The month of July is my favorite month. My birthday is in July, it has always been the month that was totally free from school work, and I love the summer. This year was no exception. It was, and continues to be, a time of wonderful gifts.
One of the best gifts was having my children and grandchild visit. They have finally seen where I live, and now they have a better understanding of why I love this “quirky little mountain town” as my daughter called it. She sees the peace here, she sees my happiness, she sees the lovely people we are friends with. My other daughter suffered from allergies, so was not outdoors as much, but she too could enjoy the beauty and peace that we have. She also loves our dogs (the border collie in particular, as she imprinted on Winona when she was a puppy), as well as the wonderful studio/house they were able to stay in while they were here, providing some privacy, plenty of space, and kitchen facilities for convenience. That the visit went well, even with not too many activities, meant a lot to me. They were here for my birthday, we went to breakfast and saw “Happy Birthday Susan” on the board at the restaurant, and my request for my favorite cinnamon rolls had been honored. My grandson Zeke convinced us to go and visit the graveyard, which turned out to be a wonderful place, very quiet, beautiful view, interesting items left around the graves, interesting names. He also talked us into stopping at the rock shop, which turned out to be an amazing collection of unique things. He picked out a beautiful crystal right away, my daughter got a ring, and I drooled over the smithsonite. Zeke built a cactus garden with Sarita, met and was extremely polite to our friends, went to the library for books on Egypt, and got a cowboy shirt and hat in the nearby town. Everyone decided that it was a good visit, and they said that they wanted to come back. My heart is happy. I was exhausted by the end of the visit, but wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
The other meaningful visit was with old friends from Pennsylvania, who drove extra miles to be with us for part of a day and a night on their way to Colorado. We were able to feel comfortable with each other immediately and had no trouble talking constantly until tiredness overtook us, even though it had been many years since we’d seen each other. I feel so lucky to know these wonderful people, and that they really appreciated this new life style I have.
The music I play with friends and with Sarita is another gift. We had a lot of performances at the end of June and early July, so by the time we played for Old Timer’s Reunion, I was getting tired. But we played with microphones and a sound system guy who was terrific, we had a good, supportive audience (friends, family, and a few other musicians), and it was a great experience. We have taken a performance break until later in August, but we have been practicing, working on new songs, and having a lot of fun. Laughter and singing are great healers. I have never had so much joy doing music with others, and I will always remember this. As part of the gifts of music, my old friend who really inspired me to play fiddle and mandolin 44 years ago (my sister’s ex boyfriend) sent me a mandolin just before my birthday. I had made some comments to him on Facebook about possibly wanting a new one, he listened, and sent me one of his. Wow, I couldn’t (and still can’t) believe it. It plays differently from my other one, and is wonderful. That is truly a long time friend.
I got beautiful gifts for my birthday — a ticket to visit my parents in Michigan from Mom and Dad, a necklace and earring set from good friends who purchased them at Old Timer’s, 2 beautiful ceramic bowls from the Ann Arbor Art Fair from my youngest, a beautiful and incredible kimono style sweater made by a local friend, and a coloring book, where every page is a work of art, along with my favorite prismacolor pencils from my oldest daughter. Another friend is knitting me a lace shawl made from soft, lovely turquoise alpaca yarn that I had purchased. I realized that the yarn is too small for my eyes, and I can’t knit with it, and she said she’d make the shawl I wanted and give it to me. Once again, Wow! There are a lot of loving people in my life.
Speaking of which, I have gotten spontaneous hugs from one of our utility people, from one of our barn builders, from a fellow doll collector I just met, from the people who are selling us the alpacas, and in the form of a lovely card from my close neighbor. Each of those make me feel very lucky to live here.
The next big gift to come is our alpacas. We plan on getting them in a week. We’ve gotten their hay, all the supplies we need, now just have to finish a bit of fencing and setting things up. Oh yes, and we’re getting two kittens to keep them company (and take care of mice) in the barn. Sarita has decided these peaceful animals are part of my treatment plan, along with my dogs, who already give me amazing love and companionship. With my beautiful, hardworking, loyal and wise wife, I couldn’t ask for better company. So whatever happens in September (pet scan, bone biopsy, starting on chemo), I have a very lovely life here at home to keep me centered. And gifts that seem to keep coming.