4:00 a.m. wake up

I woke up early.  Not unusual.  I used to thrash around and get frustrated about middle-of-the-night wake ups.  Maybe I woke at this hour because I was speaking with a friend about insomnia and short sleeps, on the telephone, last evening.  Maybe it just happened because something roused me in the night.  I know that sometimes I land in that place where thoughts move in and out of my mind.  I don’t know if they are dreams or actual thoughts.

These days, when this happens, I get myself up, make my bed and put on a pot of coffee.  This morning, before the rest of you were up, I decided to sort that big pile of paper that has, over months, been turning into a mountain.  Why does this happen?

While I was sorting, I came upon this in one of my memory books.

For all of those who sponsored me on my 30 mile Walk for Development when I was sixteen years old, “Thank You!”  Did I actually collect?  I’m looking at the list of people.

Well, Ramona, you were a bestie…so, the fact that I walked all 30 miles at 5 cents a mile, I  collected $1.50 from you.  That was a lot of money in the day, right?  (I received your Christmas card…thank you, dear friend.) And, Veronica, it’s been so nice to reconnect and follow your beautiful family photographs shared in social media. Kyle Harlan, well, you just pledged money out of guilt, didn’t you?  I will never forget how you tripped me as I walked down the aisle in geometry class?  Did any of my readers witness that?  I was wearing yellow fishnet stockings held up with a garter (I’m not kidding you) at the time…and a mini skirt!  All the rage in the day.

We lost wonderful Jeff Marshall just recently to cancer.  I always loved your wit and humour, Jeff, but 1 cent a mile???  Really? Your sense of humour…again.

Dan Hinkin passed away in 2013, the year of Mom’s passing!  10 cents!  Now, we’re talkin’.  I had such a huge crush on you, Dan! Honestly, though, I’m sure that I likely went about with butterflies in my tummy for the entire day that you pledged 10 cents a mile for my Walk for Development.  I’m guessing that on the day of the walk, that pledge likely carried me around the route, floating.  Hmmm…Nope!  I remember the blisters!

Allan?  Honestly, I don’t remember you.  Mike Dial, I got to know you through student politics.  Thank you.  2 cents a mile…wow…so, at the end of my 30 mile walk, did I collect on that 60 cents?  What was I doing, any way?  Mr. Winenger…my art teacher…(spelled wrong…again!), really?  5 cents???  How many students were asking you to sponsor them?  Certainly isn’t like putting out for Simple Simon Pies or cookie dough, though, was it?  Marc Bauer…well, this was a bit of an insult.

To all of you, who sponsored me, thank you.  This archive serves a single purpose for me this morning.  It reminds me of how naive I was.  How much did I raise for world development, in the end?

Oh!  I’ll let my readers figure it out!  I’m going to turn off my 6:00 a.m. alarm!

Sunshine and Sky

Wonders 76 Lake Michigan and Mona

I met Ramona in 1971.  With a friendship as dear as this, I learned about how much fun life could be!  Ramona had a boyfriend.  I learned about and anticipated life experiences through the sharing of her experiences.  We walked for miles and miles together and while we did, Ramona would recount many adventures and amazed, I would rattle off my stories to her.  Ramona was one of the dearest and truest people in my life during those years.

She and I would dance in her bedroom.  I always compared her to Janis Joplin.  She called me Sky and I called her Sunshine.  She strung mismatched printed handkerchiefs on strands of trim and from this, created clothing.  She would dance with her arms completely free and open, spinning in circles to Black Sabbath.  We would laugh and talk as we wandered Lakeside in the dark.  We had no need of alcohol because we were both always so ‘high’ on life.  I felt free through her…her experience of music…her freedom to dance…her story.

She wore bangles and beads and her copper hair hung well past her bum, as her mother’s always did.  Ramona sang like a bird.  I whistled, because I rarely knew the words. We made pancakes whenever I slept over and her Mom hugged and loved me.  The last time I visited Mona in Manistee, Michigan,  I treasured the fact that she made us pancakes…just like old times.

On January 11th, Ramona retired from her role with the forestry service.  Through all of her years and various locations, Ramona always kept in touch with me.  I have compiled a full memory book of her wanderings and achievements and treasure her cards and letters, holding them always dear to my heart.  I am so proud of you, Ramona, and know that we’ll be connecting to do some traveling.  Congratulations, dear friend!

