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Count Down to Vroom and STOP. Pause. Grieve.

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Countdown: One week before

I still had not been able to submit my visa application to enter Uzbekistan. It is an online e-visa process. As part of the online process, two pictures are requested: a head shot and the page in your passport with your picture and information. The two pictures I submitted were not accepted. I retook them. They were not accepted. I tweaked them. They were not accepted. Kira, in Uzbekistan tweaked them. They were not accepted. She called the Uzbekistan visa phone number, tweaked them, sent the new versions to me, I resubmitted them. They were not accepted. We did this back and forth, tweaking and resubmitting for two weeks. Finally, during the Friday Oct. 6 Gallery Walk, I sought out Ezra Distler at his photo booth and made an appointment to have him take these pictures for me. His soonest available time was Tuesday.

Though the timing felt tight, I felt some relief knowing we had a scheduled appointment. Now, it was time to shake out more stress! Who better to shake stress out with than my friend Louise, next to my side... and the Gaslight Tinkers, in the Harmony Lot?!

On Tuesday Oct. 10, I met with Ezra Distler in his pop-up shop studio on Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont. I had sent Ezra the parameters: the photos must be up to ICAO standards; they must be 35 X 45mm with a resolution of 300 dpi; the image dimensions should not exceed 1Mb. Ezra is a professional photographer. Even so, Ezra, referring back to the ICAO website multiple times, took, retook, and tweaked the pictures to fit the stringent and "bizarre" (as I heard him muttering under his breath between laughs) standards. Finally, we walked across the street to Mocha Joe's (where there was Wi-Fi), armed with my laptop, where I resubmitted the Uzbekistan visa application with the two new (and fingers crossed, approved) pictures. Drum roll, please. It went through! And then, on Friday, Oct. 13, three days before flying, I received, via a very welcome email, my e-visa to enter Uzbekistan.

Also that week, I had to finish painting the driveway-side wall of my house. I "had to" meaning I made the commitment to. The scaffolding had been up for probably two weeks, and it needed to come down before I left. We had not been able to access parking, and were all parking on the street. And also, the parking ban would begin soon... no parking on the street for the winter. And, though the scaffolding will go up in the spring, when I resume painting, I'm hoping it doesn't need to go up where it already has been. So, yeah, I made a commitment to get 'er done, as Vermonters might say. So, on Wednesday Oct. 11, I finished painting Totoro sitting on a tree branch. And Alan Chechile, single-handedly, took down the rest of the scaffolding, put it, and the all the wood planks I'd been standing on, in his truck, and drove them off to be stored.

Wanna see how Totoro came out? Yes, our house needed Totoro on a tree. Totoro now lives on a tree branch on the driveway-side of our home.

Before Totoro...

Notice the red cardinal in a nest... with two little beaks poking out of the nest?! That was painted by my friend, Gianna. Amazing, right?

During Totoro...

Yes, that's me in Larry Mac's (now) painted overalls.

After Totoro...

Don'tchya just love the little white Totoro above the big "My Neighbor Totoro"'s head?!

On Thursday Oct. 12, I began painting under where the scaffolding had been... laying down the first coat of tree trunk and grass. Beth McKinney had told me she loved painting so... I had asked her to come paint. And she did! She came over in the late afternoon and took over while I went shopping with Ash, who had just arrived.

I hadn't eaten yet. It was another one of those days, of not taking the time to eat. I'd been having more and more of those days as my departure neared. So, when I stopped painting, I realized "I'm hungry!" It turns out Ash was hungry too. So we started with a meal at The Works.

And then... Sam's. Dear fellow Bratts, it is wild, isn't it, that Sam's is closing? This news is big, right? Sam's, with all its hiking gear and clothes and shoes... has been a Brattleboro staple since it opened in the1920's. They have been a part of the Brattleboro fiber for nearly 100 years.

Friday Oct. 7, 2023

I would like to switch gears for a moment. I realize that Sam's going into liquidation, and moving toward closing, is, within the context of larger events, relatively not BIG news. My worldly travel adventure, in fact, has been somewhat eclipsed by much bigger world news.

On Friday, Oct. 7, the Hamas attacked Israel. Now there's the Israel-Gaza war. There has been and continues to be so much pain and suffering from that and other worldly events. I realize this and feel a bit silly writing of my little exploits. It's true that the pain and suffering from the war in the middle east, the devastating earthquake in Afghanistan, the ongoing aftermath of fires and flooding - is so much larger and more important than my rising stress level while preparing to travel. And yet, it's my life and my life seems to just... go on. So, I will continue to write to you about my travels. For now, though, please join me for a moment of silent solidarity and grief for all who are suffering loss.

May you know that you are not alone.

May you feel held in care.

May you cry.

May we all cry.

May we all suffer together.

May our compassion hold us together.

Thank you.

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