Thursday, November 27, 2014


I can actually say I'm thankful this Thanksgiving. 
Really thankful.
Dinner went off without a hitch and the food network taught us a new way to have turkey....dry baste!  
My husband and I did the kitchen ballet together and did it well. 
Out of the four children and nine grandchildren, we only had one child and one grandchild at the table.
And a pretty table it was! I set up a good bit of it last night and was pleased when my ten year old granddaughter oohed and aahed when she saw it! It was worth polishing the silver and pulling out the china!

The biggest surprise of the day came at the end of our meal together.
But the tryptophan has kicked in and I want to give the surprise the credit and words it is I will have to share tomorrow.

I hope whoever reads this today finds themselves loved peaceful and content.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


As usual, I was behind the chair for 8 hours today doing hair.  I had great clients from start to finish and lots of laughs along the way.  I have had many people actually say to me..."You really don't work do you?"  Well, I actually do...or at least my aching feet say I do at the end of a long day.  But I understand what they mean when they say this.  I am not really confined by a definitive set of rules outlined by an overbearing boss or corporation.  I set my own hours, I listen to my clients needs and wants, try to meet them and generally have great conversations along the way.  I work in a salon my husband built for me within our home so I have no commute and I get to go to the bathroom on my own toilet when the need arises during the day.

Working for myself has gone exceptionally well once I set boundaries for myself and my clients.  I had to make specific hours and stick with them.  I had to stay within a certain number of clients so that I could take care of all the ones I have had for years.  The one aspect I love the most about not working for a corporation is the leeway I have when it comes to money.  When times have been lean or clients haven't had the wherewithal to pay, I have been able to do the work and either release them from the debt or postpone the payment to a later date.

I have seen so many woman walk into my shop feeling down and undone with a bad hair day.  Color overdue or a cut that is driving them crazy.  Only to see them skip out the door an hour or two later with a fresh "do" that has made their life better.  To be able to give that gift is a great feeling.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not behind the chair for my health - I need to make money for my household.  But occasionally I get the opportunity to send a gift certificate to someone I know that is strapped financially and can't make an appointment with me or to make sure a mom feels better about herself from a simple haircut.

I am not trying to toot my own horn, but on the eve of Thanksgiving, I have to say that I am grateful to work in a job that allows me to give to others.  And in the end, isn't that what it's all about? 

Community and giving.

And me, being thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A bright spot in my day

After a long work day today where extra marital affairs and talk of Ferguson, MO filled the salon, I was beyond exhausted by the atrocities we commit against one another as humans.  Emotionally I was over it all and ready to pull the covers over my head.  But my hubby had other ideas and rescued me from even thinking about dinner.  He grabbed me, my daughter and granddaughter and took us to a steak house.  What a great idea, I thought. Starting Thursday, there will be a future of turkey dishes until the leftovers run out. 

During dinner, my ten year old granddaughter encouraged her mother to share office stories and hilarious incoming phone calls.  She cut up and laughed and brought humor to our little corner.  She reminded me of innocence and unfettered joy.  In fact, she just looked up at me from where she is reading and said...." We had a great laugh didn't we?"  May those type of memories stay with her when she older and remind her of how much she is loved.

Then we dropped by the bookstore where I looked for Christmas gifts and the new book, Small Victories by Anne Lamott.  My granddaughter found a new book series to read and raced to her in hand.....excitedly hoping that a purchase was in the near future.

Coming home she raced to her newest spot on the floor upstairs under the recently erected Christmas tree.  (Not my doings.....believe me).  This sight.....her full attention to the words and story being woven lightened the cares and stories of the world off my shoulders.  A reader, I thought.  I've got a reader in this grandchild.  My heart couldn't be happier!

Here's to words that weave a story and lighten the strings that tug us down!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Everything old looks new again

Preparing for Thanksgiving has always been more of a chore than the meal is worth for me.  I am usually the planner, preparer, chef, and chief cleaner upper.  Thankfully a few years back, my dear husband stepped in and took over the task of storing leftovers and "retting" up the kitchen.  Even the gathering of family is not enough to make this a holiday a time I can look forward to.  All the jokes about sitting down with people you usually tolerate throughout the rest of the year and then purposely sit next to on the fourth Thursday in the month of November has roots in the truth.  The past couple of years I have actually been thrilled when I found out that my kids had other plans.  I was able to sit in my pj's all day and eat whatever I turkey be damned.  But this Thanksgiving I am going to give it the old college try and do my best to turn it around. 

