“Take These Broken Wings and Learn to Fly”

“Take these broken wings and learn to fly.” ~Paul McCartney

This person I admire more than I probably should said something yesterday that cemented my admiration. The discussion centered around helping people with disabilities in a way that allows them dignity and as much self-reliance as they can manage. His closing comment went like something like this, “Helping those with more visible disabilities allows us to better deal with our own less visible disabilities.”

Remarkable insight.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/X-ray_of_a_broken_lower_leg_Wellcome_V0030072.jpg

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/X-ray  of a broken lower leg Wellcome Images V0030072.jpg

I’d been thinking about the brokenness of every person for a few days anyway. And then to hear someone I admire acknowledge everyones shortcomings and failings, including his own, humbled me.

Every person I know is broken somehow, someway. Every. Single. Adult.

Seven or eight years ago that tune had only one note; I thought I was the only broken one in a world of mostly people who had it together. But then a few things happened and my eyes opened to see the world with a bit more clarity. It can weigh on you, knowing how much heartache and hurt others deal with. It’d be easier to go through life as an eyes-half-open kind of person, in denial about the bad stuff going on around me. There’s only so much a person ought to deal with, right?

As much as I’d like to ignore or pretend or buy into the happy face people bravely put on things, it’s not always possible.

Photo by Tobias "ToMar" Maier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Tobias “ToMar” Maier (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

That perfect couple? The one with the nice house and cool cars and adorable kids. Broken in one way or another. I’d lay money on it.

The guy at the gym you admire so much? Fractured from a tough childhood, or a difficult marriage.

That one person who always cracks the best jokes and seems to have no care in the world? Damaged and hurting, sometime, someway, for sure.

The smartest person in the room? Torn to pieces inside or struggling with something beyond their control.

That drop-dead gorgeous woman at the grocery store? She may be barely keeping it together, or ready to walk away from, what to everyone else, looks like an ideal life.

I know that sounds jaded and negative and pessimistic. But it’s the truth. Every one of us has broken parts, hurting hearts, cracked open insides, crushed, disintegrating, injured, disjointed, imperfect pieces. Some affect our lives on a daily, ongoing basis, and others only deal with it as a kind of background  theme song.

Some don’t even know they’re broken, and as they thrash about they end up injuring those closest to them. Some assume that no one can tell they’ve got a massive psychological limp, or that they’re carrying an emotional backpack loaded down with broken, sometimes unmendable parts of themselves.

Photo by Stefan Kühn (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Stefan Kühn (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

We all, mostly, keep going from day to day. We drag the broken arm of loss or sadness or abuse out of bed and make the best of things. We put a bit of makeup on over the bruises of shame or fear or loneliness and step out into our day as bravely as we can. Many heft a weighty cast of addiction, on permanent recovery, as we hobble through the ins and outs of every day life.

A few people I know, well, more than a few, have held open their brokenness for me to view. And occasionally, I’ve shared my own fractures and pain. I’ve seen enough to confidently say that yes, we’re all broken a little or a lot, in some way or another.

What’s most remarkable to me is when one of the more broken, limping, sore and worn down people reaches over and pulls up another broken, hurting, tired soul and encourages them, offers a shoulder to lean on. Weak and struggling and yet willing to lift and help where and when they can. That amazes me. But they get it and can empathize and offer understanding and caring.

We all have brokenness that can serve another. Really, we do. Whether we join a support group of fellow stroke sufferers or caregivers, or we quietly give someone we know a hug and tell them they can get through this, we can give something that will help. Perhaps we even write an anonymous note of encouragement, or text an uplifting quote that’s helped us get through. The possibilities for reaching out have no limits.

Those who’ve been the most broken, or are still injured, seem to more often be the most generous in their offers of help.

Why do you suppose that is?

I don’t know either.

Maybe the answer lies in paraphrasing what my friend said, “Helping those with visible brokenness allows us to better deal with our own less visible afflictions.”

Do you think that’s true? In lifting, are we lifted? In helping, are we helped? In caring, are we cared for?

Something to ponder, I suppose.

“We are all wonderful, beautiful wrecks. That’s what connects us–that we’re all broken, all beautifully imperfect.” ~ Emilio Estevez

Here’s the link to the Beatles song from which I got my title for today.

Categories: Being Human, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Forever Young

Friday Letter to my Kids – July 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J. L, and L,

A month ago, consistently and often, well-meaning sales associates, grocery baggers, repairmen and strangers insisted on offering me their senior discounts. What a sweet gesture to want to help me save ten percent on my purchases and services. Unfortunately, I always walked away from such encounters deflated and more tired than I already felt. I didn’t think I looked all that old.

Then one day in less than four hours I was referred to as “young lady” a dozen times. I wasn’t sure how to take that either. I’m no spring chicken, so the reference felt a little odd. I should have accepted it as their way of being polite without making me feel old.

Surely there’s a balance between “senior discount” and “young lady”. I’ll let you know when I discover what it is.

Mom circa 1957

Mom circa 1957

Yesterday morning I spent some time with my mom, your Grandma M, looking at some of the many photo albums she’s compiled over the years. Next time you’re up her way you should ask her to show them to you. (They’re in the living room closet nearest to the front door on a shelf, if she forgets.)

One album my sister N had put together for them as a gift. That album had  photos of your Grandma and Grandpa as kids and as teenagers, as newlyweds and as young parents. I wanted to snap photos of all the photographs but restrained myself to just a couple.

Those pictures bore witness to the my mom as a clarinetist in her high school band and as a smartly coiffed, high-stepping majorette. She also competed in the first Miss Morgan beauty pageant with four other contestants. Ooo la la! I’ll bet  you didn’t know that about her.

Dad circa 1956?

Dad circa 1956?

We stumbled across some postcards with a 1947 postmark that my dad and his brother had painstakingly written to their mother (your great grandma M) who had apparently gone to Illinois to visit someone who’d had a baby. Grandpa’s handwriting improved drastically when he became an engineer and had to hand letter blueprints for the DOT. You’ve probably seen his distinctive penmanship, which could pass as a typesetting font.

Some of my favorite photos in the albums were of Mom and Dad’s courtship days. Such smiles! Such innocence! Such true love!

The photo albums sparked remembrances located mostly in the recesses of my brain, such as:

  • my Dad riding a tricycle with his knees on the back stand and his hands pedaling, quite a feat of dexterity for an adult
  • my Mom hanging sheets on the laundry line or holding my hand on a hike
  • my Dad riding motorcycles on mountain trails
  • peeking in on my parents when they hosted a card game night at our house, laughing raucously with their friends like they never quite laughed with us kids
  • Mom holding a newborn baby after each of my five younger siblings were born
  • Dad’s ear-piercing  whistle that we could hear from the bottomlands of the local park

They were quite a team, raising such a gaggle of offspring. Almost sixty years later, they depend on each other like never before. Dad tries to fill in the memory gaps and missing sequencing ability that Mom’s strokes have destroyed. He makes breakfast every morning for her and she provides background music on the piano throughout the day. She insists on her independence as much as life allows. He still teases Lulu the cat as if he were a sixteen year old. She still makes jokes and laughs at the funniest things. Dad still has a wanderlust and needs to go somewhere every day in the car, even if it’s just to town or the grocery store.

Despite what my eyes show me when I visit them, in my mind they will always be forever young,

They’ve seen a fair bit of the world, from Russia to Cancun and a lot in between, which for a couple of western kids born in the 1930’s says a lot about their willingness to try new things and step outside their comfort zones.

In my mind, my parents remain that young newlywed couple with a future laid out bright and wide before them. There’s no other way to think about it. Anything less is unfathomable; forever young and together forever.

It’s what I’d wish for each one of you. May you also be forever young.

All my love,

Mom

p.s. Here’s a cover version of that famous song by Bob Dylan. Listen and enjoy a wonderful song.

“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Categories: Family, Friday Letters to My Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Full Circle Moments

It’s Gratituesday! Today I remembered a bunch of different camping experiences. Places with names like Tony Grove, Emigration Canyon, North Fork, Minnetonka. These places, and dozens of others shaped who I became.

A stand of Quaking Aspen trees. My favorites.

A stand of Quaking Aspen trees. My favorites.

Activities included wandering among the pines and quaking aspens, skipping rocks, hiking trails, burning marshmallows and hotdogs and best of all, poking sticks into the campfire while singing songs and hearing stories. Nothing felt better or more freeing to me than hanging out among the peaks and valleys of the mountain west.

Similar experiences, I hope, shaped my own children’s lives when we went camping. Some of my favorite mom moments involve trickling streams, rock climbing, rappelling, rainy camps and lots of mud and dirt. We camped from the Cascades in the Northwest, in the rolling hills of North Carolina, and in the flatlands of Oklahoma and even in Arizona’s mountains.

One tiny example: I still laugh when I remember one trip where my two youngest gave each other titles, Queen of the Flame and Little Muddy Foot. You can imagine what that must have entailed. I believe a pile of unmelted spring snow sat about ten feet from the tent on that trip. Good times!

Trees and sky on a slope in the mountains.

Trees and sky on a slope in the mountains.

Today I saw photos that let me know that love of things outdoors has translated across generations. My youngest grand “hiked” on her daddy’s back with her mom beside her (my oldest daughter) to a stunning peak of over 11,000 feet! Their smiles said it all! Pride, joy, freedom, peace, accomplishment, solitude and togetherness, all packed in to one amazing experience.

Part of me felt transported to that mountain top (where I’ve never actually been) and to the woods of Oklahoma and the peaks of the Northwest and back even further to countless childhood camping trips.

Is there anything more joyful than seeing those we love embrace the same things we love? I think not.

I have a lifetime of gratitude filling my heart today. Thanks Dad and Mom for planting and nurturing the love of outdoors deep within me. Thanks MSH for wholeheartedly supporting my little obsession way back when. Thanks to my kids for being good sports and going along with us, (not that you had much choice, I suppose.) And thank you for passing along that fun to your own current and future families.

I wonder sometimes if heaven will have mountains and lakes, tents and campfires. I sure hope so!

Best. Lake. Ever.

Best. Lake. Ever.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

It’s All In How You Look at It

Earlier today I found myself once again deleting photos off my phone to make room for a boatload more photos I plan to take soon. Yes, I backed them all up to a different spot and ought to be able to just delete them all at once, (if I could only figure out how.) But I like having a “few” snaps available to look through and share without  diving into my storage facility and hunting for what I want. So I’m selectively deleting.

Santa left his hat on the couch and the world is slipping.

Santa left his hat on the couch and the world is slipping.

I’ve gone through the “stack” of photographs at least four times in the past month or two. A few more achieve nirvana and move on to their next incarnation as electrical impulses and ones and zeros. But more stay on the phone, taking up valuable memory.

Bonus!

I ran across this series of photos I’d forgotten about.

photo 2-6 copy 11

An open Sandra Boyton board book in the foreground.

Yup, they’re from Christmas 2014 or thereabouts. I figured since today’s a national holiday (Independence Day in the US) I can post a holiday themed set of photos if I want to.

I didn’t take these particular photos. My favorite then-three-year-old took the shots.

Wire  bead maze: a child's up close point of view.

Wire bead maze: a child’s up close point of view.

You kind of get the drift that she’s short. For her age she’s in the 95th percentlie for height. But compared to adults, her view on the world sits a couple of feet lower.

Huggy Bear, Tissues, Flat Screen. What is she saying here?

Huggy Bear, Tissues, Flat Screen. What is she saying here?

I like her perspective, don’t you?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s a photography genius waiting to blossom here, at least not that I know of. She does, like most kids born in the past ten years, seem to have an innate sense of how to run electronic gadgets and make use of them faster, better and more creatively than big people do.

There’s something in her viewpoint I can’t quite put words to. I just know I like it.

“If I push this button like this…”

I especially like her non-posing selfie. Usually she puts on her photo face if she knows her picture’s being taken. You can almost see her thinking here. I like that.

Book closeup. Very introspective, or something.

Book closeup. Very introspective, or something.

Plenty of blurred photos got the garbage can button. And fifteen or more shots of the carpet likewise bit the dust. And eight of just her forehead had to be obliviated. (Yes, I just made up that word: oblivious got verbed.)

I figure you have to crack a lot of eggs to get a few good photos, or push a lot of buttons to make cake, or something like that. Right?

Looking at life from a kid’s point of view isn’t easy. Our adult eyes and our size get in the way. In fact, looking at things through the lens of other people’s eyes proves difficult in the best of circumstances.

What a great reminder from a child.

I think I’ll try looking up, or sideways, more often. You never know what you might see.

~~*~~*~~~*~~~*~~*~~

Here’s my photographic contribution to today’s holiday:

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy American Independence Day everyone!

Let Freedom Ring!

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Catching a Little Action at the Auction

My family tree spreads its branches wide and provides plenty of shade for camping under. I always feel welcomed and loved and part of something wonderful when I get together with extended family for a reunion.

Raising funds to put on a family reunion takes all sorts of creativity and finagling.

My mom’s side of the family came up with a fun idea. In fact, it’s one of the highlights of our extended weekend together.

We put on an auction.

We encourage everyone to contribute something for the auction. The highest selling items tend towards handcrafted or sentimental items. A framed photo of Grandma and Grandpa, their kids and the grandparents going back a couple of generations brought in a hefty chunk of change. A pair of earrings Grandma owned and wore went on the auction block one year I couldn’t attend. I had my cousin bid on them for me via text and I won! That’s the most I’ve ever paid for earrings.

To save time and potential heartbreak, there’s a separate children’s table with donated, pre-priced items the kids can simply buy, no bidding required. Candy and whirligigs, water pistols, jewelry, slingshots, whistles, crayons, balls, more candy. Almost anything that appeals to a child might magically appear in the children’s store.

Cousins and Aunts often bring homemade jars of apple pie filling, salsa and pickles. Those sell for way more than you’d ever pay in the store, but are worth the price. Aunt Judy always sews up something fun, like holiday pillowcases or seasonal aprons. Uncle Farrell made a CD of patriot songs he’d written and sold those one year. A cousin brought a freestanding cabinet he made by hand. And arriving by mail from Hawaii, a painting by my cousin’s wife, stirred up quite the bidding war last year. I’m hoping she sends or brings another one this year.

We even auction off the leftover unopened food items. We’re a thrifty bunch. We’re also a crafty, talented, versatile, generous group of people. I love hanging out with extended family.

My contributions are usually less stellar than most, but I try to bring a few handmade items. This year I tried something I saw in the craft store. It’s a tablecloth.

Here it is. Ta da!

Ta da!

Ta da!

Yup, it’s made of bandanas. Cute, yes? Add some denim napkins tied up with twine, and wildflower filled vase and you have a fun western themed table.

I’ve actually made two. The first one helped me use up all the bandanas I had around the house. Yes, I admit it, I had over twenty-five bandanas in a drawer. I’d bought some to donate to a homeless cause one year and missed the drop off date.  I also buy them randomly when I’m headed out on a camping adventure.

I didn’t have instructions on how to make the thing, just a picture of what it should look like when finished.  As you can imagine I made a mistake or three and had to unpick and resew more than a few times. But it turned out okay. Okay enough for me to use at home, or on a picnic or at the reunion. But not okay enough to put in the auction.

So, I ordered a batch of bandanas from Amazon, washed them up, cut them out and put a color coordinated, pattern matching, auction worthy tablecloth together. Which is the one pictured above. I hope people like it. I hope the bidding gets a teensy bit exciting. If not, I could bid on it myself and give it as a gift, or turn it into a quilt.

If I did this again I’d use whole bandanas and just sew those together. Way easier and faster, although not as cute.

I can’t wait for the reunion. It’s one of the highlights of my year. I’ve got my auction money stashed and waiting. Will there be a painting again? If I win a jar of salsa can I smuggle it home on the plane? Will Aunt Betty’s sayings be memorialized on t-shirts this year?

I’ll have to let you know how it all plays out. It’s sure to entertain us all.

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A Short List of Good Stuff Like Love and Sandwiches

It’s Gratituesday! My life overflows with good stuff and I’ve been a slacker about acknowledging that. Here’s a short “list” of some of the yummies I’ve experienced lately.

Carless

Sure I’m without a car at the moment and have to bum rides everywhere, all the time; but hey, people are kind and generous and willing. I discovered Lyft which has bailed me out for a very reasonable price. And my son and his sweet wife have helped out a ton! There’s a vehicle on the horizon so i’m not in this pickle for much longer. Good thing too, because smelling like pickle juice isn’t fun.

Bent Axle

Bent Axle = bummer

Bent Axle = bummer

And yeah, (add tragedy to inconvenience) I bent the axle on my trusty mountain bike so I haven’t been able to ride for a while, but MSH has okayed and provided the funds for the purchase of an upgraded, snazzier, last-me-for-a-lifetime set of dirt and rock worthy wheels. I just have to pick one out and I’m out on the trails again before the sunrise.

The Heat is ON!

Yes, it’s true, summer is here to stay for another three, or four, or five, months and it’s unbearable outside, but I have AC that’s recently been repaired and I can stay inside and keep cool most of the time. Mornings are, sometimes, cooler than the rest of the day so I can knock out the lawn mowing and trimming and other yard work then without risking my life. And, a friend of my son recently gifted me his no longer needed electric mower, which rocks so completely I can’t even describe how happy I feel. I can plug the thing in and zip around the patch of lawn and be done without ever having to curse, throw out my back, prime the thing or wish death on the inventor of the gas-powered lawn mower motor.

Up Close Love and Sandwiches

Good idea.

Good idea.

And, yes, my kids have scattered to four different states, but one of them still lives here in town and just treated me to lunch at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches today, complete with free desert lollipop.  (If you’re local I’d definitely recommend them, on Alma School Road. I hear they’re in Cali, too.) I couldn’t ask for a kinder, more thoughtful son. He always makes sure I feel loved and cared for. Everyone ought to be so lucky!

Long Distance Love

Yup, my girls all live far away, but I can talk on the phone (no long distance charges like it would have been years ago) and Skype/Google Hangout (if I ever get it figured out) and text and get photos all I want. They’re each happy, healthy, and “living the dream” and that makes me happy. Did I mention another “grand” is on the way in November? Can’t wait!

