Tag Archives: Montana

Reflections ~ Back into the Rising Sun


I’ve just returned from a brief trip to a bit of my past. For ten years I lived in Plains, Montana. A tiny town of 1,065 in a county that holds 11,365. I’m pretty sure someone counted a few cows. It is a beautiful place that changes slowly, and in some ways not at all. Other than a few drive-throughs, I haven’t been there for 14 years.

My primary reason for going was to see my mother. A lady who has twice beaten cancer, only to find it sneaking back up on her. In typical stoic fashion, she is dealing with the consequence in a cheerful, “today is a good day” manner. Her attitude does much to show others the world is a better place when you do what you can, but accept the unchangeable with grace.

The trip served other purposes, too. Plains is where I met my husband. It is where dreams were born and dreams died. The Interstate Highway between Seattle metro and Plains (I-90) is littered with places that were part of bringing my husband and me together. We both traveled that road often enough. All those stopping places, Cle Elum, Ellensburg, Tokio, Four Lakes, Naughty Ladies Park (private joke based on a brief meeting with a theatrical group), Two Mile Road, St. Regis. I’m sure there are others.

The drive also consists of three passes, Snoqualmie, 4th of July, and Look Out. The last of which nearly cost me my future husband when he totaled his T-Bird on a sheet of black ice. The next morning I rescued him in Kellogg. Memories – dancing through my mind as I drove into the rising sun. I took my time, not pushing to cover miles, visiting moments long buried in the rush of life.

When I arrived a storm moved in. At first it was only wind – scary in the heart of a fire season. Breathing was not all that comfortable without air filtered through air conditioners. But then rain came, too. Not enough, but things did cool down – and the lights went out. Mini panic ensued until I (with the help of her ever watchful caregiver) was sure Mum’s oxygen was covered. It was nearly midnight when power returned – and stayed on, and her condenser was operational. The storm did, however, clear the air and the next day sported beautiful, blue Montana skies.

I took a drive to visit a hillside near a lot my husband once owned and from where I could see the property that had been my home. The road was overgrown and not really passable. Again caught in the wrong footwear, I couldn’t really hike it, either. I think, perhaps, the goodbyes I said years ago were meant to be final. At least now I know that.

I visited a friend who had lost her husband a year ago. She did not know about Doug’s illness and death. The visit became much harder than I had anticipated. She, however, is moving on and will remarry soon. I am truly happy for her.

Then there was a dear friend who has been near to both Doug and me for many years. A person who has helped us both in business and personally and seems forever faithful. Dinner was a real opportunity to unwind and enjoy conversation I had sorely missed.

I stayed in the guest house of a client and friend that has followed me wherever I went in the world. Then, there is the lady who cares for my mother with genuine love and consideration.

Yes, it was an important trip, a trip to touch that place I remembered and see if it was still there. It is. Now it is my past. I don’t belong there anymore. It has moved away by remaining the same-but changing. I will always love those hills and will find pleasure in visiting when the need or opportunity presents itself. Sometimes moving forward requires the active pursuit of sorting through the past to find the bits from which to build the future.

There is a beautiful song by Anne Murray called, You Needed Me. When I once told a friend I had found the hero of all my favorite love songs – this was one of them – still is.

“You gave me strength to stand alone again/to face the world out on my own again”

That strength is only one of his lasting gifts to me. There is a tomorrow and I intend to pursue it.


Filed under Personal Journeys

When the forecasts talk back.

Few professions seem to be more devoid of all imagination than accounting. The general assumption is that the day to day grind of processing numbers, finding “bottom lines” and figuring out what someone thought they were doing is, well, beyond boring. Accounting, to some folks, ranks somewhere in the neighborhood of watching paint dry. By extension such folks assume that the people whdragono perform these tasks are unimaginative creatures, condemned to watching spreadsheets grow and morph. Well, it isn’t quite that way. At least not for all of us. You see, I’m an accountant and I should know.

Actually, I’m a special kind of accountant, one that spends at least part of her time looking into the fogs of the future and making “educated guesses” on what might happen. This is really pretty important. People spend money on what they think will happen, not on what happened yesterday. Don’t believe me? Give someone a few thousand dollars. Are they going to remember they were broke yesterday and couldn’t find enough to eat? Not very often! So, “looking into the future” becomes a discipline, a way of saying, what might happen. And that is where the possibilities begin.

I will admit that most forecasts, budgets and predictions are just another set of numbers manipulated based on historical information and pushed forward with (ahem) reasonable expectations. But every now and then the practiced forecaster can catch a bit of something special. Something just over the horizon if only. One night, I had a helper.

It was a typical night. Well, a typical nearing midnight, eyes sagging, falling asleep kind of night when I first glimpsed my own tiny dragon. The project I was working on was creative, did require some knowledge of the arts, and also required some background on what makes people want to contribute to a project for the pure pleasure of it; not because it has some promised return. That is not particularly easy.

After writing pages and pages of answers to questions on a tax form, my eyes became quite droopy. The words were blurring and I was positive I had said the same things already, probably had knowing tax forms as I do. Did I miss a question? How can I make this sound like, well, it has meaning and should be supported? “You need a little spark there.” What?

“Yes, just there. It sounds like you’re selling shoes, not music.” I’m talking to myself now? “No, you silly woman, you are not talking to yourself, I’m trying to help you here!” I’m only drinking tea, who is talking to me? “Right here, right on your monitor stand, your own special dragon. I can see what is on the screen and you sound more boring than a tax auditor. You have to pep this up.” I am tired, I had better shut this whole mess down.

Suddenly, a tiny spark flew into the air and there was a faint odor of wood smoke. And I saw him. A tiny blue and green dragon posing near my monitor and pointing with his front paw at a particularly long and dense passage. Well, he was right. It was horrible. Even if no one ever read it, it was horrible. I sighed.

“So what would you suggest, Mr. Oh-so-smart?”

“Go back to the reason you took this thing on to begin with.” (Delivered with tiny puffs of smoke.) “Tell these people, if anyone ever reads this, that this is the most important idea in the whole county. That bringing the passion of Baroque and Classical music to a rural resort in the middle of nowhere is a spark of inspiration, an opportunity that few if any of these people would ever enjoy without this particular program. Tell these people that in a world full of ugly news and terrifying tragedies, that you can still celebrate the beauty that humanity can create. And you can do it in a secluded, mountain valley during a weekend retreat with world class artists and terrific food.”

Well, even if no one ever reads this stuff, I think I’d like to go.

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Filed under My Fiction - Very Short Fiction