Archive for October, 2012

Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis. (Zig Ziglar)

I have at least an hour to work but I’m tired. A nap sounds like a better idea. However, this tired is the kind that seems to feed on itself. An hour of exercise or engaged activity will pull me out of it better than time under the covers. Besides, Ella is taking a nap. Okay, she’s in bed, but talking up a storm. She’s fighting rest time, and my chances of catching a few z’s right now are about as likely as falling asleep in a tent during a hailstorm.

I have my annual Christmas story to finish. There’s always another blog to begin. Or, I could weed through my novel and get the next chapter ready for critique group. Cleaning is too noisy when there is a little one “napping.” Fine with me. I did most of that yesterday anyway. I’ll wait for phone calls until later. Maybe, just maybe our little one will jabber herself to sleep and I don’t want to interrupt that possibility.

Stay awake, Ter. Be aware. Live in this hour as much as possible. Perhaps loss is inevitable, but I’ve seen too much of old bodies locked in geri-chairs, confusion, pain controlled—maybe—yet spirit dormant, lost in the past, smiles delayed or absent. I don’t want to stare at the ceiling prematurely.

It seems too important to live without regrets, to listen to my granddaughter’s sweet voice, happy, jabbering away. She isn’t crying, indignant because she was put in bed. She sings in her own style. Today she wins. She stalls long enough to avoid sleep entirely. Oh, I suspect she will pay eventually since she is young, not invincible. For now her chi vibrates with enthusiasm and fills the low energy places in my being.

Other-people oriented folk spread peace and joy. Of course that kind of attentiveness is intangible and can’t be measured. However, just maybe, it can make the difference between being a shell in a nursing home and housing a healthy, grateful spirit. Don’t know. I can’t see inside a paralyzed body. A spirit could be doing cartwheels unnoticed.

I think about the older gentleman who watches out for my father at the nursing home. He is profoundly hard-of-hearing and doesn’t recall events that occurred ten minutes earlier. However, there is a glow in his eyes that speaks of a holy motivation. I look for him when I visit my dad. “You’re looking good today,” he says. And I wonder, hope really, that he is seeing more of my soul than my physical appearance.

I can’t say. Chances are he doesn’t know my name. His memory is far too short. Doesn’t matter. Let me learn from the old, the young, and the woman in line behind me at the grocery who helped me pack my groceries yesterday. We are in this life to learn from one another. I’m awake now. I’ll rest when I am genuinely fatigued, and get myself going when I have a bad case of just-don’t-wanna.

(pic from the Optimism Revolution)

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There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true. (Ernest Hemingway)

Jay and I arrive at the parking lot at John Bryan State Park—no bathroom within sight. I was sure there was at least an outhouse the last time we were here. We are on our way for a hike that will last several hours through the park and into Clifton Gorge State Preserve. We are walking for the exercise, but we are also escaping life’s pressures and enjoying the glory of God in nature; don’t want unnecessary internal distraction.

Then, my sister Claire calls. Church ended later than usual. She will meet us in a half hour. Ah, we have thirty minutes to find the required services.

It doesn’t turn out to be as easy as we thought it would be. We see a building off to the left on one road, and then notice another, “The Dayroom.” We wonder what that is, and decide to check it out. After all, a room open for the day should have indoor plumbing.

The parking lot is filled, but we find a place nearby and walk to this Dayroom. The building is surrounded by people in costume.

“Do you know if this building has a restroom?” Jay asks a man dressed as a Red Cross nurse. He has on a garish red and white dress, complete with padded chest. Yet his mannerisms are masculine. He has a thick salt-and-pepper beard and ready smile.

He drops his cigarette to his side. “Sure. There is a wedding going on inside. I’m the father of the bride.”

A young boy, perhaps eight or nine years old, in a black cape, directs us to the sides of the building we want.

Inside is a small kitchen where someone is busily preparing meat, perhaps turkey or chicken. The smell is enticing. However, I have no plans to crash a wedding, only borrow one moment in a restroom stall. The main room remains Halloween dark. I see the bride in a gown that looks more packed-in-a-box ready than forever-in-debt Nordstrom.

