I laughed when I finally figured out what IMHO means- In My Humble Opinion. Mostly because in the past my opinions weren't humble- I expected people to agree and act accordingly.
Well, my friendship circle has increased exponentially to the degree I keep my mouth shut. Even my kids like me now
One of the things I like about living in Wallowa County is that most people DO keep their opinions to themselves. Militant opinion-giving fractures relationships. For our survival here, we need to be interdependent and rely on each other as needed. So slinging opinions is not helpful.
However, once a person gets to know the Wallowa County vibe, she can easily read unspoken opinions.
For instance, there is a long-running debate about the potholes in Joseph. The city says there's no money, that even if grants were written, we wouldn't get them.
I've come up with a plan that would easily get the streets paved...
Each year Cycle Oregon comes to Joseph, route them away from the highway, but strategically through the streets of Joseph. They would be so annoyed at the damage to their expensive bicycles, they would grant us money to pave them. Once one street is paved, the next year we can move them over to another street. Street by street, it could be done
That's how Joseph can benefit from tourism dollars.
But then, I think I just gave my opinion.
After such a bleak winter, these little rays of sunshine poked up from the soil once relieved of the snow.
It amazes me that anything survives such hard winters, but on my hikes and visits with wildflowers, those which grow in the most desolate of places at those whose colors are more vibrant, whose fragrance is ambrosial.
When atop Mt Howard after a ride on the Tram, I see yellow daisies only 1" high, tucked on the lee side of a small mountain stone. It's shorter than its valley cousin, yet brighter.
At the Hells Canyon Overlook on the loop ad, that desert stone ground produces Indian Paintbrush blossoms, rich with vermillion radiance.
But before we were blessed with wildflowers now carpeting our favorite places, these little guys, the glacier lilies, brought hope that things were going to improve.
And they are.
" I think of those who, at recruitment or draft, write their name on a form as they register. They sign their name to a blank check that may require their very lives at time of redemption. Whether driven to the military by patriotism, duty or poverty, their signatures confirm a commitment that others can't or won't make.
A grateful patriot says, "Thank you."
I think of those who returned in silence, who weren't welcomed home, who mentally haven't taken their uniforms off because the wars rage on in their heads, still today.
A grateful patriot stands today with open arms and says, "Welcome home."
I think of those buried on foreign ground or in a hometown cemetery, with small American flags marking their graves, remembered by the others who served.
A grateful patriot says, "God, be with their families."
I think of veterans gathered at the Wallowa County Courthouse Memorial Day at noon who remember their comrades, with trumpeters echoing "Taps" while a few miles up the road American citizens are enjoying a day off from work. BBQ's and family reunions, fishing at the lake or camping- many don't "get" that the freedom to play this weekend comes from those willing to commit their lives through military service.
A grateful patriot says, "Freedom isn't free."
I think of my husband, Richard, who passed away from a
This grateful patriot wipes a tear from her eye.
It's been many, many years. Perhaps even 20. But something has happened that might indicate my mojo is back.
Back then I had shelves of blooming African Violets that I so enjoyed. My grandmother taught me how to start them from a leaf, how to water them (don't let water touch any leaves) and how to pinch off dead blossoms. I had a variety of colors, no two alike. And I would start some to give to friends.
After moving to Montana, the dry air and/or different lighting did not prove conducive to growing these flowers. A large part of being homesick was missing my violets.
A return to Mississippi six years later held the hope of growing African violets again. Nada. Grandmom tried to help me, but still no plants. So it wasn't the air or the lighting after all. It seemed that I had lost my touch and was very disappointed. Successfully growing them was a connection to my grandmother. We shared a deep bond throughout our lives.
Only a couple of months ago, I accepted with trepidation the gift of the above pictured plant from my friend Carolyn Dawson. Just leaves, tired from the long winter. On the way home I practiced my apology for the anticipated demise of this little treasure.
I entered the kitchen the other morning and found this:
"Oh! You're here!" I exclaimed. (Yes, I talk to my plants.)
They are thriving and my confidence is returning. I have experienced a lot of losses over the past 20 years, including Grandmom in 2004. I have often wondered if the energy of that sadness was affecting my relationships with violets. Since I've been living in Wallowa County, not distracted with family matters during this chapter of my life, I spend time letting go of old ideas and unfinished grief. And of all things, these little darlings are indicating my mojo has returned.
I couldn't be happier.
(I don't know the exact meaning of "mojo." I've heard the term often used in the context of "back in my game" or "return of positive energy" or "open again to good things." Whatever...it feels good!)
I admire my daughters-in-law immensely. These gals have three children: 2 boys and 1 girl, each. Each family has its own dynamic, operating on its own determined energy level.
One daughter-in-law has two boys, 16 months apart in age, who are 5 years old and 4, respectively.
