Monday, January 6, 2014

The Things I've Seen

Oh, the things I’ve seen.

1.)    On the main street of the rural border town where part of my husband’s family lives and where many homes in town have roping horses, stables, and horse trailers in the yards and where rodeo arenas far outnumber any other public venue, an elderly man, dressed in faded blue Wranglers and a cowboy hat, drove purposefully down the avenue in his motorized chair. With one hand he steered and with the other he held tightly to his perfectly coiled lasso. Ever ready.

     2.)    A large, middle aged woman with long, thinning gray hair pulled into a ponytail steered her motorized chair through the crowded aisles of our local WalMart.  I moved slightly to the side to allow her room. Something nudged me to look at her again after she’d passed. The paralytic horror of seeing her substantial backside exposed from mid buttocks to somewhere below the bra line rooted me incapable of moving at first.  Many thoughts whirled. Does she not feel a draft? I want to look away but I can’t! And finally, I knew. If I were ever in this situation, I’d WANT someone to tell me. I sucked in a deep breath and hustled after her, feverishly working to come up with a polite, compassionate way to break the news to her. Just before I caught up to her, two teenage girls stepped over to her. “Gosh, Grandma, yer showing yer whole *ss! The two girls laughed uproariously, as if it was an old joke they never tired of. 
     
     The older woman joined in the laughter. “Ya know what they say, ‘Crack kills!’” 

     3.) Wave after wave of Canadian geese flew over Tyson and me on our walk through the pastures, and they became so numerous that even this energetic puppy slowed his walk and sat, looking upwards at them. Soon it became obvious eight had broken away and were settling into a landing place not 20 feet from us. They descended, sure of where they were going, and unbothered that we were so close. They grew larger until it was apparent they weren’t geese at all, but some of the majestic sand hill cranes that winter near us. 

     The cranes’ talk with each other was fascinatingly different than that of the geese- more syllables, vaster arrays of notes, deeper melodies. Just as I set to move quietly away from them and resume our walk, the tallest crane expanded his wings and hopped high off the ground. Expecting them to take off, I hunkered down next to Tyson. Instead, though, of taking to flight, the bird bounded off the ground and jumped, landing once more, letting out a playful call. The crane next to him mimicked his exact gestures and did the same double hop, with the same joyful noise. One by one, each one did the same as the first, ending with the unusual warble.

      I looked down at Tyson, held my arms out wide, and hopped twice, calling out to him in a throaty imitation of the birds’ expressions. His puzzled sideways glances at me gave way to open mouthed relief as we trotted quietly off.

     4.) The abandoned cemetery was now cloaked in waist high grass, but my cousin, whose new ranch we were visiting, assured us there were graves dating back to the 1700’s. This cemetery was near the entrance of the ranch, just to the west of a river that had carried many settlers inland from the bay to their new homes on the frontier. Closest to what had been the gateway lay the graves of the founders of what had once been a thriving community here. Ornate markers of the finest granite now sat, some broken and unreadable, and some still surrounded by rusted wrought iron fences. A number were topped by small lambs, which indicated a child was buried there. 
     
     We moved though, sometimes with difficulty as the grass got taller and the brush got thicker. Most decided to turn back and my cousin pointed to a far corner. “That’s the servants’ corner. The ones who served the main family are all buried there.” I had on good boots (the red ones pictured in my header) and started stamping down grass and maneuvering through the prickly brush to get to it. “There are snakes out here, so be careful,” he called out. My husband plowed away next to me.  
     
      When we reached the small area, the grass obscured the ones still faintly visible, so we set to work pulling the dried weeds and clearing enough space to see. There were few stone markers, and the words on those had long since eroded. There were some marked with a simple rock, while others had the remnants of wooden crosses scattered about. As I looked back to the founders’ section of the cemetery, and those dilapidated markers that probably cost the families dearly, and then at these simple memorials to the lives of people who dedicated themselves to serving others, I knew that in the arc of time, there’s not much that separates us.





I’ve missed you all. Thanks to all of you who left such wonderful comments on my guest article I talked about the last time I posted. I’m grateful to have each of you in my life. I’m working, slowly but surely, to get caught up on your wonderful blogs! 

82 comments:

  1. Happy New Year, Shelly! I'm so glad you're back - I missed your presence and your writing. These observations are beautifully absorbing and tender. Thank you for sharing them with us!

