MacDonald Forest

Angel by S. McLachlan

 

The trees change color around me

leaves fall and I feel that each

floats like a feather to the moist ground

gracefully carrying us to the new year

yellow, orange, and deep red

surround me in this foreign patch of

grass-tall fir trees tower above

they creak as the wind blows them

this and that way…

pacific northwest winds swoop in

the cool breeze brushes my bare arms

my grandfather’s military green sweater

oversized, itchy wool, a bit musty

wraps me in memories

barefoot I stand,

soil cold and wet

pine needles cover the path

McDonald Forest is my place

of solitude this morning

I look up to the sky

guarded by tree branches

eyes closed I can picture

beyond the pine needles

comforted by the silence

I walk for about an hour

and then back again

wind picking up and the chill

makes me quiver and shake

my worries swirl around me

stolen by the air

time comes to mind

I try to push it out

forcefully, I fail

the hustle and bustle not forgotten

I was unaware for hours

In the breeze, in nature

nothing seems to matter

where I can just be me

Bottling Wine & Victoria’s Secret

Cake By The Ocean By DNCE

I woke from a terrible nights sleep with plans to hang with a friend for the day.  It was the only thing that got me going this morning.  Some days it’s just the coffee, other days it’s a text, and some day’s life surprises you. It’s those days that I want every day. The ones that knock you back on your heels and something spontaneous catches you off guard. I want more of those days!

As for today, plans change as they do and my plans got cancelled so I spent an hour writing, randomly cleaning, and generally, feeling pathetic. I put that on myself, I choose to behave like a toddler. Instead of wallowing in my messy hair, pjs, and old teal slippers, I called my sister who told me to put my big girl panties on and go do something. So, I made a new plan to have a me day!

Then I got another text and plans changed again. So, rather than trying to dwell on why, when, what the hell? Should I go with my new plan or the original one? I switched gears and was in the car.

I went with it! Isn’t that what life should really be about? Just going for it. Or the cliché’ “just do it”.  With in an hour, I was throwing my head back in laughter and I realized I was in the beginning of one of those days that would knock me back on me heels.  There is something to be said for a day of solitude and quiet contentment but sometimes you just need another person.  And yesterday I spent the day with a dear friend.

I was with one of my tribe yesterday. She gets me and laughs as much as I do and has a slightly inappropriate sense of humor and nothing is off limits. Our slightly edgy attitude I am sure makes people notice us but I think it is just because we are sincerely laughing the entire time we are together. And damn, laughter is the best medicine. (I can think of one other thing better but I will keep this PG-13.)

Funny how fast your mood can change? You can feel one way and it changes in the blink of an eye by the people you surround yourself with.  Life is too short for feeling miserable in the few moments we may or may not have left in our lives on this earth.  Don’t hold back, try everything, and don’t let someone else’s shit drag you down. And lately, I am trying to teach myself to stop thinking so much and stop asking why, who, what, where, and when.  (Insert: I have always been an over-thinker and recently, I have been encouraged to get out of my own head!! This is powerful once you start but I have fallen off the wagon a few times.)

We started our day with an impromptu photo-shoot for me at a vineyard and I drug my friend along.  Followed by some wine bottling, yes, I said wine bottling. (A first for both of us.) My wrists are killing me but I am willingly going back tomorrow for more.  We bottle and capped a few hundred bottles and I was spurted about five times in the face with wine, I did have white on early today but quickly changed.  Damn, was I lucky. So, I didn’t actually get to taste the wine but did as it ran down my face to my lips as I sprayed myself.  (Insert: very inappropriate thought.) After a quick taste of the aged dessert wine we were off to return a few bras, get school supplies, see a movie…and in no particular order.

We talked over each other, listened to music so loud we were slightly yelling at each other, trying to figure out what to do next, and started about seven different conversations.

As we landed ourselves in Victoria’s Secret it was a great laugh to watch all the men/boys walking around a few steps behind each of their ladies…embarrassed as if they didn’t want to show that they really wanted their ladies to buy the inappropriate lacey undergarments while their ladies were only picking up the granny panties.  It was awesome, we were there for an hour and I did not see a single man/boy touch a single pair of panties. (Insert: these guys are going to tear the lingerie off their woman’s body later, so why not touch it now? Baffling!)  I was interested in looking at bras, panties, and sexy silk and lace things which were in one corner of the store.

