first thing

I never did go to bed last night

From about 10 PM to 1 AM, Olive kept meowing at me, touching my face, wanting to breathe my breath, going around and around from window to cat bed to my chair, etc. I had just taken my evening meds, so it wasn’t that. My blood sugar was fine. So what was I missing? Then I realized her cat food was low earlier. I make her clean the bowl of cat crunchies before I fill it up again. Yup….empty. Olive went nuts when I brought the cat food out, she crunched a few and then she was off doing other things. I guess she was afraid I would go to bed and she might starve to death overnight.


I haven’t been the slightest bit sleepy. I am busy thinking. I realized that I never wanted “the American dream”, so why am I surprised I don’t have it now? I did not want to get married until I was 49, then I picked men unlikely to meet my needs. Ummmmm, duh! It’s only now that I am 60 and my only kid is in China that I long for a bigger family. I wish there were more kids to visit. Granted, I would have had a hard time with more than one since I was always sick….but now more kids sounds like a good idea ๐Ÿ™‚


Truth is, I lived a life that was interesting. I would have chafed at the bit big time if I had not been free to follow my dreams of homesteading, farming and travel. I would not be who I am today if I had aspired to be a Stepford wife.


Since the love songs tortured me in the store, I have been listening to them for hours. Instead of avoiding the emotional pain, I embraced it. I figure I need to feel all the longing for love, memories of good times with men I have loved, sadness at the heartaches, joy at the pure happiness and adventures…and on and on. I went from despair to feeling high. Now I’m too wound up to sleep.


In Montana there was Ger the Bear, my first love. He went and died on me. Then there was Cliff who had a stroke as a kid, then Bob who was tall and skinny and played the guitar for me. We backpacked all over Montana and Idaho.


Wendy & Ger

I went from the University of Montana to Syracuse University. I had no appreciation whatsoever for how I looked. I wasn’t bad! ๐Ÿ™‚ I was also a perpetual motion machine. Three different jobs, full-time class load, biking, camping, log cabin building. I lived in a fraternity where I was the cook. I had several boyfriends. Marvin the chemical engineer, Ray the mechanical engineer and Deke the rock climber/engineer. Then one night at a party, I met Dennis. He was 14 years older than me. I loved them all. As they graduated from college, I just found a new engineer to be in love with. Marvin wanted to marry me and move to Iowa with him. I was guilty of too many choices. There seemed to be no reason to pick one guy and stick with him.


That’s when I had a VW bug and a motorcycle. I could fix my own vehicles. I was tough ๐Ÿ™‚ A bunch of guys came over to my place, lifted my VW so we could take the engine out. Then they carried the engine up a flight of stairs so I could rebuild it in my bedroom that winter. In the spring, I would ride the motorcycle around and then mess with it while doing maintenance in the front yard. That’s how I met Jamie.


Until that moment, all my boyfriends had been goodie-two-shoes. Jamie was a bad boy. He came over to my yard and asked if he could help me with my motorcycle. I had only known him a few minutes when he asked if I would marry him. He drank, smoked and toked. I was tired of always being good. I liked that he wasn’t. The first time he drove the motorcycle and I rode behind, I held him tight. It was probably a quick stop or a sharp turn. My hands ended up on his upper thighs. He had very short cut off jeans and no underwear :-p Thus began an intense 5 year off and on relationship.


Way too intense. If I thought about him, he would know it. No matter how many hundreds of miles away I got, our psychic bond was strong. More than once, he was in Syracuse, I was in Vermont, I would talk about him or think about him, and he would show up the next day. We were both crazy. It was the 70’s.

