Trying to surface without getting the bends

How can I not update this blog when Bonnie writes me such poems (last comment, last post)? It’s true I’ve been laying low and had little or no inclination to write anything. As soon as I returned from the New River Birding Festival I fell into a place of feelings and observations and living in the moment that seems both too big and too small to articulate. The birding trip, incidentally, was GREAT; beautiful warblers, people, vistas. It was wonderful fun to actually meet the members of that wild and crazy Flock of bird bloggers along with Julie Zickafoose and the great Chet Baker and a host of incredible expert birders. All those people at the festival were like funky renaissance folk: totally experienced, world traveled, informed and educated, all dressed in damp flannel shirts and funny hats. We ate sausage gravy biscuits outside at 6 am in the freezing drizzle, marched around all day bird, butterfly, wild flower and bug watching. Then we ate a big dinner and had great speakers in the evenings. My favorite speaker was Connie Toops, a nature photographer, who was on Midway Island with all those albatross when the earthquake/tsunami struck Japan. Her slide show of the day before and the days after among the nesting albatross was, really, an amazing look at an incredible natural event.

Now, major life events and day-to-day inconsequential events in no particular order have held my attention, each one seeming equally worthy of note. It’s possible I’m just getting adulpated or regressing to the level of a two-year old where each new thing is absolutely riveting. And so many things are new.

Losing a very best friend is new. I knew going into the birding trip that a fellow member of BCMA (Book Club, My Ass) back in Ann Arbor was dying. Once the business of death was on her, she tucked in pretty quickly. I talked with her husband and decided to fly up immediately, even if it meant only a few minutes with her. As it happened, we spent several hours over two days and we cried and laughed and covered all possible subjects- past, present and future. I’ll say more about that later but this post from a while back gives you some idea of the ties that bind among this group. I’ll be back tomorrow with a blog update worthy of FC or Robin or any number of my friends who take such wonderful note of the little things we so rarely notice. Here on the mountain for our first full Spring into summer, we are discovering a mind-boggling array of living things and I have a photo or five worthy of your attention.


(This blog post was first published in August of 2007. )


Women are in league with each other, a secret conspiracy of hearts and pheromones. ~Camille Paglia


This past weekend the women of the club reconvened in a small cottage perched high on a dune on the shore of Lake Michigan.


While all hands were busy, secrets were laid bare. We had news to tell and stories to spill. Since we last met, one woman had lost her mother and a hundred pounds. Everyone else wishes they could lose ten but on a weekend such as this, with the kitchen full of the favorite foods of seven women, there wasn’t much willpower. And then there was the wine…


Two are single and wish they weren’t. We can’t figure out why they are single: we would marry them. One has a daughter living too quickly. One is struggling in her marriage. One who has been married a very long time, well, her husband has serious surgery looming. One, who conquered the terror of breast cancer when our children were toddlers, now wishes she could stop smoking. Maybe. She goes outside to contemplate the beauty of Lake Michigan periodically.


And so we talk, about dieting and children. We fuss over health insurance. We consider the advantages and disadvantages of living here or there. We worry about the economy and pollution and energy. We marvel that we have survived illnesses and the deaths of loved ones and the demise of marriages and the foolishness of youth, and we wonder if our children will be able to do likewise.


Later we remember when we did drugs and laugh hard. We gossip about our sisters and mothers. We discuss how we pray, with doubt and conviction and humor.


There was no phone reception and there were no computers. I wanted to capture every moment, free of distraction, with these women I love.

23 responses to “Trying to surface without getting the bends

  1. How wonderful that you can reunite with your long-time friends and share with each others’ joys and sorrows, to laugh and cry, and rejoice.

  2. And mark the time in photographs which show your love for them. Beautifully captured, Vicki.

  3. What an event. What a glorious way to capture it.

  4. What treasures you all are to each other! And your portraits are wonderful.

  5. A beautiful gathering, vicki. So much love and truth in one place. The power of such hearts should change the world.

  6. It sounds like you had an amazing weekend. Well timed, it seems.

  7. I didn’t think it was possible to capture the spirit in such a few words and pictures, but you DID it. Thank you with all my heart.

  8. Beautiful, and we all have our stories, don’t we? We are all living our lives with as much humor as we can, and as little angst as possible.

  9. What everybody above me said. I’m trying not to be envious of you all.

  10. I am so blessed to be a part of this group
    (BCMA and/or Terrorist Hookers). The e-mails and blog made me cry. All emotions were covered. Can’t wait till the next meeting of the minds.

  11. This made my heart clutch…just beautiful

  12. What remarkable portraits of remarkable women! Please add one of you

  13. Ditto to the above.

  14. Vicki, did you happen to get a picture of the crazies in their wetsuits, helmets and kidney belts jet-skiing on Lake Michigan in mid-November?

  15. You beautiful women are very lucky.

  16. Vicki, now I need to close my office door part-way and turn off the phone so I can read the next Part.

    Your photos and narratives are heartwarming…

  17. I love get-away-weekends with the girls. It really is so refreshing to the soul.

  18. Oh, Vicki. I remember this post. I’m sorry your friend died. I am happy for both of you that you got to see her before she left this world.

    I miss you!

  19. I am so sorry to hear of the death of your friend… my thoughts go out to her family… it isn’t fair… but thankfully you did have those last days with her.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your mountain!
    PS: While the 90’s (both temp and humidity) hit here over the weekend… it was in the low 30’s and snowing in Reno… Nyssa was not the least bit happy about that.

  20. I remember this post also. I am so sorry about your friend. we have so few real, close ones, and I know from experience how sad it is to lose one, as you know. I know you will always treasure your last moments with her.

    I envy you those “cooler” temps. It was over 100* here today in heat index, and felt hotter. It wore me out.

  21. I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your dear friend. And glad also that you were able to share in laughter and tears with her before she left. I love you, Vicki. Your heart is open wide right now and it is vulnerable. Take good care of it.

  22. So sorry to read of your friend’s passing, but uplifted to re-read this post and remember. Have you ever read the final blog post of man named Derek K Miller? It is an incredibly insightful and beautiful post written by a man who knew he was writing his last words. Here’s a link:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s