Giggling to myself as I got a thong stuck on a few hangers which I could not figure out how I did and my awful attempt to untangle them with one hand, coffee and purse in my other, I shoved the shitty mess back in the rack and escaped from a lady coming toward me in her black outfit and pink measuring tape over her shoulder.  (What is it about the sales women wanting to confirm your bra size? If you know what size shirt, jeans, and shoes you wear…no one ever asks you to confirm that shit…if I am shopping for a bra and panties, I don’t need that confirmed either…. especially by a woman who continuously calls everyone in the dressing room “kitten” …. yes, “kitten”!  WTF! Someone needs to teach her a new word! (Side note: I have hated the word “panties” my entire life and am so proud that I now have typed it repeatedly but it will never fall from these lips! Small victories, right!) After the kitten lady gave us a loud talk about women’s bodies being soft and men loving it, after all we gave them babies…I was sincerely puzzled by her anorexia skinny body and her passion behind what she was trying to convince us of and that my friend kept trying to quiet me from laughing after the kitten lady could not figure out our issues with side boob.

Needless to say, I knocked some planners, yes, school planners from the store into the trash can and curiously tried to picture the mother who would buy a lingerie brand planner for their young daughter?? With the swipe of my credit card from the grouchiest sales girl in the store, I wanted to go get “kitten” lady to give some of her spice to “Heather”.  She reeked of bad attitude and should not be allowed at any check-out counter dealing with people.

Next stop, theatre.  We bought tickets to see Bad Moms which some may think, how cliché’. But all moms should watch this movie!  We always go to the same theatre where you can eat, drink, and watch all in one place…that is NOT our own home!! We got there early and laughter proceeded as always and she was trying to shut me up as she laughed just as loud. The theatre was not empty and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.  So, our laughter broke the silence up a bit.  We ordered our cocktails and food and the lights dimmed.  It was in that moment my kids decided to start calling me and texting me.  (I promised I would always answer.)  It is strange to me that they always want me when I am gone when they could walk 100 yards to the shop and ask their dad.  I wasn’t going to start being a “bad mom” in that moment so I answered the phone and my one son had made an entire plan about having dinner with grandma and spending the night…and the only thing I could do where I was as the movie had started was say, “call your dad!”

The movie was perfect, I have felt all the things as a mom that were portrayed in that movie and if all of you moms out there can’t admit to feeling to at least one of those things, I just don’t believe you! It must have been senior day…because the people in the theater were either so old they don’t remember what it was like to have kids, never had kids, were on a date, or too young to simple understand the concept of being a parent! However, we were our own pair of mom’s laughing through the entire movie because it was all relative and things that we have felt and totally exaggerated!! Again, more laughter for the day!!

I came home to an empty house filled with solitude after my two drinks…something kicked in…the writer in me.  I had half away made it down the hall turned the shower on half undressed and well, put my clothes back on and turned the water off.  In that moment, in the quiet…I grabbed my computer and I couldn’t stop writing.

Sitting alone in my house, I wrote and laughed, wrote and laughed. Yes, out loud. So, although my day didn’t go the way I planned it would, I did figure out how to just be in the moment the entire day (I did something new bottled wine), relished in the sound of laughter, and rounded off the day doing what I am most passionate about – writing.

Now, isn’t that a perfect day?!

Whisper

Small Bump by Ed Shennan

I wait for you

Quietly you are hidden inside me

No one knows me like you do

Am I afraid of losing you

 

I wonder where you are

Every day

Every second

 

Do you feel

I feel

Want to know what you feel

 

A candle flickers in my window

And I still wait

Find the light I have left for you

 

Have you looked for it

Do you look for it

Dusted across the sky

 

I search for you to find romance

The kind you show to me

My heart bleeds for this

 

Broken for the lack of luster

Have you noticed

I have given up

 

I can’t talk about it again

I will not beg

Why don’t you see me

 

This could be a start to something

Beautiful & new

Creating as we go

Whispering through unknown

Need a Reboot?