He had been gone for months. I thought it was the end of him. I answered an ad in the Mother Earth News and developed a written relationship with Doug in Wentworth, NH. Then one day I hitched from VT to his cabin. He had spent 4 years in the Navy, saved his money and bought dozens of acres on a mountain. He was amazing. He had hand crafted a gorgeous cabin and many outbuildings. He even made furniture…all from trees he logged and sawed himself! His father used to write for Rodale. His mom was nice to me ๐Ÿ™‚ ย We had a heck of a lot of fun going all over NH to visit alternative housing built by people he knew. We hiked, we explored places in his truck. Life seemed good. But…over months there was something not quite right. Then one day we went to the lumber store he worked at, to the post office, the gas station…all over town…and he told every person we bumped into that we were getting married! He forgot the part where he asks me first. In the middle of the night, I told him I was going out to the outhouse and I just kept going and hitched back to Vermont.

Before I went home to my cabin, I stopped in at the little general store at the bottom of my hill. It was 1.2 miles straight up to my cabin that was half a mile into the woods. My friend at the store told me Jamie had just showed up and was looking for me. I was in shock. Once again he had the feeling he should come find me. He brought me a new pair of red flannel long johns. I was smitten ๐Ÿ™‚ The next day, a private detective came looking for him. He was arrested ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

For years I had a friend who grew up in Bill W’s house in East Dorset. When I first met him, he had a cabin up by mine. Then it got razed. He built a little cabin attached to Bill W’s. Mark made signs for a living and was an excellent craftsman. Both of his cabins were impressive. We were just friends, often spending hours in deep conversations. The night after Jamie left, he called to say his kerosene heater wick had gone bonkers and had filled his place with soot. He wanted to know if he could spend the night in my cabin. I said sure…I had bunk beds and a couch used as a bed. Next thing I know, we are real good friends ๐Ÿ™‚


East Dorset cabin

My best woman friend was Pixie. She was married to a guy who was a twin. She might as well have been married to both. They were inseparable. Pixie and I used to talk for hours about men. I said lots of nice things about Mark. Well….next thing I know, Pixie has dumped her husband and stolen my boyfriend. Eventually that so distressed her husband, that he committed suicide. A few hours later, his twin did, too ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Somewhere in the middle of that I had a boyfriend named John and dated a couple of men I met through the Mother Earth News. I was restless. Then I got the opportunity to go back to college. I had been at the cabin for 6 years. I moved to Plainfield, VT and went to Goddard College and lived in a dorm. I had a short fling with a much younger man from Minnesota, and then moved to an A-frame in Cabot that had a .7 mile driveway. By this time I had a romance going with a man I met through Countryside magazine. I drove to Maine so we could finally meet. Curt had a nice homestead near a lake. We got along well, but I was not sure he was what I was looking for.

I put an ad in a VT newspaper saying I was looking for a homesteading kind of guy. All the men I met and dated were lawyers! They knew nothing about homesteading. I was bummed. One day I went to Goddard College to pick up my mail. This guy friend of mine needed to get to the train station ASAP, but the woman who was going to give him a ride had her carย stuck on ice. They piled in my car and we zoomed to the train station. They were boarding as we got there. Whew! So Chris was off to NYC and I was left with his girlfriend.



I drove her back to college. I didn’t really know her, so we talked. I happened to mention the ad I put in the paper and that all the guys were duds. She was practically jumping up and down in the car. She said she knew just the guy for me. She described a man with a homestead who lived in an underground house that he had built. I said he sounded interesting. Then she admitted he was her ex-husband. I said forget it, I did not want somebody’s ex-husband. She assured me it was all her fault. She had decided she was a lesbian while married. I was confused since I had just seen her kiss Chris, but I let that slide.


Photoshoot for the Men of Maple Corner calendar. Peter wearing only a top hat

She gave my name and number to Peter. We talked on the phone and wrote letters to each other. That’s when my grandmother died. I went back to Syracuse for a while. When I came home, I found a great big snowman about half way along the .7 mile slog from road to A-frame. I found out later that Peter had come to surprise me. Days later, we had a monster snowstorm. All schools and businesses were closed. Imagine my surprise when I heard a knock at my back door when there was 3 feet of snow outside! It was this skinny dude on cross-country skis! ย I didn’t really like Peter, but daylight is short in Vermont winters. We had talked so long that it was dark. I told him he could stay overnight in the “scary room”. Heather even brought him a pillow. That room was at the top of the A-frame, with a gangplank connector that was suspended a story above the living room floor. We got him settled in and all of us went to bed. Then he knocks on my bedroom door and asks for a goodnight hug. I didn’t want to, but I gave him a hug.

