Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

More About Teachers

Back on November 20, I posted an essay about three favorite teachers. I finally got the photos scanned but found I cannot cut out just a single portrait without the quality going totally to hell, so each of the three appears with several others. Thus I will talk a little bit about any more that were influential to me.

This first block is the whole faculty of my small town high school in my
freshman year.  Yes, it was not a big school, which was why it and another small school were consolidated the following year and yet more students added the last two years I attended.  Miss Rayle appears in the upper left corner. You already heard about her. Mr Ensign was the principal; he was gone the next year but I never knew where he went.  Below him is Mrs Reeves. I had her for Algebra 1 and could not stand her but I later learned later she had some serious health issues, perhaps some form of hepatitis since she was quite jaundiced. But she also had long nails and scratched the blackboard something fierce! Mrs Hoffpauer taught Spanish and we got on okay. On Mrs Reeves'  left is Mrs Taylor who taught typing, another one I did not like! Miss Thomas on the right was the girls' PE teacher. She was nice enough but I was not fond of PE! Mr Winslow and Mr Cantrell are in the bottom corners. Mr Winslow had been my eighth grade home room teacher. He ended up at Buena High in Sierra Vista after the consolidation and Mr. Cantrell, who I had for World History, ended up at Window Rock on the Navajo Reservation where a college roommate later taught and knew him. Miss Berg taught Home Ec--another ugh and I had no classes with the Mr. DeVault. I think he did stay post-consolidation as did Mrs Hoffpauer, Mrs Reeves and Miss Berg. Miss Thomas went to the middle school.

Now I skip ahead to my senior year. Again, group photos on a page but there were a couple of pages I did not scan by now! I had  sixty one classmates in my graduating class whereas there had been only fourteen in 1958.

Jim McLarney is in the lower angle of the first photo; yes he was kind of goofy looking! But he was a good teacher and influenced me a lot. I never had a class with Tom Henry but at the reunions I have attended he always greeted me and sang my praises until it got embarrassing! I had Joella Mahoney for art and enjoyed both her and the class. Now to the next shot. Ernest Gabrielson is in the upper right. To his left is Elizabeth Fitzgerald, a counselor and girl's PE teacher. She was always kind and pleasant to me. Mr Doubek was the music teacher and led Girls' Glee Club which I was in for two years. The other two I did not have classes with, and other than Merle Crawford, not pictured here, who taught history and civics classes. few of the others made a lasting impression. I studied casually, passed their classes and promptly erased most of the experience!

So much for high school. Most of it is a vague memory now, not altogether pleasant as our family did not fit into the community well and I and my brother after me were always outsiders and came in for some razzing and hazing. Today it might be termed bullying but we survived and perhaps grew stronger. Charlie was more of a rebel than I was and perhaps some teachers were not quite as favorably disposed to him. Most of them were at least pleasant to me and those I have mentioned mentored and helped me as well as they could. I appreciated it then and still do today. I probably owe more to them than I realize. That was a hard era to be a misfit but perhaps that is true of every time period. And each class and school has its share, I know. Had I ever taught I would have reached out to all those students although some would likely reject the overtures.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Being Thankful

It has been a quiet, cool and rainy day here in southern New Mexico. I only went outdoors a few times for a brief walkabout with the dogs--five now since Riata, a six month old Blue Heeler girl, joined our pack almost three weeks ago. My red dogs do not like rain. In fact Ginger almost has to be forced to go out and take care of business if she feels more than a raindrop or two. She's a true desert dog.
Brother Charlie with Riata
the day of her arrival

Here in the arid lands with the drought we've had for several years the rain is welcome. I miss the sun but it will be back in a few days. Mostly I was lazy today although I did get a story done and submitted--a few days ahead of the deadline, even. That felt good. Another is almost there, too.

Both my brother and I agreed that we are thankful not to be hosting or otherwise involved in a big feast with too much company including, as is true for most families, a few folks you would just as soon not have to deal with. My late hubby used to call these events "state dinners" and he was not fond of them, either. For today, just the two of us and the dogs were company enough. I made chili and cornbread for supper and we feasted in peace, slipping watermelon bites to the dogs, one of their favorite treats. They always make us laugh a bit.

Cowboy horse trainer
Charley Bryant. He taught me
so much!
During the day, sitting in my favorite recliner with Rojito on my lap, I contemplated life and all the things I am thankful for today. Of course family and friends top the list, and both categories include members of both the two footed and four footed species. I've been hugely blessed to know some truly memorable and wonderful folks over the years and that opportunity tops my gratitude list. The dogs, horses and mules I have loved are most surely included but I've also been privileged to know some unique characters who brought the Old West into the twentieth century. They are gone now but I remember...

Perhaps next is the sudden awareness that even after seven decades of watching this world, wondering at these curious beings who inhabit it and taking note of the natural wonders that surround me, I can still find wonder in each day. The world is so full of amazing, incredible, beautiful and truly awesome things! You only have to lift your eyes beyond contemplation of your own petty misfortunes or grievances to see them. I have to admit that I am guilty of narrow vision there at times but this awareness gave me a mild kick in the posterior as a reminder to raise my gaze and open my mind and heart to all that is out there.