Traveling Writer

There’s a couple of trips in my future. I get to hang out with my extended family for a bit. And then, later on I’ll spend some time with one of my daughters and her family. Here’s a bonus: I don’t have to drive all day or multiple days to get there, I get to fly. Does that feel amazing or what?

Surprise Gifts

K for Kami!

K for Kami!

One of my sisters sent me these adorable earrings. She gets me. Scrabble and me are like tight friends. She rocks. I get to hang out with her real soon, which will ramp up the cool factor of my summer by at least fifty.

Read This

I started reading again. That’s big news! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to focus long enough to really take in a book. Not sure why. But my reading groove is back. Last week I read two books. Yes! TWO! (Check out “Lila” by Marilynne Robinson, her writing puts you walking on the road next to the main character, shivering along with the snow blowing and praying out loud beside the forlorn.)

Volunteer Work

Sure I wake up wondering what day it is, every, single, morning. But, I’m still mostly upright and coherent and able to volunteer two days a week at one of my all time favorite places in the world. I get to rub shoulders with great people, feel centered and peaceful and help people out in really cool ways. I keep praying my back behaves, my health cooperates and my attitude stays positive so I can keep doing that.

Clap, clap, clap!

Clap, clap, clap!

Feeling Blessed

I hope none of this comes across as bragging or anything like that. I just feel super blessed today. In fact, generally I live a life overflowing with things I can express gratitude for. It’s amazing!

You know what? I’ll bet you do, too.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Will the Real Me Please Stand Up

Friday Letter to my Kids – June 19, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

I’ll let you in on a little secret.

Age slows you down. You swear it won’t happen to you. Then menopause hits, or a surgery or two, or an autoimmune disorder appears. You cope, you adjust, you medicate, you treat, you pursue other options. You age faster than you thought possible.

You sound like your grandma when she used to try to stand up from her chair. Yeah, that sound. Ooomph, uhhhhhh, psssssshhhhh, ahhhh.

You straighten your back slowly, hoping it doesn’t catch and stay crooked. You feel like a lawn mower that’s sat idle over a few months and needs some oil, fresh gas, a new air filter and a sharpening.

One day you try to roll out of bed and wonder what alien life form took over your body in your sleep. Your feet hurt, your legs turn to bags of rocks. Nimble no longer describes anything about you except perhaps your wallet.

Smart man, that Robert Frost guy.

Truth.

The mirror betrays you.

The scale lies.

Your clothes shrink overnight.

Brain cells shrivel and rearrange themselves.

And forget the whole memory thing. I recall at thirty something, staring at Big L and being completely blank on what your name was. I tried to say your name, not even the letter L graced the screen of my brain. Nada. Imagine putting a couple of decades on top of that early memory loss and you’re staring at a mega data sink hole.

I’m fighting it. Not sure where I’d find a personal trainer who helps you win against aging and old person syndrome. But time isn’t on my side and neither are the odds. I pedal my bike pretending I’m sixteen, but looking more than a few decades older and slightly wider than that. Surely there’s more countermeasures to deploy in beating back the aches and arthritis and aging process.

Why do I tell you this, in your prime, your vigorous amazing twenties and thirties?

Photo by Paweł Grzywocz

Photo by Paweł Grzywocz

It’s a sign. it’s one of those small roadside poster sized signs you see two hundred miles from your destination. “There will be other signs,” you think to yourself, “as I get closer.”

And there are. But those miles roll by in the hectic pace of life with kids and schedules and work and fun.

I swore in my teens: “I will never grow old. I refuse to look old or act old or become old!” And now I’m offered the senior citizen discount by the AC repairman without even getting asked for my ID. So what if I saved twenty-five dollars. My already tilted world slanted a bit more and I felt myself sliding toward some abyss.

Well, that’s a bit dramatic.

But still. Imagine that happening to you. At your age! You’d feel disheartened and brushed aside, too.

In my head I’m not really any older than you. Just a little more jaded, a little slower. The real me inside dances to Queen’s lyrics, “we will, we will, rock you!” The real me holds up a lighter and sings “we are the champions, my friend!”

The real me never actually grows old!

Here’s real secret I meant to share with you: neither will you.

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.” ~ Sophia Loren

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Physics for Four-Year-Olds

I took two of my favorite tiny people to the park several times over the past month. We usually go armed with buckets and shovels (and kleenex, just in case.)

Plans of building sandcastles and making weed, rock and sand “soup” fall by the wayside as we arrive. As soon as these two kick off their sandals they head for the swing set.

I get it. I really do. I recall a personal addiction to that sensation of forward and back and up. I remember as a child willing myself to keep sailing upward when I’d let go, imagining that with enough willpower I’d be able to fly. It’s especially thrilling when someone will “underdog” your swing and really send you rocketing, catching a little air at each extreme arc of the swing. Ah, those were amazing days.

photo-26 copy 13

The perfect way to spend a cool May evening.

The just-barely four-year-old decided that it’s time to finally learn to pump herself on the swing. She’s been working on it with her Dad and Mom at different times. I hoped that some particular magic that only Gramma’s possess might contribute to her success.

Sadly, no matter how many times we tried, no matter how it got explained, the idea of when and how much to lean back timed with when to lean forward just never quite jelled. I assured her that someday it would just naturally make sense, that she’d suddenly find that she’s sitting on a self-propelled swing. No need for “someone” to push her.

The last time we were at the park together, a week ago, I assured her that when I saw her again she’d have mastered the art of pumping herself on the swing. I told her that one day it would just make sense and her body would naturally move in cadence with the ebb and flow of the swinging motion. I could say that with confidence because she was moving to a new house with a swing set in the back yard. And, I wouldn’t be seeing her for at least three months.

Now it seems like I’m the one stuck on a weird new swing set unable to get the rhythm of the thing so I can enjoy the ride. That four-year-old moved way East, further east than I can drive in a day or two. Her absence, along with her Mommy and little sister and Daddy, has left me dangling. Quite frankly I don’t feel much like swinging, or doing much of anything. I feel homesick and heartsick even though they’re the ones who left.

Sigh.

It’s more than just their move out-of-state.

All four of my kids are now in four different states, spread out over a radius too wide for my mothering instincts to accept. I’m not sure when we’ll all be together again. I’m extra grateful we had some family together time in Colorado a few weeks ago.

I know, I know. One of these days I’ll find myself spontaneously feeling happy and lighthearted and not weighed down with missing them. One of these days things will click and I’ll laugh without feeling slightly fake. Eventually I’ll welcome the sun’s incessant cheerful rays through the blinds instead of shutting it out and living in a shaded dark interior.

One of these days I’ll feel the swing moving me forward and back, up and out, and my legs and body will follow suit, keeping life moving in a wide arc of joy and growth.

Until then, I’ll just try to understand and accept the physics of life’s forward momentum.

"It's not working!"

“It’s not working!”

Categories: Family, motherhood | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Unbelievable and Shocking Realizations Unfold Worldwide

photo 4-4 copy 11

“Time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking, into the future…” Bad lyrics from a dumb song.

Recent events coupled with historical data have revealed the following true facts that are unquestionably the most unnerving thing you’ll read all week:

  1. Children born in the last twenty to twenty-five years are now in their twenties!
  2. In a related, but so far unexplained phenomenon, adults who once looked twenty are now approaching the age of fifty and beginning to look older.
  3. Sadly, fifty years-olds from twenty years ago, have progressed to the age of seventy and just don’t feel as young as they once did. Congress has dispatched a committee with a massive budget to look into this.
  4. Apparently this oddity extends beyond the human population as well. Cats and dogs, although showing little signs of aging by way of wrinkles and graying hair, nonetheless develop lung, heart and arthritic conditions as they move into the first decade of life.
  5. But wait! Even plant life is affected. Acorns become trees in some miraculous and heretofore unfathomable process. How such a tiny thing can transform into a tall and expansive growth has many average people baffled. “I just don’t know how it happened. My dad and I planted a little nut like seed a few decades ago and now this huge tree stands here in the backyard,” said one unbelieving and mystified eyewitness.
  6. Things that people found appealing and interesting, in fact, even innovative, over thirty years ago, have become mere artifacts of curiosity and sometimes ridicule. For example eight-track tapes, aerobic dance videos, pagers and MC Hammer pants. Somehow, these things and many others find themselves relegated to the same area as golden oldies, fifties memorabilia and blue eye shadow.
  7. Unsure of the relationship, but seeing a correlation nonetheless, not doing regular chores leads to a messy house.
  8. Likewise, the phenomenon of groceries needing to be purchased more than once seems to be part of the, dare we say it, conspiracy!
  9. And sadly, scientists have finally concluded after years of extensive research that toilet paper cannot be successfully recycled for multiple uses. Some think this, too, somehow relates to the above mentioned realizations.
  10. This last curiosity no one can explain, but, brace yourself: clothing wears out eventually.
  11. In a completely unrelated, but still shocking development, being nice feels better than being mean and, surprisingly, sharing makes other people feel good.
  12. Most baffling of all, these things remain consistent across the globe. From Japan to Iceland, from South America to Russia, from Antarctica to Alaska, the phenomenon holds true. The only exception was found in the person of George Hamilton and a few former Disney starlets refusing to act their age. The president deployed the Secret Service several years ago to investigate. Results were still pending.
photo 2-6 copy 8

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx

Can anything be done? Many have been searching for answers for years and years. Sadly, scientists reveal they have no clue as to how to repair, prevent or treat this slowly developing and ongoing process. They fear that side-effects of a cure would lead to malaise, boredom and stagnation. They have considered that some of Einstein’s theories might be related somehow, but they don’t have time or space to figure it out.

~~*~*~~

“They say I’m old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” ~ Dr. Seuss

Categories: Fun, Humor | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Not a Cookie Cutter Holiday

Friday Letter to My Kids ~ May 8, 2015 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know how I was always such a grouch about mother’s day? I’ve decided to give up that silly notion and move on, finally.

I don’t know about other women, but I feel like I came from the planet Venus. Not because I meet some arbitrary list of ideas that some author came up with, but because I’ve never met anyone else like me. There may be other Venusians out there, other Kami-like creatures, but I’ve yet to run into one.

What does that have to do with Mother’s Day? I suppose it’s that I’ve always felt a bit out-of-place and not in my element. I surely never felt like I fit any Mothering Mold. But I’ve come to believe that there isn’t a cookie cutter for Mothers.

Closest cookie cutter shape to a Mom that I could find.

Closest cookie cutter shape to a Mom that I could find.

Mothers take on the shape that they must to meet the needs of their children. At least, most of them do. (I’ve met a few who don’t.) I tried to shape myself to your needs, not consciously, but instinctively. Whether I was ready for the job or not when each one of you came along I molded myself to fit your little fuzzy head and squalling cry. I moved and shaped my days and years to do what I could to make your life a happy one.

Naturally I fell short in that effort simply because I’m a human. And in that shortfall I often felt I’d let you down somehow. Not that I could have done things any differently than I did. I think it’s just part of life that we disappoint those we most love in spite of our very best efforts.

And that’s where my head and heart sat every May when that greeting card angst-riddled holiday of Mother’s Day rolled around. Feeling that I didn’t deserve honor or accolades or chocolates or flowers. Silly, don’t you think, that I’d hold myself to some standard of perfection? I can see now how nonsensical that was.

But having some close calls in losing my mother the past year or two made me think more about mothering. I never felt like my Mom let me down or fell short. She gave me life. She shaped me. She answered my cries in the middle of the night, cleaned up my messes, worked hard at everything she did and somehow still kept loving me in spite of stupid and hurtful choices I made. Amazing!

And that made me think about how much I love the four of you, each in a different, but intensely personal way. I’m proud of each one of you. I became who I am because of your influence and shaping and needs. I’m blessed beyond words to be your mother.

No gifts are necessary. No cards or words or hugs, either. You are my gifts, my jewels, my crowning joy.

Thank you!

All my love forever,

Mom

~~~~~

"Bluebird of Happymess"

The Bluebird of Happymess

Categories: children, Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Friday Letters to My Kids, mother, motherhood, mothers, parenting | Tags: , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Bicycle Heaven

It’s Gratituesday! I’m grateful that I’ve rediscovered my bicycle.

About four years ago I told myself I wanted to “access my inner twenty-year old.” I didn’t think that’d be very difficult, since mentally I mostly feel twenty years old anyway. In fact, when I accidentally catch a view of myself in a mirror I’m always surprised by the older face staring back at me. I sometimes don’t even recognize who it is.

Now I’m thinking I should have stretched a little further and tried to reach my inner sixteen year-old. That chick could haul herself up a two-mile hill on her ten-speed bike and still ride another twenty miles. A fearless, nearly worry-free young woman zipping around traffic, taking a break at the local college campus duck pond, she could eat three Dunkin’ Donuts with no concern whatsoever for their calorie count or nutritional value. She didn’t care what anyone else thought about her either.

What a life. What a woman!

Where did she go?

She’s still in here. I found her a few weeks ago when I bravely strapped on my bike helmet, hefted my leg over my mountain bike’s seat and set out on a short two-mile ride. She and I rode four miles instead and felt amazingly free and energized.

Then we rode the next day, a bit further, a bit faster.

Last Friday that inner sixteen year-old and I went almost nine miles and had energy to spare.

A short break to admire the view.

A short break to admire the view.

We prefer trails and winding paths to roads and sidewalks and will search those out in the weeks and months ahead. Will she and I attempt any mountain trails? Nah, probably not. I do, after all, still have the body of a middle-aged woman, one that hasn’t been very well cared for or pampered. But it’s healthy enough that it can take me and the inner sixteen year-old out on some adventures, beyond the walking paths of the local bird refuge, beyond strolling the city park.

Something crazy happens when I’m sitting in the seat of a bicycle. I can’t define it or decipher it. Freedom, maybe. Youth, perhaps. Self-sufficiency, could be. Whatever it is, I don’t feel like I’m “acting my age” when I’m pedaling a bike. But that’s not important. Who says I can’t ride? No one.

Oh, and don’t worry. No spandex is harmed or used in the making of this wondrous experience. I go more for the rugged-mountain-biker-who’s-been-lost-in-the-woods-too-long look. And I do slow down when I’m in the vicinity of rabbits. They seem confused by humans on bicycles and can dart in front of you with no warning. (A very similar experience to driving a car around Phoenix.)

I’ve had people laugh at me on my bike.Yeah, it happens. I don’t have a svelte biker’s body, hardly. (Hence, no spandex.) But I have the soul and heart of a young girl on her aunt’s hand me down 1950’s bike. That girl discovered something wonderful when the wind blew her hair out of her eyes as she propelled herself anywhere she wanted to go.

That young girl, that teenager, this middle-aged woman, we’re all grateful for two wheels, a well-oiled chain and pedals to take us anywhere we want to go anytime we want to go there.

Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Categories: Exercise, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Going for the Juggler

No, you didn’t read that wrong and I didn’t write it wrong.

You thought I meant to say going for the JUGULAR. That idea: “to finish off your opponent quickly and decisively by cutting the jugular vein, a direct connection to the heart,” is a cruel and ruthless thought.

Going for the JUGGLER sounds similar but isn’t heartless. It’s an innocent thing others do to us, or we unwittingly do to ourselves

Let me explain.

Photo by  Baikonur Juggle these.

Photo by Baikonur
Juggle these.

I juggle. You juggle. We all juggle.

We try to keep lots of things midair in our lives. Work, family, spouses, finances, housework, yard work, gardening, errands, volunteer work, meals, recreation, sports, lessons, extended family, appointments, workouts, goals, car repairs, mental health, hobbies, dreams, friendships, hopes, sleep, relaxation.

The list of juggled items often fills a page or two in our heads, and in our hearts.

How do we decide which things get our time and attention? How do we keep each ball hovering? And are some of the balls actually swords, or flaming batons? Maybe we’ve taken on a running chainsaw and tossed it into the mix of juggling knives and bowling pins.

If we take our eyes off the stuff in the air in order to pick up or add in another item we risk dropping something, or hurting ourselves or someone else.

Then we go for the juggler, which means the busiest person seems to willingly take on the most. The one with dozens of things hovering midair says “yes” to more, thinking that one more small thing won’t create a problem. We think we can pick up a tiny hacky sack and add it to the fray. Admit it, you’ve done it.

I get tired just thinking about it, don’t you?

And then the rhythm gets out of whack and it all starts to come crashing down around me.

So then I drop it all and sit in front of the TV “eating bonbons” into the wee hours of the night. Or I take a guilt-riddled day off and sleep hoping to somehow fill an empty reservoir so I can pick it all up again and start juggling again the next day.

The Big Secret

Here’s a not so very secret detail that I’m still trying to deal with: There are only twenty-four hours in a day.

Don’t you just hate that?

And almost a third of those hours should involve sleeping. That leaves sixteen hours for every other thing I need to juggle.

No matter how organized or prioritized, somethings on my list will never, ever get done.

It’s true.

I try to accept it. Embrace it. Give up. Well, I don’t exactly give up. But I try to embrace reality.

Once in a while I add a number to each item on my to-do list. The number represents how much time this item will take up in my day. I add up the numbers and always realize it exceeds the number of hours I have available in the day.

I have two choices at that point. I can either eliminate some items so it all fits, or I can attempt to shorten the amount of time each item takes to complete. Or, in my alternate universe, I can conjure up a third option: magically make the day longer.

Unfortunately, I haven’t quite mastered the third option.

Jugglers Circus Amok photo by David Shankbone.jpg CC BY 2.5

Jugglers Circus Amok photo by David Shankbone.jpg CC BY 2.5

Honestly, I’m not as busy as I once was when my kids all lived at home. But somehow, my life has managed to fill up with more to do than three women with super powers could get done in a day, or a week, or a month. Makes me wonder how I ever managed when I had a house filled with little and medium and big people to take care of. I suppose I became a Master Juggler Extraordinaire! The word Circus best describes how it got to play out some days. In fact there were whole years that fit into a three-ring fully tented circus at our house.

Sometimes I just have to let it go, drop a few balls, bowling pins, chainsaws, flaming batons, and swords, and admit some of those things aren’t as important or vital as I once thought they were

Really.

Pass me some chocolate, then you have some, too.

Categories: Priorities | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Nameless: The Bear Who Still Lives, Sort of

Friday Letter to My Kids – April 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

When I need to get some conversation started with someone I don’t know well I often mention my Grand-dogs, Blondie and Pabst. Almost everyone can relate to dogs and dog stories. They always get a chuckle out of the term “grand-dog.” For sure it’s a real thing. I bought some doggie treats the other day to have around the house. Is that a Grandma thing, or what? It’s probably the closest I’ll ever come to dog ownership given your dad’s anti-dog attitude.

Kind of along the same lines as pets, with an imaginative metaphysical leap, stuffed animals fall in a similar category.

This one's on ebay and labeled Vintage.

This one’s on ebay and labeled Vintage.

The first stuffed animal to join our family back in the very early eighties was Peter Cottontail. I know you all know him only as “That Creepy Bunny” but he once had led a charmed and happy life. When Peter first arrived, Big J had also just arrived. (Hard to believe the man i stand on tip-toes to hug was once such a tiny snuggable babe.) If you wound up Peter’s key he’d play the song “Here Comes Peter Cottontail” in sweet music box chime, while his head moved from side to side with the music. His fur was soft, his blue velvet jacket removable, and his whiskers ever so cute.

After a few years, in an attempt to keep him from getting destroyed, Peter spent some time in a box or two, and in storage more than a couple of times. Then he became an Easter decoration. Somewhere along the way his blue jacket got lost, his whiskers bent and his head movements grew jerky and odd, more like a tick than a dance. Oh, and his song kind of warped. In fact, I haven’t seen Peter for a while now. I’m a little worried about him. Probably made the migration to another box in the garage. I’m not sure he’s going to get to be a real bunny. But that’s another story.

Other stuffed animals came to stay, most for a long time. The Care Bears that your Grandma M made captured my heart. And Sparky moved away with Big L and now frolics with her littles, flatter and smooshier than he was when he got named by Grandpa M.  And then there’s Lambie, a few years younger than Peter and much fluffier with a wind up chime that still plays. Where did Lambie go anyway? Hmmm.

Then there’s this guy…

Big enough to sit up in my office chair.

Big enough to sit up in my office chair.

This bear came to me in my early teen years. A snuggly friend to hold and talk to when I felt friendless and forlorn. (A common malady called puberty, if I recall correctly. As per Baymax.) Somehow I never named this bear. How strange is that? He came along with me when I moved out of my childhood home, but shortly afterwards developed a leaky foot. Pieces of stuffing bled out of him in spurts and squirts and made a mess. He got put in a mending pile, then the mending box, then a box of his own. I finally, finally, finally fixed his owie last year so he doesn’t leak. But still, no one really plays with him. Is he too big? Intimidating? Lacking a personality? Maybe if he had a name he’d seem friendlier and more approachable. Maybe he needs a little messenger bag that hold treats and chocolate, a kind of bribery for friendship deal. I just don’t know.

He probably needs to hang out on the couch so he can pick up some pointers from watching Netflix, TED talks and PBS. Frankly, I’m a little sad for him.

The playgroup?

The playgroup?

Maybe I can get a playgroup going between him and the White Tiger, Beremy, the Huggy Bears, Chicken, and Giraffe. Red Pig and Crocodile will want to be part of the gang. Maybe Lambchop can join in too, if he can promise not to sing that endless song.

I’m a little worried that I’m even considering such things. I’m sure I just need to get out more often. It might be time for me to find a paying gig. Or go back to school.

I’m fine. Really.

In the meantime, If you have any ideas for a good stuffed bear name, let me know. I’m open to suggestions.

Lots of love,

Mom

