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!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

More picture for Big Sister Memories

The first two were taken in the fall of 1967. Our family went through some difficult times and were scattered apart for several months. In the first shots, I was waiting to see Charlie off on the train to California where he would stay with an aunt, our dad's younger sister. He was sixteen, or almost and I was twenty four and on my second year of college at Northern Arizona University. These were at the Santa Fe Depot on Flagstaff's old main street. The depot looks much the same today and still serves Amtrak and is a visitor center. At that time Charlie would board the San Francisco Chief.

The third picture is two years later, at Christmas 1969 when I was visiting the reunited family now living in Farmington, NM. I'm with Alex who was ten years old at that time. I was then working into my MA degree having earned my BA the previous summer and gone right on with classes. I had trouble deciding what to do!

The fourth photo is Charlie and Alex together for the first time in some years when Charlie and his wife visited Mom, Dad and Alex in the summer of 1985 in Duncan, AZ where our parents lived out their lives from 1977 until their respective deaths.

And the final one is the three of us, probably the last time we were all together in a photo. It was the spring of 1997 and we had held a memorial service for Mom for her friends in the community. Her funeral had been in Kentucky shortly after her death in Nov 1996 and I brought her ashes back with me then. We had just interred her ashes beside Dad in the Duncan Cemetery.  Yes, there is a family resemblance and we all three showed that life had been a "broadening experience," especially Alex in law school and me with a 'desk job' for too long. We were starting the long process of cleaning up the folks' stuff--it took a lot of effort, mostly Alex and mine since Charlie was working in Colorado and it as hard for him to get away.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Memoir Monday: Making a Big Sister

For eight years, six months and seventeen days. I was an only child. As the first grandchild on both sides, I expect I was pretty spoiled. I was able to amuse myself without a lot of playmates and always had a vivid imagination to make up games for myself that were ‘stories’ in many ways. By 1951, a miserable first grade in a larger town school had seen my introduction to other kids in the rough and tumble of grammar school playground. Second grade, as the only girl in a tiny one room eight student school was more fun. By then I realized that many families had several kids and had begun to wish for a sibling, especially a sister since my seven classmates were all boys.

By the middle of that summer, I was aware there would soon be another child in the family. However, that was the summer Mom and Dad ran a forest fire lookout tower in the North Kaibab Forest on the north side of the Grand Canyon. The novelty of this adventure held most of my attention. Fall came and we went back to Camp Wood for my third grade year but soon Mom was remaining home in Jerome awaiting the new arrival. The expected baby made his appearance early in the morning of November 14. Had he been a girl, he was to be named Priscilla Ruth but as a boy, he got the family name of Charles but a new added middle name of Michael which was not found in either family. Mom and Dad did not like “Juniors” though the initials were the same.

Through that winter and spring I stayed home and was home schooled for several months to assist
Jerome, spring 1952
Mom and at least be able to run to a neighbor’s for help if anything bad happened. I enjoyed the new living baby doll until the novelty wore off. Then  I am sure I felt a bit of resentment to no longer be the one and only but I generally accepted the new role and responsibility of being a big sister. Over time it grew on me and became not only comfortable but a pillar of my life. I did try to set a good example most of the time and guide and support as I could.

This younger brother and I came to share the ever greater chores and stand by each other through some complex and difficult times. Oh, we fought as siblings will and I often was bossy and not always gentle since as the senior partner in the chores I was nominally in charge, but by the time I finished high school and
On the corral rail, c:1959
Charlie (who was called Mike at home but took the name Charlie as soon as he left home) was a ‘tween,’ he was big and strong enough to be a real help and we learned to work together.  We became co-conspirators on various escapades, too, and backed each other up on some wild explanations of activities we did not want to disclose in any detail!

By this time, there was a third child for whom we became the Big Sister and Big Brother. I was just past sixteen and Charlie was not quite eight when Robert Alexander was born. Mom was thirty nine and the pregnancy was a bit hard for her. She also breast fed the baby for most of the first year, so I took on a good part of the household work as well as continuing the livestock and ranch chores for several months. This made Charlie’s help even more necessary and I found one caught more flies with sugar than vinegar! An attitude adjustment was definitely required! I think that was when our relationship began to mature and solidify to the strong bond it has been for the rest of our lives.

