Please forgive the long silence. We have dreams of completing lots of gorgeous, photo and story-ridden wedding entries, and the same for our wonderful bike trip in Ireland. We also have dreams of getting thank you cards, complete with photos, out to all you wedding-goers some time before we celebrate our 1st anniversary. Dreams are good--especially if they foretell happy realities. We have faith. Your patience is deeply appreciated.
I know you'll be shocked to read that our lives have been a bit hectic since our return stateside on October 18th. Almost all of it's been good, but some of it's been hard.
On the Saturday after we returned stateside, we had a wonderful "second wedding" at the Mountain View Friends Meetinghouse in Denver. Although we weren't married "under the care" of Meeting, is was important to us that our vows be witnessed by my (our?) spiritual community. It was a wonderful evening, thanks to Judy Danielson, Eric Wright, Paula van Dusen, Danielle Short, and Rachel Moran. I'm not sure how many folks came--at least 50? We had a beautiful Meeting for Worship for Marriage by candlelight, with a deep, tear-drenched silence, and meaningful testimony, followed by a very yummy potluck summer and fellowship (complete with a gorgeous wedding cake from first-time cake-make Judy!), and then a singalong led by Eric. I was so much more relaxed than at our first wedding, and we were really grateful that some of our friends from Denver, not of the Meeting, were also able to attend and seemed to enjoy themselves.
The next day, Mark drove his mom and me 7 hours to Ouray, Colorado. Ouray is a town Marilyn has always loved, and as she was scheduled to have back surgery on Oct. 30, from which she knew she would be recovering for months, she wanted to do a little traveling beforehand. On the way, we were treated to radiant autumn Colorado blue skies and turning leaves, snow-dappled mountains, streams...all the wonders that make it such a privilege to live here. I just kept saying over and over to Mark, "I love this land." We stopped in Paonia at a little farm stand and tasted locally grown wine, gourmet raw goat cheese, and delicious organic produce. We bought some wine, pecan wildflower honey, and chokecherry syrup--a wild Western delicacy.
Ouray is a small town surrounded by mountains, and called "Alpine" by some. I've never understood why people have to compare anything in the Rockies to the Alps. I've seen the Alps. I've seen the Rockies. The Rockies are no pathetic backcountry cousin to the Alps. They're an extraordinary act of the Creator quite in their own right, and don't need European comparisons to be breathtaking and visit-worthy. Mom treated us to a few nights at a deluxe B&B with a hottub and plush beds and TV's. We had dinner out each night in town at a different yummy restaurant, returning to Denver on Tuesday. On the Monday, Mark and I drove to Dove Creek to look at some land for sale. It was a beautiful day, but our driving journey was quite long so we didn't get nearly as much time with Mom as we would have liked.
On our return to Denver, we began the process of moving our belongings from Danielle's basement into Mom's spare room, where we will live while we support her recovery, or as long as she can put up with us/till we find some land. With Mark's sister Jennifer we hosted a party for mom so her friends and family could wish her well before the surgery. The food, made by Jen, was of course fantastic, and the company equal to it.
The surgery itself, on Oct. 30, was 11 hours long. It was very a intense, rather dangerous surgery. Mom was quite worried, and Mark, Jen and I were quite worried. We were at the hospital with her 17 hours that day. Thankfully, she came through the surgery without major complications. Her recovery has been, by many of the nurses' and the surgeon's comments, remarkable. I continue to be amazed and in awe of mom--what an incredibly strong and brave woman she is.
The surgery was conducted to relieve pressure on nerves in her back, which have been compressed since she was nearly killed 26 years ago by a man with an MO of forcing women off the road and then raping them. Her car was so badly damaged, and she was so badly injured, the man left her for dead, but was later prosecuted thanks to mom's quick thinking, and her taking down his license plate. Her life has been influenced by the disabilities he inflicted on her to this day. Despite all this, mom has always led a very active life, even hiking with basic supplies on her back into the Jenin Refugee Camp following the massacre when she was due to have her fourth hip replacement and probably shouldn't have been walking up a flight of stairs. During the last six months, she has had tremendous pain and decreased capacity in her legs, so the point of the surgery was to reverse that with the hope that her strength and comfort will improve, and her ability to walk continue and improve well into her golden years.