I think we only knew each other a couple of weeks after that…and he left for Mexico with his aunt, uncle and cousin for the winter. I wasn’t sad to see him go. But maybe halfway through his trip, he sent me a postcard from Mexico. He told me a bit about what he was doing, said he looked forward to getting to know me better…and the clincher was he said he missed the way Heather bit her lip. I decided I liked him after all.


Wendy, Heather & Peter in Mexico

Soon after Peter got back to Vermont, there was a HeadStart get together and dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I invited him as my date. We sat in the bar, had a few drinks and waited and waited for everybody else. No one came. I had mixed up the days! I hadn’t had alcohol in a long time. I was feeling pleasantly tipsy. I started to drive him home and somewhere along the way, we decided to go to the A-frame. Peter stayed the next two weeks. He spent the whole time washing dishes that I had been stockpiling in the “cold room” all winter. By the time he was done, I decided to keep him ๐Ÿ™‚ Little did he know he would spend the next 18 years doing dishes for me ๐Ÿ™‚

Finally, he left me for another woman. After awhile I went on an online dating site and met a guy in Florida. We hit it off, he said all the right things and we planned to marry. Heck, I had fairly good luck meeting men through ads, I thought he was the real thing. Instead he was a scam artist and bilked me of the money I got when I sold my Vermont farm. He also told me he preferred men on the third night of the honeymoon. We never did consummate the marriage. I ended up penniless, homeless and in Florida.


Six months later, I was volunteering at a bishop’s storehouse (like a food bank) when the missionaries there got to know me. One day they told me there was a lonely man in their ward that I should meet. Somehow they got my name and number and the next thing I know, I get a phone call from Rhett. We talk. He wants to go out to dinner with me. I fell in love with him that day. I only knew him a month or two when he wanted to go to a family reunion in Kanab, Utah. I said sure, let’s go! Our bishops thought it was OK. Got to SLC and my van broke. That’s when Rhett’s aunt was driving around and I saw the orange RV for sale. She leant me the money to buy it and we were back on the road. Next we went up to Idaho to visit his parents. On the way back to Florida, Rhett’s leg ulcer got infected. He had to spend a week in Roswell, New Mexico, getting IV antibiotics. We just barely had enough money to make it home.

I was still a newbie to being LDS. I had no idea that in the Mormon culture, that what we were doing was scandalous. I was still technically married to the con artist and here I was traveling the country with a man I was not married to. It seemed perfectly sensible to me, but now I know better. It took more than 2 years until the divorce came before the judge. Two very long years, with my life turned upside down. Long story.


Rhett and I always had an on again, off again relationship. When his bad temper popped out, I didn’t exactly want to stick around. I also had nowhere to live. I needed to stay in Florida for the divorce, so I camped in the RV. As a Florida resident, I only had to pay half price at state campgrounds. As a disabled person, I could go to national parks for free or stay in federal campgrounds such as the national forest or Corps of Engineers for half price. Everywhere had time limits, so I moved around a lot. I went to Rhett’s every week or two to help him out. We ended up getting a season’s pass for Cypress Gardens. That meant we had a standing date once a week to go to outdoor concerts.

My poor old RV needed lots of work that I couldn’t afford. A guy from my online camping group said he was a certified RV mechanic and would work on the RV if I would camp nearby. I thought about it for weeks. Then one day at Rhett’s, I managed to reach the wrong way and dislodged my port. Excruciating pain!!!! Possum had a purple ray machine that he used to heal an injury he got when struck by lightning. He told me he would use it on me. That sealed the deal. We finally met. I ended up meeting him at state parks and national forests for months. Rhett was always jealous, but Possum and I were just friends.

