Back to Sloway – August 2019

Thursday August 8: My daughter Becka and I have had a great time visiting long-time friends in Pasco, Washington, but she needs to get back to her summer job in Wallace and it is time for me to see how “holding-down-the-fort” has gone for Clifford at Sloway Campground in western Montana.

When Becka and I leave Pasco, she takes a scenic detour that takes us to a self-serve produce stand where we buy melons, blueberries, and honey, and then to a produce store full of good-to-eat food, where I buy more honey. What a fun detour.

Self-serve produce stand

When we get as far as Coeur d Alene, Becka takes me to this cool place along Coeur d Alene Lake where we sit on a platform above the water to have our very extra delicious lunch and adult beverages. My goodness, traveling with Becka is So.Much.Fun!

A cool place along Coeur d Alene Lake

Back in Wallace, we unload stuff at my daughter Katie’s Bernard Building, as Becka and I will be moving over there from the 4th Street house where she has been staying. Her apartment is next to the big central kitchen and I will spend tonight in a smaller, but very sweet apartment, just down the hall. Becka’s apartment is topsy-turvey at the moment, full of stuff from the previous owners/tenants. I spend the afternoon, while she is at work, cleaning and reorganizing, so by the time she gets off work, it looks quite nice and homey.

Daughter Merri is also in Wallace, working this weekend as a cook at the same place where Becka works. When the girls get off work, we go up on the roof of the Bernard Building, four stories up, relaxing in the cool of the night as we share a bottle of orange muscato. Too late, too tired for anything else, we soon all go off to bed.

Wallace, Idaho

Friday August 9: Becka makes a really great breakfast for me, Merri, and herself. (Katie is sick, so couldn’t join us.) We run errands around town and had planned to go out to eat lunch before I leave for Sloway, but every eatery is either closed or too busy. We buy food at Harvest Foods and have a picnic in Becka’s front room instead, which worked out just fine.

On the way back to Sloway, I stop at the artesian well, Elmer’s Fountain, not far from Wallace. The water there is so good and the place has a pleasing ambiance. I notice a trail that I have not seen before and am tempted to follow it, but instincts tell me that I should head on back to Sloway.

I have a relaxed drive over Lookout Pass, back to Montana, where Clifford is eager to hear about my travels. Traveling was fun, but it is also good to be back “home.”

Clark Fork River at Sloway Campground in western Montana

Sloway to Wallace – August 2019

Friday August 2: Today is a day of walkabouts taking photos, mostly of the Clark Fork River at the Sloway Campground where Clifford and I are camped, just off I-90 and a little east of St. Regis, Montana. Since we have had several travel days, I have a to-do list of things that were put on a back-burner, and most of these are taken care of today. Clifford has his project list, mainly ham radio and playing his dulcimer.

Campsite at Sloway Campground
Clark Fork River
Clark Fork River
Clark Fork River

Saturday August 3: This morning I take coffee and journal and go to the picnic table by the river to sit in the sunshine while I sip and write. After breakfast, I work on more of my projects, including backing a day pack for my trip to Wallace, Idaho, to visit my daughter Katie and her family, and daughter Becka, who is spending the summer in Wallace, working and visiting Montana/Idaho family.

View as I sit and write in the journal

Although I had planned to leave for Wallace tomorrow morning, my daughters convince me that I should come over this afternoon, as there will be a live band playing on the streets this evening. So, I finish packing and getting things ready for Clifford to be on his own for a few days.

It is a lovely drive to Wallace, I-90 winding its way through the Coeur d Alene and St. Joe Mountains and over Lookout Pass into Idaho. At Wallace, Katie and her husband Jeremy show me around the three-story brick apartment building that they have just purchased. It has an interesting history in that a large family lived there and then the building was apparently abandoned with food still in the cupboards, clothing still in the closets, dishes and books and other personal items still in place as if the family expected to return any moment. While there may be a perfectly ordinary explanation, the place has an ambiance of intrigue.

I do laundry while Katie and Becka finish their evening jobs, then we listen and dance to music until the bands wrap things up – late!