The following autobiographical information was shared by Ramona as a part of her retirement invitation.  I only regret that I couldn’t be by her side as she celebrated such a milestone.

Friends, Forest Service family, volunteers and project partners; I am retiring on January 12, 2013.  After 34 years, and 5 months of employment with the Federal Government (on the Beaverhead, Clearwater, Flathead, Los Padres, Lolo, Nicolet and Huron Manistee National Forests and as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Temuco, Southern Chile.) New adventures are calling.  Here are a few career highlights, besides meeting and working with you:

® Wildfire and emergency assignments, especially as an Information Officer- for Hurricane Katrina in San Antonio, the Chicken Fire in Alaska and The Wesley Fire Complex on the Payette NF  this fall…

® Details with Wilderness; to The Aldo Leopold Center  in Missoula, and Training for Line Officers at Ninemile Station, to Guatemala with The Sister Forest Program and to the White Mountain NF -to enter trails data after Hurricane Irene

® Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness data collection, and kayaking recreation patrols on the Pine and Manistee rivers

® Working with and training volunteers and interns, from clubs and universities, and sharing information and ideas

® Monitoring Recreation Special Use Events and working with the event organizers, photographing participants

® Our partnership with “Explore the Shores” for improving Universal access to Manistee County river access sites

® Speaking to outdoor, school and youth groups, and representing the Forest Service at conventions and meetings

® Brainstorming with colleagues at Forest Service trainings, such as The Eastern and Southern Region University and at Clemson University as part of the 3-week intensive Outdoor Recreation Planner Course

® Organizing, planning for and conducting National Visitor Use Monitoring surveys with our forest visitors

® Leading trail hikes for The Forest Festival in Manistee and coordinating National Trails Day Events, as well as

® My Peace Corps assignment with the Ministry of Education in Chile, designing 5th grade environmental education curriculum, making a National Park slide program  for schools and organizing youth conservation summer camps

Reflections

Scents of pine, crunchy leaves, crystal snow, nose-hair freeze, I’ll still walk the forest trails, but without badges or uniforms regales.

Glistening shores, swift flash of fish, turtle’s splash, water’s itch, paddling onward fast and slow, I’ll be there too, don’tcha know.

Singing sand, fossil stones, bits of glass, pockets full, but a chorus of friends harmonize too, “come couch surf please; we’ve places new to travel and explore with you”.

Memories newly made or old, you’ll be with me too- minus blanket hogs or snores.

Reading, beading, polishing stones…, resale shop treasure hunts, volunteering, learning to teach English to non-native speakers, or even how to do computer Webpage Design, pottery creations, water color painting, writing and music listening too; oh my… “There is so much to do”!

Re-invention, re-tirement, waking with the sun, looking forward not back, perhaps I’ll even relax.

Thank you all, it’s been wonderful!

Mona 2April 2010 014 R

What About Bob?

In a Montana high school, we were both speech competitors, but in different events.  We sometimes had long journeys across state for competitions and the bus rides were very entertaining.  What I treasured most were long conversations about every topic under the sun.  Bob was always there for those.  So was I.  It wasn’t until university that I studied philosophy, but on one of those sleepy long drives in the dark in 1973 (all of us perched on seat arms in the aisles), I learned about Immanuel Kant and went out and purchased a book.  I’ve been inquisitive ever since…about most things.

This past weekend, Bob came up to Calgary and introduced me to an amazing A Cappella group from Finland, Ryjaton, performing at Knox United church.  We first shared in a bite at the Blackfoot Diner.  I only wished that I had taken a photograph there. 

Later, it was a beautiful thing to hear music that reached down into the soul.  Sharing the evening with our own Calgary Philharmonic Chorus, Ryjaton totally wowwed me with their vocal abilities and with their inspiring interpretations of music.  Thank you, Bob.

We shared a big Stampede breakfast in the morning and some conversation in the studio. 

Feasting

It is difficult to believe that it has been almost forty years since we shared our thoughts.  It was all so natural.  A blessing.  Before we knew it, it was time for Bob to head back to Montana…his home and family.  But, for that short time, we certainly were blessed by music, ideas and remembrance!  Friendship is a wonderful thing that transcends time and place.

Talking About Art and Life