To you my readers I wish a happy and peaceful day, a chance to recharge the batteries of your soul with a bit of calm, even if it is only a few quiet moments alone or with a few of the most dear, maybe with a dog or kitty on your lap. Stroking their soft fur and feeling their contentment and trust is a true gift. May you gain enough peace and harmony to go through the coming days restored and refreshed! The winter holidays seem to have become a stressful time. This is so wrong but we seem to be stuck with it. I vow to back off as much as I can this season and slip gently through them into the next year. May you all do the same.
Last, I truly am thankful for each of you!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Some more Arizona Photos

These are at Tuzigoot: In the first land we leased for pasture for many of our livestock is in the flat area between the hill and the bluffs to the back of the shot. The grove of trees just off center is where I took the photo of "Dusty" on the mule Prez back in the fall of 1965! The other shows part of the ruins and the green at the end of the hill is on the edge of the Verde River where I used to ride almost every day!

The next shows part of Roosevelt Lake and a bridge that crosses just east of the dam site where Coolidge Dam forms the river by blocking a canyon. The other is a view of the hills not far from my friend Evelyn's home. She is the one who did the great painting of me and Tina that I brought home!

The last shots are of my great grand kids in their Halloween costumes and a view of the gate to the Duncan Valley Cemetery. I need to post it and a couple of others on FindAGrave.com which is a great resource for locating where ancestors and others may be interred.

Arizona Trip--Final section

After my friend and I had our last breakfast at Williams at the Grand Canyon Railroad facility we headed off first to Flagstaff and then down the I-17 freeway to the Verde Valley. It had been pretty cloudy in Flag but was broken clouds when we got to Cottonwood. We left her car at our motel with permission since we were registered for that night but it was too early to check in. From there I showed her old Cottonwood, many buildings I still recall, some almost as they were and others redone, probably several times!

The old highway between Cottonwood and Clarkdale seems so short now. It used to take me about thirty minutes to ride the distance so there is a big difference between maybe 5-6 MPH and 45, even if one drives the speed limit! I showed her my old home and where my two best friends lived, along the same street, Lower Main. We even drove over to the depot, once a simple frame building painted an icky yellow but now a stylish and fancy place because it is the terminal for the Verde Valley Scenic Railroad. That line uses the old Santa Fe track but does not go all the way to the old junction at Drake, stopping and swapping ends with the locomotives at Perkinsville. I have ridden it and hope to do so again but we did not have time this trip.

From there we went over to Tuzigoot, a partially restored hilltop village of the Sinagua people, who were probably related to the tribes who became the Hopi and Zuni. It is ironic that I rode around the south end of that hill along the Verde River frequently for quite a few years but did not visit the ruin or Natioanl Monument until 2006 when I took some time to revisit my old home area! We had just hiked up onto the ruins when a storm started to sweep down off Mingus Mountain. I thought it might go north but no such luck. We dashed for my truck in pelting, stinging, wind-driven rain!

After that I decided to drive up to Jerome, still a spectacular town perched on the side of a red mountain. It was a mining town and the first home town I can recall. My friend was a bit intimidated by the winding and narrow mountain road leading up from Clarkdale but I assured her I was a very experienced mountain driver and we had no mishaps. I showed her where my house once stood and then we went down to the Douglas Mansion, now a museum to the mining and area history. "Rawhide Jimmy" Douglas was an early mining entrepreneur and his mother was a cousin of Winston Churchill on his mothers side, In face Jerome commemorates her family name of Jerome! It was still raining and blowing like crazy even though we were there for over an hour. Finally we dashed out and headed down the hill, stopping at a favorite Mexican cafe in Clarkdale where my brother and I both stop whenever we pass that way. We were between the lunch and dinner rushes so it was perfect.

That evening I showed my friend a bunch of old photos on my little travel computer and we shared another late night chat. The next morning we made a quick trip back to Tuzigoot for some photos and then she followed me back to I-17 where she went west and south and I crossed over to go through Camp Verde and across on some older and narrower highways over part of the Mogollon Rim to finally end up passing Roosevelt Lake and crossing some desert mountains to another mining town, Globe, where one of my old school friends now lives. I had a great visit with her and her husband, who was also from Jerome at one time and was a grade behind me in school.

The next day I drove on down to Oracle Junction and on to Tucson where I crossed over to I-10 and then to my granddaughter's home in Marana. I had a pleasant visit with Julie, her mom Shari who is my eldest step son's ex, and Julie's two kids. Of course they are bigger and more mature every time I see them. I got to see their Halloween outfits and took a photo or two! The next day I paid a long delayed visit to the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. I lived in Cochise County for twenty four years and never got there! It was quite fascinating and well worth the time. In one area they had many samples of desert plants to include two that were identified by and named for a man my parents were friends with, Leslie N Goodding, a world-renowned expert on desert flora. That was pretty cool!

I spent that evening at another friend's home in a Tucson suburb and had a great visit with her and her husband, who is a super guy in his own right.It was hard to leave the next morning but I had to get home. I took one more detour, up the road once called 666 to Safford and then down on highway 80 to Duncan. That was the last place my parents lived and they are buried there so I visited their graves and realized I need to go back and do some work and also get my baby brother's ashes interred there with them. That is for another time, though. I got home at dusk, my eyes going very fuzzy with allergies and exhaustion so the final quarter of the journey was a bit tense but I made it home safely.

I'll post a few photos on a separate page since this is getting very long! I am too gabby <smile>. It was a very rewarding trip and I truly enjoyed it very much; you cannot go home again but sometimes a few memories are good to revisit.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Memoir Essay-- Mountain Roads

Here is another of my looking back pieces that links to the present in many ways. Are we not all the product of our pasts? There can be no doubt that the world and environment in which we grew up will always be with us. Some even feel that traces of past lives may follow us into this one. I can hardly doubt that due to various experiences I've had but for now none of us can be quite sure. However, this tale is just about my current life. Let's go for a drive on...