The room is rich with laughter and music. No one stops me.

When Jay and I leave the building, father-of the-bride is still outside greeting guests and laughing about what a picture of himself he is giving his nephews. He shows us his fingernails, painted a bright red.

I laugh too. Later we discover the outhouse I remembered is on the trail, out of view of the parking lot. Doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t have had the same story to tell if we had found it.

When Jay and I married, we had the tux-and-fancy-gown-style wedding. In a church. Traditional all the way.  That didn’t affect much of life after “I do.” That’s the part that really matters, the part that can’t be predicted. We’ve had some wonderful times; we’ve seen tragedies. No one day is truer than another.

However, I know that it helps to laugh, whenever possible. Like physical exercise it keeps the only-human muscles going.

Here’s to real life! Blessings upon all.

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Darkness is an unlit wick; it just needs your touch, Beloved,

to become a sacred flame.

What sadness in this world could endure

if it looked into Your eyes?    

(Francis of Assisi)

 Morning hasn’t fully appeared. It’s autumn, that portion of the season where gold transitions into rust and darkness slowly chips away hours of light. Two squirrels chase one another in a circle in the street. I watch them as I drive in the opposite direction. I can’t guess why the squirrels have decided to argue or play in traffic. They don’t know it isn’t a good idea. I hope they get out of the way before a car comes along. But then I don’t know life’s answers. What happens appears random.

There are so many times I would like to find the wick Francis speaks about, discover light and then share it. I want to know why my youngest granddaughter was having trouble waking from a nap Wednesday afternoon. Is she getting a fever? Does she hurt somewhere? Her speech isn’t adequate yet. My eyes searched hers. We cuddled. Her small body conformed to mine. My effort didn’t feel like it could be enough. Can any human-to-human comfort bring complete healing?

Then I spoke to a friend who has experienced inexpressible loss. I can’t give her what she wants. It has been buried along with the only someone who maintained family for her. All I could give were two ears and two arms. They won’t stop the darkness from coming. In the seasons. Or in her life.

I watched my father sleep through his appointment with the eye doctor. No treatment this visit. His body has become a shell. My touch, a kiss on his forehead, has most likely been forgotten like a lost dream.

Now, as a new day begins, squirrels and people take chances. The sunrise blinds. Sunglasses help, but they make the edges of darkness even more difficult to face. The brightness makes me think of the eyes of God, too much for anyone to take in. They need to be diffused through blue sky, or through the actions of others. Any smile. . . hug. . . human gesture that never embraces the whole need. Nevertheless, it lets sadness know that it is attached to a spirit, capable of transcending any season.

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There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go. (Dr. Seuss)

Balloons belong at a kid’s birthday party the way salt belongs in sea water. The thin latex globes are inexpensive, create a rainbow that doubles as an indoor sport, and provide a mini sonic boom when popped. Of course the cheaper the balloon, the harder it is to inflate.

I bought some for five-year-old Rebe’s party that are so cheap it takes super-human effort to turn the thumb-sized toys into a ball or pear shape. My husband manages to inflate three before I finish one. However, the kids’ enthusiasm makes the effort worthwhile.

I have always drawn a distinction between holy and unholy noise. As long as the kids aren’t screaming so loud you can’t hear a jet-engine, and their play includes cooperation and positive action, it’s holy. (Of course at that frequency it needs to be directed outdoors.) Unholy noise leads to fights and tears.  It is not welcomed.

Eight-year-old Kate serves her balloon volleyball-style; it sticks to the living-room ceiling—and stays there. Intriguing. I tried showing her how to attach a latex balloon to a wall at an earlier party—without success, then blamed it on made-in-China quality.

But, my granddaughter discovered some temporary bond. Hmmn, maybe she’s onto something. I decide to Google it: http://www.ehow.com/how_6871311_explain-balloon-sticking-wall.html Ah, the old rub-a-sweater-or-your-hair-then-stick-to-a-wall trick. Guess I didn’t use enough friction.

One pink balloon left. The positive and negative charges work this time.

