“Come out and take it, you dirty yellow-bellied rat, or I’ll give it to ya through the door!” – James Cagney partial quote from the famous film “Taxi”1932

Scene 1, Take 1000 ROCK Leans Against Lm’s walls of pain and reminds us all that she may crumble but she is one tough cookie.

As many of #RealStuffbyRealMe readers know Lm has been a bit unhinged lately; ROCK has been trying to take a breather and sighs as he remembers with unbridled compassion her earlier feisty days. Okay, you are right, stones don’t need air. Rock is more like a highly trained navy seal and would fight from the bottom of the big, blue sea for Lm. She has sunken on dry land however and he can only protect her from selfish indulgences she turns to when masking her pain. He shares in his best Cagney impression a memory he hasn’t thought of in years. There is so much about Lm that others don’t know. At nineteen, or was it eighteen?… she sailed with two licensed sailors in their early twenties from the well known Annapolis, Maryland, USA yearly boat show to Fort Lauderdale, Florida! There was TJ, with light brown, sea-salty hair, soft blue eyes and a reputation for knowing everything one is to know about sailing; he was a ladie’s man of sorts, one who knew the ropes of the sea but had a deficient vocabulary and well, Lm found him simple. The captain was sly, short, and had quite the interesting nose; he was boastful with a big mouth, pushy and an extremely mysoginistic character that Moby Dick would have spat upon. He learned quickly that Lm would not comply to some unspoken norms that went with the gig. Lm being completely daft and desperate to escape her home life jumped for the opportunity to go along. Apparently, many galley gals were expected to entertain the captain at sea with more than just their singing. She ducked his sexual advances, refused to laugh at his flirtatious nature he called “joking” and was on guard fully after the forty foot Nordic left the Chesapeake Bay and entered the Atlantic. The boat had been bought by a wealthy Floridian and the crew was to be paid very well (except Lm, another story, another day). In many ways she was running away from BaD Dad and Elle’s impending divorce and the non stop crying and yelling, yet she was also running away from a broken heart. Her first major boyfriend who damaged her trust as much as her father in all future relationships had called and advised against her going. This only gave her more incentive as he doubted her ability to handle life at sea. He was a jerk and in all facets of the definition of a decent human, he failed. Lm will most likely go on and on about him to you later. Now caught at sea with the creepy captain and his side-kick, she was in a storm that they were warned about by the radio weather monitor; it was approaching fast with wild winds and waves from four directions. On a sail boat with no way out she had to brace herself and go through it and believe in someone she despised. Storms are nothing to scoff about at sea. Harnessed in at the stern and both hands tightly on the helm she did exactly what captain said, “stay on this precise course and don’t let go.” The winds were steadily building while the guys worked the sails. She ducked as the boom swung from side to side and despite the captain being a very conceited man she was literally praying to God she would never sail again if he just guided these two sailors safely inland. After the storm they took an unplanned pause at the port in Beaufort, North Carolina. She and the guys got off the boat speechless and ran straight to a bar full of fellow wild water sailors. Drunk and scared she met a curly dark haired girl named Tilly with ankle bracelets and a big heart. Tilly was not afraid of anything and was as free as the winds which Lm believed could have killed them all. TJ and Tilly were seasoned and tanned by their multiple yachty-ness experiences and hooked up that first night; they were in full crush mode and she was welcomed to finish the journey with him and the captain. The captain was even more cocky toward Lm now that TJ had a pretty girl in one night and grew more and more agitated over the slightest things. In a snarky voice he barked at Lm to bring him a sandwich. Lm had been hiding out below in an aft bunk for as long as she could. Frightened yet angry at his savage ways she took two pieces of bread and peeled plastic away from the fake processed cheese food, then slapped some ham on it. She was not happy about his behavior toward her although she was grateful he chose to listen to TJ and take the intracoastal waterway and navigate toward St. Augustne, Florida. She looked at the sandwich and took a bite off the corner and spit it out as she was a strict vegetarian. Nextly, she took a squirt bottle of French’s mustard and wrote RAT on his sandwich in bright yellow and orange. She stepped up from the cabin, handed him the sandwich on a paper plate and quickly went to sit with Tilly who was dangling her legs over the side starboard. The captain had one hand on the helm when Lm gave him the plate and he didn’t notice it’s appearance or say thanks as usual. Both girls giggled. Then they heard “Bitch!” and watched a ham and cheese sandwich fly over there heads and into the salty waters and float away. Lm was not asked to make any food for him again. Believe ROCK when he tells you that when Lm says she smells a “RAT“, she is spot on. She does adore all other rodents however.

