Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This post brings us to the end of the work we did for the 2009 Three-Day Novel Contest. But a lot has happened to Kristi and to me since then. Stay tuned...

2009 POST SCRIPT--Kristi

It is August of 2009, exactly 10 years and one month since Bill and I moved to our small valley. We are camping in the San Juan Islands with our youngest while my older girls spend the week in Seattle with their dad. My husband brings the 14-foot wooden rowboat he has built from a kit so he can fish and crab. It is a pretty little boat based on a Maine lobster boat design, and attracts a lot of attention where ever we go.

We decide to row out to visit Ti on her island about three miles away. We put in on a beautiful summer day; with bright blue water, calm seas, and warm air. Our daughter sits in the bow with my husband in the middle so he can row. I head to the stern where I wish for the 100th time that he would build a seat. Still, it’s a comfortable spot with its back-sloping curve and I pile up life vests to keep my butt dry.

It takes less than an hour for my husband to row us the three miles to Ti’s beach. Along the way we skirt small islands, cross open water, and go around a small point where Ti’s beach comes into view. It is a lovely little half-moon shaped cove. Gentle waves are hitting the rock and shell-covered beach that gently slopes up a shallow hill covered in grass and trees. Joey, Ti’s yellow lab, lopes down to the beach to greet us, and he and my daughter are instantly best friends. They spend hours playing fetch, exploring the beach and looking for shells and crab. Jannie builds a little statue of driftwood and rocks. Joey sneaks bites of her lunch when she’s not looking. They are two happy little animals playing in the sun.

Ti comes down to greet us. I have not seen her in years but she still looks the same: wide open face under long dark hair, with a little gray here and there, and a short, athletic build. We walk up to her home through a grove of old plum and apple trees that were planted decades ago. The plums are delicious! I snack my way up to her house which sits in a clearing of trees surrounded by water on three sides. Her home is a weathered two story shack; tidy and dark inside, but serviceable for sure. We tour the un-insulated building where she and her family lived for the first two years and the bright, cozy studio/shop where Ti does her art.

Ti’s stepdaughter is working at the local store that day. Her husband is not around. Again. Ti says he’s in town, but I tease her about her fantasy mate, whom I’ve never actually met. He used to work at KCTS, doing overnights in Master Control - or so she says. The only time I actually saw the two of them together, all saw was a head with a hat in a sleeping bag in the back of her truck. “That could have been any head,” I tease. “How do I know you don’t just drive a head in a sack around to convince everyone you have a husband?” She laughs and we continue our tour.

At the moment, she is making small toy sheep using local wool to sell at the farmers market. My daughter loves them! She immediately commissions a small black sheep with a purple scarf and an orange hat with a pink pom pom. We tour the rest of the property and beach. I see the line where she dries clothes and the cistern where they catch their water. The property is lovely with water meeting islands and mountains all around.

As I walk along the short, wooded path to Ti’s outhouse, I think about taking that path in the rain, snow and dark and what it must be like to wake up to the sound of the ocean surrounding you on three sides. I think about her trips in a small boat to take their daughter to school on a different island. They must be beautiful in the spring but terrifying in winter, much like my own travel with the girls.

I suddenly get Ti’s life; the beauty and the struggle of it, and know it’s not so very different from my own. I wonder what keeps her here – the thing that convinces her to stay when reason and doubt creep in and push her to leave. I wonder the same about myself.

We go back to the beach and talk about our lives while my daughter plays with the dog and my husband naps in the shade on the beach. Ti is thinking about getting her EdD in educational technology. I am just completing my M.P.A. We ponder the pros and cons of more education and more debt. The challenge is interesting but the payback unclear.

I tell Ti I’m reading a book about a woman who leaves her comfortable life in Toronto to teach and travel in Bhutan. It reminds me a lot of my Peace Corps experience teaching English in Zaire. Ti has read the book. I say it has made me interested in exploring Buddhism and how I think its teaching and meditation practices could help me center my thoughts and stay more positive in my life. She talks about her Taoist and Buddhist upbringing and what the two philosophies have in common – which is much. We laugh about our many “east/west” moments at work.