Mountain Roads
             Since I began my “aware” life in Jerome, Arizona, I have known mountain roads all of my days. In Jerome, we lived on a hill reached by a narrow, lane and a half wide twisting track that might scare some folks speechless. To leave town, one had to go either up or down narrow two lane paved highways with no shoulders, roads with continuous curves and steep to near vertical slopes that plunged down from the outer edge. Thus such travel never seemed odd or even very fearful to me.

On Allen Spring Road. Dad could
not move boulder but we
squeaked by.
            A bit later, when I was about six, my dad got a “Jeep”, one of those little four wheel drive vehicles the military had developed for use in World War II that became commercially available once the war ended. Today's Jeeps are right in there with the other SUVs, often quite luxurious but this one was the bare bones stripped down model with the emphasis much more on utility than sport, comfort or flash!

The first Jeep with a homemade
'cab' to replace canvas top.
          My place was on a pillow or two, perched in the middle between the two bucket seats as we explored every steep, rough, crooked and barely drive-able road in the forty-eighth state or close to it. That meant the north rim of the Grand Canyon to the Allen Spring Road, a single lane dirt track that twisted around Mingus Mountain to the cave where most of Jerome’s water was acquired. It tapped into a good spring from an aquifer deep under the mountain. We traveled tracks out west of Prescott in the Santa Maria Range, the then-unpaved road that led from Lonesome Valley, now Prescott Valley, down to the desert north of Phoenix and too many more to count. The sing-song purr of the Jeep’s engine geared down to its lowest speed in four wheel drive lulled me to a doze many times and I can still “hear” the sound in memory.
            We even maneuvered down the aforementioned Allen Spring Road with a four wheel farm trailer loaded with jack pine logs a number of times and had to make hairpin turns. A few times when there were washouts, we had to jack the trailer over as far to the inside possible so it would not slide off the edge of a tight loop. I was glad my dad was driving there but rarely was really terrified. We’d just make it work.
            When I finally began to learn to drive, I did it on dirt roads first, out to an area where we kept many of our horses and mules for awhile. Next it was down to Camp Verde to get hay, on a partly paved but narrow road in the valley that crossed many canyons and arroyos, and finally over Mingus Mountain on Highway 89-A. Oddly, it was my mother who mostly taught me. Dad was an excellent driver but by then he was not in good health and lacked the patience to deal with me grinding gears and jerking to a start or stop. Yes, it was a standard four speed stick shift truck, no longer a Jeep but an early 1960s model Ford F-100 pickup. For years I scorned automatics as sissy cars real drivers would not need! I’m a bit spoiled now but can drive a stick shift if need-be.
            A few years later when I got my first real job and then bought my first car, a 1971 Ford Pinto, I had no concern about driving on mountain roads. I zipped around from Sierra Vista to Tombstone and Bisbee, on gravel roads to Parker Lake and Coronado Monument and back up to Flagstaff some weekends Since that had been home for four years while I was in college. The little car hugged the road well and I never even seriously scared myself.
            However, once in Flagstaff I drove up on Mount Eldon and managed to get lightly high centered on a big flat rock when I turned around. That was a new challenge. I did not want to rip the oil pan or tear any lines loose so I jacked each corner up and put rocks under the tires, making a path to ease down off that spot and back onto a better road. I drove back to Cochise County the next day down I-17 and I-10 with my little car none the worse for wear, just a little proud of my inventiveness!
            Once I had moved to Bisbee and commuted to Fort Huachuca daily for work, that road over the Mule Mountains became very familiar. I guess it could be called a mountain road without much exaggeration but it never seemed threatening to me, even a few times when it was a bit icy.
            I did encounter more ice and snow when we moved to Colorado and came to fear that much more on a level straight road than I ever had a dry highway or even gravel road in the desert, high desert or dry Arizona mountains. I did a 180 degree spin once with studded snow tires on a dry road in Colorado Springs—that time I was about as scared as I have ever been! No, the studs may give traction on ice and snow but they slide like a banana peel on dry pavement!
            This past week I made a visit back to Arizona and after a train and bus trip from Williams to the Grand Canyon I took my travel companion and friend down to my old home area. We drove up to Jerome. This time I had my little red pickup and with four brand new tires it too hugged the road very well. Still, at once point I bumped on a bit of broken asphalt at the edge of the shoulder-less road and my companion almost turned green. From then on she shut her eyes until I parked and said it was safe to look!
            She had even been worried driving on I-17. To me those are very gentle curves and although the grade is fairly steep, you can either gear down—even most automatics have a lower range that will help control speed--or use cruise control in a different way to keep your speed down. However the steering on her SUV wasn’t quite right after some recent repairs on the front end so I could understand why she felt challenged. 
            I admit I get frustrated at times following “flatlanders” on some of the old fashioned two lane highways where there are few safe places to pass. They creep along, clearly scared spitless, and I have to poke behind them, grousing that they should stay on the freeways! That was especially bad in Colorado in the summer time when there seemed to be a zillion huge motor homes wanting to go up Pikes Peak or some similar other unlikely place. Of course southern Arizona and even New Mexico have the snow birds in the winter that create similar hazards. I guess we just have to learn to be patient. Not everyone has the chance to grow up on mountain roads.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Memoir Essay--Three Favorite Teachers

In a reply to a couple of comments on an earlier memoir essay I said I had one essay dedicated to three teachers who influenced me the most. Here it is. I may be able to go back and scan photos of them from old yearbooks and I will add them later if this works out!

