On The Road to Shambala

 shambhala

With a joyful heart and spicy, wicked grin for planting the earworm of the Three Dog Night classic in your mind, let me tell you where my body, mind and spirit wandered from four o’clock in the morning on Thursday to this Sunday afternoon. Let me help you get your bearings in the “Land Beyond your Imagination” – or where I live in my mind. I am a hopeless, shameless romantic that will occasionally ooze angst. I believe in the Power of Love to overcome all but the most Evil, and perhaps at that to have a fighting chance. I am also dealing with the aftereffects of a nasty cerebral vascular event which tends to make my life play out in vignettes of wonder strung along with tears and laughter.

Love is love is love and should be celebrated and held as Holy no matter how it manifests amongst consenting individuals of legal age. When I learned of the GRL Retreat being held this October, AND that not only would some of the individuals of like mind would be there but my favorite authors as well, it became like the Sacred Quest to attend. Fearlessly and courageously I cleared the mental chess board to ‘make this happen’ in spite of financial, physical and emotional limits. What I failed to consider, no toss that; what I denied even existed was the possibility of my short term memory loss manifesting adventure where I did not need it!

I was so proud that I’d made flight arrangements AND arranged for a rental car. I was going to do this like an adult! Did I LOOK at those reservations closely? Was I aware that I was shorting myself of re-coop time from travel? Did I know I was travelling before the chickens were awake BOTH ways and would miss the closing breakfast? Aww Hell, no!

Amy Lane is an author hiding her Goddess nature well, and as her birthday was close to the event, I packed a gift and card for her along with the books that literally saved my life for autographs. I packed clothes for cold weather, I packed clothes for hot weather. I packed shoes (which upon unpacking, I FORGOT I brought!) I packed all my electronic toys, and by the time I was done, I needed a wagon train with pack mules. Alas and alack, TSA doesn’t allow those on flights. Ok, time to reconsider and re-pack. Ummm, rethought and ended up packing even more. This wasn’t working. Finally, 8 hours before flight time I managed to get it together enough to have a reasonably bulky, but two item burden to schlep….and a purse….and a cane! Oh I was ‘Stylin’ – not!

packing list two

It was off the plane, onto a bus which took me to the rental agency and then into my chosen chariot for the weekend, a 2014 Kia Soul….but I did look lustfully and longingly at the Chrysler minivan as my evil heart had alternative plans flying around. I’d agreed to pick up another FB friend at Union Station whose train would arrive after my flight. This was not to happen simply because a.) The trains do not run on time and b.) Chicago depends on parking fees to pay its debts – simply outrageous! Looking at the maps on Google, my quest appeared to be quite easy. Allow me to interject here that while I have a snazzy Android style phone, the damned thing lost its mind AND it’s voice simultaneously at soon as I landed at O’Hare. Let us also interject that Chicago in its’ eternal wisdom of metropolitan angst decided to re-arrange ALL of the access roads, highways and byways with which one navigates any mass transportation area. I managed to get myself lost TWICE in the span of 4 hours despite having the latest in electronic navigation equipment via cellular device. Some would call it “creative ineptitude” – I prefer to term it as “The Tolkien Effect” – I was not lost, I was merely wandering with a purpose, because I eventually got to where I needed to go. Not without unnecessary drama, and I’m sure that there’s a certain member of Chicago’s finest who will NEVER forget the creative epithets that I have given him gratis for life in describing my cell-phone-that-doubles-as-a-flotation-device.

curse bubble

When I arrived, 4 hours AFTER I arrived, I was in no emotional state to do more than find a cool corner and quiver like nervous dessert (think jello) but I stowed the nervous breakdown for a later date and managed to get myself registered and responsibly present for book-stamping duty. Even though I missed the Swag Room and the Newbie Meeting, thus began the lovely adventure that ended all too soon but was marked by meeting Facebook friends and some new faces. Those I was in awe of: Shira Anthony, Rhys Ford, Amy Lane, Sara York, Ariel Tachna, Cherie Noel and Angel Martinez. Folks that I will share heartspace with forever: Dana Piazzi, Tame Anna, LE Franks, Kazy Reed, LM Somerton, Christy Duke, Kris Gray, JP Bowie, Tim Brehme and so many more that I simply cannot remember names. Allow me to take this moment to drop a deep curtsy of respect to the event organizers – you’ve earned a respite from incarnation as anything less than a pampered adored demi-deity for the next term of Eternity.angel-halo

The biggest development of sheer surprise to me? I sang karaoke without needing copious amounts of pharmacopeia to do so! That was ME – without Zoloft or Klonopin, (I’d brought them with in case I needed to return to the regimen I’d so carefully weaned off of…) and I remember just letting GO. Wow. Niki Massey and I did breakfast together….after schlepping the ¼ mile jaunt down the hallway that reminded me of the labyrinthine passages of a bad sci-fi movie. It was the only negative to a fantastic 4 day adventure that passed as a blur – the eternal jaunts back and forth and having to school the gnat brain into consideration of “things future needed”…(gnat brain barely speaks English on GOOD days. The cold weather and the fireplace gather pit was a welcome refuge that allowed me to enter into conversation as I was able to without an inner nervous breakdown/freak out.

