Wednesday, May 30, 2018

10 Year Blogiversary - on Endurance.

Endurance doesn't always shout. 
There are times
it is simply that soft voice
 you hear with each new day,
 quietly stating "never give up".
 - Brigid

Home on the Range just hit the ten-year mark.  It feels like I've always done this, as natural each day as breathing, but somewhere since 2009, when the stat counter went up a year into it, some 12 million people have wandered by to say hello, including a better part of a year I went private.

My first blog post was on food. Muffins.  Imagine that.  It had about 15 visits and it took a few weeks before anyone ventured to leave a comment. The second was a simple post on the Heller Decision and it garnered over 2700 visits. My audience was pretty clearly defined at that point. But I had started this to write for my daughter, so she could get to know the woman who gave her up for adoption. I wrote for my Dad and Big Bro who was so far away. I wrote for me, to let things out, things that, like water, gather in all the light and the cold and the darkness, then release it with a torrent. And there's bacon.

Seriously, you could replace a picture of ANY President with a picture of bacon and his approval ratings would go up.
My recipes archive runs from 2006 through Feb. 2008, simply to have a section of the blog that's just recipes for the sidebar links, but the first public post was this date in 2008. In these years since a lot has changed, and yet it has not.

The biggest changes, I gave up living in a semi-rural area to move to a huge city.  I did this, for one reason.  I married one of my readers, who first became my best friend, and then my husband.  I'd follow him to Mordor (which is sort of what I actually did).   There were naysayers  -" he's half your age",  "he lives in Chicago", but I found my hearts twin and when he made me a dozen roses out of duct tape on our first Valentine's day, because I told him real roses made me sad because they died, I knew I was in this for the long haul. 
Tam, having an aviation background, I knew before this blog. But through her, I met Roberta X and many a grand adventure was had before I married and moved north. I miss Indy, but I love the life that he and I built and he has his dream job up here, something I'd never ask him to give up for me.

Then there were the losses, my stepmom of 30 years, Barkley, my brother, friends who left too young, such as my pilot friend Neptunus Lex. (to which my fifth book on the philosophy of flight will be dedicated).  Such things deserve more than a blog post, but lasting dedication to maintaining those memories.
Abby Normal, our Senior Rescue Lab Mix.

The second is on the urging of my readers I wrote a book, then another, then another, then another, an anthology with other authors with the help of my friend of 30 years Jim Curtis. I honestly don't know if I would have - had not Barkley and my brother died within just a few weeks of one another. I wanted to capture their stories, hoping it would at least momentarily purge the grief.  So I began to write, the words filling their void. Five weeks later the words and the tears dried up, remaining forever as traces upon paper and skin, visible only to me. 
All were amazon best sellers, 2 hitting the #1 spot and staying there.  The book of Barkley as of last week, four years in, is still #14 in genre at Amazon.  I've won two major literary awards, been on the cover of a literary magazine and was interviewed by NPR.  Then there was that time that Partner was in London on business and in a fancy brick and mortar bookstore saw TBOB in a table display, with a sign that said: "also by this author".  At the time, Saving Grace wasn't published and was still in draft.  He called me and told me and I said: "what book is it".  It was a book by a Dr. L.B. Johnson - on erectile dysfunction.  Quick a phone call to my publisher and publicist!!!  
I got letters from people that loved them, through my publisher and through a P.O. box my best friends set up for me so I could mail out autographed books without giving out my home address.  All were people I'd never met, simply telling me how my words soothed their own personal griefs and helped them grow and remember.  Those letters are all contained in a small box in which Barkley's old orange collar lies.  That meant much more than the fame, though having Chewbacca read my book and post it online was cool as was The Piano Guys inviting me to help produce a video with some other fans.

Then there were all the animal rescue people I met, as all the book proceeds go to them.  So many dog lovers, probably too many barbecues, and beers but great fun, in numerous states.

And of course Midwest Chick, Mr. B.  A home I spent many a weekend in with Barkley before I met Partner in Grime, forging friendships that last to this day.
All things that never would have happened had I not started this blog.  I'd probably still be single 30 years now, not 20.  I'd probably have too many rescue dogs, and I'd be living off the grid somewhere in Indiana, with probably at least one book on my shelf with a pirate with six-pack abs and a panting maiden.  My table would be pretty empty most Saturday nights.

