Posts Tagged ‘life on life’s terms with humor’


Unconditional love is hard to compete with. (Abbi Glines)              

Greetings! My name is Hahvey, (Hah-VAY) official household greeter, master purr machine, and symbol for unconditional love.

Okay, I may slip in your way as you walk up the stairs. However, certain hazards occur when cats lead. Relax and love me back. I’m leading the way to your room for the night. Extra warmth provided as needed by orange fur. Your sister, my wonderful keeper-of-the-can-opener? Well, you already know how devoted she is.

You left your purse at the annual party, the fest with all the beautiful songs. The purse contained prized possessions, like your phone, and your sister turned around and drove through the ice and snow. A good four inches of it. Temperatures my beautiful fur won’t touch. Not when I could freeze my nose, tail, or valuable parts in between.

You appear puzzled. Unfortunately, feline and human languages don’t align perfectly. I have inflections in my meow; my body language is easy to read. You need words from a dictionary thicker than my litter box to communicate. You are busy with many things. Recognize the line?

Unwind. Spend some quality time with your only sister. Okay? My feline buddy, Oui, and I will keep your entertained. You know we can do it. You’ve seen pictures of our antics.

By the way, you already know Oui means yes in French. He’s a positive addition to our group of living, loving creatures here. Did you know Hahvey is a diminutive form of a Hebrew word, Ahavah? Ahavah means love. No surprise, huh?

Oh, by the way, one more scratch. Behind the left ear this time. Yeah, you caught my drift.

Happy New Year, Ahavah-style.

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What can go wrong will go wrong. (Murphy’s Law)

My computer is unplugged. Temporarily. A few minutes. No more. Its battery is at 69%. I checked two seconds ago. Then, the screen goes as dead as the inside of a serial killer’s conscience. The blackout has just destroyed 83 pages of edits.

On my final manuscript.

Scheduled to go to my publisher.


Yes, I do know how to write complete sentences. However, under the circumstances, my mind isn’t thinking in complete thoughts, especially as I realize the do-you-want-to-recover document I was editing contains an uncorrected way-too-common phrase I changed on page one.

And, no, I did not wait hours before hitting save. The save button would have a hole in if it were made of any earth material—including diamond.

Glitch two—some missed connection with my new Microsoft Word. No-o-o, a two-letter word that now has at least ten syllables.

Time to breathe before starting over. Two friends help make that happen, Ann and Shannon. They are coming for lunch and a personal concert. Fortunately, lunch has been prepared ahead. Simple. Homemade soup and tossed salad. Bagged tortilla chips. These two women appreciate. Excess is unnecessary.

Ann is blind. I pick her up from home and lead her up the steps leading to our house. She has no difficulty finding her way. Her sunshine greeting, light coming from her spirit, encourages me.

I realize there is no way I could have started over on my manuscript in a milieu of internal darkness. Shannon is already at the house and she is talking to Jay. Her laughter greets us as we enter the house.

We begin our afternoon with music. Neither of my friends could come to the Get Lit Festival last Saturday sponsored by Post Mortem Press. (Lit refers to Literature, not buzzed.) Local artists and writers brought their art to sell. I read a short section from my next middle-grade urban fantasy. I also played and sang three songs.

Nathan Singer from the Whiskey Shambles, rocked the program. He has an established following.

However, Ann and Shannon cheer as I play two songs on my guitar—just for them. Jay claps as well, even though he has heard my music so often, I close the door so he can concentrate on something else, anything else. A song may be incredible, but any sound repeated 7, 468 times requires ear canals as calloused as my fingertips. It’s called survival.

My heart lightens by the time I get back to start-over mode. And that is valuable because one beat after I get to the last page, Murphy’s Law shows up again. The computer freezes. Donkey-stubborn, won’t-get-out-of-bed, it refuses to budge.

My unprintable response remains in my husband’s and my memory since the computer is comatose now. It couldn’t hear if it were a living being anyway. Moreover, I reserve questionable language for the computer. I reboot the gosh-darned thing and pray my story has lived.

Trembling, I consider one of the last changes I made. Perhaps one of the angels my friends left in the house is present because I remember two edits. They are both intact.

Bye-bye, manuscript. Have a good time being formatted into a fantasy kids can enjoy where the good guys win. And hello, real life. No, I did not use the hammer or axe on my computer. The old thing will, however, be replaced. My birthday present from Jay.

