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Friends

Kim and me retiring the raft that gave us many years of exciting adventures on the Snake River in Wyoming.

Kim and me retiring the raft that gave us many years of exciting adventures on the Snake River in Wyoming.

“The greatest gift of life is friends.” – Hubert Humphrey

 

Lucky and Blessed Am I

Kim a long-time friend, who now lives a thousand miles away, called yesterday and we talked for hours. And when I hung up, I realized how blessed and lucky I was to have her in my life.

We’ve been friends for over 30 years now. She’s more family to me than some members of my own family.

Kim and me on my 70th birthday, right before we went sky diving together.

Kim and me on my 70th birthday, right before we went sky diving together.

As a person who has lacked roots most of her life, I’ve had friendships that seem to have simply disappeared after a year or so when I moved away. Others, like Kim in Utah and Kris in Idaho, are friendships that have survived the distance. Whenever I talk with, or see, them, it’s as if our conversations just ended the night before and we pick up right where we left off.

I thought about this when I walked my canine companion Pepper at o-dark-hundred this morning beneath a sliver of moon that reminded me of the Cheshire Cat’s grin. Both Kim and Kris are as unlike me as a live oak tree is from a palm tree. But I’ve found over the years that such friends are the best kinds, because each fills in the holes of the other person.

Thinking about how each of these two friendships began, as I am now, is making me giggle. I met Kris after a breakup with my second husband, and at that point in my life was still searching for a male soul mate, as was she. She found hers, and I realized I was sabotaging relationships because I enjoyed being single much more than I had ever enjoyed being married.

Kim came later, after I had given up on ever finding a soul mate and was focusing on outdoor activities, like rafting, skiing, sailing and hiking. Kim, who worked at the same newspaper as I did, was more dedicated to being a single mom than finding a man – and so it was that we found ourselves the only single women at work who weren’t chasing after some man.

And once we started hiking and taking road trips together, the friendship was cemented. Or maybe it was the night we had too much to drink and pledged we would get tattoos, then both reneged the next morning when we came to our senses.

Whenever I count my blessings, I always include Kris and Kim. As I said, I’m a very lucky and blessed woman. I hope you are, too. 

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the Day. Check it out.

        

Bean Pat: The Paths of the Spirit http://tinyurl.com/zofb836 Sleepers are quiet. Lovely post that left me with lots to think about.

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The trail led beside and beneath the waterfalls. I do so love Zion. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The trail led beside and beneath the waterfalls. I do so love Zion. — Photo by Pat Bean

         “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you! – Dr. Seuss

Runoff from the Emerald Pools' waterfalls created this small puddle of water, which reflected the nearby landscape. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Runoff from the Emerald Pools’ waterfalls created this small puddle of water, which reflected the nearby landscape. — Photo by Pat Bean

On a Birthday Hike   

It felt fantastic to be back in Zion National Park to celebrate my recent birthday with some of the same friends who have celebrated it with me in this awesome place for three decades.

A good-sized lizard near the start of he hike. I barely captured him with my camera before he slithered away.

A good-sized lizard near the start of he hike. I barely captured him with my camera before he slithered away.

While my body wasn’t up to the grueling 5.5-mile roundtrip hike to the top of Angel’s Landing, which I have done about 30 times in my life, it was up to a moderate three-mile hike on the Kayenta and Emerald Pools’ trails. The two trails join at the waterfalls junction.

I originally started the tradition of spending my birthday in Zion because I didn’t live near any family members, and I figured it was much better to do something I enjoyed than stay home and feel lonely.

 

My friend Kim near the start of the hike. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My friend Kim near the start of the hike. — Photo by Pat Bean

I had hiked it alone or with varying friends for several years before Kim and her son began joining me almost every year. This year she called me about three days before my birthday and told me to get my butt to Zion. The message wasn’t exactly expressed in those exact words but I got the meaning.

I drove up to Zion, a nine-hour journey, in Cayenne on Friday, hiked and partied on Saturday, and drove back on Sunday. It turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Blog pick of the day. Check it out.

