Epilogue & Epiphany: Both Sides Now

I stare into the hurricane whose eye will not blink.

Many changes are in the offing (offering) of life. Now is as good a time as any to break open the piggybank of experience & count the coins. I give gratitude for the gifts & guilts of my existence. I have lived through so many changes & approach the imminent & eminent with calm reflection.

Where will I be five days from now? Floating out to sea (to see) or lying cold on a slab, I am ready for any ending & all new beginning in equal measure.

I look at myself & find no fear. I look into myself, finding only incubating change.  Even in the storm, the ocean retains its blue-gray beauty. I am of that same inevitability. I know the bedrock presence of Life no matter what.

The house is as secure as we can make it which means little when Nature focuses to bear down in Category Four force…pushing a wall of wind & water ahead. There is little safety on the surface, but I experience the clarity I traveled so far to find.

Rain pats down its Braille of gentle touch before meeting itself in rising water. Though inland from the beaches, I am exposed on all levels.

My change approaches at bullet train speed. The life cargo remains…yesterday I sealed packets at church – my DNA is in strange places forever.

Shall I write an entry or a eulogy? How many have this opportunity? Words will never dance to anyone else’s music as they have to mine! My uniqueness may be engulfed or overrun, but it will never be replicated.

It is time to ask yet again the meaning of life to manifest. I am proud of what I have accomplished even if my confused little heart has lost the Order of its yuan shen (Prime Directive.) It has ordered me about & I obeyed. I brought life to that which I thought in my own way. I have lived in many rooms where my energy still burns.

I write a farewell of sorts: this experience may be a grand exclamation point whether I go or stay. The universe landed me here at this time. I am lucky to have lived my heartbreaks early so more delight & joy may run before me, scattering rose petals of sublime expectation, of colorful invitation.

Bring me Home. I allow & welcome all revisions to the lifeline. Once upon a time I prayed hard for New Thoughts & now I write the words to bring truth to the request. I unwrap a totally individual Birthday Gift.

I am a light-bringer, a light-bearer. I know my days will never be the same as before. But this is only one timeline among many & I will be remembered with love for each encounter.

I’m ready, now, to blink.

Love,

Carol

A Birthday of Blessing

Being fully human: I am fully divine.

I am based in blessing

Rooted in divinity

Wrought in the free will of Self

Ablaze at times with the incandescence of a life well-lived

My joys are a playground of opportunities

The games they engender

Call through my windows

The call to prayer is also the call to play.

We are celebrants to Mystery

Dabblers in proven technology of partnership with God

Wanderers across trackless land

   Wrinkled sea

Our journeys return us, as always, to Heaven

The God Who sent me sends this storm

Spending me as profligate coin

Emotions discovered / recovered to Thee return

On that investment.

Bring me forth again, O Lord?

Take me into the marketplace of Your love

Use me to indulge Your desires

Circulate me in Your world: I wear Your fingerprints

I invest all wisdoms saved up from Love

Treasures indeed of a holy gathering

Help, health, insight & interest…

Pocket me with pleasure, God,

The shining copper penny, the one among the many

Allow my return over & over

As the bearing of Your spiritual tender

I am Yours alone until I rejoin the All

Here I am, Lord of Love

   Ka-ching!

Landfall

Hurricane Ian is coming. Arrival is Wednesday mid-day. But the acolytes gather with candles & water containers after securing their outdoor possessions & wishing they had a stormproof garage. I gave in to fear for about ten minutes, firing up search engines to track the storm, reading emergency procedures. That wore out fast! There was no way to sustain that broadcast of pitched energy which fizzled like a spent July 4th sparkler.

I pushed right through that brilliant, antechamber into the Grand Ballroom of Joy. I brewed another cup of coffee & sat back, rearranging the pillows to get comfortable. I thought about the only other hurricane I remember personally back at the Jersey Shore, which left us with inches of mud in our ground-level triplex in Wildwood. I was a useless kid at the time, squishing around in it until Mom chased me outside. (I have one persistent flashback of my brother & I staring out the windows of the third floor apartment watching the storm surges from the bay & the ocean meeting in the parking lot next door – and our basement, as it turned out. I remember Mom returning from a meeting with the Monsignor of St. Ann’s that night, pushing against waist-high waves to get home, having left our Chevy on slightly upraised Central Avenue. After 12 years of expensive Catholic schooling, the entire senior class had been booted for attending a beer party & she was begging mercy from a stone-hard black-clad man. None was available as he’d already collected all the fees available from every family.)

