Sunday, October 31, 2010


A few posts ago I wrote about being the pianist for an upcoming wedding, and being afraid of goofing up. As a matter of fact, I did goof up. During the wedding march. Ouch.

I've been pinch-hitting on the piano at church lately, since our regular pianist has been ill. I'm out of practice and keep hitting clinkers. I look at my hands and lose my place on the page. I look at the notes and lose my place on the keyboard. I feel embarrassed. I wonder if people are thinking, "Ouch."

There's this gentleman, Mark is his name, who often preaches. He's not an ordained minister. He went to seminary for awhile but then suffered an illness, some kind of infection, that caused massive brain damage. Mark has recovered slowly and spectacularly. He drags one foot a little when he walks, and his speech is a little slow and a little slurred, but understandable. He was never able to fnish his ministerial studies, but he pores over his Bible and he prays and he preaches. He sometimes stammers and has trouble getting words out. He loses his place on the page and is silent for several moments recovering it. He reads from the Bible, tangles the words up, and says, "I need to start over," and he does.

His messages are profound. Twice today I wrote in the margin in my Bible what Mark had just said about a verse, and added "BINGO!!" (I'd like to see my descendants when they get their hands on Great-Great-Grandma's Bible and read that!)

What I'm seeing, what hit me as he was delivering what God had laid on his heart, is that.... the mistakes don't matter. Mark has trouble with words and with concentration and with connecting thoughts, but connect them he does, in the most profound and striking manner. Anyone who hears him would understand immediately that he has difficulty and doesn't let it hold him back. It's plainly evident that he's an extremely deep thinker and excellent speaker and devout Christian. No one gets impatient or thinks "Ouch!" or has any response except to what he's actually saying.

So when I hit wrong notes..... it's the same. So I have trouble keeping it coordinated. So I've never been able to learn to put music in front of me and read it right off as I do written words. Anyone listening can tell that I do play the piano, I have a feel for music, I just have trouble delivering it, and despite the mistakes I'm giving it all I've got.

And when I make mistakes in life...... same thing. I know how it should go, I just hit some wrong notes. Just like anyone else. I'm not so special that I don't make mistakes.... and not special because I do. Most goofs really don't matter that much.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The things on my mind today are about dying.

Someone we knew, a man our age, died this week. We went to his viewing today. There were HUNDREDS of people there and it was only one of four viewing times. He was well-known and well-liked. Actually, he was one of our county commissioners, on the ballot for re-election in the upcoming mid-term a little more than a week away, had won the primary..... but he would have been well-known and well-liked even if he hadn't been commissioner. He was commissioner BECAUSE he was well-known and well-liked.

Anyway, I was seeing all those visitors, and hearing what people were saying to each other about how well they'd liked Denny. I remembered a memorial tribute I'd heard last month after a friend of my mother's died. And I'm thinking....... the people who died aren't here to see how many people come, or hear the nice things that are said about how much they were valued.

Why don't we say those things to people while they're alive? Why don't we have a party, so everyone who knows them and likes them can come?

Maybe there's somehow less risk in saying the nice things after someone has died. We don't have to risk awkwardness.... "You, know, Denny, you're a really great guy, a really good egg. It's a privilege to know you. Whenever you say you'll see to something, I know it's as good as done. You're a man to appreciate." How do you respond to something like that? How do you say it? Why is it easier to say it after the appreciated person is gone?

My mother is turning 90 in April. I'm throwing a shinding and advertising it in the paper. Also in April, my husband is turning 60, but he says he doesn't want a shindig, just our kids and grandkids.

Back to the viewing....among the hundreds of people at the funeral parlor were many that we've known for years and years, as well as many we both felt we should know but couldn't place. We knew them in some long-ago context and now we were out of that context and we've changed and they've changed and it was like maybe remembering someone from a previous life. A woman walked past. She saw me and did a double take. I did a double take. We both said, "HIIIIIII!!!!! How nice to SEE you!! It's been probably 20 years!!" We embraced. I have no idea who she was. She didn't say my name so I suspect she couldn't remember who I was either.

I have a proposal: At my funeral, and at any I'm in charge of before then, like my mother's, I want to have, beside any door where people might be coming in, a box of those name stickers that say, "Hello! I'm......" and pens so that people can write their names and slap them on. Along with a sign reminding everyone to use the stickers, and to include on them how they know the deceased and/or family. It would help everyone. "Hello! I'm Ellie Hamilton.... longtime friend, kids the same ages." "Hello! I'm Clamity Jane, Bill's cousin." You could walk right up to strangers who share your shock, sadness, and memories and call them by name and know who they are and have the ice already broken. Someone you should know, about whom you'd draw a blank, has a name tag and you know immediately, "Of course!!" No awkward moments. It would help family members greet all the visitors: My husband and grown children would have no idea who some of the people are who might come to my funeral. Cheat-sheet name stickers would help them out a lot.