~~~~~

P.S. Do you remember The Teddy Bears Picnic? Click here to listen to it again. Good times!!

Categories: Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Nose Knows

It’s Gratituesday!! I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I appreciate my lovely nose and it’s amazing abilities to open up the world and all it’s delights to me. Today I’m once again thankful for that sense, but in a different way.

You see, I’ve been extra sensitive to smells lately.

Maybe I’m just finally coming out of the seasonal allergy haze and fog.

While reading out on my front porch swing I distinctly noticed a smell I knew that I knew but couldn’t identify at first. I kept reading, but part of my brain went on a search for the name of the smell drifting about the front yard. It smelled vaguely of rain, but looking up I noticed not a cloud touched the sky. Then I looked around and finally saw the source and explanation of the smell. It resembled rain only in that water and cement were conversing. Water ran down the gutter in front of my house, just a small trickle, but enough to set my nose tingling.

Photo By Keith Weller%2C U.S. Department of Agriculture [Public domain]

Photo By Keith Weller%2C USDA [Public domain]

Went out for burgers with MSH the other night and the shake had a smell I couldn’t let go. Made it difficult to enjoy the ice cream. I asked him to smell it and he said, “smells like raspberries and vanilla ice cream.” I thought it smelled a little too…dairy farm. Perhaps the metal shake mixer hadn’t been washed very well all day. I don’t know.

I’ve noticed my hands continue to hold on to scents even after I’ve washed them, particular after doing yard work. Dusty, sweaty, soil-ish, leafy, rocky, rake handley. Yes the handle of a rake has a smell. Don’t believe me? Go out to your garage or shed and see what I’m talking about.

Tomatoes hanging on the vine send a distinct smell into the back yard. That’d be expected if I touched the plant, but I was quite a distance from the green and pink orbs and still felt very aware of the tang of tomato leaf.

Have you ever smelled carrots just pulled from the ground? That, my friend, bares experiencing. Mmm, good. Even if you don’t like carrots.

Right now some trees are blooming with big purple clusters. To me they smell like artificial grape flavoring. But I’m probably off my rocker. And then, my son’s been using wood tools in the garage which leaves behind the delicious smell of sawdust, which is a favorite scent, right next to campfire smoke and bacon mixed with fresh mountain air.

Even rinsing the split peas recently to make use of the leftover Easter ham placed the smell of those peas into my head like a thick curtain. Have you ever noticed the smell of split peas? I don’t remember ever noticing how they smell. Sure, the soup cooking smells great, but that’s a different thing than just wet split peas. Try it some time.

The smell of a swamp cooler has made its way into my truck, which makes no sense whatsoever. Sure I’ve run the AC a bit since we’ve flirted with temperatures in the nineties, but where would a damp smell come from in the dry air of Arizona?

Photo By Jeremie63 (Own work)  via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Jeremie63 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

I think it all started a few weeks ago when MSH spilled milk on the family room rug. He hadn’t mentioned it to me since he cleaned it up as best he could with some towels, but a day later the whole house smelled like something had died. I cleaned out some weird places trying to find the source of that horrific smell. Finally, MSH mentioned the milk spill and that explained it all. We dragged the 8×10 foot rug outside to the patio table and hosed it off, scrubbed it, hosed it off again and let it dry for two days. The smell went away, but my nose, apparently, never recovered from the assault.

Now I notice every little molecule of weird smells.

The difference in the toothpaste I use and the toothpaste MSH uses smells distinctly separate. And bread just a couple of days old starts to smell too yeasty for my palate.

Surely you’ve noticed that the DMV smells like stale cigarette smoke mixed up with shoes that have been left out in the sun for a month. As if that place doesn’t have enough reasons to avoid it.

If you happen to see me with a sour or confused look on my face, don’t take it personally. I’m probably just deciphering some odd smell that’s attacked my senses. It’s been an interesting olfactory journey the past few weeks for which I’m strangely thankful.

In the meantime I think I’m going to get some spicy Thai food and see if I can’t shock the old schnoz into behaving normally.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments
 
 

The Power of a Few Blankets

Friday Letter to my Kids – April 3, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

I grew up in the no-bike-helmets, no-parental-supervision-all-summer, kick-the-can-long-after-dark, stay-away-from-the-river, eat-all-the-sugar-you-want and drink-red-Koolaid era. We lived fearlessly and with abandon.

boogeyman (not John Travolta)

boogeyman (not John Travolta)

Why then, as a child, would I feel the need to hide and protect myself at night, at home in my own bed? Why would my nighttimes fill up with so much fright and worry?

I have no idea. Honestly. I’m just a weird kid. Or I was.

Okay, let’s be honest. I still am weird.

If anything, the world’s gotten scarier the older I’ve gotten, but not in the boogeyman kinds of ways. And of course, I can talk myself through the things that go make odd noises in the dark, usually. But I do still sleep with a light on if your Dad is out-of-town or hasn’t come to bed yet.

I suppose I’m just a creature of habit.

From as young as I can recall I’ve always gone to sleep with the covers over my head and just my nose and mouth poking out for breathing.

That’s not an easy thing to achieve. Getting the covers to wrap around your head and eyes and still snug in under your chin takes some skill. It’s trickier if you’re sharing the bed with someone, which I have for most of my life. The secret, I suppose, lies in scrunching down low enough on the mattress, toes almost touching the end of the bed.

Floating head phantom creature.

Floating head phantom creature.

Most people waste that bottom twelve inches of mattress space, but not me. It’s necessary to use every bit of leg room for proper cacooning under sheet, blanket and comforter.

You wonder, no doubt, how I came to sleep this way. I have no idea. Perhaps I was cold one night as a tiny munchkin and discovered the perfect sleeping arrangement. Everyone knows if your head is warm the rest of your body will stay warmer. I’d guess that’s how sleeping caps came into vogue back a few centuries ago. I could go for one of those some nights even now. Except that I have my head wrapping sleep position down to a science.

The other possibility lies in this true fact: I’m a born worrier and a ‘fraidy cat. It’s true. I didn’t come into this worry addiction by accident. I’m certain I arrived, heaven’s dust still shining on my little chubby cheeks, worried about some potential catastrophe and scared outta my newborn diaper about every little noise and new thing in the world.

He looks harmless enough, but watch out!!!

Only looks harmless…

That’s a lot to come in to the world with. Maybe I learned to be afraid of the dark, although I think that came as part and parcel of the whole Kami package. I remember yelling for Mom from the safety of my warm bed after a scary dream, or needing a drink. I’d yell a good ten minutes or more if that’s what it took. My poor mother. I must have done that a few thousand times to her. Little did I know at the time what I was doing to her sanity and her sleep deficit. (Sorry, Mom!!)

Karma, also known as getting what’s coming to you…

I suppose all the middle of the night waking you kids did while you were young could be defined as Karma. I had it coming to me.

Afraid of the dark and worrying about life made me want to hunker down under the covers and hide from the world, especially the nighttime world. I somehow felt protected by those few inches of cloth, from whatever intruder, ghost, goblin, boogeyman, specter or fearsome creature might appear in my bedroom.

Mike? Mike Wazowski? Gah!!

Mike?

Maybe my bedroom door really did open up on Monsters, Inc. back in the day. Who wouldn’t be petrified if Sulley, or Mike Wazowski, or heaven forbid, Randall, appeared in their bedroom from time to time. Oy vey! But, I don’t believe in monsters, so that can’t be why.

I suppose why doesn’t really matter. I suppose I just wanted you to know a little something more about me. Maybe it explains something you never understood about your dear Mom. Or maybe it just cements the idea that you have an odd mother. That’s okay. It’d be as close to the truth as you can get.

Hey, occasionally I find myself falling asleep just fine without my head protected and my eyes covered. Of course, I’m usually reading a book when that happens.

Happy Dreams!

All my love,

Mom

photo 1-9 copy 8

~~~~~

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” ~Ernest Hemingway

Categories: Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Growing Fruits and Nuts: Wreckage and Heartache

Just before leaving a friend’s house recently someone picked up a book from the coffee table and read the title aloud: “Growing Fruits and Nuts.”

Since I’m a gardener I naturally replied, “Sounds like a book about raising children.”

Pa dum shush.

Thank you, thank you.

Wreckage. Photo by FEMA.

Wreckage. Photo by FEMA.

Not long after that little laugh, I talked with a different friend. I knew this already, but sometimes reality drops a big loud steel I-beam nearby so that you sit up and take notice.

I realized that some people’s children and some people’s relatives really are nuts. Fruitier than a fruit cake. And meaner than a junk yard dog.

Bonkers, out of their minds, bizarre, weird, wired wrong, whacked.

Call me naïve, call me altruistic, but don’t call me Shirley. (The name’s Kami.)

I’ve never understood families that refuse to speak to each other. Or who treat each other with disrespect. Or spouses who keep living in the same house but clearly should not still be married. I can’t figure out how someone can treat a parent with indifference or ingratitude. Abuse of children? Almost unforgivable.

I really really really don’t get meanness. I especially don’t grasp manipulative, cruel, self-centered behavior when it’s aimed like an assault weapon at a direct blood relative.

Psychological abuse at the hands of family seems crueler than any form of physical abuse. But I could be wrong.

Can someone explain this to me? I am confused and mystified.

And my heart tightens up and twists itself into knots for anyone who feels they are stuck living this way.

I’ve tried to laugh it off, but it isn’t working. I don’t think it’s really a joking matter. Do you?

***

Here are a few sources that I researched trying to find some understanding or a way to help:

Band Back Together

Who Are They? Abusive Men and Women

Parental Abuse 

Invisible Victims 

Five Steps to Free Yourself

Tornado aftermath. Not unlike psychological abuse and the damage it does. Photo by John LeGear at TimComm.com with permission via Creative Commons license.

Tornado aftermath, much like psychological abuse and the damage it does. Photo by John LeGear at TimComm.com with permission via Creative Commons license.

Categories: Family, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments
 
 

Light and Dark

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 27, 2015 –

*****

Dear J, J, L and L,

I wish I could dispense amazing tidbits of wisdom and peace in these letters to you.

Although, that’d probably just come off as advice, which I really don’t want these turning into. And I’m not really all that wise, just old. Older.

Think about it. In twenty years a couple of you will practically be my age and I’ll be my mom’s age, give or take few. That ought to blow you away a little.

Here’s the thing. Time doesn’t always equal wisdom.

Time amounts to experience, which some people confuse with wisdom.

Compared to some people’s stable, lived-in-the-same-town-forever lives, I’ve had a bunch of experience. But compared to other lives, I live a sheltered existence. The closest I get to some things comes across a flickering screen. And that’s fine with me. I don’t want those kinds of experiences.

A couple of weeks ago I read this thought that hit me full on in the face with how simply profound it felt.

Don't know who to attribute this wisdom to.

Don’t know who to attribute this wisdom to.

Wish I’d had that a year or two ago. Wish I’d known and believed it twenty years ago. I’m certain I’ll need a reminder of it in the future as well, dang it.

We all need reminders of certain things. This one now serves as my big reminder about who am I, where I’ve been, what I want, what I’d like to overcome. Hopefully this reminder will help me.

Maybe it’ll help you sometime, too.

By the way, you’re each part of the light I learned in. Thanks for that.

***

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been.” ~ Mark Twain 

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Celebrating My Son’s Rescue ~ Four Years Ago Today

“We are all ordinary. We are all boring. We are all spectacular. We are all shy. We are all bold. We are all heroes. We are all helpless. It just depends on the day.” ~ Brad Meltzer

Today I celebrate three heroes who saved my son’s life four years ago. Here’s the blog post that I share each year to tell the story and honor those three and all the other angels who helped that day.

Click here to read the story that goes with these photos.

Thank you, thank you, thank you Michael Harrison, Rustin Crawford and Sarah Crawford for saving Jeremy’s life, and in the process saving mine!!!!

~~~~~

(If anyone can get me a photo of Michael so I can include his angel face in my memorial, please comment. Thanks!)

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Mugging It for the Camera

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 20, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

A solid, deep blue basic. My go to mug.

A solid, deep blue basic. My go to mug.

I went through a kitchen cupboard this week in my continuing efforts to downsize, declutter and dejunk. I also sorted and organized one of the messier drawers since Dad couldn’t find a twist tie and I knew we owned at least a thousand of them. What a tidy drawer the plastic bags and foil and waxed paper have to live in now.

In my defense, most of what resides behind those closed doors and drawers exists for those mythical and rare times when the entire family gets together. Your Dad and I only need a few of everything, even on our wildest cooking days. But when it’s time to fondue, or holiday dinner or family barbecue then we need more than a dozen plates, a zillion drinking glasses, multiple forks and knives, myriad amounts of pans and bowls. But for the other 361 days of the year we have far too many things in our cupboards.

Might be a collector?

Might be a collector?

This particular cupboard received a comment probably half a year ago. Something having to do with owning more glasses and mugs than a small nation needs. It’s true. Between the glass cups I prefer and the blue plastic ones Dad likes, the sippy cups for the littles, and all the other odd mismatched ones it’s an overabundance of drinking paraphernalia. That doesn’t even include the mugs and teacups.

I pulled all the mugs out of the cupboard first. Ah, such fun memories. I have a bit of a collection, one that could be on display except that it’s not classy like china. Granted it isn’t a shot glass collection, or salt and pepper shakers from around the world. It’s just a small taste of my past life. I admit I’m a bit of a hot chocolate fiend. Having the perfect mug that fits my mood when I mix the elixir simply adds to the pleasure of the experience.

I though if I paraded my mugs perhaps it’d help me decide which ones to let go. Maybe you want to claim one or two for yourselves. I think a couple actually belong to you guys. Let me know. I’m happy to pass them on to a new life.

I have a few more around the house that became pencil holders when the handle broke or the lip chipped. A purple Venus, a silver snowflake, a blue speckled tin. I can’t seem to let things go. isn’t that weird? I think so.

There’s some history in these mugs. Lots of cold mornings with a steaming cup of cider. Some snowy afternoons with hot chocolate to thaw your toes from the inside. Plenty of sick days with Russian Tea warming the mug and soothing your throat. It’s been fun looking at them with you.

You know, it’s not the mugs I’m hanging onto so much as it is the memories. Seems like that’s what it all really comes down to in most decisions. People, not things.