For close to a month now I’ve taken a homeopathic called Hyland’s Calm Forte which sustained me cross-country & now in situations where my lovable heart decides to turn up the volume & gin itself up for some imaginary battle. Calm continues to hold me in a gentle state of blessing, bringing heart to parade rest rather than parade march.

At the market, people were pleasant & seemed comfortable while at the same time piling their carts with all manner of foods. Our kitchen counter has 5 ewers, 4 plant watering containers, a couple of jars & my contribution – an orange juice container. I’m working on emptying another one as I write.

There are no candles in town (I have a half-dozen flashlights to hand), no jugs of water (see kitchen note just above – and there’s the scrubbed tub.) I think of the Weather Channel as the mouthpiece for a particularly rabid band of atmospheric jihadi. I think of the emptying liquor racks at the market & figure Florida’s hurricane button is plumb worn out. I anticipate walls of water slashing the windows, sluicing the streets. I figure on winds playing havoc with untended tree limbs & all these beautiful palm trees bending & bowing to its force. But I’ve not experienced a hurricane in years & never here, where it makes a personal landfall in a fury of no longer passing over water.

I’ve said it before: I can be dead anywhere when the time comes to slip the skinsuit. My papers are in order; someone will find them. This identity is so unimportant in the Circle of Life – another will slip in to write & maintain contact with God-Central. Memories are short & life is not terminated with physical discontinuance. It’s a skip in the record, a bobble on the CD, a bubble in the tape. My life can come & go at any time because what matters is I lived it. That I take with. I made some laugh, others think, some cry. I was one more burst of sparkle in the fourth of July fire engine parade. It will fade – or not – as I continue on, hitchhiking Eternity.

“When Possible, Make a U-Turn”

I’ve read that even when we are lost, maybe turned around in direction, the place we are lost in needed our energy to pass through it. I am intrigued by this as it gives a validation to dithering. My Garmin unit has fallen heavily into like with Rt 75 here – Florida’s answer to 95 in Philly or 25 in New Mexico. I have it programmed for the fastest way & although I can see where I want to go across the “freeway”, the Garmin insists on getting onto that & going one exit north or three south in order to double back. This is how it achieves the “fastest” way – must go hammer down to match the traffic to exit a mile away when my landing was across the street.

The next direction it has bonded most sincerely with titles this blog. Now I’m the queen of u-turns. How many times I’ve been on the inside lane watching my exit sign off to the right whip by…well, let’s just agree I don’t want to say. But I don’t get excited about that anymore.

In thinking this over I find I must make a “you-turn”. Now, doesn’t that sound a bit better? I look again to see if inward shapes up with outward. I breathe away the annoyance or feeling of being stupid when I do. I understand there was some reason, perhaps unfathomable in the moment, but some causative that set me [literally] off from a target.

Now I get that when this happens, when Garmin says, “in one mile, be in the right lane to take 75 South” I can bypass that, pull off onto another street & cancel the route. When I reprogram, I am readily guided more gently on the surface streets as the unit ‘repents’ (rethinks) best route. It helps if I don’t steam up or get into a lather about it. It’s as though I’m on a retractable leash & just reached the end of it where it gets interesting when “click!” the brake device locks me down. By the neck.

English is full of words beginning with ‘re’. It always means some kind of do-over. I have often walked right through the safe space, climbing out of the bomb shelter as the planes drone over, carefully edging over or under the barrier of go no farther in peril of continuing. Limitations are temporary. I will get there from here.

I can be my own hero. It’s all that is left for me to do. I have been my own example & it sure is easier without the drama of agonizing each instant of it, but keeping an eye on where I want to be & knowing no matter how fast I travel past it, I can return. Accepting that English itself is the Trickster here, I move along steadily; we go hand in hand. It’s quieter without the quibbling.