After all, the innate beauty in life returns. Eventually. Murphy’s Law never destroys goodness completely.

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Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. (John Lennon)

Today. Finally. I’ll get a few errands completed. Even though old man winter is mocking the bright blue sky by plunging the temperature below ten degrees. My key opens the lock on the door of my 1997 Toyota on the second try.

The ignition responds. Unfortunately, the door doesn’t close—not because the seat belt is in the way. I pull the door shut and try to hold it sufficiently tight to lock, with the false hope that it will stay there. Oh, sure, the lock catches, but the door is not properly positioned—and I can’t get it unlocked again.

Great! I. Am. Stuck. Inside. This. Car. And Jay is at the auto repair shop now getting an oil change for his car. Naturally, my purse and phone are in the house. I am simply warming little green for a minute or two. My old car has decided it doesn’t want to go anywhere.

Now, if I can get the window to open… I press the buttons. The windows lower only on the passenger side. That means I get to climb over the gear shift, pray I don’t drop the keys out the window, and open the door from that side.

Hallelujah! I’m sprung. Little green Toyota remains iced, but at least I can call to see if Jay is still at our friend’s repair shop. Our friend suggests Jay make a simple repair with a spray; it does not work. Jay and I both drive back to the shop—not in our neighborhood. He follows, as my car-dian angel.

The warm drive allows the door to relax and behave as if nothing had ever been wrong with it. Ack! Ack! Triple ack. At least my-car-that-could-be-almost-classic-if-it-didn’t-resemble-a-demolition-derby-look-alike gets an oil change. And I learn to cover my key with the point of a pencil (graphite.) Graphite in the form of a pencil point or graphite spray helps to loosen the lock.

Of course, this cure only helps in models old enough to earn rust stains. My vehicle fits in that category. Little green is not old enough to remember carburetors, however.

My errands will wait for tomorrow. Maybe. Fate, the weather, Armageddon? Whatever tomorrow brings, I’m grateful not to be a four-foot eleven-inch ice cube.



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The most effective way to do it, is to do it. (Amelia Earhart)

My gas stove has forgotten how to be a stove. The burners refuse to light without being prodded with a lit kitchen match. The broiler gave up years ago. The oven remains at room temperature at any setting below two hundred degrees. Any other heat setting varies according to the whim of the oven.

Somehow, I have managed.

However, the appliance finally proves its inadequacy as I try to make a double batch of chocolate cake—from scratch, of course—and fill the entire, unevenly heated space with both round layers and cupcakes. This is not a good plan. The oven rebels and burns ten out of twenty-four cupcakes. Seven are singed and need to have their white papers removed and surgery performed on their bottoms. Seven more survive. The layers bake. In less than perfect form. They resemble a small hill after a mudslide, complete with bumps.

Unfortunately, the cupcakes are for a party tomorrow afternoon and the layers are for my best friend’s birthday the day after. There is little time to start this process over. I decide to fill in the angled layer with ice cream—after Jay tests one of the cakes. The recipe passes, even if its final appearance won’t make the cover of any cooking magazine, except perhaps the satirical version.

Nevertheless, I have won the war. The old stove is now in the queue for junk parts. Jay promises me a new one. The old stove responds by letting me turn on a burner without a match. Too late, old stove, too late.

By today’s standard my stove is beyond its prime, thirteen, elderly in dog years. It lived a good life. I wipe off the counter-top for the last time.

I get a new stove, a Samsung. With a convection oven. The fan helps food to cook evenly. I watch my turkey bake. Sure, I could start with something small, like cookies. But neither Jay nor I need them, and there isn’t a special occasion for sharing a dessert today.

New stove and I don’t know one another yet. But we will. Okay, the anthropomorphic language is metaphorical. I really did not talk to either stove as if it were a member of my family. And don’t worry. I got no reply.

However, I am grateful that new stove arrived today, and I look forward to a long, happy relationship with my appliance. My cooking is a form of gift for my family and friends. After all they are the reason why I enjoy creating in the kitchen.

May the people I love remain nourished. And blessed.

new oven

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A man should always consider how much he has more than he wants and how much more unhappy he might be than he really is. (Joseph Addison)

A new song for my small church community runs through my mind. It fits for the last Sunday in November when I will be leading our service, but I haven’t played guitar in so long my electronic tuner needs a new battery. I gradually stopped practicing after an injection of Kenalog in my middle finger did nothing for bone-on-bone arthritis. My finger picking had become uneven, jerky, irritating even to an audience of one. Me.