Love you all,

Mom

~~~~~

“Hot chocolate is like a hug from the inside.”

Categories: Family, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Turning Corners and Finding Open Doors

 

Picture from a quote I found on an old calendar.

Picture from a quote I found on an old calendar.

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for open doors.

About a month ago, maybe a little more, I felt life turn a corner. Nearly a tangible sensation, I felt lighter, aimed a different direction, moving forward on more level ground. Where I had been for the past year or so inclined at such a sharp angle I could barely hang on. And then, I felt different.

You see, as I turned that corner and the ground leveled out some, I spotted an open door.  Am I ever grateful for open doors! It’s as if someone let fresh oxygen inside a carbon dioxide filled room. Whoosh!

Hey, I’m even grateful for doors just barely cracked open. That sliver of light showing through can make all the difference to my stumbling around in the dark or making progress.

There’s been some door slamming going on in the world around me over the past year or so. The shock of a slammed door, even an expected one, sets my hackles rising and raises my stress levels, although you’d never know it on the outside, or so I’ve been told. I’m always FINE. (Have you seen the movie “The Italian Job?” They have a different definition of the word FINE: Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional. Yup, I was just FINE.)

So, several doors slamming right around the same time. Closed doors. Opportunities gone. An era over. Life lived small. Seasons ended.

I try not to freak out over the slamming, closing, lost, missing, ended stuff. But I’m an insecure being wrapped up in my attempts at faith and hope but surrounded by these personal storms, getting drenched with a blown out umbrella and no rain jacket.

neurosis. (n -rō’sĭs) A psychological state characterized by excessive anxiety or insecurity without evidence of neurologic or other organic disease, sometimes accompanied by defensive or immature behaviors. This term is no longer used in psychiatric diagnosis.

According the Dictionary.com and current psychiatric reasoning, I’m not neurotic. I just get really anxious and feel insecure about life, occasionally, sometimes, often, almost always. Especially when the doors all close behind me and I’m waiting, watching for, praying about and working at finding an open door. I’ll even take an open window, I can climb through windows.

Lots and lots of light slipped in through chinks in the walls and chinks in my armor.  In fact, there was a skylight blazing a couple of times a week. It hasn’t been all darkness and doom. Joy has happened amid the undercurrent of loss and lost. There’s been help, lots of it. And hope. Mostly, but not always.

I’m not one to pronounce gratitude for those closed doors, though. It’s not in me to do that. I don’t see it as a requirement for Sainthood or for Decent-personhood either. Although I can recognize value after the fact in what I learned stuck behind a door.

A couple of doors opened when I turned that corner a month or two ago for which I’m ever so grateful.

The next time a door starts to creak open, I’m pushing my foot in so it can’t close up. I’m ready for full on, unfiltered sunlight. I like the happiness, the whateverness of something different.

 ~~~~~

“When someone you love says goodbye you can stare long and hard at the door they closed and forget to see all the doors God has open in front of you.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

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One of the Coolest Kids I’ve Ever Known

Friday Letters to My Kids – March 13, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

One of the coolest kids I’ve ever known showed up in my house the other day. Actually, it was a photo of him.

In it he’s about six or seven years old. A first grader I would guess, or maybe the summer before second grade. He’s got a great set of wheels, complete with hand brakes. The Northwest sun reflects off one of his slightly chubby cheeks, which he inherited from his Mom’s side of the family.

Is this cool, or what?

Is this cool, or what?

He’s smiling, but just barely. I’m not sure if the camera simply captured him before he reached full grin or if he was going for a certain look.

He’s got a James Dean confidence in his stance, on his face, in the way he rests his hand on the bike. And, this important detail, he ain’t wearing no sissy helmet.

Not that the little guy on the right is a sissy.  He probably went on to rock the quarterback spot of his High School football team in Gig Harbor.  I liked his family. Nice people, salt of the earth people. I feel bad we lost touch with them.

Big J here, on the left, loved riding that bike. A year later he got a Joe Cool skateboard because, frankly, I’ve always thought of him as a Joe Cool. Suave, relaxed, charismatic, able to master any skill he set his mind to.

He’s still that way. Except the bike is way flashier and a helmet would not be a sissy thing at all, not at those speeds. And he has a hot blond who rides on the back with him. He can also do anything. At least, I think he can. Change out an engine on a car? Why not? Design, engineer and build a custom part for his ride? Easy. Make a computer do whatever the heck he wants it to? Cake. Need any kind of repair in the house done?? He’s got it handled. No problem.

On top of such coolness he’s a nice guy, too. He’s one of the first to stop and help push a car to the side of the road if they stall out in an intersection, or do a gas run for a car on empty. He’ll go out of his way to help a friend or a member of his family, even if it means missing out on sleep or giving up something he wants. How cool is that?

You might not be able to tell from this picture, but he’s got a bit of a teasing streak and loves to laugh, too.

This kid shows up at my house on a pretty regular basis, live and in person. Am I lucky or what? He’s still just as awesome as this picture shows.

I sure do love this kid.

Love,

Mom

~~~~~

“Dream as if you will live forever; Live as if you will die today.” ~ James Dean

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The Things You Learn Whether You Know You’re Learning Them or Not

It’s Gratituesday! I’ve thought this one over for a while. I’m grateful to my parents for teaching me some cool stuff.

For instance, Mom taught me to sew as a little bitty thing. I remember sewing little drawstring bags and carrying my treasures in them. Not sure what had more value, the bag or the things in the bag. I’ve since sewn a few thousand things. I’ve made  quilts, baby blankets, skirts, dresses, shirts from scraps, pillowcases and a zillion other projects. I’ve hemmed countless pants and dresses, and altered clothing beyond imagining. I even made a living for a while using my sewing skills. How about that?

By Dongui (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Dongui (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Mom also taught me the basics of playing the piano. Then Dad and Mom both put up with listening to me crank out bad versions of pop songs and classical music. And Dad, he paid for lessons from Mrs. Kump, since they  thought I’d learn better from a different teacher for a while. I’ve played for a zillion different things and have even segued into playing the organ occasionally, which rocks, in case you’ve ever wondered. Of course, this lead naturally to a love of all these musical.

Mom sang in a music group and I learned to sing alto by listening to her practice as well as by sitting next to her while we sang hymns in church.

Dad instilled a love of all things gardening and growing. I still recall his engineering quality maps of our yard with every single plant mapped out in amazing detail. I loved getting my hands in the dirt, watching the veggies grown, picking fresh raspberries, mowing the lawn. I still prefer doing yard work to house work, even in Arizona.

They also taught me, indirectly, the satisfaction that comes from serving others. I learned, without words, that you stay and help clean up after an event. By example they let me see and feel the joy of helping others whether by bringing in a meal, helping shovel a neighbor’s driveway or listening to someone’s worries with genuine concern. Some of my happiest memories link to volunteer work, freely giving of my time and being available to share my talents just like I saw them do so often in my childhood.

Photo By Joe Tordiff [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Joe Tordiff [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Both Dad and Mom gave me experiences that brought me to love the outdoors. As a family we went on hikes, motorbike rides, sledding, camping, horseback rides, trips to Yellowstone and Grand Canyon and countless other state and national parks. We got out on snowmobiles and hung out in a canoe fishing. We build snowmen like no one else could. We had an epic treehouse that Dad designed and built complete with a sandbox, both of which fueled out imaginations. We spent tons of time in the mountains, which feel like a second home to me.

Mom taught me the basics of canning and preserving food. We used to make the yummiest apricot fruit leather this side of anywhere! I still get kind of puckery in my cheeks remembering that sweet/sour taste. Her pickled beets are the bomb. And no one, and I mean nobody anywhere, makes raspberry freezer jam like my mom does. I’ve tried and mine’s only a close second.

I learned to laugh from both Mom and Dad. Raising all of us kids wasn’t easy, to put it mildly, so to hear them laugh out loud was a treat. Their laughter dispelled some of the tension that inevitably snuck into family life and always reminded me that recreation and relaxation and daily laughter help balance out the tough times.

Photo By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (VW Van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (VW Van) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons (Not the one I actually drove.)

I know how to drive a stick shift! How many people do you know can drive a vehicle with a manual transmission nowadays? I learned to drive on hills in a dual wheel converted flatbed truck as well as in a VW van. Because of that, driving the largest rental moving van across the country wasn’t all that intimidating a few years later.

I love to read and learn new things. I got that from both of them. That right there is probably key to all the rest of the stuff they taught me. And even now, they’re still learning new tricks, as Dad likes to call it. I hope I’m still soaking in the knowledge when i reach my grownup years like them.

These few things I learned from Dad and Mom have bounced around my head lately. I’m sure grateful to have learned so much. I think I turned out okay, so far at least. They must have done a good job.

P.S.

I’d still like to learn how to whistle like Dad does. Maybe this summer he can teach me.

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Are Your Edges Tucked in Neatly or Sprawling?

Friday Letter to my Kids – March 6, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

Last night your Dad told me I’m predictable. This floored me. Sure I like to have some stability in my life, some routine. I seem to function best when I can anticipate and plan. Aren’t most people that way?

And you four, of all people, know my life has been mostly anything but predictable. I’ve learned to be a chameleon, adapting to all the various hues life’s thrown at me. Sometimes, I’ve felt like one of those Color Race runners, smeared in so much color it’s tough to figure out who’s who. I’m flexible and easy-going. That’s not predictable, is it?

In homage to my perceived unpredictability and spontaneity I even changed my mini chalkboard to this quote recently:

This week's thought...

This week’s thought…

Compared to your Dad, I suppose,  I’m a brick of predictability, a Stonehenge-sized rock of boringness, an Easter Island statue of immovability.

People keep holding up these mirrors that show me I’m not who I think I am. It’s a little unnerving and discombobulating and confusing and annoying.

I am cheerful though, usually. I at least try to maintain cheerfulness amid my staunchly dry toast without butter demeanor. Sitting here at my freshly cleaned up desk and pristine “writing room/guest bedroom” I look at my bulletin board and read these thoughts which daily remind me of my wish to be contagiously happy and sunshiny.

See, cheery thoughts that I look at multiple times a day. I might be predictable, but at least I’m smiling.

Why do I see being predictable as something negative? I’m not sure your Dad meant it as a negative. He probably said it as a fact, something with no value judgment attached at all.

There’s much to be said for predictability, stability and stick-to-it-iveness. It’s pretty much what keeps the world going forward. But then, so to, the unpredictable, unstable, outside-the-box-thinkers, who never want to color inside the lines or conform to anything. That’s where innovation and invention lives and produces. Mostly, anyway.

This saying also hangs within view from my desk:

photo 3-5 copy 11

A good idea.

It should probably be in Dad’s office and not mine. He has bigger dreams than I have. Mine are tiny and tentative and his are the epic kind that can change the world given a foothold. Or I could make one for each of you, since you’re young when dreams have such promise and possibility.

I guess I’ve always seen myself as a creative thinker. But, really, I’m a schlumpy, by the clock kind of person. I like to be on time or early. I like to have things to look forward to. I like a schedule and a plan. Even if I’m not great at following through with those plans. I need structure.

Where each of you fit on that spectrum, I’m not certain.  I know I’m wowed by what you accomplish and by how fearlessly you face forward. As always, I’m amazed that you’re my kids. I think you’re more like your Dad than like me. And that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

Really, you’re each simply a good mix of both your Dad and me and a bunch of stuff that’s uniquely your own. It’s fun watching you be you. Not a one of you has been predictable yet.

I sure love you!

Mom

~~~~~

“In fiction: we find the predictable boring. In real life: we find the unpredictable terrifying.” ~Mokokoma Mokhonoana

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Getting Healthy in all the Right Places

Doctor’s waiting rooms seem ripe with all sorts of possible bad outcomes. Don’t you agree?

I always wish I had my own bottle of hand sanitizer after simply opening the door to go in.

There’s those pens, the ones with flowers taped to them so no one takes one. Who’s going to walk off with a bacteria laden pen from a doctor’s office? Not me! Even minus the fake flower. Not to mention the clip boards. I’ll bet no one has ever swiped a disinfectant wipe across one of those boards o’ infection. The arms on the chairs? Ew. Potential illness abounds.

Let’s not even get started on the magazines from 1990 something, or last year, or even last month. Petri dish some of those pages and see what you come up with!

Brrrr.

Brrrr.

Last month I availed myself of the attentions of a new doctor, an internal medicine specialist. Nice guy. He looks like he’s about the same age as one of my son-in-laws, who happens to be a med student.  Putting my health in the hands of someone so young seems like kind of a scary thought, but then he seems up on the latest studies, schools of thought in Europe versus here in the States. And he takes his time with me. No sense that he’s in a big rush to get to the next patient.

Bonus points for this: he only treats grown ups. Grown ups have complicated, twisty knotted up weirdness in the physical health area. I’d suggest an internist if you fall into that category. So far, I like the guy.

So this young internist writes out a series of tests that he says I need. Labs, scopes, prods, pokes, whatever the heck you’re supposed to do on a regular basis that I (cough) rarely do. So I’ve spent the past month or so doing all that fun stuff. At one of the funner procedures, NOT the one I wrote about, I got put in a little dressing room, put on a gown which would become completely useless in no time, and took a seat next to some nice, crisp, newish magazines. I was told to wait. Or maybe I was supposed to say, “Ready or not, here I come,” when I was decent. I don’t remember.

Anyway, I had a minute to read one of the magazines called “Experience Life.” I laughed when I read the title. Like I need a magazine at my age (relatively young-ish) to tell me anything about experiencing life. I found the idea rather humorous. But, surprisingly this one article caught my attention. In fact, it riveted me to my seat and made me forget my half-nakedness. That’s pretty impressive power.

"Healing Spaces" the book

“Healing Spaces” the book

The title of the article is “Healing Spaces”. In fact you can CLICK HERE to read what I read, only online. It’s written by Esther Sternberg, MD, who excepted it from a book she wrote called Healing Spaces: The Science of Place and Well-Being. I checked it out from the library and can’t wait to read it.

Basically, these ideas took hold when someone noticed that patients who could see trees through their window while they were in recovery left the hospital a full day earlier than those without a natural view. This prompted a variety of studies which have come up with some fascinating conclusions about things that help improve the healing process. Conclusions I happen to support wholeheartedly, based on personal experience.

Don’t you love it when research backs up what you already know? Makes me feel kind of brilliant. Ha!

So what sort of things has this research concluded help us to heal faster? I’m glad you asked. These things right here:

  • Quiet places
  • A place in the sun
  • The presence of loved ones
  • Places that smell good
  • Walking paths and labyrinths
  • Places of belief
The Riparian on a rare rainy day.

The Riparian on a rare rainy day.

All those things already top my list of priorities. My sanity requires regular quiet mornings and my wandering walks. The Riparian Preserve where I walk fills up some awesome smells that change with the seasons and the weather. Living in the desert Southwest I get lots of glorious sunny days.

The baking I love to do makes my home smell heavenly and right now the air is thick with the smell of citrus blossoms. Some of my most cherished moments each week I spend in sacred places. And, I know I feel better and happier when I spend regular time with family and friends.

Based on where I spend my time and this book, I ought to be one of the healthiest people around.

According to my doctor and all those tests, I’m in great health, with a couple of things I need to work on. (Aren’t we all a work in progress, or egress?) I’m pretty sure that the time I spend in all these places keeps me in better health than I deserve. Mentally, I’m certainly saner than I’d be without such places in my life.

So breath deeply, wander some, soak up some rays, enjoy family and friend time, hang out somewhere sacred and luxuriate in a bit of quiet. Your body and your brain will thank you.

~~~~~

“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.”  ~ Linda Hogan

Categories: Mental Health, Nature, physical health | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

What A Card!

Friday Letter to My Kids – February 27, 2015 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

So I’ve been slowly sorting through some of those boxes of papers I told you about. It’s like watching a glacier move. Oy vey!

But I’ve run across some real gems among the odd pieces of paper I can’t for the life of me figure out why I still have in my possession. Old church bulletins, receipts from ten years ago, to do lists with half the items scratched off, envelopes with nothing in them, bills from forever ago. Sadly there have even been some grocery ads in the piles.

I shake my head at myself.

But that’s beside the point. The point today is I found treasures among the flotsam!

I’m talking about treasures like this card from Big L. It so perfectly captures the essence of our family life then and now.

Boy, that's an understatement!

Boy, that’s an understatement!

What it says inside is even more priceless.

Which reminded me of other cards you all have gifted Dad and I over the years. Like this one on Dad’s desk, which gets funnier considering the non-scruffy awesome dude Little J ended up with.

Princess Leia rocks!

Princess Leia rocks!

And this one from just last year that I seriously want to frame. Sparkly orange and practically daring me to feel happy, its message has brightened the kitchen and my days for a while now.

Bringing it!

Bringing it!

And this reminder from Little L that in spite of all the weirdness of life we should still dance, love, sing and live with abandon and joy.

Good advice!

Good advice!

I think this card from Big J to Dad captures what family life often felt like for each of you, especially as we moved around so much and finances were rollercoasterish.

Close to the truth, sort of.

Close to the truth, sort of.

Closer, still.

Closer, still.

Getting this postcard in the mail from Switzerland made my day, as did seeing it again recently! I loved that you had that chance, Little J, to explore Europe with nothing but a backpack, a friend and courage. That you made that dream happen in real life, not just once, but twice, makes it even better!

Aw…Switzerland!

Aw…Switzerland!

I know I can’t keep every greeting card from every celebration. But there’s definitely some worth saving. I’m thinking I need a binder just for the best of those cards. They capture funny moments and sweet reminders. You never know when a card you pick out will brighten someone’s day beyond the day it’s meant for. These sure have added light to mine.

You each bring light to my life regularly, often through some remembrance of a time with one of you, a conversation, an event, jumps to the front of my thoughts and briefly I relive the joy, the angst, the laughter, the strangeness, the us of that moment. It gives today perspective and depth and light. You each have, and still do, bring me joy. Exponential joy!! Thank you for that. I’m pretty sure no card exists that expresses quite what I feel toward the four of you.

I look forward to all the future moments we share, whether in person, or through a card, an email, text, Facebook, private message, phone call or Skype. I love seeing your lives opening out and becoming what they are.

All my love,

Mom

~~~~~

Love from Mom

Love from Mom

“What a card” = a phrase meaning an amusing or eccentric person

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Clean as a Whistle and Twice as Musical

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m thankful that the day is over with. This is a day I’ve dreaded and avoided for almost five years.

My buddy Kathy used to nag me about this day. I ignored her. And she was not an easy person to ignore. But, I finally did it. She can rest easier now.

And I’m here to say I survived the entire process leading up to today. Which at the time seemed impossible.

