593 or 296

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Facebook annoys me by reminding me how many days since I last posted on my author page.

A lot ok?

It’s partially because I started bypassing the author page and posting my blog posts direct to my personal Facebook page.  It’s partly that I hate to even have both personal and author pages and a blog.  But now I do.  And there are blog subscribers that aren’t on Facebook and pictures and stories that are on one Facebook page and not the other and it’s just a big mess that I don’t want to have to bother to fix.

I also don’t like to be told what to do.  So stop shaming me, Facebook.

593 days, ok! Don’t judge. 296 for the blog.  So that’s more realistic.  But I HATE the word blog.  What else to call it…the writin’ place?  Place of musings?  I sort of like that.

Where to start after taking that long off? With a boring explanation?  See top of page- got that covered. With the 68 drafts I have stored here at the Place of Musings? Some of them are almost finished but aren’t  good and some are incoherent ramblings I’m not sure I even wrote.

How about where I left off – which was in the midst of a travelogue on last winters road trip(s).  I doubt anyone cared that much then and less now.  But I have to get it down. To sum up and promise to write regularly now (fingers crossed behind back) I’m going to go to Jimmy Buffett.  I like his writing.  In the beginning of his book “A Pirate Looks at 50″, he sums up his life using a format from Catholic school where the students had to report what they did over summer in 400 words or less.

I grew up Catholic too.  Please forgive me …it has been 593 or 296 days… oh no that’s confession something else.

I’m no where near the writer Jimmy is so it might take me less or way more than 400 words to sum up what’s happened since Jan 4th 2016 -When I was RV camping in the rain on the coast of California and bravely declaring IM STAYING.  Here goes…The last 296 days in 400 words or less.

Changed our minds.  Not staying. Left the next morning. Mud slide closes Hwy one on way to LA.  Go around. Park RV in storage.   Fly LAX to MSP.   My beloved station wagon in Florida gets totaled–hitting both a Mercedes and Bentley. Go big or go home girls!  Bring different car to Florida/visit.  Back to MN.  Rollo buys cars and trucks to replenish his collection-too many to remember 1975 Jeep, 1979 Scout (oh wait I bought that one)  We taste some Minnesota winter. Get small breed  puppy I said I’d never have cause I don’t like little dogs.  Fly back to LA with puppy under first class seat.  Pick up RV and come home via my beloved California Coast and across Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and South Dakota. Camp in some of the most beautiful boondock sites on the planet.  Rollo diagnosed with rotator cuff/biceps injury.  Put off surgery till 2016 paving season ends. Get new bees. Paving season starts. Obsess over bigger dog. Consider trying different breed.  Disregard.  Obsess about border collies.  Get second dog-border collie of course. Fall in love with little dog.  I take herding lessons.  Rollo works really hard. Vacation in Montana and Idaho. Fence pasture.  Get sheep. Harvest honey…. whew.

That’s 199 words.  But I’m caught up.  For now.

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Fate of the Rebel Queen

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The reign of the rebel queen has ended.  Too short, but sweet.

We started beekeeping last summer.  Without much success in that our single hive died out over the winter. What was successful was a pretty nice honey harvest.  We had some help from a “bee guy” who brought a shiny stainless steel separator and spun the honey out of the comb in about 10 minutes.  It went into a really nice clean bucket with a filtered spigot. Easy breezy $450 plus shipping. I don’t know if that includes the bucket.

This spring we decided to try again. We attended the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.  This was the first classroom Rollo has been in since 1983.  He sat in the front row this time. He even asked a question.

“Being this is a honey beekeeping conference, why is there no honey out on the coffee/snack bar?”

The man has priorities.

We learned a lot. We learned how to hive a new package.  That’s what they call moving about 4000 angry bees from a screen box  into the hive.  We learned how to release their queen – she travels in a separate “first class” small screen cage.    We heard about feeding, and box rotation, mites, and wintering in 3 deep hives.  This system allows for more honey left over winter to feed the bees = We learned our bees probably died of starvation while we feasted on honey.

We decided to try it.  We picked up two packages in Hackensack Mn.  8000 angry bees rode home in the bathroom of the RV.

