It’s been quite a week. Last Thursday we woke up at 5am to get ready for Marika’s second cataract surgery. When I walked to the bathroom, the bedroom carpet was sopping wet. I hadn’t spilled my water bottle, the bathroom itself was dry, yet the floor behind the bathroom was drenched.
We turned off the main water supply, took showers in the RV Park bathroom, turned a fan on to dry the carpet, and went to the surgi-center. On the way there, I left a message with a mobile RV repair place, hoping to schedule an afternoon appointment.
The surgery went fine, we got home and still hadn’t heard from the RV guy, so we booked with another company. He said he’d be here at 1.
When I took Marika’s bandage off her eye at noon, it didn’t look at all like the first eye did. Instead, it was filled with bright red blood. I checked the post-surgery papers to see if this was listed as a normal thing and it wasn’t. So I called the surgi-center, talked with several people and they said, “How soon can you get back here.”
I could feel my heart racing, the anxiety rising inside of me as I herded Marika out the door. She was much calmer. Because she could see out of the eye, she figured it wasn’t serious. But the voice on the phone, made me think otherwise.
When the tech brought us into the exam room, she was calm and unaffected and said, “Oh, this is normal.” Which made me feel like a fool for rushing over, like it was an emergency. The optometrist explained that the redness was just a burst blood vessel, and that we shouldn’t worry about it, it would absorb in time. Redness? Redness is when you have a slight infection in your eye. This was fresh blood, completely obliterating the white of her eye.
And this was not “normal.” Normal means it happens all of the time. Marika’s first eye didn’t bleed. And it wasn’t listed as one of the expected after effects. This might be “not unusual,” but it certainly wasn’t normal.
On the drive home, Marika rescheduled the RV guy for 3:30. And so, instead of being able to relax and rest after the morning trauma, we waited. He finally arrived at 4:30. Everything had dried from the morning, and when we turned the water back on, we couldn’t reproduce the problem. He did bring the fitting to add an extension to the propane tank so we could hook up an external tank, but he brought the wrong hose. In the process of tightening things, he cracked the propane regulator. And all stores were now closed. So now we had no hot water.
He said he felt terrible, but that he would be back the next day with the correct part. So on Friday, we took showers again in the community bathrooms and, after Marika’s follow up appointment, we rushed home to again, wait. At 4:00 I finally texted him to find out where he was, and he said he got hung up at another job and would be here on Saturday, his day off, at 8:30 in the morning.
We got up early on Saturday to be ready, but at 8:15 he said he had to go pick up the part, so he’d be here after 9. He showed up after 10:30 with a part that is bigger than the original one. He installed it as a temporary solutions so we could have hot water, but he needs to order the correct part. He said by Tuesday.
And now it is Wednesday, almost a week after the initial call, and we are still waiting to complete the job.
I tell you this story, not to bemoan how customer service is these days, but to share how difficult it has been for us to navigate through it all.
When I get upset with tech support, or bad service, I get mean or cry when I’m sharing my feelings. Marika tends to keep it to herself, seeming calm and fine on the outside, while she is boiling on the inside.
This time was different. When we went for the follow-up eye appointment, Marika spoke to the tech who said “It’s normal,” and explained how we felt, how the tech needs to change her language, how it feels to be a patient. I still cried when I told her how foolish she made me feel, but I wasn’t mean.
And when the RV guy kept us waiting, I tried to remember that he is overworked, trying to do his best, and at least we had another option for taking a hot shower.
Still, it was hard to hold that compassion alongside my frustrations, and I’m still a bit annoyed.
But I keep reminding myself that things happen. And that these experiences offer us opportunities to rise above, to not get all wrapped in knots of anger, but to breathe and exhale and focus on kindness and compassion and the positives.
Marika’s eye is still bloody ugly, but her vision is amazing. She is seeing details that she’s never seen before, she can read tiny print across the room without glasses, and everything is 25% bigger. The changes are so drastic that it’s taking her a while to adjust.
And I am grateful to be able to take a hot shower in my own bathroom, and finally wash the dishes. And that Marika can really see! I’m sure we’ll resolve the other issues, and life will soon return to normal.
After 6 months of being in the same town, going to work, having a routine, it was so freeing to have a week of just being campers.