Sure I have plenty to clean. The sink is full of dishes and the princess-patterned table cloth is covered with melted chocolate ice cream.  I need a few minutes rest before I tackle the job. I go to Google again and discover that the rubber balloon was invented by Michael Faraday in 1824. Since then, it has evolved and taken on more than air or helium. inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blballon.htm

Unfortunately, my granddaughters and their two friends have gone home. There are no more kids around to show age-old tricks.

Well . . . I did teach something. As my granddaughters’ friends were leaving, one of them asked me to tie the end of a balloon. I thought the bag was empty.

“Sure, you want to take it home with you.”

“No, I want to leave it here.”

“Have you ever seen what happens when you let it go?”

She shakes her head.

“It flies all over the place, like a bat or a moth.”


Amazing how delightful a six-second flight can be. However, I suspect my son’s drive home with four noisy girls in his van felt longer than it really was. Sorry, dear. Next time maybe you can stay and play, too. It isn’t good to grow up all the way.

(pic from the Optimism Revolution)

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An education isn’t how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It’s being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t. (Anatole France)

Our microwave decided it was overworked and gave up one morning. I don’t recall what year it moved into our small home, but it has lived on our counter top a long time. Perhaps it thought it had been taken for granted long enough because it lit up, spun its glass bottom twice, then stopped, as if to say, Sorry, I’m tired. Hire an appliance that doesn’t know what it’s up against. Okay?

So microwave went to the curb on trash day and was taken to a new home before the trucks came. Whether it was for an autopsy or revival we will never know. When we bought its replacement we decided a cart would be a nice idea. The store where we purchased the microwave didn’t have any carts, but an employee suggested another place nearby.

There weren’t any carts in that store either, but there was one available in their catalog—unassembled.

“We can put it together for you, for a fee. Or you can do it yourself in about an hour,” the only person working in the store said. He showed no affect whatsoever, so I couldn’t tell whether he was bored or irritated with us.

We decided we could find someone to help us. However, the most carpentry-oriented persons weren’t available when the box arrived. One person offered, even though it wasn’t his forte; he gave more time and effort than he had.

Uh huh! Is an hour in actual or geological time? Side K or was it L fell as soon as it was screwed in? I observed. My mechanical abilities, or lack of them, are well known. I stood by for emergencies only—such as the appearance of blood. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. But anything that looked like a cart didn’t appear either. In one and one-half hours we had three wobbly pressboards with stripped screws.

I suspect it didn’t help when I fell over the assembly later.

Calling all persons who have a mechanical IQ that recognize more than rightsy-tightsy, lefty-loosey! Unfortunately they were all involved with real life situations of their own. Sure, I can save all the pieces until the time is right, but asking curious children not to touch is the same as asking for further investigation.

It was time to give up, even if it was costly. And it was. My engineer brother told me pressboard is unforgiving. The contacts fit one way, no room for error. He told me what needed to be done with dowels and a drill. Not the assignment for a newbie.

The cart is completed. Not gorgeous, but upright.

Lessons for all artist types who need dictionaries in hardware stores: Stay away from pressboard if you are attempting do-it-yourself with anything more complicated than a poster. However, if you’ve done anything like we have, just go on and make a joke about it. Life is too precious to get stuck in corners that won’t meet.

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A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of. (Ogden Nash)

My husband decides to have a glass of wine with dinner on Thursday evening. “Dear, where’s the wine?”

“On the table in the back. Why?”

“I don’t see anything there.”

I sigh. A bottle of wine can’t hide on a small green table against a red brick wall. There are several other items next to it, but not many. Our kitchen isn’t much bigger than the average postage stamp, so our three-season room helps to contain the overflow. It’s getting cooler as autumn continues, and Jay likes a slight chill to his wine. The porch is the perfect storage place.

“It was there yesterday.” I step outside to look. Nothing—as in a clear surface. Okay, I understand someone snatching a bottle of wine from a pleasantly cooled three-season room. But two containers of diet juice and two jugs of distilled water? That turns an everyday burglar into a kleptomaniac. Could anyone really be hooked on Splenda?