I'm SO glad I started this blog.
But it's the small changes and memories that are with me on this night.  Snippets of conversation with people I'd never had met but for the blog, many that became friends in what my dear friend Og calls "meatspace". It's time to let my thoughts out, it's time to laugh, it's time to savor all the minutia that makes up a life.

Another evening in a quiet house, with a cup of coffee and the computer, and the need to simply write about my day, my thoughts, sharing with those who have become part of my daily life. Reaching out to like spirits, those of us that love the shooting sports and the outdoors, our indomitable desire and will to pursue and grasp beyond all limits of flesh, of the outdoors, teeming with life. To defend and protect and teach. To share a simple meal, the renewing power of family and a belief in a way of life that goes back to our forefathers.

What has changed are those souls that share this space with me, some now, only in memory, waiting at the Rainbow Bridge and beyond, others tethering themselves here, with only love.
Though many people have come and gone through this small space, the quiet has not changed. I'm often amazed how very quiet it is around the Range as I sit at the computer. Here I am, all said and done, after almost 60 years of roaming this planet, a wanderer, an adventurer, on this tiny piece of land, in a small state, finally stationary, easing into quiet.

The years have been one of change, of brutally hard decisions and mistakes, of happiness, winters of cold and seasons of astonishing rain, falling like coins onto parched earth. But even the rain grows quiet now, the earth soaking up only the sun, the corn turning, dying slowly, the cool, solacing stalks spinning the last of golden radiance from a white-hot sun. I  will arise early, the smell of biscuits baking, the land beginning to stir.
I wish I could sleep in, but too many years of living on a small farm broke me of that. A reader commented early on that farmers are all basically on government welfare, the small family farm dead, and I looked down on calluses that remained after the work on that farm ceased and didn't know whether to laugh at that or cry. Tears won out, splashing on hands whose last grasp of that family farm were as they lay on top of a coffin, a touching goodbye to someone who in defending that way of life lost his very breath. Still, years later, on a much smaller piece of property, within a small and quiet village within a huge city, the sun draws me up, Abby, our senior rescue Lab snoozing on the little futon in the office on which Barkley will be forever imprinted, barking silently at ducks still floating on dreams. The coffee has perked, and the world falls into still again as memories of youth come unbidden, stories I do not write about, but that stay with me.

So many memories, ones I hope you will share.
The early ones revolved around aircraft.  I still remember the sounds of a flight to Ireland, a small fuel stop on the way further on. A cockpit is rarely quiet, but it's a symphony of familiar sounds. The voice of the air traffic controller, a reassuring sotto voice confirmation that two minds are in agreement, and all is well with the world. The clatter of a trim switch and the beep of an altitude alerter, sounds of warning that the earth is approaching. The ground. It's solid underneath you, and hard, and if you flared too high you'll break your aircraft against its incontrovertible passivity.

Aloft and level though, airplane sounds stabilize into a gentle song with just the occasional background chorus of the controllers, and you would have time to think and perhaps chat a little. We rarely talked about the mission, but like pilots everywhere we talked of everything else. We talk of the spiritual and we talk of the mundane. We talk about families and jobs, spouses, children, food, politics, food again and surprise, we talk about airplanes. 
Then, with the remark about someone we knew, lost in combat, flying more dangerous work than we'd ever know, that familiar awe-filled sadness enveloped our little space and we grew silent, remembering him, sounds of mourning and respect. Airmen, like Patriots, are a small community of thousands, and we never forget our fallen.

The descent and the landing were at hand and the day was drawing towards sunset, or would if we could see it through the prevailing overcast of our world, so we paused. The sound of conversation ended there. We simply basked in the hum of the engines and the view out the window to our world, clouds disbanding with the disinterest of late day, and the contrail of another aircraft 1000 feet above, vanishing upward like smoke as we descend for landing.