It is wonderful to finally see where Ti lives. I have missed her and my other colleagues at KCTS. Ti has stayed connected with many of them on Facebook and I vow to do the same. We both miss things from our old lives. Mostly what we miss is the collegiality and collaborations that so marked our mission oriented work at KCTS. It is a wonderful thing to work hard long hours on a common project with people who share your passion and goals. I have had some of that with my consulting work in the Methow, but not nearly enough. The same is true for Ti.

Finally, we say good-bye. We have a long row back and it is starting to get late. We pull on our jackets and life vests and get into the boat. My husband rows us off and we head away. I look back to see Ti and Joey heading up the trail to their home; a smart, capable woman and her dog. If anyone can make it here, it’s Ti. She has the skills and personality to survive, and occasionally thrive in all this beautiful isolation. My life, with its relative conveniences and somewhat denser population may be somewhat easier than hers – but not much. And she has this beautiful ocean embracing her life that I wish I had in mine. Still, I know I would miss the mountains and skiing if I lived here. Perhaps we are both where we should be.

The following day I pick up a cell phone message from Ti. “Kristi, thanks so much for coming to visit. I just found this 3-Day Novel writing contest online. I think we should enter and write a story together about moving to the sticks. In Buddhism there are no coincidences!” She signs me up before I can say yes. She knows I will. It is time to write these stories down.

2009 Postscript--Ti

It’s been years since I’ve seen Kristi, though we’ve traded emails. Her youngest daughter was an infant the last time I saw her. We’ve tried for years to have a rendezvous here or in the Methow. When we had the money, we didn’t have the time and when we had the time, we didn’t have the money and so it’s gone on for years.

I was thrilled when I found out that she could actually visit! And when I saw her, she hadn’t changed a bit—still outgoing, outspoken, funny -- and with a jar of homemade blackberry jam in hand. Her daughter was a freckled happy kid who did indeed look like her dad and speak out like her mom. Her husband settled down for a nap under the plum trees—a well-earned rest after rowing his family out to see me.

We had a great visit, though it was far too short. It was so good for me to see an old friend and I was bubbling over when my husband came back. He was disappointed that he didn’t get to play with Kristi’s daughter—as the father of a teenager, he misses the days when daddy was about the coolest guy around.

My friend Diane posted a link to the 3-Day Novel writing contest on Facebook. I pondered a few ideas I’d been tossing around and then thought about Kristi and our yin/yang, mountains/islands, east/west story and thought: “YES! Let’s do it, even though it’s not really a novel, let’s tell this story!”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Oh Goody, a Teenager

The biggest unknown for me had nothing to do with island life, living in the middle of nowhere, scratching out a living or even following my heart and getting married. I’ve done all those things before. I’ve taught hundreds of kids and taken in a few when life got rocky for them. But I never, ever wanted to be a parent, let alone a stepparent.

I dislike the term stepparent. The kid has two living sets of grandparents, a dad and a mom. I don’t think she needs any more parents. I’ve tried to be just Ti, who’s out here doing the best that she can, being some sort of adult role model.

The kid is now deep into being a teenager and her relationship with her dad is both persnickety and normal. I keep explaining to my husband that her behavior is perfectly OK, that I was every bit as snotty/nice when I was 16 and that we gals do move on (hopefully) to more balanced behavior. He admits abashedly that he was no angel as a teen himself.

They are yelling at each other downstairs right now. I am thinking of writing down every single word they say: recorded for all posterity. But I don’t dare. Who wants to be reminded of their teenage conversations?

One of my husband’s goals was to give the kid a more open and (warning -- teacher-ese!) student-centered educational experience and we have certainly done that. The island kids might complain about their tiny community and the crazy commute, but they certainly have unique experiences.

After eighth grade, it’s a toss-up as to what island kids do per school. Some kids are home-schooled, some do Running Start, some go to town, others go to the high school one island over, or fly to another high school three islands away.

We do a combination of home schooling and commuting by boat to one island over. It is only three miles by water, but in stormy conditions we might as well be going across the Bering Strait. We can’t wait for the fog to lift or the wind to subside: the school bus arrives at 8:05 AM and the school is a two-hour walk from the bus stop.

We just got a new elementary principal, a new middle-high school principal and a new Superintendent. The new high school schedule looks as complicated as a NASA launch sequence. But two more years and the kid graduates from high school—a big milestone, no matter how we get there.

2011 update: the new principal left, the new superintendant is leaving and high school one island over got too crazy. The kid—like Kristi’s kids Emily and Rose, opted for Running Start. She left just about a year ago to live in the city and pursue Running Start. I am still homeschooling from the island, though!