I sent her this card for Mother's Day...
I realized this was more like a sympathy card, for I had raised two boys myself. However, my parenting days aren't over, for I am pet-mother to this little guy:
Anyone have any clothespins?
UNDAUNTED- not disheartened; not faltering or hesitating because of fear or discouragement; undismayed; intrepid.
Some other Wallowa Gals and I ate lunch at Mamacita's in La Grande, and I asked the waitress, "Show me your tattoo?"
I don't remember her name, but she's an EOU student. I smiled and told her I was proud of her.
Women around the world are undaunted, yet Wallowa Gals especially so. Our strength, courage and resiliency are manifested daily. School girls who overcome bullying. Young women who pursue a dream with a college education. Married women of all ages who hold the family together during storms of illness, addiction and alcoholism. Women who work outside the home. Women who stay at home with the harder job of being present to raise children. Women who do both. Women who fight and overcome breast cancer. Other women who support them. Women who volunteer in their area of interests and make positive things happen. Women in agriculture who run ranches or farms. Who support their spouse in high production yields and crop failures. The aging wife who is a caregiver for her ailing husband who now has dementia.
In the midst of this, a Wallowa Gal enjoys a luminescent rainbow after a storm. She finds a buttercup shining next to her woodpile. She talks to a chirping robin while she hangs her laundry on the line. She enjoys a picnic with another Wallowa Gal, then rushes back to her responsibilities. She gardens and shares her flowers and vegetables with the elderly. She finds time to quietly read a book when the children and husband are napping.
When I sit along Wallowa River where tumbled rocks obstruct the river's course, the mountain waters continue to flow around it. I recognize the spirit of any Wallowa Gal who holds the power of love and life and accomplishments while surging around any difficulty. Not because she necessarily wants to.
But because she can...
As just a few minutes are left of this date, I remember my sweet husband, Richard, who would be 77 years old today. He was a gem, no doubt. Shared laughter was the glue that held us together.
"You've got to find the humor in everything," he often reminded me.
While he drew his ending breaths (cancer suffocated the life out of him), he heard me in the middle of a giggle-fit while my sister and I recalled a youthful adventure. He, nor I, would have had it any other way.
I've had a wonderful day today, highlighted by remembering him. Grateful he was born and that I had the privilege of knowing him for 14 years. What a gift...
The 2017 Wallowa County Visitor Guide will come out any day now. I was assigned to write an article about the lifestyle here. When I first sat down to write it, in 30 minutes I broke down in tears.
"This is like trying to describe God in 1000 words," I bemoaned to myself. "There's so much to say!"
I realized I was attempting to describe the Wallowa County Lifestyle experienced by each resident. That I could not do, because each person's interests and experiences here are as diverse as the scenery anywhere you go.
I could only write about my own experiences and perceptions, knowing that any of my neighbors, friends or acquaintances would say, "That's not what living here is like for me."
I can't say I'm apologizing for my article ahead of time. Nor is this an excuse. It's more of an explanation of how the article came about.
My readers know I enjoy Wallowa Life here as much as anyone. To open my curtains as the rising sun tips the Wallowa Mountains. To awaken to quail crows and wave to neighbors walking their dogs. To step outside late at night to watch the stars with the river echoing several blocks away. Who could not love this place? This place I call home. I am so grateful.
Today was the coolest day, and I'm not referring to temperatures!
The session with the writers group I belong to was wonderful. We are such a diverse group of women, yet our love for writing is the great equalizer. And what stories we have to tell! Last week our topic discussions traveled from graphic descriptions of childbirth to the politics of public education. That's how we roll, and I love it!
I've been watching my odometer lately, and today when I arrived at the head of the lake, it turned over to 200,000 miles.
Have I mentioned the personal relationship I have with my Chevy Trailblazer? Her name is Goldie. We've been together 13 years. Considering the time I've spent in her and the places we've been, one can't help but have an affection for such a dependable vehicle. She has never let me down.
While living down South in 2004, my husband Richard and I decided we needed to replace the 1992 Blazer I had obtained years earlier in Montana. We went to the local Chevrolet dealer, a salesman greeted us, took us to his desk, and the first question he asked us was, "New or used?"
At the same time, Richard said, "New!" and I said, "Used." (Did I tell you I was the penny-pincher of the two?)
"Uh-oh," I thought. "I forgot to discuss this with Richard. This isn't going to go well." I had forgotten that Richard always wanted the biggest and best, paying top dollar, while I leaned toward finding a cheap bargain.
We came home with a brand new forest green Chevy Trailblazer, 2 wheel drive. I was reeling from the financing of this, plus the high insurance and expensive car tag (over $500 for one year.) A heavy dose of buyer's remorse, no doubt.
