In the early to mid 90’s I got my first computer. Donovan built her from components and packed “Baby” with every program he had and then some. I had no knowledge of computers and so while he was installing everything he made me take notes. What a guy! I had a business that required an on-line presence and he graciously offered his services. Back then it was Pentium something and discs for backup. Baby weighed a ton! They were called towers and she was a tower alright.
I was amazed at the freedom she gave me. I had a Talent Agency at the time. It was no longer couriers but images over a built-in fax program. I could be on-line, via a dial-up, which I can still hear ringing in my ears to this day and had the option to pickup a phone call via my Lan line through a pop up asking me to pickup or take a message. All extremely fascinating. If I got into trouble Donovan had set up a remote so that he had access to my system whenever I needed help. Watching the cursor moving things around was a little weird, but Donovan was doing his best to detangle me.
As I got more and more comfortable with Baby, I saw a program that I was unfamiliar with. It was called POWOW. I asked him what that was all about. A Chat program he said. Hmm a what? Yes, he said just run it and makeup a name and create a password. Oh, I said. I wasn’t particularly interested in “Chatting” with “People” I knew nothing about. So, I left it.
As time went on, I became more and more curious about POWOW, sitting around on my desktop. A kind of fear I was unfamiliar with, was making me increasingly curious. What the heck could happen? After all, Donovan wouldn’t put me in danger. Would he? So, I got up my nerve and ran the program. Filling in a name? As I was a sort of LoneWolf I chose that. Nope. So I added a “y”. So I became LoneWolfy. Good enough I thought and not really suggestive in any way. Maybe these “Chatters” would leave me alone. So, it runs. I see all kinds of categories for “rooms”. All kinds of rooms. Music rooms, kids chat, Family rooms, Vet rooms, Alcoholic Anonymous rooms, Gay rooms, you name it! I picked a Family room section. SAFE.
For some reason I picked The Dragonlady’s Lair. A little risky but it was a family room after all. Bravely I connected. Suddenly my screen was filled with dialogue. I watched very tentatively but was very leery. I felt like I was intruding on other people’s lives so I quickly left. Closed the program and sighed a great sigh of relief.
I left that alone for some time. BUT as they say, curiosity got the better of me. Gradually I started feeling welcome. They chatted about their kids. The concerts they’d been to or just everyday occurrences. They started to call me Lone. Ah! A nickname already! These people were from all over. Seemed to mostly be the States but, however. I began to type in.
Friendly bunch. I cruised around a bit checking out other rooms. POWOW was frequently updating its capabilities. Instructions to download Beta this or that. Fortunately, there were, what we referred as Techy friends in The Lair and they could guide us through the installations. Also frightening. You could have a Private chat, share websites together and we all learned how to build a site. Updates brought robot voices, coloured text and other capabilities I can’t even recall what else. Emoticons weren’t the thing then. We all had a very long list of strings of letters like OMG, Tc, Rotflmao etc and we stored them in F keys. It was fascinating how the robot voice could translate the OMG to actually say Oh My God.
The Dragon Lady’s Lair became my on-line home. Much like Face Book is today but different. Information, advertisements and pleas for donations weren’t a part of the program. It was simply an on line community. People helping people intellectually and emotionally.
Here’s where Kelly comes into the picture. She created the Dragonlady’s Lair. It was her room and her rules. Anyone causing trouble or being abusive in any way was bumped out by the program. As it turns out we all eventually discovered that she was on Oxygen 24/7 and started the room to keep herself busy and to try to help people in any way she could. Although Kelly was fragile in a physical way, she was a mental giant. We all loved her dearly. She was the Boss and was to be taken seriously. She helped me over many hurdles, as she did others. She even helped me recover from an on-line/off-line romance that went terribly wrong. Yet another story about giving your self away to people who can manipulate you, if you let them. She saw it coming. Who takes advise? But this is not my story.