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Everyone needs to get away. We need to take a break from the daily chores that start, stop, and repeat that life requires us to do, to be successful productive individuals in this world.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to escape or getaway. Although, I do not like leaving my family and I miss them so much when I am gone, I think everyone needs to get off the beating path of monotony of every day life.  My family is always tucked close to my heart, thinking of them in the time that I am away and quite often thoughts of them consume conversations when I am not with them.

As I have gotten older, my kids have gotten older and so much of them are a part of my conversations everyday that I wonder what I used to talk about before I had kids.  It’s this all consuming love and fulfillment everyday that it’s impossible to think about what my life would be like without them in it.

So, when I get the opportunity to check out for a few hours, a day, two days…it’s actually hard for me to make the decision to leave but it fills a place in me that is full of wonderment and laughter about the world in the the time that I am away. I think it is the change of scenery that refreshes and in a way, reboots us all that is important.

The Cassette Tape…

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As a 13 year old girl, I thought no one could hurt me. I enjoyed school, sports, band and hanging out with friends. I felt awkward at times as any new teen would but I felt secure with my surroundings, felt safe, and I felt invisible. My favorite thing to do was socialize with my friends and play sports.

I woke one particular morning in May, I got ready for school I listen to a mix tape a friend had given me, and I hummed and danced to the music as I picked out my clothes for the day. I remember putting on my favorite acid-washed jeans with a t-shirt and sweat shirts, I particularly remember that morning feeling like summer was coming soon as the sun broke through the curtains on the windows.

My sister yelled from the bathroom, “if you want a ride to school, you better be ready in five minutes.” I raced around my mess in our room, throwing things in my backpack, pushed stop on the cassette player that I had been listening to and remembered that my friend had wanted me to bring it back to her that week but I hadn’t gotten a chance to record it yet so, I left it on the player.

My sister and I drove to school, she dropped me that morning in the high school parking lot and I walked the short distance down the bike path between the middle and high school. The sun was out, warm on my face and I was excited for the start of a new week.

As I walked to school, I notice that just beyond the soccer field to my left, long yellow caution tape lined the tree line. It seemed to stretch almost the entire length of the field and I remember thinking it seemed strange and out of place but I didn’t really give it a second thought. I had been so excited to see the cute blonde haired, blue eyed boy I had a crush on.

I walked through the double doors at the end of the hall and I headed straight for my locker and as I fumbled with the dial to open my locker. A friend approached me with tears streaming down her face and asked me if I had heard. In my head, “I thought heard what.” I assumed it was something about her being dumped by the boy she liked. Why was she so hysterical?

Instead what fell from her lips, stopped time in my 13 year old life? I was still but trembling and I remember saying, “what are you talking about, how, why, what, where,” and my heart began to race. I felt light headed, sweaty, and nervous, my body was without response.

I walked to the band room and one of my favorite teachers’ was not in her classroom. I then walked the inner quad of the building and saw that on two walls outside my math room they were covered with white paper and I could see through the door that students and staff were inside her class. A few students retreated from inside, walked directly to the wall covered in paper and started to write something on the walls. Memories of …….. And on the other side they wrote, Feelings of ….. .

I leaned against the wall, felt my body collapse slowly down the side of the wall where I sat slumped over, my head in my hands. I was burning up, numb to everything around me. My favorite science teacher walked passed, he helped me up off the floor, hugged me with a tight long squeeze, he didn’t pull away and as my tears soaked into his light blue shirt, I said, “I need to see my sister, I need her, I need her.” In my heaving chest, racing heart, sweaty palms he aided me to the front office desk and gave me a pass, as I walked out the front door, he said “I will call the high school and let them know you need to see your sister immediately.”

I walked quickly to the high school, back down the bike path that I just walked earlier that morning and past the same yellow caution tape,. This time when I passed it, walking in completely parallel to whatever horror happened behind it, I noticed a few police cars and I started to run.

I made it to the high school, I threw open the door the students buzzed around inside, it seemed strangely loud and I walked into the office, announced who I was and through my hysterical state my sister walked to my side and I collapsed in her arms. I let go and the tears came like a heavy down pour as I tried to explain what was happening at the middle school and remember wanting an answer from her.  We moved into the principal’s office where we sat, she held me, and everything inside of me was empty.  I was so confused.