Three Favorite Teachers
—Inspiration and Encouragement
For five of my first seven years of formal schooling, my father was my teacher. That had both good points and bad but has been covered elsewhere. Here I want to talk about some other teachers and the effects they had on my life, especially my long term desire to be a writer.
I had been intimidated by my first grade teacher, Mrs. Pew, although in retrospect, she was very kindly and gentle, though stern if the children did not behave. I did not care for my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Fuller, in the lower grade section of a two-room school. Her pet was her son, who was my age or at least in my grade, and a couple of his cronies and perhaps two girls in the first grade, twins and cute little blondes. I got the feeling she did not like me, but could be wrong. At that stage, I was pretty self-centered.
After that came three years with Dad again and finally a huge change to a middle school or junior high where my eighth grade took place. There we shared space with the high school and had most of the same teachers, a different one for each subject. That was quite a change but I did not mind it after the first week or two.
I had a couple of favorite teachers that year. Mrs Manley taught art and was the mother of the notable photographer Ray Manley. She was very sweet and pleasant and I enjoyed her class.  Art was my second interest after writing, really. English, already a favorite subject of mine, was taught by a very unique lady, Miss Rayle. At that point the use of Ms. was just coming into the vocabulary and she made a emphatic point that she was not Ms but Miss and proud of it. I believe she was in her early to middle sixties, about five foot five or so and rather square built, an impression enhanced by her choice of attire.
She probably had more than the two but as I recall she wore on alternate weeks a dark blue suit and a brown suit with a crisp white shirtwaist blouse, perhaps touched with a tiny bit of lace or ruffles and some tucks in the front. The suits were very mannish in cut with a straight skirt that fell well below the knee and a jacket exactly like a man’s suit coat but with the buttons reversed. “Granny shoes”, clunky laced oxfords with perhaps an inch or two of heel, completed her ‘look’. She sported a Brillo pad of curly iron gray hair, which I suspect was natural.
Miss Rayle loved the English language and English literature of all kinds with an abiding passion. Although she did her best to instill the same regard in all her students, many of them were not buying it. I did. Oh, I was not terribly fond of diagramming sentences on the blackboard—this was a device that my dad had never used—but I caught on quickly and could soon fix the errors made by others.
At that time I had decided to go by Margaret—an affectation I soon regretted and dropped when I could. But I would often hear, “Margaret, can you fix the sentence that Robert (or Helen or someone else) has mangled?” And I would dutifully do so.
Miss Rayle, who had also announced that her given name was Blanche Elizabeth, was Irish and proud of it. She had the wicked Irish sense of humor and flair for puns and sarcasm; I caught those traits very quickly since I shared them to some degree. She also greatly loved poetry. We were tasked to compile a little anthology of poems as one of our projects. I chose several favorites and included a few of my own writing since I had by then been penning verses for several years. That project got me an “A” and when I confessed I was also starting to write some stories, she seemed delighted and told me that was an excellent project.
I also had her for my freshman year and continued in much the same vein. Sad to say that was her final year of teaching as I believe she retired. I think she left the area and went back to somewhere farther east, perhaps New York or New England where she’d grown up and maybe still had family. However, Miss Rayle had left a permanent mark on me.
My sophomore year I had a new young teacher named Mrs. Norris for awhile but she got pregnant and at that time, impressionable teenagers were not to be exposed to anyone in “the family way” so she left after the first semester. I cannot even recall who took her place but neither of them left much of an impression on me. Mrs. Norris had earned my enmity but giving me a “B” the first report card because I had balked a bit about some complex conjugations of verbs and not done well with them. I was spoiled to being a pet and prodigy in my chosen subjects such as English, History, Geography and such. A “B”? That was intolerable!
Then I was out of school for a year. When I returned to start my junior year, the school had grown by consolidation and many new teachers had joined the faculty. In fact many of the old ones had left, either retiring or going elsewhere. I got the impression that the new Superintendent had brought in a new crew, perhaps recruited from wherever he had been before.
In the fall of 1960, The English Department of Mingus Union High consisted mainly of two young men just getting established in their teaching careers. Ernest Gabrielson was a classic nerd, already with a very high forehead at thirty years old or less. He had a droll sense of humor and a sincere love of language and literature so we hit it off pretty well. James McLarney was the product of Catholic schools, tended to try to be strict but was also an Irish smart-ass. He could flay you with sly words so you were on the floor bleeding before you even caught on—especially if you were slow, literal or easily intimidated. I was not so we fared well enough.
Both of these chaps were aspiring writers so I hit it off with them. Besides the regular English classes, McLarney was in charge of the yearbook and Gabrielson the school newspaper. I got involved with both those projects. I was editor of the paper my senior year, and enjoyed that so much I considered a career in journalism for awhile.
When I found late in my senior year that I was to be valedictorian, it was McLarney who directed and vetted my speech. I was allowed to say pretty much what I chose, but he corrected a few things and made suggestions, most of which I followed. I guess it was a decent speech; I recall some compliments on it afterwards although I was so stoned on  Darvon that I do not remember much about the experience. I’d had a tooth pulled not long before and took advantage of the extra meds to calm my normal stage fright and extreme timidity about speaking. They did help.
Both teachers wrote in my senior year book with encouragement to continue to write and perhaps go into teaching. I did the one but not the other. I had decided some years before, having been born into a family full of teachers, I was not cut out for a career in education. I am glad I made the choice early!
As a final note, I’ll mention one of those strange Celtic knot coincidences. When I starting work at Fort Huachuca and then moved to Bisbee, I began to keep company with the  man I later married. Once I mentioned a former teacher named Gabrielson and Jim’s ears perked up at once. We compared notes a few minutes and I discovered that my old English teacher had been a friend and classmate of my husband’s when they were going to Bisbee High School! Years later, we met several times with Ernest (by then I used his first name!) and his wife Carroll at reunions of both our schools. It was amusing to compare notes and discuss the oddly shared past.
Both McLarney and Gabrielson did eventually write and publish.  McLarney wrote a modern drama version of the Greek tragedy Antigone and his drama class at Mingus put it on several times. I think he had it published and likely some other things. Gabrielson wrote a couple of mystery novels set in Bisbee which were published as well. However, I think my career overtook both of them since I have had several articles, a number of works of fiction and one book of poetry published. I hope these three teachers look back from wherever they may be now and are pleased at what their influence wrought.  I did take it to heart and have done my best to honor the encouragement and guidance they provided. Although I am glad I did not teach, it must be rewarding to have even a student or two credit part of their success or achievement to your influence. I will not have that experience.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Once Upon A Time...