Once home,  we prepared to hive the packages. Spritzing them with a sugar water solution is supposed to appease them. This makes sense to me being quite appeased by sugar myself.  Rollo spritzed, shook and dumped his 4000 bees into the first hive.  About 1000 were flying around when he oh-so-carefully lowered the virgin queen’s cage deep into the hive.  She is supposed to STEP out with dignity and elegance to greet her subjects, then spend a few days decorating the new digs before making her mating flight. Rollo very carefully pulled back the screen door of her cage, having been warned it could snap back and behead her. We waited a split second….and she  shot out of the little cage and flew straight up out of the hive. And away, we guessed.  Our mouths hung open for a minute – oops forgot the sugar water part.

My turn.  I DRENCHED my queen and floated her out into her subjects.  Not graceful and dignified, but she sure didn’t fly away and thankfully she didn’t drown either.

Not knowing what else to do, we closed both hives and went to have some whiskey and talk about getting a new queen.

We were advised to wait a few days.  She might make it back to the hive, but probably not.  She might be found on the ground nearby with a cluster of bees surrounding her, but probably not.  Watch for eggs in the hive for a few days just to be sure she’s gone, we were told,  then order a new queen.

Within a week, eggs appeared in the Hive of the Rebel Queen, as we had christened it.   More eggs than in MY hive….of the soggy queen.  In fact, the Rebel outperformed the other lady all summer. She was first to need a second brood box, and a third.  Her’s was the only hive to need the queen separator and the honey boxes.  She achieved all of this  with benign neglect on our part as summer got busier.  We checked semi-regularly to be sure there was enough nectar and pollen and eggs and baby bees. But we didn’t remember our lessons about box rotation….or mites.  We checked for mites once.  None. Checked the boxes last week…and the Rebel Queen was gone.  Some of her loyal subjects lay dead around the outside of the hive.  Outrage. I assumed the mosquito spraying helicopter killed them. But I checked the surviving box and the mite load was high…We can’t be sure so I am going to assume she saw a mite or two and decided to move on.

I want to believe the Rebel Queen still flies. Somewhere.

The good news (I thought) was that she left behind her liquid gold treasure. Now to harvest it.

“Well,” said Pooh,

“what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

~ A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh

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I was Pooh with 13 frames of honey in a wheelbarrow ready to start extracting. By hand.

I have spent the last two days scratching wax out of the frames with a fork, metal spatula and my fingers.  Then straining it though jelly strainer bags or cheesecloth tied and nailed to the cabinets to suspend it over bowls, buckets and jars.

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Here is what I learned.

1.Honey is sticky. I am sticky.  The floor is sticky. Wax flecks are stuck to everything.

2.  I am clumsy. Clumsy and sticky means wax gets in the honey.

3. $450 plus shipping is not really that bad.

4. The moment Pooh talks about?  The nameless one before you start eating or separating the honey?

That’s the best part. But still…

I offer you Rebel Queen Honey.  I don’t think I can sell it because

A. You couldn’t afford. If I added up the cost of 8000 angry bees, hives and other paraphernalia, trip to Hackensack, bee class, jars, cheesecloth and two days with my feet stuck to the floor…trust me you couldn’t afford it.

B. I don’t have a license -or even know if I need one.

But I can take a donation towards a separator. However, you will have to sign a release that you will not hold me responsible for…anything.  Although I filtered it, Rebel Queen honey is not guaranteed to be free of wax bits, bee parts, swear words, or sudden urges to fly away.

happy campers?

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2016 arrived about halfway through our epic roadie. Truth be told, things didnt seem all that epic at that point. Honest. I don’t want to be one of those blogger/facebook folks who make everything look like roses and ice cream all the time…while secretly feeling stabby.
The weather seemed to be against us – we hadn’t had running water in the camper yet. WiFi service was spotty (shriek) and we didnt manage to even stay up till midnight in Phoenix.
Of course, we weren’t at work and we were traveling with our alleged best friends. But still. We were considering escape..cutting the trip short.