We pulled out of Show Low last Monday morning in high winds, so, instead of towing the car, we drove the 84 miles to Winslow separately, Marika and Cody in the RV and me following in the car. We had reservations for 2 nights at Homolovi State Park just outside of Winslow. The park consists of a campground as well as excavated archaeological ruins of the early Hopi Indians. The park is situation on the open plains of the high desert, with wide and vast and open vistas, and you can see for miles.
The first night, the Ranger suggested we drive up the road to a neglected county park to see the sunset at Little Painted Desert. We pulled in as the light of the sun spotlighted the layers of history in the cliffs, from gray to orange to a deep brown that looked like soft suede.
The next day we lounged in bed, listening to the wind outside the open windows, then we took our morning walk around one of the areas with ruins. Shards of ancient pottery lined the walkway and I imagined the hundreds of people that walked and lived in this land more than a thousand years ago.
After breakfast, we left Cody at home in the air-conditioned comfort and set out to find the reservoir and park where Marika might find some birds. The sun was high and warm, so I sat on a collapsible stool under some cottonwoods while Marika sought out some songbirds in the reeds.
We drove into Winslow and explored the famous La Posada Hotel. Designed by Mary Colter, the same woman who designed many of the buildings at the Grand Canyon, this former Santa Fe Railroad property has been completely renovated by four amazing people. The buildings, the gardens, the history, and the art on the walls kept us entertained for several hours. And we ate at the famous and delicious Turquoise Room.
On Wednesday we headed 80 miles west and south to Cottonwood, and camped at Dead Horse State Park, an old favorite along a stretch of the Verde River. The campground has changed a lot since we were there 14 years ago, with better marked trails and more cabins. And the trees and bushes are fuller, taller, and thicker.
We were camped among many tenters, and the campsites were very close together, so we spent the mornings out on the trails, then, when it got too warm, we tucked inside with the curtains and windows closed. Cody loved playing stick along the river and I couldn’t believe the intensity of the cicadas, so loud, we had to almost yell at each other to hear.
We lingered at camp on Friday, getting in one more river walk before heading down the mountain into the Big City. We hooked up the car to tow, but the transmission pump in the car wasn’t working, so we unhooked and, again, drove separately. This time I was in the RV and Marika and Cody followed in the car. It was an easy drive, no traffic, and we arrived at our grass and trees RV park without incident.
And now we are here. Yes, it is warm and the sun is sharp like a knife. But there is a swimming pool right behind our camp spot and, even though the water was winter cold, I got in and enjoyed the swim. And we have also hugged good friends, eaten favorite foods and spent time with my Dad.
The crazy drivers and all-day traffic are taking some adjustment, but I keep reminding myself that we are here for good reasons. And, like every other place we’ve been, it is only temporary.
Marika’s first cataract surgery is next week, and I start seeing favorite Mac clients next week, too. And we have lots of fun things planned in between. So there is much to be grateful for, as always.
I can’t believe we are in our final days here as camp hosts at Fool Hollow Lake State Park. We have four more days of cleaning bathrooms and campsites, and then we are gone, on the road to the next adventure.
We’ll be taking a week to camp and be tourists when we leave here, staying at a couple of State Parks for free, because we were volunteers. We’re going to enjoy a meal from the Travelers Menu at the famous La Posada Hotel’s Turquoise Room, and explore the ruins at Homolovi State Park. Then we’ll spend a few nights at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, an old favorite along a slice of the Verde River in Cottonwood, before heading to the Big City.
We’ll roll into our grass and trees RV Park in Central Phoenix next Friday, and take a few days to acclimate and settle in. We have a week to take care of some appointments and big city errands, and then Marika has her first of many appointments for her cataract surgeries beginning the week of October 9. And I’ve got sessions with Mac training clients beginning that week, too.
So we’re soaking up every inch of nature while we still can, taking walks in the trees and along the lake, noticing which birds have already headed south for the winter, and listening for the bugling elks in the forest across the lake. We’re enjoying the less crowded, post-season, quiet in the campground and in town, and noticing the shifts in the air and the season. The water level is lower in the lake, a line of willows has sprouted to five feet high along the trail, and the black eyed Susans are drying and drooping in the open fields. The random aspens in the park are beginning to golden, and the temperature drops into the 30’s at night, with crispy sweatshirt weather in the mornings and evenings.