For just a moment, I leaned my head against the side wall of the cockpit and felt the vibration rattle through my bones, breathing in and letting the surge of the engines push my thoughts inward and breathing out in unison with the straining metal of the airplane. The sounds of our craft and the exhale of our breath mingled with the voices of those guiding us. Talk of things past fell away, for we knew that for now, we all had a task to do. We were so alive in that moment, and thoughts of our own mortality disappeared behind us like vapor trail as the sounds of our aircraft drove us towards duty and home.
 Home.
It is a place, now years later, where the world is simpler, quiet, the only motored hum I hear that of my husband in his shop.  I still travel, my work takes me around the world, but it's done from the back, not the cockpit. But there are many more mornings tending to an ancient house, afternoons tending to myself. Quiet gatherings of people I trust over for food, wine, stories, and laughter.
The First Range Dinner Party- Shooty Buddy, Barkley, Roberta X, Turk Turon and Tam (playing with my Swiss K31 in the other room)

Only a handful of them are pilots, yet all are of the same cloth. Determined, strong, traveling great distances within themselves to find the life they wanted. Things are never the same, yet they are. We all blog, but for many of us, that is not how we met, just a trait we share

Airborne or earthbound, some things just do not change.

Home on the Range. Days of work and weekends of sharing bullets and beer with those who believe as I do. Late evenings spent in front of the computer, writing, a post, Internet letters to my daughter, writing to you, as you chat back with me like the air traffic controllers of years ago, giving me guidance and encouragement, propelling me onward into this life that I lead, now shared.

These weekdays fly by, but I'll get out Saturday morning, like most, and head out walking, passing gardens past their prime, and flowers still unfolding in lush morning dew in defiance of their season. I move quickly forward, gun on my hip, black lab by my side, watching city life scuttle out of my path. Walking onward, out through pavement unmoving and shallow in the great streaming light, out towards the trees and towards the train tracks.

As I wander these trails of history and sound,  I look around my world, changed, yet unchanged, a scattered mosaic of leaves and broken flowers, the small bones of a broken bird laying among dried needles of pine, footprints of invisible deer. The hushed sound of my breathing, thoughts of a hand on a pine box, thoughts of another hand on my skin, tracing a scar that stands in stark relief to white skin, fingers kind, strong and forgiving.
Too soon it's time to get back in and start my day, the sound of the train forlorn in my ears, breath quickened but quiet after my morning absolution. I need these walks out in my surroundings, a place more quiet than a church, in a place where my God lays his hand on me, a hand also kind and forgiving, giving me the strength to go on.

It's a different life, yet the same. Days of hard work, countless days marked with bitter cold and radiating warmth, monotonous wonderful days of work and friends that I love, of water, woods and sky. Countless days here retreating like fields of corn, replaced by the city, leaving their mark on the landscape even when they are nothing more than dust.
On the porch, used as vases for some fresh flowers, are old-fashioned glass milk bottles, from cows that live as well out in a beautiful countryside, no longer part of my daily world, yet always contained in it.  I look at the clean lines of the rinsed glass, carefully washed and dried, stark, clear lines against a backdrop of country life, empty now, but soon to be filled with all that is beautiful from the earth.

Things that were worth waiting for.

Things that were worth remembering.

It is not the life of spoiled subsidy, it is not the life of an adventurer that I once led. It is my life, strong, quiet, true to myself and joined with those who hold not just my values, but my heart.  It can't truly be judged by those who have never spent time with me. It can't be totally understood just from some words on a page.  It is simply my life.

It is tending a garden in drowsing sunlight, wrestling life from the ground in a flaying of green, sore muscles, mending heart. It is soil and sweat; it is books and reports and hours spent looking at the smallest of life's tragedies through a microscope. It is a life of putting together the pieces of shattered lives, pieces of me. But it is that life that all those contrails led me to, and I thank those of you, who have shown nothing but kindness, for sharing it with me.
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35 comments:

  1. Hey Brigid;

    I also am glad that you are blogging. A lot of time has passed, I was a reader then came back when I heard that you were up and running :) You meet all kinds of people when you start blogging, since I started, I have been fortunate to meet people and do things that I would have never had done had I not started blogging. I am glad that you are at the 10 year anniversary mark, "Here to you and 10 more:.

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    1. Thank you. I have thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  2. I am honored that you consider me a friend.
    And better for it.

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    1. Me too, when Partner had you as "best man" at the wedding no better words would fit.

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  3. Thank you Doc, for letting me enjoy your thoughts, well written.
    You have no idea how much you have helped me over the last ten years. I wish you well.

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    1. It's been an honor to get to know you.

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  4. Beautifully said as always, and thankfully it allowed us to reconnect, low these many years later.

