The First Three Letters of The Word Funeral Are “Fun”

February 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

My younger sister, Kippy, unexpectedly died a week ago. Well, she had been talking about dying…planning on dying, for at least fifteen years. She caught onto the idea at Mother’s funeral in 1995, when we had such a good time at the graveside service telling lovely stories about our family matriarch, laughing, singing and praying in celebration of her steadfast and gentle, artistic life.

Kippy, whose mental age was fixed at about six-years-old, asked my other sister, Ann: “When I die and go to Sky of Heaven, you tell stories about me?” Being a staunch Baptist, Kippy also took literally every good promise of having a pain-free body and being able to do all those things that were now forbidden to her on Earth. That would include drinking buckets of coffee and tea to satisfy her serious caffeine addiction, as well as endlessly riding her beloved horses; a delight which she had enjoyed well into her fifties, before she tipped and slid slowly off the saddle to the ground, harming three vertebrae and ending that career.

In Sky of Heaven, nobody has to grow old. She couldn’t wait. She began to bequeath all of her possessions, verbally writing her Will whenever Ann and I were nearby. “When I die, give my beltloops belt to Michael,” or any one of the strapping young men helping out in the group home. There was nothing better than leather, especially tooled leather, in Kippy’s estimation…unless it was sweet-smelling soap. Every possession was given to a hundred different people over the years while she waited for the moment when she would be wafted off to that Great Bye and Bye, a place which she always indicated with a thrust of a finger pointed upwards.

And over the years, that death date was constantly kept about three years ahead in time. Every New Year’s Day, we would always notice that the date had somehow been bumped up again. Finally, Kippy fixed the date as 2009 and stuck with it. Nope! Nothing happened and we were just planning a 2010 Valentine’s Day weekend together. Though she lived in an Assisted Living Center in Plant City, I brought her home to Clearwater about once a month to go to the beach; go out to eat; run up to Tarpon Springs to buy a new sweet soap supply; or just sit around and watch her favorite vintage cowboy movies on dvd.

We were all set to do that last Saturday, but she had a fall, skidding around a corner in the group home, and wound up with a fractured shoulder bone. We cancelled the visit and reset it for March. That night, she ate dinner as usual, got slipped a rare cup of coffee by a kind nurse, (she usually resorted to stealing them off the trays of the helpless elderly residents…she was a wiley caffeine addict, after all, from whom I always had to secure my tea bags and coffee jars). She went to bed happy and never woke up. Just like that. What a way to go at age almost sixty-eight! Can’t do it any cleaner than that!

Kippy was a character; sometimes a nuisance, (she talked non-stop),  but she was often very funny and original. Anecdotes accumulated around her throughout her life. She garnered fans of her pithy sayings and witticisms. She was very generous in allowing other people, places and things to share in the use of the Letter K, always stating “I not mind, they use my Letter K.” And she even allowed others to call themselves Kathleen, as well. I doubt if she had to share her nickname very often. That was pretty singular.

So you can just imagine what would happen when thirty friends and far-flung family members gathered at her graveside Thursday, to see her off. Some folks wore blue jeans and cowboy clothes; as did she, boots and all. We told our stories and laughed and lingered long, then gave away her treasured objects in an old-fashioned potlach, like the Indians used to do at death. After that, we went to a nearby restaurant to indulge in another of Kippy’s favorite activities – eating out – for another two hours; this time, to catch up on each other.

I’d like to include here just one of the things read at her fun-eral. My son’s vision of what must have happened on that Saturday morning when Kippy woke up in Heaven:

                    Kippy Awakens To The Smell of Wood smoke In The Fresh Morning Air…  

 A light, cool breeze rustles the long, lush meadow grass upon which her sleeping bag lies, bringing with it the sounds of horses tethered not far away; soft whinnies and the clinking of bits and metal fittings.

There is a creak of leather from right beside Kip. She turns her head. A man has crouched down next to her, holding out a big dented metal cup of hot, strong coffee.

It’s Jesus. He resembles a kindly Clint Eastwood, only with a beard and long hair. His head is covered by a big Stetson – worn and faded by sun out on the range. His vest and gun belt are of the finest quality leather, as Kippy instantly notes, covered with many a decorative filigree and silver accent. His boots also meet with her approval.

“Mornin’ Miss Kippy,” says Jesus, handing her the fresh black, aromatic coffee. “Welcome to Sky of Heaven. Reckon we’re all right pleased to have you stay about as long as you care to” he says with a big smile.

The sun has now fully risen and its warmth and light fill the little mountain valley. Jesus says: “Looks like a fine day for horseback riding….”