We look in all the usual places, but the items are missing. They don’t warrant a report. But they do make us wonder what the heck happened. True, on Wednesday we had nine kids playing in our backyard. Our attention was taxed. And, we did forget to lock the door to the porch after they all went home. A thief, a very peculiar thief—it seems to be our only answer.

Fortunately, my husband likes a glass of wine, but doesn’t need one. He doesn’t lose perspective. It will go on our grocery list, but the question remains: Why and how did someone steal jugs of distilled water without being noticed?

It becomes one of the mysteries of life until the next day when my schedule lightens, temporarily. While the kids were running relays, climbing trees, and jumping into piles of leaves, they were also on the porch. Could I have, in a moment of auto-pilot action, moved the items into a cooler in the corner to get them out of the way. I don’t really remember doing it. It’s a vague shadow memory, lost between, “Hey, you two get out of that tree. The branches aren’t strong enough,” And “Don’t push your sister.” Anything is possible.

No moment felt complete. One of our young visitors insisted on running out into the street. He is about two-years-old. He also talked around a pacifier. I didn’t understand a word he said. Thank God I had Jay to help me. However, we really needed a team of angels and an entire daycare service on hand. Yes, frenzy had its moments.

I open our large blue cooler, used only in the summer. There, neatly waiting, are our missing items. The klepto, or the overworked grandmother, is . . . me. Maybe there are some angels on hand after all. At least one tapped me on the shoulder before I got too far with blame that wasn’t warranted.

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Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.  (Aristotle)

Imagine a genie sprung from his lamp, ready to grant one magic wish. Not three like there are in fairy tales. Three give space for creative answers and tricks. This genie is a tad stingy.

When I was young, I would have asked for either fame or fortune without thinking about it. Heck, at sixteen I could have wasted this moment thinking I wanted a boyfriend. But I’m now officially a senior citizen who has been married for a looooong time. And happy about that.

“How about world peace?”

He shakes his head. “Hey, I’m a genie! Not the creator of the universe. Take it easy, will you? I said I could grant you a wish. Jeesh!” He folds his arms across his chest and gets that insulted genie look, a pathetic sight.

One wish. “Health sounds good. Actually, it sounds great.”

The genie smiles and begins to twitch up my wish.

“Nah, that could go bad again. What about . . .?”

He gives me his biggest impatient genie expression. Not much better than an insulted genie look.

“I got it. I got it! Genie, I want wisdom.”

He looks at me like I have three heads and four noses. “I give up. You can’t get that from me. You have to earn that on your own. Hard work. Years of hard work! See both sides of everything. Take the long road. Listening. Hard knocks. You have to know who you are first, accept, grow. Forget it.”

With that the genie goes back into the lamp. In the smallest voice I hear, “I’ll wait for someone with smaller vision and a little more ego.”

At my feet is a crumpled dollar bill. “Hey,” the tiny voice inside the lamp continues, “It’s against the Genie Union to go without leaving something.”

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What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains. (Tennessee Williams)

Two people smile at one another. One is three years old, the other ninety-two. A little girl and an older woman. The little girl, my granddaughter, blows kisses. The older woman, my mother-in-law, accepts them. A large portion of the day my mother-in-law sleeps, lost in day-long snoozes. I’ve often witnessed these in my father’s nursing home. Except this woman is in a house miles from where my family lives. Some of us have been traveling for hours to get here—through a hundred miles of construction zones, over two states.

Our little one is a good traveler. But she needs to expend pent-up energy now. Her excited voice and antics amuse her great grandmother. Ella is excellent medicine, joy in size three-toddler stretch pants.

But Great-Grandmother has been sick the past few days. What is enough company? What is wearing for both the elder and younger?

“How are you?” we adults ask.

“I’m fine,” Great-grandmother answers. “Tired.”

But then her eyes meet the spirit of three-year-old Ella, and together their hearts run across mountains the rest of us don’t see. We are mired in the duties and responsibilities of living, the middle of the journey with its endless road work and detours. They know the beginning and the end, the segments closest to God.

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