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    1. jenny_o: Thank you, my friend- I've missed you and the blogging world!

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  2. Welcome back, dear Shelly! I hope your holidays were filled with joy.

    I checked that site where I twice tried to leave a comment for you a month ago. My comments are still not published. I believe I am hampered by the fact that I cannot log in via a Facebook account. Just know that I tried.

    Just yesterday there were three of those large sand cranes in my back yard. They visit once in a while to drink from my birdbath and peck at the seed I cast on the ground for other species. They have learned to trust me and I can walk among them, but when they spread their wings, jump and honk as you described, I'm pretty sure it means they are agitated and trying to frighten away people or animals they perceive as a threat. I have seen my cranes do that when the lawn maintenance crew approaches and interrupts their feeding.

    How fascinating it must have been to visit that old abandoned cemetery, and interesting that lambs were placed atop the grave markers of children. It was also a study in contrasts as you noted.

    You encounter more people having wardrobe malfunctions than anybody else I know! (LOL)

    Once again, welcome back, dear friend Shelly. You've been missed!

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    1. Shady: Too many wardrobe malfunctions or absences! Those cranes are just magnificent, and so much more stunning up close. I'm glad your group has you to watch over them. I worry a little about these when they leave because they have to travel across big patches of hunting land, even thought it is illegal to shoot them. I hope they all make it back safely. And thank you, friend- I'm so glad to be back!

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  3. I've been hoping you'd resurface. Happy new Year to you and I hope 2014 brings good things your way.

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    1. Stephen: Happy New Year to you and Mrs. Chatterbox! May 2014 be the best yet.

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  4. So pleased to have you back; and this post does not disappoint. Thank you for sharing your observations and perspectives. I may well carry for a while an image of you doing the "crane hop" for your pup. Delightful.

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    1. vanilla: The crane dance is a sight I will always, always remember!

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  5. Wishing you and your family a very happy and healthy new year Shelly. I hope it will be filled with many blessings. You certainly have seen some sights there. Your post did make me smile, especially the grandma in her motorized chair!

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    1. thisisme: Oh, and I so wish I could "unsee" that one! My goodness- I guess things like that don't bother her!

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  6. Just read your labels as the comment form loaded, and had to laugh....'cemeteries, cranes, sights and walmart...now truthfully, that MUSTA been a sight for sure!! OMG. Typical walmart customers too, if you've ever seen the news and photos of their patrons and how most dress. Now, that cemetery would be sooooooooooo neat to walk around in. I'd love to have been with you. As for the sandhill cranes...they're doing their courting dance!! I want to see this with my own eyes someday, instead of on a NAT GEO program. Lucky you.

    Welcome back dear Shelly...you've been missed!!! And a belated Happy New Year wish to you.

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Oh, that cemetery was amazing. So forgotten, and yet so filled with such interesting things! It's right outside of Skidmore, if you ever want more info. And courting dance! That's what it was then- I hope they didn't think I was trying to court them, though! Oh, I hope you get to see one, and soon- it was wonderful! And a very happy new year to you, too!

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  7. What an interesting post. I felt as if I was there with you, because you were looking at the kind of stuff I like to see too. All those little details that tell us so much about people, and about life. I do enjoy your blog.

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    1. Jenny: I am such a lover of details- my brother used to call me nosy when we were growing up. Thank you!

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  8. I can just see all of this. I would love to have seen you cavorting around like a crane :)
    Happy 2014.

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    1. Carol: Come to think of it, I don't know if any of the big oilfield trucks were passing by when I did that...if so, they got a weird show!

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  9. This was an interesting post! I felt like I was there, in each of your "snapshots"!

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    1. Alica: Thank you! Happy New Year to you, too!

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  10. Dearest Shelly,
    Welcome Back and Happy New Year to you from Japan. I'll read your first blog post this year deliberately later and come back again, my dear friend. Greeting and No need to reply for this comment p;) Love and hugs from Japan, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. orchid Miyako: So good to hear from you, my dear friend! I will be visiting your blog in the morning. I have missed reading it!

