Monday, July 27, 2009

Not a Vegetarian - Yet

My daughter Erin has long encouraged me to become a vegetarian. She doesn’t push her wishes on me which I appreciate, but she does offer her opinion in subtle ways – like wanting me to watch or read media reports of the conditions and manner in which animals meant for slaughter live in. Just like I cannot go to animal shelters I won’t watch such images; they would break me for life and I’m afraid I’d never recover.

I was raised on hearty meals that my grandmother cooked. Those childhood memories of great homemade meals bring me comfort and I recreate those memories every time I whip up a batch of chicken soup, spareribs and sauerkraut, or pork chops with rice and gravy (that is Aunt Rita’s recipe).

I have often considered a meat-free life but honestly don’t have the motivation to do so. The animal lover that I am finds it such a contradiction that I would support the continued practice of killing animals for food. The evolutionist that I am understands the connection between humankind’s evolutionary progress and the relationship to their ability to secure life sustaining protein in the form of animal meat. To counter this contradiction, I have tried to compromise by raising my own animals in humane conditions and giving thanks (a Native American practice) to them for their sacrifice in providing sustenance for me and my family. It is much easier in theory than in practice, however.

Before I moved to Las Vegas we lived on a huge piece of property in Moorpark, California. As always I had a vegetable garden and lots of animals that included chickens. My hens were for providing eggs, but since we were moving I decided that we would butcher the chickens and have a nice going-away dinner. So as not to be a hypocrite I said that I would be the one to chop off the heads, believing that method to be the most humane. Perhaps so for the chicken but after my first guillotine chop, I turned the job over to someone else. I cleaned and cooked after the fact and served up a beautiful table that would have made my grandmother proud. Except it turned into a disaster! The meat was so tough and chewy not one of us could get in a good swallow. My husband and I laugh about that memorable meal to this day.

I didn’t expect killing animals to feed my family to be so difficult. I should have remembered, however, the trouble I had back when I was a student in the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program. This Moorpark (California) College program is designed to teach students every aspect of animal care and management. That includes understanding the process that some animals eat other animals in order to survive. It also means that it is our job as animal caretakers to provide for the needs of every animal under our care. We fed carnivores, reptiles, and birds of prey freshly killed chicks, rodents, and other mammals. No student could escape the task, unless of course they could use their wiles to convince a classmate to do the job for them. I won’t go into details on how I did this, suffice it to say that during my tenure as a student I never killed anything and, more importantly, I never got caught.

When, as a zookeeper, it was my job to use a pillowcase to stun or kill a rat to feed the eagles, I would always wait until my husband came to pick me up and leave the job to him. I just could not bring myself to do it.

Still, I believed that over time and with maturity I would be able to raise animals to feed my family; I could, like my brothers, hunt deer and stock my freezer with healthy and tasty venison. I’ve yet to do either of those things. But I keep talking a good argument.

Someday I envision living on a huge piece of property where I have acres of vegetables and herbs growing, where I plant and harvest the hay and grains necessary to feed the cow who provides milk and offspring for our dinner table. I raise chickens and even turkeys that at the right age and tenderness will be roasted to perfection and provide memories for my own grandchildren on what real homegrown cooking is all about. I see smoked hams and jerked meat stockpiled for company and any emergency. Basically, I am a true believer in sustainable living, but I am not so sure this vision of mine will ever become a reality. I just don’t know if I can feed and care for animals the way I do and then eat them.

Although I am not at all ready to become a vegetarian I am learning a lot about my convictions and limits. I continue to care for and love animals, as evidenced by my rescue and release operations, but I also understand the role animals play in the cycle of life.

Just like so many other things in my life, I am one big contradiction. That is what makes my life so interesting. So do all the things I continue to learn about myself; no matter how old I am I still find things out that surprise me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a pot of soup on the stove that needs attending to.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Heroes Gone too Soon

Frank McCourt just died.

When one of my idols passes on it’s as though I have lost an opportunity, lost that improbable chance to meet them and share with them just how important they are to a Nobody like me. It happened when Elizabeth Montgomery, Michael Landon, and even my parents died. Of course my parent’s deaths were not improbable, just unnatural. I should, by all rights, have had plenty of opportunities to get to know them, tell them how much I love and hate them, as all good children should. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for me, which is perhaps why I was drawn to so many others who represented love, security, guidance, and mentorship.