At the breakfast buffet on New Years morning in Phoenix (over rubbery eggs) I struck up conversation with a neighboring table of Ohioans. We talked about travels of course. The gentleman told me Mount Rushmore was on his bucket list. He wanted to know if I had been there. Yes. And if I thought it was “worth it”. Um. no. But I didn’t say that. I didn’t say anything right away. I didn’t want to get into why I don’t like Rushmore and I didn’t want to squash this guys dream trip on New Year’s Day.
I figured, being from Ohio, ya know..maybe he had low expectations. But as we talked more about travel I learned his family had been to New Zealand, Antartica, Alaska…big bucket stuff…. and Hawaii.
Hawaii…one of my dream places…esp on this day in the coldishness. After a string of coldish days. So I asked more. Was it worth it?
“I’m pretty sure God lives there” is what he told me.
The epic adventure continued that day. We didn’t bail out or escape that day. We headed for Joshua Tree National Park, but never got past the first visitor center. Not feeling it. Then on to L.A. Although I only saw a small sliver of it (so far) I am quite sure God does not live there. He should visit more though. Maybe things would improve.
We were tired. We didnt even have dinner that night. Rain was predicted for almost the whole week on the coast. Escape plans abounded on arrival to our campsite on the Pacific. Drive the RV back to MN. Drive the RV back to Florida. 40 hours of driving….? please no. Leave it here (as planned) and leave early. Drive it to Idaho and leave with friends. Leave it here and fly to Mexico (my idea) Sell it here in California.
Set it on fire. Perhaps with my best friend and his no-Wifi Ipad inside.
None of that seemed quite right. So we had a nice walk and a nice lunch and saw some seals.  That night,  I woke up at 3 a.m. (usual) really wanting to stay. Negative ions from the ocean must have seeped into my soul and the noise of the OCEAN 50 feet from my pillow chased all the crap out of my head…replacing it with a loud voice (maybe god lives in California) saying SNAP OUT OF IT.
Both of us have had past “travel companions” who were whiney gloomy types. We are NOT those people. We have raincoats. IMO Wifi is not always a good thing, but they have it at coffee shops. And, when the rain comes we will at least have running water.
I’m staying.

Are We There Yet?

 

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Are we there yet?

I asked Rollo that when we got to about…Fairbault Mn. I will probably ask dozens of times over the next month on the road. Sometimes just to be funny. Sometimes because it seems like we are “nowhere” – in between the “destinations” on our list.

Being a major daydreamer, I am very often guilty of thinking about how great next Saturday will be…you know…the one when I will be looking back on what a good time THIS Saturday was. Oh yeah, man, Springsteen’s glory days. Down at the well tonight…gonna drink my fill. Those were the glory days. We never remember that we puked for the entire next day.

ANYway… I have been planning this trip for months. First it was Taos, down south in New Mexico and then Southern Arizona. Then, Rollo said the magic word to me. CALFORNIA. So I rerouted my itinerary. Let’s get the very best place because then it will be sunny all the time and beer and donuts are free.

I wasn’t expecting to camp in Omaha, Nebraska. Made it to Taos and we WERE finally somewhere and it WAS great. But the weather looked bad for our travels south, so we left a day early. In Albuquerque this morning, the weather channel seemed to say temps will be below 20 degrees for the next week – not ideal for the water tanks on the RV.  And this forecast is for most of the route we planned. So we rerouted again. Head straight west we thought- Sedona, Phoenix, onward to Cali.

Finally, I gave myself a good hard slap. I AM THERE right now. Right where I want to be. Wherever that is.
I want to keep my eyes and ears and mind wide open and maybe my mouth shut. I want to suck up every drop of Omaha Nebraska or, say, being stuck in the snow..(stuck in the NOW) in Edgewood, New Mexico.

Because. Well. Things happen. 200 old cars happened. Can’t pass that up. We are, indeed, camped at some very kind new friends home after viewing the cars. Wouldn’t trade it for Carlsbad or Sedona or anywhere else. The look on my car-boy husband’s face seeing 200 cool old cars? Priceless.

Are we there yet? Yup. These are the glory days.