And because it’s cooler, I’m spending more time walking with Cody. Last week, for the first time since we’ve been here, we walked the entire Red Head camp loop. I’d been avoiding it because there are two very steep hills, and I thought it would be too far and too hard on my lungs and legs. When I rode the loop on my bicycle, I loved the downhills, but I had to walk my bike up most of the uphills.
And then, one day, Cody and I were walking our usual route but, instead of turning off the road onto the path to the bathroom, I stayed on the road. The first hill started just past campsite 27. I could feel the incline in my legs, but I kept going. Cody loved the new places to smell. I liked seeing the campsites from this slower perspective. We stopped at campsite 20, at the top of the hill and I didn’t hurt. I wasn’t breathing too hard, and I was so tickled with myself. Cody sniffed around and I scanned the trees for birds from this new view.
The downhill was slow and easy and, when we got to campsite 15, about half way down, the view opened up to the lake at the bottom of the hill. The sky was blue, and the water was blue, and there were bright yellow flowers rimming the shoreline.
We followed the road down and turned off onto the lake trail just past campsite 12, where I sat on my favorite sitting rock while Cody scouted for a stick. I wasn’t tired or sore, just so proud of myself for finally trying. We played for a bit, I watched a pair of ducks floating in the water, then we headed back to the road to complete the loop. The incline was constant but not steep, and I didn’t have to stop to slow my breath until we got to campsite 3, almost at the top of the hill. We were both breathing steady, and ready for some water by the time we circled back to our spot, but I felt great! And we’ve been walking the loop almost every day since.
The other day on our camp circle loop walk, we continued along the lake trail, farther than we’d ever walked before. It is a dirt trail, covered with small and medium rocks to prevent erosion. I was wearing my trail runners, not my thick soled hiking boots, and I could feel every stone push into my soles as I walked. At first I wanted to complain, but then I thought of each pressing pebble and rock as a form of reflexology and massage on those parts of my feet that don’t get touched enough. And suddenly, the painful steps became healing steps, and I was willing to walk much further. By the time we circled back to our campsite, we’d walked a mile.
I realize how my mind can really mess with me, talk me out of a longer walk, tell me that a hill is too steep to even try. The truth is, it feels good to challenge myself and move in my body, even at this higher altitude.
I know I’m going to have to make a conscious effort to walk, and find places in nature when we are in Phoenix, because we’ll be in a neighborhood, not the forest, and the sounds of the city are very different than chirping birds and wind through the trees. There are a couple of city parks nearby that we can drive to, with grass and trees and walking paths, and, now, with only one very friendly dog, it will be much easier to meet people and other dogs.
But for these last few days, we’re going to enjoy the forest trails, the walks along the water, and the variety of birds that are still coming to the feeders. Tomorrow, we’re going to spread some of Mabel’s ashes along our favorite family lake trail.
It’s been a great time up here. Different than we expected. Much richer and fulfilling than either one of us could have imagined. Right now, I think I’ll miss the routine of cleaning those bathrooms, but I’m sure that, the minute we hit the highway, we’ll be on to in the next adventure.
Fall is almost here. I can feel the air changing temperature and moisture, and here in the mountains, the water level in the lake is lower, the flowers are bowing more than blooming, and the fox tail plants are beginning to sprout.
This is my favorite time of the year, for letting go, for shedding old skins, for remembering what really matters. And it is also the Jewish New Year.
This Wednesday evening marks the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. While it is a time of celebration, it is also a time for reflection and repentance. One of my favorite concepts about the Jewish New Year is the idea of starting with a clean slate. All past mistakes, hurts and transgressions are forgiven.
But, unlike other religions, it isn’t God that you ask forgiveness from. God forgives everything.
Instead, we seek out those who we have judged, or offended or hurt and we ask THEM to forgive us.
We begin anew because we have owned our actions and genuinely said I’m sorry to the person who we hurt.
Another ritual of the holiday is Tashlich, meaning cast off. We go to a body of water and, using bread crumbs, we symbolically cast our sins into the moving water. Again, we are claiming accountability for our actions, forgiving ourselves, and letting go.
