New Year… New Name… New Everything!

New Year... New Name... New Everything

At this time of the year, we take a hard look at our lives.  Scrutinize.  Analyze.  We wonder where we’re heading…
Take back those Library books…6 months overdue!  Put caulking around the windows…6 years overdue!  Clean out the back-room and make it into a cozy niche…!

That’s what we need to do.  But will we ever get it done?

Well, folks—I don’t know about you, but I’m doing things differently this year.  I’m not just making New Year’s resolutions for 2009…I’m starting life over, it seems.  I’ve been turned inside-out and upside-down. Even my name is different. The old Vicki Harger is gone.  Vicki O’Neal has replaced her for good.

How did it all happen?  I’m not even sure, myself.

It started last spring, you know… Remember my California capers?  The country gal who wandered off to the West Coast seeking a soulmate…?  There I discovered that internet-romances leave much to be desired.

Ah me. The agony of it all.

I tried so hard to fit into the wacky world of my city-bred suitor, but it just didn’t work.  Remember my apartment balcony garden?  And the Great Soil Heist?  And the piles of beachcombing-treasures I accumulated?  What a mess that was!

Disheartened, the country girl prepared to leave the beautiful paradise in NorCal…But then the good Lord intervened.  I met Michael, a country gentleman—a prince of a man whom I’d met once before at my church, when he was traveling in the Heartland.

Michael was overjoyed to see me, again.  He couldn’t believe I was here on the West Coast, living in his own locale.  Belatedly, we both realized that we were meant to be. The Lord had brought us back together through a series of uncanny “coincidences”.

We discovered that we have so much in common. Beachcombing, gardening, camping…listening to the songs of crickets and meadowlarks.

Hearing a meadowlark sing is so much better than hearing the racket from urban-dwellers and city-slickers.  (Michael calls them “Flatlanders”.)  We often discussed their city-slickin’ ways as we explored the countryside…or while working together in Mike’s fall garden…Our garden, I should say.

Although proud of that lush garden, Michael sometimes viewed the veggie jungle with wry concern.

“I don’t dare send anybody into that jungle for a tomato,” he’d say with a sigh.  “Those plants are monsters. They’ll climb all over you if you don’t watch out…”  Then he’d smile at me, and his eyebrow quirked so adorably.

At that point, I had to hug him, of course—for he is the dearest man on earth.  He’s my God-given soulmate and we get along famously.

Speaking of famous—my Michael has become rather well-known on the West Coast. You see…he lives in one of the most beautiful—but most controversial—places in the world.  At the entrance to the Avenue of the Giants.

Conservationists have been fighting the timber companies here for decades…And with good reason!  High on the mountaintop, the clear-cutting of 2500-year-old trees has caused massive erosion.

A nightmare scenario was brewing.

One rainy night, an avalanche of mud and stumps roared down the mountainside…a deadly tsunami descending on the sleeping town of Stafford. Fortunately, Michael heard it coming, and ran to warn the community.

No one was killed, and Mike’s home was spared—but many other houses vanished in a moment. The battle against the greedy logging company had begun in earnest.  Michael became the lead plaintiff, fighting the huge corporation in court.  It drew the attention of Conservationists from around the world.

Environmentalists were in desperate need of a hero—and they’d found one in Michael O’Neal. Flatlanders descended on Mike’s home from every corner of the world….

One particular day 7000 people, including the Governor and movie stars, marched in a procession to Michael’s doorstep. They all pitched in to help protect his home from future mudslides.  Celebrities like Woody Harrelson and Bonnie Raitt shoveled dirt and tossed sandbags.  Joan Baez and Winona Ryder chatted with Michael and invited him to dinner.

CBS was there.  Fox News.  ABC. CNN.

The “debris torrent” of flatlanders soon equaled the devastation brought on by the avalanche. Reporters and authors and singers.  Indian chiefs and Buddhist monks.  National Geographic writers.  EPIC and Earth Talk…

Michael’s life had become a jumble of noise, cameras, press releases, and documentary screenings.

(You’ve heard of Julia Butterfly Hill?…the gal who lived in a huge Redwood tree for two years, without once coming down…?  Well, that whole episode took place on the mountain above Mike’s property, near the mudslide.  Julia used Michael’s telephone as a transmitter, linking the Redwood tree to the world.  It brought even more folks to this area…)

The story is unending, really. Over the last decade, Michael’s story has been told in books, documentaries, on TV, and on dozens of radio programs.  He’s had to testify before Assembly men and Senators at the State Capitol.

Mike’s words have been heard by tens of millions on National Public Radio, and elsewhere.  He was profiled in a book called Hope and Heroes, (London St. Press) along with more famous folks like Billy Graham, Art Linkletter, and Nelson Mandela.

To cap it all off, just the other day a production crew came out to film Michael for a new documentary.  They wanted to film our house, and our garden jungle and—-

Oh, I know.  I know.  It’s unbelievable.  I’m not sure I’d believe this story myself, except I’m looking at stacks of news-clippings, and photos and books and documentaries.

My, oh my!  It’s all rather overwhelming to a country gal from the Barada Hills!  Who’d ever dream that my California capers and coastal escapades would lead to an adventure such as this?

But enough of that!  I’m done prattling, folks.

We just got back from our road trip, and I’ve got a million things to do.  But mostly, I’ve got to write down our honeymoon adventures.  (You can’t imagine the mess that a country girl can get into on a trip to Sacramento and San Francisco.  But I’ll tell you about it in good time, my Country Neighbors…)

Take care, everyone.  Keep on hoping and praying and dreaming…Then put foundations under those dream castles.  Start your new year off with a bang.  Be bold.  Be adventurous.

If you need inspiration, you might join me on my website: “Adventuring with Vic”. (vickioneal.com)

‘Til next time…!

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