But, I have been missing my old friend, music. She speaks directly into my soul through sound, mood, and harmony. The new words and chord transitions that are coming to me won’t stay in my memory unless I let my fingers know how to find the magical connections along the frets. I can still hold a pick—for now. My right hand has been gradually turning into a claw. I can’t flatten it as easily as I can my left. And  those fingers don’t look that straight either. Maybe the hand doctor will bring some hope when I see him on Friday. Maybe.

In the meantime my Big Baby Taylor fits my short frame well. Big Baby is not a person, and therefore is incapable of human resentment. It doesn’t care that I left it in a gig bag for months at a time. Sure it is seriously out of tune. But a turn of a few keys and an enthusiastic greeting will renew our relationship. As I consider lyrics I realize that keep-it-simple is essential, in both message and style. Words like I-love-you may be ordinary, but a two-year-old understands what they mean.

When I accept less-than-perfect I’m ready to go. The finished song appears using four chords in a major key. And in between each beat I consider all the people in my life who struggle: I just learned about someone who has non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver and waits for a transplant. A very young woman discovered she has advanced cancer; Stories about inequities everywhere seem to rise from the ground and fall from the sky. I’m not sure I know anyone unaffected in some way.

Yet, if I never experienced darkness I’m not sure I could appreciate light. Perhaps the struggle to control my hands makes the sound they create sweeter—not in an accomplished sense—in a spiritual way.

The first verse to my song: ONE LIGHT is not written for any particular religion. The first verse is printed below. I aspire to live the Dalai Lama’s definition: “My religion is kindness.” Someday I may be able to share the finished work through YouTube. Right now my performance needs entirely too much practice.

Who knows? Maybe I will succeed. Maybe not. I know someone who plays exquisite guitar without several of his fingertips. Grandma Moses was 85-years-old when she started to paint. Right now I’m assuming that my hands will heal, or that I will find a way to maneuver with what I have.

One light can shine through darkest times.

One light can pierce great fear.

One love can touch a heart of stone,

And teach it how to sing.

Peace and light upon all!

believing something amazing is about to happen

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The possibility for rich relationships exists all around youyou simply have to open your eyes, open your mouth and most importantly, open your heart. ( Cheryl Richardson)

If I had been given a crystal ball before I was married, I’m not sure I would have been grinning like a school girl as I took my vows. Oh, I’m not regretting that choice; I’m considering everything that happened just because life doesn’t play favorites. It rains both fortune and misfortune without deciding where either should land.

Not everything I saw as a treasure contained lasting gold and not every catastrophe was fatal. In fact the most difficult situations often brought me to a new level of understanding. Actually, I’m not too comfortable with the folk who are completely satisfied with themselves; I have nothing in common with them. They don’t have anything more to learn.

On July 3, 1971, in an elegant, impractical white gown I wore once, I didn’t foresee two sons and three granddaughters. If I had known one of those beautiful girls would have Down syndrome I would have been terrified. Of course at that time not much help was available for folk who had special needs. Moreover, Ella would require two surgeries before she could leave the hospital after birth, one for duodenal atresia and the other for an AV canal defect. Heart surgery is a relatively new medical advancement. Perhaps, the lack of a future view has been fortunate.

In those long-ago years my heart hadn’t been prepared for the spectacular gift I was going to receive either. My spirit wasn’t large enough yet. However, our youngest granddaughter enlarges it just a little bit more every time she grins and her eyes sparkle with honest love. Most people, and I’m included here, have an innate desire to succeed. In order to do that they compete for first place, for honors, for look-at-me in some form. They often don’t hear what someone else says because they are too busy planning what they are going to add. Most folk with Down syndrome are who-they-are. They don’t try to dominate. They are real. They give without strings attached.

When a pregnant woman learned she was carrying a boy who had Trisomy-21, better known as Down syndrome, some young people who live that life gave her an answer. Warning: the beauty in their responses can lead to leaky tear ducts.


March 21 was World Down Syndrome Day. That date was chosen because Down syndrome is caused by the tripling of the twenty-first chromosome. Somehow, I suspect the people affected tripled their ability to grasp patience and joy, too. My Ella teaches the importance of simplicity, the glory of living in the moment, and the wonder of learning something new.