I'm starting a new trend in funeral etiquette, right here, right now. Name stickers.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Next week. On the AT. Starting Tuesday. With my friend Chrissie. For probably 5 days. After we get back I'll tell you where we went.... not telling now b/c my blog is public and I'm picky about who knows where we're going, since it's not busy-busy thru-hiker season.

I'm so excited! I'm getting everything ready and having so much fun. I'm no more organized than I was when planning my thru-hike, but at least I feel I know what I'm doing. It's just a matter of putting together the right stuff.

Weather is supposed to be really good, with daytime highs ranging from 50's-70'sF, nighttime lows 40's-50's. I'm going to be test-driving the Hennessy Hammock I bought this past spring. It's tricky to stay warm in them under about 65*F, so I'll be working on that problem. If I'm cold, well, I can always just put it on the ground, or just sleep in the shelters.

Chrissie is a woman my age whom I've known for 25 or 30 years, but we just this spring discovered what good friends we are! Since the 1980's we'd cross paths once in while, with kids the same age, and we knew each other to say "hi" but that's as far as it went. Then this spring a mutual friend told me Chrissie wants to hike the AT and would like to talk to me. So I called her, and we went in May down to Damascus, VA for the annual AT Trail Days Festivel, where we tented for two days beside a beautiful river. There, and on the 5-hours-each-way drive, we talked soooo much, about everything. She's Christian and we went to church together there on Sunday before driving home. It's amazing to think we've known each other so long and could have been friends all that time. Well, we are now. And we're going hiking!

Monday, October 18, 2010


What I really need to do is re-copy all my Trail entries, put them in order, add more memories to them, and make a separate blog out of them, as well as copying the whole thing to There is so much more that didn't make it into the entries, and they're all mixed up according to whether I posted them myself when I had computer access, or my husband did when he talked to me, or my daughter Avery did when I mailed her a whole bunch of them.

It will be confusing. I actually did start a Trail Journal there, under the name MacGyver09, but then I didn't keep it up, choosing instead to put everything here in my blog. Then on the Trail I got re-named "Yard Sale," so anyone I knew along the Trail will look for me under that name, not MacGyver.

And this is really, really braindead, but as many times as I've typed "MacGyver," I can't remember at this second whether it's "Mac" or "Mc." Ever have that happen? Of course you've been unsure how to spell something, and neither way looks right, but..... you own name?????

I'm losing my mind.

I think it's "Mac."

Linking to my Appalachian Trail Journal

AGAINST THE WIND: Springer Mountain, Georgia!

Well, that didn't work. It only takes you to the first post. Gotta work on this some more. Wish I knew HTML-speak.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Well, the wedding went off fairly well. I hit some klinkers but don't know if anyone noticed or not.

I have been negligent. Seduced by the quick status updates and easy friend-tracking of Facebook. But it's hard to put the story of my life on Facebook. I need to post here.

For instance, I didn't post a report of my 2010 SavageMan Triathlon. Unlike last year's race, which I breezed through having a blast, this year I found it grueling and life-changing. Yes, actually life-changing. I need to write about that.

I am thinking about a second Appalachian Trail thru-hike attempt. In 2012, to celebrate being 60. Yes, in 2012 I will be 60. Actually I'll turn 60 in December of 2011 but I'll be 60 when I do my hike.

To keep from re-hiking already-covered miles, I may very well start in Maine and go south. That way if the Trail beats me again at least I will have seen a different part of it.

I've been following the absolutely riveting story of a southbound thru-hiker, on Trail Journals. His trail name is Churchill, and he writes like..... well, like a dreamer who's a realist, or a realist who's a dreamer, or both. You can find his ongoing story at My American Dream at Trail Journals. He's like a book I can't put down. He started in Maine in July and is now going through the Shenandoah/Blue Ridge region of Virginia. I remember so well being there. Yesterday he described standing on a cliff taking in the view and daydreaming...... I'll bet I know exactly where he was standing. He daydreamed about hang-gliding, but it also involved an imaginary hiking partner in the person of John Denver, and ended sadly, with a twist. This guy is an incredible writer. He's gotta get his journal published. It's something rare.

If anyone read my blog last year while I was hiking, you know that weight loss was one of the things that put me off the Trail. Well, by New Year's, I had gained it all back, plus more. This spring and summer, I've lost over half of it, training for SavageMan AND just changing my eating habits. I don't go hungry. Sometimes I still get cravings and graze or binge. But mostly..... I eat to nourish myself. It works.

Monday, October 04, 2010


How did I get into this?

I seem to be the pianist for a wedding. It's happening tomorrow (yes, a Tuesday.) When I agreed to this a month ago, I hadn't played the piano since my mother and I made that tape of cello/piano music almost 2 years ago. But here it is. In front of a whole lot of people.

I have stage fright. Performance anxiety. I looked for tips on the Internet.

The best one is: "Offer yourself as the medium through which the composer's spirit and intention will flow."

In other words... forget about myself. It's not about me. It's about this beautiful young couple and God's grace flowing through and around them as their beautiful celebration unfolds.

I'm praying. I'm practicing. I'm visualizing. But I'm still going to take some Xanax before I go.