I know I introduced "Dusty" in at  least one post, back on 10 Sep 13.  https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g? blogID=8176952721081512220 #editor/target=post;postID=2558149698003322129;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=142;src=postname

It was his grave on which I left a plant when I went to Kingman on my Arizona trip. That had been his home town when I knew him and also later.  His name was Charles, although he was always "Dusty" to me, one of only two non-Jim guys that were evcr truly important in my life. I have cut his last  name out on the photo I will post here for his kids' privacy should they care.  That is the mum I found and liked because the color was rather unusual. It felt right for my tribute to leave. I know he is not there, only the shell he left, but it is all symbolic.

Like  many of my long lost loves, he was quite a lot older than me. I guess some would say I was looking for a father substitute since I had a very difficult relationship with my dad from about my early teens on. Perhaps, but it was also a factor of my upbringing in other ways since I had always associated more with adults than my contemporaries. Not until I was over sixty and a widow did I ever get involved with a man younger than me! That's another tale.

Dusty, summer 1965
Anyway, he was a construction foreman with the Santa Fe railroad and came to the Verde Valley in 1964 to direct work on several bridges for the spur that came in to the valley from a junction at Drake, AZ. That line was critical at that time due to the cement going out for the Glenn Canyon Dam project. That summer was one of very heavy rains and a lot of damaging washouts. (see earlier post this year)) My brother and I were both avid railroad fans, so we became frequent visitors to chat with the crew. And so I met the man I came to call "Dusty."

I'm not sure why we were attracted to each other; there are no easy answers to the way that strange magic works. At the time he was legally separated from his wife but that does not really mean single. My parents had a fit, of course. His semi-ex was Catholic and fighting him tooth and nail, using their young son as her main weapon for he very much wanted custody of the boy. For months all we did was talk, usually with him standing by a car or truck and me on one of my horses or mules, an arm's length or more apart. We developed a deep mutual respect and regard over those months. Eventually it advanced past that point after nearly a year. Every hour we could spend together was precious.

I won't even attempt to go into all the adventures and misadventures of those years but simply say I kept in touch when he was moved elsewhere with his crew by Santa Fe and he came to see me when he could. I promised I would wait "forever" if necessary until he got his life straightened out and was fully free. I meant it, too, and I stuck with that vow for a long time. Then he got crosswise with higher echelons and ended up fired by Santa Fe. He left the area and worked in other places and industries He was a good carpenter and cabinet maker. I had meanwhile finally left home and started to college in Flagstaff, AZ. We still always had a phone number or other contact for each other but at times months went by without a word. Yes, I dated others casually and did not live in a convent, even had a fairly normal collage social life but no relationship ever became truly serious for I still waited.

Finally around the first of the year in 1971 he called and said he was about to get things squared away and hoped he'd be able to see me soon. Then as fate had it, I met the recently widowed man who lived next door to me in Bisbee where I had moved not long after leaving Flagstaff to take my first job at Fort Huachuca. When Dusty finally did call, around the end of May, I was taken by surprised and blurted that I had started seeing someone else. I heard a few seconds of silence and then, "Oh." I really can't remember what else either of us said but the damage was done. Yes, I did have regrets and second thoughts. I always have and will but it was too late and I had already basically made my choice.

I know now he later married a woman near his age and I think was with her when he died. I truly hope she made him happy for he deserved it.  I tried to locate him after my husband had passed away and finally learned I was ten years too late. For the last thirteen years, I have often asked myself, "What if?" In this life I shall not know although I did write Relative Dangers to give us the happy ending that was not to be. I may also write other fiction versions of our story.

I do believe things happen for a reason and as they are supposed to but that does not erase the regret of knowing I hurt someone for whom I always cared a great deal. It could have ended better, even if I still chose to wed Jim as I ended up doing. It would have been kinder to explain in person at least, which I did not do. There was never a goodbye or go in peace; there should have been.

Ever since I learned Dusty was buried in Kingman I wanted to go and see for myself where he'd been laid to rest, leave something in symbolic farewell. I have now done so and something inside me rests a little bit easier . I feel very sure we will meet again and perhaps I can then atone for breaking my promise, rashly and naively made perhaps, but heart-meant and kept for almost seven years.   I just gave up too soon, perhaps...

I had not seen Dusty since the summer of 1967 and a dozen or so phone calls over those years, mostly hard years to me for various reasons, were not enough to sustain me. At that time, I had trouble standing on my own.  When another man appeared who seemed able to support me emotionally and also needed me, I made a choice.  Yet that was not without collateral damage, which I truly do regret.  
And now a verse trying to express my feelings that morning in Kingman:

On a Lover’s Grave
I know you are not here,
For only the shell remains
In which I cannot hear the sea
Or find solace for these pains.