Should be a controlled substance.

Should be a controlled substance.

Notice I didn’t say I enjoyed the process. I did prepare as best as I possibly could. I found some great info online which I’ll include at the bottom (ahem) of this post so you can, when you eventually find yourself in need of the info, easily find it for your own reference.

This snippet from Dave Barry helped lighten the mood when I was in the thick of thin things.

Basically if you’re under fifty you can just stop reading now. Seriously. Just stop. Now.

I mean that.

I really do.

Stop.

So if you’re still reading and under fifty, you’re a glutton for punishment. There are things about life that it’s best just not to anticipate. Things like getting older.

As a teenager I swore I would be one of those adults that never acted or got old. I was going to ride my bike to work rain or shine. I would also have one of those I love nature-gardening-healthy-living tans. I would hike mountains even when I got as ancient as forty.

I had this image of adult life based on, I don’t know, zero facts about reality. Things like what pregnancies do to a woman’s body, or how endless years of sleep deprivation take a toll.  Or the harsh reality of how eating chocolate to ward off mood swings leads to harder drugs like diet coke which apparently contains stealth fat cells riding in on non-sugarlike substances magically becoming toxins that make you look hundreds of years old and make you want more chocolate.

My adult life plan pretty much was everything my life as an adult has never even remotely resembled. That sentence made no sense. I blame the drugs from earlier today. And the lack of food.

I’ve only gone without food since 9:30 this morning. But that’s a technicality. Liquids don’t really count as food. Salted carmel is still on the table for whether or not it counts as a clear liquid. I say yes now, but I said no yesterday, which is probably for the best.

I’m just so relieved. (Poor word choice, I know.) But I am literally and figuratively relieved that this is all in the past.

What is it Timon and Pumba say to Simba?

“Ya gotta put your behind in the past.”

Sounds about right.

The dreaded C word happened. and now it’s over and I don’t have to think about it again for ten whole years.

Yes!!

The C word? Oh, not the BIG C word. The little c word. Colonoscopy.

And really, the procedure itself isn’t so bad, especially since I had some happy medication to put me into what the nice doctor called “a chemical sleep.” She put something in my IV then asked me about my best vacation ever and then I woke up. I felt happy and relaxed and so glad to be done.

Next time I'll leave my phone at home.

Next time I’ll leave my phone at home.

In fact, on the way home I kept laughing for no reason. And then I texted my daughter this:

And then I banned myself from the internet for a few hours.

Like most things in life it’s the preparation before hand that takes it outta ya.

I’m talking about the following: A clear liquid diet for twenty-four hours. Followed by four Dulcolax tablets, a gallon of lemon Gatorade mixed with the harshest chemical ever invented and a long night sitting commando in “the reading room.”

My friend texted me this morning to see how I was doing. My response…”I feel drained.”

If you didn’t click on the Dave Barry link earlier, you definitely should now, because 1) no one can describe how my evening went last night better than he does and 2) no way will I attempt to put such an experience in my own words.

Thank goodness for Netflix and it’s portable distraction.

Never ever again will I drink lemon Gatorade. Or think about lemon Gatorade or look at it either. In fact I might be cured of all forms of artificial lemon flavoring for life.

Give me some food, and I don’t mean cucumber honey lemonade. I want a salted carmel sundae and some bruschetta. Well, on second thought, maybe some nice warm creamy soup and some good bread with real butter first.

To paraphrase Maxine, the grouchy Hallmark card lady: “I have inner beauty…and I have the pictures from my colonoscopy to prove it.”

So grateful today, and yesterday, are behind me.

~~~~~

Here’s Twenty-Seven Insider Tips from people who’ve been there done that.

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments
 
 

Tiny Toes and Sticky Fingers and The Best Snuggles Ever

It’s Gratituesday! It’s been a day where I couldn’t narrow down just one thankful thing. The day simply felt abundant and overflowing.

But then, I had some company for the evening. That helped me focus on my best thing for today, or most days for that matter.

Tiny toes, big energy.

Tiny toes, big energy.

See these little toes? They’re attached to a bundle of mischief and non-stop energy. It’s almost miraculous that I’ve ever captured a picture of them at rest. They belong to my favorite one-year old.

She and her sister spent a few hours at my place while their parents took a breather. MSH played his jazzy stuff on the piano while they danced and I looked on, loving their creativity. Then I suggested we trade places so he could see what great dancers they’ve become. They know how to move like you wouldn’t believe. But, sadly, I don’t play the fun songs you can dance to. I play the kind of songs kids sing along with.

The one-year old climbed up on my lap and helped me play the piano, just like her mother used to do at that age. As I turned the pages of the songbook, the Big Yellow Songbook, and played and sang, I realized I’d come full circle again.

You see, my mother used to play those songs for me on the piano while she sang and I looked at the pictures. Then I played for my daughter. And I played for her oldest daughter and tonight I played for the youngest.

I wanted to freeze the moment, take a forever photo. But the one-year old got squirmy and climbed down and the moment slipped away. I suppose an image and a feeling mentally stored is the best I ought to hope for.

I know I’m lucky to get to experience such a collision of past and present. I’m grateful I noticed when it happened.

Life doesn’t usually morph into slow motion complete with background music at the important scenes. Sometimes we don’t have a clue that we just witnessed a pivotal interaction until much, much later. They don’t usually arrive on holidays, or at orchestrated photo sessions, or during recitals or at organized events.

Most of the time the important stuff occurs without fanfare or fireworks.

Thankfully I had a chance to watch dancing and sing songs and, (here’s the important part) I paid attention. Lucky me.

Now my heart is dancing to the music.

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Curing my Paper Addiction

Friday Letter to my Kids ~ 2/13/15 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

photo 1-6 copy 11My favorite three-year old gifted me these origami cranes a while ago. No, she’s not an origami master, but her mother’s pretty handy in all things crafty. They’ve got a few of these hanging around at their house. Using paper that’s been previously written on adds value to the pieces. I can make out a few words but would have to completely dismantle the crane to read what it actually says. That’s kind of where origami began, as a way of sending a message where the reader would know if it had been read because the folding sequence would be out of whack.

I love paper. Notebooks, book books, notecards, drawings, sticky notes, envelopes. (Not so much a fan of mail though, bills, advertisements, newspapers.) You probably knew that.

I’ve always liked the idea of handcrafted papers, I love their textures and the uniqueness of each page. It’s as if the blank paper is already art and whatever you write on them enhances or is enhanced by the medium it’s written on.

Did you know paper once was a very rare commodity? I learned that recently. Kind of made me want to hoard a few notebooks.

Oh, wait. I already have a paper stash. Actually more like a used paper warehouse. But you know that. You lived with it all your growing up years. And it’s not really a stash, it’s more of a paper monster.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

Not sure if this is the paper monster or me afraid of the thing.

I’m slowly getting it tamed. Pulling such a beast into a submissive state takes willpower and courage and a few other gifts I’m rather sketchy on.

Several weeks ago I finally cleared my desk. By clearing I mean that I took everything off the desk and made a ginormous pile behind me to sort through. I’m hoping most of it ends up in the recycle bin. A few too many papers have migrated back to the desk already, in no particular order. And a smaller “to be sorted” pile emerged from the first gigantic “to be sorted” pile.

Your dad says he can see progress. He’s so kind to me. I’m not so sure there’s any improvement.

Also, in the garage, I plan condense a shelf of ten boxes of random papers into one or two file boxes of organized documents, and then fill the recycle bin to the top two or three times. I think I have twenty years worth of Christmas cards among those boxes. Pretty certain I don’t need them all.

Do you ever wonder if a hundred years from now paper documents will appear on Antique Roadshow as something stunningly rare and worth zillions. If future archeologists uncover my garage or my office they’d feel like they found the mother lode of paper.

Here’s the thing, which probably sounds like justification or excuses to you, but it’s the truth. Bunches of those papers have this magical power over me because they’re from one of you. I could probably part just fine with the school papers and class assignments. But the notes you’ve written to me or your dad, the pictures you drew, those snippets of “who you were” need organizing and special care. Does that sound dumb? I’m sure it sounds so stupid.

Simply letting all those papers go into the recycle bin somehow feels as if I’m letting parts of you slip through my fingers. Nonsense, yes, I know that.

If I could approach the task as a museum curator perhaps I could finally succeed in whittling away the amount of papers I have squirreled away.

cu·rate
ˌkyo͝oˈrāt  verb
  • select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition)
  • select the performers or performances that will feature in (an arts event or program).
  • select, organize, and present (content, information, etc.), typically using professional or expert knowledge

Perhaps, with that sort of thinking I could manage the task of taming the paper monster. Maybe my kid museum could be one binder per child. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

I’d classify my interaction with paper as a love/hate relationship. As I attempt to tame the monstrous paper fiend that hides in the garage (and the smaller but equally tenacious paper boogie man in my office) I hope to find some balance and health in the process.

Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My paper monster could someday look just like this, ya think? Photo By Ron whisky (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I could whip that paper monster into shape until it’s a warm, fuzzy, unthreatening thing in my life.
It could happen.
I think I’ll hang the cranes over my desk as a message and a symbolic reminder that I’m a curator and not a hoarder. Wish me luck!
Hugs and Love to you each,
Mom

 ~~~*~~~

 

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Tapping In to the Cosmic Stream: Or How I Hope to Become a Brilliant, Rich, and Beloved Writer

Let’s be honest here.

I don’t always go walking first thing in the morning. Occasionally I sleep in.

But usually, I try to do just that. Walk. Not sleep in. It clears my heart, opens it up to possibilities, keeps me on this side of sanity.

But, occasionally my body rolls over at four a.m. and tries to trick me into believing that it’s time to wake up. Ha! I’m not fooled. I can see the clock, (yes, I still have a digital alarm clock bedside) red numbers humming in the darkness. I tell my brain and body to slip back into a cozy sleep, “dreams upbeat and entertaining, please,” and snuggle down into the comforter.

Sometimes it works.

Sometimes my brain kicks into high gear and THINKS! It’s brilliant at that time of day, oddly enough. If I could simply attach a cable between my head and my laptop I’d be a famous writer, winning big prizes. But alas, something happens in that walk down the hall from pillow to chair.

All that brilliance leaks out the bottom of my feet, I think, soaking into the carpet, squishing between my toes. By the time my fingers reach the keyboard every amazing thought, perfect word and funny joke has leeched from my body.

I always think I will remember.

Yes, yes, yes, I do have a notebook sitting on the nightstand, but I don’t use it. I suppose I will repent of that immediately and start scribbling in it the next time Superbrain makes an appearance in my bed at some ridiculously dark hour.

Confession.

I’ve done that before. The notebook thing. And I usually can’t read what it is I wrote. It’s a jumble of swirls and dots and scratches, with a random word I might vaguely recognize.

Solution.

I could type or record a note to myself on the semi-intelligent phone device I have sitting on the nightstand. That might work. Although I find the artificial light scares away most of my wisdom and all of my semi-wakefulness/semi-sleepiness.

Image by  By Mark J Sebastian (Abstract (#41272)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 

Very cool Image by  By Mark J Sebastian (Abstract (#41272)) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Maybe the truth of it all, since we’re in confession mode, is that I’m not really all that brilliant, awake or sleeping. Maybe I tap in to some cosmic stream of thought that we all somehow connect to while we sleep. I capture little wisps of it in my partial wakefulness and think it’s all me. Probably not me at all.

Call it the muse. Call it inspiration. Call it divine intervention. Call it crazy. I just think I’m part of something much bigger than myself. That thought gives me comfort and makes me feel more connected to the rest of humanity. Or at least to the better parts of humanity.

One of these mornings I’ll manage to capture some wispy cosmic light and brilliance and transfer it to a written bit of something. We’ll all be amazed. I’m sure of it.

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Winter Wonderland, Desert Style

Misty morning.

Misty morning.

Hey! It’s Gratituesday! Look at this!! Can you believe it?

Homegrown heaven!

Homegrown heaven!

Tomatoes!!! Yes! Fresh hanging on the vine tomatoes in February! Holy pico de gallo!

I’m so excited to see this. I tucked these babies in every night for over a week while we had freezing temperatures in January. I mean I literally tucked sheets around the plants to keep them warm and alive in the cold hours of the night. These are four-foot tall tomato plants too, so bedding them down took more than a few sheets and some perseverance.

Sunshine captured!

Sunshine captured!

Just a few steps to the south hang these beautiful shining orbs of sugary delight.

I squeezed a few for breakfast this morning. Oh my. Nothing else in the world smells like a freeze squeezed orange and nothing can imitate that liquid gold taste. I didn’t even need to add ice since it’d been a brisk night.

And then there’s walking at the Riparian. A hoodie is all that’s needed to keep warm enough  while walking at sunrise lately. A nice change from the twenties of a month ago and a vast distance from what I experience during the summer.

Puffy pearls.

Puffy pearls.

These puffy pearls captured a bit of sunlight as it passed by, the dew still clinging and cool. A mist hangs over the ponds until the sun peaks over the horizon chasing it away. Geese clamor and honk as they travel overhead. Such drama queens.

Winter mornings like this one, with homegrown tomatoes, oranges just plucked from the tree and scenic walking conditions count as just a few of many things that make living through a Phoenix blast furnace summer worthwhile.

It’s odd how that all works out. A sort of a balancing of the scale in terms of weather.

Do you suppose the scale balances in other ways as well? I like to think while going through tough times that seem relentless and unbearable, that life eventually balances out the scales. That joy, with a greater heft and depth than sorrow holds, brings things even. I could be wrong. But today, that feels true. I hope it is.

I’m feeling extra blessed by our mild winter gifts. What more could a person ask for?

Always making a ruckus!

Always making a ruckus! But hey, it’s a nice day anyway.

 

 

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments
 
 

Friday Letter to My Kids: I Hope You Laugh

Dear J, J, L and L,

You know that poster that hangs in the guest bathroom? The one with all the little bits of wisdom to make for a happier life like “Call your Mom,” and “Sing in the Shower”? Life’s Little Instructions. Yup, that one.

I think I’d add a few of my own.

See I can make a meme, just not very well.

I could do it…

  • Laugh some every day

  • Give at least one hug daily

  • Cry like you mean it, don’t hold back

  • Write it down so you’ll remember

  • Naps are okay, encouraged even

  • Grow something

  • Get outside and do something

  • Remember childhood Happies

  • Make new Happies

  • Have some quiet time daily

  • Get rowdy at least twice a month

  • Dance

  • Sing

  • Crank those tunes

  • Ditch the to-do list sometimes

  • Put yourself in time-out and enjoy it

  • Sleep somewhere odd

  • Be a tourist in the state you live

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

  • Smile more than not

  • Wink at little kids

  • Roll down a grassy hill when you can

     

That’s all stuff I ought to remind myself of, often. Maybe I can get your dad to play along with some of them. Not sure I can picture him rolling down a hill, unless it’s unintentional while skiing. Ouch.

And of course, everyone has their own definition of rowdy. Let’s just all keep it legal. (Wink.)

I hope you laugh! And sing and dance and love life!

 

Love you tons,

Mom

 

p.s. I could make this into a cute meme if I wanted to spend the time and understood computers better, but I don’t. So here’s a drawing I made of myself instead. Way faster than creating a meme.

photo-25 copy 23

Sending lots of love!

p.p.s. It seems like a long list. Probably because it is. If I thought about it for a few days I could narrow it down some. But, it’s Friday and I wanted to get this letter out to you today. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A List to Remind Me That the Sun Shines

Aspens. My favorites.

Aspens. My favorites.

MSH reminds me when I start ranting about something and threaten to write about it on my blog, that I always intended for this project to lean toward the positive and optimistic.

Then I remind him that I’m also “keeping it real” which might not always come across as roses and sunshine.

Keeping It Real

How real do I feel comfortable with here on the blog? How real am I comfy with in person? All last month I’ve debated this with myself. And I didn’t write much during that debate. Lost my groove, I guess.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

I felt braver a couple of years ago. Bolder. Speaking my mind came easier. Opening up about my life happened naturally and with less reserve.

This past year, in many ways, I’ve caved in on myself. I’ve tucked in the frayed edges. I keep the strained or raveled seams covered. I’ve inched toward a more hermit-like life. I used to do that during the month of January every year. I saw it as a naturally occurring regrouping and recovery from the two or three-month holiday season.

My January recovery session during the past year stretched into eleven other months. Maybe longer.

An online friend of mine wrote a (somewhat annoying) glowing top ten account of his past year for the following reason:

“Things can get difficult, and you never know when I might need to remind myself that these things happened, and how and what I felt like when they did.” ~ Brad McBride

Good reason to write up a top ten, you gotta admit. Even if it annoys semi-irritable people like me.

I’ve just survived a year (2014) where I needed to remind myself of happier times to get myself through the day or the week.

I’ve also just been through a year (2014, yes, same year) with some amazingly wondrous good things happening. I mean A-MAZ-ING! Happiness like nothing I’ve ever known.

Talk about a paradox.

I’ve felt lost and found, abandoned and loved, forlorn and supported, ready to give up and anticipating greatness, numb and electrified. At times hope eluded me and then there it shone like a stunning sunrise nearly blinding me.

So what would be my top ten good things for 2014?

  1. My oldest daughter’s new baby girl
  2. The volunteer work I get to do
  3. Hanging out with my favorite teenager while driving her to and from tutoring
  4. Spending time with a certain three-year old
  5. Snuggling from a fun-loving one year old
  6. Almost the entire family together for a weekend in November
  7. A Christmas concert extraordinaire
  8. Summer sunrise walks
  9. My family reunion – time with Mom and Dad
  10. Sitting in a high mountain meadow for hours with MSH

See, my life’s filled with wonder and joy. I just forget sometimes. The difficulties can cast such deep long shadows that block out the sunlight in such a way it almost feels like night. I just need to step out of the shade and let the sun warm me from time to time.

Am I Right? Or am I Write?

This blog has been a source of light for me as well. It’s like a conversation I have with myself to sort through things and make sense of the world. So I add a number eleven to my list.

11. This writing thing.

So I’ll keep things real. The good, the ugly, the stunning, the what-the-heck. Life as I see it written down right here just for me.