The Worst

While I’ve been here, a Baker’s Dozen—thirteen—of my friends have died. The first was Ellen, one of my closest confidantes, who inspired me to keep doing the computer giveaway and community work long after I would have quit in frustration.

I called her when I was in the throes of moving out of my apartment. She and her partner Pat dropped everything to help me out, just as they’d dropped everything the year before to be a witness at my wedding. She seemed a little “off”, a little cross with me, but I didn’t blame her.

Five months later she would be dead of a brain tumor.

I saw her the day before she slipped into a coma: brain-damaged, rambling, but still sounding like herself. I touched her shaved head, the stitches from the biopsy. She took both my hands in hers, looked into my eyes, concentrated hard and said, “Don’t worry,” then dropped my hands and wandered out to the patio.

Ellen and Pat had packed my computer and all its peripherals into boxes for transport to the island. After she died I noticed a note Ellen had scrawled in pencil on the inside of one of the boxes: “Tell Ti not to worry.”

I sat on this damn island and cried: ten minutes before I had learned that she’d left me enough money to make it through another few years. Thank you Ellen, for providing the means.

The last death was the first friend I’d made on the island. She was an artist, a master teacher, a woman with a goofy sense of humor and a knack for having fun. Her cabin was filled with her art and friends and laughter. She gently pushed me to be an artist: if I mentioned that I was having trouble with color theory, she brought information on color theory. When I wanted to take up encaustic work, she brought me a heat gun, a propane torch and her leftover beeswax. Above all, she encouraged me to keep taking pictures, hiring me to take photos of her friends, her time here on the island.

For months after her death, her cabin looked as it always had. How could someone so alive not be here anymore? Even now, though the cabin has been cleaned and cleared it’s hard to believe that she won’t be back next summer and the summer after that and on and on until we all go gently out on the ebbing tide. Thank you Lynne, for providing the way.

The Best

The Farmer’s Market is a new addition to our island life. It’s been very successful—beyond anything I imagined, both financially and socially. We are a talented group! There are usually a dozen or so vendors: quilters, bakers, potters, weavers, lithographers, and master gardeners. We have French fries, BBQ sandwiches, coffee, granola, strawberry lemonade, ice cream, jams, jellies, pickles, preserves and lavender syrup, a dozen kinds of chocolate treats and cinnamon rolls.

I sell garlic – boy, do I ever have garlic: fresh, pickled, in garlic butter and garlic sage salt. And I sell sheep. Those darn little felted sheep. And ugly carrots. When I first brought my dented, bent carrots to the Market, the other vendors teased me: “Got a little clay in your soil?” or “We call those horse carrots.” They were right. They had lovely, smooth, straight carrots. So I made up a sign that said:


(but sincere and tasty)


…and sold a few carrots every week. I started featuring the ugliest carrot of the week and the most obscene. I had some great conversations about carrots, especially with folks who asked if I had any beautiful but insincere and tasteless carrots.

I thought after five years on this island that I knew as much as I wanted to know about my neighbors. We saw each other often enough at potlucks and school events. But the Farmer’s Market brought us all together in a different way. Despite all the hard work getting ready for each market, I looked forward to seeing my neighbors and talking with customers. It’s the heart of my island life, my social life and my artist’s life and it’s just right.


After ten years living in this remote mountain community, I have learned a thing or two. I have learned that I talk too much and listen too little. I have learned that I am not perfect, nor is my spouse, nor will we ever be. I have learned that life goes up and down, but that over the course of time, progress is made.

I have learned to relax my standards: That I can live with a little dirt. And that today’s big gossip will become tomorrow’s old news. I have also learned to be more tolerant of people not like me, because, frankly, there is no one much like me out here. If I wanted friends at all I had to widen out my personal preferences considerably, which is what I’ve learned to do.

After ten years in this valley, I have acquired a few new skills. I have learned to garden. I have learned to can. I have learned to waste less and save more. I have learned how to skate ski well – maybe not in comparison to the locals, but definitely in comparison to the tourists. I have learned how to ice skate and drive on snow and pack for any emergency. I have also learned some patience. This is not a virtue I thought ever to acquire. WAIT was always a dirty four letter word. Now wait is a period of time I can live with. And I do.