As a little girl Samantha Stevens (Bewitched) was the mother I should have been born to. Perhaps it was the happy little family and the bright colors of the sitcom that drew me, but I suspect it had more to do with the magic abilities the show’s characters possessed. I wanted to be able to twitch my own nose and clean my room, transport myself anywhere in the world, make my unique family one that all of my neighborhood friends would envy. I’m sure that early childhood fascination is what draws me to the Harry Potter stories in adulthood. I love the idea of magic in the world.

Michael Landon as Pa Ingalls was the image of the father I believed every little girl would be so lucky to have. He was a provider, lover, prankster; he adored his wife and children and to top it off, he welcomed children that were not his own into his fold and his heart. I loved the images of the land their home sat on and the small town they lived near. I was especially drawn to the moral messages each show provided, fashioning my own principles after many of those presented.

Growing up the 16th child raised by a woman who, understandably, was tired out by the time I reached adolescence, I turned to whomever I could to teach me how a life could and should be lived. I am thankful it was those innocent idols I gravitated to and not the other, perhaps less healthy influences that were so prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s.

(That's Grandma Oberlander on the bottom right with just a handful of her family)

Upon reaching adulthood I continued to seek out inspirational mentors who would often guide my decisions, although they rarely, if ever, knew it. There were some instances in my life where I reached out and was rewarded with their acknowledgement.

The first was Elizabeth Montgomery who I would write fan letters to. On vacation in Florida one spring, I must have been all of 9, I sent her a necklace with a palm tree image on it. In return, I received an autographed black and white picture, one of two I have in my collection. Those were the days when a child could inundate a celebrity without the fear of stalking! When I moved to southern California and worked for a short time as a waitress in a restaurant in the Malibu Hills there was a chance I would meet my idol, but alas she never came in to dine, in spite of the owners insistence that she often did.

My close encounter with Little House on the Prairie was meeting and chatting with a 13-year-old Melissa Gilbert at a celebrity event in Los Angeles in 1977. Her bratty and entitled behavior did not impress me. I lived at the time in Simi Valley where LHOP was filmed, but never figured out how to get on the set. Years later I was very disappointed to read about Landon’s infidelity so it was probably better that I held the image of him rather than know him personally.

Two of my most treasured encounters were meeting Jane Goodall, the renowned animal behaviorist and activist, and Lucia St. Clair Robson, the author of the book, Ride the Wind.

There are so many people I would still like to shake hands with, or better yet, have a sit-down chat with. Frank McCourt was one of them. I wanted to pick his brain, find out just how he could take such dire circumstance that was his childhood and bring both smiles and tears to the reader with the magic of his words. As I read my own blog posts and try to convey my own experiences for those few who read my words, I always, always want to write with humor mixed with the poignancy of the experience. I always, always fail miserably.

Now that he’s gone, as are Elizabeth and Michael, I realize that I am on my own. I will have to rely on the lessons I learned from them while they were here, confident that I have gained knowledge from their time on this earth and the gifts they shared with others. Perhaps, if I’m lucky, I will have developed a bit of my own magic and someone out there is looking to me and what I have to share, someone I may never have the chance to meet but who is influenced nonetheless. After all, that’s what human encounters, in person or not, are all about.

Friday, July 17, 2009

And the Honor Goes to - My Female Friends

Women who love women are so lucky. I don’t mean “love” in the sexual sense, not that there’s anything wrong with that (anyone watch Seinfeld?); it’s just what I mean is women that love and appreciate other woman for their friendship and female qualities are the luckiest people on the planet. This isn’t starting out the way I want it to. Perhaps if I begin by sharing why I’ve come to this way of thinking I can express myself better.

I just had a nearly 3-hour lunch with a new friend, Barbara. Barb and I met a few months back at a dinner but didn’t get to know one another one-on-one until another, more casual get-together. After that evening, we began to email one another and share websites and ideas. Soon a lunch was planned. As expected, both of us talked the other’s ear off and we found we had so many wonderful things in common. I can’t wait for another opportunity to chit-chat with Barb and get to know her even better.

This was not the first time I’ve been blessed with finding a new friend I can talk and laugh with. I have been so lucky to have had a lifetime of bonding with females.

It just happens, too, when you least expect it. Linda has become a very close and dear friend, and we just happened to meet a year ago. She sat next to me during my first attendance at a local writer’s group meeting and the connection was immediate. We found so many things in common during that short introduction and much, much more when we met over beers and wings not long after.

