Thursday, April 25, 2013

A man and his fire

A lovely night.  All day campers arrived and the campground is almost full.  It is 11 PM.  Rick is in bed, and I am up late writing and watching Perry Mason.  From my window, I can see a fire at the second campsite over. 

An hour ago, the fire had died down and it seemed everyone had gone to bed.  Then it built up again, and I looked and saw one of the men, alone, sitting contemplatively before his fire.  A part of me wanted to join him, but as I watched, I knew this was his alone time.  Just a man, and the full moon and the quiet campground and his fire.  I even considered taking a picture of him in the reflected red light, but felt that too would be an intrusion on his privacy—he needed his private thoughts.

Later, his friend joined him.  Rick and I had walked by them earlier and they were chatty, told us the family is coming tomorrow. But tonight, this man had his time alone.  Needed time.  Time to just be and breathe and watch the fire. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 19th--What a Day in History!

Oklahoma City, Waco, the Revolutionary War.  What do they all have in common?  What do they have in common with me? 

They (and I) are all tied to April 19.  The Oklahoma City Bombing occurred on April 19, 1995, two years after and in retribution for the burning of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas on April 19, 1993.  And the first shot fired on Lexington Commons--the shot heard 'round the world--started the American Revolution on April 19, 1775.  And my birthday is April 19, 1957 (not that this is any kind of important date in history!).

Of course, today, we've seen the violent and futile pursuit of the sole remaining Boston Marathon bomber, after he killed a police officer and essentially held the entire city of Boston hostage.

Other events that happened on my birthday include:
  •  In 1587, under direction from Queen Elizabeth I of England, Sir Frances Drake sailed into Cadiz harbor in Spain and sank the Spanish fleet.
  • Captain James Cook, in his first round-the-world voyage, reached Australia on 19 April 1770.
  • April 19 was a significant date for Abraham Lincoln.  In 1861, he ordered the blockade of all Confederate ports, the same day that  secessionist mobs in Baltimore attacked Union troops. This event has come to be called the Baltimore riots and is considered the first bloodshed in the Civil War.
  • The first Boston Marathon was run in 1897.
  • In 1904, an enormous fire destroyed most of Toronto, Canada.
  • The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis occurred on April 19, the eve of Passover in 1943.
  • Charles Manson was sentenced to death in 1971 by Judge Charles H. Older. 
  • A 1993 fire in a psychiatric hospital in South Korea killed 40 people.
  • A truck bomb exploded at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168  people and injuring hundreds more.
  • In 2000, Air Philippines flight 541 crashed as it prepared to land in Davao International Airport, killing all 131 passengers and crew.  It was the deadliest air crash in Philippine history.
It is interesting to me that these kind of large-scale violent or disastrous events occur at this time of year.  April 19 usually finds the sun at 29 degrees of Aries.  The 29th degree of any sign is known as the anaretic degree. It is the last degree of the third decan (segments of ten degrees) of Aries.  Events that involve the victimization of people via propaganda (i.e. Nazism) and events that involve "valiant souls" coming to grips with "sordid conditions" (Revolutionary War, bombings, disasters) often occur during these last ten days of Aries.

Famous violent or disastrous events that have occurred in the final days of Aries include:
  • This year, both the Boston Marathon Bombings and the West, Texas explosion of a fertilizer plant.
  • Hitler's birthday (April 20).
  • Texas City Disaster:  a ship carrying fertilizer exploded, starting a chain reaction of explosions and fires on other ships and oil facilities, killing at least 581 people, including all but one member of the Texas City fire department.
  • In 1906, the great San Francisco Earthquake occurred on April 18.
  • The Virginia Tech massacre took place April 16, 2007.
  • April 18, 1983 saw the Beirut bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.
  • April 20 in 1985 sported an ATF raid on "The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord" compound in Arkansas.  
  • The same date brought us the tragic shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.
  •  20 April 1985 - ATF raid on The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord compound in northern Arkansas. 
  • And also on the 20th in 2007: two die when an armed man barricades himself  in a NASA building in the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

A Most Unusual Birthday

April 19 2013 birthday

Note:  If you are getting what looks like a place for a video on your browser, don’t bother trying to watch it.  So far, there have been no videos posted to my blog. I have no idea why it appears.

Memories of Dad: I was seven years old and for Christmas, my father gave me a camera—a grey and black mostly plastic Diana camera that took 120 film. It was the first time I ever wept with joy.  Not long after that, he took me to the nation’s capitol and I took a picture of the Washington Monument mirrored perfectly in the reflecting pool, from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It was a very good picture and I thought I might actually have talent.  My father gave me the gift of photography, a gift more precious to me than I can say.    

