May I please speak to Jyoti Rae?
Me: Speaking.
Person: This is the Social Security Department. Did you recently file for Medicare?
Me: Yes.
Person: We see that you put down a post office box number for your mailing address, but nothing for your residential address. We need your residential address.
Me: I don’t have one.
Person: Well, that address means where you are living. Where are you living?
Me: Different places. I have no permanent address at this time.
Person: Well….then….should we put you down as homeless?
Me: Yes, that would be technically accurate.
Person: Thank you very much. That’s all we need. Good luck to you!

ChanceP.S. The ball of fluff in this picture is a very relaxed senior doggie that I have cared for this past week!

Unexpected Benefit of Having No Home

bonfireThe embers are still smoking from last night’s Fire in the Sky bonfire at the top of the hill on Brother Tom’s 40-acre farm. Last night’s party for his Kiwanis’s club was a raging success. Each guest brought a container of chili and all was thrown into a huge cauldron hanging over a fire for a shared Chili Extraordinaire. The massive bonfire capped off the evening and I had it all to myself late into the night with the full moon shining down on me.

chili2This morning as I sit in last night’s chair by the fire, sea planes and pontoon planes are a constant companion as they show off their planes at a Fly-In on Lake James. Adding to the cacophony of country sounds is the squawking of sand hill cranes. I’ve never heard them fly overhead even though my Indianapolis friends say they hear them all the time. I’ve seen several groups glide by this morning, their sound much like Canada geese but much more melodious.

Brother Tom and his wife press their own cider using their own apples. His wife hangs all the laundry to dry on the outdoor clothes lines. Visitors can drive 4-wheelers and/or snow mobiles up and down the labyrinth of trails. [Which I did on Saturday!] They can and freeze their own vegetables and fruits, make their own jams and jellies. Visiting their farm is always a treat and loads of fun.

September has been a fabulous month for this nomad. I had pet sitting gigs through the end of August and I only had one weekend gig in the whole month of September. At first I didn’t see the benefit of such a dry spell. Then it occurred to me—I could travel on the weekends! I’ve made the most of that unplanned discovery, while staying with friends during the week.

JulieI spent Labor Day weekend with my Sister Julie. Miraculously her family had no plans, so Julie, her husband, her high-schooler son and I canoed 8 miles on the Mad River in Ohio. On Sunday we hiked in Hocking Hills State Park and Monday Julie and I had time to do some weeding in her gardens and swimming in her pool. All such activities were usually not possible due to her two sons’ sports schedules, so spending a whole leisurely weekend with them was a real gift.

barn doorLast weekend, I visited with Brother Mike and his wife on his tree farm in Logansport—always a fascinating event. On this trip, I got to watch them and one of their four sons raise and attach a new barn door THAT HE MADE HIMSELF!! Despite having grown up on farms or at least in the country until I went to college, I had no idea that people could make their own barn doors. I watched him cut out the people-entrance door IN the barn door. Next he will make the second barn door (for the newly re-sided barn) and have it in place before winter.

tireThen he showed me the wagon THAT HE MADE!! When I rode on it for a family reunion hayride in June, I had no idea one can buy used tires and a used base and build the trailer bed on the top. Who knew?  I guess viable used tires are not always available because this was one of the tires on the wagon in June. Seriously. I always knew I came from a kooky family, but OMG.

brother mikeOn Sunday we took a wonderful car ride looking for bald eagles (no luck) and visited the Wabash and Erie Canal Museum in Delphi Indiana. At my request, we visited the confluence of two sets of different-directioned train tracks. Small and tiny Indiana towns always provide interesting stories for those with such an interest and Mike knows them all. Brother Mike collects antique tractors (GOBS of them), grows walnut trees, and lives in a completely renovated old farmhouse on a small hill up a tree-lined lane.  He is the story teller of the family and tells “whoppers” as did our grandfather August.

In the month of September I spent time with 3 siblings, 3 in-laws, 5 nephews/nieces, 4 great nephew/nieces. With each visit, I didn’t have to race home to complete household tasks which felt like such freedom. And “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” I feel like I have nothing left to lose. Only things to gain.