Everywhere I go, no matter what the circumstances, venue, or moment in my life, I have bonded with women that have become lifelong friends I would do anything for.

There’s Nancy, who sat next to me in 4th grade and didn’t judge my inability to get the math lessons, but helped me with my homework. She has been by my side for every major event, crisis, and turning point – everyone should be so lucky to have someone like that in their lives.

Kathy, my former sister-in-law whom I asked if I could call just “sister” has been a part of my family since before I started my own; our kids grew up together.

Sue is my international friend, married to that big lug, Joe who is like another one of my brothers. Sue and I love to share tea, wine, or spiked coffee together, even if it is only in spirit.

There was Nancy Naples, who was my best friend in junior high when I was in major geek phase, who lovingly called me “Streisand Nose” and who died just out of high school, giving me my first real experience in grief and loss.

Patty, who went through the Exotic Animal Training and Management program with me, who had babies along with me and whose philosophy in life has taught me so much.

Celeste, my sister animal lover whose first meeting with me was when she peered through the window of our yet-to-be-opened pet store; from that first introduction we have laughed, cried, and said goodbye to animals too numerous to mention, and become grandmas together.

Sweet Angela, my twenty-something girlfriend who I am so proud to call friend, even if I’m the same age as her mom (and she my own daughters)! Why she wants to spend time with me is a mystery, but I am glad she does.

When, at the age of 47 years old I spent time as an archaeologist with women 15 years my junior whose physical stamina far outshined me, I realized that friendship knows no age. I was accepted and encouraged into this elite club, even after hours where we socialized on a more even playing field. I’ll never forget Steph saying to me after my first week in the rugged mountains, “I just want you to know that you kicked ass up there.” Yep, women supporting women, nothing better than that.

I could never forget Diane, Laural, Lori, June, Chris, Amy, Maryann, and all those other friends from high school who I missed so much after we walked across that graduation stage. It took me about 10 years before I could honestly say I was over that time in my life. Thank goodness for Facebook because I am in touch with many of those wonderful women now, almost 35 years later and when each of us is facing the perils and trials of middle age and menopause. Some, I am sad to say have already left this world but never my heart.

I know there are so many more women I could mention. Some I have lost contact with and no amount of Googleing is getting me closer to finding them. Some I haven’t spoken to in years. But the foundation we once laid is strong and binding as evidenced by the time I contacted Cyndi after 9 years. When we finally got the chance to see one another again, it was like no time had passed whatsoever – and no judgments made on one another for the long absence.

That’s what I’m talking about – female friendship is long-lasting and powerful.

I told my daughters that they must always forge and nurture their female relationships, that the women in their lives would save them time and time again. I know they have done that for me.

I honor the women in my life. I thank them for their unconditional love, their loyal friendship, their advice both harsh and understanding, their laughs and hugs, and especially for their individuality. I have learned and gained something from each and every one of them.

I can’t wait to meet the newest friend; she is probably right around the corner.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

North Las Vegas Cat Tales

There are three more kittens outside on our property, a half-acre of land in a shared cul-de-sac. I caught a glimpse of the kittens the other day as the homeowner next door pointed them out to me, “Got 3 more for you,” he said, which means it’s up to me to capture the little ones and take care of them. Taking care of them means devising a method of capture, usually by stealth and quick hands, but sometimes with the use of a cat trap. These kittens are so little a trap will probably not work. That means I’ll have to try and corner them among the construction material in which they are hiding, where black widows and cockroaches and dark spaces lurk. Just six months ago I did the same thing and grabbed two kittens, but not the mother cat that is popping out these babies twice a year.

When we moved onto our North Las Vegas property four years ago I noticed a number of cats roaming about. There were pregnant females, juveniles, kittens, and one big male whose fat cheeks and roughed-up look was evidence of his status as alpha male. For months I worried about the welfare of the cat population. I could hardly afford to get all of them spayed or neutered, but inaction was so much worse. According to the Humane Society of the United States, it is possible that a pair of breeding cats and their offspring can exponentially produce over 400,000 cats in 7 years. Luckily, I ran into Sandy, a volunteer with the local humane society (LVVHS). With the help, guidance, and the extreme generosity of this flagging, yet dedicated organization, I was able to have dozens, I mean dozens of cats “fixed” so they could no longer breed.