I got used to the idea in about two weeks. In week three, Richard announced, "We have to take this back. We need 4 wheel drive."
"Are you serious?" I protested. "We will never be able to recoup our cost, plus 4 wheel drive is more expensive."
"I'm sure of it. We need 4 wheel drive."
"But we live in the city- all paved roads. The only dirt we drive on is our short driveway. Where are we going to need 4 wheel drive?"
"My mind's made up. We need to take this back." By the set of Richard's jaw, I knew the conversation was over. So back to the Chevy dealer we went. This time I was more embarrassed than worried about the money. I had never been in this situation before.
We were led to a gold 4WD Trailblazer, signed the papers and brought it home. It was just a vehicle then, no personal attachment at all.
That was April 2004. At first it was just a large run-around-town car. Then we drove it to Texas two consecutive years for the Ft. Worth Stock Show. We vacationed in the Appalachian Mountains with it. Did we use 4 wheel drive? No, not even on the vacation that brought us to mountainous Joseph, Oregon in 2007 then around to Montana and home again.
I began to feel an affection for her during the year Richard fought his cancer 2008-2009. It was dependable and comfortable for him to ride in, to and fro to chemo treatments. When the side effects became life-threatening, it carried me like a race horse behind the ambulance that carried Richard to the hospital. Day or night, no matter what, it took us wherever we needed to go. No problem.
In the first 18 months after Richard died, I was rear-ended three different times. Each time, it amazed me how my bumper was always intact, with hardly a scratch. The other vehicles looked worse. Some time after that, I tried to sell it. I don't know what I was thinking, but at the time it seemed like a good idea. Fortunately, no one was interested.
When I arrived in Wallowa County in 2013, the 4 wheel drive came in handy, that's for sure. It's odd to me that it was never used while Richard was alive. When exploring the back country, I've found myself on roads that were treacherous. (You know what I'm talking about.) It was then I named her and began patting her on the dash, "Okay, Goldie, you've got to get me through this. There's no turning around here."
I've gone up and down grades that terrified me, but I always get to where I'm going. When I've gone camping in the fall, I've ended up sleeping in her when an unexpected snowstorm came up. Room enough for me, the dogs and cat to spend the night. (Yes, I take Mosie camping with us.)
At another campout I jumped in her as a lightning storm passed overhead. She 2009carried the doe I got last hunting season, as well as buckets of blackberries, apples and produce from the Magic Garden. She has toted horse manure for compost. My two kayaks fit inside just right for fun with friends at the lake. She served as a hearse when my little Aussie, Brownie, died.
The body is dinged up, that's for sure. She's scratched up from my driving through tree branches. I smacked a deer two years ago at Eggleson Corner, which caused big damage. Last year she needed several repairs, mostly of suspension. I'm grateful that Nick Januzzi takes good care of her. From the beginning Richard said to always make sure the oil changes were kept up. I've ever been mindful of that. Anything I have asked of her, she has given.
So I wanted to take her picture at the lake for this big milestone. Then I thought, "I want a picture of all of us." Though there were several trucks with trailers parked at the boat launch, there was no one available to take our photo.
"Hmmm," I thought. "I'll just wait a few minutes."
Up drove this person, who got out of his truck. I motioned to him.
"This may sound silly, but my Trailblazer just turned over 200,000 miles and I'd like our picture taken. Would you mind doing that for me?" Then we introduced ourselves and began a big discussion about our vehicles.
So after a great conversation, he took our photo for me to remember this momentous occasion.
The dogs and I went for a hike in the back country. It was warmer than I expected and a wonderful day. I spotted wild grape hyacinth, glacier lilies, buttercups and loratium. Snow melt tumbled down the slopes, their melodies filling the canyon.
Though the sky was mostly overcast, the sun peeked through a few times. We took a long hike and they crashed when we loaded up and headed home.
Apricot trees are blooming along the Imnaha. The river is full but not out of its banks. I pulled over and glassed 13 Bighorn sheep frolicking on the rims. That was a fun way to end the day.
Or at least I thought we were ending the day...
After topping over Sheep Creek Hill I checked phone messages. A friend had fallen and smacked her head two hours earlier. She wanted me to check on her. I headed for her house and did a walk-through. She wasn't there.
I considered calling her children who live on the other side of the state, but thought better of worrying them. I called the hospital and found her there. Light concussion but she soon was released.
She and I often have discussions about wanting to do things and having to live with some aging-related physical limitations that at the least require us to be more careful. In her case, being careful during this incident didn't help much.
I left her to rest and when I returned with homemade chicken soup for our supper, she wasn't as goofy as when she arrived home earlier. I'm glad she's improving, and admonished her as I walked out the door, "Rest!"
It's been an awesomely good day. I'm thankful for that.
A 50-something woman comes home to a place she's never been before.