May the gift of the so-called handicapped become contagious. Peace to all!

they call in down syndrome but

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Life is like a landscape. You live in the midst of it, but can describe it only from the vantage point of distance. (Charles A. Lindbergh, aviator and author, 1902-1974) 

Another inch of snow falls on top of the ice we already have. I can walk across it in boots without making more than a crunchy dent in the surface. Winter has moved in to stay—at least it feels that way. I remember grass as a distant memory. My ’97 Toyota is iced to the curb with almost a car length of solidified snow behind it. I have a medical appointment this week. Mother Nature does not care whether I make it out of my petrified spot or not. At least, I am grateful to be retired. When I worked in a hospital pharmacy, business didn’t close. If this were a few years ago I would need to take a bus in sub-zero temperatures at six o’clock in the morning. Okay, imagining that landscape possibility is one heck of a lot worse.

Yesterday I tried to slam the snow shovel into the offending space behind my car. I could have been attempting to break a prison wall with a marshmallow stick. Nothing. When I went back inside the house to get a spade, the look on my husband’s face irritated me, mostly because I knew he was right. My back already had a few twinges in it, and I sometimes walk with the stiffness of an old metal toy soldier left in the rain too long. So far I have been managing a back problem with heat and exercise. Pushing it may not be a good idea.

So, Terry, consider what you have been able to do: take care of your husband as he recovers from minor surgery; cook some wonderful meals for him; thoroughly clean-out the refrigerator; re-vamp three stories published in 1998 in a local magazine known as “Dream Weaver,” and then have them accepted by http://www.pikerpress.com/. The pending dates are listed on the web page. At least one of those stories you were able to illustrate. So far this has been a good year for poetry and short-story publishing. You remain free of the burden of wealth, but being internationally unknown has its benefits.

How the whole looks in the future is beyond my reckoning. I look at the bird feeder in our blue spruce tree and watch as a red-bellied woodpecker intimidates his fellow feeders. They fly away from his pointed beak. But they come back. Again and again. For as long as the birdseed remains available.

Okay, sun, I know you are out there! Patience? Sure, I’ve heard of the virtue. That doesn’t mean I’m crazy enough to ask for it.

Then, thirty minutes before my younger son, Steve, is due to arrive at our house I rush outside to shovel enough space for him to get his car into our driveway. I can handle the softer additional inch in that time without breaking my back. My eyes widen when I reach the street. Some unseen elf has removed the igloo material from behind my car. I figure out who he could be within seconds and call our neighbor, Brian, to ask if he performed this minor miracle. With what I hear as a heaven-accent soft voice he says that he did. My thanks are honest; I feel warmed by his kindness.

Steve widens the driveway path and finds the road under my car. A peninsula-shaped remnant of the ice remains in the street, but every car battles that one.

My thanksgiving should be complete. I’ve just received a get-out-of-jail-free card. However, a neighbor arrives. Our older son, Greg, and a passing stranger helped her out of her driveway last week with the help of our snow shovel, spade, and a rug that should have been discarded years ago.  She gives us a loaf of homemade banana bread.

I guess I owe Greg a loaf of banana bread…Then maybe I should provide another kindness to the next person I see, to keep the blessings flowing.

(pic not taken from our area; the snow just feels this high)

high snow

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A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life. (William Arthur Ward)

My raincoat may repel the drizzle, but cold penetrates the coat’s surface anyway. Maybe I’d better get the gloves out soon. However, as soon as the revolving door of Mercy Hospital spins open, a blast of warmth runs through me. That sudden change reminds me that today is my second son’s birthday. Steve is the practical talent son. He holds a belt in Six Sigma; he’s the thinking-out-of-the-box problem solver of the family. Steve has a lemonade-out-of-lemons attitude. The party starts when he arrives. “Nobody is sillier than Uncle Steve,” one of his young nephews claims.

When Steve was a kid he would sneak a pony between cereal and eggs on my grocery list. He would walk with his arm around my shoulders at the mall without fear that one of his friends would see him being attentive to his mother. Sure, kids learn from their parents, but it works the other way around, too.

Last week we needed an old smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector replaced. Steve had little time to do it. However, he managed to replace our detector and get his daughter, Ella, home to bed at a reasonable time, too. He didn’t complain.

Steve plays an active role in Ella’s development even though he works sixty hours a week. While Ella has Down syndrome, there is nothing down about her smile—or her daddy’s.