I have learned that I like wolves more than deer because the deer eat my garden but the wolves eat the deer. I have learned that there are more good hunters than bad, and that they help control the deer population. We need them. I have also learned why farmers and ranchers resent the intrusion of environmentalists from the city telling them how to live. Not that I always agree with them, but this is a tough place to make a living and we all need to feed our kids. If we want people to change, we should help, not punish them into changing, and allow them the dignity to survive.

Mostly I have learned that my life, as odd as it is, is a pretty good life. Though there are problems a plenty, I doubt a different life would be much better. When measuring the things that really matter (health, love, family, a beautiful environment, peace in my home) against the things that really do not (my brilliant career that isn’t, the big income I don’t have, the travel I haven’t done, or the status I haven’t achieved), I would say the scale is pretty well balanced in my favor. At least on most days….

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Kristi’s kids are in a small school district and we are in an even smaller one. No one here is punching the clock either and our community also turns out in the morning, afternoon or evening for school events. What’s more, most of the community does not have kids in school—they support the school because they feel it’s the appropriate thing to do. When our teacher retired after 30-plus years, dozens of people came out to interview and then greet the new teacher and her family. I wish the communities I taught in were like this one. I might still be in the classroom.

Field Trip

A year after we came to the island, the five school kids and seven adults packed up and went to England and Scotland for a jam-packed two weeks. We had been fund-raising like crazy and had even postponed the trip from spring to fall to make sure we had all our expenses covered. We needed at least $2000 per person to cover airfare, train tickets, lodgings, meals. $24,000 is a sizable sum of money for any community to raise, let alone an island with 30 or so full-time residents. Everyone gave and gave and gave some more. Everywhere I went on that trip I could feel the community walking along with me.

Moving Out, Moving In

While I was waiting in line to tour the Tower of London I finally decided to give up my city apartment. Though the rent was incredibly low, I was tired of maintaining two residences. It was time to move my stuff to the island. When I got back to town I started packing up. And suddenly, I just lost it. I had been packing for days and days and where was all this stuff going to GO? What was going to the island, what was going to the in-laws and what was going into storage? How do you pack up a life? You just keep packing.

With the arrival of my drawing table, computer, computer desk, and camera on the island, I felt that I had finally moved in.

I still have the mental image of my gear piled up on the frost-bound beach where the water taxi left it: the desk and drawing table taken apart and duct-taped together for transport, the computer, monitor, two printers and the scanner in their boxes. Inky green conifers soared in front of me and waves crashed behind me. A heron flapped by, croaking, “…barrrraaackkkkk...” I scrambled to move everything off the beach before the tide came in.

Joey the Dog

I had promised the family that we would get a dog. During our second summer on the island I asked the kid to go online to PAWS and see what kind of dogs were available. I have her notes on a yellow Post-it: “Joey…lab mix…4 years…well-behaved… trained… happy… play…” My husband and the kid came back with a big yellow smiley dog.

Joey is indeed well-trained, happy, and playful. We gave him a chair of his own to sleep in and walked him all over the property to show him his new home. He was overjoyed. I suspect he wasn’t allowed on the furniture in his former home and we knew from his file that he was kept on a zip line while his family was at work.

He immediately changed the dynamics of our family for the better. I’d say that dogs have a real Buddha nature: whatever they’re doing they are doing it 100% in the moment, whether it’s sleeping, playing or chasing eagles across the yard. Joey always reminds us to live in the moment, even when he’s snoring on the couch.

Joey is generally very gentle with kids. But if the kid acts aggressively toward her dad, Joey jumps up and pushes her away—something he does whenever there’s any aggressive behavior. I told the kid that she may not think she’s being aggressive, but the dog thinks she is.

My husband knocks golf balls all over the yard for Joey to chase: he’ll play golf ball for hours. He’s happy to accompany us wherever we want to go. He loves to ride in the car. He especially likes to go to the Farmer’s Market, where he begs shamelessly for treats.

He’s learned how to ride on the ATV and to avoid otters (who will drown a dog that swims out to them). He chases rabbits and deer, herds sheep, and trees turkeys. He can let himself out at night and let himself back in. He poops in the tall grass and I don’t have to pick it up in a plastic bag. He gets to bark as loud as he wants when the other dogs bark. He doesn’t have to be on a leash and wherever we go, Joey goes too.

All in all, he has a darn good dog life. And because of him, our life here is even better.

