5 ~ February 2023
I feel like I really lucked out in coming across little Jess after my surgery, because she has such a good personality (Thank You Amy). Jess seems to love all people and dogs she comes across. Even Amy’s cat, Coral, has made friends with her. When I took her to the vet, Jess was not fazed when she was walked back for her shots and microchip. When I introduced Jess to the local dog parks, it only took a few minutes for her to figure out what this was all about. Then she was running with all the dogs and greeting their owners. I now take her to the dog parks every weekend, in case she is ever alone, since Beau and Hayley are getting up in years. Then she would have an outlet for social contact with other dogs.
The thing I like the most about Jess though is how respectful she treats Beau and Hayley. On our mountain adventures she is a step behind Beau wherever he goes. When he stops on a rock outcropping to look around, she is right next to him. At home Jess sleeps next to Hayley, and whenever Hayley is out in the yard Jess accompanies her. On our on-leash walks Jess usually is in the middle between the two, and I see her give face licks to each of them.
Jess likes to be nearby me in the evenings - in the room with the computer, or in the books and tv room. She has added a bolt of energy to my and Beau and Hayley's lives. A morning cup of coffee and a greeting by my new border collie puppy is pure happiness and joy.
more journal notes: January/February 2023
When we get to February I start to think of the progression to May, of beginning to work the soil in my garden (March), of winter and spring backpacking with just the dogs and I (throughout, first trip maybe next week), of my kale and tatsoi seeds poking through the garden soil (April), and finally walking beneath the canopy of eleven cottonwoods when leafout occurs, and all of the sudden there is a roof to my walks. In my heart May is almost here. But this year me and Beau and Hayley have a wild heart pup to share the journey with.
I have kept a journal for about 30 years. Google Docs makes it easy now, just jog your writings down and they are autosaved, available from any device. Some of the journal entries I put online, but often edit them quite a bit first, usually removing anything that is not positive. Writing down the negative and then removing it has served its purpose, providing a bit of therapy.
And having the good things available to look at sometimes years later reminds me of the better things in my life. There have been changes, and things may not have gone as I expected, but there was also a lot of beauty along the way.
Here are some journal entries I came across today that I did not remember at all. I like them:—---------------------------
“People who are in relationships might imagine it would be terrible to be getting older and being alone. There definitely are some hard moments when you very clearly feel loneliness - when you realize no one really cares about you all that much. I just accept it as the way things are, and something that is not easy to change, (I have always been an introvert who treasured my solitude). But I also use it as motivation to try to be more social - the end result is all the dancing I do, and all the volunteer work I do, both of which I started over two decades ago, and both of which remain rewarding and wonderful.”
“Resilience to me means staying in love with life - which is where seeking out the enchantment of mountain dawns and the mystery of wilderness night comes in. It also means balancing solitude with the excitement of the Saturday dance hall, to triple and two step with spirited ladies until your legs are weary, but your heart is full. Border collies have this love of life thing as part of their genes, and just being around them enriches mine in so many ways.”—---------------------------
“I wonder if it is unusual to think that the years you have been taking care of yourself first, after an unexpected life change, have been the best of your life? Could it be because you were not worried about being anything to anybody, just falling into your own authentic life, and pursuing the things that have always made you happy?”—---------------------------
“She said her name was Katy, and wanted to know mine. I asked her if she was a gymnast, or athlete, because of her balance and timing. She said no - she just has been dancing all her life. It showed.
I put up with the men because you have to, but I go there for the women and the music and the mystery - the spontaneity of not knowing who you will meet and dance with, or what band will be there and what songs they will play. I like the western style of the Rose, and the local character - from the neon signs to the longtime staff of waitresses and bouncers, to the resident bikers who hang around by the bar, and even the Sheriff's deputies who come in to see if anyone is out of control drunk, and stand around and enjoy the music and sights like everyone else.