The Universe seems determined to make me practice the act of choosing faith over fear—by constantly throwing fear-stuff at me. 

We spent the night in Scott County Park, but it was terribly windy and cold.  The RV bucked and rocked and I heard noises all night that sounded like something flapping or tearing off, but when I went outside to look, I could find nothing. Even with two space heaters, it was quite chilly outside of the bed (which has one large man, two cats, and plenty of quilts and blankets to keep me warm).

Still grey and miserable this morning, only windier and now it was snowing.  Snowing!  On my birthday!  My birthday is supposed to be quintessential spring weather, light-jacket weather, with hyacinths in bloom and trees budding out and birdsong.  This cannot really be MY birthday, can it? 

Very depressing and with the weight of the grief over my father’s death laying heavy upon my spirit, I found it hard to rally my inner resources. 

We called the Baymont, where we planned on spending the weekend—the best price in town, and it is going to be way too cold tonight and tomorrow night to sleep in the RV.  The Baymont said our room was ready and we could check in any time.  This was at 9 AM.  Thrilled, we disconnected, battened, and pulled out as quickly as we could.  The wind on the roadways was awful, gusting and pushing both vehicles around in their lane (the Eddie Bauer Explorer and the Honey Bee). But the RV started and ran so we were happy.  We only had about six miles to go. 

As we approached Eldridge on Highway 61, Rick called me and said he had lost power in the Honey.  He pulled over onto the shoulder only about ¼ mile from the Eldridge exit.  I turned around at Eldridge, went back to the Parkview exit and headed back south to pick Rick up.

We went drive into town and checked with Automotive Central, who remembered us from last week.  Dee (office manager) assured me they could get to the repairs today.  We just had to get the RV to her. Once again, we called AAA.

And once again, we waited hours for the tow truck to arrive.  After grabbing breakfast/lunch at Hardee’s we returned to the RV, not wanting to leave it unattended for long. We waited until nearly 1:30 PM for the truck to arrive.

The wicked wind rocked us and the RV relentlessly.  The shoulder on 61 is sort of narrow and I was constantly fearful of the trucks and other traffic speeding past us.  My anxiety grew with every gust.  At one point, I returned to the RV to use the bathroom and the buffeting it took while I was there escalated my anxiety to outright fear.  The wind literally cried aloud as it moved in around the door frame. And as is nearly always the case, anger followed close on fear’s heels.  I hate to feel afraid like that, afraid and helpless.  It ticks me off.

To add to the stress, I was desperately worried about finances.  I had no idea how we were going to pay for the repairs.  I had no idea where we were going to go Sunday night, nor where the money for gas or food or anything else was going to come from. (As a wise man once responded to this issue:  “It will come from wherever it is at the moment.”)

I got back to the car, crying, sad, frustrated, cold, scared and truly pissed.  I sobbed and ranted and yelled at the idiots who were supposed to be helping and yelled at the Universe and then just gave in to complete grief and a vast sense of defeat. 

“Maybe we should give up on this,” Rick said. 

“No,” I told him.  “I’m not going to quit just because I’m scared.  I’m an Aries, I’m brave.  And being brave means doing it even if you’re scared.” 

One moment of complete surrender and sorrow, followed swiftly by the determination to keep going.  Sometimes I wonder where it comes from, this courage.  At other times, I know—it comes from the Divine Source.

Another hour later and the tow truck finally showed up, after numerous calls where we were assured he was “on his way” and would be there in “ten minutes.”  At last we got back to the shop.  Rick tried the engine and it turned over right away.  Of course.

But by the time we got everything checked in, the Honey refused to start (for the first time in the company of a mechanic).  Yay!  That was what we needed. 

After moving things we would need at the motel into the Explorer, we checked into the Baymont.  Dee called and told us what was wrong with the Honey Bee and said it could be fixed today.  Another yay!

Rick went out to purchase sodas and a few minutes later called me.

“How would you like to have a hot dinner from Cracker Barrel?”

“How are we going to afford that?” I asked.

“Oh, I found some money while I was out.”

“How much? Where did you get it?”


Rick had called our credit union and arranged for a small, short term loan.  Or, as he puts it, “pulled another rabbit out of my ass.”  It was enough to cover repairs and dinner and then some.