If I can do it with a laugh, I’m in the overcoming lane. If I can do it with grace, I’ve benefited the territory by not leaving a trail of frustrated syllables behind, like a smelly bus.

I can read up all I want about how it works. I can preach it from on high (or on nigh) but the sure knowledge my goal is attainable as it is for my good, is astounding.

Soon I will no longer need the directions to be recited from the tiny screen replicating the exact place I am… how many times must I get there before the sure understanding that I can broadcasts a sunrise, illuminating all? Quite a few, it seems. I say to that, “Let’s go!”

Now, as I sort through endings, I keep finding beginnings I’ve set aside among these. They are shiny, eye-catching, attention-getting. And achievable!

When possible, live your best life!

Before the Cat Died

PREPONDERANCE

Tisanes of my own making:

I still say coming forward for others

Is more than my own reality

The vague blur of expired lenses

Less keen than real perceptions

The radiation of my Chernobyl life

Pulsing in the machinery.

My heart decides its own measure

Diverging from the body’s hosting.

Finding that  hidden doorway,

I sit shivering in shiva for myself.

Once held so closely to my chest

Now put aside in contemplation

Of The Other.

Yet this is current reality

My clickbait body

To which I return each morning

While sliding down the ropes of immortality.

I land with a jar of bones & teeth

In the town of not-enough & nevermore

The boundaries of why bother

Tightening their borderline personalities.

Will I mist to shadow

Transmogrify to barbered edges?

Shredding & shedding humanity for the Divine

The nature at central core

Patiently emergent.

Shall I pick my way through minefields

Fraught with memory, unbounded, unleashed, unremembered?

Does it matter?

As one among many

Unmanned by the sheer topography –

Of this experiential life,

Once glossed by heaven

This blank page

Forever scribbled now

Crossed out

A mess of blots & misspellings

A dictionary of what not to do.

My mind off to the side

While heart seeks another drummer.

Of all the doorways along the

Corridor of Eternity

Of all the tiger or the lady decisions

Shall I find forgiveness only in salvation’s selection?

MOVEMENT TOWARD

The channels of perception

Sharpening

Repelling static for clarity

I fight free of the physical

For the liminal of heaven

Washed by words

Scarred by sayings

I glisten at tidal edges

Will love refashion & reconstitute

Who I shall be?

Will crass materialism win over

Incandescent immortality?

I wander fields of inquiry

When answers are only found

Along the horizon.

Like babies

Cats keep their own timelines

Pulled to the watered-silk moon

An insistence upon awakening

Shedding sleep like virgin’s tears

Of awakening to a man sleeping alongside;

To single digits on the clock

From sleep to not-sleep

A bleary coming-to

I cross & recross that boundary

Between morphia & the mangle.

Her plumed tail floats last out the door

Her existential nature of query

Draws no worry in the night

She only wants to walk about in it.

I’m hardly awake & worry catches

Me up in headlong rush

Enough! These thoughts need brighter light to think

I drift upon the couch, ticking time

In decisions.

Pain is a slowed-down travel companion

A discernment rushed into decision

A refocus upon the means to journey

Through to the promise of arrivals.

Darkness to light

The words ride a tunnel into the light.

The night

Picks its way among gardens & highways

Taking cities by storm

Bringing the brace of salt & bitters

To a candy life

Too sweet to manage alone

I reach to friends who break taffy edges

I savor them as only perceptions

Of spice to be stirred into the stew.

Broken Like Mercury

The pieces of my life forever flow

In reuniting

Yet every bubble reflective of itself

Toxic

A balm to unhealed wounds.

I put my hands into the word-soup of life

Pulling out the same-same over & over

Putting them to a picture

Moving along sure edges,

Fitted to an

Other-where of perception.

Indentured abandon

Not yet an adventure

But simply a promise

That all will be new:

That all will be well.

Finished: the Night

Apace with poems

A toe-thorned cat asleep nearby

She purrs to hear me wake

Welcomed to morning

By her expectations.

The numbers on the clock-face

Are liquids soon abandoned

For the solid day

Soon abandoned by the sun’s

Hearty sibilance for the stutter of rain

My erratic heart abandons rhythm

In errata of timing: I am asymmetrical

Wondering will it also abandon me?

