The Priory of Sion, Sons of Liberty, The Illuminati, and Other Secret Combinations

Secret societies have been around since the beginning of time.  (Didn’t you see Aronofsky’s “Noah”?)  We sort of joke about them mostly being for nefarious purposes, but let’s face it – the truth is boring when it comes to these kinds of groups.  It’s way more fun to speculate about conspiracy theories between governments and religions committing heinous sins to dupe and control the general public, or murdering someone, covering things up, all kinds of crimes to right the wrongs in the world.  It’s fascinating, right?  The reality couldn’t be more far from the truth, though.  I know, because I’m in one!!!

I belong to a secret group of elite people on the internet.  Some of them I know in real life, others are online only.  But we meet together for one purpose, and one purpose only.  To have a safe place to be completely ourselves, warts and all, no matter what and no judgement.  We give each other in copious amounts what we aren’t getting anywhere else in our lives.  Love, kindness, support, strength, building each other up, holding each other in our pain, laughter, raging against whatever (together)… It is seriously the best thing ever, and I don’t know how I got along in life before they invited me in.  Don’t get me wrong, I have some amazing, close, and very personal friends.  People I also couldn’t live without.  People that have kept me alive for so long!  But the other people?  The people in my secret group?  Things that we now know about each other we will carry to our graves.  We would rather betray everything else than tell the things we reveal in our group!  These people, we understand each other SO WELL; and knowing that I belong to this amazing, incredible, awesome group of people?  Gives me a kind of peace nothing else could.

So you see?  Not all secret combinations are bad.

And you people in my group?  I LOVE YOU FOREVER ❤

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Good Mail Is Coming For You

One of my very favorite things to do every day is get the mail. Always has been. I made friends with the mailman when I was five years old and would wait on the corner for the school bus to take me to kindergarten; and never looked back.  I used to leave the flag up on the side of the mailbox even when nothing was going out; because whenever I’d pass by the front windows of our house all I would have to do is look out and see if it was still up or not to know if the mail had been delivered yet.  Some days I would sit on the stairs inside my house staring out the window for hours, willing the mailman to come by and leave something just for me; except he hardly ever did.  I think it’s because mail travels, and I’ve always wanted to travel, too. I somehow knew the mail was coming from some exotic, far off place and I wanted a part of that.  As a teenager I even had two pen pals! One from Jamaica, and the other from Greece (another place I’ve always dreamed of going).  Who can resist a hot Greek guy? Not me.

These days I find myself with a lot of time on my hands. I can’t do much physically so I don’t really go anywhere and everyone I’d love to be spending time with us either too far away or too busy to hang out; so once in awhile I like to send off a few note cards to let people know I am still alive and thinking about them.  After all, who doesn’t enjoy getting all the mail that isn’t going to the junk pile or bills?

It is probably now that I should tell you I have a little problem. And by problem I mean full-blown addiction, to stationery.  School and office supply stores are like my crack.  My favorite place at Barnes and Noble besides the bookshelves? The stationery corner.  I love the post office, too.  They give you Priority Mail packing supplies. FOR FREE. You can just pick up some labels, boxes & envelopes, walk right on out of there, and nobody blinks!  I’m super picky about my stamps, too.  They have to be cute!  Or at least make the envelope look attractive and enticing.  I’ve even overpaid for postage just so I could get a particular book of stamps that I love but has been out of print since 2011.  I’m on my last book of them so today I spent several hours scouring ebay for what’s left.  All but one book are out of my price range, and that’s sad because they are so lovely and make my note cards look so pretty in your mailbox!  Never fear, ebay (like Pinterest) is a rabbit hole I’ll happily spend time in and I found thousands of old school stamps, you know the kind you have to lick? and as long as you put the correct amount on there the post office is happy to send your letter along its way.  Most are horrifically overpriced, but them’s the breaks when your creature habit is to send beautiful mail to your friends and acquaintances!