Little Red House in the Woods; Rock is on a Holiday or is He?

ROCK’s narrative is completely different than Lm’s; same team with different stories. His voice is gravelly, hoarse and deep. He looks stern and yet if he became human, he would be an interesting type of handsome. He would favor perhaps a weathered and a rugged actor such as Sam Elliot or Morgon Freeman. He thrives on being surrounded by nature, fresh air and cool, wet moss. Most Rocks do prefer to be kept outside but by now you know he is a very special kind of stone. Lm is refusing to leave the little red house. She favors her mother in mannerisms when angry, furrowing her brows and wincing, yet she has BadDad’s freckled red complexion with a crooked smile and his light blue eyes that squint in the sunlight. Overall, Lm asks “Why do I have to look like the one who hurt me most, left me over and over again and snapped my trust in LOVE into the ground so hard that I continue to fight and dig myself out of this pain to this very day, meaning NOW?” Lm reminds ROCK of a young Hemingway descendant or Sissy Spacek in the horror film Carrie and when she is tender, she has a bit of Lindsey Lohan. As a child, she began using her empathetic nature to sniff out trouble, find reasons to help others, meaning humans, dogs, dead birds who needed burying and had a list of ways to make people smile. She knew her babysitter loved her hair combed and despite it’s oily smell she would sit on the sofa behind her sitter and comb her hair and watch Gilligan’s Island. Her step-father irritated her and yet he could also make her laugh. He had told her mother that she was to hard on Lm and she wished her mother had listened. Her moods are always whipping all around like a cyclone of anxiety, or as if one is walking on a dusty trail in the Arizona desert behind an Appalosa but not riding it. Whimpers come from under the bed and ROCK tries to pull her out and coax her with some fun memories. Remember when you and your grandparents were driving to your great-grandparents farm in Georgia and “Nanny” wanted to get out in the eastern hills of Tennessee and look for UFO’s? Remember you lying in the back seat with the windows cracked and the smell of Paw-Paw’s pipe filled with cherry tobacco and how he claimed you as his special girl? Why can’t you focus on “AP” dancing and giving you your first Tom Robbins book “Still Life With Woodpecker”? Think, think, dig for the good stuff and remember how much your beloved friend still is here for you! She is in your heart on call and she has guided you through life like an angel from heaven? She is the sister, the mother, the leader and the one who taught you to try and keep going. Think how she would be if she were here right now. “AP” has not been introduced to readers until today. She lives far away near where Lm was born; Lm lives in Scandanvia. Lm lashes out at ROCK, “she would not be like you pushy face!” then, “she would crawl under this bed with me!”. Pouting and picking at old wounds Lm has resolved to be mute today. Her bad memories of unexpected slaps by her mother’s hand stinging her face, her mother’s pinching on her skin and under her breath words, angry stares, and mostly the belt with holes blazing across her raw pale buttocks. The criticism and strict rules all are puffing up and causing Lm tears. Lm stopped talking, eating and trying to be seen as a teen and still falls back into the hole, rewatching the reel to reel of memories that made her who she is. Meeting “AP” was by far good timing; they both were on dates seated closely together at a cabaret with music and cigarette girls. That fateful night in 1981 they shared champagne. Lm was eighteen and lost like a kitten on the side of the road. “AP” would become, even to this day her most trusted, loyal friend, the strong, older sister she never had and when she laughs she makes a very special giggly sound, when she talks she goes from subject to subject and Lm understands “AP” as she bounces her thoughts around. ROCK decides to go out and guard the door; Lm stays under the bed pretending her best friend is with her and pulls out her pastels, her old photos, thinks of camping under the stars with “AP”, reading Thoreau, identifying flowers and plants and is soothed for now. Lm is so tired and he is worried she will not pull herself through this blockage of physical and emotional pain without “AP”. There are no magic wands or fairies yet he does not argue with Lm about her whims and silly beliefs because they make her happy. ROCK is outside and she has locked him out in the rain. He will let her draw, escape, cry and believe in all the magic love can bestow upon her. This vacation is not for Lm, it’s for ROCK. She will feel raw, scalded and lonely and sink deeper and deeper, down into her traumatic past and drag each memory up. She will sob, lose all the progress she has been working on and he will have to go back to ground zero with her. There are never enough minutes in the day, enough room for perfect dreams in the night or enough hands to hold when she slips and falls into the scattered past that swallows her heartbeat and hope.