Blue Doors…

 

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…In Taos are beautiful, but not only beautiful. They keep evil spirits out.
Our door at the historic Taos Inn was not strong enough to keep the demon out of the heater though. Full speed ON or completely off. Most full on. Combine that with near blizzard conditions predicted and we are fleeing south.
We enjoyed Taos…maybe not in the normal tourist way. We did have chilis for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I did have the famous cowboy buddha margarita at the Adobe Bar. That is almost a reason to stay. We didn’t go to museums and, although we shopped more than I liked, we didn’t buy anything in town.
What did we do? Traveling with Rollo, you KNOW we met people. First, some locals at breakfast. They live just over the mountain and one them is a rancher with a small cow/calf ranch. Just 100000 acres. The other runs a 50s diner and Ice Cream Parlor.
After that, on walkabout in town, three guys we hauling construction stuff into a tarped off building. They asked us in to see what they were doing. Remodeling is not the word for it. They called it art. We agreed.
Beams carved by the grandfather in 1800s are restored and in some cases replicated. They have been at it four months and hope an art gallery will be in the space by spring. They called the work an amazing journey.
After more chilis with our tamale and rellano lunch platter -Christmas style (both red and green chilis)-and a little rest, we went to visit Taos Pueblo.
The Red Willow people have lived in this adobe community for at least a thousand years – making it the oldest continually inhabited community in North America. A visit to this special place was one of the reasons I wanted to come to Taos. In the last weeks of planning, though, I read some reviews on Trip Advisor that almost changed my mind.
I take Trip Advisor reviews with a grain of salt – or a whole shaker – particularly the ones where the poor traveler is complaining about the lack of English-speaking wait-staff in say…Mexico. In this case there were enough negative reviews concerning the rudeness (bordering on hostility)of the residents of the Pueblo that I did take notice.
I am so so glad we decided to go anyway. The people could not have been more gracious in welcoming strangers into their home on a holiday. And, IMO, they had plenty of reason not to be. There had to be close to 5000 of us visitors and I saw and heard some behaviors that would get you thrown out of my house in a heartbeat.
We had good hot coffee, frybread, lots of big smiles and Merry Christmas greetings. The residents build huge, I mean HUGE, bonfires in the plaza. After services at San Geromino (St. Jerome) chapel, we were lucky enough to witness the procession of the Virgin Mary. With snowflakes falling on the bonfires at the base of the moutains, Mary is carried from the church and paraded (with gunfire!) around the plaza. Quite a sight…Thank you Red Willow People and I’m sorry about those rude (bordering on hostile visitors).

ps.  If you are in Taos and are looking for jewelry or pottery, go to the Pueblo.  Buy direct from the artists.  Not only will you get a good deal, but you will support the artists and learn the tradition behind what you are bringing home.  Thanks, Sonny Spruce for making my beautiful Christmas present.

Listening To The Three Wise Men

The first day we were on the road I quoted Willie Nelson’s song, “On the Road Again”. My friend Eduardo was kind enough to post the rest of the lyrics to Facebook.

“Like a pair of gypsies, we go down the road again.  We’re the best of friends”…I quoted.

The next line is “Insisting that the world keep turning our way..,”

Wow. How nice would that be?

Can you IMAGINE insisting that the whole world go our way? Of course, I would consult you all -this is a democracy after all, right?  Hmm wait.  Never mind.  Not sure that is working.

So just trust me. It will be  nice with me as king.  If I were the king of the world…I’ll tell you what I’d do.  I’d throw away the bars and the cars and the wars.

IT would be FAR OUT… remember I LOVE John Denver.  I loved him when I was 10 years old and I love him still.

Can you tell we have been listening to a little of my favorite road music?

So, ok if I were the king of the world, I wouldn’t do it all myself.  I would put three wise men in charge of some stuff.  To help me.

John Denver for sure in charge of environment assisted by Jerimiah (the bullfrog).  John Lennon on gun control.   Willie can make sure everyone gets fed…good farm veggies.  Both Johns (Denver and Lennon) and Willie on the drug regulations.  Jerimiah Bullfrog on joy distribution.  I know.  We don’t have a joy distribution comittee right now.  But we should.  And when I am king of the world we will.

Joy to the World.  The WHOLE world.  Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea.  JOY JOY JOY to you and me!!

**no I am not indulging in Colorado’s state crop.  Just sipping some damn good coffee.  Red Dog Coffee Shop.  Manitou Springs, Co.

 

 

 

Moose, Cabela’s, and Boondocking

 

 

 

12/21/15 Camped Cabela’s parking lot, Omaha NE

Why, you ask? Well because we can.