Speaking of which, LM Somerton – honey, you were an angelic intervention when I was on the edge of implosion/panic attack. There simply not enough words to express the gratitude I feel for you being there when the press of the crowd was about to send me screaming off into the shadows. (Turns out that missing that particular highlight was a good thing….after the crush of the crowd, the temptation of alcohol would have been too great…Ya’ just never know when the Goddess will use you for emergency purposes!)

Lessons learned for the next gathering of my beloved, eternally adopted Tribe:

  • Bring your OWN pillows. Trusting others for your sleep comfort is foolhardy.
  • Pack simple basic outfits, not entire changes of wardrobe. Thou art not a clotheshorse.
  • Make room for every comfortable pair of shoes you usually schlep around in. Pack them.
  • Jammies trump t-shirts in cold weather.
  • Remember to send up good prayers for roomies with the patience of a saint – (LOVE YOU, Kris!)
  • There will simply never be enough time, hugs, smiles or tears when you spend time with the weirdos, misfits, and miscreants you call Tribe. That simple seed of Love will grow in my heart forever.
  • Find the courage to go outside your comfort zone – you’re amongst your people!
  •  HUGS. Give them, get them, seek them out. It’s how we stay sane.

Finally, I came home with a secret, glowing happy sheltered in my heart….Amy said my crochet was ‘Beautiful work’…..! I saw her fingerless gloves and was totally in AWE….Thank you, my new beloved adopted peoples, my Tribe!!!

PS: “Unicorn shifters? Ouch!”

unicorn funny

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When You Wish Upon a Cloud

In the long lasting relationships there are always stories; these are the weavings of how we relate one to the other, of what we find precious and hold dear. It’s been more than 20 years since this particular incident occurred and I never considered what the impact of it would be for myself and my beloved. Today, I am glad to have this particular memory to look back on because it reflects on who we are as a couple and the tough decisions we’ve had to make.

It was October then, too. Six months after our wedding and I was VERY pregnant with our first baby together. I was also craving ice cream, but not just any ice cream. It had to be Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla. (Still my all-time favorite!) The Dane and I had walked the ½ block down the road to the corner convenience store and on our way in, we heard kitten noises. We looked around, but couldn’t locate the source –and I was worried, this wasn’t just an “I want my momma” cry, this was something more. Unable to find where the noise was coming form, we went inside made our purchases and then returned to where we’d heard the sound.

It was twilight, and there wasn’t very good lighting behind the store, but we were able to identify an area of the source; the dumpster. I was still worried and when we returned home, we asked the babysitter and my oldest child to take a flashlight and go see if they could find the distressed animal. 20 minutes later, she and my daughter came home with a tiny mess of a kitten; he was still yowling, but purring simultaneously. To our horror and shock, someone had wrapped this furry baby in duct tape and then attempted to set fire to him. His whiskers were singed, the tip of one ear was scorched, blistered and hairless, and his paws were a mess from where he’d tried to escape from both the dumpster and the tape.

With baby oil and scissors, we managed to get the tape off of him, and with cotton swabs and baby shampoo, we were able to get all the crud off of his coat. He was a green-eyed beautiful long-haired tri-colored tabby patched male, with fur so long and fluffy that I named him “Cloud.” His purrs were tremendous and his appetite more so. He ate the mix of canned and dry kitten food with relish and abandon, and promptly fell asleep with one paw in the food dish. We tucked him into a basket with clean towels and newspaper; sure that the morning would bring us a better chance to know our newest adoptee. After the rush of getting everyone off to school and work, the housekeeper and I discovered that Cloud had made a mess in his basket. I couldn’t clean him up as I was home on bed rest from having earlier premature delivery symptoms, so the housekeeper scrubbed the poop mess off the kitten and we layered newspaper in the bathtub of the unused guest bathroom for him. We figured that he’d just had an upset tummy from eating garbage and a week or so of eating kitten chow would ‘put him to rights’ – either way, he was much too young for worming meds.