I never truly said goodbye
Or had time to apologize
For the pain I caused you,
But I believe love never dies.

Perhaps you can so testify
Who have gone beyond ere me.
I know I will always love you
Wherever you or I may be.

But this is the only place
That I can come to kneel
While I try to say farewell
And find closure for all I feel. 
                                 GMW (c) Nov 2015

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Arizonan Trip-Part 3, Grand Canyon

After my trek to Kingman and travel home on Old 66 again, chasing and watching trains I got to Williams about 2:00 p.m. It was too early to check in. I drove around Williams a bit--research for a future fiction piece or two. I had not been there in a long time. Also took pictures as there were two steam locos parked on the grounds, one that the GCRR does use on a few special runs and the other decommissioned, a small unit that was used by the Saginaw & Manistee logging company. I can very dimly recall seeing it or a similar one around Flagstaff when there were still big sawmills there processing Ponderosa Pine lumber. 

The GCRR complex has three buildings, the hotel, in a big X shape, two story, and the restaurant and the depot, both of which have gift shops. Meals are served buffet style but the food is good and varied with some special diet needs covered. At the evening meal they have a live musician performing, too. My companion and I were up by about seven, had breakfast and were ready to board well before the prescribed hour of 9:00.

I've always loved trains so really looked forward to this. I was not disappointed. Our coach, the Kokopelli, was probably a rehabbed old Santa Fe vista dome car. Each car had a passenger attendant and ours was a jewel. The young lady was a fount of knowledge and pointed out many sights and such as we rolled along. There were refreshments and a cowboy-style entertainer sang with his guitar and told funny tales for awhile.

I've been to the canyon many times over the years, the first before I can really remember, not long after we got to Arizona in 1946 but it never fails to impress. The views are truly breathtaking but if you are acrophobic can be intimidating as the guard rails and such are minimalist! I never was and so though I am more careful now since I know I do fall at times, I get close to the edge in places. Light was variable due to broken clouds but I got a few decent photos.

There we got on a bus and toured several of the main viewpoints with a stop for lunch at the Maswick Lodge, where we would have stayed if we had elected the night stop-over trip, a bit pricier. Our driver and tour guide was also great and she even played a cedar flute at one stop. Not quite R Carlos Nakai or Robert Mirabal but a very nice touch!! I complimented her. 

We heard about Mary Coulter, an early 1900s female architect who designed most of the original buildings in Grand Canyon Village and is also responsible for many of the Santa Fe depots and Harvey Houses in the now iconic Spanish Colonial style. She got less credit than she deserved, being a woman! The rustic style she created at the canyon is perfect for the setting.

The trip back was pleasant as the sun sank, clouds finally clearing away somewhat. There had been broken clouds all day which made for a mixture of light at the Canyon for photos. There was a mock train robbery, strictly for the tourists and kids. We found it kind of silly but no biggie. 

All the facilities are operated by a firm called Xanterra. They have concessions at a number of national parks now and are very conservation and eco-conscious. The people we dealt with were 99% super and the overall experience top drawer all the way. If one expects five star stuff, you will not be greatly disappointed. I gave them a good review on a couple of sites. I figured that was the least I could do.

I noted there are a lot more mules now at the canyon. It seems they do mild rides along the rim as well as the big one all the way down to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon and I think still also up to the North Rim during the summer season. Facilities there are closed now as it is about 1500 feet higher than the South Rim. I'd seen their ad for wranglers in the two mule magazines I subscribe to and used that as a small trigger for an in-process tale.

This experience was the highlight and real focus of my trip although only took a bit less than a full three days. I thoroughly enjoyed it all and would go back in a flash! I recommend it highly if anyone is passing that way (I-40 through northern Arizona) on a vacation type trip and looking for fun activities. There is something for everyone and it is overall a reasonable cost by today's standards.

Here are a few photos. Click on any one to get a larger version slide show.
Kokopelli Coach

View across Grand Canyon to north

Mule trail visible diagonally
across mesa in center

Grand Canyon Village-El Tovar
 in center and other Coulter bldgs

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

One More for Veterans' Day

As the sun sank on this day, I sat in my secure little house, in the comfort of my familiar chair. Thoughts drifted across my mind, images of wreaths and flags and poppies, the emblems of the day. One day, I realized, was not enough. Lip service and parades, glib words and careless salutes, empty platitudes of honor and gratitude and perhaps a free lunch. So not enough!

My words are not enough either but they are heart felt and sincere. My grandfather served in the Spanish America war, my father in World War II, my late husband in Korea, friends and classmates in Vietnam and my son in the first Desert Storm. No, nothing is truly enough. Yet it seems to be all we can do. 

War is never “just” or good or right but it is a human failing to divide ourselves into us versus them and fight for whatever pretext our leaders may devise. Perhaps it will always be so. We cannot transfer the evil of the institution onto those who serve; they obey their orders, the fervor of patriotism and sometimes the propaganda that is created to fire up a people. As the sun sinks, I am secure and warm in my little house as so many are not now and never will be or have been. How can we fix this wounded world of ours and our siblings of every color and creed? By all holy, I wish I knew. Still I honor those who have fought with at least a true belief in their purpose. 

     364 Days a Year... 
With little fanfare
            File and rank
Pass in review.
            Will no one thank
Them for their sacrifice,
            The all they gave?
Medals and honors
            They do not crave
But only that we care
            And maybe note
In sweat and blood the epic
            History they wrote.
With little fanfare
            Rank and file
Pass in review.
            Just stand awhile,
Render homage they deserve.
            Honor the price they paid
That all might live in peace
            And unafraid. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Blessed with Talented Friends!