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  11. Happy New Year and welcome back. You don't know how I miss you when you're gone. Perhaps Grandma can't find or can't afford clothes that fit properly so the bare bottom has become a family joke. It's good that families can laugh together over such a problem. Someone who is all alone probably wouldn't laugh as much.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: I love your compassionate heart. That did not even occur to me about that woman. Although I will say she did have baggy legs and what seemed to be excess material in the legs, so maybe it was just a matter of positioning. At least they all were merry. Missed you!

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  12. Your observances were funny, but the best was you imitating the cranes. I enjoyed the post, especially the comment about not much separating us in the end. St. Louis is buried under a foot of snow with below zero temps. A mess.

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    1. Linda: Seeing the graves of the rich and the servants, both ending up in much the same way really drove that home to me. I hope you are staying warm!!!

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  13. Happy New Year Shelly! Thank you for taking us along on your walks, through the wilderness landscape, through history, and through the most the most surprising and often unsettling Wally world! You're engagement with Tyson and the cranes makes me realize how inhibited I am. I must act up more often! Welcome back, I've missed you!

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    1. Jenny: I wish you could have been walking with us to see those cranes- and Tyson thought I had obviously gone nuts when he saw me doing that! I think the cranes may have thought I fit right in, though. I try to avoid Wally world for several reasons, but sometimes it's impossible. Ack!

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  14. Oh Shelly what a wonderful "she is back and I am so happy post" I could feel every step and could not wait to see where you were heading but enjoying the view from your eyes. A very descriptive post that had me deeply moved and when you came to the end. The pioneers of long ago not forgotten by one talented writer and her family a tear actually ran down my cheek thinking of how hard it was back there for them. Except for the snake worry I would have been happy to see that with you. Well done. Thank you for taking me along. Sounds like your trip was enlightening. HUG and Happy New Year. B

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    1. Buttons: I wish you could see that little cemetery. There's a state historical marker in it, but no one has been there for many, many years. I wonder if their descendants even know they are there. So good to hear from you!

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  15. Shelly, I've missed reading your posts. Crack kills--ha ha! Good for her! I love how you go from the humorous to the poignant. It doesn't matter what marks our grave, but how we've lived.

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    1. Theresa: At least she had a sense of humor about it! So true- it's the living that counts.

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  16. Dearest Shelly;
    Wow, what a wide range of story of "what you've seen". Crane is sometimes mistaken for our national bird, actually Japanese pheasant is the one. As I've never seen the crane, I truly enjoyed your description about how they act. You must be a romantic lady. I DO wish I could be with your walk, my friend. The cemetery must represent your country's history. I was so amazed to read about the "lambs" and "servants" part. Bit reminded me of the cute fatty servant in the movie "Gone With The Wind".

    Thanks for the beautiful writing again. I'm not sure how well I could get the each scene in my mind but enhanced my perspective.

    Sending you lots of Love and Hugs from Japan to my dear friend in America, xoxo Miyako*

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    1. orchid Miyako: Oh, I was under the wrong impression about Japan's national bird,, my dear friend! I'm happy you cleared it up for me! The crane is a lovely bird, though, and these were larger than I had imagined. I imagine those servants had hard lives, and I'm sure some of those graves were for slaves, although we couldn't see enough of the dates to be sure. Thank you, my friend, for always being so diligent to read through my long posts!

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  17. I love the way you parse out the small details in life and share them with us. You have such a wonderful eye and ear for life's music.

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    1. Bossy Betty: Ah, thank you, friend!

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  18. Happy new year, my friend. I am glad you are back.

    I love your sentences, the way they are formed, the way they lead one in. Your writing has a poignant, thoughtful air; and one always comes away feeling refreshed somehow, and thankful.

    Also: Crack Kills. :-) Indeed.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: Thank you, my friend- I've missed this while I've been gone. Your words mean much to me, and thank you for that, too. And I'm more convinced than ever crack needs to be eradicated- in all forms.

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  19. Great to see you back. I hope your family had a nice holiday season.
    Love the things you've seen.
    Old cemeteries like this one always make me a bit sad. My granny used to say that "people who die are never really gone until nobody remembers them." When I see places like this, especially when in disrepair, I know that nobody remembers those buried there.

    Crack Kills!

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    1. Pat: There is something just so touchingly sad to me about cemeteries like this, abandoned and neglected, and as you said, forgotten. It always puts me in a really introspective, thoughtful state to go through one.