Katie and Becka

I stay with Becka at Katie’s 4th Street house, which happens to be the house where Clifford and I lived in the upstairs apartment when we lived in Wallace a few years back. There is a bit of nostalgia in being in Wallace and staying in the 4th Street house. And I love having this time with my girls!

Wallace & Back – September 2018

September 7 through 9 is a jam-packed three days of family gathering at the historic Jamison Hotel in historic Wallace, Idaho. Although the kitchen is too old-fashioned to be easy to use, the space in general is spacious and gracious, the bar quite spectacular, the bedrooms quaintly charming, and the basement reputed to be haunted.

The impressive Jamison Hotel bar
The impressive Jamison Hotel bar

I tend to like things harmonious and organized, so the hubbub is a bit unsettling for me, but it certainly is interesting and lively.

A grandson and his dad, my son
A MacDonald Family squinting in the sun for the photographer

The Wallace Gathering was quite amazing and I know I will miss seeing who is up and having coffee at the Wallace Coffee House when I get there, who wants to go to breakfast somewhere, who wants to run to the store or go shop browsing, and who is just hanging out sharing stories. Awesome group!

The setting of the sun

On my way back to Seeley Lake, I stop to take photos of a beautiful sunset and reach camp after dark, happy to be back in my own space with Clifford and Cougar

The light and the color remains
Lingering light as I approach the lake

Cabin City Days – August 2018

Saturday August 18: It is less smokey this morning and very pleasant sitting outside writing in the journal.

Later, when the temperatures warm up and the flies become bothersome, we set up the screen house over the picnic table, giving us place to eat, write, and play music without the pesky flies.

Sunday August 19: A walk in the forest is a lovely quiet time for me this morning.

A quiet walk in the forest

In general, the day has the usual things going on: writing, reading, editing for daughter Ang, and taking photos (Carol); ham radio and CI Legacy Project (Clifford), with the addition of being stung by a wasp (Carol) and going bike riding around the two loops of the campground (both of us).

Monday August 20: It is hard to tell overcast from smoke haze this morning. In spite of the somewhat dreary sky, I walk around both loops of the campground. We are the only people here; even the hosts are gone.

Smokey morning walk

In the afternoon, there is a knock on the door and we are surprised to see my son Saul. We invite him in and I make tea for the three of us. He is headed to an organic farm and has stopped here to spend the night. We have a nice visit and after he gets his camp set up, he joins us for dinner. Since he travels a lot, we get out the atlas and share thoughts about where he and we have been and where we all might be going in the future. Maybe our paths will cross again.

Late afternoon light at our campsite at Cabin City

Tuesday August 21: I walk about taking photos in the mist this morning. Then we invite Saul for breakfast and chat a bit more before he heads out.

Walking in the mist

Today I am going to Wallace to visit Katie and her family. Katie, her daughter Justice, her mother-in-law Sue, and I go to lunch. Really nice to visit with all of them. Being in Wallace also gives me a chance to go to the laundromat, my favorite second-hand store, and the market before I drive back over the mountain for a late dinner with Clifford.

Katie and Jeremy at the Wallace Coffee House

Wednesday August 22: After my morning quiet time and breakfast with Clifford, I start cleaning out my car. Katie needs to have our remaining stuff moved out of her basement, so yesterday I put as much as I could into my car. It it is too much to take back to Monticello, so I will be sorting and getting rid of books and other items. I find it hard to get rid of books, but in reality, it is not likely I will ever have time to read all of them.

Later, Clifford and I work on the back-up camera issue and find a spot where we can put the receiver (adhered to an aluminum pizza plate stuck in the bathroom door) so that the signal carries all the way from the back of Cougar to the monitor on the Suburban dashboard. It takes a bit of jury-rigging, but it works.

Afghan for great-grandson Oliver

I finish the knit afghan for the newest member of the family, great-grandson Oliver. Bicycle, dinner, viola practice, and reading complete the day for me. Clifford continues with his projects and is up until the wee hours, as is normal for him.

Thursday August 23: It is smokey again and we have caught another mouse. Did it come with us from Bass Creek or are the mice a problem here? When camp host Susi comes around, I ask her about the mice and it does appear they have been a problem the last couple of years.