                                                                            Douglas Randolph (Randy) Brown
                                                                                     February 13, 2010

Closet-Clairaudient Unveiling

February 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

The past few weeks have been busy as I prepare my manuscript, IN SECRET DIFFUSION, for the publisher. This book represents a coming out of a closet – the clairaudient closet – which has been my happy little home for the past thirty years. Granted, I have been opening up to you…my friends on the blog… for almost two years and that has helped me find my voice.

Isn’t it funny? I have an active inner life with a Voice…but, I, who can speak glibly and naturally about many things…have so much trouble confessing this inner self, finding my voice, externally. That is reflected in the whole process of getting this book ready to print, especially today’s duty of writing a preface. I find myself with such a stiff and formal voice, while the entire book (a conversation with The Holy Spirit) is so relaxed and easy-going. I want to match that mood in this necessary explanation but it isn’t flowing yet.

Probably, any Closet-Coming-Out-Of isn’t a whole lot of fun. You were in there for a reason. Most of that reason lies with the expected change of opinion that might register in the hearts of friends, family, and strangers. Something that is important to you; some road you have chosen to go down; some delight that you hide in your heart…is about to become up for grabs in the marketplace. That’s scary.

But, if it’s really nothing to be ashamed about.  If it’s simply something that is misunderstood, or lumped into a generic pool with an off-center reputation; especially, if it’s something that Jane Doe doesn’t do and therefore doesn’t approve of, then it’s more comfortable to keep it to yourself. On the other hand, it’s real interesting. It’s a real curiosity, that you would love to be able to explain to others and in the process, examine a little more closely. As it is, everything is hard to see clearly in a dark closet.

So, anyway, I had all of this secret written material building up over these many years, giving me a wistful dream of being able to put it into print – someday. Plus, I had learned how to write and publish books. A delightful way to put a heavy demand upon your time and talents which then allows you to hold the resulting book in your hand, in a form that can be shared with others.  Happy day! I started to write my second travel book about my explorations in South America and then I discovered that there really wasn’t enough to say about that. It was a beginning, but not a whole book. Now what?

Hmmmmm! There was my spiral-bound, homemade print job, which I called Questions & Answers, written in 1998 and shared with only about twenty trusted people, so far. It was my Barbara Walters-type of interview session with my constant Upper Voice Companion, The Holy Spirit, in which I had asked all sorts of questions, as if he were a guest on my talk show. I asked about everything…until I ran out of topics. I even started inviting a few friends to suggest new topics, but they only wanted boyfriend advice and that wasn’t my idea of a good cosmic question. Some answers I received from the Holy Spirit were really unexpected and lots of new and surprising information came out of those sessions.

Twelve years went by. Even my family hadn’t read it.

Hmmmmm? Questions and Answers??? I was all dressed up with nowhere to go. I had a publishing contract, but didn’t have a book anymore, with the Southern Hemisphere on hold. Hmmmmmmm?  What can I lose?

I could ask more questions – having thought of new ones in the past dozen years.

I could publish anonymously. Under my spiritual name, Linda Layli, Layli Linda. Don’t laugh!

That way, I could still have my hassle-free, solitary life without having to turn into anybody’s guru, my biggest fear. Which I have recently talked myself down from by reminding myself that I sound like the teenager who doesn’t want to date because she’s so afraid everyone will want to marry her. But, her friends are thinking “That’s not going to be a problem…” yet not wanting to say anything to hurt her feelings. Here I am, so vigorously trying to keep the world guru-free. At least, by one less new pop advisor. “Ummmm, that’s not going to be a problem” you might be wanting to say to me right now.

Then, after actually putting together a very decent manuscript (in my opinion), which my very own sister, a hugely competent English teacher, copy edited for me, in a most kind and open-minded manner; and my backup copy editor, of a New Age inclination, became wildly enthusiastic; I figured that this closet emergence might not be so bad, especially if I hid behind my Upper name, which actually is what I am called in that Realm.

Then, came time to face the marketing necessities. Even, admitting to the cataloging nightmare I could cause. Even the separate placements so that all my books couldn’t show up together if I used a different name. Even the ability to sell it on my blogsite because that would blow the secret right there, and anyway, Google already had me linked to this book because of these blogs.

So, now I’m coming clean and publishing with both names on the cover and my real name in the catalogs. This has been a tempest in my own little teapot, but a significant progression, none-the-less. Well I know too, that the last name of Brown is one of the three most common names in America, second only to Smith and Jones. So, I guess I already had that covered.

