OK

We had a blast!  I haven't laughed and enjoyed myself so much in like forever.  I thank each of you for taking the time to join us today.  I've been in Utah for nearly 20 years and today was the first time I didn't feel like the "odd thinker" in a group.  On the contrary, our gathering felt like getting together with long lost friends.  What a joy!

Well, our day got off to a good start.  I outsmarted MapQuest, which gave really bogus directions (and no, my 2001 car doesn't have GPS), and arrived on time with two orange balloons (in case one escaped), some name tags, a pen, and my new iPad to take pictures with (maybe I do have GPS).

As I got out of my car, Patate pulled up to greet me.  Honestly, I felt like I have always known her.  We went into the facility, set up the orange balloons, eagerly seeking other Kossacks, until we somehow gleaned we were in the wrong room.  

We quickly gathered up the balloons and headed to the adjacent Orangerie room.

Here's where we were staked out, about where you see the person standing.

Westover Wedding @ Red Butte Gardens

Blue inU joined us when he saw the orange balloons.  

Then disaster struck.  Words can't quite express how nervous I was.  Aging isn't for sissies, btw.  And sure enough, I had an unprovoked klutz attack.

While I was trying to take off my coat that somehow got tangled up with the balloon ribbons, juggle my purse and the bag I brought to hold the name tags, etc., the balloons got away from me. Seriously!

Patate, Blue, and I watched as the promised "HERE WE ARE FELLOW KOSSACKS" balloons floated up, up, up until they reached the very top of the very tall Orangerie room, into the ballooning sky lights, and perfectly out-of-sight to all who walked through the door.  

I'm telling ya, it's getting really, really hard to find good help.  We are taking applications for balloon czar, btw.  

Here's where the balloons spent the rest of the day.  They probably spent the night  bobbing in the mountain moonlight until the clean up crew arrived.

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Of course without the orange balloons to define us, we wondered if everyone that walked in was a potential kossack.  I began to short-circuit...

Until Blue inU calmly suggested we should stand outside the door with our name tags hoping the others, craning their necks to see the orange balloons, would see US instead.  I wore two name tags, one with War on Error and one with KOS in large, thick letters.  

It worked!  And, as luck would have it, Wasatch quickly joined us wearing a much needed orange shirt. So between Blue's great suggestion, the multiple name tags, and Wasatch's orange shirt, we created enough of a diversion so the others were able to find us sans balloons.  

We were a group of 9-10 like-minded people today.  After chatting a bit and hoping any others showing up had my phone number, we decided to find one of Red Butte Gardens many lovely places to gather, sit, and visit.

We found this lovely spot, adjacent to the herb gardens, where we visited for a couple of hours.  I have to share that this group is very quick witted, informed, energetic, kind, and funny.  It was so great to laugh together.

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It was a cloudy but warm day, too.  We have been having a heat wave here in SLC.  Today was almost 60 degrees.  As you can see, some of us are in shirt sleeves.  

Here we are in a couple of group pictures taken by TAH with a cell phone.  Notice how green some plants still are.  

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May I introduce, from left to right, front row first

jlms qkw, Blue inU, Middleagedhousewife, Wasatch, Ballerina X and

Standing from left to right

Mr. Middleagedhousewife, War on Error, Patate

Here are a few candid shots taken with the iPad.  I promise to take more pictures next time. (Note to self, improve multi-tasking skills).

jlms qkw & middleagedhousewife
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Mr & Mrs middleagedhousewife
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Ballerina X & Blue inU
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As the sun started to sink behind the western mountains, we were hungry and moved the get together to McCools restaurant.  I think McCools byline is perfect.

McCools

Again, I completely spaced out and forgot to take pictures.  The company, conversation, beer I (just 1), and food where too compelling....  

Until AmyU joined us for dinner at which point I snapped out of my selfish reverie for a couple of minutes to take a photo for today's diary and quickly return to enjoying conversation with Patate, whose life story is amazing, Mr. MAHW, and Blue inU.

AmyU & Ballerina X
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I would like to thank Navajo for her inspiration, courage, and patience.  I wouldn't have done this otherwise.

I also want to join Navajo and encourage you to start a group in your area if there isn't one.  If I can start a group you can.  

I'll be honest with you and share that I experienced waves of insecurity this week, picturing myself alone, standing amidst a room full of strangers with a couple of orange balloons for a couple of hours.  I even wondered if the people working at Orangerie would begin to wonder about "the hovering lady with the orange balloons."  

I worried about being acceptable, likeable, etcetera etcetera. I worried about saying the wrong thing, of accidently offending someone, etcetera etcetera.

In short, I experienced anxiety but I stepped over the anxiety and showed up anyway.

Why?  

I put aside my anxieties because I want to get to know other people in this area who think and care about the same issues we face.  

I decided that the seeming safety of anonymity and isolation wasn't worth the price extracted - intellectual loneliness and political policy powerlessness.  I know I have to do more than just vote.  Heck, it's why I blog here and twitter there, but between elections is when we need to become uber organized and that takes sweat equity.

And more importantly, I know we/I have to show up, roll up my sleeves, and work locally in order to help heal the divides in my area.  There is a huge amount of work, and it will require many, many others to also overcome their anxieties and fears and SHOW UP.

I'm retired and have time.  Between the youth and the elders, we should be able to muster Utah into a Blue state, like it used to be before the cold war.  Hey, please don't laugh, it's just a numbers game isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I have a huge amount of empathy and compassion for the shy, the withdrawn, and the isolated.  But I think the "dark side" really hopes we will stay shy, withdrawn, and isolated.  I think TV works on us to keep us fearful of each other.

There is so much despair, divisiveness, and people seem to be more cranky then they did a couple of decades ago.  

However, if today is any indication and I think it is, meeting up with a group from DailyKos will lift your spirits.  It lifted mine.  We may not always agree, but we do have a lot in common.  And if we can bring our knowledge, good intentions, and joy together, then together we can join up with other groups in our areas that also want to work to help change the direction things are going in.

Thank you Wasatch, Patate, jlms qkw, Blue inU, Middleagedhousewife, Ballerina X,
Mr. Middleagedhousewife, Blue inU, AmyU, and TAH for showing up today.  If you have a chance, sharing your experience and impressions below might help others find the courage we found today.  I look forward to seeing you again for our Wednesday viewing of Chasing Ice.

Peace & Love
War on Error

PS   We are accepting applications for group photographer czar, too.

Originally posted to War on Error on Sun Dec 02, 2012 at 07:01 AM PST.

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