Nothing is more satisfying to me then knowing I have helped in preventing the suffering of an animal. The process goes something like this:

1) Trapping– set up a humane trap, place enticing food inside, cover with a towel and cross your fingers that one of the feral cats is hungry enough to go inside, step on the trigger that closes the door.

2) Capture by hand – here’s a piece I wrote about a recent experience:

Tonight I caught another cat that had been discarded by some careless, heartless owner. This guy is a big, white cat who has been hanging out on my property for a few weeks, hiding under vehicles, stealing mouthfuls of food before the other cats we own or me deigned to disturb him. He was wary and cautious, never letting me get more than a few feet from him before he bolted. I wanted to reach out to him; I just knew at one time he had been loved and knew what affection was. Tonight, I succeeded.

It took careful planning. He was too smart to enter the trap baited with the food he so desperately wanted. I set a bigger trap, however, getting him to go inside our storage shed, getting the door closed before he realized what I was up to. Once inside he tried to hide from me. I cornered him and then sat with him, talking in a soothing voice, inching my hand toward his snarling, spitting face. Finally he let me lay a finger upon his head. He had gouges in him, the dried blood stark against his pink nose and white fur. I was soon allowed more liberty, I pet his entire coat. He ate from a can of wet cat food. I then had to betray his trust, but just for a while. I grabbed him around the neck. Carefully I pulled him from his hiding place. Having no other container to secure him, I placed him in a plastic bag once used for a large comforter.

Holding the bag tightly closed I trekked the quarter acre across my property to my house. Once inside I put the cat in the bathroom reserved for the many feral cats we’ve caught over the years. He gave in to me. Once out of the bag he allowed me more liberal pets. He discovered the cupboard under the sink to hide. I placed fresh food and water out, ran to the store and got more cat litter. He can sleep in peace tonight, free from defending himself or scrounging for food; he will be warm and safe.

3) Set up the appointment – contact Sandy with the LVVHS and find out where and when I can take the animal in for its procedure. Sometimes I have to wait several days until a feral cat clinic takes place. That means either leaving the poor thing in the small trap (veterinarians will not handle feral cats outside of the trap until they are anesthetized), or take the animal out, secure it in a small room, provide food, water, and a litter box, then recapture it to place it in the cat trap. Sometimes scratches and bites are my reward.

4) Drop the animal off at the designated veterinary clinic before 8:00 am.

5) Pick up before 4:00 pm.

6) Keep the cat/kitten overnight to ensure all went well with the surgery. Provide food, water and a litter box.

7) Release the animal onto the property and continue to provide food and water (thank goodness there is plenty of land around us that works as a litter box) for the remainder of its (or my) lifetime. Or – try and find a loving home if the cat is a kitten and able to be tamed and placed. The trouble with this is that they are rarely caught early enough to be tamed, OR there are no more people willing to offer a home.

8) Hope that Animal Control doesn’t stop by for a visit and see countless numbers of cats roaming about. Hope that no harm comes to the animals as they encounter more and more strays either born on the property or that find their way here (happens more often than I’d like to admit).

9) Start the process all over again.

I sit here contemplating what to do about the three new kittens outside. I’m tired of catching them and going through steps 1-9. Our pet food bill probably exceeds our household food budget.

Yet, I can’t relax knowing that they are out there in 110-degree heat or that if I don’t act they will grow up and have babies of their own. I have tried and tried to catch the mama cat but she is too smart to get trapped. So I guess my lot is to keep capturing her offspring until she is too old to produce – probably not for a few years yet.

As I close this tale of my cat woes, I urge each and every one of my readers to make a donation to either their local humane society, or better yet, to the Las Vegas Valley Humane Society. They have, in my case alone, spayed or neutered cats for a cost of well over $2,000. I have only had to pay a few times. Now THAT’S dedication to the cause. They deserve recognition and help in their efforts. The address to donate is Las Vegas Valley Humane Society, 3395 S. Jones Blvd. #454, Las Vegas NV 89146 or link to their donation page.