I've been blessed to have some very talented friends. Some of them write books and share those with me. Others make all sorts of "neat stuff" and I am an occasional lucky recipient of their weaving, spinning, sewing,, crafts  and so on. I try to reciprocate. It seems odd to me but also somehow fitting that many folks are able to do a number of creative things. There are many writers in my circle of friends and most of them have at least one other creative hobby. Well, I do myself, actually several. I sew, draw, design clothes (ask me about my paper dolls!) make jewelry and do fabric art and patchwork projects. However I never mastered the art of painting. I wish I had but it is just not my talent.

An older friend lives in Florida and is a super water color artist. I have some bookmarks and greeting cards she created that are exquisite. Then two other friends took photographs I supplied of me with some of my beloved horses and produced wonderful oil paintings that just blow me away.

Gaye and Leo Mix, c: 1963
The first one, Judy, was one of my pen pals from the days I spoke of awhile back. She lived in southern California at the time and since the background of the photo showed some ugly old tin barns, she put the scenery she knew in the picture but my mount, a young QH stallion named Leo Mix and me in the saddle came out exactly as they appear in the photograph. See for yourself!

And the painting

Then I picked up on my recent trip a new painting done by an old friend. We were neighbors and school pals starting from the time Evelyn was about nine and I was eleven! We did ride together a few times but not as often as perhaps we both would have liked. Anyway she took the photo of me and my dear mare Tina which has appeared in many places and produced a real masterpiece. I didn't know she was an artist, let alone a very gifted one until recently! And here are the two versions of that picture.

As you can see, she changed the color of my shirt and it blends in better with the sky and scenery so I think that is artistic license well applied. These two paintings now hang together in a place of honor in my living room where I show them off with pride. It is a very special blessing to have such talented friends. I am very thankful for them and many others that are as dear to me as the sisters I never had by blood. They are the sisters of my heart!

Thank you Evelyn and Judy, who I now have no idea where to locate. The last I heard of her she was in Arizona but I suspect has returned to California which was her home for much of her life. She went through some difficult times but I hope was able to continue her art. At least I do know where Evelyn is, still happily married to her high school sweetheart after fifty years and living the good life!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Marking Two Important Dates

I could not let two days this week pass unnoticed. They are both important, one to me personally and the other to many folks.

It was on November 10, 2003 that both my little Brittany Spaniel Butch and my life partner left me within a very few minutes of each other. I have had other well loved dogs since then and at least one serious relationship that ultimately did not work out but I will miss my mate and partner for the rest of my days in this world. We had thirty two good years and just over two months together in which I helped him raise two children and worked on one novel together as well as sharing many other adventures. 

I do not feel like we were working out any karmic issues although I think we may have shared a life in the distant past as partners. I've been working along on a fictitious version of what I have sensed. For now it is called The Way to Iona and takes place at the time St. Columba had his Christian colony on the isle between Ireland and Scotland. However, I suspect Jim will be reunited with his first wife in the next life since they had a lot of issues unresolved when she died suddenly a few months before he and I met and joined forces. 

As for little Butch, he waits with a whole pack of other canine friends and a herd of horses and mules there at the Rainbow Bridge and I will see him again too. It's a comforting belief, at least for me. 

Then of course Wednesday, November 11 is Veteran's Day or as a few old folks still call it, Armistice Day. At first it marked the end of World War I but has since come to be the day we honor all our fallen military folk and remember that we owe a great debt to them and to those who continue to serve to this day. I am no longer involved in activities as I was when I was an active VFW Auxiliary member back in Huachuca City but that does not mean the date has no meaning for me now. That will never be!

Below I repost a verse I wrote and recited at a ceremony held at VFW Post 10,342 some years ago, and a photo of Butch and one of my husband and me on our wedding day. It is hard to believe I was once so young! I adopted a very "hippie" style in those days and wed in a green dress I had made myself.
Gaye and Jim, 3 Sep 1971

Butch, sweet little friend

Veteran's Day
I hear the drum roll in my mind
and then I see, before, behind,
the Silent Legions marching past
to join the Great Parade, at last...

From Flanders Fields and Iwo's sands,
from nameless near and distant lands
where they have fought and bled and died
for to uphold the Nation's Pride
and secure the Peace and Liberty
today enjoyed by you and me...

Each heart with praise should overflow
and gladly search for ways to show
that we remember and we care
and at least in spirit share
their sacrifice, their gift, their pain.
We know they did not die in vain.
The torch still burns: we carry on
 the flame kept bright by those now gone.
 They're marching still, they're fighting yet;
 and so must we...lest we forget.               (c)  GMW, Nov 1986

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Arizona Trip Part 2--Chasing Trains

Before I cover the Grand Canyon section, I will digress a bit to my drive back east from Kingman on the 27th. Old 66 takes off north and east from Kingman so I headed that way, determined to enjoy the scenery and look for trains! I managed both. This region rises in elevation from the desert around Kingman in about three steps to the alpine zone of Williams and Flagstaff. Most of it has been ranching country for many years, well over 100 to near 150 I would say.

I suppose many would find it stark, barren and downright ugly, but I do not. Those open spaces edged by the first plateau level's cliffs speak to me in a special way. Maybe in a past life I roamed there as a Native American centuries ago. At any rate, it feels very familiar and comforting to me. I was playing some of my favorite road trip music--a CD by Cusco, and two more called Cries from the Earth and Ancient Voices. The music seems made for this scenery. Still with a touch of melancholy from my morning's errand I drove along a near deserted old two lane road and finally stopped to get a few shots of lovely lonesome.