Now, I must leave off this confused confession and get busy writing that preface in which I will try to lay all this out without sounding really dumb. But, I now know just how all those other Closet-Comer-Outers have felt who decide to reveal a precious, hidden part of themselves to public scrutiny.

It’s Best Not To Dance On Trains – For Whatever Reason – Exotic Or Otherwise

February 2, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

My last post promised to explain why I was lewdly teased when debarking from a Romanian train compartment back in 2002. If you haven’t read that blog yet, this one would mean more to you if you take a minute and check it out. Also, please read the attached comment to that blog sent in by my sister for whom I was, indeed, digging out this old material about Romania.

In my last blog, I was pulling into the Brasov, Romania, train station after having spent several hours in innocent conversation with a very nice man, Eugene. As we left our glass-fronted train compartment, a stoned guy in the hallway made suggestive comments in his native language. A few days later, in the lovely little village of Bran, site of the so-called, Dracula’s Castle, I had an insight into why he might have jumped to his conclusion. Of course, he seemed to be the sort of man who needed no real excuse to make such assumptions, so I could be wrong. Here is the rest of the story, from my point of view:

“Valentin led me up the mountain road to the Cabana Bran Castle and we talked over a cup of coffee while he tried to get me to hire him as a guide for the castle and a nearby stork sanctuary. Though I was intent upon going it alone, we had a happy conversation before saying goodbye.  He commented to my hostel hosts, Carmen and Coastal, that I was American, and that we are so independent. He explained that the English are so rigid, uptight, and always right; but that Americans are easy-going and love life more. “Americans are a lot more FUN!” It was an insight from one who has had many chances to observe both sorts of tourists. He’s right. I’m so easy-going that I “let it all hang out,” though with a modicum of ladylike dignity, I like to think.

Later, in my room, I thought about how this free-spirit behavior could well be misinterpreted by others. Especially, if it is actually “free SPIRIT.” Probably that disco man on the train had spotted me trying to demonstrate to Eugene, upon his request, how Those on Other Dimensions try to connect with us dull-witted humans. He might have seen me hopping around our glass-fronted compartment, trying to mimic the Holy Spirit or a guardian angel, buzzing away at the head of an Earthling, speaking in a high, frustrated hum: “Listen to Me! Just listen to Me! Open up! Turn your attention to My Voice!”

I was just zapping my fingers towards Eugene’s ears, describing what must have been behind the high-pitched sounds in my head, which I always, at first, thought were faulty fluorescent light bulbs in places like the library…quiet places, where I first became aware of this sound in my ears. Later, when I really listened, it took a little while for the sound to slow down enough for me to make out actual words being shouted at me by a very frustrated Upper Being. That’s how I came to realize that I could hear sensible Voices In My Head and because the subject had come up during this train conversation, I was trying to illustrate this concept to Eugene, there in the privacy of our compartment.

No Britisher, man or woman, would have done that, and very few, if any, Americans, I’ll bet! Probably disco man thought I was an exotic dancer giving my new Romanian friend a taste of what was to come. I never thought about that! I wasn’t touching his head, just zapping my fingers at it! But probably, exotic dancers aren’t allowed to touch, so I don’t imagine there was much difference!

My hips weren’t swaying. Does that count?”