Mystery is the spark of life - to not understand that is to be bored. The greatest beauty is effused with mystery. Wealth and comfort and predictability can be the enemies of mystery. Simplicity and an open and passionate heart and attentive eyes are its allies.”—---------------------------
(regarding song Someday Soon sung by Judy Collins (written by Ian Tyson) “A friend told me when you are young there are so many possibilities. When you are older they seem to disappear. I don't want to believe that. I mean just last weekend I was up at very likely the most beautiful valley I have ever seen. I stood there feeling strong and grateful and proud of my adventurous spirit, even now six months away from 55. And I gave thanks for everything I have, from the Maker of all that was before me. I am still a romantic at heart. I guess if I was honest I would say I hope for a woman who could understand me, and allow me the freedom I am used to. Despite being fiercely independent and self reliant, there is still a craving inside to be loved, albeit hidden pretty darn good. I mean how many really want to get to the end of their lives with the realization that no one gives much of a shit about them. If I wasn't a romantic I doubt if this song would get to me so much. When I listen to it I hear expectation and uncertainty, a strong will, and the West. There is also something sad about it, maybe the foreboding of an impending heartbreak. I recall hearing Judy Collins play it live at Red Rocks in 1975, the summer I was dating Janet.”—------------
“He told me to keep a journal And only write down the good things Then when the bad things fade away You can read about the happy life you've had.” Mayor of Kingstown season 2 episode 1
Tonight once again I will go down to the Rose, for the first set of the first night of the weekly band. Union Gray is playing this week, which is one of the better bands. When a song I like comes on (usually a fast triple step or swing), I will look for a woman leaning against the wood rails around the dance floor to ask to dance. If I don’t find anybody, or get turned down, then I look back at the tables for someone. It is always a little intimidating to go up to a table of ladies to ask one to dance, but the pull of the music in a fast song starting up gives me a push of courage. If the first one turns me down, then I don’t ask anyone else at their table, for the rest of the night - chances are they are of the same mind.
Some nights are better than others, but on Wednesdays I almost always have an inspiring and life-affirming night that makes it worthwhile to go. The feel of moving to the music with room on the floor, plus the touch of my partner in sync with me has tremendous positive vibes, that can be felt by just watching the fun we are having. Last week after a couple of excellent songs/dances in a row, a young lady came and asked me to dance. She said she was from Nebraska with her friends (who I noticed were video taping her), and this was her first time at the Rose. I told her I have been coming since the early 1990’s, and saw Waylon Jennings and Patty Loveless here.
And I showed the regular bartenders photos of my puppy Jess, and mentioned my border collie hiking/backpacking buddies make for a good retirement, along with coming here every week. That is the absolute truth!
Once in a while you get the perfect partner, the vibes are just right, the band plays a good song and there's no joy like it in the world. That is what happened just now and the memory and pleasure of that one dance will stay with me a long time.
Relationships are overrated, because they might cause you to miss out on something like that.
By February I get a little tired of traveling on snow, so today I drove up to a canyon to find due south-facing slopes, where the snow melts off quickly. Me and the dogs climbed way up, and took our time enjoying the quiet and the solitude. Little Jess has a natural sense for what is safe or not up there, and I did not worry about her. She is independent though, somewhat like Mollie, and will go off by herself exploring what interests her, until I call her back. At one point she was looking through the trees and barking, and then ran back to me. It makes me wonder what she saw.
It was a little tough going up, because at spots the decomposed granite had a hard base - perhaps from frozen soil, which is understandable after this cold winter. So on the way back I tried to make it down a steep dry southern slope, different from the route I had come up. The risk with that is you don’t know for sure if you will be cut off by cliffs at the bottom. It looked ok after going part way down, and so I continued on. I did slide a ways down a chute, which was not a big deal, except I cut my hand on some of the granite. Now that I am on blood thinners, cuts just bleed and bleed. I tried rubbing soil on it, and then snow, but couldn’t get it to stop until I was back at the truck and put a bandaid on it. It looks worse than it was in the video.
What a good day though - one of the big benefits of retirement. I didn’t decide on this outing until I got up and had my breakfast. I quickly loaded up the truck with a pack and cameras, dog jerky, and carrots in case I was hungry, and headed up. I had someone tell me once that as you get older, you will feel a closer affinity to the wild places you have walked all your life. That is true for me. It may be due to knowing you are getting closer to the end. Perhaps you are picking up something from the universe, from being sensitive to the rhythms of the earth. What I am trying to say is that there is something good and positive behind all the beauty and the mystery up there, and it comes through to you while wandering. ( God ).
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"