And in doing so, we can move into the new year without the burdens and regrets and mis-steps of the past.
It’s a tradition to gather with family and friends and share a delicious holiday meal on Rosh Hashana. My family always enjoyed a many course meal: gefilte fish with salad, chicken soup with kneidels, my mother’s sweet, tender brisket with crisp, roasted potatoes, string beans with almonds, a sweet carrot mash called tzimmis, and honey cake, my father’s favorite, for dessert.
It’s also a tradition to eat apples and honey for the New Year. These sweet foods symbolize the sweetness we wish for ourselves and our loved ones in the coming year.
These are wonderful, powerful rituals.
Saying I’m sorry.
Making peace with the past.
Letting things go.
And opening up to the joy, the sweetness of what is and what else is possible.
Perhaps you’d like to incorporate some of these rituals into your life this week.
Maybe you will call a friend, or send a note and say you’re sorry.
Maybe you will take some bread crumbs to your neighborhood park and forgive yourself with each toss.
Maybe you will gather with loved ones and indulge in all the foods that taste like love.
Maybe you will dip a slice of apple in honey and open to the sweetness of your life.
We are in our last four weeks of camp hosting at Fool Hollow Lake State park in the cool Arizona mountains. The wonderful monsoon storm season has passed, though we do still get a surprise afternoon rain shower every few days. The campground was full of happy campers for the Labor Day weekend, and now things are slowing down and we are blessed to still be in this beautiful, serene place.
And I am beginning to make plans for what’s next. We’ll be heading down to the valley in October for two months of Big City things, including Marika’s cataract surgeries. We’ll camp for a few days between here and there, to slowly acclimate to the changes in terrain and temperature.
We were planning to head to the Texas Gulf Coast in December, but now we’re not sure where we’ll go after Phoenix. And we don’t need to know yet. For now, we just need to enjoy where we are, right here, right now.
We’ve been going into town in the afternoons after work, checking out some of the local artisan galleries. We attended the White Mountain Humane Society’s annual fundraiser, and happened upon last weekend’s Wildlife Festival at the Nature Center. Marika made a pine cone and peanut butter bird feeder, and I shot a BB gun for the first time in my life. Even with the wind swinging my paper target, I hit the bullseye two out of five times. The instructor was as thrilled as I was.
We’re still appreciating the physical work of our camp hosting duties, and I can definitely feel how much stronger I am, lifting the wet mop, starting and maneuvering the leaf blower. We’ve been socializing more with our co-workers, and we had fun giving out Smokey Bear activity bags to the kid campers these past weekends.
When I start to freak out about next month, and being in the Big City, and the traffic and the air quality, and the heat, I remember to breathe and re-focus on the good things of being in there, like seeing my dad, and my own dentist, connecting with friends in person, eating at our favorite ethnic restaurants, real bagels, getting a good haircut, working with my favorite Mac clients one last time. And if it’s too warm, there’s a swimming pool at the RV park where we’re staying.
And then I bring my attention back to being here, and how I can embrace this remaining time in this beautiful place. So I’ve been walking along the lake even when I’m feeling lazy, taking Cody for long strolls through the campground, and tonight, I am getting on the water in my kayak for sunset, even though there may be a bit of a breeze.
It is a delicate balance of planning for the future, and being present, right here. I think it is this constant shifting and balancing between now and then that creates the momentum to keep us moving forward. Yes, we still tip into the sadness of Mabel no longer being here, and that, too, keeps the energies moving.
So as we enjoy our last weeks here at the lake, with the big sky and the tall trees and tonight’s full moon, we will keep saying thank you and WOW, and thank you some more.
It is with the heaviest heart that I share that we had to put Mabel to sleep last Friday. We celebrated her 14th birthday on August 1, and a week later, she was suddenly moving slower, eating less, sleeping more. Her belly was distended and she was all wobbly and couldn’t easily get up and down.
We are not ones to prolong an animal’s pain and suffering, even though the loss is so painful. And so we made the decision.
One of the Park Rangers recommended the vet where his wife works in the office. She assured us that we’d be in a quiet room and would be well taken care of.
But it was not the experience we were hoping for. Mostly because we were there for more than an hour and a half, doing a lot of waiting. We waited for the special room to be ready, waited for the first tech, waited to see the doctor, more waiting for the paperwork, then the catheter, and even after she was sedated, more and more waiting.