I had no clue whatsoever that Possum had a thing forย me. I decided to move to Missouri. A nice family there offered a camping spot at their farm near Adam-ondi-Ahman. Rhett insisted he wanted to go. I told him to pray about it. He still insisted he wanted to go. He HATED Missouri…especially the flies. He was miserable. It was suggested he go to an assisted living place and he went ballistic. The woman we were staying with bought him an airplane ticket back to Florida.


Within days, Possum showed up. That’s when I discovered he was sweet on me. I didn’t know what to think. We had a really good time camping, each in our own rigs and exploring that part of Missouri. Then it got cold. We moved to town and camped in a woman’s yard. She and Possum got on famously. They were both into survivalism. This woman wanted to form some sort of collective or commune. I got less and less interested. I couldn’t take the cold. Possum decided he liked it. Later, the woman told me Possum went into a deep funk because I didn’t want to stay.

Possum wanted to marry me…only he called it handfasting. He was a pagan. I liked Possum, but I didn’t want to marry him. I was still in love with Rhett. I looked at a place to rent in Iowa…ironically the state where Marvin wanted to take me after marrying me. ACK! All this marrying stuff! I ended up going back to Florida. I cannot remember much about that. I had very little money…not enough to camp all the time. The manager at Rhett’s apartment let me park the RV off to the side and I lived in the RV. Then it got too hot. I spent more and more time in Rhett’s apartment. That’s when the church offered to help me get into my own apartment while I waited for the divorce. And then I had 2 strokes. I was in tough shape. Lots of health issues. My sister told me to come to the NY Adirondacks where she could keep an eye on me. I moved there in July and lived in my van. Then I got an apartment in October. I promptly had a big stroke on January 1st. I was in tough shape for over a year.


My blood sugar soared over 400. I was on 8 liters of oxygen. I was FAT. That’s when I switched to low carb and slowly but surely started gardening. I regained my strength and ultimately lost 170 pounds. The guy who lived upstairs was my friend. We would spend hours talking. Again, it never occurred to me that we were anything but friends and neighbors. One day when we were talking, he asked me something, but I don’t remember what. I told him I was in love with Rhett and always would be. I don’t think he even knew who Rhett was. He looked stunned. At that moment I realized there was more to our friendship….and I became all self-conscious and confused. I never did figure it all out. Sometimes we were close, sometimes not. I had been talking to Rhett on the phone all this time. Rhett got jealous that I had feelings for someone else. More and more he talked about us getting married. I missed him. When I got healthy enough and had saved up some money, I drove to Florida and we got married.


Rhett liked going on adventures all over the Adirondacks and he seemed to enjoy our monthly trips to Vermont for my IVIgs. We had a deal that after a year in NY, that he wanted to move out west to be closer to his family. Once we got to Arizona, our relationship became a nightmare. Rhett was not a nice guy. I ended up in a domestic abuse shelter and eventually left it to go to Portland. I looked for housing there. Rhett wanted me back. Portland was a bummer and Rhett seemed earnest in wanting to be nice. I drove to the Salt Lake Valley, got him and went camping. It was awful. We went back and forth on whether we should be together or split up.

Rhett turned up the verbal abuse here so the whole building could hear. I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and had 3 operations in a month. Since I could not take care of Rhett and I was in the hospital, he went with relatives. That’s the last I ever saw him. He did not visit me or answer the phone while I was in critical condition. The hospital social workers lectured me on verbal abuse and abandonment. They told me to change the locks. That was the end. Lots of nastiness I probably shouldn’t mention. I was never told where Rhett went and he never contacted me. After more than 3 years, I was told where he was and we talked most of one day. We were on good terms and were laughing and joking around. I have not heard from him again.

Writing all this down has helped me understand my life better….but I am more confused than ever, too.

I don’t regret any of my life. I just suddenly want more kids and a big, kind, caring extended family….or maybe I just want a van to disappear into the sunset with ๐Ÿ™‚