 

Cloud

I decided that Cloud needed a toy and went looking for something suitable for our tiny furry baby. All I could find was an oversized marble, but when I put it in the bathtub with Cloud, he pounced in absolute joy and abandon. Chasing and batting the marble was the thrill of his life, that is until his bowels decided that the extra movement was a signal to let go and he pooped all over the tub again. I heard him protesting loudly, Cloud did not like ‘dirty’ and his tub was ‘dirty.’

Sensing we might have a bit of a time with his bowel problem, I came up with a solution. Line the tub with paper, give him a potty box with newspaper and then plug the drain so his marble toy had free rein. For the better part of two weeks this was Cloud’s world; until anyone came into the bathroom, that is. Cloud preferred to be held and loved. He was happiest cuddled up under a chin purring for all he was worth, kneading the chest of the lucky person holding him.

At the end of three weeks, Cloud’s stools were still runny and now beginning to show signs of blood. He wasn’t weak, but I was worried and my beloved husband made a vet appointment for him. I wasn’t prepared for the phone call I received later that day; it was my husband, and he could barely talk. “Honey?” I asked, “What’s up? What’s wrong?” I heard him try to catch his breath and then I heard a choked sob. “Babe,” he replied, “Are you in bed or sitting in the living room?” I was propped up in the bedroom crocheting a toy for Cloud, and I told him. “Honey, put it down for a moment. Cloud was terminal.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My beloved further explained, “Cloud’s mother must have been seriously infested with worms and she passed the infection on to her babies. The reason that Cloud didn’t get any better despite our care is that the infestation was so bad he had lost about 1/3rd of his intestines. The vet was surprised that he was so sweet natured as he had to be in serious pain. There was no saving him, honey. I asked for him to be put to sleep…and he passed in my arms.” There was a silence and then a sob.

I was crying, too. We’d tried to do right and take an abused animal from a nightmare existence, only to have an inevitable Death take him from us. It was also the first time that we would rescue an animal together. We’ve rescued animals and taken in plenty of strays since then, but no one and nothing compares to Cloud. People talk about the Rainbow Bridge and the afterlife. For me, I hope that on that big ol’ porch swing in the Hereafter waiting for me and my beloved, there’s a space between us – for Cloud.

Countdown to Chaos

Next week, I will be boarding a plane for the first time in 6 years to fly out of the State. I’m not going with anyone, and I won’t know anyone once I get there. Normally, this would be driving me to the point of insanity, but there’s this meme that has been going around and I think it pretty well sums up the wisdom that my heart knows but my head hasn’t been sold on. It says: “When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with cries of “Me Too!” be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe.”

Chaos image

The heart of my inner little kid is all excited – for her this is Yule, the 4th of July and an early birthday present all wrapped up in one event. The inner grown up is trying to calm her with the memes of “Don’t get too excited, you’ll just be presenting an opportunity for disappointment.” The inner teenager – too cool for school, the usual smart-mouthed but wise “Tribe, girl. This is Tribe.” The whole of me is terrified that I’ll forget to pack underwear, socks, camisoles, clothes warm enough – the climate here is easy – you wear a string bikini and a parka at all times and change out as needed. Shoes, must remember to pack shoes. Please Goddess, my brain is back on the hamster wheel.

What I love most about GRL?? I’m a total and complete innocent – this will be my first. However, since I first read some of the attending author’s works and then chatted them on Facebook, I’ve felt as if I fell back into the arms of a long-lost family with all its quirks, faults, and frailties. Could it be? Have I come Home?

To defray expenses, I went on to a well-known discount airfare site, without sufficient training to navigate the vicious jungle of bargain basement prices. As a result, I’m going to not only miss the farewell breakfast, but I have to get up at the butt-crack of dawn BOTH ways. I will now state for the record, that I am not a morning person. I count myself and my day successful if I managed not to bite someone’s head off due to insufficient caffeination. The leeway given to potential Chaos is a portal that I really don’t want to see.

I will have a roomie that I’ve never met in person, however it seems that we have enough in common to set a place for her at our dinner table at least a dozen times a year and exchange holiday correspondence. All my family members are encouraging me to “expand my bubble” and “For gosh sakes’ Mom, get out of the sticks and see some folks! It’s bad enough you talk to farm animals and stray pets!” To which I will respond, “Hey, I communicate with others online. Remember you kids thought I needed to ‘get with it’ and get a Facebook account?”

Ok, I have the laundry all together for packing and preparation, various needs and sundries are in the primary stages of stowage. I still need to locate a couple pair of shoes….and oh look, my friend just signed on maybe I can ask her about restaurants in the area….Sigh, this is such a case for “direct supervision” before I hurt myself….I’m going to go find that large Danish mountain of a man that I married and get some before I so some additional strange research on cat’s tongue’s and sneezing (out of BOTH ends) that ends up with the domestic stock of pets hightailing it for the brush.