I am not the kind of woman who really uses china or formal dinner pieces, but I pulled out the Noritake china I bought for my hope chest when I was 16 years old and living in Taiwan.  The pattern is called Reina and is a white on white pattern with silver edging.  It doesn't get much use and really never has during the years since it was purchased.  I also found the silver my mother bought in Hong Kong during a trip we took there for my 16th birthday.  Because of my father's rank in the military and protocol for the time we lived in Taiwan, there were dinner parties every few weeks that required me to learn how to set a formal dinner table where china and silver were regularly on display.

The silver I pulled out from under the stairwell was in a sad state.  Since my mothers death 18 years ago, I have never used it.  In fact it was still wrapped in the tissue paper and soft cloths that she bought to protect it all.  I bought Tarn-x and gathered the soft fabric I needed for the cleaning and set out to restore it to its former beauty.  Some of the pieces are permanently discolored and a few had deep pitting, but most of the pieces responded to the gentle care and cleaning by displaying the beautiful shine I remember from my youth.  It took several hours to clean and buff the silver and I wondered how many people actually do this anymore.  It wasn't hard work, but it was tedious and time consuming. Wouldn't my regular day to day dinnerware be just as good?  The answer is yes, but perhaps setting aside a few days a year to put some extra care and special attention to the day could remind me and those who will enjoy it to put their best foot forward and take some care to show up with shining attitudes and smiles.

I am aware that none of this is needed for a special connection over dinner.  After spending the day with my oldest daughter cooking an early Thanksgiving celebration dinner just two weeks ago, we ate on her everyday dishes in her kitchen.  Her table is a large coffee table and our seats were pillows on the floor.  It was delightful and there was nothing formal about the gathering.

Cleaning the silver with its permanently discolored spots and wearing away by time and exposure to the elements was an act of reverence for me.  It connected me with my mother again and became a hope for me to connect with those who will sit at my table this year.  It also reminded me that to neglect something treasured and beautiful takes its toll on the treasure and the one called to restore it.  I hope that I find the buried treasure of laughter, gentle conversation and extended olive branches surrounding us as we count our blessings and partake in the bounty we have been given in food and one another.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Books aren't just for enjoyment

I am a reader.  A voracious reader.  A reader with eclectic tastes and a strong lean towards strong female protagonists.  I enjoy a well crafted sentence and a thoroughly researched subject.  My favorite author, Diana Gabaldon,  is a female who has made me a better reader and a better writer. Since reading her Outlander series of books, I now read all other fictional work with a more critical eye.  I can still be carried away involuntarily with the gift of a true story teller, but I see the subtle nuances and well honed sentences with more appreciation.

This being said, I was surprised by the unexpected thrill I found when I read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  I can honestly say I wasn't even sure what a YA book was until I found this series.  I have now found myself seeking Young Adult fiction and incorporating it into my repertoire of loved books.  The central character, Katniss, is a strong female who is confident, selfless, compassionate and a great shot with a bow and arrow.  She starts out as a young girl who does anything to keep her family alive during a time of great despair and succeeds in compassion while taking no grief from anyone in the process.  When she makes the choice to keep her young sister from a deadly game run by a controlling government, she steps into an arena ill prepared to stay alive as she is sought out by other pawns who wish to be the last one standing.  By the end of the first book she finds herself the chosen symbol for a revolution.

I have read the series through at least three times and have seen the movies an almost equal number of times.  This past Friday I was able to go with my daughter and friends to the first showing of Mockingjay 1.  The first of a two part finale.  At our pre movie dinner, I looked around the table at the women and thought about the pull of this movie and it's plot.  Not one of us were young adults.  We aged from 58 to 29 years old, and yet there we were to see a fascinating tale of the ultimate lay down your life for another.

One particular scene brought forth an emotional response of tears and the compelling desire to join in the three fingered salute of District 12.  As the hero of the story, Katniss Everdeen, walks into a hospital of severely wounded people, the wounded lift their fingers in salute to the young girl.  At that moment I asked myself....What would it feel like to be the face of a Revolution? 