If you want to follow along, you’re welcome to join me. Just don’t make too much noise. It is morning, after all.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Hope, Mental Health, Sanity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Ring Dings

It’s Gratituesday! When we first moved to Arizona we had very light, almost white carpet on the stairs just ten steps from the front door. The bedrooms and hallways also had the same impractical carpet. It was a no-brainer that we’d be one of those families. You know the ones. We became a family that didn’t wear shoes in the house. So right next to the front door a shoe pile grew.

I tried all sorts of ways to keep them organized and neat. Mostly, about once a week, everyone had to haul all their shoes to their bedroom closets and only leave one pair by the door.

Dirt Happens

The carpet still managed to get dirty.

The shoeless habit stuck with us. We’ve lived in four houses in eighteen years and shoes still come off and go on at the exit door. Not so much for the clean carpet, ours is dark beige now, but for the comfort and routine of it.

What does this have to do with gratitude today? I’m getting there.

Look closely at this photo of my wall by the front door.

photo 2-3 copy 18It just looks like a paint job needing repair I suppose. Or little pencil marks. We have dorky paint in this house. It was at one time a repossession by the bank and got a cheap paint job before we ended up living here.

This is the kind of paint that comes off if you take a damp sponge to it to wipe away fingerprints. Why do they even make that kind of paint?

Cheap Paint Happens

The only way to “clean” a wall in our house is to very carefully dab at a spot and hope the paint sticks. Otherwise there’s a can of touch-up paint I use sparingly to keep the fingerprints and such at bay.

But if you look at the wall photo I pointed out, those aren’t fingerprints. Nope. I’m not even sure what to call them. Dings? Nicks? Marks?

It took a bit of thinking but I figured out what they were and how they got there.

You see, every time MSH slips his feet into his shoes by the front door, he puts his left hand on the wall to steady himself. And often, if not always, his wedding band taps, dings, or touches the wall. Given the nature of the paint it invariably leaves a mark. There’s quite a collection of the dings in a small area.

Rather than painting over them in frustration, I’ve decided to leave them there for a while as a sweet reminder of MSH’s travels to and from our home.

Honestly, sometimes I’m glad when he leaves, but I’m also really glad that he always returns. When he’s traveled for work there were weeks and months when the departures happened often and arrivals were brief and coveted.

I see those marks as the adult version of sticky fingerprints, I suppose. Every once in a while things like that get cleaned up and taken care of. But in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the ring dings. I’ll count them as a blessing, since they’re really just evidence of MSH and the thirty plus years we’ve shared.

Strange, I know. But hey, paint is cheap.

Photo by Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil

Photo by Jeff Belmonte from Cuiabá, Brazil

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Throwing Down the Gauntlet of “I’m Not”

Razor-Jr.-Folding-Kiddie-Kick--pTRU1-5250467dt

I can’t find that picture I took of her riding around when she first got this contraption. So this will have to do.

My favorite three-year old brought her scooter over during her last visit. So of course, we headed outside for a nice walk through the neighborhood. I pushed her sister in the stroller while she zoomed ahead on her scooter. Every once in a while she’d stop, sit down on the scooter and wait for me to catch up to her. As I got closer she’d pop up, put her speedy foot to the ground and rocket away on the sidewalk. Luckily she’d been taught to stop at corners so I don’t have to yell or run ahead.

If I had on skates or was on my own scooter, I’d still have a tough time keeping up with her. I think she’d go a couple of miles before she felt even a little tired. Oh, to have such energy!

When we decide to head down the grassy hill to the playground, she attempts to ride the scooter through the grass, but meets too much resistance in the thick green lawn. So she steps off and drags the scooter behind her.

photo.PNG-2 copy 3

We’re talking thick over-watered winter grass of Phoenix.

Yup! She drags it sideways, with the center of the wheels catching on the long grass and the body of the scooter adding more drag. If I didn’t need to manage the one-year old and the stroller I’d show her how simply pushing it in an upright position, rolling along on the tires requires less effort and more efficiency. I suggested it, with verbal directions. Her reply? “I’m not.”

That’s how she answers most things she’s not interested in doing, eating, working at, giving in on or sharing. “I’m not.”

Just two words and she’s said all she’ll say on the matter.

There’s no reasoning, bribing, cajoling, begging, threatening or consequence that changes her mind once she’s decided “I’m not.” (Her parents have better luck with this, but I’m not the parent. I’m the pushover.)

So when we leave the park with me awkwardly pushing a fully loaded stroller up the grassy hill, she once again, drags the scooter sideways until we reach the sidewalk. I offered to carry the scooter on the stroller and she replied in her two-word manner. “I’m not.”

Independent little thing! Ya gotta admire that!

I wonder sometimes if I’m like her with lifes… stuff. 

I buzz along at a nice clip, enjoying the ride and then I encounter resistance. (I think I deal with the long thick grass or rocky terrain much more often than the smooth sidewalk, but that’s probably a skewed and incorrect viewpoint.)

I could patiently step off and simply push in a slightly different way, with my wheels still rolling forward. But, more than likely, I throw my “scooter” on its side and drag it along, making things harder than necessary.

photo-25 copy 20

Feeling drenched by my bad attitude.

Maybe I’m a bit dramatic about a situation and blow it out of proportion. Or maybe I assume the worst possible outcome. Perhaps I fail to deploy my optimism umbrella and instead get drenched by pessimism.

When life gets hard and stays that way for too long, what do I do? I throw down my own well-worn gauntlet of “I’m not.”

More than likely I’ve forgotten to notice the happy stuff going on around me and I only notice the one or two big negatives. I even get argumentative with people I like, or complain out loud about “how hard my life is.” What a downer. Then I feel worse because I’ve hurt people, relationships and myself.

Funny how a three-year old can teach a lesson without even trying.

I think I need two photographs of Miss Smarty-pants and her scooter; one of her zipping along and one of her dragging the thing behind her. I could use the reminder that I have a choice in how I ride and how I manage the roughs.

It’s time to set my scooter upright and push it through the grass.

I’m sure that before I know it I’ll feel the wind whipping through my hair as I push-off once again on one of life’s smoother paths.

 

 

 

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Will Your Mom Let You Come Outside and Play?

Do you want to build a snowman?

photo 1.PNG-2 copy 2My youngest shared this photo of a snowman she and her husband built on Christmas day. Looks picture perfect doesn’t it? Looks like he could come alive. He brings a smile to my face in a big way.

photo 2-4 copy 6Then my favorite three-year old created this work of art and her Mom sent me the picture. A different flavor than the real snowman, wouldn’t you say? I think the furthest one on the right finds its roots in the movie Frozen, where the snowman dude, whatizname, gets repeatedly discombobulated.

That’s the closest I’ll get to a snowman this winter, unless I take a trip north, which I haven’t any plans to do so far.

Sandcastles seem more likely. I see sliding and swinging in today’s forecast as well.

We’re flirting with record high temperatures this January, which I don’t mind after a week of babysitting my frost sensitive plants earlier in the month. I always feel a little silly tucking sheets around my tomatoes, peppers, flowers, herbs and a couple of shrubs. About thirty tomatoes survived, so I figure the work paid off.

I’ve got important company coming to visit for a couple of days. My agenda’s pretty full.

I plan on working on some epic sidewalk chalk drawings in the backyard with two of my favorite tiny people. Maybe we’ll try hopscotch, too. And cookies. We have to bake up something scrumptious together. I’m sure we’ll take time for a walk around the ‘hood, maybe say hello to a few dogs while we’re at it.

For sure we’ll pop in our favorite DVD, “Animusic” and dance around some to that. And we’ll try to follow along to Dance Party 2. We might look up Dance Party 1 and really go crazy. And playing the piano needs to happen for sure.

And maybe we’ll get out the glue and glitter, construction paper and random bits and pieces and see what we can create. The one year old will probably just eat the cereal, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

If it rains some while they’re here, even better.

I’ve stocked up on Sruit Snacks and chocolate milk and Goldfish crackers. And there’s always some banana bread handy. And we’re having spaghetti for dinner, with some braided garlic bread. Don’t you wish you could come over to play with us?

Do you want to build a snowman?

I sure do.

I can hardly wait!

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Still Kami: Bringing Me Back to Myself

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Geese making a noisy run for it.

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 16, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

I read this book about five years back called “Still Alice” by Lisa Genova about a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s. (It’s coming out as a movie soon, but of course, the book is better.) Since then, and since my Mom’s stroke, I’ve thought about getting older and memory loss a whole bunch.

Frost lace on a December morning.

Frost lace edging the leaves on a December morning.

Some days I already feel ancient and ready to call it a life. I never dreamed that by this age I’d feel old already. Creaky, slow to get going in the mornings, aches, pains. Some days thinking about living another twenty, thirty or forty years just about puts me over the edge. I know this is tough for you to grasp since you’re all still really young regardless of how old or mature you might feel.

Anyway, the real point I want to get to is this. If I start to forget stuff, or get a bit of dementia, or if I just need lots of physical care, could you please make sure I get my daily fix?

I know for some people that’s a morning cup of coffee, or a diet coke, or some chocolate, or maybe a certain news program, a half hour of Jeopardy, a glass of wine, a good laugh, prayer, meditation or a zillion other possibilities.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

Mid-january leaves carpeting the pathway.

For me, my daily fix comes in the form of nature. When I start to forget who I am a walk at the Riparian always brings me back to myself. If I can’t fit in a walk then just sitting on the porch swing can kickstart the old psyche. Even as a kid in midwinter with the temps hovering at minus ten, I’d find a way to get my daily dose of sunshine, usually curled into the shape of the sunlight coming through a window.

If you have to put me in a nursing home or care center it’d be best if they had a sunroom, or a little garden. If, heaven forbid, I have to live in an apartment I’d really really really need a patio or porch and some plants with a hummingbird feeder and maybe even a bird feeder.

Indoor plants don’t cut it. I always manage to kill them with kindness and attention, or inattention, I’m never sure which.

What is it about a body of water that's so soothing?

What is it about a body of water that’s so soothing?

A daily walk or stroll will keep me from tipping the scale from sanity to insanity, even as my legs and eyesight and mental capacity all wither away.

Yup, I count nature as more important than books, if you can believe it. Of course, I wouldn’t say no to an audio book or large print novel to read while I sit outside in the shade or the sun.

That’s all for today, I guess.

Oh, except, I hope you know what your daily fix is. What’s that one thing that gives you daily energy, fills your morning bucket, floats your twenty-four hour boat or keeps you moving forward every day? If you don’t know I hope you find it soon and then make sure it happens regularly. It can help keep you cheerful even in tough times.

Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Nature isn’t all that little, but a tiny bit of it every day keeps me steady and strong.

Loving you in a big way,

Mom

Yesterday's sunset at the Riparian.

Yesterday’s sunset at the Riparian.

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Nature, Outdoors, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

An In-Law with a Dance in His Step

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful for an extra father-in-law. Yes, you read that correctly.

MSH’s mom remarried about thirty years ago. Thing is she married a rancher. Everyone thought she was crazy heading off from a life in California to help raise the last half of a Wyoming cattleman’s children and run a household.

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

By Nikodem Nijaki (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

My kids always called him Grandpa. They didn’t care about family politics or the ins and outs and etiquette of widowers or divorced people. My kids only knew they felt loved from both of those people on the ranch, as well as the aunts and uncles and cousins they rubbed shoulders with. My son especially loved spending time up there. I suspect Grandma’s “good groceries” had something to do with it. I think getting the chance to ride motorcycles, drive trucks and tractors at a really early age, and generally spending the day outdoors and getting dirty kind of endeared him to Grandpa.

Grandpa showed equal attention to all the children and grandchildren and made no distinction whatsoever between his or hers especially when it came to grandkids. He capacity to love seems infinite.

I still remember him holding each of my girls on his knee and telling them stories and nursery rhymes. His favorite one he recently recited to a great-granddaughter. You have to read it closely or you’ll miss the subtle nuances.

Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard

to get her poor daughter a dress.

When she got there, the cupboard was bare,

and so was her daughter, I guess.

He has the most innocent and yet mischievous twinkle in his eye when he ends that rhyme.

What a marvelous sense of humor! I suppose you have to have a capacity for laughter if you live the life of a rancher. The whimsical humor of weather, insects, and markets could leave a person in a sour state of mind more often than not. He’s got the sweetest disposition you could imagine.

He loves to dance and can hardly sit still if a good dance tune starts playing. I’m pretty sure that’s how he charmed my mother-in-law into marrying him.

By Cgoodwin (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cgoodwin (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

His family, one of the first homesteaders in the valley they live in, raised eggs when he was a boy, dairy cows when he got older. He moved on to beef cattle after the dairy cows nearly wore him out. He’s seen his share of setbacks, heavy sorrows, challenges, health problems and heartaches. And yet, at eighty-one he gets restless in the winter without enough work outdoors to keep him busy.

Once spring starts thinking about appearing and the calving starts, he’s an energized, sunup to way past sundown ball of energy. I think he can outwork an eighteen year old.

I’ve never met a friendlier person either. When they visit us here, I swear he sees more people he knows than I do. He says he’s never met a stranger because he always introduces himself and gets to know a person right off. He has a kind heart to go with that friendlier demeanor, too.

Oh, my! Saints have nothing on him for the patience he has. But if you do something mean-hearted or downright wrong you’d better be prepared for an argument you won’t win. Rancher’s aren’t people to mess with.

In all his spare winter time he used to coach wrestling at the local high school as a volunteer. He changed lots of lives for the better that way. You could ask almost anyone who’s known him what a good man he is and what a difference he’s made in their community. They’ll back me up.

Grandpa might be short in stature, but he’s got the character of a giant. He’s one of the most valiant men I’ve ever known. What an honor and a blessing to know him and to count myself as family with him.

Thank you, Gary! You’re a bright spot of sunshine in the world!

 

~~~~~

“If you get to thinking you’re a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else’s dog around.” ~ Will Rogers 

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

North by Northwest, Then East Toward the Sunny Side

Friday Letter to my Kids – January 9, 2015

Dear J, J, L and L,

We moved to the Northwest when only two of you had joined the family. What an adventure for all of us. That many years ago cell phones didn’t really exist yet. Surprisingly, we didn’t experience any car problems, which if you recall our travel history, probably made it to the record books. Driving that far with two little kids on my own (your Dad was already working and had found us a place to live) helped me feel like a mini-rockstar.

Happiness!

Happiness!

I’ll never forget when we pulled up to the local playground to wait for your Dad to bring keys to the new apartment. You both hopped out of the car, relieved to finally escape and stretch your legs. Little J immediately walked over to a boy on the monkey bars and said, “We just moved here. Will you be my friend?”

That floored me. What a direct and honest thing to say. Luckily, four year olds aren’t all tangled up in social customs and nonsense. They just say what they think, do what they feel, go with the mood.

Both of you made friends with kids of all ages when we lived in that first apartment, which helped me get to know the adults associated with those kids. You made the big change to a really new place so much easier. (As a side note, do you remember picking wild blackberries in the woods nearby? I think I might still have a scar or two.)

We added Big L to the family while we lived there. Then we moved a couple of years later, forty miles north. I loved that restaurant we went to that had the little train that ran on tracks suspended from the ceiling. They served this appetizer called an onion loaf. Basically fried onion rings packed into a bread loaf shape. But my tastebuds sidetrack us here.

We still have a cassette tape (which I should transfer to digital) of a typical morning there. For some reason there’s a cat in the house, although we didn’t own one, must have been a neighbor’s. I love hearing your voices, our discussion about needing lunches packed or buying lunches that day. Big L saying “stupid cat,” over and over again. And figuring out who was walking or riding with who. I think it might’ve been raining (ha, like that’s a wild guess for up there, huh?). Ah, good times.

  • Big L discovered knots when we lived there. She used to disappear into my closet and tie all the shoes together, which made getting ready to go somewhere an interesting exercise.
  • Big J played Lego’s every single day with, what was his name? And took shortcuts through the  golf course to visit your friend whose Dad worked for Nike.
  • Little J fell in love with the movie “Beaches” and ate candy bars and drank Cokes every afternoon with her best friend Sara.

I had a friend there too. I don’t remember her name. Maybe if I dug out an old journal I’d find it, but I don’t think I want to remember a name. We weren’t friends all that long. One day, out of the blue for me, she basically said,”I can’t be friends with you anymore. I’m trying really hard to be more optimistic and positive and you’re always so negative.”

Talk about a punch to the gut.

Even now I kind of feel this wave of nausea thinking about it.

You know how you sometimes walk along somewhere and all of a sudden you see yourself in an unexpected mirror? It throws you off balance a little. I know I carry around this picture in my head of how I sound and look. But then when I see the real me in a photo or a mirror they don’t match up. What my friend said was like a mirror thrown in front of me.

I think we need those unexpected mental views of ourselves that honest outsiders can provide. I try to be open to their perspective.

I had no idea I was such a downer until she said that. I thought one of the things friends did was share honest thoughts and feelings, even the negatives. Maybe I over shared. Probably she hit the bullseye there. Back in those days I probably rode the negative train, most of the time.

I wish I could say I changed immediately. More than likely I got defensive. More than likely I moped. More than likely I didn’t try to make friends again for a while.

In fact, I’m thinking I probably didn’t really change for the better until Oklahoma a year after Little L joined our gang. Do the math there. That’s a long time as a dweeby, self-absorbed, cloudy skies sort of person.

Sunny is good.

Sunny is good.

I could hope that there’s some chemical equation that makes positive ions/attitudes weigh more than negative ones and that things have balanced out. I think they might not have. For me it’s a nearly constant struggle to “keep on the sunny side of life.” (<= click to hear the song)

What does any of this have to do with how this letter started out?

You all have weathered change and challenge with such bravery and grace. You must have arrived here preprogrammed with awesome genes. You step up, state the facts and take action. Look at you!

When I grow up I want to be like you: open and straightforward with what I think, willing to try new things, brave enough to ask for what I want and need, creatively finding ways around obstacles and difficulties. And optimistic! Yup, you each see life as a bright, good thing.

Thanks for the great examples you are to me. I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to have worked the other way around. At least that’s probably what the parenting books all say.

This I know for certain. I’m positive that I love you.

Always,

Mom

photofy copy 4

~~~

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A.A. Milne

 

Categories: Friday Letters, Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

That Fuzzy-Eyed, Staring at Nothing Buzz That Happens

You know that fuzzy-eyed, staring at nothing buzz you feel when you’re running about a week behind on your sleep?