I have left off the lid on fear

Once contained

I pull the braided measure

To watch it unravel.

There is none but this now

I have survived to this hour

This night

Only me speaking

One hand clapping

The applause of a universe

Knowing no appendages

But only self-regard.

Will I close one eye to eternity

Or decide to have no body

But only a wing & wonder?

Unexplored, lost joy recovered

That relay of open gates

A call to angels to attend me

A sustenance of grace attendant

To continuing on

Bodiless as a naked soul.

None to greet me in dystopian Paradise

A chair in a corner

A pen & pad

To rewrite me into another life.

Death Is An Invisibility Cloak

Life recedes behind me

A memory before a dream:

A place where God looks up from His desk

Adjusting His glasses

Laying down the Book of Life He writes

To say, “Oh, there you are!

How was it?

Again, why did I create you?

When  you passed, a thousand drums went dumb.

Come here, my girl, tell me all & that you wrote what you lived:

The banal & the miraculous…

Do you remember all the times you touched My face in passing?”

I will cross the room in laughter,

“Father! I made it! It was extraordinary!

However did You think of it all?”

I will be whispering for all eternity

Now penned in heaven

Awaiting Your words.

There Were No Clocks

As I drew my last breath

Released in a rattle: there

Was no time left to record,

Only words scattered on the floor

Of my mind.

It was all for You, after all

And I’m not sorry for the mistakes

Or falling from grace to land on my face

In the mangle of years.

Searching only for the

Exit, the entrance,

Knowing neither right nor wrong

Would enter anywhere beyond this realm

The physical of living too well

While overdressed & compliant with survival.

I bought life, spending all that I had

I hand You my purse, empty of only Love’s royal return.

(3/22/22)

Landings

I wonder why I lived in such a hardscrabble place as T or C now. Perhaps cuz I didn’t know it was such. It filled all needs for some time. I had forgotten (or perhaps never had access to) the option to stay anywhere else without pulling down a salary when I’d rather stay retired.

I feel I’m living that cliche, “died & gone to heaven,” though I’m still very present here.

The environs are restful on all levels: the greenery is peaceful & seductive to unused-for-years portions of my mind. The bare-bones landscape of the desert, the crunch of boots on grit, breathing dust in battering winds are all interesting & strangely beautiful. I know I can survive there well. Being here is literally moving from ground floor to the penthouse with no stairs or elevators involved.

The softness of the land is softening me too. It cushions all corners; my eyes rest & are absorbed by the verdance rather than bounced off glare.

I’m active in the same geographic square as in T or C. The places I frequent are within a couple of miles in radius to home. The bank, walking, a wild assortment of stores from “Beads!” to “Axe-Throwing” are nearby. My new Unity is about 2.5 miles & I may serve there at will. Beauty is everywhere in the neatly-ordered neighborhoods, brilliant flowers, tall palm trees, clear lawns, pastel homes… a “Wow!” which is not a loud whistle, but an under-breath sigh. So far, there have been no flaying winds of dust forced upon me.

I found it an inconvenience to drive so fast, so far & land on a holiday weekend. I was ready to continue the giddy-up, to check in immediately on practicalities of re-establishment. Now I see it was a blessing to blinker out of the fast lane & coast to the curb; a feather plucked from high winds to land trembling aground. What I perceived as restrictions have come to actually be a preparation, a kind of “Whoa, Girl! Slow this whole thing down!”

I was primed for the passing lane & now am parked, absorbing an orientation. I am taking notice of taking heart.

Of course all around still moves at speed & few obey speed limits already set up a bit from my usual, 40 from 25 mph. But streets are wide, well-marked & notably lined for expediency. Warnings & signals & ease of u-turns (always a feature for me!)

Today I slide from neutral into gear. I’ll open a bank account, maybe get to a library branch, talk with a gym about membership, contact an eye doctor. The list I’ve carefully pecked out on the phone’s memo pad is about to go live, check, check, check.

I am so grateful! My basket of blessings is filling while leaving room for so many more!

Arrival

Five days later, 1900 miles on car trip counter – no signs for Sarasota until 7 miles out of town.