Bean Pat: A Writer’s Path http://tinyurl.com/ps647fp  This blogger chose his favorite 10 opening lines of books. I agreed with a couple, but the blog made me want to go and list my favorite opening lines. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

 

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A friendly game of tug of war between Dusty, left, and Pepper. -- Photo by Pat Bean

A friendly game of tug of war between Dusty, left, and Pepper. — Photo by Pat Bean

   “A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same.” – Elbert Hubbard

Best Friends

They like to wrestle, too.-- photo by Pat Bean

They like to wrestle, too.– photo by Pat Bean

Most late afternoons my friend Jean and I meet for a bit of chit-chat with our dogs.

I treasure such time with a friend. And so do Pepper and Dusty, who are friends, too.

Everyone needs friends.

Blog pick of the day.

Blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Top 10 http://tinyurl.com/pb6ruhe Flowers that look like animals. This is amazing.

 

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“Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.” Oprah Winfrey

My friend Kim sent me this recently on my Facebook timeline. Oh how I wish I could. -- Unknown source

My friend Kim sent me this recently on my Facebook timeline. Oh how I wish I could. — Unknown source

My Female Soul Mates

While I have no biological sisters, I am blessed to have women friends who fill the lack.

First there is Kim, the one who personally knows all the skeletons in my closet, and with whom I’ve shared many an outdoor adventure. We met as work colleagues who had nothing in common. It took a few after work drinks and a crazy, wild rafting trip for us to bond, but then it was us against the world.

Some of my writing sisters during the recent Story Circle Network. -- Smart Phone photo taken by another sister.

Some of my writing sisters during the recent Story Circle Network. — Smart Phone photo taken by another sister.

While I never seemed to choose a male who completed me, Kim was the perfect fit for all my flaws. We’re as different as lemons and chocolate, and each of our strengths cover the other’s flaws.

It was she who sent me the above poster, and if I lived closer now than 800 miles from her, you better believe I would have taken her up on the request. Instead I’m just remembering such escapes as getting lost in Nine Mile Canyon, coming eyeball to eyeball with an elephant, conquering Lunch Counter Rapid in high water, and making it to the top of Angel’s Landing during a snowstorm.

Then there is my friend, Kris, whom I met and played with during the two years I lived in Twin Falls. She and I sometimes go five years between visits, but easily pick up right where we left off when we do get together.

And in recent years, I have found online sisters who share my writing passion through Story Circle Network. I recently got to get together with them in Austin.

Could I be any more blessed?

The Wondering-Wanderer's blog pick of the day.

The Wondering-Wanderer’s blog pick of the day.

Bean Pat: Indian Wells Canyon http://tinyurl.com/qby2ped Texas has her bluebonnets, but awesome wildflowers at this time of year are not confined to the Lone Star state. Thanks to this blogger I get to see some of them.

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            “A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”—Tim Cahill

One of two ponds at the entrance to Carthage Gap RV Park. — Photo by Pat Bean

Adventures with Pepper: Day 26

            What I didn’t tell you about my drive yesterday were my concerns about where I would spend the night.

Brandy, sort of my granddaughter for a weekend, in the costume her mom made for her. The outfit included a hook and specially braided hair. — Photo by Kim

I hadn’t seen an RV park all day, and my campground directory listed only one near the end of my day’s drive.  It was the Carthage Gap RV Park outside of Coolville, Ohio.

I was worriedly hoping it would be a nice, safe, clean place because I didn’t fancy driving another 100 miles. I’m happy to tell you my hopes were met — and then some.

The park was located in a beautiful setting, and the staff was enthusiastically friendly when I checked in for two nights. The manager explained that I had come just in time to experience the park’s early Halloween celebration. She offered me the option of being in the middle of the large park, or of hooking up in an isolated section.

I guess I was sort of people hungry at this point in the trip because I chose the small site in the middle of it all.

After the park manager led me to it, and guided me as I backed into the squeezed space, she introduced me to my next door neighbor, Kim.

“She’s one of our seasonals,” the manager said, then hurried off to help other RVers get settled for the busy weekend.