Yes, Ella’s Daddy will get the standard birthday gift, but sometimes words need to be spoken—or written. There are other folk like my Steve, people who give just because it is the right thing to do, because it is who they are. Blessings to all of them as well; to all of you, peace.

live like someone left the gate open

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Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. (Nido Qubein)

 At 4:00 in the morning I watch the clock move to 4:01 with the help of my vanity mirror. It reads backward, of course. But backward seems to fit how I feel. I am awake because my knees throb. However, there is nothing wrong with them. My legs are reasonably strong for a person with such short levers.

My back is creating the chaos. Sure, I’ve known since at least middle age that this no-need-to-duck-for-low-hanging-branches frame is slightly off balance. My right shoulder is closer to my right ear than the left shoulder is to the left. I guess the back got tired of the disharmony and said I’ve had enough. Then it forced my knees and lower legs to pick up the slack. In less flippant terms, x-rays show that I have lumbar stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal in the lumbar spine. I make a tent under the blanket with my legs and relax. That eases the pain—somewhat.

I am in no way unique. Many people experience this back condition. All an individual needs to do is live to middle age and beyond. My physical therapist said I am fortunate that I don’t have excessive fat around my middle. That adds additional pressure on the back.

I gave her one of those embarrassed, no-teeth-showing smiles. I can definitely pinch-an-inch, if not more where a belt would be if I had a fashion-model figure.

Unfortunately, due to a blood-clotting disorder I can’t take the standard non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. I’d give my kingdom for some ibuprofen—if I had a kingdom.

If-only leads nowhere, however.

As the numbers on the clock move into 5:00 I think about all the survivors I know: folk who have beat cancer, stroke, and unbelievable abuse issues. They are blessings. The trick is to focus on the inspiration, and not compare struggles. Who accomplished more? Does it matter?

I do a few core-strength exercises in bed: the old tried-and-true pelvic tilt, a slow and easy sway of both bent knees from side to side while pressing my lower back into the mattress. All moves focus on the upper and lower abdomen. A stronger core takes the pressure off of the narrowed area of the spine.

The clock tells me it is after 5:30, which looks like a 0, followed by a backward 3 and a 2. It isn’t too early to get up now and begin the day. And somehow, miraculously, I’m okay to do just that.

Not every message in life makes sense—seen directly or mirrored through the wisdom of someone else. Sometimes I just have to do what I can, with the information available and a positive outlook.

Peace to all wherever you may be along your journeys.

 beauty of the broken

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Life begins where your comfort zone ends. (Karen White, author, “Sea Change”)

My desktop background reflects where I am on my life’s journey in an odd sort of way. I change the picture frequently—just because I can. It displays family memories, a season, a humorous notion, or an uplifting thought or scene. For a few hours I decided it would be fun to rebel against responsibility, so I let Donald Duck stand behind all my icons. He claimed that he wasn’t cut out for adulthood.

I knew when I gave him center stage he wouldn’t be there for long, and eventually chose a sign that fit the moment better: PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE FEARS. It made me smile, yet expressed truth at the same time.

Now, as I talk on the phone to my nephew, Alan, I want to pretend to be Donald Duck and let someone else do the work. Alan is my tech support. I am trying to renew my virus protection on my laptop and it has FAILED. It lets me know in bold, bright, horrifying color. Alan is calm. He is a genius nerd who knows his stuff. I imagine my world locked inside these 0’s and 1’s, swallowed by a monster virus.

“Okay, simultaneously hit Control and J,” Alan says. “That will bring up your recent downloads.”

And it does—the first time. That download doesn’t complete either. My throat is as dry as desert rock on a-120 degree day. My laptop has other plans. it seems to be saying, I’m loading down, sister. taking a nap instead.

I catch sight of my desktop pic and sigh. Won’t feed the fear, but I could use a glass of water.

My nephew remains on the phone. He leads me to safe directions. I see the promised land and read a most precious word: INSTALLED.

Halleluiah! I have passed through dangerous land without being hijacked, robbed, or killed.

“Thank you,” I say, feeling as if I just gave a miracle worker a twenty-five-cent tip.

“Well, if computers worked all the time, we tech-savvy people wouldn’t have anything to do,” he answers.

He’s right, but that doesn’t diminish my gratitude one megabyte.

pic from the Optimism Revolution

don't feed fears Optimism Revolution

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