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My 78th Birthday is Here At Last!!!
Here I Go Again – Around The World For Four Years This Time!
Glorious Colorado In The Fall Brings Out School Field Trips
Patricia, The Greatest Hurricane Show That (N)Ever was! Or, Stalking The Elusive Not-Yeti In Central Mexico!
I Have, Essentially, Moved To Mexico!
My Answers To The BootsN’All Independent Travel Manifesto
My Top Five Travel Trips for New Travelers Before Starting A Trip
My Top Ten Values For Life – Part One
Elder Over-Achievers! My New Heroes!
My Top Ten Values For Life – Part Two
My Dream Journey And Practicing Travel Caution Without Paranoia
Managing Money While I Travel
What Can You NOT Travel Without?
Some Favorite Photos of Me On The Road, Solo, At Age Sixty-Seven
Friends in India & Egypt
What Small Things Do I Enjoy While Traveling?
I’m Organizing The First Chapter of Hearing Voices Network In Mexico
Secrets To My Around-The-World Traveling Life
At Home Or Abroad, Gringos Will Be Gringos
Mexico Will Soon Be In My Rear-View Mirror!
Belize Used To Be Called British Honduras But I Call It Beautiful!
Over And Under The Water In Ambergris Caye, Belize
You’d Better Belize It! Life In The Jungles Of Belize!
MEXICO – My Hostel In Tulum!
Cancun Can’t!
I’m Sleeping in The Queen’s Head While Her Majesty Turns 90!
“Moving Through Life @ Eighty Years Per Hour” or “I Need a Luggage Daddy….er, Caddy!”
I Blew Into The UK On Arctic Blast Winds! And Still, I’ve Traveled North To Edinburgh, Scotland
Lovely, Gracious London At The Best Time of The Year
Memories Of Bygone Days ….. Two Months Ago In Belize!
My Normal Life in London Town These Days
Was I On Another Planet… Or In London, England?
I’m Transitioning To Another Region of Europe – The Baltic States
Lots Of Rainbows Over London Today!
I Love Tallin, Estonia!
Glorious Estonia – Pagan Roots, Soaring Steeples And Soviet Museums!
Happy Hostel Life In Estonia….. And Worldwide!
What Do Dead Dogs & At-Risk Elephants Have To Do With Each Other?
“We’re Not In St. Pete Anymore, Toto!” We’re In Russia!
Traveling Into Russia Is Filled With Happy Discovery!
My Little Sister, Ann, Makes Me Proud For My 79th Birthday!
I Spent My Birthday With The Archangel Michael, Near The White Sea In Russia
A Funny Story About A New Dress Purchased The Night Before My Aeroflot Flight To Moscow….With Its Anti-Theft Device Still Firmly Attached!!!
Moscow & Me! I Like It Just As Well As I Did At Perestroika Time!
So Many New Moscow Friends…… But I Had To Travel On To Riga, Latvia
Where, Oh Where, Is The White Sea? Near The Arctic Circle….In Russia!
I’ve Been in Four Countries….. Five Cities, All In The Past Month!
After Europe, I’m in Israel For A Month
I Have A Big Family, So Our Jerusalem Thanksgiving Dinner Was Spaghetti Casserole Bake
Exploring Antiquity In Jerusalem This December!
My First Impressions Of Old Jerusalem
Make Friends! Not Art!
Leaving A Legacy Of Jitterbug In Tel Aviv, Israel
Back to Europe From The Holy Land. I’ve Landed in Barcelona, Spain!
I Will Be Reddit’s Solo Travel Site’s “Ask Me Anything!” Guest Interviewer On Sunday Afternoon, January 29!
My Exciting New Life In Casablanca, Morocco
No, I Have Not Died And Gone To Heaven! Just Zanzibar!
The Search For Meaning In Life Is Probably The Same All Over The World
Life In And Around Lake Victoria, Africa. I Have Achieved My Destination!
Christmas Day On An Island In Thailand
Bangkok, Here I Come! Money Stuff Notwithstanding!
Beautiful Bangkok Is A Peaceful and Varied Place
I Am Deep In The Lovely Land of Laos In South East Asia While My sweet Granddaughter, Molly, Turns 18!
Total Trust, Safety, And Honesty Is Here In Luang Prabang, Laos, Southeast Asia!
Fellow Americans! I’ve Discovered A Terrible Secret, Out Here On The RTW Trail! Help Me, Please!
How To Get To The Root Of Any Matter? Try Wordsmithing! Try Punning!
Open Letter To My Dearest Friend, Fawn Germer, And All Woman’s Leadership Groups Who Work Together to Change The World and Their Own Lives!
Wet Hens Unite! America’s Secret War In Laos!
America’s Birthday Drumroll Coming Up! Time To Clean House!
I’m Breaking Some Habits And Following Others In My Not Always Solo Around The World Trip
With Liberty and Justice For ALL! That’s What America Stands For!
Who Can Jitterbug? You’d Be In The Minority! I Can Teach You!
What Does It Do To The Body, Mind And Soul To Travel To New Places?
Happy Noisy Buddhist New Year In Laos Has Me Ready To Travel Again
Manila, Philippines, Is A Very Modern New Beginning Point
Discovering New Dimensions in Cebu City, Philippines
The Treasure of Health, Wealth, Wholeness And Friendship Is Here In The Philippines!
I’m On A Small Philippine Island Named Siquijor (Sigi-hor)
Living High In Lazi On Siquijor Island, Philippines
What Do George Cloony And I Have I Common?
What Does Traveling Backwards Feel Like?
Exploring The Hawaian Islands Is A Lot Like Traveling Around The World
Completing My 3rd RTW, I Already Am Making Plans For Creating An International Conference In Mexico Next April!
Golden Hours In Golden, Colorado!
Do You Know What An Expat Is? I’m Planning To Become One. Again!
Absolutely Freezing In Santa Fe, New Mexico!
Still Chilly In Beautiful Mexico…San Miguel de Allende!