Did my friend really get murdered? How? When? Why? Who? My mind went to the mix tape I left at my house that morning that she wanted returned to her. The yellow caution tape told me where she took her last breaths and I looked to my sister, “Can we go home?”

We drove home, the car was silent, it seemed so hot but the heat wasn’t on and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart was broken but even now I can’t find the right words or perhaps the full magnitude of how it felt. We pulled in the drive way, my sister brought me in the house and I went straight to our shared room. I sat on my bed and my eyes fell to the sight of the mix tape sitting on my cassette player.

I knew her laugh, her smile, her generosity, and how everyone always laughed when they were with her. And she was gone. I would never see her again, never hear her voice, see her smile or never laugh with her again. I was in shock. I felt numb, empty, and in complete disbelief.

I would never see life the way I used too, never feel free from fear, and I learned that day and still to this day that no knows what life has in store for us tomorrow.

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Out of protection of the family and friends that had  go to through this and all the surrounding people that had to deal with this and still do. I cannot share any more of this real-life story out of respect. I pray for this family every day think of them often and every year that passes I visit her grave with that same cassette tape early in the morning and play that song. Every year I shed tears for her and her family.  Many prayers to you all. She will never be forgotten.

Book Covers??

It is getting closer.  There have been some delays. Some stressful days waiting to hear that the phone didn’t ring when it was supposed too and the emails didn’t come when stated.  I am still learning about patience.  Another 7-10 days, I am not counting the time.

I was given three cover options because I requested the options. I wanted something to compare to what, I thought I wanted.  I should have gone with my gut right away.  What I thought I wanted is exactly what I wanted!! (HA!) These are the covers that didn’t make the cut – not my CUT! They are wonderful and were discussed but hey, you might get to see these illustrations again.

It has been months and months. I am done with the sequel and on to another book.  A different style of writing, a different voice, and a story I have always wanted to tell!

I am so blessed!

 

Yes! Agriculture!!!

Happy by Pharrell

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Today, I went back to a place that I haven’t been in awhile. Rather, I went back to an activity that I haven’t done in awhile. I found myself in three different classes in Turner, Oregon.  Each class was about 30 students and I found a passion ignite in me that I thought I didn’t have anymore or at least, I forgot that I had.

Side note #1: Back November 2015, after many years at the same job I painfully came to the decision that I needed to leave.  Not because I wanted too but because my children were struggling with school and had just moved to the middle school. It was a difficult transition and I knew if I didn’t leave my job I couldn’t give the amount of time and energy to what was my #1 job…being a mom. I remember the day, crying and saying, “I have to resign.”

I left something I loved doing and something I believed was important for students to know about (agriculture) because I knew I could never get this time back with my children. Years pass by so quickly with children and every day that passes, they change, and with the difficulties they were having I couldn’t possibly not leave my job.  Today, I know I made the right choice.

Yesterday, I went to the middle school and found that both of my boys were chosen by two different teachers’ for a “Teacher’s Choice” award.  They both were recognized for their smiles, positive attitudes, their drive, and they never quit when it gets tough – this made me very proud.  The assembly went on and without really paying attention I heard one of my son’s names called for Honor Roll.  I was shocked, fumbled for my camera and got one picture. This showed me I made the right choice.  Both of my sons are thriving!!

The job I left was with Oregon Agriculture in the the Classroom. I worked there for quite a few year’s and I loved it!  Still to date, my favorite job! I loved the people I worked with. I believed in the message of the program to share agriculture with students in the state of Oregon and to educate students about what agriculture means to all of us.

There all things about every job that we like more than others but for this job, it was simple. For me, it was teaching students about agriculture. I could be having a rough morning; the kind you really don’t want to get out of bed but when I walk through the door of almost every classroom I have been in I thrive! The curiosity in their eyes when they look at me gives me such a rush, I know that I will be able to teach them something they didn’t know before they arrived that morning and I know each one of them will take a piece of that information with them!! It’s a challenge. I walked in those rooms today, I knew how to present, how to grab their attention, what to talk about, and I knew they would listen.  It was awesome!!!