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  5. Thank you, Brigid. Your blog has been an interlude of beauty, humor and peace in an RSS feed full of political Sturm und Drang.

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    1. Thank you! It's like a quiet spot at home for me and I try and keep it that way.

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  6. Even though we've not met in meatspace, we have mutual friends, proving that God knows what He's doing. :) The last ten years would have been less bright, less joyful, and much less enjoyable were it not for your words & presence in the blogosphere. Thank you for that.

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    1. Thank you for your friendship over all these years.

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  7. Congratulation. 10 years is quite a testimony.

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    1. It's hard to believe that many years have passed.

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  8. Thank you for blogging and for your books.

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    1. Thank you John for your kind words.

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  9. Your writing always paints a beautiful picture in my mind. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

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    1. Thank you. I'm slowly starting on book #5. But enjoying some time off just to read some books for a change.

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  10. I didn't begin reading your posts from the first day, but I gladly admit that I started early and stayed late. It's been a point of pride for me that you considered some of my responses good enough to add to your mix.

    When you went private, I went into withdrawal. One day I read a guest post from you on Borepatch and now my addiction is strong once again.

    Congratulations on ten years, and God willing, may there be ten more!

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    1. I hope so, life is such that I can't blog every day like I could when I had the crash pad and had 3/4 of my week on my own but I do enjoy it.

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  11. Daily stop.

    Beautiful liquid prose and thoughts.

    You do much good in this world.

    Thank you.

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    1. Thanks John, and thanks for the photos and such you send of interesting airplanes.

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  12. It was thru Lex that I found you and your blog. He, in life and in his passing, has enriched my life with friendships I would have never had. Thanks for allowing me to be apart of your readership. I wish for you continued success and happiness.

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    1. Thank you. I miss his friendship as well. A fine man.

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  13. Wow..10 years...already? B you have made my day on so many occasions I cant count them, I know I am not alone when I say you made the day much much more fun and interesting, from guns to aircraft to Barkley and Abbi our tastes in food may vary but you made me realize that there are women out there who are so much like myself, I didn't know Intelligent women could be as big a nerd as I am :D I hope to be reading your blogs every day for the next ten years.

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    1. I know, hard to believe. Now here we both are, grandparents. Time passes quickly. Congrats on the new grandson!

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  14. Hey B, you and I had discussed aircraft a few times (long ago) I just found something new to me that I had never heard of or seen before.. a Twin Mustang they have a story at http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/21198/listen-to-a-p-82-twin-mustang-pur-a-glorious-sound-not-heard-in-over-30-years

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  15. You followed your heart - and it paid off...... :)

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  16. I can’t remember how I found you, but I know it was through a shooty site some time in mid-2010. Anyway, I’m glad I did. I found you at a particularly bad point in my life and you helped me realize that there was still joy and beauty in the world. Thank you.

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    1. You've found a good spot in life and I'm honored to be part of it.

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  17. I had this great response all planned out, but life intervened, and I had to postpone responding for a couple of days. Now, it's forgotten. Oh, well, such is life sometimes. Must not have been as great as I thought.

    Ten years already? Wow! I don't remember when I started reading your blog, but I do remember how. Lawdog referred his readers to 'a blog by another redhead' or some such reference, and I've been reading your posts ever since. And richer for it. Congratulations Brigid! And thank you for being there to enrich all of us with your thoughts, musings and vibrant descriptions of life on this little dirt ball. Even when that life isn't going the way we want it to, you've been willing to share your heart. That's not an easy thing to do. Thank you.

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  18. I found a recipe and then found you. Thanks for all the words you've written. You've made me laugh, cry and think more than any blog I read. I am so thankful I followed that link.

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  19. Thank you for sharing your life and perspective through your blog and your books. I am sure that we have all laughed and shed a few tears while reading one story or another. You are blessed and are also a blessing.

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  20. Congrats on the ten year mark. I've been here reading it for most of that time including the private year. Always enjoy reading your writings even if they remind me too often of family that is no longer with us;family that passed too young. Thanks and here's to another 10 years of excellent writing. Prayers for your father to recover fully.

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I started this blog for family far away and to share my life and writing with friends. Comments are welcome but please treat this place as you would visiting any friend. I want everyone to feel at home here.