Mark and Jenn are at the hospital with their mom for several hours a day each day, advocating for and with her vis-a-vis medical professionals (something sorely needed, all the time), and especially in the first few days, helping her with food, drink, movement, etc., and providing invaluable love, moral support, encouragement and humor. There have been a number of misunderstandings and mistakes which have caused Marilyn unnecessary pain and anxiety. Many of the professionals she's working with are very fine people, but it seems a symptom of the entire Medical Industrial Complex that they often don't know her body and its needs as well as she does, and aren't willing to listen to her or her family to the detriment of her care. Despite all this, Mom, ever the fighter, is in rehab, and continuing to recover.
I was at the hospital more the first week, but have cut back a lot as mom's been improving. Mark and I are fortunate to be able to continue to live with her when she comes home from the hospital.
She really appreciates visitors, cards, letters, and calls--they mean more than we can say. If you need info about visiting her, please email or call us.
In other news, we are moving forward with our dream of building a small, intentional, spiritual, self-sustaining, social-justice focused community on land here in Colorado. Try saying that five times fast!! We have begun the research process, are talking with realtors, web-surfing, and reading lots of books and guides. This weekend (Nov. 10-13) we are making our first major land-search trip. We are going down to the Walsenburg, La Veta, Trinidad, Gardner area (a large area) in southern Colorado, just west of I-25. We'll be staying in La Veta for two nights, and probably in Westcliff for a third. We have appointments lined up with realtors for three days. We're also getting together with the folks from our local community with whom we hope eventually to live on the land the weekend after Thanksgiving. We'll spend a few days up in a cabin together, discussing our individual and shared visions, hopes and dreams.
Mark's birthday is November 13, and his email address is email@example.com. Please send him greetings and love! Marilyn's surgery and recovery has been emotionally very hard on her family as well as her, and your loving support would really mean a lot to him and Jen.
What else are we doing? Working on thank you notes and photographs. Meeting with our community. Attending demonstrations when we can. Zoning out at night when we're completely fried and watching old episodes of Reno 911 and the Office. I'm doing one afternoon a week of volunteer work for AFSC, helping with their immigrant rights program. Running errands and handling bills for mom. Biking everywhere, which is good, because I put on serious post-wedding-sconage pounds in Ireland. I'm taking classes in jewelry, soap, and toiletries making. Trying to see old friends. Getting caught up on the life left behind during the weddding planning and honeymoon. Today, I'm babysitting the incredible Felix for our dear friends Remy and Nancy. He's taking his morning nap at the moment, giving me a little time to write.
We're here in Denver for the next couple of months at least. I'm going home to see my family for a week after Christmas, and then I head to Johnson, VT for a month-long writing residency at the Vermont Studio Center. I'm trying to do what writing I can between our land search and time at the hospital. I'm currently (along with Nancy and another friend, Carleen) doing this crazy thing called "NaNoWriMo"which stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's completely mad. It's a "contest" (there is no competition and there is no prize but pride) which one enters with the goal of writing a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. Not surprisingly, I'm way behind. But it's really been a fun, liberating process, because the expectation is that one will write crap. One is encouraged to write crap, if need be, but WRITE! More than 50,000 people worldwide are participating, and there are local write-together evenings and meetings, as well as email-encouragement from the staff. I've started a brand-new novel, with brand-new characters, and I'm finding it very fun and liberating to write with my internal editor cranked down a few notches, if not off altogether.
There's always more to say, but Felix is awake, so I'd best run. Much, much love, and hopefully more soon.