We took an epic 4000+ mile roadie in 2012 in the Roadmaster Buick woodie wagon.  We did some tent camping and stayed in some hotels-from the grand and historic in Seattle to the funky in Circle Montana.  We hiked alot of miles and saw elk, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, grizzlies and MOOSE.

I love the freedom of going wherever whenever and camping or not.  I never wanted to be tied down to an old person RV parked in an asphalt lot with alot of other old-timers in their metal tents.  But.  It does have some appeal.  Shower? Fridge?  yes.   So we shopped RVs this summer.  Camper vans really. Because some national parks – namely the one named Heaven, um, I mean Glacier – don’t allow vehicles longer than 21 feet.

We test drove some big over priced rigs. It was hot and I was cranky. I told the salesperson my complaints and wished outloud to be able to just go camp alone in the woods without reservations.   He asked why we didn’t.  Boondock, he said.

Huh?  So of course I googled it.  There IS such a thing. In fact there are a whole tribe of these boondockers.   Boondocking at it’s best, IMO, is a pristine campsite with no other campers in sight.  Free.

Alternatively, you might be in a walmart or casino parking lot, at  truck stop etc.   Free (or cheap) and self contained.  There are even groups that allow other member RV’ers to park on their property and Harvest Hosts – winerys, farm stores, alpaca and goat ranches, brewerys or museums that will host travelers.

OK Mr. RV salesman, I’m in.   We still didn’t buy one from him.    My beloved husband/ traveling companion/deal finder got us a 21 foot rig from Ebay or Craigslist or wherever he gets these things.

So we are off on another epic roadie. Mostly going to try boondocking in the RV.  But, being we aren’t driving a jillion dollar rig, we aren’t guilted into sleeping in it no matter WHAT.  We will mix it up with some hotels.

We are spending Christmas in Taos, New Mexico.  I hear that it is an enchanted winter holiday wonderland.  Most of the festivities are in the main plaza of town.   And it’s sometimes 2 degrees in the morning.  Time to mix it up.  We are staying at an inn.

We left Sunday morning with no specific ideas for the en route to Taos part.  I thought there was mention of motel 6 and a shower.  I wasn’t expecting much in the way of sights until we got to Taos.  No hiking, no wildlife nothing like the 2015 trip right?  Not until we get there.  So just driving.

Then we saw him.  Coming into Omaha.  There was a bull moose on the side of the highway.  He was on his side of the fence but it was not moose fence.  He looked a little confused and a lot angry.  Another vehicle was pulled over on the side of the road.  Maybe to take his picture. Luckily, for him and us and the other vehicle, Mr. Moose ran away.

Cousin Barb asked if  he was hiding behind a cornstalk.  No he was not.  Cornstalks are cut down now.  Maybe that’s why he was angry.

So I guess there are things to see in Omaha.  The only boondocking site we could find, though, was at Cabela’s parking lot.  We had food and cards and a warm bed all in the RV so all we really needed was a somewhat level safe place to park.  Holiday enchantment a bonus.

I don’t hunt so I’m not sure I have ever been in a Cabela’s.  But now I know why the moose was angry.  The place is full of dead animals. I will have nightmares for months.

Safe? I  guess I should feel safe what with all those guns.  Aren’t we all supposed to be afraid of each other these days? Muslims, married gays, young black men and police.  To start.  Nothing says safe like cartloads of ammo going home to be stacked under the tree.

Somehow I was not comforted.  I was tramautized by all the dead animal heads watching.  Did they know something I didn’t.  I couldn’t tell the nice safe gun people from the bad dangerous gun people.    I guess I got my naughty and nice lists mixed up.

Now that I’v offended, let’s get back to festive holiday enchantment? Well sure.  Nothing says festive like pink camo, rows of meat grinders, and all those glass eyeballs watching you.

I will try to keep this blog updated as we travel, but the 2 or 3 of you that subscribe know I am not all that good at that.

Eventually, when i can sit still long enough to figure it out, I will try to condense the facebook page, facebook author page and blog.  Meanwhile,I apologize for the double, triple or no posts.  Also some of this is being written while the dinette hurtles along at 80 miles an hour, so expect even more typos and worse punctuation than usual.  If I bug you too much, you can always Unfriend or Unfollow.  It’s ok.  Just don’t get me pink camo for Christmas.

