Monday, July 26, 2010

Two Strangers Having A Laugh

Living in Sandpoint, Idaho has it upsides - beautiful views, sparkling water, sailing, fishing, and skiing. And it downsides - it’s 6 hours to Seattle, 8 hours to Portland, the closest cities with Trader Joe’s stores.

Consequently, when any of our friends make those trips, we all send along a list for cheese, crackers, wine, nuts, and other favorite TJ’s items. It also means we have a couple of the reusable Trader Joe’s bags around and in use all the time. (We’re trying to do our part to keep the plastic bags out of the landfill, the ditches, the lake, and the trees).

Yesterday, I rode my bike over to the Sandpoint Safeway store for some sandwich fixin's, a couple of apples and a cold six pack to take to my play rehearsal (my turn to provide the liquid creativity).

I put it all in my reusable, Trader Joe's, multi-colored bag and was pedaling down the avenue, trying to keep my balance with about 10 lbs of stuff hanging off my left wrist. (I crashed once with a gallon of milk under the same circumstances, but that's another story for another time).

At a stop sign, a guy in a Mercedes pulls up by my left handlebar. The passenger window hisses down and he says, across the passenger seat, "hey, where's the nearest Trader Joe's?" (tourist).

I said, "Seattle … and it was a bleeding long ride."

A beat …

Then the guy absolutely cracked up. Put his car in neutral and laughed. Says, "they still got 2 buck Chuck?" (TJ's signature cheap wine).

"Yeah, but it's just Chuck now, ‘cause it doesn't cost 2 bucks any more."

"Yeah, well what does?" He was laughing as he pulled away. And so was I.

That was fun.

Two strangers having a laugh.

There's pretty good stuff everywhere really, and it doesn’t cost much either.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Soggy Season Ignites Ideas

This has been a long spring. The rain started in March and stopped less than 2 weeks ago. All the outdoor work I usually have done by Memorial Day is getting done now … and there is a lot of it. Every spare minute I’m out there power washing decks, pulling weeds, mulching, touching up paint, mowing, trimming trees … well, you get the idea. I usually look forward to this work, but that is when it’s spread over a couple months.

Henry Wallace, Secretary of Ag and the US Vice President a long time ago, once said, “gardeners never die, they have to live to see what comes up in the spring.” That’s me. Every spring I’m out scouting the gardens waiting for the fresh new growth to greet me. This year, I squiged my way out to the gardens, stood there in the pouring rain, and nothing looked back!

So this got me thinking about how I spend my time, and that lead to an idea. Now, whenever I say to Tim, “I’ve had a thought,” he gets that oh-no-what-is-it-this-time look. So, I smiled sweetly and said, “I think we should sell the house, buy a bus, outfit it like a smallish … okay real tiny home, and hit the road. Write and play music, meet people, see the country.” During the split second while his jaw was dropped and words couldn’t form, I jumped back in. “We spend every spare minute working on the house. That’s hardly a dream, American or otherwise.”

“What about your airjet baths,” he asked. “What about your Viking kitchen?” Well yes, I MAY be attached to those particular luxuries. But he didn’t out-and-out say no.

This week I have sent Tim several e-mails, most of them referenced a Flower Power bus in his future, or the Partridge Family. He’s half-heartedly humoring me, pretending to go along, but afraid I’m serious. “Just what I need, to become a hippie at 56,” he said. I could think of worse things you could become at 56.

So all this leaves me with a few questions: Can I walk away from my home and my life as I know it in pursuit of simplification? If I simplify, will I spend more time on the “fun” stuff or fill the void with some new tasks? How do two people pursue their vastly different dreams when one of those dreams is to also be together? Looks like I’ve got a little more thinking to do.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Offering and Accepting

I have a good friend, Dee, who called her neighbor, Rae, who is getting married in a few weeks.

Dee called to offer the use of her stunning home as a place to host wedding guests. (Rae’s wedding is in her yard and it is way off the beaten path).

Seems Dee was going to be out of town during the wedding and thought Rae might just need some extra rooms and possibly refrigerator space after the party. Her house will just be sitting there. And it’s so close to the Wedding.

Dee left a message on Rae’s machine a couple of times. “Hey give me a call when you have a chance.”

Rae called back about a week later. She had put off calling because she was apprehensive that the call might be about some difficulties that had come up with some new members of the neighborhood. (Just what Rae needed on top of all the wedding plans).

When Dee made the offer of her home for Rae’s use, Rae was overwhelmed.

“My fiancĂ©e’s best friend from college just called and wants to come. We were so excited, but we had no idea where we would put them. I was afraid they weren’t going to make it if we didn’t find a place for them to stay,” said Rae. “It’s like this miracle just dropped out of the sky. This is just perfect.”

A big smile on each end of the phone.

Offering and accepting.

A perfect gift for both.

When we allow someone to give to us, often that provides the giver something vitally important toward being the kind of person they want to be.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Listening, Giving, and a Hummingbird's Nest

Dawnya and I participate in Couch Surfing. You may know about it. It's worldwide. Basically, we go stay with strangers and they come and stay with us. During the day or two you spend together, you've shared meals, swapped stories, and usually you end up with new friends or at least having learned something new.

We had a new friend from Wisconsin stay with us last weekend. Turns out she has a 15 year-old son who is enrolled in one of the wilderness schools near here. His particular struggles and risky behaviors (along with the usual teen difficulties) have consumed her life and everyone around him. So, she and her husband mortgaged everything in an effort to get him in a place where he cannot harm himself, can learn some more positive behaviors, and so they can get their lives back.

We didn't know this when we accepted her request to "surf" at our home. She needed to let a lot of stuff out, to vent, to know her thoughts and feelings are OK, that she's OK. As we listened, it was uncanny how her 15 year-old sounds so much like our son. And we just happened to have gone through a lot of the same things, the same questioning. We sat up late around our fire ring, looking at the full moon, and mostly listening.

Before we all turned in, she said, "I feel better right now than I have in about 5 years. You guys are so inspiring." That's sweeter than "good night, sleep tight", wouldn't you say?

The next day, she and I hiked for about 3 hours around the creek near our house. We stopped for a drink by a small stream. She looked up and saw something I had been looking to find for 40 years. There it was, about 7 feet off the ground, with a grey-green mother sitting on her eggs, being transparent.

I don't know why I've always wanted to find a hummingbird's nest, but it’s been a major thing on my bucket list. I haven't had much luck tailing them. They're getting faster every year. I never would have seen that golf ball-sized miracle without our new friend from Wisconsin.

I was reminded that when you give without any expectation of a payback, something will come to you that you can't see coming or put a value on.