Thanks for reading this lengthy entry. Wish me luck as I brave the elements and the bugs to rescue a few more.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New York a Bust

Well, I didn’t make it to New York. I missed the reunion I was a key part in organizing and missed the music festival I was so looking forward to attending. What happened? First I got tired. Then I got logical. I wish the latter had come first, like before I packed the car and pulled out of the driveway at noon last Sunday. But so much was riding on this trip that I couldn’t just not go; besides, I’d driven across country before so in my mind I could do it again. I felt an obligation to the people I had committed to seeing, as well as to myself – I wanted to go home! This is how it all began.

Several months ago I told my husband I wanted to take a road trip this summer. I figured I would take at least a month and leisurely drive east; stopping in my home state for a visit, but the main purpose of the trip was to see the parts of the country I’d never taken the time to check out. Then I began the reconnection with long-lost family members and friends from school. Perfect! I would build my trip around this reunion. After my husband balked at the length of time I planned on going, I reconsidered and figured three weeks would be plenty of time. Then a phone call came offering me a 3-month contract job with the government that would begin in mid-July, prompting me to cut my trip even shorter.

In possession of a free round-trip standby airline ticket, I proceeded to look for available seats on any Southwest flight in the vicinity of Buffalo, New York: Norfolk, Virginia, Baltimore, Maryland, Albany, even New Hampshire. I kept getting the automated response, “no availability” to my search for a seat. What now? “Shoot,” I told myself, “I’ll still drive!” I seriously did not begin to doubt my decision until two days before my departure date, but how could I back out now? So, with the best of attitudes I kissed the husband goodbye and said, “See you in two weeks!” My companions were a seven-year-old and two small dogs; less room in the car but great company.

It was the second night, when I found myself on the border of Colorado and Kansas that I wished for the comfort of my own bed, the routine of my life, and not the countless miles of pavement that stretched before me. As I realized that I was only halfway to New York, that I had only four short days to visit, and that I’d have to turn around and make the drive all over again, I began to balk. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it. Worse still, if I got back to Vegas on schedule, accomplished only by pushing myself, I’d have to report on location to the National Park Service the day after arriving home. “Uh uh,” I said, “can’t be done – won’t!” It was in Independence, Missouri that I made up my mind - we were going back home.

Once the decision was made I felt the weight of the burden lift, even though I knew the trip back would be just as trying. I was in the middle to the country for heaven’s sake; I couldn’t just blink my way back to Las Vegas. But knowing that in two days, not twelve, I’d be there gave me the energy and motivation to continue on. I’ve always maintained a strong optimism about life and that attitude was needed more than ever in this case.

What lesson am I to learn from this? What was the purpose of this journey? Why in God’s name do I put myself through these challenges? I haven’t wholly figured out the answers to those questions, but they are slowly coming to light. What keeps coming to mind is that during much of this experience we found ourselves in the state of Kansas. It felt like that state went on forever and I shared with my husband, “I can’t seem to get out of Kansas.” All the while we were there we kept seeing billboards advertising “OZ”, a museum about one of my favorite childhood movies. Over and over in my head were the words, “There’s no place like home.” Is that irony or what?

We pulled into the driveway around noon on Friday, at almost the exact same hour we had left just six days earlier. I was exhausted and relieved. It’s been two days now and the long hours of driving and the fear that I wouldn’t make it is over. Yes, I’m back in the Las Vegas heat. I didn’t get to experience that reunion or concert I was so looking forward to. I have to accept the fact that I bit off much more than I could chew, but view the journey as another one of the ways in which I learn my life lessons. I’m grateful to be home where I belong; safe and without any real harm being done. I can say that the six days cooped up in a car with my grandson was the best part of the trip – he is such a trooper, never complained once and kept me occupied with his antics all 2, 863 miles!
(on the Colorado River)

Thanks go out to all of those friends and family that gave me their support even though I disappointed them; not one of them said, “I told you so” or tried to talk me out of my plan. They all know me well enough to know I learn things the hard way – and become a much better person for it.

I only wish I could have clicked my heels the way Dorothy did and found myself home when I first realized that’s exactly where I wanted to be.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where to from here?

Missouri. A nice place to be for a short visit. As a historian I know there is much to discover about our country's history right here in America's heartland. I've never spent any time exploring the middle section of my country; I've always been in a hurry to arrive at one end or another. This may change today. I am deciding whether or not to continue the trek to my final destination of Batavia, New York. I'm halfway there, but only 1/4 of the way through my intended journey because after spending time in NY, I'm going to have to turn around and make the return trip back to Las Vegas. Frankly, I don't think I have it in me.