What I know
At one point she lived in California. Where? I’m not sure. I do know that she was a Hippy. She made leather Chaps, dresses and other types of leather clothing and jewelry with stones she gathered. Her nick name was Little Britches. In her lifetime she’d been a waitress, and long haul truck driver, an endurance horse rider and who knows what else. He hubby was an Engineer and Todd towered over her tiny presence physically. Todd was a gentle spirit. They’d raised Apoloosas for a time but the dream was to own a small log cabin, somewhere where peace and tranquility prevailed. Well they found it in the south-east corner of Idaho. It stood on “K” mountain and with a view of the mountains of Montana. A precious Border Collie named “Taz”, 10 cats, 3 horses and whatever wild life came to their door.
That part of Idaho was ranching country. They lived outside of a town called Salmon, with a population of about 2800. Kelly got herself a job working with computers. Quickly mastering technical skills, she was able to install, repair and take a computer apart in no time. Somewhere along the line she made the decision to be a force behind improving the internet situation in the Salmon area. No small feat. She needed the power lines and the cattlemen behind her. She was responsible for establishing the first Internet Provider in the area. All this from a 5 ft, 100 lbs wet, determined woman.
I guess the hippy days in California and the fact that she smoked both cigarettes and weed took its toll eventually. But not before she won the war. Not before I found a friend. Not before I got to visit that little place of heaven a few times.
These pictures are etched in my mind. They will live there forever. They will always remind me that home is where the heart is. It was my home for a short & sweet time and being there brought me contentment & a feeling of peace. My friend Greg commented that “It sure looks like a corner of Paradise there. You’ll carry this trip in your soul forever.” Yes, I will…I spent another 2 weeks there over New Years 2000 and another two Summer visits and funny! but it was still like “coming home” for me.
Her last Christmas Todd asked me to come to visit. They arranged and paid for everything. He said she wanted me to come. I had no money but that wasn’t even a consideration. My family was not impressed. Miss Christmas? Fly away on Christmas Eve? Then forget dinner we eat at 7pm and you’ll be at the airport.
Yes, I said.
A usual they had to drive 4 hours to pick me up. Salmon was 4 hours or so from the nearest international airports. Plus, it was Winter. The mountain drive through Montana to Salmon was hazardous but Kelly’s daughter was as determined a woman as Kelly herself. When we finally arrived at about 2 am I discovered that they’d held off their Christmas for me. We opened a couple of gifts and tucked in. I’m going to have to interject here. My own family couldn’t have dinner a little earlier on Christmas Eve. My mother gave me cab fare to get to the airport. These, practically complete strangers, drove miles to pick me up and held their Christmas until I arrived.
One evening after the festivities Kelly and I got to talking until way into the small hours. It was dark, quiet and cleared skied. She motioned to me to get a small box from under a table. Inside were several pieces of jewelry, including some rings which she’d made. Pick one, she said. I wear that ring all the time. Hardly ever take it off. People ask me about it constantly. Inside the band are the initials L.B. for Little Britches. I tell them about Kelly, her accomplishments and kindness. I tell them she was a 5’ 100lb wet force of energy. I tell them she was strong till it was her time to go. I tell them of her generosity of spirit. I tell them that she was a force of nature. I also tell them that I was blessed to have found her in a little chat room on-line called THE DRAGON LADY’S LAIR.
– my letter-
I will never forget you. I can’t imagine what you’re thinking about the way things are now technologically. We did have some fun times didn’t we? I imagine Taz and Chivon are with you now. I hope Taz is behaving and you’re having some great rides with Chivon.
You used to eye those unused saddles on the back porch. I know you wanted to ride. I guess that tiny roach you had from years ago is still in the jewelry box. Too bad we couldn’t have finished it off down by the creek as you’d hoped. I think of you often. I still wear that beautiful ring, always. It’s a symbol of warmth and strength for me. Thankyou for being you Kelly.
Love Jen xo
p.s. I still have the t-shirt that Nukie designed for the Lair, and the hat. Oh! And the Dragon Art work. One of your Dragon Babies with the amethyst crystal sits on my desk. And Kelly? Maybe one day I’ll come visit and bring you some white daisies like the one’s you had in the garden. TC, Jen xo