Kim became my guardian angel for the next two days, taking me under her warm wing and adopting me into her brood, which included parents, a sister, a niece, a husband and a daughter. They lived not too far away and their travel trailer was almost permanently parked at the scenic campground, I learned.

The brood had all gathered this weekend for the spook celebration, which is an annual event at the park.

I was the family’s guest at the Halloween potluck dinner that preceded the trick or treating the next night. And I got to sit around their campfire as candy was handed out to the many young treat-or-treaters. The most unusual costume of the night, I thought, was the young boy dressed as a railroad crossing. As a mom, I was never that inventive. My kids were usually witches, hobos or ghosts, things that didn’t require any sewing on their mom’s part.

The second pond at the park. — Photo by Pat Bean

Kim’s daughter, Brandy, was one of the trick or treaters.            “Just wait until you see my niece’s costume,” Tracy had said at dinner. “My sister’s an excellent seamstress and can sew up anything.”

I waited. Tracy was right. Brandy was the most lavishly dressed pirate I think I’ve ever seen.

Since Kim had officially adopted me into the family for the weekend, Brandy felt like a granddaughter, of which I have eight.

I left Carthage Gap with great memories tucked away in the brain’s rolodex. And a bit homesick for my own family, too.

Book Report: Travels with Maggie is still stuck. Too much traveling – I’m currently on the Blue Ridge Parkway in my journey and driving 100 miles takes five hours. I need to settle for a day soon and catch up.

Bean’s Pat: Couch surfing in India http://mymeanderingtrail.com/ This travel blogger, who writes about hiking the Appalachian Trail, is a good model for Tim Cahill’s quote about the journey being more about the people you meet than the miles. And about the kind of concerns all travelers who get off the beaten path endure — and overcome.

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“I talk to him when I’m lonsome like; and I’m sure he understands. When he looks at me most attentively, and gently licks my hands; then he  rubs his nose on my tailored clothes, but I never say naught thereat. For the good Lord knows I can buy more clothers, but never a friend like that.” — W. Dayton Wedgefarth.

Friends

My grandson, David, and two of his best friends. Scout and Levi. I didn’t take this picture, but it’s one of my favorites. I think my son, D.C. took it.

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 “Birth and death; we all move between these two unknowns.” Bryant H. McGill

 

Life goes on in Florida's Brevard Zoo for these two magnificent eagles, who are injured and could not survive in the wild. Have they made peace with their limited environment? Hopefully, because life goes on one way or another. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

Travels With Maggie

 

As leaves of this Japanese pear tree fall, a flowering bud is eager to take its place. -- Photo by Pat Bean

I’ve reached an age when acquaintances and dear friends are dying. This past year I lost two who were especially dear to me. One had adopted me into her family for holidays when mine were far away. She made it all the way to 99 before she finally gave up her will to live. Her funeral, per her wishes, was a celebration.

Another dear friend, an irreverent writing colleague who was the life of any party and who was always making me pee from laughing so hard, also left this world. She was a year younger than me, and this death was much harder to bear.

I’m not a religious person, so I get no comfort from well-meaning comments that suggest she’s in a better place now.

It’s not that I don’t believe in this better place, I do. It’s just that I believe this better place is here and now. It’s all we have. It’s up to each of us to make it the best it can be.

Life goes on through grief. It goes on when something or someone kicks us to the ground. It goes on if we can’t afford all our wants. It simply goes on.

This is a picture that speaks louder than a thousand words, so I won't say them. -- Photo by Pat Bean

 

These thoughts all roared through my brain this morning as I walked Maggie. The flowering Japanese pear tree in my son’s yard first stirred up the cacophony in my brain. As winter teases and taunts and hides in Texas’ Gulf Coast, as it’s doing today when the air conditioner in my RV is running, this small tree comes to life.

For each leaf that falls, it sends out a bud that will bloom this winter. In the background, between the pear tree’s naked limbs, is another tree, one that’s providing onlookers a rustling, reality video of brilliant color.

I find meaning and comfort in Mother Nature. Her message to me is one of reincarnation, not that I expect to come back to live another life, but that a tiny drop of who I am will become a permanent part of this planet.

 

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