And the room was anything but quiet and peaceful. We even heard the conversation where the new tech was being told how to put the catheter in.
And then, even after Mabel was sedated, we waited another 20 minutes for the doctor to return, even though we were told, “as soon as you’re ready, let us know and the doctor will be in.” I went to the desk and asked for the final injection, but the doctor didn’t come. Instead we got to hear his entire consultation next door, including how to boil chicken for a dog with an upset stomach.
And when it was all done, we were more angry than sad, and it’s taken a few days to move from that anger into the real grief.
The big blessing is that Mabel was calm and relaxed and ready. And this is what I need to focus on.
She was a great companion and a relaxed traveler, a tail talker, lover girl and bed hog. And what an athlete–mid-air frisbee catcher, any kind of water swimmer, football player, squeaky tosser, pigeon chaser. So many joys in her 14 years. And to think that just last month she was running to keep up with Cody in the forest.
We are all adjusting to her absence. Even Cody, who barely interacted with Mabel beyond a group growling when they got something special in the food, seems to be missing her. But he is soaking up all of the extra love, and enjoying the leftover chicken broth that Marika had made for Mabel.
Marika bought a beautiful bouquet of pink carnations in Mabel’s honor, and, just like with Saffron, Zasu, Bikini, Petita, Jammies and Laddy before her, we’re telling her stories and holding her in our hearts.
We are in our fourth week as full-on camp hosts, and have finally settled into the rhythm of our jobs. In addition to bathroom and camp site cleaning, we are available for camper questions, do golf cart rounds to check on things, and, two days a week we sell firewood and ice.
Unlike last time when we felt an urgency to get our work done, this time we’re not waiting on edge for our campers to vacate their spots so we can clean. Partly because we are now living IN the loop we’re cleaning, so we can see when folks pull out. But more, because I understand that some campers are going to wait until check out time to actually pull out. Maybe even later.
Yes, someone else might be waiting for the spot, but technically, check IN time isn’t until 2. So there is time. Some of the other hosts are a bit more edgy about it. Because they want to be done with their work so they can do their own thing.
And yep, that used to be me, too. But then I remembered that, when we’d go camping, I used to want to linger at the camp site, not wanting to rush home. And so I’m fine with the folks that pull out three minutes before noon, or twenty minutes after.
And so the hosting is much more relaxed, even on the days we sell firewood and ice. After we clean the bathrooms and campsites, we’re available from 9-1 and 3-7 to sell firewood and bags of ice. The vending area is up a slight slope at the entrance to the loops, right next to Jeannie, the Mallard Host who is the main sales person. But on her days off, signs direct campers to our site for sales.
On the first day, I was on alert the entire shift, watching out the window, craning my neck to see the vending area. Every time a vehicle pulled up I scrambled to grab the money boxes (for making change) and get up there before they bothered Jeannie. The first few times, Jeannie was calling me on the radio as I was climbing the six tiered steps from our site to the top of the hill. One time I brought the change box but forgot my keys and Jeannie handed me hers. We felt terrible that people were bothering her on her day off, and that she was having to call us to tell us we had a sale. But then we realized that she keeps her radio on all of the time, so she must not mind.
On the second day, I sat outside, facing the vending area and tried to relax a bit. Jeannie didn’t have to call as often, and she said she even got to take a nap.
Now, on wood and ice days we sit outside with the dogs, reading, relaxing, keeping an eye on the vending area, in case someone drives up. And in between, we do our midday bathroom check and drive around, making sure our campers are settling in (and abiding by all of the rules).
And in the evenings we do our 7 pm drive around, stopping to watch the sun set over the lake. One evening we watched the two local elk mosey through the campground. First they were eating the grass along the side of the road, then they stopped at our neighbor’s bird bath for a drink. The larger of the two males nosed the empty hummingbird feeder, then checked the empty seed feeders, then they both ambled down to the lake.
It sounds like a pretty easy life. And it is. Still, by the time our days off roll around, we are tired and a little sore, and ready for the two-day break.
Two weeks ago I finally got my boat in the water. Marika and I folded the kayak into the back of the golf cart and drove down to the boat ramp. We inflated it then carried it to the water. Marika helped me push off and then I was gone without even a wave good bye. And it was glorious.