First impressions: commercial sprawl; old trying to look new with spiffy add-ons; traffic sincere about getting to the next red light as quickly as possible. Hope my NM plate saves me some harassment. Beautiful birdsongs, many water birds about. Pastel is the State Color.

In search of: Sprouts, library, MVD info & all stuff like that. Won’t take long. Must find storage baskets for little stuff I put into boxes, like 15 bottles of essential oils, etc.

Lined up: Volunteer position at literacy council, service at Unity this Sunday.

House is spacious & full of light. Warmish for me, but I’ve been isolated in air conditioned spaces some while now. I’ll adjust. Development is lookalike homes, better know your street or have a turquoise chair out front!

Everyone has been so generous with me. My turn to offer this to others.

Thanks for following along – a short one today & no photo. Couldn’t get them all to load yesterday either.

Thank you times eleven.

Love,

C

Day 5 Journey Journal

I can tell Florida is a real tourist state – not just a pass-through. It’s apparent in the quality of even the less expensive places I’m staying. The Baymont last night was so solidly constructed I heard nothing & I was across from the elevator by the breezeway. The a/c unit was quiet, unlike the industrial hum of the others, the coffee excellent & plentiful in the room & the TV did not come on by itself.

Today’s unit is in a Super8 in Lake City, my last stop before Finding Georgi tomorrow! Another 300 miles to Sarasota &  my new home!

Here, my room is on a lovely courtyard with a pool & palm trees. Breakfast is at 6:30 & a free dinner is served at 5. Tonight is pork loin. Free dinner? Free dinner!! And I bet they even offer it with silverware!

I’m getting good at trundling what I want in the room atop my $5 wheelie bag which has been slowly losing pieces, a strap here, a handle there. Is this a signal to stop traveling awhile?

The trip was uneventful. The Weeble-People in buzzcars gave way to misanthropes in bus-sized SUV’s. Well, these do require their own lane plus the half-lane Sparkle occupies. They also were still twisted enough to want to sift her tailpipe emissions far too closely until we finished passing & moved over. I waited at the motel for about an hour as I was early on arrival, today being my short travel day. Turns out I was waiting for the pet room. When I told them I’d given the kitty away, I got a room immediately & a lot of sad looks & “awwww’s.” I cannot bring myself to tell strangers what happened to my Dream. Why create more heartache in the world?

I did think of trying to actually find Lake City & buy a postcard or a dolphin keychain … for about five minutes. I’d rather sip weak coffee in the Super8 lobby than go exploring. Maybe another time. I’ll have Sarasota to explore soon. This room is quite large & I’ve lived in much tinier studios in T/C. I could prob’ly get a decent Cotton-Eyed Joe going along the hall to the bath. The bedspreads & carpets in these motels are awarded to the Ugliest Possible Color Choices available on the market today. Bedspreads of olive & lime atop carpets of brown/brown, tan, beige & gray stripes being the most popular. The bathtubs are slick as goose ____ with no handholds. Cold water is tepid, the walls a cross between hospital green & hospital yellow. But they are all squeaky-clean & the towels folded to pass muster on a Marine base.

I am down to one book to read, good thing I’m almost arrived! I doubt there’s WIFI in the house where I’ll be so likely I’ll head to the library for that every once in awhile. Time to be a friend & hang out & plan days together. And I think I’ll get a flip phone instead of the android with its unreliable-to-impossible services.

I’ve passed the point of no return many miles ago. I am launched well &  truly into a new phase of my life. My friends have proven super-supportive of this exciting endeavor & I am filled with gratitude of the highest measure!

Come visit me!

Carol

Day 4 Journey Journal

Today I finished off Louisana (leaving spooky Lafayette far away) & crossed Mississippi & Alabama, which states could afford “Welcome!” signs. The landscape was even greener if possible & kudzu not draped over the local wildlife.

Florida. I remember Florida drivers being so slow to get behind one was a cause for loud groans from everyone in the car. Well, times have changed. The highways now harbor a coterie of low-slung, neon-color cars with black-rimmed lights whose drivers live for the thrill of doing 70 in the 40’ space between them & the next car in front.