Smokey drive

Today Clifford and I go to St. Regis again, as there is wifi at the Visitors’ Center. I send the completed Princes and Priests synopsis to Ang, while Clifford downloads a big music file. We have lunch at a cafe here, but it is not nearly as good as the meal we had at the $50,000 Bar&Grill earlier in the week.

In the evening, I make plans with Rollie regarding a trip to Sun River (near Great Falls, Montana) to visit my son Matt. Clifford will stay with Cougar at Cabin City.

Friday August 24: I make coffee and sit outside for awhile before getting ready for our trip to Couer d Alene. I have another doctor checkup, and once that is finished, we run errands in CdA.

Smokey Couer d Alene Lake

On the way back to our campground, we stop in Wallace so Clifford can help make decisions about what to do with the rest of our stuff in Katie’s basement. We fit what we can into my car and the rest will be given away. Katie is cooking steaks on an outdoor grill, but due to the lateness of the hour, we have to head back to camp rather than staying for dinner. She sends a juicy steak home with us, which we thoroughly enjoy.

Journey South – Wallace to Monticello – October 2017

Sunday October 15, 2017  – It is a beautiful autumn day in Wallace, Idaho, and a bittersweet walkabout taking photos of the gorgeous colors, knowing that we will soon be leaving this behind.

Autumn colors in Wallace, Idaho

Tuesday – Clifford and I pick up the Uhaul truck, a 26-footer, in Couer d Alene this morning.  The day is devoted to loading the truck, first CI boxes and furniture, and then apartment and basement stuff.  We are lucky that the forecast rain has held off for most of the day.  By late afternoon, the loading continues in the rain.

Rain in the afternoon

Wednesday – Packed to the hilt, the Uhaul truck left Wallace first thing this morning.  We hired Mike, someone we trust, to drive it to Monticello, Utah, and take care of unloading, while Clifford and I follow behind in the Suburban towing Terry (our camper) at a much slower pace.

Whatever remains in the apartment is packed in Terry or the Suburban and we are on our way by late afternoon.  We stop at the Wallace Coffee House to say good-bye to Katie and the boys, and then we are on our way to Alberton.

Saying good-bye to Katie and the boys

It is a beautiful drive with the western larch turning golden.  However, due to the lateness of the day and the rain, taking photos through the tinted windows of a moving vehicle is not very successful.

Rainy drive over Lookout Pass

Arriving in Alberton, we set up in the parking lot across from the bar.  I am happy to see Ang and Oden, as they are in Alberton for play practice.  We visit awhile and after they leave, Clifford and I eat a simple dinner before heading to bed.

Thursday – It is a pretty autumn morning here in this mountain valley. After Merri texts me that she is up, I walk to her house to visit and have tea with her before she heads to her job. She gives me a ride as far as Ang’s road.  Ang picks me up and we go up to her place where she shows me the progress she has made on the greenhouse.

Looking good in the cabin

The last little chicken, queen of the greenhouse, eats out of Ang’s hand,

 Back in Alberton, Ang, Clifford and I head over the River’s Edge for lunch together.  I will miss being close enough to regularly visit my daughters.

Petty Creek drive

Going to Missoula Walmart for tires for Terry is a waste of time, since once there, they inform us that they are too busy to do it.  Back on I-90, we head southeast toward Butte, watching the autumn scenery,

Autumn colors in southwest Montana

Snow in the mountains of southwest Montana

stopping at the rest area near the junction with Highway 1 for the night. After dinner, we both read until bedtime.

Friday – It is windy and chilly this morning.  Clifford takes a shower and we discover that some of our clothes are wet from rain leakage.  Bah humbug.

View from the rest stop at the junction to Highway 1

We have stayed in touch with Mike and his son, who are on their way back to Wallace after unloading and dropping off the Uhaul truck in Monticello.  Our paths will cross today in Dillon, Montana, where we plan to stop for lunch.  It is fun to meet up with them and chat about our journeys.

Leaving Dillon, we run into rain and then quite the sleet storm as we head up Monida Pass.

Rain south of Dillon

The approaching sleet storm

On the Idaho side of the pass, the sleet eases with only occasional rain showers.

