The Art of Socializing

The night before the memorial for Sam Grafton, I sat at a table with four women sharing stories, tears, and laughter. Two, Kim and Cate, are incredibly strong women that I’ve admired for years. One, Gwen, I met for the first time and felt an immediate bond with, wondering how I’d gone almost thirty years without meeting her. In a community of 150 people it’s not like there’s a lot of places to hide.

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1993 on the old bridge into town

Later, I realized that quiet gathering was the first time I’d ever been invited to dinner by anyone in the town.

Don’t get me wrong; that’s not a statement of self-pity or judgement. I laughed. Because I realized how private our life is. Most likely the same holds true for the majority of people there. I mean, if we were social butterflies we wouldn’t live miles from a grocery store.

I am fully content in just the company of my husband (and son when he lived at home). We get on people overload quickly, and reach that level at the same time. While I can talk to anyone, about anything, anywhere, it’s only for a limited time. And then I’m overwhelmed and need the woods and the quiet, the husband and the dogs, the old house and books.

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View from town

Writing is a solitary endeavor which also impacts time for socializing. I’d rather be in my corner, deep in a story world, then out at some noisy location surrounded by strangers.

I grew up wanting to be a hermit, a writer, and an eccentric who lived in the middle of the woods with a bunch of dogs. So what did I become? A hermit with family. A person who socializes occasionally. A person who socializes online on a blog. And of course, a person with dogs.

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I do enjoy socializing. Just in small groups. And in limited doses. A friend staying for the weekend. A visit with another over tea. During those times we talk and talk and talk, until the husband escapes to his wood shop. With those friends, socializing is comfortable and I never reach people overload.


The husband preparing for Mustache March – yes that’s a thing on the mountain.

The past few weeks, since Sam died, I’ve been around more people than in years. And there’s comfort in that shared grieving. There’s community. And there’s been those jewel-like moments like dinner with four women around a table.

I’ve learned that socializing for me, isn’t crowds or being out in public, or spending time with acquaintances. It’s sharing with the few who are important in my life, who add to my world, who teach, who care, who surround me with their strength, who make me laugh. And sometimes cry.

You know who you are, even if I see you only once a year. I may not call, I may not drop in for a visit. But my silence isn’t a lack of caring. It’s me excelling in my form of socializing.


A Quick Freezer Story

I know my posts have been serious lately with our recent loss so here’s something that might make you smile.

A blog post I just read online was about how fish can survive being frozen solid, as in a pond. It reminded me of this, which some of you have probably heard many times as it still makes me laugh.

I used to know a classic old cat lady. One day while visiting she said she was thawing out a pot roast and asked if I wanted to stay for dinner. Can you see where this story is going?

She started to unwrap the pot roast, stopped, stared, and said ‘That’s not pot roast! That’s CC!’

Yep. She’d thawed her cat, CC, for dinner.

It was winter and she couldn’t dig the frozen ground to bury CC when the cat died. So she wrapped him up and popped him in the freezer to wait until spring.

Except that she thawed him out for dinner.

I never ate there after that.

And by the way, CC was a nasty mean old cat that would attack and bite you every chance he got. I believe he eventually ended up buried under a rose bush.

But first he had to thaw in the sink.

Woodland Dreams

Yesterday a friend pointed out some property for sale. I looked at the photos and was hit by an overwhelming desire to be rich. I wanted that place. It was meant for me. But of course, in reality, it’s a pipe dream. One hundred sixty-six acres. In the middle of the national forest. Reached only by a narrow forest service road.

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Not the same forest service road, but similar

It’s like a setting out of one of my books.

It took me back to my beginning.

Up until the time we moved to the woods, I wasn’t sure who I was. I was stuck in a job I hated. I wrote in secret, ashamed. I saw friends moving into adulthood, while I waited for something.

The first time we looked at the property I knew it was a place I was meant to be the rest of my life. I’ve come to realize over the years that it wasn’t so much that particular piece of land as it was place. Woods. Mountains.


Sun dogs last week.

That first summer I was there by myself during the week. I’d sit out on the rough deck in the warmth, eating lunch, with the sounds of a creek and wind in trees. And nothing else. Even though I was only a mile and a half from a tiny town, I was alone.

Life became kerosene lanterns, hauling water, building a water wheel for electricity, cutting firewood for heat. I’ve told stories about that before here. But the thing is, I’d found who I was. What I loved. The land I needed to belong to in order to write.

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A favorite photo of the cabin

Now I live in a community of about twenty-five people. Small, but with houses around me. Still with woods and mountains, but with electricity from a switch, not a wheel.

So I could live on that acreage up there on the forest service road. I’ve lived like that before. I’d have bear encounters again. I’d hear cougars again. I could wander free, picking salmonberries and huckleberries. And my husband could cut firewood and build me a big pantry for all the canning. I’m already spoiled; I know that would continue.

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This new dream continues as my mind races. I think of the friend I love who just lost her son. She’s the kind of woman who would strap on a backpack and snowshoe in to that place in a heartbeat. We’d sit by the fire and tell stories. Or we’d go out into the deep dark night and watch shooting stars and let the silence fill our souls until healing began.

Seeing that place for sale brought back not just memories, but that strong need to be away from pavement.

I’ve had a lunch date with friends planned for a month now. We get together regularly, at a casino about an hour and a half away from me. We go for the buffet because we can sit and visit as long as we want. When we feel brave, we might end the day by putting money in a slot machine on our way out.

I told my husband this evening I was going to go and win a million dollars and buy that place and move us up there.

He doesn’t think a twenty-dollar bill in a penny machine will do the trick.

But hey. A girl can dream.

And in the meantime, I think I’ll go for a walk in the woods.