Discovering a mica mine

Adobe Abode

When I first moved to my little adobe abode on the fringes of town, I gave my cousin directions as to how to get here for lunch. Trouble was, I couldn’t remember if the left turn was at D or D 1/2 Road. I had confidence in my cousin’s ability to find me from my description because she grew up locally. Turns out it didn’t really matter because the road sign was missing.  After one false turn, she arrived in my driveway, apologizing for a few minutes of tardiness. “Why didn’t you just say you were up the road to the Mica Mine?” she asked.

“Mica Mine?” I questioned blankly.

For reasons that are not a part of this story, every level of my social life; home, school, and work; from junior high through young adulthood was cloistered and stunted. Not so my cousin’s.  She had boyfriends, school leadership roles, summer jobs and an effervescent and indomitable spirit.

My goal for 2012 is to live as though I have only been given one year-to seize the day, so to speak.  Part of that means redeeming things that were lost or missed in childhood and the intervening years.

I pricked up my ears when a co-worker arrived at the office the other day, saying she had taken an early morning walk at the Mica Mine.

Miniature balanced rock

“What makes it so special?”  I asked.

“It’s just beautiful,” was her reply.

At the next opportunity, I decided to explore.  In so doing, I discovered a place that I should have been familiar with in my youth, but somehow missed; a place so beautiful it belongs on my local bucket list, but I was ignorant. Right there, less than 10 miles up the road from my house, was a mini red

Greenery and flowers

rock canyon complete with trickling stream, amazing rock formations, wild-flowers and glittering rocks.

Was it worth driving and spending a morning to hike?  Take a look at the pictures and then tell me what you think.

Stream exists only after rain

There is even a mini window or arch
A sparkling path
and a quarry


rock formation

To be a parent

You’ve seen the social media posts urging you to repost or share if your daughter is your best friend; your son is someone you respect and admire; you are a mother and you think about your children 24 X 7 whether you are with them or not.

It is a well known fact that parents make sacrifices for their children. Mothers would starve and give their last bit of food to feed their hungry child.  Parents work two jobs to provide for their children, spend sleepless nights nursing them through illness. A mother or father may take a second mortgage or scale down domestic arrangements to put a child through college.

But there are other sacrifices beyond the material.

How about the father who learned to dance so he could dance at his daughter’s wedding – even though he is ensconced in a denomination that does not dance?

Or; the father who gave his daughter in marriage for the second time – even though he does not believe in divorce and remarriage and still cannot fathom what went wrong the first time.

Consider the mother who, filling the shoes of deceased father, walks hand in hand with her daughter down the garden path and gives her in marriage to – another woman.

Love, pure parental love.  Unwavering.  Unflinching. Happy are the families who can say, “I do not understand or agree with your lifestyle, but I love you, oh how I love you, anyway.” Is that not the love of God the father toward all his sons and daughters?

Are there limits to your parent love?

Yes, I have the most wonderful, talented, wise kids in the world!

Thoughts on over-responsibility

There is such a thing as over-responsibility.  I am notoriously over-responsible and it has cost me every relationship I ever lost. It comes as a result of over-compensating for those who are irresponsible, who alter our lives for the worse, or wreck our lives and theirs by being irresponsible.  Sure, when I took up the slack, it made the other person obviously, glaringly in the wrong for being irresponsible; but it left me alone, bereft of my relationships and love, looking righteous and self-righteous; and responsible. Oh, so commendably responsible! Is that what life is all about?

First of all, let me say that over-responsibility is not something you pick up casually by walking into a bar-or even walking into someplace you are supposed to be.  Over-responsibility is a genetic trait and it is also behaviorally conditioned. Not only do I have a genetic predisposition for over responsibility, the people who gave me the genes also polished the grain with legalism and endless praiseworthy expectations.  While I was never good enough, I also knew I was better than everyone else. The only course of action was to keep moving ever forward toward perfection. Just as you can never love too much, you can never be too responsible.

It happens inevitably when I work for others.  There comes a time I find myself saying, “Ooops, pardon me for becoming so invested in your vision that I felt a sense of ownership and began to implement my own great ideas and methods.” I tend to forget that while people recruit you to further their dreams and goals,they also hire you to do it their way, not to edit or improve on their vision.

My counselor once said I needed to forget about being right.  “Quit concentrating on doing the right thing and being right, and do what you want and need.”  That seems so counterintuitive; so irresponsible, so decadent, so selfish. So selfish to do what the God of the universe has called you to do; to quit sacrificing yourself to make up the deficiencies in the responsibilities of others?  Wait a minute. Making up the deficiencies in the responsibilities of others; is that self-sacrifice or meddling and controlling?

Over responsibility keeps me from asking for help. It looks, it appears, so selfish to be irresponsible to the mores of society; to let anyone else shoulder part of my load, to ask for help in something so ridiculous when I can just do the work myself and muscle through. I know the rules; you make your bed, you lie in it. After all, I got myself into this mess, I am responsible for getting myself out. Besides, “if you want something done right, you need to do it yourself.”

I used to cite my greatest strength as, “getting other people where they need to go and having a knack for figuring out just where it is.” Not so anymore. The characters I write in my novels resemble me. I write what I know.  Happily, re-reading and editing a manuscript is often a timely reminder and has the same effect as reading a self-help book.

How about you?  Are you overly responsible?

Off the beaten path

A few days ago, I chose to walk a local private trail counterclockwise and in doing so, spied a little used foot path that branched off toward the east, but obviously connected with the well worn and maintained bicycle trail a few acres over. I meandered through a couple of dry creeks and around huge fallen boulders and abruptly found myself making an ascent. It was a narrow foot path with not much margin for error or balance.  To my right, a sheer drop off of 15 or 20 feet to the gully; on my left an acute and slippery slope to where the arroyo once again appeared. I realized I must be walking up an arch, a natural bridge over the wash, but the bridge was made of bentonite and random sized rocks. For one heart-stopping moment, I realized I could, in a matter of seconds, meet my doom; either by a fall and injury in an unfrequented area, or in a pile of rubble as the clay gave way.  It never occurred to me to turn around (I might have lost my balance) and soon I was on the other side, marveling at the whimsy of erosion. This clay arch, where doubtless a roiling flash flood tumbled during a downpour three days ago,  is only 100 yards or so downstream from where the much travelled bike path crosses the dry creek bed.  In the opposite direction, thirty yards up this same gulch is the territory of a collared lizard who brightened my day with his breathtaking brilliance a few months ago.Who would have thought?

Life is like that. You can be in a familiar place, only a few hundred paces from where you caught a glimpse of success and suddenly find yourself precariously perched on a bridge made of clay.

When I stepped off the beaten path, I could see the juncture with a familiar and well-traveled bike trail in the distance
As I rounded the boulder near the center of this picture, I found myself abruptly on a clay bridge
This sheer dirt wall fell away on my right, while steep slippery slope was on my left. I was on a narrow ridge.
I realized I was on a clay and loose rock arch
A gulch where waters of flash flood had roiled a few days before
Looking down (dry) stream from where the gulch crosses the bike trail
Looking upstream
…where I spotted my first collared lizard in the spring

It’s not that getting off the beaten path is wrong.  I highly recommend it.  But, it can be pleasantly surprising or even momentarily terrifying.