Entering southern Idaho

The wind, however, is much more troublesome. We are relieved to reach Idaho Falls where we pull off at Walmart for new tires for Terry.  We spend the night in the parking lot, as do other RV travelers. It is likely that the wind has encouraged many to pull in early this evening.

 Saturday – Clifford takes a shower while I visit Walmart, and soon we are on our way.  On I-15, on the outskirts of Idaho Falls, an overturned camper blocks one lane of traffic.  This is both sad and disturbing, and I can’t help but wonder if a gust of wind caused this accident.  At Pocotello we exit looking for Denny’s for brunch, but end up driving in circles until we give up on the idea.  A box of cheez-its becomes our brunch instead.  In retrospect, cheese and apple slices may have been a better idea had we known we wouldn’t be able to stop for a meal.

Nearing the Utah border

Southern Idaho scenery

A favorite rest area just north of the Utah border

Utah, here we are

The drive continues until we reach Perry, Utah, just south of Brigham City.  We find the Walmart there, glad the day’s drive is done.  A colorful sunset brightens the last moments of the day.

The view from Walmart parking lot

After dinner, we both stay up reading until midnight.

Sunday – Today we leave Perry and drive through the Salt Lake City complex, no mishaps, stopping at Cracker Barrel in Springville for a late lunch, happy that that leg of the journey is behind us.  Once we turn onto Highway 6, we are amazed by the continuous parade of traffic, including many RV’s, heading north toward Salt Lake City.  Hundreds of people are returning home after a weekend of camping in the National Parks to the south.

Northern Utah scenery

What a relief to reach Price and get off that busy highway, finding a spot to set up in the back parking lot of Walmart. Another colorful sunset brings the day to an end.

Another sunset from a Walmart parking lot

We fix a simple dinner and read until late.  I finish “Coyote Waiting,” …just in time, as tomorrow we will arrive in Monticello.

 Monday – There is not nearly so much traffic this morning, which makes driving a little less stressful.

Southern Utah scenery

Once we reach Moab, we stop for a few groceries at City Market as we know that they carry a line of organic food.

Autumn colors in Moab

And finally the last leg of the journey, the 50 scenic miles from Moab to Monticello, arriving in mid-afternoon.

Autumn colors are we near Monticello 

Robert, the realtor comes by with the keys and we enter our new abode and a new chapter of our lives.

Our new abode and lots of boxes



The Journey’s End – Return to Idaho – May 22, 2017

Monday May 22nd – It is early, but I am awake when Ang and Oden stop at the lot by the Alberton Town Park where we had parked for the night.

Raindrops on shrubs in the park

Oden is just finishing up his Drivers’ Ed class for today. It is great fun to see them; I make French press coffee and we chat for a few minutes until Ang has to leave for a meeting in connection with organizing the Alberton Railroad Days coming up in July.

Ang and Oden

Ang and Oden

We arrive in Wallace in mid-afternoon and have a little time to visit with Katie and Jeremy before beginning the huge unloading process, bringing in only the perishable food and most needed items to begin with. Later we have dinner with Katie, Jeremy, and family. So nice to see them all again.

The house and family in Wallace: Becka, Katie, Justice; Finley in front

Wallace Walkabout: Jeremy and Jude with newest family member – Scarlet

Wallace: power, internet, and hot showers! Family and friends.

Jude and friend JD

Justice and Finley

Finley, JD, and Jude at the pizza joint

Flowers and the beautiful Coeur d Alene River.

Our poppy is really putting out the blossoms this year

Volunteer pansies in our flower/vege bed

Phlox after a rain shower





Coeur d Alene on the west end of Wallace

And for the first time in months, I play my good cello… and what a pleasure that is! Traveling is quite the adventure, but there are some great things to enjoy while we are here in Wallace.

Mid-winter Walk

Placer Feb Walk 025-LR
At the edge of town – dam on Placer Creek

Cabin fever:  I’ve been reviewing photos from previous camping trips, excited to get more blogs written showing some of my favorite places on the planet.  But sitting at a computer editing photos and writing blogs is lacking what I really need at the moment; I need to get outside and spend some time with the “real deal” – creeks and trees.  Even though it is mid-February, it feels like early spring: a good day to walk.  So I head out of town on my two feet; don’t even need ski poles this time.   Arriving at the Pulaski Trail, I only hike a short ways in, as here the shaded trail is quite icy and ski poles would have been handy.