The boat listed to the right, but I guessed it was the slight current in the water. Then I wondered if I had the seats facing the wrong way. But then I heard the lapping of the water against the surf valve, and began to relax into trusting it was correct. I found my paddling rhythm quickly and there was no one on the water in view.
And the sky was big and blue with puffs of white clouds, and the water was cool and still, and the rock formations along the walls of the western banks were stunning. There were people fishing along the banks and I could hear their conversations as if I were right there next to them.
I paddled past the camp loops, beyond the tents sites, toward the narrowing of the lake where it meets Show Low Creek, until it was just me, in my boat, in the middle of the water with an Osprey overhead. I leaned my neck against the inflated seat back, so comfortable and supported that I could feel my heart opening. And then I ommmmed long and steady, for several sweet minutes, knowing how the sound carries across the water.
Since then, the monsoons have arrived, with gorgeous afternoon lightning and thunderstorms, which means no boats on the water. Instead, we sit under the awning as the rain pours down, until we have to go inside because we are getting too wet.
This week we have a break in the rains, and it is sunny and warm again, so I’m hoping Marika will join me for a paddle one late afternoon.
And this Friday we’re going with some fellow camp hosts to the extravagant Seafood Buffet at the nearby Casino. And in between all of our camp hosting, I’m still helping folks with the Mac and iPhones.
Yep, it’s a good life, indeed!
We are back at Fool Hollow Lake State Park, settled into our new spot, and today was our first day back to work. When we were hosts here in April and May, we were the Rover Hosts, only responsible for cleaning bathrooms and camp sites and helping out the other hosts on their days off. This time we are full-fledged camp hosts in the biggest loop in the campground.
Our duties include cleaning 8 bathrooms, taking care of the 30 sites in our loop, and answering camper questions. AND on Wed and Thurs we also sell wood and ice between 9am and 7pm. AND we have to check the cooling fan in the storage room three times a day AND do drive around patrols. And if we leave the park during our scheduled work days, we need to notify the rangers. This is much different than our Rover jobs where we did our work, and then we were done.
Marika keeps saying it will be good for us to be so busy. I sure hope she’s right.
We’re driving a different golf cart and it is clunky and a little too big for me. But our camp site is roomy with trees and shrubs behind us and on one side, the road with no campsite is across from us, and campers are on our back side, and far enough away that it feels private.
The other hosts have been exuberant in their welcoming us back, and the ranger guys are already joking around with us. And on Thursday, there’s a potluck dinner for the hosts and rangers. Marika is making a cheesecake and a peach pie.
It’s officially monsoon season, so it is pretty humid here during the day-about 63%. But the sky and the thunder and rain are so worth it. And I absolutely love being able to see the lake, to be around water and this big open sky.
We’ll be here through the end of September, so if you’re wanting a cool getaway, come and visit!
We’ve been very restless here at the Hon-Dah RV Park. There’s not a lot to do in this small town, and, even though it’s cooler than Phoenix, the 90° afternoons make it tough to be outside during the majority of the day. We haven’t connected with any of the other 400 campers here, and the forest is very quiet.
I worked a shift at the Love Kitchen, but didn’t feel welcomed or needed there, and I wasn’t finding any other interesting volunteer opportunities. I tried to tell myself that all of this free time and space was ideal for writing my next book, but I kept hitting so much resistance.
I talked with Marika about getting back on the road, but it’s still pretty darn hot in most of the country. And then I wondered if traveling was just a distraction from something bigger I am supposed to be transforming right here in this quiet uncomfortableness.
And we really do have it pretty good here. It’s very affordable, the dogs can run free in the forest, there are no ticks and very few mosquitoes, we’re seeing Rufus and Broad-Tailed hummingbirds at Marika’s feeders, and we’ve seen wild horses and even a bear not far from our campsite.
But we were both ready for something to shift, to have some responsibility in the world, to wake up and feel like we have a purpose.
Yesterday morning, we drove to Fool Hollow Lake so I could FINALLY go paddling. We mentioned to our Ranger friend in the office that we were again available, in case they needed a last-minute camp host. They had called us a few weeks before to be tent hosts, but Marika was down in Phoenix taking care of our friend, and the tent hosts share a site with the other tent hosts, and I wasn’t interested in that.