Side note #2: During my job interview, I couldn’t define the word “agriculture”, like at all! I couldn’t say farm, dirt, truck, tractor….and I actually requested that we come back to that question.  (Oh, the embarrassment!)

I have always had a goal to make sure I get an “ohh” and an “ahhh” out of a teacher during my presentations.  When I run out of those, I need to educate myself more. (Or at least that is what I think.) I research and I find something else, sometimes it takes a lot of digging.  Politely, I love having a teacher ask me a question I know the answer to and seeing the surprise in their faces.  This was always something I did in my job.  I wanted teachers to know without them noticing that I was one step a head. I took so much pride…. real pride, in teaching about agriculture and the importance of it when I was working!

I am confident that I am able to teach students something new but when I can teach the teacher something…that is what I want to do!! That is the good stuff – the sweet spot! I love love teaching students but when I can stump the teacher…that, is the sweet spot!

The students are amazing (not all of the time) but I know how to command the attention in the room…I’d like to say I inherited that from my father (a teacher for over 30 years).  He was an awesome teacher not because he was my dad but because now at 39, I still have people on the street ask me about my dad and what he is doing and they always, always share something about how my dad impacted their lives. Now, that is a good teacher! Who wouldn’t want to be remembered that way. I only wish that as I get older and when I perhaps pass that people talk about me the way they talk about my dad.

So, today after teacher three classes. I am honored to do it again. Monday, in fact I am lucky enough, I get to teach again. Not because it’s my job any more but because I truly love it.  I am passionate about it and it makes me see the world differently.  Seeing something through the eyes of a student or young person can change your life. I know when I am teaching about agriculture, I make an impact and I know I am good at it!

Today, I made a difference.  I taught about 90 students, three teachers, and someone peaking threw the door.

Metal Gate

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We drove for miles, tracing the road with one headlight. In the front of the car there was chatter of fumbles, passes, and touchdowns during that night’s game. The asphalt curved around a bend in the road beneath the 80’s Honda Hatchback.  A dent in the front bummer from rear-ending someone.

The night was so dark, the windows were down and I could see my breath in the crisp moonlight.  She sat next to me, long locks of blonde hair curled around each ear, she smiled and giggled at the conversation in the front seats.  I never knew why because the conversation wasn’t funny.

She was so much fun and for a shy girl who never really knew where she fit, this was the girl everyone wanted to be around.  She was something!  She was beautiful, she was my friend, and her energy and laughter were magnetic.

Maybe that is how I found myself in this car. She liked this boy so much and I came with “her” to keep her company. The driver turned his conversation to her and he reached back with one hand and stroked her leg.  I was so cold, the window still down and the first words I spoke were, “please, roll the window up.”

The other guy, there to amuse me, I assume, didn’t seem to want to talk but I guess, neither did I. The road turned to gravel and it felt like we were driving on uneven ground for miles but to tell you the truth I have no idea where we even were…at all.  I had this uneasy feeling as we started up a hill and around a corner, the car slowed and we stopped in front of a huge metal gate like the entrance to a spectacular home.

We all got out of the car, it was still and quiet. Tree branches crackled under our feet, overgrown with weeds we found our way around the gate. He held her hand and the other tried to hold mine but I pulled away. Bats above our heads and the wind blew threw the trees sending the fall leaves to the ground. We continued on the incline up the hill, I was shaking partly from the cold and partly out of fear.

We broke off into couples and as we walked further we found the foundation of what looked to be the beginning of a building. We stepped further, he grabbed for my hand and this time, I took his. We crested a hill and found what seemed to be three walls of a home.  We stood there on the wooden floor in the center of this building.  The floor was covered in leaves, branches had fallen, two-by-fours cast about…I looked up to the darkness and closed my eyes. Whatever this place was, it had been abandoned and it seemed like years since anyone had been there.

The Douglas fir trees whispered around me and I caught a glimpse of the moonlight. I heard giggling from somewhere in the darkness. I turned around to face him and before I could speak he kissed me.

We never spoke again.

Bumps and Bruises

Rise Up!  By Andra Day

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I watched them love each other, an untouchable kind of loved. They could finish each other’s sentences, when one stepped the other stepped, when they laughed it was in unison, when they sat together, their bodies seemed to melt into one, I was envious of their love and connection. It seemed perfect.