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  20. Glad you're back! Hope you had a great holiday! Those are some fascinating things you've seen. Life's fully of all kinds of wonders, isn't it? I wish you all the best in 2014!

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    1. Sherry: Thank you! And I hope 2014 is just as good to you all!

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  21. Welcome back! I've always admired those red boots, and am happy to hear you are wearing them!

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    1. Amy: It's great to be back! I've got a nice little collection of boots like that, but I'm known for those red ones!

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  22. Yay you're back! I've missed you. I like old cemeteries. Beautiful and bittersweet places to wander.

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    1. The Chicken's Consigliere: So good to be back! So many questions in those old cemeteries- I always leave filled with them.

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  23. Love the story of the old lady in the electric wheel chair...don't you think sometimes, God is testing us to see what or if we will do anything? It's like He saved you at the last minute....

    And the graveyard....I love stories like that. So much history.

    So happy you are back!

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    1. Jamie: I was SOOOOOO thankful I didn't have to break any news to her...but if I am ever in that situation (hopefully never) and you somehow see me, you come tell me ASAP! So good to be back, my friend~

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  24. I forgot to add that my dad was talking about how he likes to sit and watch Wal-mart customers and how funny they are. We all thought that was funny in itself....I said, "Dad, all those people are sitting there looking at you thinking the same thing, 'Look at that guy with the endless eyebrows!'" Everyone laughed.

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    1. Jamie: Oh, I've wondered if ever I will end up on Peopleofwalmart.com! I wonder what people there say about me....ha!

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  25. Why do I not see funny things like this, is it because I don't leave the house, is it because I live in a different country, is it because I walk around with my eyes closed or is it all the above

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    1. Jo-Anne: Sometimes I think I live in a very weird part of the world. If you had WalMarts in your country, I'm sure you'd see some of the same weird sights!

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  26. Wow, so many varied experiences and contrasting points of view. I'm so glad you didn't have to tell the gramma her hiney was showing! And I love that you danced with the birds. I think that's how heaven will be!

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    1. Jeanette: Oh, how I love that thought! And I'm very thankful I did not have to let her know of the view she was showing....

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  27. Lovely, thought-provoking words, as usual. :)

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    1. Lydia: Thank you! It's so good to be back~

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  28. Chuckle chuckle about the woman in Walmart! Thankfully she had a sense of humour too and you got a smile that day. Loved your post as I felt I lived each experience along with you! I think I will write a few posts on the things i've seen this week or today or whatever if you don't mind! It's a great idea. I LOVE reading about others experiences and lives!

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    1. fsmum: Oh, I so hope you so write about it! I LOVE to read posts like that. I'm sure you would have some things to share that would interest us all!

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  29. Welcome back Shelly. Hope you had a really good relaxing but fun break and I can see from this post that you've back on board.
    'Crack kills' is so funny but at least that old grandma had a sense of humour about it all. I'm sure she gives those girls a daily laugh too. And the old man with a lasso, can be very dangerous indeed, ha ha ha. Never underestimate the old...

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    1. Rum-Punch: Oh, it didn't seem to bother her at all! And the little old man with a lasso in the motorized wheelchair- well, I guess you never know when you're going to need to rope something...

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  30. Welcome home! Hey I love the one Crack Kills! It is good to start the year with a good laugh!

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  31. Chatty Crone: And she thought it was funny herself!

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  32. You are such a deep thinker! Able to observe moments and events in life (that many of us would glance at and forget) and make heartfelt stories from them.

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    1. Anita: Thank you, my friend, for your kind words!

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  33. Hi, Shelly!

    Nice to have you back. First, now I know there is an issue with me seeing your latest posts, as I mentioned to you once before. I've been on your site almost daily, including yesterday, and did *not* see this latest post of yours. The latest post I did see yesterday was your December 4th post. The only reason I can see this most recent post at all is because I clicked on your name when you commented on my blog today. Remember that happened last time where I could only see your latest post after clicking on your name on my blog?? I'm going to ask my husband to take a look and see why I can't see your latest blog posts until I click on a recent comment of yours. Is it a setting perhaps that you set unintentionally on your Blogger set-up? In any event, I signed up (a second time) to receive your blog posts over email. I'll let you know if I get the email alerts that you've posted a new blog post. This doesn't happen to me with other blogs, so I'm stumped here.