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Photo by Andrea Polla

Shuffling through Life With Lm and ROCK; The Games We Play

Sunlight filters in through Lm’s drawn shades; she can’t sleep and watches as it changes shapes on the ceiling from her bed. None of these studied details will come again, like each diamond, every piece of sea glass and snowflakes the sun continues to provide a different light show everyday. It was a tiny slice at first, narrow and pointy. It widened, lengthening and flickering until it became so engaging going back to sleep was ruled out. Like a deck of cards well shuffled one rarely gets the same hand twice, we never know what we will be dealt and what will happen as the game is played. Life is rarely a royal flush but with curiosity and perhaps hope we continue to play loosely mindful of the whole picture. No one wins more time no matter how many clever tricks they can do. Magical potions, merciful angels, or the great mystery known as God might let us exchange a bad card for a little more time before we finally reach the end of our game. How do we finesse our individual house of cards to spend more time with those we love. How do we prolong our own reflections, our unique light that we project throughout our own lives? The light on the ceiling is no longer visible yet I know another morning design will wake me up, or do I ? The smallest parts of our intricate selves are never fully seen by anyone, yet we continue to try to show our imprint, our colorful feathers and deeply desire understanding with a need for others to believe in us. Will you have lived your life knowing you never cheated yourself or anyone into seeing all that you have to share? How can we take risks, pull out a card from our own hand and use it to justify our dreams. Procrastination is never going to be the winning deal, one must act, take a chance and live as if we all must fold our hands tomorrow. “Someday I want to go on a train to Prague, Croatia, the Adriatic Sea. Someday I want to return to the most northern isles of Norway. Someday I want to see “The Scream” in Oslo. When I turn sixty, I want to be with my best friend anywhere. When I turn sixty I will get a baby piglet and name her Opal or Pearl. When one of my best friends comes to Sweden we will go to Stockholm together and have girl time and catch up eating chocolate croissants and coffee in bed, opening champagne at lunch, see the small galleries and by each other pretty scarves and pretend we are sisters. Someday my siblings will see my Truth, I won’t be the Black sheep but a herder of my flock. When my daughter’s are home together we will take them on a surprise trip to ski again, just like when they were eight and eat pizza and start over again. One day I will sell my ArT work and I will be free from pain, and when that happens I will fly like a strong Canadian goose to see my family far, far away. All will be perfect, we have good genes. Letting Go is a long time away, we don’t need to hurry or be afraid. Our children are safe, they will have good lives and even more good things will come. In the autumn, in the spring, next winter or?

Heavenly You

Photo by Erik Schereder on Pexels.com

UP, in the light, beyond all of eyesight is where our love lives. It is a beacon, a safe place where we retreat and are one. Each night you breathe in and out, the sound of your heart beating holds me, your warm flesh near mine soothes me, the smell of us is a new constellation. I am awakened and driven to tell the whole Universe our story yet I am insecure and hold onto us like I will never find you again. I want to hide you in a special place, a beautiful space with all your favorite things. I want to live and be strong and keep us, our starlit passion and dreams alive. Am I failing or falling as I lose part of me to pain, past afflictions, and a mirage of memories? Please don’t forget me if I spin off into a black hole, remember how I adore you and believe in more than me. Behind this galactic beauty is another world where we will be released from the boundaries of humankind; we shall be the stars of our own Odyssey, the dancers waltzing to a song we have composed whimsically and we will shine, oh how we will shine. Our love is our faith in one another, our destiny is enraptured without haste, we come together to be. To be. Be. A Lover’s concerto, a newly formed star that sparkles into the eyes of those still searching for truth. Our love will surpass earthly constrictions, lifting us to heights we do not fear. Don’t be afraid my Love; you are my wings.

Rarity đź’ś

I am right with you, aligned as Ursa major and minor and the whole universal pulling towards Love. Keep sharing.