Rick has just returned from picking up the RV, and we are settling into our room with a hot meal from Cracker Barrel and a cat on each bed.

“Happy birthday, baby!” Rick says, grinning triumphantly.  Happy birthday indeed. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

From Friends to Freedom

April 18 2013


Dreary day with dreadful weather and a false horizon of deadly grey clouds to the west promises more of the same.

James and Rick were able to patch our blackwater tank yesterday, so we have our own restroom facilities again. Rick sold the Explorer yesterday, to be delivered on Saturday.   I am grateful for that.  But this weather is literally and figuratively dampening my spirits and today I am dancing with depression accompanied by waves of sadness over losing Dad.  Nothing end-of-the-world, but certainly making me feel world-weary.

Today’s excitement?  I did laundry. Returned the RedBox movie we watched (Sessions).  Washed our small collection of dirty dishes. 

Oh! And I arranged to do a book-signing and workshop at Revelations Café in Fairfield in May.

Today: Moved to Scott County Park and spirits are much improved. There is a greater sense of freedom at a campsite than sitting in a friend's driveway.  And now I don't feel as though we are intruding on anyone. The weather is still grey, but rain has let up, and I went for a walk in the woods, which is always renewing.  

So far we've seen deer, crows, eagles, woodpeckers, robins, cardinals, bluejays, sparrows and chickadees.

There’s a new wrinkle in the plan:  our roof leaks!  It seems like it is leaking everywhere, but we think there may be one or two spots and the water is sort of traveling on top of the “skin” that is the ceiling, puddling into various corners and seeping in.  We have to reseal the roof as soon as it is dry enough to do so. Another unexpected expense.

Remember, if you want to help support the Psycards USA National Tour, you can visit to donate at IndieGoGo, or you can email donations to  Please be sure to include your information and note that it is a donation and you will be eligible for rewards based on the amount of the donation.

Here are some photos I took on my nature walk around the park.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Grieving comes sudden

Tonight has brought out the real heart of grief.  Keening grief.

Two of the best men in my life.  (The others are my brother, John and my grandson, Kyle.) Both funny, smartasses.  Dad reluctantly accepting Rick as my man (after 15+ years!). Once Daddy's girl, always Daddy's girl.
The last photos I took of my father--I hadn't seen him in many years.  This is the first time my husband Rick and Dad met.  They were both so funny and I love them both so much.  Grateful for Rick and his understanding nature. And grateful for the Daddy who made me who I am.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Fairfield & Burlington Photos

Vedic City houses.
Vedic Observatory

Maharishi Vedic City Organic Farm

Historic home in Burlington.
Snake Alley
Snake Alley, too.
Cobblestone Alley

Ruined church on the Great River Road.

Church steeple in Burlington.

Stone house and wall in Burlington.
Rick and I enjoying our evening in Fairfield.  Photo by Cindy.

Running Llama, Crooked Street

I think I will open my blog with a small memory of my father each posting.  It is my memorial to him.

Memories of my Dad:  Dad told me once that he thought he had OCD—obsessive-compulsive disorder.  He liked the show Monk for that reason.  He insisted that his need to count things was an indicator.  I remember him counting the steps in Grandma’s house—seventeen from the living room to the second floor on the front staircase, sixteen on the back stairs.  Fourteen from the 2nd to the 3rd floor. He used to take them two at a time, both up and down, running.

Cynthia with the hyacinth we gave her.
Yesterday we left Fairfield, saying our goodbyes to Cindy before heading out to the Maharishi Vedic City Organic Farm, and the Vedic City itself. We drove beneath the auspices of a corrugated watercolor sky.  I have to admit I was a little disappointed—but this near-winter-like weather is not a good time to see and photograph a farm.  Also, I stopped to visit the Maharishi Vedic Observatory, a giant sun-dial of structures that indicate the positions of the planets and stars.  Unfortunately, it is behind a white metal fence, so it is impossible to photograph it up close, and there is no place to look at it from above--the building next to it has no observation deck!  So, while it may be an impressive monument, it is impossible for the visitor to truly  experience it.  You'll get a better view of it online.

The woman I was supposed to meet at the farm was not able to get there when I was, but she gave me permission to take photos.  There was really no one there to show me around, so I simply walked about and took pictures of the greenhouse and the windmill, and the goats.  Obviously the fields were bare. 

We saw the houses of Vedic City—nice little homes sitting on the prairie, with baby trees (I assume they are the future fruit trees of this permaculture community).  But again I didn’t see much evidence of the food-producing aspect of the homes.  I do know that they are entirely off the grid—I hope one day to be able to live in a home off the grid—but please, not on the prairie!