How many people throughout history began as ordinary citizens of their own life, only to discover that their presence and very personhood would require them to be a figure to follow as a rebel.  I think of the individual who knelt down in Tiananmen Square in opposition of the government there. Mohamed Bouazizi who ignited the Tunisan Revolution and enough public outrage that the president of that country had to step down. With the release of the movie, people being oppressed in different cultures are finding this salute a perfect expression to their own cries of decision.

I get that this is only a movie and that the characters do not imitate real life.  But there have been revolutions around the world where the unlikely leaders were put into positions of becoming the face of a rebellion.  Decisions have been made to take a stand on less than the reasons found in The Hunger Games series, but I doubt anyone wakes up realizing that they will be the one to lead a revolt.

Thank you for your consideration.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Crafts and Craziness

My mother was quite the crafter.  She didn't always finish what she started, but her intentions were good and when she completed a project it was gorgeous and worth keeping.  I remember watching her sew as a child and then crochet blankets and scarves.  She took classes and learned how to paint on fabric which she either sold or gave as gifts.  I remember her gathering pictures and taking them to a class that was going to teach her how to decoupage.  A fancy name that enticed me into the arena of crafting. 

If it is true about right brained individuals being more creative by nature, then I believe the right hemisphere of my brain is proportionally bigger than my left.  When I can't be creative in some aspect, I feel as if my soul is drying up.  Pinterest has the same effect on my neurons as crack.  The great thing is that I actually try many of the Pins I pin and have success....for the most part. 

I am a hair stylist and that allows for a daily dose of creativity.  Color and shapes take my brain and hands on an adventure every day.  And I love the client that comes in with no preconceived notion and just lets me have full control.  There was a time when that would have scared me gray....but the day a client walked in and said, "short, kicky flicky, with blond, red and black" and I skipped to the color room with visions of sugar plums dancing in my head, I knew I had matured and beaten the fear.

But away from the salon, I love doing a million creative things.  I love to photograph....people and landscapes.  The smallest of details do not escape my eye which can occasionally be a detriment if I am in a hurry.  I love to create new dishes to serve.  Every spring when its time to plant I love to create a space of peace on my back deck of old window frames and re-purposed pots.

My mom did teach me to crochet, but I found that I love the look of knitting  better.  So not to be deterred by the knit one, purl two references, I found a friend a friend with a great deal of patience and unlimited texting ability.  I find that knitting is quite relaxing when I'm not ripping it out and cussing a blue streak for the 40th time.  Today I am attempting to begin a baby blanket.  I'm finally on row 3 because I didn't cast on correctly the first 15 times...and that is not an exaggeration.  The head cold I woke up with this morning is not helping the situation...apparently you can't count correctly with a headache and a nose full of snot.  Luckily the baby isn't due until May and I don't think head colds can last that long! 

On to row 3......

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I don't know if menopause has been playing a leading role in my attitude lately or if I have just reached my limit on .... well, everything.  I definitely want to blame the fact that the glasses I have donned this past week have been anything less than rose colored.  I am not the woman that walks around with tons of grace for everyone and every situation, nor am I once to pounce on every flaw, mistake, or error in judgment.  I like to think I try and see myself in the same situation and give a get out of  jail free card to the person needing it.  But this week I feel myself walking around with a scowl on my face and a need to police the world. 

Bad service at a restaurant.....I'm letting the manager know.

The bank's inability to manage the four accounts I have at their institution and the debit cards they issued without pin numbers......I am going to let someone know about the ineptness of it all and how I feel.

Trucker completely cuts us off on the turnpike.....he gets a hand gesture complete with suitable phrases.

Someone mentions how they don't have to work outside of the house and can leisurely go about their day.....and I am undone.  Tears and all. ( I kind of blame that one on a long day yesterday on my feet....Okay, I know, it was envy.)

I picked up Women Who Run With the Wolves and turn to these words. 