I also love to send themed care packages.  I wish I could send one a month, but I like to do it right and can’t afford it that often.  They go out about quarterly.  If you haven’t received one, you will!  Someday… ha ha ha.  I’ve been thinking of sending smaller packages so I can send them out more often, but that thought just came to me today so we’ll have to see what I come up with.  During random holidays I like to put stuff together to send to my plentiful nieces and handful of nephews.  And by handful, I mean two.  I mean three.  (Sorry, H!)  We live so far and have so few opportunities to get to know each other, I’m trying to buy their love by putting myself in the mail for them.  I hope it works!

Today I prepared 7 cards.  Seven pieces of former tree are on their way (ok, actually it’s six as I am still waiting for a Canadian address – you know who you are) to people who touch my life in one way or another.  Friends who have seen me at my best and worst.  Friends for life as well as friends I’ve just met, and people I only know online.  I know they feel like it’s me who is doing the great thing by writing, but it is they who give me reason to keep going forward day after day.  Our shared pasts and present moments of time, stolen from our families to reclaim our younger selves, are what keep me tethered to this earth when things get hard (as they often do); and sending a stupid little card every few weeks is the least I can do to thank them.

Calgon, Take Me Away!

I ran away from home last Tuesday.  Me and 90 of my closest friends took the Amtrak from Sacramento to points north.  Many stops along the way but I got off in Eugene, Oregon, where my cousin’s wife was waiting to pick me up and ferry me to their house in Springfield.  I’ve been having a blast and am reluctant to return home tomorrow, but I guess I’m still obligated to parent the Villagers until they’re 18 or something so I’ll be on the 5:10 p.m. train for points south.

Kathy & Cheryl have been the best. hostesses. EVER!!!  Every minute of every day they’ve waited on me hand and foot.  We go to bed when we want, we wake up when we want, we do stuff when we want (or not!) and I’m pretty sure I’ll come out of this with a six pack for abs I’ve been laughing so much so hard!  Every night we sit out in the back yard with a drink and just relax while taking in the beauty of Kathy’s flower garden.  Once in awhile we’ll see the mama tree swallow leave the fence to forage for her new chicks, and we take turns slaughtering the abundance of flies that flock to the neighbor’s dog shit.

It’s been hotter than hell (I tend to bring bad weather with me wherever I go, lol) but they do a good job of keeping the house cool, considering there’s no central air.  Just keep the ice cold Cokes a comin’ and I’ll be just fine.  I was hoping to meet their famous friends tonight with a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity, but we forgot it’s a holiday and everyone’s got plans.  Oh well, I guess I will have to make a return trip for the company!  Instead we’ll continue our IT Crowd marathon (which Cheryl especially enjoys since she’s the IT queen at her job), play some cards, and relax after a fun afternoon spent at the Saturday Market in downtown Eugene.

I don’t cry very much these days, but I think when my train leaves tomorrow I’m going to be a little verklempt.  I really love my family.  ❤

Good People Are Everywhere You Look

You guys!  You guys!!  YOU GUYS!!!

The most AMAZING thing just happened for me!  But first, just because I like to drag it out, let me give you some back story:

I love my family.  I love them a whole lot.  I’m not too sure how they feel about me, but that’s ok.  I especially loved my Grandpa C.  He meant the world to me, and even though I said my goodbyes to him each time we parted (as I was sure it was always the last time due to his age and health), it still devastated me when he died.

Grandma & Grandpa C lived in a sweet little craftsman bungalow house in a darling little town near Pasadena.  A little more than a block from the library park and bustling main street, there was always something fun to do when we visited.  In their ginormous (by California standards) back yard there was a lemon tree from which the best lemonade is made.  Not quite a year after Grandpa C passed away, Honey and I were married.  We had a beautiful reception in the back yard of my childhood home.  Grandma C was not up for traveling and it was hard for me to know that two of my favorite people couldn’t be there to share in celebrating our joy.  That didn’t mean they couldn’t be there in spirit though, and the way I chose to involve them in the production was by having my mom travel from our home in suburban Sandy, UT to theirs in sunny southern CA to process those lovely lemons into juice for lemonade to be served at the reception.