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Bridge over Placer Creek at Pulaski Trail Head

But that is okay;  I dilly-dally taking photos of moss and ferns and dead leaves along the trail.

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Moss bright and fresh

Placer Creek is a challenge to photograph today due to the sunlight being brighter than it has been for some time.  The creek is also running high and wild due to snow-melt – in February!  Trying to get that wonderful silky look just isn’t happening, so I go for the frothy look instead.

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Placer Creek – the frothy look

I’m grateful for my wonderfully improved vision after recent cataract surgery; the world is bright and clear.  Even though I don’t get many “savers” on my outing, I find great delight in merely looking at bare winter trees intermingled with the grand firs towering over me, naked bushes and shrubs along the dashing creek, moss perking up, and other signs of life along my path.

Placer Feb Walk 015
Signs of life

Soon we will be on the road, heading to new camping places and new sight-seeing adventures, but for today a good walk along Placer Creek invigorated my body, brightened my mind, and soothed my soul.

Journey to the Creek; Journey Inward

Placer Creek Snow 050

Finally, some real snow – light and fluffy, and enough to make the landscape new and magical.  Oh, we’ve had some snow and cold, but just enough to make walking icy and slow.  This time, however, it is irresistible for a photographer.  So, I bundle up, drape the camera over my shoulder and head out.  As I walk to the edge of town several blocks away, there are many beautiful snow-covered trees, but power lines and buildings spoil every photo that I want to take.  Once outside of town, I walk alongside the edge of the road, shuffling through the snow, keeping my distance from the traveled portion of the road.  It is a relief to be away from power lines and fences and driveways.  It is even better when I am far enough out of town to be beyond the concrete canal that encloses Placer Creek to make sure it behaves during spring run-off.

Placer Creek Snow 051

Now I can walk along the bank above the creek.  And here it is that I take photos and more photos, loving the dark movement of the creek against the purity of the white snow and backed by snow-covered trees, dark and mysterious.

Placer Creek Snow 056

As I walk and observe and take photos, I am thinking about my life at this moment.  Healing is a complex process.  It isn’t just a matter of incisions drawing closed, the simple healing of a wound.  The deeper wound is “how could this have happened?”  How do I know it will not happen again?  It took me so by surprise – I who had not been to a doctor in over 20 years – faced with a life-threatening condition.

A new lease on life has been given to me, but here I am, waking up with anxiety and going through my day with a sense of weariness.  Even though I approached all the procedures as openly as possible, seeing the process not as a war against cancer but as a journey back to wellness,  I still feel battle-weary.  Where does this weariness come from?  It occurs to me that even though I am busy every day, getting caught up with bookwork and housework that has fallen behind in the last several month, as well as helping out more with my husband’s non-profit, this busy-ness is without enthusiasm and sense of purpose.

Placer Creek Snow 058

I KNOW what my purpose at this time in my life is, but I can’t seem to accomplish it in a meaningful way here and now.  I’ve always been a person with my ducks in a row, but now I feel that I’m floundering in a life that isn’t my own true life.  It is most uncomfortable.  Perhaps a time of being lost in the desert is okay, or even good and necessary, but it is still uncomfortable.   I have spent too much of my life being in resistance to “what is” – a long and difficult first marriage, more recently a move that has left me longing for a home that is no longer my home, and my family still too far away to give and receive the hugs we all need.

Placer Creek Snow 045It is a leap of faith to be totally accepting of this present state of affairs, to lovingly embrace my life as it is, with all of its uncertainties and ducks running amuck.  I want to be like this creek as it flows toward the sea, flowing effortlessly over and around the rocks in its way.  I want to be joyfully alive and surrounded by beauty.  This is my gift to share: seeking, finding, and sharing beauty.  So I will accept the floundering and look for the beauty in each and every day (and ignore the ducks as best I can).