"When a woman has trouble letting go of anger or rage, it's often because she's using rage to empower herself.  While that may been wisdom at the beginning, now she must be careful, for ongoing rage is a fire that burns her own primary energy.  To be in this state is like speeding through life "pedal to the metal", trying to live a balanced life with the accelerator pressed all the way to the floor.
Neither is the fieriness of rage to be mistaken as a substitute for a passionate life.  It is not life at its best; it is a defense that once the time of needing it for protection is past, costs plenty to keep.  After a time it burns interminably hot, pollutes our ideas with its black smoke, and occludes other ways of seeing and apprehending."
I know that when the anger started this week, I felt like I was in a place of not having control.  I am very aware that no one really ever has control of anything, but this was control of my little sanctuary of home and hearth.  So I began seeking control over anything that touched my life.  As a result, I have a hotter than hot anger with a flashpoint that is immediate. Hopefully by recognizing this I can begin to address the real issues at hand. 
Anger and Envy are close relatives that spur one another on but never really have a shut off valve.  My hope is that I can keep my mouth hands inside the car window and work on myself before I do any real damage to myself or others.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Work vs Play

Have I mentioned how much I love my job?  I get to share in the lives and loves of almost every person who sits in my chair and gets a hair cut or color.  It is rarely just about hair for the men or women who rest their weary bones and welcome the touch of my hands.  We may talk about  the newest style or color they hope for, although many just talk about their hopes and wishes and then stick with what they have been wearing for a while.  The conversation may start with the mundane issues of their lives, but eventually they reveal daring hopes, soaring dreams, and unraveling plans. 

I am given the gift of trust and I do not take it lightly.  I try and help them carry the burdens they share and if I feel I am not adequate, I point them in the direction I feel can suit the issue better.  I hear stories that have made me laugh and make me cry.  Making a salon within my home has created an area that allow people to feel at ease.  They know my family as well as I know theirs. Some folks have their hair done every four to six weeks....and some of these ladies have been with me for seventeen years.  Because of the frequent opportunities to get together, I see my clients more than I do my own family.  They are more than clients, they are friends.

But at the end of my days, I find little time to follow my passion of writing.  So this blog is a nod to my story telling.  And while work is getting in the way of my writing....relationships are an awesome trade off.  Here's to weekends and the time they afford me to play.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Adult children

Our drive home today from Pittsburgh felt incredibly long.  It was as if we had hooked the cold front to the back of the car and pulled it along behind us, bringing rain, sleet and freezing temperatures across all the states we passed through.  After such a whirlwind weekend, it felt unusually quiet and calm.  No agendas were waiting to be fulfilled.

As much as I love my grandchildren, I was glad to spend one on one time with my oldest daughter once the children had been properly hugged, smooched and placed on the bus for school.  We talked without interruption over coffee while the sleet pinged against the glass windows.  I would have loved hours of this kind interaction.  I am always surprised to talk with the adult woman that she is when I still hold the little girl she was so close in my heart.  Now she is the  mother of three with another one expected to arrive in May.  Our conversation split it's time among the mundane parts of grown up life....bills, grocery lists and the joys of raising children. 
The warm fuzzies of the weekend and the stress free time together will carry me through the work week, but it will disappear all too soon.  "Life is the accumulation of memories." This weekend was a grand gem to add to the mountain of memories I hope to draw upon in the future.

May today bring new memories and opportunities to a few to you!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Magical Wishes

Today is one of those days you dare to hope for....the one where you make a wish and it comes true.  It was the day that all the stars aligned and joy was the end result.

  • Turkey went in and cooked itself to perfection.
  • Vegetables behaved and came out at the same time as the turkey.
  • Christmas crafts were bought and young children were entertained and thankful.
  • The wine was the perfect compliment to the meal.
  • An ex-husband came and all the words around the table were kind and carried no ill will.
  • The planning and execution of the meal was a ballet of two women...The mother and the oldest daughter doing a dance of unspoken steps and timeless rrhythm. No wasted movement between them.
  • Men, grateful for full bellies, taking over the kitchen duties of cleaning and storing leftover food.
Today was magical with its promise of hope and its ending of love and peacce.  Thanksgiving meals have been carried out from start to finish by one person for so long that I had forgotten what a gift it is to carry it with someone.  I believe it made the food made me better!