I watched this go on from the slow lane where I was still doing the limit… gasping to almost witness three collisions today alone. The windows are tinted at about 80% & I picture Weebles driving, madly shifting gears with evil grins. Maybe they get extra tickets to turn in for plastic combs if they can run a tractor-trailer off the road. I saw more than one 73 footer shimmy like my sister Kate as these devils of derring-do slammed in front with a bandanna to polish the chrome bumpers.

A good 90% of the truckers are polite & many hang back but boy they are like bull-ring livestock when in a hurry. These also follow a creed that if they can get close enough the energy field will push the car out of the way. However, I learned to drive in New Jersey & have lived in New Mexico where every car is larger than mine plus my third mate was a trucker himself. I’m not afraid. I can be dead on the road anywhere tho not a fatalist. It would be spectacular for them to scoop up my Volt for a hood ornament & save me gas, too. And I’m doing just over the limit if in the passing lane anyway – the lane next to the staties parked in the median, yeh? I move over as soon as I can & figure they left all road manners on the counter when they picked up their CDLs. If they’re that late, they should have started as early as I did. Bleah! Road bullies all.

Today I didn’t chant in Hindi. Today I simply prayed James Dillet Freeman’s Prayer for Protection through two of the three states. The CD didn’t work well from Disc 2 on, so I finally put in Train & shouted the lyrics out loud while slapping my legs to stay awake. It worked, but I sure needed the restroom at every stop!

Florida has discovered speed! I think I preferred the grannys in surf wagons pushing pedals to see which one worked to make it go.

It’s so humid here the bathroom floor is slippery. Shuffling works. Fortunately my flipflops have traction.

I am enjoying the accents & realized today I will never fit in if it comes down to speaking twang

This motel has the first plugged-in clock I’ve seen. Perhaps it’s a state thing, but all the other places I stayed either had no clocks or had put them under the bed unplugged. Just sayin’.

One more night on the road before arrival. I had a lovely stop in Mississippi at a rest area which was lush & green (I know I keep harping on the green, please forgive.) It has been over four years since I spent time under trees!

I am not a good travel-tourist. What I want to take pics of strobes by with just a glimpse. I cannot fumble for the phone, the camera app, etc. So the photos of this trip will be just a couple at rest stops. Mississippi has the prettiest I’ve been in, today’s was a park with a pet walk area, a people walk area, nicely tiled restrooms all spacious & cool. And their vending machines were stocked & worked (tho I’m still watching for the by now twice-baked cheese crackers.) The nice thing is the food carrier gets lighter every day. I still have Biscochitos, in case you’re wondering.

Today was simply a speed day. I think I passed a point where the ground started tilting downward, things got to moving so fast. I’m not a go Granny go gal in the best of times. I have a 4-cylinder Volt carrying a decent load. I think if these drivers hit the drive-in, they’d demand the movie be on fast forward.

I am in Crestview, FL where the bathroom floor is misted in humidity & there are few handholds to grab. I’m attaching some pics of my parkland rest stop & one of me which fully features my moustache… I got a look at that one & rooted around in the back for a razor to shave. It’s hellishly colorful to be spayed down to testosterone level in a humid climate. Of course I cut my thumb.

300 more miles to go. Palm trees. Swimming pools which haven’t been used since Covid years & bearing signs “No Refunds!” I’ve got the room next to the elevator but at least not on the freeway. If there were a storm, the sidewalks would sizzle & steam. Had a cool rinse & it’s time for my Arrival Coffee since all of you are caught up on the uber-zoom situation here in the east.

Please continue your prayers for safe arrivals & loving reunions!!

Sleep well in peace as I dream of jake brakes…

Carol

A Tree
A different tree with a droid trashcan admirer
Moustache Me

Day 3 Journey Journal

I left Seguin just before 7 under a darkling sky, heavily overcast. The land was so green I expected dancing leprechauns. After a hearty lunch (!) at Waffle House, the rain squalls practically washed me back down the road as I pulled through running water so deep I was hydroplaning. Of course it was between concrete barriers, but I planted my li’l car right over the white bumps passing for a traffic lane & checked to see if I had any oars aboard. I did not even care a whit about the traffic behind. I needed the middle so as not to wash up against the barriers.