Unraveling my soul

Listen….hold your loved ones tighter. Okay. Those who love tf out of you and stick around through the good, the bad, the ugly. Hold them close to your heart. Let them know you appreciate them. Reciprocate that love and support. There are a lot of people who cannot and will not be able to handle the baggage you carry but there are those that will. Even if it’s one person…that’s your fuxking person, man. Love them. Cherish them. Hold them tighter. Those connections are RARE. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t let them slip away.

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Barely; Just Enough

A Trickle A Tad A Smidgen A Sliver A Pinch A Drop A Bit, Not More. ROCK is slaying the morning with a scathe, a sharp cut through Lm’s fog of anxiety. “Why did you open that can of worms?”. ROCK is now covering my tracks, pushing me down into the stairwell for letting wild ramblings outside of the confines of my safe place. “You will get in trouble again with that caustic spewing, you dig?” Rock is locking up my mind without worries and vows to shield Lm from the light under the door. He is watching for the footmen, the cowards and protests that will brew from Lm diving into the deep end of the pool. The stream of words that made tremors and cracks in the middle of nowhere are still felt. Lm crosses her fingers behind her back and rests against the cold cement walls. She is not afraid now. She is determined.

Black Eyes Blue; You Dig?

Look at the notes; study the melody of before. Even when, (collectively speaking) the veins and bones of the western world’s liberal wannabees are dipped in predominantly milky white flesh, they are bathing in their altruistic mindsets with blatant ignorance; good intentions mean nothing to a Black man walking home from the late shift after missing his bus. He sees the fear in the eyes of the silky smooth skinned passersby, he knows he is a big, Black target. He wants to get home to his family with his paycheck and stay there comforted by his likeness; his doors are locked, too. He fears each day for his children alone at home until he gets a message on his cell phone from all three. At work he checks the clock and he keeps working, he doesn’t look up often, less he be seen as lazy or slow. He is mindful that each second he is making money to feed his family. He calls home at break and is reassurred by his son’s thirteen year old voice cracking into a soon to be full blown tall and lanky teen that he has taught them well. His children know not to trust anyone, even nice white people. WE, doused in poor old gibberish liberish do’s and don’ts still do not have the rythmn down. We, the #BLM advocates dare not associate with the NAUGHTY bigots who reflect their biased belief systems with breath that wreaks of hate. Despite what one desires to believe, ” I am tolerant”, “I am not a racist”, “I am bound to a predetermined doctrine of outlined sins”, “my FAITH is THE way”, and so on, it is not even close to prophetic TRUTH. That which is enraptured, well versed in what it means to know what living while BLACK is, has been revealed historically repeatedly; it has been relived for thousands of years; only a Black man knows what it means to be alive in BLACK skin. There is a very deep part of us, a hidden well of muck; bucket after bucket will pull up the grungy facts that show we are indeed judging, challenging and self rightous. We all know GOD better than the next guy. We all see our way as the path to follow. It doesn’t matter what you believe if you still can not accept that no path has led us out of repetition. From refrain to refrain, we are all trying to discern who is who at every moment we encounter newness. Our flesh hangs like weathered flags of colors we either recognise as new faces and acceptable or turn away quickly as they threaten who we are. Dig, GO ON! Get dirty. What are you thinking right this second when a transgender Black young adult walks into your house, your family, your world? What do you really think? Are you comfortable yet? Are you ready to hear about the history of the lgbtq community? Do you care? What is it your God tells you to believe? If you have no God, here is a clean map of how hatred is eradicated. We all die. The entire planet Earth explodes and we begin again mutating into forms that divide, then divide again and we split and spin about in darkness, within the eye of a Universal mastermind and we become renewed. We try again and we don’t get far. The giraffe will always be different from the elephant. I do my homework, my inner foraging so to speak and know without doubt I am so far from being free from my own constraints. ROCK has pulled LittleMe up and pushed me down and I fight with his well meaning plans for me. Six decades of life soon and I know nothing new. The older I grow the less I know. Hate was rampant when I was born, cracks were in the sidewalk then and they are still spreading globally. Hate. Truth, Love. It’s the melody we’ve sung since the Mad Matter made humans believe they are higher up, more important than say baby sea turtles hatching and scrambling for the safety of the same water where hungry sharks await them; stars that we name still remain our guides and if you are looking beyond your frontal consciousness, holding onto your heart and breathing into your soul or hidden self, you surely must know, humans are so far from the top of the ladder. Blessed Be.