Happy early Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Eight years ago my oldest daughter moved to Pennsylvania with my second granddaughter.  I couldn't imagine traveling the distance to see them.  But here we are so many years later and I travel up so often that I believe my car knows the way without me.  My sweet husband and always come bearing gifts.  More often than not, I bring food!  It is the language I speak when I want to communicate love.  I stock her freezer and whisk her off to the grocery store to stock up.  It makes me happy and sets my mind at ease when I leave.....I know that for the next month or two they will have food.  
Since that time eight years ago, two more children have come along to call me Nona...the Italian name for Grandma.....and another one will arrive in May.
We arrived on the winds of a cold front.  The low temperatures and hills dotted with white lights made it feel as if the holiday season had begun.  Once we unpacked our bags, we were informed that a fireworks show was about to begin in their little borough.   Walking a few blocks with neighbors we got to see experience a firework show that marked the beginning of the holiday season here.  Woo hoo!
After a delicious dinner at an Irish pub, we did some grocery shopping.  Inspired by all the holiday spirit we grabbed the fixings for an early Thanksgiving meal. Tomorrow the language will be food and for me it will translate to love.  An unplanned family feast.  But until then, this little girl and I will sit side by side drinking tea and write.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sticks and Stones

Our daughter and granddaughter share our home with us and we live in a popular type of home called a split foyer that has two complete living areas upstairs and downstairs.  It is what makes our arrangement work.  While passing through their area on my way to the laundry room the other evening, I was asked by my granddaughter if I wanted to sit and watch a movie with them.  I had so many things to do that my first inclination was to thank her and gently decline her offer.  But I decided to sit for a moment and watch a small bit of the movie. 

Maleficent was the chosen movie for the night. I wasn't particularly thrilled with the thought of watching a "kid" movie, but it grabbed me from the beginning and 90 minutes or so later, I was so glad I had been invited and had decided to stay.

The storyline was a departure from the traditional Sleeping Beauty story.  Told from Aurora's point of view, we discover a different side to Maleficent.  If you haven't seen it, stop now because there are some spoilers here.  Maleficent is not quite as evil as we have been led to believe.  Instead she is a woman hurt and destroyed by someone she loved and who she thought loved her.  Betrayed and devastated she uses rage and revenge as her defenses.  Bitterness takes root and as an act of revenge she uses her words to curse an innocent child.....the offspring of the one who hurt her so badly. 

The original fairytale insists that true loves first kiss will break the curse placed on Aurora, but in this version it is simply love that sets them all free.  Maleficent reverts back to her true self slowly as she watches  the child she cursed grow and play, day after day and year after year.  And as her defenses crumble, her heart is once gain endowed with generosity and love.  But she finds that words spoken cannot be taken back. 

It was at this point in the movie that I was deeply moved because I know I have been in that situation many times as so many of us have.  We have spoken words that came from a place of anger, jealousy, hatred or fear.  We have said things that cannot be unheard or unspoken.  The hearer has been injured by the curses spoken and the person speaking is injured as well.  Sometimes it even feels good to get the last word or even a jab at someone who has betrayed us or caused us harm.  But the curse cannot be revoked and the wounds must heal if possible. Once the emotion driven situation has returned to normal and we realize what we have done, it takes so much to apologize and try to reverse the damage caused by thoughtlessly spoken words. 

As most fairy tales do, this story ended well.  Maleficent's curse was eventually broken by true love.  A love that seeks the best for others and has forgiveness at the core.  It is a wise person who knows how to keep a guard at their mouth and think before they speak, but if the damage has been done confession is good for the soul and forgiveness heals the forgiven and the one extending grace.

But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger....

                              May we live by this rule!


I mentioned that I had signed up for the challenge of NaBloPoMo ,(National Blog Post Month), on November 1, thanks to a friend I have never met, but a sister blogger who is pretty awesome at combining words into a treasured read.  I have signed up for NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month), in the past but have not been able to make it to the coveted 50,000 word goal. 

I have been working at the craft of hair styling for almost 17 years now and it is a job that has saved me in many ways.  That must be a post for a later date.  That said, I wish they made these lovely "do it every day all month long" challenges for another month.  I am incredibly busy during November due to the upcoming holidays and the decoration of the house and it makes it an added challenge to get a post up everyday.  I have missed two and feel a little disappointed in myself. 

This morning I woke up and remembered that I had been too tired to post last night.  Too tired, in fact, to remember to post.  My body and brain were mush and once I shoved some delicious dinner into my face, I was out for the night.  But as I prepared for my long work day today, I began to ask myself why I agree to accept the challenge and why I would contemplate beating myself up over a swing and a to speak.  I signed up for a jump start back into writing but  I had no good answers for beating myself up over not keeping up with the pace so,  I decided to let it go. 