While I was doing that I heard a train approaching at my back, the tracks running perhaps a quarter of a mile off the road. I snapped a shot of the container unit freight and then chased it along the road, finally getting ahead enough to catch it coming in to Seligman. That's an old rail town cut off when they made I-40 to replace Old 66 and not too much there now. I then went on a little farther toward Ashfork where the old highway finally merges back to I-40 and got a couple more photos of the same train. One I especially liked, just past the Crookton Overpass, where the old highway crosses the double tracks, a site well known to rail fans for photo ops. Ashfork, BTW, is known as the home of the beautiful Coconino red and pink flagstone used in much Arizona building and even exported to other places. It is quite unique.

Here are a few of the shots I took. You may not see in them what I do but they are special and powerful to me! They represent part of my spirit's home.

BNSF container unit train
just east of Crookton Overpass

A lovely lonesome Arizona ladscape 

School house in Valentine, AZ
A semi ghost town on Old 66 

Arizona Trip--Part 1, Driving West

I left Sunday Oct 25 about 9:30. It was a lovely day and I sailed along first to Carizozo and then across a couple of low mountain ranges and a wide plain to I-25 just south of Socorro. Took off from the freeway (anymore I do not even want to go through Albuquerque as it must be about the 2nd crime capital of the world with daily murders and such--yikes!!) at Los Lunas for a shortcut up to link to I-40. My eyes were kind of fussy but not too bad.

Charlie and I had heard about a train derailment Friday night near Gallup so I was on the lookout. It turned out to be on the east side and as I saw machinery etc along the tracks, I pulled off to the frontage road and found a safe spot to stop, walk up onto a road bridge that was closed to vehicle traffic and took a bunch of pictures. It looked like about 30 cars and left the rails and torn up a lot of track. This is mainline BNSF and they had worked 24/7 to get it running but I expect they had a low speed through the area. It was interesting to see the mess anyway, at least to a long tern rail fan. 

On into town I took a shot of the old depot and looked around a little and then went to find my motel; It was on the far west side of town and whereas most of the lodging was on the left or east side of "Old 66" which is motel row, this newer one was on the west so I missed it and did a few extra miles before I finally got the right spot. By then I was frazzled so just got into the room, heated a microwave dish and kicked back to listen to the trains going by. The tracks were probably not 100 yards away but I *love* the sound and it did not bother me a bit. I lived even closer for two years while in college at Flagstaff.

Next morning I gulped a protein drink, checked out, gassed RHM --in case you have forgotten Red Hot Mama is my little red Mazda pickup--and headed west. Another gorgeous day and my eyes were clear. Stopped in Flagstaff for  brunch and gas and then drove on west to Kingman. I followed Charlie's advice and took the Old 66 route from Seligman on to Kingman--great scenery and along the mainline track, No traffic and a great way to drive. I got into Kingman where the old highway becomes "Andy Devine Drive" I needed a pit stop so went into a Jack in the Box and got a shake--they make great thick ones!--and hit the ladies room. Then time to look for my motel and there it was, not a block away. Awesome--no hunting required. 

Another microwave meal and watched the History Channel all evening. Still could hear trains but not so close. It was warm and I had a window cracked all night. Kingman is real desert. I was then ready for my personal pilgrimage errand fhe next morning. I drove around a bit and stopped at a Smith's grocery where I found a pretty dark red and white mum plant that seemed to be just right. Then I drove down to the Mountain View Cemetery on Stockton Hill Road. I missed the main gate and wound up at the back where a guy drove up in a pickup and asked me what I needed. I explained my intent. He said he'd meet me at the office and there looked up the exact location of the grave I sought. When I got off track he came down and walked me to the exact spot. He was very nice and I was a bit too unsettled to get his name but will try to write a letter of thanks.

Anyway I put the plant down and talked a moment to someone who was only there in the form of the shell he left behind and took a couple of photos. I did not weep but it was both a closure and a powerful moment I had waited a long time to experience. This was my "first love" and one that I wronged unintentionally back in 1971. I did speak to him in a dream a few years back and felt he understood but this sealed that and was something I really had to do. For his and his kids' privacy I need to blur the name on the stone but I will post the photo here a bit later.

From there I drove back on Old 66 to Williams and then waited for Mary Frances to meet me so we could get ready for the special adventure of the train trip to the Grand Canyon.

...to be continued!

Here are a couple of train wreck shots and one of the Kingman Depot for now
North and east from accident site

West from site--gray ballast
is repair track area

Kingman Depot--now a historical building
traditional ATSF "Spanish" style

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Back on the job!

As you may notice, I have been away for a few days. I took an extended trip to my old home state of Arizona and had some fun and adventures. I will be posting reports on some of it as well as photos the next few days before I slide back to the memoir-type essays.

Meanwhile, you know I am a big dog lover and that care for our working dogs who've served in the military and law enforcement after their retirement is one of my passions. I came across this today and will definitely be pursuing it further. Anyway. here is the very long link to the article in Dog Time that caught my eye at once. Please check it out and do your bit if you are so inclined! These wonderful canines are vets too and deserve our thanks and honor along with the human vets that we recognize on November 11, coming very soon!

Link!!!  http://dogtime.com/advocacy/30697-celebrating-veterans-day-finding-homes-k-9-veterans?utm_source=DogTime%20Newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=151105_dt

I can't seem to get it to be live but you can copy and paste. (Reminder to self--you need to get that tiny URL utility up and going!!)