Pulaski Trail in Late November

Okay, so it’s only 12 degrees out this morning, but the sun is shining and not a cloud in the sky, at the moment, anyway. Rare for Wallace in the winter. So, Clifford and I decide to go for a little outing close to home. We both have a busy day lined up, but this is too good to resist. We bundle up in winter clothes and head to the Pulaski Trailhead, just a couple miles out of town.

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Clifford on the bridge over Placer Creek on the Pulaski Trail

Although down in Wallace the trees are are, here they are snow-covered,

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Snow-covered trees

We don’t know how far we’ll hike in, as it is quite chilly out and the trail is mostly in shadow this time of year.

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The trail into the sunless forest

Even though I’m dressed warmly, gloves light enough to finger camera dials are not quite warm enough to grasp ski poles (safer than hiking sticks on the snowy trail) comfortably.

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Warmly dressed

But it is easy to ignore the cold fingers as I become enchanted with taking photos of snowy trees and ice on the creek.

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Along the creek

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Encased in ice

Snow changes the look of everything. All becomes fresh and new.

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Fresh and new look

My goal is the bridge at the half-mile marker, as that is where my favorite waterfall is located. I’m not sure we’ll get that far what with the deeper chill in the sunless forest. I stop often to take photos (while Clifford waits patiently) and before we know it, we have arrived at the falls.

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Fairyland Falls

It looks so different with all the moss hidden under a layer of snow, and now it is the surrounding trees that make this a special wonderland.

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Wonderland trees at Fairyland Falls

I feel blessed to be here at this special place. Soon, however, we head back down the trail and find great delight in reaching a spot where the sun shines through the trees.

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Briefly basking in the sunshine

What a great outing: beautiful and refreshing!

A Short Placer Creek Outing

Oh, the To-Do list is on my desk, but I scarcely look at it.  Is there anything that can’t be put off or ignored completely?  I make a cup of yerba matte with honey and coconut milk, sipping at it as I write in my journal.  What do I really want to do today?  Well, an outing with my camera, of course.  So, I decide to head up Moon Pass Road along Placer Creek to see if there is any frost or snow at a higher elevation.

Placer Creek 2 Nov 002I drive up a fair ways, but no frost and only the highest mountains around have snow at their crests.  I turn around at a wide spot and decide to explore as long as I am up here.  A mere couple feet off the road and I am walking into a rain forest – dark, moist, mossy.  Kind of spooky, in a way.  If Clifford had come with me, we might have hiked in a ways, but as it is, I just go far enough to get a feel for the place without loosing site of the car.  Guess it doesn’t help that we just read last night about murders on one of the passes outside Wallace just a few years back.  Should I let that stop me – no – but I wonder about Bigfoot being here; it feels like a Bigfoot type of place.  I walk further in as I take photos of the little stream and after a while, I feel more relaxed and connected to the mysterious beauty of this forest.  I’ll come back another day when I can stay longer.

Placer Creek 2 Nov 007I head back down the road and turn off on a narrow side-road that goes goodness-knows-where.  I like crossing the bridge, as Placer Creek is right here close at hand unobscured by brush.

Placer Creek 2 Nov 015

I’m tempted to stay parked right in the middle of the bridge to drink my hot tea and do some book editing.  But it is a one-laner and I wouldn’t want to block someone coming up behind me.   Instead, I drive on down the road until I find another place where I can park right by the creek without being in anyone’s way.   It is a habit of mine – trying not to be in anyone’s way, even when no one is there,,,   maybe that is one duck that I should let run wild.

Placer Creek 2 Nov 025I sit in my car with the engine off and the window down, listening to the gurgling of the creek as I edit, until I get too cold.   I realize there is a part of me trying to find the missing piece of the life-puzzle that was left behind in New Mexico.  Of course, I can’t get that particular piece back, but sitting by the creek helps sooth the yearning.  It’s odd, but my life feels like I am trying to work with more than one puzzle and while each had or has its good pieces, I can’t seem to combine them into one workable picture.  Even if that is not truly how it is, that is how it feels to me right now.  But the piece I am working with today, seeking and sharing beauty, has always been there… and it is good.