Being an Artist: Year of the Dog

Appropriately, the year after we got Joey was the Chinese Year of the Dog. Every year someone on the island creates a calendar with our birthdays and anniversaries included. (We have all-island birthday parties.) No one was interested in doing a calendar for the coming year.

I let folks know that I was doing a dog calendar and they loved the idea. I scooted all over the island, shooting photos with my old 35mm Nikon-with-a-motor-drive. Folks thought I was being artistic because I was shooting black-and-white film. The truth was that I didn’t have a digital camera.

I sent the film to be processed and went into the darkroom to do the initial prints—later to be retouched in Photoshop. I set up the calendar grid, did the graphic work and ftp’d the files out to be printed. And yay, I’d done my first creative project in years! I was good -- no, great—to remind myself that I did have some skills, darn it. The calendar became a fundraiser for the school. I proudly sent copies to all my friends, including Kristi.

A few months later I bought a digital 35mm Nikon and officially entered into the 21st century. That year I did a dog calendar for another client and put up four shows in coffee shops and for art walks. I was officially on my way to being an artist—again.

Being an Artist: Local Sheep Make Good

There’s a flock of Scottish Blackface sheep on the island. Their wool is coarse and the meat is just OK, but they are excellent lawnmowers. They stay put (mostly) where they were born and the ewes are excellent mothers who don’t require much help lambing.

In May the shepherds and dogs come and bring the sheep in to be shorn. Every year I grab a fleece or two and then – I make sheep out of the wool. They are little bitty sheep with wood and wire armatures, felted bodies and goofy expressions. It took me several tries to get a sheep that looked like a sheep, but as of this writing, I’ve made nearly five hundred (!) sheep and sold them at the tiny island store or the Farmer’s Market.

I’ve experimented with other projects using our local wool—deer and rabbits, a fainting goat and even a Joey-the-dog, but it’s sheep that everyone want. I never expected to make sheep as part of my living, but make sheep I do. White sheep, black sheep, lambs, ewes and rams. Custom sheep. Sheep in hats. Big sheep, itty-bitty sheep.

And furthermore…

The island community is close-knit and wildly independent at the same time, the family is surviving, maybe even thriving. I am making a living as an artist, though it’s not exactly how I envisioned it. The sun may not come out for us as often as it does for Kristi, but maybe 300 days of cool, cloudy weather will preserve my girlish complexion. Kristi can ski and I can slide down Sheep Hill on a piece of cardboard. The lack of brakes, sheep poop and rocks only add to the experience.

But here’s what’s really good: my yard is full of birds. Eagles, ravens, crows, cedar waxwings, woodpeckers, wrens, red-wing blackbirds, hummingbirds, flickers, towhees, goldfinches, swallows, sparrows and a zillion basic brown birds. There are frogs and herons in the trees. Every spring and fall enormous flights of snow geese, swans and Canadian geese pass overhead. Golden and ruby-crowned kinglets will land on our hands when they come through in the late winter.

There are oystercatchers, loons, scaups, mergansers, buffleheads, gulls, kingfishers, osprey, Virginia Rails, cormorants; merlins, red-tailed hawks, peregrines, owls, osprey and at least four breeding eagle pairs.

When the weather was calm I thought I saw a seal swimming between islands—but it had antlers. It was a black-tailed deer, swimming to Lopez Island.

There are bioluminescent critters in the water under the full moon. The ghost shrimp have copper-colored eyes that glow in a flashlight’s beam. Crabs paddlewheel in the water or glare at me from under the dinghy.

I stepped on a flounder yesterday. We both ran for cover.

We use a bulldozer to rototill the garden. The bulldozer doesn’t faze the gumbo clay or the thistles. The garden is growing nicely, even if the thistles mock me. On the other hand, the finches love thistle seeds.

I don’t build beach fires anymore. After a long winter chopping wood and trying to stay warm, the last thing I want to do is build a recreational fire.

Ditto for recreational boating.

THE UPSIDE of ISLAND and/or COUNTRY LIVING -- Kristi’s Story

So back to Ti’s original question: What happened to my wonderful life? And more importantly, why do I stay?

Probably the strongest anchor keeping me here on days when I might otherwise have gone screaming into the hills are the kids: Not only mine, but everyone else’s too. Though we had a bit of a rough start with some of the children in Emily’s class, I have learned to really love the local kids. Watching my children and their friends grow up in this beautiful place has been one of the highlights of my life. I would not trade it for diamonds or gold.