We all know perfect isn’t real, it isn’t possible. I think, people can get damn near close to perfect for themselves, what they desire in their life but I do not believe in perfect. Whether we have lots of questionable friends, no friends, perfect careers, no career, great relationships or one that’s on the rocks, too skinny or too heavy, fighting a disease, or all the in-betweens of these things and so many more scenarios.  I don’t believe in perfect.

I think I did believe in perfect as a child. However, things change as you get older. You get wiser, you see people come together and people fall apart. You see people thrive and you see people die.  People succeed and they fail.  I don’t believe people would ever start any of these things knowing they would end in an imperfect way. Because why would anyone try anything knowing the outcome they wanted so badly would not happen.

So people try, believe, and act on faith that they will be successful but the outcome isn’t always so.  There is a time for everyone, for every person, and every place on this earth.  I wish I knew why things happen as they do, I would sure sleep more. I try to have faith in myself and mankind that we can get as close to perfect as possible with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

A Place of Comfort…

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A navy bench lines the wall with a chalk board of half erased cocktails and what’s “on tap” … covering the green and yellow wall.  The bank it once was only remembered, in the now as a game room complete with barred doors, a deadbolt and a dartboard at the end of the room.  In 1926 the vault held treasures, gold, wills, and secrets of plenty.

Stories whirl around me and I listen without listening.  Ease dropping, people would hate and enjoy the ridiculousness of their topics. Girls giggle and coo and a young man sits at at the same table texting and looking around the entirety of the bar. He looks bored but continues to listen as if he really cares.

A couple dines, what seems to be a Thursday night date. They eat, drink a beer, wine, food, napkins on laps and then breeze back through the ding of the door without saying goodbye.

The men behind the bar are bearded and sexy.  One, with slicked hair, with what looks to be a curling iron burn on his forehead (which can’t be right, in my mind), it goes on. He has a mustache for miles curled up in just the right way it looks to be cradling his nostrils just beyond his face.

Three in vests holding to a fashion piece in their closest but I think this maybe their only piece. But hey, does any man need more than one statement piece?  A suit jacket makes anything look good and a vest and tie looks good with any bottom…. maybe not whitey-tighties or boxers but the right lady, would love it!!

Oh, another shows up and waits behind the counter in a tweed vest, backed with maroon polyester running from here to there, douting on any person who waves their hand in the air.  Clearing menus, regurgitating the nightly specials, and running with plates at his shoulder like a marathoner without the number on his shirt but only the 100 meters and shorter – table to table, back and forth, back and forth.

Kindness, gentle, and a black paisley tie runs down the V of the owner’s vest, maybe needs his neck-hair trimmed…. the beard is very Duck Dynasty but somehow fits him.  It’s rugged and sexy.  Rough waves have knocked him to his knees lately but not to the ground.  How is that men can take so much more of an emotional mental beating than women? Are women not built to be as equipped? Quick to respond or just built from different materials?? Are men just better at hiding it??

Women are completely built to handle what men can, I say.  Strength is something I will not argue.  Sometimes it comes down to men being men.  I would like to be tough and rugged but I am not.  I am determined and committed to complete any task but can’t handle what most men can…honestly, no.  I am frank and I am honest about this.  I am who I am.

However, I would like to give a big shout out to four women: JMM, Utah, DJ, and BH.  These women can move mountains and if you put any of these women against any normal man…in a certain setting – ANY of these women would do some serious damage to any part of their body.

I know if anyone came after my kids, I do not know what I would be capable of. I would probably surprise myself! I would be kickin’ some serious shit. Woman, defending spawn.

This place, I have written four times now with the same people behind the bar. The same hi-backed chair, the same copper bar top, and the same “me” sitting at the end corner of the bar with a laptop.

I write well here, there is no explanation. Is it the ambiance? Maybe the way I show up? It’s quiet and then very loud as the hours pass. Expecting nothing but the blank computer screen in front of me?

Who knows, but I keep coming back to this place that I find comfort, people that I would say are “my tribe” and an evening of observing people.  Or at least, feeling comfort with my “words,” in this moment with these friends and another few moments pass as the minutes’ hand circles the clock on the wall.