The Kreuger book lasted until Lafayette, LA as the story twisted & corkscrewed around relationships, situations, descriptions. It was fascinating altogether.

I decided today was a day I could really use breakfast, so I dialed up restaurants on the Garmin. What? No Denny’s? Is this from the Mandela Effect when the name changed from Denney’s to Denny’s? I cannot bring myself to Subway for breakfast, just not that kind of gal. So I hit the road on Hyland’s Calm & wintergreen mints & stayed happy.

I try to fill up at the half-tank mark cuz distances between services can be long. In a quest for gas, I left the highway at Schulenberg  (“Halfway to Everywhere!”) looking for a Shell station & found an Exxon. I’m still mad at them for the Exxon Valdez incident but I know it’s a good gasoline, so I pulled into a small station with premium @ $3.99, a total bargain at $1 less than everywhere else. Next door to the quicki-mart was a tiny donut shop with breakfast burritos so I ate there for $2.50 & picked up two packets of salt for the next meal. A total treat!

I was a bit surprised to see Louisiana names pop up since there was not even a sign that said “Welcome” or “You’re now in LA”. The shape of the road sign backgrounds changed from the star to a klutzy boot & the names went from Texan to French.

So, here’s the real grit on the smooth finish. I arrived in Lafayette & pulled into a parking lot with a dollar general type store for a place setting. Well, I got a butter knife out of it. Every woman had a headwrap. They looked to me like giant sweat bands. It was uniform. I thought living in Nashville was Deep South but guess not this deep. A whole different culture. The roads & turns around this complex were confusing & fast-traveled – it took me 30 minutes to cross the street & drive the block to the Baymont for my reservation. When I saw the huge black iron fence around the Baymont, I switched to second thoughts. When I asked the hotel clerk if my car would be safe in the parking lot, he shrugged. “Why don’t you go see the room, so you know where to park to watch your car?” he advised & handed me the key to 324. I stood at the door to the room looking vainly at the teardrop shaped lock with no slot, wondering where to put the key. Seriously, I’m not in the 21st century yet…the maid came down & smiled kindly as she held up the key to the teardrop & the lock disengaged.

I walked in, looked out the window, looked around the room, walked out & asked for a refund. The clerk asked why. “I don’t like it!” I said putting on my best impression of a bulldog (not a far stretch for this face.)

“Why?” he asked again, “I want to know for, you know, quality control, so I know what to tell the manager” Which tiny Indian man walked out of the back office at that moment & said, “Refund her.” I cannot tell you with good descriptors nor could I explain to him & when I insisted, I said “women’s intuition – my gut does NOT like that room.” Besides, how’m I going to guard my car from the third floor if a troop of robbers make it over the 6’ black iron fence with spikes – did I mention the spikes?

I peeled out of there & headed for the next town, about 34 miles up the road & had to circle to three places. At the Quality Inn, the man in front of me drawled how his colleague had checked out because of the bugs in the room at which point I left a bit of rubber from my new sneakers peeling out of there. LaQuinta had an opening at 7:30 (this was 4 p.m.), so no go, but they let me use a super-clean restroom.

I found a Studio6, a bare bones, super-efficient, sleek, we-thought-of-everything + an ironing board/iron. It is super! Clean! Efficient! OMG, I write this sitting in the laundry room as I’ve sweated through even the clothes I didn’t yet wear. They have giant luggage trolley for my five separate bags plus the computer gear I cart in at every stop. I ran a cool bath & sat gratefully in it. (All the water outside of T or C has been silky.)Temps are way high & humidity at least ten degrees higher. (Hence headwraps?)

Now a dramatic storm gathers itself outside as I sit on the bed typing away. A fella outside just put on a jacket so it’s cooling down. The television came on all by itself once I got settled in & I will unplug it if it tries that again.

I may be far too parochial to travel well. But I’m tenacious & that helps. I am also totally blessed to get to where I’m going & have some humor about it all. And I’m not out of Altoids yet. The kudzu is abundant everywhere & I’m in for the night except I’d better get quarters out of the car before the skies reopen.

Love to all –

Stormy highway
Looking East