On the drive to the boat ramp, we stopped to chat with another one of the permanent Rangers, and she told us that one of the host couples had just that morning been asked to leave, and they were actually now looking for another host couple.
Ten minutes later the Head Ranger pulled up to where we were inflating the kayak and offered us the position.
So yes, we’ll be going back to Fool Hollow Lake State Park this Sunday to be camp hosts for the rest of the season. This time, instead of being Rover Hosts, we’ll have our own loop of campsites and bathrooms to clean. And we’ll be available to campers for questions. We’ll also sell firewood and ice 2 days a week when the other host is off duty.
Marika and I are thrilled, excited, and in awe of the synchronicity and simplicity of it all. And I am excited that we will be back near water, and in big sky territory for the monsoon season.
And no, I didn’t get on the water because, after I pumped up the kayak, I realized I had forgotten the seats. But I guess I wasn’t there to paddle!
For the last two weeks, Marika has been down in the valley helping a friend navigate a new phase of her cancer journey. I stayed up here in the mountains with the dogs, offering long-distance support and compassion during this very difficult situation.
I’ve enjoyed the time alone. I’m used to living by myself and I’m capable of all things with the RV. But it’s also been eye-opening to notice how often I’d complain about Marika, when really, they were things about myself that I was not liking. Living so close with another person, you become big mirrors for each other. Without Marika here 24/7, I was forced to look at my own self and claim some of the things that I had been blaming on her. Like my boredom. My weight. My lack of lust for life.
I journaled a little and cried a bit, but mostly I distracted myself with the first seven seasons of Top Chef, even though I’d already seen them. I took many walks with the dogs and found a new way to play with Cody and his ball while Mabel could enjoy sniffing.
And I had a breakthrough with the book. I finally found the voice with which to tell the story. I worked on it for a day or two, and then I put it aside again, telling myself that thinking about it is still working on it.
I’m pretty sure I know why I’m stuck, and yet, I’m not quite ready to work through it. I could beat myself up and focus on why I am not doing this one big thing that my future self wants so much. Or I could try kindness and compassion and think about all of the things I have been doing that are different than before.
I got together with the ladies for lunch and Mexican Train, and I went back to the dentist for my permanent crown. I put the awning up and down and up again, by myself. I cooked a few meals, and found the best pizza place in town. I checked out the Butterfly Thrift Store for a possible volunteering, and finally called the Love Kitchen and did my first volunteer shift there last week. I met my contact person at the library for my Heart Sparks workshops and put up the flyers in the RV Park office and laundry room.
After several failed attempts to hang my Prayer Flags outside (too much wind), I brought them inside and hung them over the office and in the bedroom. I made a card for a friend’s new business opening and a fun camping kit for another friend and her 9 year old camping companion. I’ve been helping the students in my online Mac class, and I even worked with an in-person Mac client with Photos on her iPhone. I washed the RV floors, cleaned the stove, washed the car. And I got my bike out of the car, put air in the tires, and rode to the end of the forest road that extends beyond the campsites.
Yes, I smoked every day and watched a lot of TV, but I made sure I left the house and connected with another human being at least once every day. Even if it was just to go to the office to check about the mail, or do the laundry. And I finally went to a yoga class. It wasn’t the mind-body-spirit practice I was hoping for, but my body felt open and alive afterwards and I was glad I went. And I promised myself I’d go again.
And when I didn’t go to class the following week and I started to berate myself, I said, maybe next week, and let it go. And every time I heard myself calling me lazy or complacent, I’d take the dogs for a walk, or text Marika, or offer up some big love into the world, for all of the people who don’t have this kind of time and space in their lives to do absolutely nothing.
Maybe this is a time of fallow fields. Maybe I need to get really uncomfortable before I’m willing to make some big changes. Maybe those changes are already happening, and I just can’t see them. Right now, all I can do is stay aware and present, and be kind to myself and whatever I am resisting. And to not make this be about Marika, when she comes home this week.
Meanwhile, I’m keeping the hummingbird feeders full, and scattering the sunflower seeds around the tree trunk, just like she asked, so that the birds will be here, along with me and the dogs, to welcome her home.