I love writing and I love trying to master the ability to put into words what my heart and mind feel and think.  I have time while blow drying clients to carry on delightful conversations with myself and to ponder some of the topics that are discussed in my chair.  So I am hoping to grab onto something during the day today and process it until I finish around 8 tonight and am able to put it here.

Moral of this whole post?  I am in charge of every challenge that comes my way.  I must play the cards I'm dealt and be kind to myself along the way.  Here's to hoping you are kind to yourself when the expectations you have laid down aren't quite met.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Taking care of our own

I was watching the television and heard Jon Stewart talking about being apart of the big songfest in Washington, DC to honor our vets.  He said something that struck a cord with me because I have lived it's truth.  He said...and I am just paraphrasing....

 We are great at making veterans, but not so great at taking care of them.

He could not have been more right.  It has been said that old men make wars and young men fight them.  I have seen the after affects of war within my own household, both as a young child and as a mother and mother in law. 

When my father returned from his fifth tour in Vietnam, my brothers and I were cautioned about waking up my father from within a particular distance.  He woke suddenly and was likely to see you as an enemy before he realized you were his child.  I remember hearing my mother's voice calling to my father in the middle of the night and finding her standing in the kitchen dressed in her robe and looking out into the back yard.  My father was out there walking around unaware that he was in a backyard in Virginia Beach, Virginia.  His mind was still fighting a war on a distant land.  He never spoke about his time there as an pilot where he flew both jets with bombs to deploy and helicopters to go into a hot zone and rescue his fellow warriors.

And then I was a mother who watched her son sent to war. He volunteered to become a Marine at 17 years old.  An indecent age to swear allegiance to a country that is willing to use your young soul to fight a war. He was sent three times to that war zone and every time he came home I saw less of the boy I had given birth to and raised, and more of a man losing himself in the violence he had to see and participate in. 

He was a veteran now at 23 years old and once on American soil, we could find no one to help him. Just brown bags of drugs handed to him in an effort to dull the images of war.  No one really knew how to help him or the thousands of men and women just like him. We have consistently begged for the Veterans Administration to help....but have been shocked at the apathy and disinterest of those we have seen.

To paraphrase Jon Stewart again...We are great at making veterans, but not so great at taking care of them. 

They don't need the songs of musicians that will fade with the morning light.  But the money spent on putting together an event, like the one on tonight, would be better spent funding programs that work in connecting with out vets and helping them become the men and women they were meant to be.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Veterans Day

I am sandwiched within a generation of Marines.  My father.  My father in law.  My brother.            My son.  My son in law.

A legacy of protection and serving a country of their own free will. 

I am the daughter of a Marine.

The daughter in law of a Marine.

The mother of a Marine.

The mother in law of a Marine.

The sister of a Marine.

I have been to many continents.

Withstood change.

Adapted to new cultures.

Adapt and overcome.

The motto of the Marines.  The reality of my life.

Thank you Veterans

No one but the families know what you have sacrificed on our behalf.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 9 NaBloPoMo ~ Day 2 DC

I get that I am at the back half of my fifth decade on earth and that my body is not one of a younger woman.  All of that was made even more evident on the second day in DC  with my brother and his teenage girls.  My feet and hips hurt.  My back is wondering where the easy life went to.  And my brain is mush with all of the museum education I received.

Lessons I learned ~

  • Always make sure you grab everything you brought with you when leaving the Metro (especially your cell phone....sorry brother, I hope you figure out a way to get your contacts)
  • Tennis shoes are better for walking in than Danskos
  • Don't hydrate like you do at home where there is a readily available bathroom
  • The cafeteria at the American History Museum is good but expensive
  • Drunk people on the Metro are fun to watch 
  • Sometimes teenagers do know the answers (thanks to Isabella for getting us back on the blue line and back home)
  • My husband can make a delicious pork chop/mashed potato/broccoli dinner while I'm off running around Washington
  • My couch and Ibuprofen are two of my best friends
I do actually have an interesting post for tomorrow night that I look forward to sharing, but that will have to wait.  My pillow is calling and I must answer!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A time for memories

 My brother and his teenage daughters came to visit for the weekend.  Because I live so close to Washington, DC he wanted to head up there and see the sites with his girls.  A day of sunny blue skies and crisp fall air lead the way for our travels.
Our first stop was Arlington Cemetery to see our dads headstone.  Sticking with tradition we placed our stones of remembrance on top....although I bring seashells, rule breaker that I am.  The whole of Arlington was at peace and felt like the resting place it needed to be for those who fought for our freedom. Dad rest under the large tree above.  The light shining through it seemed to set it aglow. Memories flowed around us all.  Today was the 18th anniversary of our moms death as well.  With my hand on the headstone I addressed mom and dad both and encouraged them to be kind to one another.

