1. The last two days away from home have been intense, meeting new people and hammering out some interesting possible product combinations, then pitching them to three clients in one day to see how they were received. We changed the pitches on the fly, working as a team (though few of us had met before yesterday). It was successful, exhilirating, and exhausting.
2. I Stopped to visit an old friend along the way back, almost missing her (she wasn't home - I had her cellphone number wrong in my new phone - I put a note in her mailbox) and then I spotted her coming up the side yards between the houses as I was driving away.
3. We had a nice chatty dinner at a little Italian place in Hope Mills, her home town. I bought dinner, but she left the tip, so a five dollar bill I had meant to part with was still in my wallet.
4. On the road back, in a darkening rest area, I was approached by a burly unshaved fellow who was trying to get back to Vidalia, GA in his aging pickup, and had had to replace an alternator and was now short the money he needed for gas. So that's what the five dollars was for.
5. Coming out of the men's room a lady was waiting for me in the rest-area lobby, and asked if she could walk with me towards her truck. I had noticed her over the shoulder of the Vidalia fellow, along another sidewalk, hurry towards the restrooms as I was walking towards them. "That same man approached me just before he spoke to you, and he frightened me and I closed my door on him," she told me, embarrassed, I think, and anxious. "May I walk you to your truck?" I asked. "That would be so kind," she said. The helpful acts were all getting a bit jumbled for me at this point, it made me grin to myself.
6. "I'm on my way to Duke for my son's graduation," she confided, as we walked to her truck. "That's quite an accomplishment; congratulations," I said, as she opened her door. She thanked me and added, "He's going on to UVA Law School." I said that was also quite an accomplishment and wished her a good night and told her she was welcome when she thanked me again.
7. I pulled out in my car, and noticed that she had pulled over again in the last space in the rest area, and had a tiny dog out on the grass. She had her car door open and was right by it. I pulled up and got out. "I am so sorry," she said, and I just laughed and said it was perfectly all right. "I was in such a hurry..." she started. "That you almost forgot to let her take care of her business," I finished for her. She smiled and tried to get the tiny poodle to hurry. I said there was no hurry, and you can't really rush these things. As the dog finished and she picked her up in one hand I asked, "Is she a teacup?" "Yes!" she said, delighted it seemed that I knew that, "She's smaller than that, actually - only three pounds." She held her up for me to see and I caressed her tiny bright-eyed head, with a tiny pink bow in the topknot. "Her name is Miss Priss." I chuckled and told her she was beautiful. The lady put her hand on my arm, said I was very kind, and thanked me again.
8. The Tom Clancy novel I was listening to on tape got to a pause about 2/3 of the way through. Everything is going according to plan. Knowing this is where all hell must break loose and not wanting to get home in the middle of the rapid climb to the climax, I turned it off and will pick it back up next week. It was hard to stop, but I needed to wind down from it before I got home.
9. WQDR was playing country music, which I find best when I'm in a sentimental mood. It was perfect tonight. The patriotic, "proud to be American," flag and eagle flying high, if your don't like it that's too bad, etc. song didn't do a thing for me - they always seem like someone cashing in on patriotism, and an ugly side of America. I'm patriotic, but I have no desire to be in anyone's face about it. But the songs about family, and sophisticated girls loving country boys, and the special magic of a first love, all played well with me tonight.
10. That hill climbing up to Hillsborough on I-85 S, the last few miles of my journey, closing the 470+ mile circle of a Columbia trip, always makes me break out in a foolish grin. I will usually break into song, just joining in with whatever is playing.
11. At home all was quiet, with cats coming to greet me and a big tired smile on my dear wife's face. All is packed for camping, quite an accomplishment, and best done without me as few things make me grumpier.
12. My latest painting looked better than I remembered when I saw it again on my work table beside this computer. I managed to work another hidden cat into another spot as the PC booted up.
13. And now I'm writing this, somehow bringing closure to a long two days full of ideas, new friends, old friends, and a whirlwind of emotions. Life is rich and full of surprises. I wonder what the camping trip will be like???