I began to feel apprehensive about my decision to drive to and from Batavia as the departing date neared. I couldn't understand my thinking as I'd done the trip many times before. The first round trip took place in the summer of 1978 with my Spokane, Washington cousin, Kelli. I recall that long-ago adventure as fun, yet not without it's challenges. I wracked that up to being due to first-timer nerves.

The next trip was the summer of 1979 with my future first husband. We had a cute little tear-drop camper and the motivation of young love and freedom (I'd just graduated from EATM and my future was unknown) gave the excursion an extra excitement. Numerous other treks across country came over the next three decades, all made for one valid reason or another - but always with the underlying purpose that I needed to get home.

After the last sojourn, 1997-2001, when John and I sought to make western New York our future home and life, an experiment that went bust, we arrived once again in Las Vegas and to the home we wisely never sold. It has taken these past 8 years to rebuild our finances, business and friend networks, and establish our home. That's when, of course, I get restless - just when the dust has settled. So naturally I needed to shake our stable lives up once more by heading to where I believe my heart is - New York and the home I left behind in 1976. It's only for two weeks, it's only 3,000 miles - ONE WAY, and heck, I've done it before. I just don't think I'm going to go the distance, if you will, this time.

I brought along on this trip seven-year-old Aiden, a best buddy if there ever was one in such a small package, and my two favoirite traveling canine companions. That and the great supply of food, entertainment, and coffee would be enough to see me through the long miles of solo driving. But by last night, as I sank into the Econo Lodge bed still shaking with late night caffine and/or 12 hours of driving, I just didn't know how I could wake up and contine east. Before he fell asleep Aiden asked if we could go "home." As much of a trooper as he has been, it's gotta suck sitting in his car seat staring at a DVD player to pass the hours. Can I really do this to him or me for another 5,000 miles and 14 days? I don't think it's gonna happen.

Although I am going to disappoint so many - there's a family reunion and a great music festival awaiting me in New York, I believe I am going to turn this trip around and head home. To the home I keep trying so desperately to deny - Las Vegas, and the husband who tolerates my absences but wishes me there, to the small but comfortable home whose mortgage is up-to-date, to the hot (but, hey it's dry) heat of the desert summer, and to the only drivining I'll need to do is to the corner grocery store.

Since we are in Missouri, the starting point for so many hopeful people as they caravaned west in covered wagons to their unknown futures, I think we'll take our time here today and explore the local culture and history. Rather than blast through glancing at the billboards advertising museums, I think Aiden and I will take the time to see what this region has to teach us. And on my drive west myself, I am pretty sure I'll be contemplating my reasons for elmbarking on this journey in the first place and learn a little more about myself, once again in the process.

For as I am always claiming as one of my mantras, It's not the destination, but the journey that counts, I just know there is a lesson in here somewhere. And, boy I have been on one heck of a journey in this life. This is just one more for the book.

Monday, July 6, 2009

From the Road - Fruita, Colorado

The first leg of the road trip, destination Batavia, New York, went well. After much contemplation of how I wanted to take the trip alone, just me and two dogs, I asked if my grandson, Aiden (just turned 7 on Thursday)could come along. He was thrilled to do it, even after telling him he'd be two weeks in a tiny car with me, driving, driving, driving.... He still wanted to tag along. So we headed out of Las Vegas at noon.

The decision to drive over flying came easily, but so many people thought I was crazy to attempt such a feat. I began to doubt my choice, even as I was stuffing every inch of the car with necessaries. My conviction came clear, however as Aiden and I traveled through the magnificent landscape through Utah; the ancient rocks, the numerous colors of rock and sky, and the almost-full moon capped the experience for both of us. I was touching the earth, not flying over it in a cramped box too high above to see its beauty. I'm so happy I am driving across my country, am looking forward to encountering the beauty of its landscape, people, and environment.

That's how I feel at the moment, let's see what my attitude is on the freeway, boxed in by Mack trucks, in the fog, during rush hour.

Aiden and I made it to Fruita, Colorado, just over the Utah/Colorado border. My longtime friend, Celeste lives there (not for too much longer) with her beautiful daughter, Lisa. Lisa is married to Saint Josh; they have four children ages 2, 3, and 5-year-old twins. I'm grateful for the rest stop and the company, oh and the nice cup of coffee I'm about to sign off and drink.

Keep checking in, more to come.