Alex and me, Jul 4, 1962
Young Alex was still just a small kid when I left home a few years later so I never worked with him and built the same connection with him that Charlie and I had. However, we had fun and I did take care of him quite often for the first few years. Actually it was much later after first Dad and then Mom had died as well as my husband when Alex and I became close friends and shared the task of cleaning up our parent’s mess in the home where they’d lived their last twenty years or so. I became a kind of surrogate mom as Alex completed law school and went on this first job and then settled into the career in a law office in Sierra Vista where he was employed at the time of his untimely death.

At nineteen, he was found to have a heart defect, a constricted aorta which caused very low blood pressure below the midline and high above it. He had open heart surgery to place a stint to bypass this narrow passage. He did well and survived for twenty seven years after that surgery but in the fall of 2005, developed an aneurysm near the site of the original surgery and bled to death internally before they were able to find what the problem was and attempt to repair it. His passage left a hollow spot in the hearts of both his big sister and his big brother but we soon found ourselves both single in our later years and combined forces to keep from either of us having to struggle alone as we get older and probably of decreasing health and capabilities.
Gaye and Charlie, 1974 in Colo

I may be the eldest still but being “the big sister’ no longer figures very much in my habits or my thoughts. Those eight years that were so significant when we were 8 and 16 or 12 and 20 have very little significance these days. We seek each other’s advice at times, share the joy and frustration of being creative –Charlie is a musician and song writer while I am a fiction writer and poet. I have no way to know which one of us will go first to join our parents and brother in the next realm since we both expected Alex to outlive us, but for now it is good to have a brother at my back as I try to be there for him.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Memoir Monday--Spring in the High Desert

I'm not sure when I really began to notice the seasons and the attendant weather and other changes, but probably in the mid 1950s when we got into the livestock business. When you are caring for animals, these things really matter. I watched for the first green plants to appear as did the horses and mules. They were tired of dry hay and ready for some fresh "salad". Two of the plants that appeared early were Filaree and Globe Mallow. Both were okay for grazing and would not harm the critters who ate them. I still look for them out of habit and saw a few coming out here before my recent trip to Alaska.

One constant for all the years still remains. The various types of mesquite are very prevalent in the
New mesquites while I train Buzzie
whole southwestern region  from Texas into parts of California. The Verde Valley was about the same elevation as the Las Cruces area here in NM  but being a few degrees farther north had a climate much like Alamogordo which is about 2,000 feet higher. I am sure the winters were colder, longer and wetter back through at least the middle seventies although change had begun by then. Still I always knew that when the first green leaflets appeared on the mesquites,another frost was very unlikely. In fact I cannot ever recall mesquites being burned black by a late frost. If there was one, it would be light enough to do little harm.

That sweet ,fragile shade of green just says 'spring' to me like nothing else. Although fall is my
Budding mesquite, Alamogordo, 2013
favorite season, spring is a close second. Both are often fleeting here in the southwest with abrupt shifts from not-summer to really-summer instead of the four seasons seen elsewhere. There is the wind,too, the only down side in this change of patterns, but the rest, when you can grab a few days, is just wonderful. And it is here. I came home from Alaska on the 15th going from a temperature of about +10 with wind chill down to zero or below the evening of the 14th and got off the final plane in El Paso to the mid 80s! And the last few days have seen it nudging 90 in the middle of the afternoon.

Fillaree Plant
My lilacs are bursting into bloom, the roses are budding and the apricot tree bloomed while I was gone but what really surprised me was the mesquites starting to leaf out. I just saw this yesterday. Back in the Verde Valley in Arizona that usually happened just a few weeks ahead of the end of school in late May. In Cochise County, down in southeastern Arizona, I remember seeing the early hints about the first of May. I am sure of the date because our VFW Post celebrated "Loyalty Day" the weekend closest to May 1. This was originally established to counter the Workers' May  Day festivities in the Soviet countries. Before I left that area in 2008, I do not remember greening mesquites before at least a week or two into April. The hummingbirds usually arrived just a bit sooner. The cottonwoods, such as grew up on Fort Huachuca, would be coming out much earlier and they did get nipped now and then. I will have to check those down in Alameda Park by the main drag and railroad tracks there o see if they have come out. At any rate, once again spring comes to the high desert and I welcome it, still in awe of Nature's miracle of rebirth and renewal, the ageless and faithful promise ever sacred and precious.