In a larger community, children and their friends frequently shuffle to other schools. In our small valley, the kids you start in preschool with are likely many of the same kids you will graduate with. Most of the grades only have two classes, and those kids and parents are together a long time. Emily’s graduating class of 2009 had 47 kids, including the alternative school kids and those who did Running Start. I knew pretty much every one, and was amazed to see that even the “spitters and nose pickers” had grown up to be nice young adults.

Rose is a freshman in high school this year, and most of her best friends she has known since Montessori. Their parents and I have logged in countless hours attending soccer games, school assemblies, science fairs, and field trips together. Though we may not all be the best of friends, we have formed a tight web of support around our children, and we are raising these kids together.

People out here are also pretty healthy. I was 41 when Jannie was born, and I knew at least three other women in the valley as old, or older than I, and having kids. Statistically, that’s pretty amazing. I also see very few overweight children or even adults out here. Most of us are involved in some sort of sport, and even those that aren’t can’t escape all the walking, hiking, skiing and biking that is a regular part of our lives.

The consumerism that plagues many kids in our nation is rarely a problem for us. The nearest mall is two hours away. Not that kids can’t access all that stuff on the internet, but somehow it’s less of an issue. We just don’t have the population base to support the advertising that drives consumer culture. Of course as a consequence, we can sometimes be a little out of it style-wise. City kids might sometimes think the local kids are “uncool” and I’m sure I thought a bit of that on occasion when we first arrived. But I am so thankful to have raised my children in a place where people worry more about four-legged predators then the two-legged variety. And if being “uncool” is the worst thing that can happen to them, I’ll take it.

Another thing I love about living in a small community is the ability to make a difference. I have never lived in a place where people are so empowered to create positive change. If there’s something happening that you don’t like, you can get in there and make it better. Many people do. Small community groups have successfully fought large corporate conglomerates and corrupt government agencies over the course of years, and even decades, and won. Individuals have envisioned wonderful ideas that they proceeded to make happen. We have an excellent ski trail system, an amazing land trust, a state of the art ice skating rink, and a large school garden project, just to name a few. They all started as dreams by a few, only to grow and benefit hundreds, if not thousands. Right now there is an art and community center in the development, which I have no doubt will be a success. If people want to make a difference here, they can absolutely do so.

The natural world is a big draw for many people here, me included. Coming from rainy Seattle to a place with over 300 days of sun a year has been paradise. I don’t care if it’s only five degrees outside. If it’s sunny out, I’m happy. I ride my bike and ski on beautiful mountain trails that take only minutes to get to. Sometimes I ski out my front door. And though I’ve mentioned how hard it can be to make a living in a rural environment, the upside is that we don’t punch a clock.

Lack of regular work means fewer time constraints. As a result, parents seem to have a lot more time to spend with their kids. You can barely get a seat at the afternoon spring and winter concerts in our local elementary school, so full are the bleachers with moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors, and friends. They never held an afternoon concert at my daughter’s school in Seattle because few of the parents could come.

I have also enjoyed, more than I would have thought, having a variety of friends very different than me. One of our friends, who is the emergency contact for our children at school, has likely cancelled out every one of my votes since 1979. I have friends who vote the abortion issue (against), and those who have an arsenal large enough they could probably blow up the town. Strange bedfellows, for sure, but I have come to like these people very much. It has been a real learning experience to be able to discuss some of the most controversial problems in our nation with people who disagree with my views, but are interested in what they are. And visa versa. I wish more of that could happen everywhere.

Community in a small place is a hard thing to explain. It’s like a web of relationships that ties us all together, whether we’re good friends or not. Tragedies ripple through this valley and the pain they cause runs deep. We had three beloved men commit suicide last year, and I swear half the valley went on Prozac. Not so much because people were afraid of being next, but because the sadness these tragedies left in their wakes was so huge. You can’t escape other people’s troubles out here. And we all come to the rescue because we never know when we might be next.

Sometimes I wish for anonymity and to be able to walk down the street without everyone knowing my name. But, for the most part, the friendly nods, hand waves, and one finger salutes we all give each other on the road, validates that I’m alive and a member of a community that cares. I guess that’s why I stay.