Lake Lygnern; My Quarantine Companion

(Remnants of Isolation 2020-22)
As a young adult living in Vermont, USA, tuning into a regular radio broadcast on Sunday morning with a warm mug of dark roasted coffee was a soulful retreat from the busy hum drudgery of the week. Garrison Keillor’s radio broadcast, “Prairie Home Companion” was exactly that, a delightful guest in my kitchen, a welcomed visitor with a smooth and soothing voice. The program was broadcast live from Minnesota, far away from the familiarity of my view of Mount Mansfield, part of the Green Mountain chain, where tall dark pines grew as far as the eye could see and neatly stacked firewood lined my weathered fence, much in need of mending.
His famous quote, “Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.” His smooth tone ensured my next hour was pleasant and the inner reflections silence brings would quell any worries.
I now live on Sweden’s west coast beside a lake named Lygnern. I am far from Vermont, even further from “Lake Wobegon” and soon for ten years this view from my bedroom window has given me insurmountable pleasure.
Although I have human companions, two furry Lepus who have leapt into my heart (domestic rabbits of the Teddy Bear and Lion haired-breeds) and spoiled Hedemora chickens, the comforting confinement I once chose has now become a quarantine for survival.
I have seen the lake shine like an ice-covered pond on sunny days, frothy waves rustling from gales off the North Sea, moon beams bouncing playfully and Lygnern completely hidden by heavy fog.
This body of water I have become enchanted with is my companion and I its guest. I have sat on the edge of my bed crying with only Lygnern as my witness and comfort. I have sat with my husband on warm summer evenings by the shore, hands embraced, our eyes indulging in its romantic hues. Our love deepens while the water ebbs and it has become the idealistic metaphor of daily life. I have watched children splash, laugh and wild water swimmers tackle this natural playground.
Now I look out and feel the anxiety of the pandemic, grateful for living away from the city yet Lygnern has not changed. It does not reflect fear, rather harbors the history of our region and continues to offer up beauty and solace. It survived the cholera epidemic and on ridges near are graveyards of our village victims who once fished and swam in this lake, too. It has had rowboats browse these shores for centuries, ferries of wedding parties and been the backdrop for celebrations and gaiety for those long gone.
Lygnern embodies in its wake the memories we both cherish and take for granted.
From my window Lygnern will continue to be my companion differently than any other. All who have a view develop their own relationship with it. My worries flow and my hope grows; each day or even hour this lake offers gracefully and precisely what I need.
For those alone during this history in the making, the 2020th year and onward shall forever induce memories of solitude; your view is up to you to create. If you look out and spy a streetlamp or a seagull, they are your personal mirror of Now.
In solitude may we all find a path to inner peace by opening the pages of a book that takes us far away from our physical quarantine, tune in and listen to others and imagine your own comforting scenery.
I never saw Lake Wobegon or met Garrison Keillor, yet they were as comforting every Sunday as an old friend who’d popped into town and surprised me.
From Lake Lygnern I send each one of you a picturesque view during difficult times, and with a warm heart, I wish your days to be a bit brighter than the day before.
I will continue to write from my perch above Lygnern in my cosiest sweater and I will commit to compliance not complacency while breathing in my view of this historically rich land and water. From outside the city, where the lake listens, the sun rises and sets and yes, we all `” think” we are good looking, Peace.