Yeah, that one.

I’ve felt that for a few days now. Seems like a less than stellar way to begin a year. I’m betting I could sleep for three days in a row and still not feel rested. Not that there’s a snowball’s chance in Hades of putting that idea to the test.

wonder woman

To the invisible jet!…Dang it!

I’d be thrilled to get eight or nine hours of sleep at this point. Two nights in a row of eight hours worth of shut-eye and I’d be a new woman. Heck, I’d be Wonder Woman.

It’s not post-holiday letdown, or shopping burnout. Hardly. This year I experienced exactly the opposite of what normally occurs at Christmas, which turned out weirdly good. And, no, I didn’t overindulge with New Year revelry nonsense.

I think, more than likely, I owe this numb brain sensation to more than sleep deprivation. I’m pretty certain I’m in denial about a few things.

Saturday marks one year since my best friend Kathy passed away. All through December she’s hovered in the background of each day. It was a month of “lasts.” Of course, at the time I didn’t really  know they were all lasts. The last time we had a normal day together, the last time I had a conversation with her, her last words to me, last texts exchanged, last soda run, my last “see ya’ later,” her last month of life.

Add in that I did this lousy job at grieving during the year. I did a way better job at denial. I was always in denial, even when we talked about her funeral plans over the years. It was always something in the future. Now it’s all something in the past.

Have I mentioned how much I hate that?

I think I’ve expected some sense of closure by now and it hasn’t happened. But then, I haven’t really done any “work” to make that happen. It’s been a year of life happening to me, not me actively living life.

Abnormally normal, actually. That’s how the year’s gone. Have I mentioned that Kathy used to tell me that she’d keep her battles against an incurable cancer over the weird life I live? Yeah. She said things like that to, what, make me feel better about my life. Or maybe to feel better about hers.

dart boardIt’s been a helluva year in a couple of other ways as well. Which I won’t bore you with or share publicly. Just take my word for it. Crap hit the fan and has stunk up the place. Still digging out. Not sure the smell will ever go away. Sorry for the vagueness. Imagine some things you’d never want to deal with that doesn’t involve death and you’d probably hit the dart close to center.

It’s been an amazing year in some phenomenally great ways, too. Ways that seem to prove that the universe works on some sort of cosmic yin and yang, balancing between good and evil, positive and negative, ridiculous and, yes, sublime. Take my word for it, imagine some of the best stuff ever that could happen that doesn’t involve money and you’d maybe come close to how wonderful life felt at times this year.

Odd, huh?

Throw in a side trip, too.

Throw in a side trip, too.

A yo-yo on a string. That’s me. Spinning, spinning, spinning, hard bounce at the bottom, more spinning, spinning, spinning, abrupt halt at the top. Repeat.

Maybe it’s like that for everyone.

Or maybe, I’m just lucky that way. (Sleep-deprived, brain fuzz, and off-kilter, remember?)

Happy.

New.

Year.

 

 

 

Categories: Death, Family, Friendship | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments
 
 

Twenty-four Seven Three Six Five Christmas

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful that generosity and feels extra abundant this time of year.

We received this Christmas card many, many years ago. The idea struck me so powerfully I chose to frame the card and kept it hung up in my room year-round for a long time.

Christmas all year round.

I wish I knew who sent the card. Even more, I wish I could give credit to whoever said this.

December seems filled with real-life stories of strangers helping strangers, random acts of generosity and secret gifts of stunning proportion. I love reading about or watching such stories. Hope takes a deep breath with each tale told.

I can tell you, though, that such things don’t just happen in December. I’ve been the recipient this past year of Christmas every single month in one surprising act of love or kindness after another. For some of it I have no idea who to thank. I can only pray that such generosity finds the giver blessed beyond anything they’ve given. For other blessings showered down on me, I’m woefully inadequate at expressing thanks.

Christmas is alive and well around here, I can tell you that. I see it 24/7/365. (All day, every day, all year.)

Thank you if you’ve given anything to anyone for any reason this year.  You may have very easily touched my life and lifted my spirits unknowingly.

For me it’s been a beautiful Christmas year!

Happy Holidays! I hope they live on for you long after the decorations get put away and the carols stop playing.

photofy copy 2

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holidays | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Our Most Expensive Christmas Tree Ever, But Worth Every Penny

A few years back we finally followed through with my wish to go off into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree.

“It’ll be fun!” I said smiling.

“Think of it as an adventure,” I cajoled.

“We’ll save money,” I smiled, as I played my winning ace.

My Dream tree… Photo By Nandaro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

My Dream tree… Photo By Nandaro (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

So off I went to the store to buy a twenty-dollar tree cutting permit. What a deal! Twenty bucks for the freshest tree we could get. I could hardly wait. I planned to bring snacks and hot chocolate and to dress extra, extra warm.

Did I mention that it takes two hours to drive to the forest where these trees live? Small detail.

We’d make a day trip out of it. I’d pack a lunch for us, too.

MSH prepared more than I did. He got the chainsaw ready, which I thought was excessive. I figured a small hand saw would serve us well. And he tossed our tent, two sleeping bags and a couple of big backpacks with camping gear into the back seat of our trusty truck. “Just in case,” he said. I scoffed.

Sure there might have been a storm aiming our direction. That’s why we planned on leaving extra early so we’d get back long before the storm made its way over the Sierra’s and across the desert to our neck of the woods. But, MSH loves to “be prepared.” I think he might have been an Eagle Scout in a previous life.

As we neared our forest service approved tree cutting area we saw lots of big trucks with fluffy verdant green trees, branches thick and full and just waiting for hundreds of twinkle lights and candy canes and such. I felt giddy with anticipation. We turned down a few roads and began scouting for that perfect tree. After a half hour or so we wondered if those trucks we saw had cut down every decent Christmas tree left. All we saw were scrawny things, twisted and bare branched.

We figured we needed to get out of the truck and hike around a bit. So we pulled off the main road, turned down a side dirt road and parked. As we got out of the truck the first tentative snowflakes began to fall. “Ambience!” I said.

Photo by Wsiegmund

Our reality… Photo by Wsiegmund

We saw what looked like a good tree in the distance only to find on getting closer that it was two trees snuggled in close to each other. That happened time and again. After an hour of hiking around we finally shook our heads and picked the least scrawny of the scrawny trees that surrounded us. The chain saw came in handy.

Turns out we’d hiked further from the truck that we thought we had. The hike felt even longer since we dragged a heavy, very fresh tree along the forest floor.

Of course, turning back on the main forest road we, once again, saw trucks loaded with bushy pines and knew we’d taken a wrong turn and should have kept driving another half mile to the next turn-off where everyone else seemed to know they’d find perfect trees. Too late, though. We’d cut and tagged our Charlie Brown tree.

By cogdogblog on Flickr (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By cogdogblog on Flickr (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0]

For fun we opted to take the scenic route. By scenic, I mean a dirt and gravel road that mostly followed the edge of the Mogollon Rim. Five miles in and far too committed to turn back, the storm kicked in a bit stronger. Winds from the south blew the snow horizontally. The huge Ponderosa pines around us seemed to brace themselves against the force. The further along we got on the Rim Road, the more the snow increased and the wind picked up. Luckily the snow wasn’t sticking to the dirt road.

When we took a little side road for a brief pit stop the truck wouldn’t start up again. Not even a click from the key turning. I pictured us huddled in our little tent for days, hoping someone noticed we weren’t around and would be found before we froze to death. But before I could imagine a great rescue scene or compile a farewell letter to my children MSH figured out a cable had shaken loose on the battery and had tightened it up. The truck started right away. Phew.

Crisis averted.

Not five minutes after that we had to stop the truck again. This time we stopped to stare in amazement and absolute awe at something we’d never seen.

By William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Hovering Kestrel) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by William Warby (originally posted to Flickr as Hovering Kestrel) [CC BY 2.0]

A hawk hovered ten feet away from the edge of the cliff. And by hovered I mean just hung in mid-air, in place, not moving forward or backward, up or down. The wings tipped a bit to compensate now and then, but for the most part the hawk simply hung there as if suspended midair. The updraft on the cliff from the incoming storm provided perfect conditions for this beautiful creature to practice wing control and aerodynamics. Five minutes. Ten minutes. We watched, mesmerized at the skill and wonder of this bird.

Finally the bird either tired out or the wind changed. A small tip of the wings and the hawk floated up and away, slowly disappearing from view.

The storm let up long enough for us to get down off the Rim and into the nearest town just before sundown. We stopped for a warm dinner, took a reading on the storm and safety dictated the rest of the drive should wait until morning. So we checked in to a motel for the night. We enjoyed a late breakfast the next morning as the storm blew through and the sun came out.

Total cost of that scrawny twenty-dollar tree? After gas, dinner, battery cable part, motel and breakfast: One-hundred-ninety-five dollars.

Trekking through the snowy woods, seeing a hawk do a stationery hover on the wind, and quality time with MSH? Priceless.

Categories: Holidays | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Secret Code Words of Sanity

Dear J, J, L and L,

It’s Friday. Time for another letter to the four of you. And I’m blank as a chalkboard on a Saturday morning. Do they even use chalkboards anymore, except as memes on Facebook and for coffee shop signs?

Oh, wait. I just thought of something.

There’s a few sayings or specific words we share as a family or at least as certain family members that almost always make my face bust open into a smile.

Not the actual hairbrush...

Not the actual hairbrush…

For instance:

Watch out for the hairbrush!

Tan Van.

The Grasshopper.

It’s a sign!

Tight!

Israel and Palestine.

Praying mantis.

Fabulous.

It makes you feel alive.

I’m FINE.

Is everyone in the car?

Apples to Apples, lots of laughs.

Apples to Apples, lots of laughs.

Inventory.

Remember the beanie baby.

Peace on earth, good will toward siblings.

It’s either men or a cheap motel.

This is the life.

Organize the garage.

Keep your hands and feet inside the ride…

And probably a couple dozen others you could add.

Not one of these phrases or words mean the same thing to other people that they mean to us. And I love that. They’re like code words that unlock secret doors of laughter.

No restrictions.

No restrictions.

They evoke, at times, noteworthy stories of endurance, hilarious memories and weird happenings that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Some of them serve as coping mechanisms to keep insanity at a safe distance. All of them define our weird sense of humor and unique family chemistry.

I like us. I mean I really, really like us.

I like our family history, as painful, silly, nonsensical, weird and tragic as it occasionally turned out. If I wrote it out as a novel, no one would believe it. You had to live it to see how really strange a group we were/are.

And yet, if you look around you, and listen to a few people on occasion (or watch any reality TV at all) we have the most normal, boring, typical family on the block. Seriously.

And that’s a little frightening, don’t you think?

If we’re normal, is there any hope for the rest of the world?

I hope so.

I hope other families laugh as much as we tried to. I hope other families have their inside jokes and silly pranks or strange movie quotes. I know one family who has a plaque by the front door that reads, “Have fun storming the castle.” That’s a good sign…

I hope you have your own secret code words and phrases that no one else gets. If you do, you’ll be just fine.

Remember, only you can prevent forest fires.

I love you tons!

Mom

~~~~~

Remember...

Remember…

Categories: Family, Friday Letters | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

“Perhaps,” the Grinch Said, “I’ve A Few Questions For You”

I have a question for you...

I have a question for you…

“Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.”

What is it about Dr. Seuss’s classic tale that we all admire so much?

  • Do we secretly feel the same way the Grinch does? I have at times felt just that way.
  • Do we wish for a Christmas morning filled with nothing but simple joy in our hearts and a song on the breeze? Surely I have, or something like it.
  • Is there part of us that wants a something in our lives or hearts to undergo an instantaneous change? Of course, but reality doesn’t work that way, does it?

“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” tugs at nearly every string we attach to the holiday. We read or watch then we laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy. And then we bust out our shopping lists, our baking lists, our to-do lists, our stress and our craziness.

But.

What if?

  • What if you woke to nothing? No tree, no gifts, no feast, no traditional anything? Would it still be Christmas?
  • Have you ever gone without Christmas? I mean, really had no Christmas. No tree. No gifts. No candy. No stocking. No great meal. No thing to mark the day as significant and distinct.

(And, no I’m not talking about a trip to some fun or exotic location in lieu of gifts and such.)

  • Did this happen on purpose, because you gave your Christmas to another family?
  • Or did it happen due to incredibly difficult circumstances in your life?
  • Or did the stuff of Christmas not happen for some other reason?

I’d really like to know.

(Please comment below, anonymously even if you want.)

“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

star-wallpapers-22

Categories: Holiday, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
 
 

Pay Attention to the Signs: or My Grand Grand Adventure

Grand doesn't begin to describe it.

Grand doesn’t begin to describe it.

It’s Gratituesday! I found out that you CAN go home again, after a fashion, and I’m thankful for that.

At thirteen years old I experienced the grandeur that is Grand Canyon. At the time I had two less siblings than I do now. So Mom and Dad only had five of us to keep track of. It’s a good thing back then that my Momfear genes hadn’t kicked in gear yet or I’d have been a total wreck.

We visited the North Rim, the less traveled and higher side. Ponderosa Pines line the roads all the way in to the edge. I love, love, loved my experiences there. Sunrise and sunset at the canyon invites heavenly choirs and every other supernal hyperbole one can imagine.

And then I never went back.

Why? Fear of heights kicked in for one thing. And living on the other side of the country presented obstacles for a while. But for the past eighteen years, living a mere three or four-hour drive away, I had no good excuse. Except I didn’t think I could survive having my children standing on a precipice with a mile drop off. Nope. I’m pretty sure I’d have died of a heart attack or anxiety attack or both.

Dad and Mom, spring chickens on an adventure.

Dad and Mom, spring chickens on an adventure.

During Dad and Mom’s visit here in November they decided they wanted to take me to the Grand Canyon. “Of course!” I said. “What am I thinking? I must be nuts!” I thought to myself. I can’t say no to my parents. (Oddly, it wasn’t a problem when I was a kid.)

I found it a bit ironic that the first time I visited the Grand Canyon and the only other time I visited a few decades later involved my parents taking me there. I am a grownup, after all.

I didn’t feel so very grownup next to the edge of that massive, gaping fissure in the earth. Even with fences and railings my legs turned to jelly and my stomach did this rollercoaster thingy. That’s a perfectly legitimate guttural response to danger.

Do you see this sign?

Important sign.

Important sign.

Here, look closer!

Important sign.

Very Important sign.

Yes. This sign. It’s in multiple languages! For good reason! This is an important sign. (Oddly it’s only about twelve inches wide and sits low to the ground. You’d think it’d be the size of a billboard with flashing lights at eye level. Government operating at it’s best there, folks.)

And yet millions of visitors go hang out on the edge every single year. Why? Because this place defies AMAZING! And logic seems to vacate brains in the face of such wonders.

White-knuckling it even with a fence and railing to keep me safe.

White-knuckling it even with a fence and railing to keep me safe.

A couple of people there had brought their dogs on a leash, and the dogs, bless their little palpitating hearts, did not want to go anywhere near the edge of the canyon. Smart animals!

One of my coping mechanisms of dealing with the terror I felt involved noticing the people around me. I can’t tell you how many different languages I heard spoken. And this wasn’t even during tourist season. We’re talking a Monday in November! And still the place teamed with humans from all over the planet. This made me feel really silly for not taking advantage of this stunning world wonder in my backyard. People fly from Tibet and Russia and Argentina and literally everywhere across the globe to my little desert state to visit this hole in the ground.

Layers and colors galore.

Layers and colors galore.

It’s a bit more than a hole. It’s epic. It’s Grand. It’s stunning.

The Grand Canyon defies description. I know people have tried. I’ve read some of the attempts. The place boggles my brain. How did something like this come to be? Was it really some gradual etching away by a tiny river? I have a hard time believing that. Seems like some massive flood of an interior sea had to have carved out such intensity. Or perhaps a cataclysmic earthquake pulling and pushing from the very center of the earth birthed such a wonder and then, rain and wind and erosion worked its slow magic on the fissure.

Crayola has nothing on the color spectrum that Grand Canyon provides. Every hue of red, orange, tan, green, gray, brown, gold, black, white and yes, even blue and purple began its life there. I could spend a week or more in that place and not get saturated with all it offers in color, sight, sound and smell.

Look close and you can see the virga.

Look close and you can see the virga.

While we were there a thin veil of clouds hovered at eye level between the south side, where we were, and the north side. The cloud released raindrops that evaporated before falling very far. Meteorologists call that virga, I call it art. An hour later the temperatures had dropped enough that the virga turned to tiny pellets of snow dusting the heads of visitors while the sun shone bright through the thin clouds. It felt like a moment of magic.

That's MSH in the bright orange sweatshirt on the edge, no railing whatsoever.

That’s MSH in the bright orange sweatshirt on the edge, no railing whatsoever.

Then, breaking the spell, MSH wandered out past the danger sign on to a ledge with a few other foolish souls. I told him I’d kill him if he fell. He had previously been saying how jealous he was of the birds who could fly out over the edge, swooping around, riding the columns of air. So I was more than your average nervous at this point. I couldn’t breathe while he stood out there, no fence to stop him or others from oopsing off the edge.

Getting me a bit sidetracked, Dad took up a conversation with a small group who spoke something Spanish sounding. Nope, he doesn’t speak Spanish, but they managed to communicate nonetheless. One of them pointed to herself and said, “Machu Pichu.” We understood that to mean she’s from Peru! Dad also overheard someone talking in a Russian dialect and yes, he does know a little Russian, so he chatted briefly with them. Boy were they surprised that an American could do that!

Finally after what felt like hours, MSH wandered back from the edge of death-by-falling-four-thousand-feet and I could start breathing again. He joked that it wasn’t the fall that kills you, but the landing that does you in. Not funny in the least.

Elk are big animals.

Elk are big animals.

We almost literally ran into a herd of elk. I, of course, jumped out of the car and ran across the road to take a closer picture. Those critters stand really, really tall, and foolish me stood only ten feet away. I’m sure they had a conversation among themselves that involved the words, stupid, human, squash and extinct. But I don’t speak Elk so I didn’t worry too much. I did get some great photos of these magnificent creatures.

In my younger years a part of me wanted to hike the canyon to give me a different perspective. I had set what seemed like a reasonable goal date, which has sadly come and gone. Part of me knew I was crazy and being unrealistic. Part of me still wants the experience. Visiting there renewed that desire.

I plan on going back again soon and staying longer, exploring more. Wouldn’t a Colorado River trip give The Canyon a whole different feel? Sounds fun to me. No potential falls involved.

Thank you Dad and Mom for helping me experience the Grand Canyon, both times. I loved sharing something so spectacular with two of my favorite people!

 

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 ~~~~~

“The glories and the beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon – forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span the diapason from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain.” ~ John Wesley Powell

 

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments
 
 

Santa’s Staff Reorganized this Year

Friday Letter to my Kids: December 12, 2014 ~

Dear J, J, L and L,

'Tis the Season!

‘Tis the Season!

One of the hardest things in life is giving up something you love. You’ll each have to or have had to face this in one way or another. I think this year is my big year for having to finally let go.

I tried about five or six years ago, but found out, with only hours to spare, that you’d all be disappointed if I let go of this one. How could I let my kids down? Sure, you were all in your late teens and twenties then, but reality doesn’t always want recognition.

“What they heck is she talking about?” I can hear you thinking already. It’s even difficult for me to talk about it. But I can do this. Here and now.

As you’ve known for some time now, I’m one of Santa’s helpers in this part of the country. He’s kept me busy over the years. It looks like last year was my final year. I had hoped for one more chance to strut my stuff at my speciality, but Santa had other ideas and didn’t really let me know I wasn’t officially on the team until a month or so ago. I suspected something like this, but have been in denial.

I loved my position as Chief Stocking Acquisition and Surprise Fulfillment Coördinator – CSASFC. I made it a personal quest for the entire year to locate some unexpected small trinkets and extra delicious treats for plumping out those stockings.

That one year where I tried the new and improved smaller stockings definitely backfired. I nearly lost my position over that one. But contrition won out and Santa kept me on, albeit with a slight cut in pay and no bonus that year. Sigh. Disappointment abounded, that’s for certain. The next year more than made up for it, at least I hope so.

Honestly, Santa probably should have let me go years ago, but I begged and pleaded. Made a great case for how very much-needed I thought I was. He has a tender heart and couldn’t break mine, so he let me hang on these past few years when the job should have passed on to younger associates. What a good guy!

I’ll be fine. Really.

See's, a day's dosage.

See’s, a day’s dosage.

Not sure I can bring myself to hang up a stocking for your Dad and I this year, since, as you now know, part of my job also included filling those stockings. But Santa assured me that I would weather this first year of retirement just fine. He recommended extra doses of hot chocolate, easy on the hazelnut creamer, heavy on the peppermint. So far, that’s helped quite a bit. I may have to resort to adding a prescription grade of chocolate orange sticks to the mix though. And I have a gift card from See’s, (thanks to the Valentine bunny, or is that Easter cupid?) Whatever. I can go with that good stuff if I have to. I’ve heard great things about Lindor Truffles too, but I’ll only resort to those if all else fails.

Anyway, I’m sorry to be the bearer of sad news. You probably saw this coming long before I did. Nothing sadder than an aging baseball player or arthritic basketball star pretending that they’re still at the top of their game. Nothing sadder except a Santa’s helper who won’t let go of the job when retirement age has come and gone.

You all probably have plenty to do with your own Santa assignments this year, so I’ll keep this short.

All I have left to say is this. It’s been a pleasure and a delight working with Santa all these years. I will miss this job, but I’ll probably get over it. Whatever shape your own Santa responsibilities take, just know this: the years fly by and before your know it you’re reluctantly passing the baton on to your successor. Enjoy every frazzled minute of it!

I’m gonna go bake up some sugar cookies and lick frosting from my fingers, right after I make a batch of divinity and a double batch of toffee. I’ll be just fine.

Merry Christmas!

Lots of love,

Mom