 

Moss

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI LOVE MOSS!  I gathered up all I could and moved it to the new house last year. Fairies seem to like the moss beds.

“Life [exists] only because of a myriad of synchronicities that bring us to this particular place at this particular moment. In return for such a gift, the only sane response is to glitter in reply.”

Robin Wall Kimmerer, from Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses .

I think I will be getting this book.  Today.

Isn’t there an old proverb – No moss grows on a rolling stone?  Maybe we all need to slow. down.  stop rolling quite so fast.  Take time to notice that oh-so-green-and-soft delicious moss.  And start to glitter a little.

My Psychiatrist

I haven’t been myself lately.  I’ve been a bit down, my head feels foggy.  I haven’t written anything in I-don’t-know how long.  Even my very favorite things are starting to seem like work. Busy busy busy.  No fun.

It got worse early this week.  I was confused and…well…a titch crabby.

I must have been confused – I actually read this article on astrology and I don’t believe in astrology.

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clink on angry face to read the article

It says Mercury is stalled out (or something like that).  This can cause confusion, frustration, irritation, strange dreams, meltdowns…”and an unrelenting feeling of psychological and physiological heaviness.”

Well. Yes.  That might also explain the two-headed llama wearing bunny ears galloping through my sleep on Tuesday night, but I still don’t believe in astrology.

How could a planet way up there have any effect on me way down here?  It’s ridiculous.  Couldn’t make me angry or frustrated.  Not a F*$#*^% chance that rat b@$^*!& mercury can get to me.  Right?

Upon further reflection, I decided I needed to see my psychiatrist.  I haven’t visited in a long time (apparently way too long).  I didn’t have an appointment and I didn’t think I really had the time for a visit.

I had to try really hard to “put on blinders” and go straight to the office.  I didn’t make the bed, do the dishes, walk the dog, play with the cat, or feed the chickens.

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I got an earful about the late breakfast

Or the chicks.

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dirty look?

or the other chicks.

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I did visit the ducks.   I tried not to notice the plants that needed planting or the weeds needing weeded. I didn’t even get dressed.

I went directly to Dr. Peltier’s in my pajamas.

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The office was crowded.  There was a teenage bald eagle with a self esteem problem, geese with a panic disorder, a heartbroken swan, anxious wood ducks, a swallow with an aggression issue, and a bunch of herons who -judging by the screaming – were in need of group therapy.

I don’t even wanna know what this guy’s problem was.

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Despite the crowd and the noise, the place was soothing.  There was a light breeze and pretty flowers. I figured out those I thought were patients were really therapists!

I feel better.

I want to go back soon. But, I still hate mercury.  And the llama.

IRISH

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Every St Pat’s Day, I felt like I was missing something.I can’t say for sure why.   This was grade school, so it wasn’t the green beer, but there must have been something special about the day. Something that drew me in.  Four leaf clovers and luck of the Irish, maybe?

Back then, I didn’t know how good the whiskey was or how green the hillsides are said to be. I’d never heard the pipes cry “Danny Boy”.

But I knew there had to be magic in being Irish.

Deep down in my gypsy soul, I felt there was something special about it…maybe in another life I knew about the storytelling tradition; the folklore and fairytales.

What I wanted to be more than anything, what I  yearned to be…was Irish.

I don’t know when I found out.  I don’t know why no one told me.  They probably didn’t think they had to.  I don’t know why the Malone and Maley names in the family tree didn’t ring a bell for me.
I AM Irish.

Patrick and Delia

50% anyway.  My great grandparents were named Delia (called Bridget) and Patrick.  How did I miss that?

Their son, Frank, was born in the United States, but traveled back to the Emerald Isle when he was young.  He went to school there for awhile.  His schoolmates called him The Yank.  Maybe he didn’t know he was Irish either.

I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story.  Maybe the moral is to celebrate what who we already are.

Maybe it’s only to drink more whiskey and tell more stories.

Or just maybe, the moral is that we can be whomever and whatever we decide to be.
Now that I know I’m Irish, what I really want to be – more than anything – is a writer.

Maybe I already am.