In 2006 Grandma C was no longer able to live on her own.  Uncle Dick and some of the family packed her up, sold the house, and moved her up north to be near him.  Being so young and unestablished, we couldn’t afford to buy the house ourselves (something I still hope to do one day), and the loss of the family house still weighs on me.  So many Christmases spent in the glow of the C7 lights and tinsel strung on the tree decorated with vintage ornaments, so many summers playing with the toys tucked away in the attic…

In the front of the house, and along one side of the back yard are these beautiful, hot pink camellia shrubs.  When I was a child I loved to pick the fat, round buds and peel them layer by layer.

Instead of a regular garage, Grandma & Grandpa had a big, rickety barn.  That barn was so full of grandpa’s junk… we used to joke that when they died, instead of packing up and junking the majority of what was inside, we’d blow it up as the most efficient means of getting rid of the contents.  Underneath the house was a semi-upright crawl space.  I never would go down in there because I was convinced it was so full of spiders and snakes that I’d die from some kind of bite in the dark.  To the side of the yard was a small shed visible from the front, and behind it were permanent clothesline posts.  Grandpa made a swing of sorts out of a small log and a length of rope.  He’d attach it to the posts and swing us all afternoon.  He also rigged up a horse made out of a barrel and scrap wood with an old rag rug for a saddle.  It was parked under that lemon tree and we’d ride like the wind in our imaginations!

In the front on the side, there was this gnarly tree of undetermined species.  All I remember is that it had a branch that was curved and shaped like a nest, making it a favorite spot for photos of the littlest family members.

cropped-sisters2.jpg(Can you guess which one is me?)

This year I’m turning 40.  That’s right, the big 4-0.  Unlike my hubby (who is also turning 40, this week in fact!), I plan on having a huge party.  There isn’t much that fills me with joy more than being surrounded by my family and friends, celebrating the life we share together; and I intend to do just that.  We’ll have a piñata, music, kids swimming in the pool and grownups playing with the giant Jenga and Ker Plunk! games that B and I are going to build (from Pinterest, of course!), eat my favorite foods and a delicious cake that I will not be baking myself.

Can you guess what we’ll be drinking?

Last week I wrote a note to the current owners of the house.  When I told Honey what I wanted to do he said I was crazy.  I thought of what I could say that would convey to them that I’m not some crackpot; I don’t want to invade their privacy or go inside the house to case the joint, and I’m certainly not the Craigslist killer.  I just miss my grandma and grandpa.  I miss her sour face and his silly jokes.  I miss stealing Brach’s butterscotch candies out of the crystal dish in the living room while grandma napped and singing the Johnny Appleseed song before meals.  I miss the piano in the front parlor (that as far as I know, nobody ever played), and the cool seafoam tiles in the dark, tiny bathroom.  I even miss the ancient stove in the kitchen and doing laundry on the back porch.

I miss that house and all the happy memories that were made there; and even though I still hope and dream to one day be able to buy the house back and live my golden years hauling toys down from the attic via the closet entry and making lemonade from the back yard tree for my own future grandchildren, I know it will probably never happen.  But lucky for me, a kind and generous family live in that house now.  They received my note and called me earlier this evening to let me know that I’m welcome any time to come down and pick lemons from the tree.

I can’t wait!

Mother Nature, You Sneaky Bitch!

Today was not a good day.  Neither yesterday.

I think a lot about these bad days.  Why do I have them?  What brings it on?  Was there a trigger?

I thought a lot about the last time I had a bad few days.  It was about a month ago.

And the month before that.

And again, the month before that.

(Do you see where I am going?)

*WARNING!!  DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!  TMI AHEAD!!!*

Most women are intimately familiar with their cycles.  I am not.  I avoid having a cycle like the plague.  God’s gift to women is the Mirena IUD, which causes one to have basically non-existent periods.

Like me.

Mother Nature though, she makes damn sure I remember her gift whether I want to or not.

Sneaky bitch….