~~~~~

photo-25 copy 16

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” ~ Buddy

Categories: Friday Letters, Holiday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments
 
 

The Sound of Heavenly Peace

holly ivyHave you ever wished you could talk with someone who has died? How do you picture something like that coming about? An ethereal mist with somewhat human form? A tangible person appearing from nowhere? Simply hearing a voice? How about just a feeling?

A couple of times my friend Kathy has “spoken” to me, but only in a kind of “I know what she’d say in this situation if she were here” sort of way. Like the first time I got a diet Cherry Coke from Sonic without her in the seat beside me. The thought came to me that she’d say, “Girl! Open the sunroof, crank the tunes and enjoy that diet Coke!”

Nah, I didn’t hear her voice at all. Just the memory of her in my head.

Then there’s the times I’ve had a conversation and said something really negative or pessimistic. “Kathy would get after me for saying that,” I think to myself.

By Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Wle2 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

Still, not what I’ve wanted, or hoped for or thought I needed. I’m pretty sure she said all she needed to say to me while she still lived and breathed. But this month I’m finding myself reliving and reviewing last December, since it was Kathy’s last month of this life. I can’t not do that.

So what does all that have to do with my Gratituesday today?

Kathy finally spoke to me, indirectly, but as directly as she could. Consider this quote before you read on: “If it weren’t for music, I would think that love is mortal.” ~Mark Helprin

Kathy’s husband woke in the middle of the night a month or so ago with the thought that “Kami needs to go to this Christmas concert I’m singing in.” He tried to ignore the thought and go back to sleep, but the it persisted. So he messaged me and then, a few weeks later, gifted me these tickets.

Saturday night MSH and I attended the concert. I tried not to have high expectations. It’s just a big two hundred and fifty member choir and an orchestra. Nothing professional. And I didn’t want to be disappointed by, I don’t know, Kathy not walking across the stage and waving hello to me or some such ridiculous incarnation like that.

And yet, life can surprise you.

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The Christmas song Stille Nacht (ca. 1860) by Franz Xaver Gruber (1787–1863).

The title of the concert? “Heavenly Peace.”

From the first note my heart opened up and tears dripped from my eyes like a faucet left on. Why? Because the music communicated peace right to the middle of me. I felt cradled and comforted by the harmonies. Oddly, the lyrics didn’t matter as much as the warmth that radiated through sound waves swirling around me.

Songs of delight and child-like frivolity also danced across my heart. A sweet preschool choir communicated the innocence and excitement of the holidays. A tonal poem of one word repeated drew a colored sound picture so exquisite.

By nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by nosyme (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0]

The final number, though, gave new meaning to the word breathtaking. Bagpipes and dancers, chimes, singers in the balconies, singers overflowing the stage, every single participant pouring their everything in to each note! I literally had to catch my breath multiple times to keep my emotions in check. The sheer joy of the Christmas season with generosity and fun, lights and song, focus and tradition, shot through my heart like lasers swooshing about the room. I felt lifted and renewed and saturated with incredible hope.

I felt Kathy communicating, “Feel that? That’s how I feel now! I feel relief and joy and freedom and incomprehensible love.”

I’m thankful today for music’s power to transcend ordinary communication. I’m grateful for musical artists who give with such abandon to their craft. I’m indebted to people who pay attention and respond promptly to nudges and thoughts and then follow through with generosity and love. I thank Kathy for getting through to me and showering down blessings from heaven. I’m overwhelmed with the joy of this Christmas season.

Thank you to any and all who had a part in this singularly magnificent Christmas gift.

musical notes

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, Holiday, Music | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments
 
 

Black Inner Tubes and Snowy Hills: Or How I Survived Childhood Winters and Lived then to Learn to Ski

“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking down trees with your face.”  ~Dave Barry

Photo by MHBowden

Photo by MHBowden

I grew up practically on a mountain, with snow five feet deep in our front yard every winter. (Except for that one inversion year when nothing but fog accumulated.) On the other side of the mountain lived a ski resort. A tiny one, but a place to ski nonetheless. The closest I ever came to skiing as a child or a teen involved black rubber inner tubes, defective ones apparently, because they always inflated lopsided.

Have you ever ridden an inner tube down the side of a mountain on the snow? If not, I have just given you a perfect bucket list item. You might want to save it as the very last item on your bucket list, though, as possibility of severe injury seems rather high.

On an inner tube you have absolutely no control over where you go, how fast you go or if/when you stop. (Why does it feel like I just described life? Hmmm.) The most likely outcome involves bodies splayed across the snow or wedged against objects or perched atop bushes and rocks with the inner tube still rocketing off into the distance another half mile or so. (Life metaphor again? Weird.)

Death Spiral

Photo by Iain Laurence

Photo by Iain Laurence

The advantage of having to hike so far to retrieve the inner tube comes in the contemplative time one has to reconsider the wisdom of perching atop the tube once more for another possibly life threatening ride to infinity and beyond. Unfortunately, screams of joy and terror, (which sound eerily alike to a youngster) push all logic and sanity out of ones frozen head and you find yourself yelling “COWABUNGA” as you leap on  the tube and launch yourself once more into a death spiral of epic proportions.

For that extra measure of danger we often careened in the dark, which added a sense of insanity to an already thrilling adventure. Surprisingly I and my siblings survived many winters participating in this sport.  Oddly, tubing hasn’t risen to the stature of an Olympic event yet. I suppose scoring could present a problem. Highest points for furthest launch from a tube? Extra points for landing in a tree? Bonus points for spinning more than ten times on the way down? It ought to rank in the X-games at least.

Back on Topic Now

But I meant to speak of skiing. My first time. Oddly enough riding an inner tube and using a set of skis and poles have frighteningly similar outcomes, especially those first few times down the hill.

Having slippery sticks attached to cement encased feet does not provide one with a sense of security or control. Neither, surprisingly, does having sharp pointy objects in either hand lend a sense of comfort or assurance. In fact, I wondered at first if MSH had grown tired of marriage after only four months of “bliss” and had found an easy way to dispose of me, à la Robert Redford in a mafia. Whoops, there she goes off a cliff. “I told her not to go down that black diamond run, but she insisted.”

Nah. MSH just wanted to share something he loved with the love of his life. Little did he know what an adventure he’d signed up for. (Life metaphor again?)

Evil Trees

Much like tubing down a snow-covered hill, my most vivid memory of my first day skiing involved a people-eating tree and my limbs hopelessly entangled in the branches of said tree. One leg pointed north while the other leg seemed wedged more south-southeast. Meanwhile one ski pointed down. The other ski had somehow become one with the snow. The poles, miraculously, didn’t shishkabob me, for which I was ever so thankful.

I tried my best to untangle and disengage to no avail. MSH “helped” by explaining which leg to move where, which didn’t help at all since I’d lost most feeling in my legs and couldn’t identify left from right. If I recall correctly I threw my poles his general direction along with a few select words, which I won’t share here. He finally helped by physically moving one of the skis. Once both legs aimed approximately in the same direction, after five minutes of struggle I managed to reach an upright position.

I think I threw a tantrum after that. Or maybe during that. In no uncertain terms, I let MSH know how unimpressed I felt with this sport of skiing. I also may have mentioned that I’d never, ever participate in such nonsense again.

Chocolate Saves the Day

Photo by By Baileypalblue

Photo by By Baileypalblue

Of course, after some hot chocolate in the lodge, and watching people shoosh and swoosh effortlessly for an hour, and getting bored beyond reason I found myself attempting to hitch a ride on a lift, all skiwampus, with my pride firmly buried in a snowdrift.

I eventually, somewhat mastered the art of something beyond the pie wedge style of beginners. I’m happy to report that as a family we enjoyed some great times on the mountains in the snow over the years.

To this day my son (who learned to ski with no effort whatsoever at age three) still puts himself to sleep at night by imagining snowboarding down his favorite ski run at his favorite resort. He says it’s the most relaxing thing he can think of, as natural as walking but way more fun.

It’s been a few years (a decade?) since I last threatened my poor knees with such reckless behavior as skiing. All for the best I’m sure. I’m satisfied to have the occasional falling dream and waking to memories of my youth careening down the side of a mountain on a black inner tube.

Ah. Those were the days.

Photo by Dbenbenn

Photo by Dbenbenn

~~~

There are really only three things to learn in skiing:  how to put on your skis, how to slide downhill, and how to walk along the hospital corridor.  ~Lord Mancroft

Categories: Fun, Humor, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments
 
 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…Autumn?

Woke to the sounds of rain this morning. Second only to the hush and muffle of snowfall, rain makes me want to put on my raincoat, grab an umbrella and get outside.

Rainy skies, golden trees, no people. Perfect.

Rainy skies, golden trees, no people. Perfect.

Given than I think of this place as my Riparian Preserve, I loved that the place appeared abandoned when I arrived. I didn’t cross paths with a single person until the last five minutes. A photographer with a tripod making his way toward some wonderful scenery to shoot seemed a bit put off by seeing another human, as was I. We successfully ignored the existence of each other and went our separate routes.

How can I possibly describe the scene today? The diffused light through low clouds muted and highlighted colors. Today’s cloud filtered light particularly played up the yellows and enhanced the grayish brown of everything else. Greens, of course, seemed greener, but golds sang out in the rain-light like a soprano in a choir.

Don’t take my words for it. They’re inadequate today. Stroll along with me, imagining the sound and feel of rain on your raincoat and the not particularly cold water seeping through to your wool socks.

Today's stand-in for the sun.

Today’s stand-in for the sun.

Here in the desert autumn isn’t. We don’t really get to experience that particular season. At best we usually get a hard freeze for a night or two in late December or January which turns the deciduous leaves dark brown and drops them to the ground a day later. Nothing pretty about that. But this year serves as a delicious exception. Lows in the high thirties and low forties have kissed the leaves and made them blush red or brighten to a golden hue.

Most of the water birds stayed quieter than usual today. I’m not sure what’s up with that. Why would rain shush them? The ducks stayed tucked in, beaks nestled under a wing while they sat or floated quietly. The night herons seemed more stoic than normal not flying off when I approached. Jumpy best describes a few of the shore birds, as if they don’t know how to behave when it rains. Not a hummingbird or yellow finch in sight, snuggled up inside their tight little nests, I’m sure.

At times the trail was more puddle than path, but I managed. No speed walking or jogging going on here. Just a slow meander. Sure my toes got wet as I knew they would so I’d put on wool socks and didn’t mind the damp at all.

I’m glad I ignored the to-do list this morning, threw on a hat over my sleep scruffy hair and spent an hour under rainy skies. Such moments happen rarely here and want savoring. Desert Autumn or Winter rains, whatever name it goes by suits me just fine.

The gold up close, seems a bit worn and ready to drop.

The gold up close, seems a bit worn and ready to drop.

~~~~~

“Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet.” ~Roger Miller

Categories: Nature, photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

I Missed Celebrating an Important Birthday

Photo by Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA (Candles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Joey Gannon from Pittsburgh, PA (Candles) [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

I missed celebrating an Important Birthday!

Actually, I didn’t really miss it. I thought about it all that day.

I just avoided acknowledging it out loud.

Today I spent time with the birthday girl’s daughter-in-law. We talked about life with Kathy. It felt good and more than okay to say her name; the twinge I usually get when I talk about her out loud didn’t pinch quite so much. Not sure why.

Anyway, that bit of conversation knocked open a closed door. Which makes it possible to share this song that gut-punched me a year ago.

By that I mean the song spoke right to my heart, my head, my spirit.

Yeah, I’ve kept it to myself for a while now. Well, I did share it with MSH, cuz he already gets it. If no one else gets it, that’s okay.

I had decided long before birthday time that I’d share this on her day. And then I couldn’t. Didn’t. Refused to. Which, looking back, seems selfish. So I’ve included this gem by Sarah McLachlan from Toy Story 2. Listen with your ears and with your heart and you’ll get a glimpse of friendship at its most real.

The relationship Kathy and I had changed me. What a gift she was and continues to be for me. She taught me to love myself, to embrace the weird wonderfulness of me. It doesn’t get much better than what we had. What a blessing!

Happy Belated Birthday Kathy, my friend. No regrets! Love ya!

“How many slams in an old screen door? Depends how loud you shut it. How many slices in a bread? Depends how thin you cut it. How much good inside a day? Depends how good you live ’em. How much love inside a friend? Depends how much you give ’em.” ~ Shel Silverstein

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” ~ Elbert Hubbard

Categories: Friendship | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Celebration of Family

It’s Gratituesday! I’m feeling incredibly grateful today for my oldest daughter and her husband.

They found each other a few years ago and their friendship blossomed into a family.

Photo By JAKeeran (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

The historic Pioneer Museum of Colorado Springs. Photo By JAKeeran (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

The two of them invited friends and family to a wedding celebration this past weekend that they put together themselves. They wanted to share the incredible joy they’ve experienced! What a great job they did in communicating that exuberance.

Few things feel as good to a parent as seeing their child loved and cherished and happy. I saw that in phenomenal ways during the reception as friends and family embraced, literally and figuratively, this generous and loving pair.

Two extended families, his and hers, radiated and received love. In addition, the unique family that close friends become also encircled and shone, illuminating clearly what kind, caring, fun, generous, smart and wonderful people my daughter and my son-in-law are.

I feel honored and blessed to be part of the intersecting circles that bind and surround and enclose them. I feel even more blessed because their union has brought me a joy-filled granddaughter with an endless smile, who adds meaning and wonder to my already overflowing life.

Family brings a sweetness beyond imagining.

Family brings a sweetness beyond imagining.

To make the weekend even better, as if that were possible, my other three children and their spouses and children were all there as well. Knowing it’s the last time in a long while that our entire family would be together like that, I basked in the glow like a sunbather on a beach. I found myself soaking in the goodness of every moment, every laugh and moan, every child’s cry and whine,  every inside joke, every bit of family angst and craziness. It felt so perfect. Even the two granddogs and the grandcat were around for some of the weekend’s plans, if you can imagine that.

Happiness overflowed and leaked out my eyes for days. Who knew joy was such a messy, handkerchief soaking thing?

Thanks Jen and Jef for a phenomenal weekend. You are so loved! You’ve blessed my life immeasurably!

~~~~~

“A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.”

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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