    Secondly, it's always good to read what you've been up to. I love that image of the man riding down the street in his motorized chair, one hand protecting his expertly-coiled lasso. You are surrounded by inspiration, my friend. And the lady with the "crack" problem? Too funny. I think I would have told her too, with some trepidation and mortification, but I would have done it. Glad she had such a relaxed reaction to her granddaughters' announcement of her situation. ;-)

    I wish you a happy and healthy New Year, full of inspiration and smiles. Be well.

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    1. Janette Dolores: I'm so sorry you're still having trouble seeing it! I'm checking into the settings to see if there's anything I can change. Thank you so much for persevering with it! And yes, inspiration, good and bad, is all around us, isn't it? Happy Sunday to you!

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  34. BTW, here is the techie advice my husband just gave me as to this problem of viewing your new blog posts: *When I go to your page and see only older blog posts, I should press the Refresh button on the top toolbar, in case an older version of your blog was cached.* So there we have it, I'll be doing that from now on. But I still say this doesn't happen to me when I visit other blogs, so maybe take a quick peek at your Blogger settings? I'll keep you posted! :-)

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    1. Janette Dolores: Aha- I shall check my settings again- thank you!

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  35. I think I too would have wanted to look at that cemetery; old ones fascinate me. I like to walk around them looking at headstones if they have them, seeing how long the people lived, etc. Wonder if people 300 years down the road will do the same.

    glad to see you back Shelly! Happy New Year!

    betty

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    1. betty: So many stories are in those old cemeteries- I always have such a sense of that. Happy New Year!

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  36. If I could have only seen what you've been seeing - but then again - with your vivid descriptions, I believe I did - got the best chuckle out of the Grandma in the scooter - that must have been a sight! Love the old man and his lasso, you may take the cowboy off his horse, but you can't take the cowboy out of the man.

    Great post Shelly!

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    1. Saimi: I think you'd love this little town- I know your horses probably would. There was even a man in the parking lot of the nursing home we visited who rode there on his horse!

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  37. It is so nice to see you back in bloggerhood. Sure missed you a lot.

    Right now my husband is watching the TV show with match making girls and men. A young girl was wearing cowboy boots with a beautiful dress and she said that you can take a girl out of the country, but not the country out of the girl. Your line just about the cowboy and the horse reminded me of that girl.
    .

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    1. Munir: And it is so true! I'm so glad to see you here, and I enjoyed getting to read your blog again. Happy New Year!

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  38. What an enjoyable read you always are! Even Grandma's crack gave me a good laugh. It's hard sometimes to keep up with everything and my blog and blog reading falls way behind. I'm trying to catch up tonight myself!

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    1. karen: So good to see you back! It has been a busy season, but I'm glad you're getting back into blogging, as am I. And oh, Grandma's crack...

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  39. Dear Shelly, that picture, painted by your well-chosen words, of the sandhill cranes dancing matched the picture I have in my mind of them. I've heard about that dance and always wondered about the joyous music they make to accompany their steps. Now, thank to you, I know for sure that this phenomenon truly happens. As to the cemetery, I, like you, have come to realize that as time arced into past, there truly is little that separates us. Oneness is All in All. Peace.

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    1. Dee: Oh, those cranes are fascinating! I've seen them a few times since, and they seem like they are a delightful bunch. Terrific fun to watch, too. And yes, we come into this world the same, and we leave the same.

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  40. Once again I love your post. I would have to have seen the sandhill cranes up close as you described them, I have only seen them from the distance.

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    1. Dawn: These have been hanging out for a few weeks here and we see them almost every day. Fascinating to watch!

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  41. You've seen quite a lot since you've been gone, maybe even a little too much in that Wallmart store!! (very funny!) Loved the sandhill cranes story. I've missed your blog posts and have been wondering how you you were. Happy New year to you and your family Shelly :-)

    xx Jazzy

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  42. jazzygal: It's so good to be back! Those cranes are utterly fascinating. We've seen them several times since, and they don't fly away, no matter how close we get. And Walmart is an adventure unto itself! Happy New Year to you and yours, too, my friend!

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  43. Happy New Year! I am hoping 2014 will be a wonderful year filled with exciting things and just quiet days, too. :)

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