Double Rainbow Over Lygnern

Photo By Magnus Polla




All Aboard; It’s the Pain Train

Photo by Alvaro Matzumura on Pexels.com

All aboard! It’s the Pain Train. My seat is permanent, my choices are few and I can’t go to the bar car, the toilet or be around others without making a huge fuss, therefore I choose to stay in my assigned seat. No one can help me; I own this pain. Looking out the window the world flies past and life is taking off at a speed I can’t cope with. The conductor is my nervous system colliding with my brain’s reactions to every tiny bit of stimulus. I see you and I care but I am off track and my brain signals are traveling at such a rate that I do not understand the smallest of conversations or even my own thoughts. This is not the train anyone with any healthy lifestyle wants to board; but it is packed. People are laying in the aisles and hoping for assistance, recognition and acceptance. Chronic Pain Syndrome or CPS is an official diagnosis now by WHO, (no not the band) , rather the World Health Organization. I was recently diagnosed with a severe form that has caused me to lose my vocabulary, shortened my fuses so to speak causing me to be easily startled, reacting with a scream or even sobbing as if the whole world is ending. In some ways, on some days, it actually does feel like a hopeless battle to live this life and ride this train. I have a collision of diagnosis. Degenerative Disc Disease, an inherited condition that I’ve known of since I was in my twenties turned from a back ache after gardening into the most severe form fast in my late forties. At that time I was given 20mg patches of morphine that I changed every few days. I believed this was as bad as it could get then. Yet, I was swimming, walking and riding my bicycle still. I also was cooking which I love to do. From there I slowly began to develop boney growths jutting inward toward my throat and spinal cord and I was told I had unfortunatly signs of early onset osteoporosis. I was put on a bone mineral supplement and more vitamin D and calcium was prescribed. Can’t get worse than this I thought, until it did. A spinal specialist said there was nothing that could be done. I not only have scoliosis, but also severe arthritis and various deformations head to toe. Earlier I had been sent to a university hospital rheumatologist who diagnosed me with fibromyagia, something I would not accept or grasp until I had the most severe flare I have ever had recenty. ( I am recooping now yet have a lot of work to be steadily on my feet again). The Dr.’s who upped the morphine years ago are unable to treat me now. I will say it barely takes the edge off on 30mgs daily slow release which includes fast acting oxynorm up to three times a day, muscle relaxants, anti-depressants, blah blah blah. The more boney growths, the worse my spine becomes. Earlier I was walking with a rolater and or crutches or a cane. Sitting was and remains one of my worst enemies but as I said, my seat is assigned for life. I then contracted covid in March of this year after three vaccinations; the very first time I went out into the city I caught it. I have not regained my strength, have developed chronic asthma and sleep as if in a coma or swing to the other extreme, experiencing severe insomnia and nothing will knock me out. My head hurts daily, I now have tinnitus and vision issues. The train chugs along and now I am in cue for a pain specialist rehabilitation hospital north of Stockholm. I never write about physical pain because I don’t know how to project the feeling with words so that others understand. I know that a really nice man, the husband of an American friend said the right thing one time years ago and it stuck with me. “Hello, it’s nice to see you are having what looks like a relatively good day”. It meant the world that someone knew my good days were fewer than my bad and that he also understood people like me don’t get better, we are chronically living in a state of pain that can ease up a bit but never leaves us completely blissful. For all the readers and writers out there who are living with CPS, I understand you now. I am sorry that I did not understand what my fellow passengers were experiencing until now. Mental health is important to address for everyone and somehow I let mine fall apart. Hopefully after my stay in the Pain Rehabilitation hospital (Uppsala University Hospital) I will be able to read with focus, write with more clarity, listen to others and converse, start walking for my overall health and socializing a bit more with those who have hung in there with me. I will still ride the train with you and I will try to reach out to all of you much more. Remember, you are not alone. We are on board together.

If Patty Smith Came to Dinner…

She would love the old farmhouse and joke about marijuana not being legal in Sweden. She would look at all of my art and feel something. I would have a hard time keeping up the conversation because of my fibromyalgia flare, non stop headaches and chronic pain syndrome. My spine wouldn’t let me cook her one of my famous soups so I would put out a nice bottle of red wine, lay fresh wild flowers by her glass and talk about how fucked up the world is and how we can’t do enough in our short lives to save it. I think I could manage to make a Västerbotten pie which is a Swedish favorite and saute kale, shredded cauliflower and sesame seeds with chili flakes and grill corn. I wonder if she likes caviar. My pain would overwhelm me and I would need extra morphine. I’d tell her how her Easter album changed me, made me feel less guilt and oppression internally from my Bible belt upbringing. I think she’d like me. Maybe I would touch her wild gray hair and talk to her about Bob Dylan and how he can’t be repeated, reincarnated and how many people idolize his ability to hit his listeners over the head with an iron skillet, while repeatedly trying to wake society up. I would serve sweet strawberries and cream and she wouldn’t care that I was in my pajamas because I hurt so much. She would probably not stay over and have ” a guy” that drives her around smoking camels in my driveway. She would hug me and I’d ask if we could take a selfie. She’d oblige and get into a black SUV with dark windows and slowly the driver would make it around the barn, past the silos and I would feel satisfied how well it all went and write a long journal entry. I would call my friends and they’d doubt me. I would have met a rockin’ icon and remember how she empowered all women to continue to stand and raise our community UP to higher ground.