Then we headed back into Fairfield and then east toward Burlington.  We saw a bald eagle swoop down and close to the car at one point. Also on the way, we saw two unusual things:  a herd of reindeer grazing like cattle, and a llama running.  The llama was golden and wooly, and he looked so funny and alien and wild.  He was running full-tilt, stretching his long neck and gathering his diminutive legs beneath him before bounding on. 

Eagle tells us to take advantage of opportunities soon.  There will be a new beginning in a positive direction.  We are instructed to rise above the mundane to see the greater picture.  There is spiritual awakening here, a greater connection to the divine, and increased creativity.

Llama indicates that although the journey has been a long one, you are almost there. Volunteer.  You’re on solid footing (even running).  Take more time for yourself and your needs, and seek out the company of people who share similar interests “rather than spending so much time alone.”

Reindeer are the equivalent of Caribou, which tells us to act with resolve.  “The long emotional and spiritual trek you’ve been on is about to conclude; and once it does, you’ll reap the rewards, benefits and pleasures of having done it.”  If something is bothering you, change it, leave it behind, or surrender to it.   Seek out like-minded people and enlist their support for success. (These interpretations are from Animal Spirit Guides by Stephen D. Farmer, Ph.D.)

In Burlington, we visited Snake Alley, the crookedest street in the world, according to the Guiness Book of Records.  Rick parked about a block away because we didn’t want to get the RV into a position of not being able to backup or turn around, and I walked toward the alley.  It is in an old, regal neighborhood, climbing a steep, block-long hill between an old home and a church. As I walked toward it, I asked a man in a truck at the stop sign if he had just driven it.  He said no, but as it turns out he was the office manager at the church.  Bill, of the First United Church of Christ, acted as a mini-guide to the alley’s history, and took my picture for me.  He also showed me Cobblestone Alley, another historic street not half a block from Snake Alley.  As it turns out, he attended Camp Curtin Junior High School in Harrisburg around the same time my father graduated from John Harris High School.  Small world.

I will post all the pretty pictures in the next post--the photo essay.

We neglected to visit the bookstore in Burlington, so we shall have to go back soon.  I’m certain the Spiral Visions will want to carry Psycards.  (If you live in Burlington, please share this with the owners!)  I can’t wait to visit the store. 

We drove the Great River Road from Burlington to Wapello, but it was not the pleasure excursion I had hoped.  There is almost no shoulder, and the passenger side of the northbound lane is almost consistently an 8-20 foot drop into a ditch.  The RV lurches a lot, especially on curves. The road is curvy, with narrow bridges and being a novice RVer, I was more petrified than pleased!  Once my adrenaline starts, it sometimes takes hours to stop, so at Wapello, I got us onto US 61 north, a highway with real shoulders at least. 

We ate at the Main Street Diner in Wapello—and were served very healthy portions of quite good food.

We arrived and parked at our friend’s house in Eldridge and today he and Rick worked on the repairs to our blackwater tank.  Maybe by tomorrow, I’ll have my own private bathroom again!

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I want to be at the West Kimberly Mall—an indoor flea market, and we plan to move to Scott County Park for the weekend.  This way, the kids can come and visit for my birthday (and granddaughter, Drom’s birthday)—you know, campfire, songs, hot dogs, s’mores for the kids.  Assuming, of course, it's not STILL raining. 

On April 26. we will be returning to Fairfield to for a book-signing at Revelations Café, followed by a workshop on Friday after the Farmer’s Market.  It feels good to keep busy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fairfield Excursion Photos

The dining room wall at Strawberry Farm B&B in Muscatine.
Fresh veggies at the Fairfield Farmer's Market.
Wall mosaic in an alley off the Square in Fairfield.
These bikes were so cheerful and bright.
This mysterious cloth just appeared in my pants pocket minutes after I arrived at the Farmer's Market. I am certain that the pocket was previously empty. A gift from Beyond?

A beautiful breakfast nook with a view.

This old tree left a big footprint.

Jefferson County Courthouse in Fairfield, Iowa.

Ganesha--my oliphant spirit guide.

Interior of Revelations

White paper bathroom shade makes cheerful light.

Having a stringy hair day!

Pergola and sky.

Rocky in his spot.

Sassy in her spot.

Statue of Fairfield Liberty

Fascinating fungi on tree

Singing tree!