We watched wreath laying and the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier and were surrounded by veterans who were celebrated and honored. I could almost feel the living and the dead standing side by side in this venue and was full of peace.

We also visited the Holocaust Museum.  No pictures are allowed and I wouldn't want to take any there.  This was such a contrast to the peacefulness of Arlington.  It felt as if the departed refused to rest as long as their story could be told.  The faces of those who were callously murdered stared out at the visitors and both were silenced by the deeds done.  It was the end of our day and it cast a somber note and reminded us that our life is precious.  As a family, we walked to the Metro in the dimming light and let those we had been reminded of throughout the day rest easy in our minds. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

   For 18 years I have gone to one particular Christmas Craft Show here in Virginia.  Three huge buildings that hold handmade Christmas decorations and more options for Christmas gifts than I can fathom.  The moment I walk in I am greeted by aromas of fresh baked goods, almonds cooked in cinnamon and the sounds of Christmas music floating on the air like clouds.  The population includes women dressed in interesting (I didn't say ugly) Christmas sweaters, women with babies in strollers (always watch for your ankles), men who wait patiently for their wives to finish shopping (special place in heaven for those gents),  and occasionally a woman strolling with a small dog like it's an accessory.
   Today I got to go with a friend whose laughter bubbles out of her with such joy you must laugh with her.  A woman with a heart of gold who loves her friends with such passion you never doubt how she feels about you. 
   We oohed and ahhhed over many of the booths and displays. We purchased and tasted and purchased and tasted.
   As we came down the aisle to this one booth on the corner, we both saw the leather bound books and stopped.  I was mesmerized by the look of each book.  By the smell of the rawhide.  By the feel of the engravings.  And then I opened one up and found that they were full of handmade paper.  Some pages even had specks of grass and wildflowers embedded within the fiber.  I thought I had found a piece of heaven.  And then, I panicked.  I quickly put one of the gems back down and turned to my friend and just told her to WALK!  "WALK AWAY", I thought before you buy one of these. There were gifts to buy for others.  Many gifts.  I had already spent money on myself earlier.  I couldn't buy myself two things. 
But my girlfriend didn't see my inward struggle of worth.  She saw the treasure in my hand.  She saw me writing in it at the beach, in the mountains, on my back deck.....she saw me writing everywhere.  She took it upon herself to ignore my firm command to walk away from the booth of leather goodness.  And then had the audacity to ask to vendor how much? 
   I moved in and began to fondle...yes fondle, these beauties.  The vendor, being a good salesman, picked one up and handed it to me...."Here is one with the tree of life."  I was sold.  Rather, the book was sold.
   I am now the proud owner of a genuine leather, handcrafted journal with handmade paper.  I am thrilled.  But mostly, I am thankful.  I am thankful that I had a friend with me who knew what I needed more than I did and who nudged me in the right direction.
   I love you, Robin.  Thank you.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Memories Don't Fade and The Missing Doesn't Stop

I realized, just this morning, that this week, 18 years ago, was the last week of my mother's life.  It was a week of odd humor, resignation, acceptance, and goodbyes. I was a thirty eight year old woman whose mother was dying of terminal lung cancer. I was too young to lose her and she was too young to die.
She came to live with me six weeks earlier.  Just in time for fall.  This is the time frame that I remember the most and while it doesn't sting as badly and isn't as fresh, I try to recall every moment despite any sadness or pain.
I remember the leaves my children gathered for her.  They had odd colorings and imprints.  She loved them and we buried them with her.
I remember my husband stopping by the side of the road to get the daylilies that were everywhere and bringing her a bouquet. 
I remember she thought she was dying a full week earlier and she asked me to call her sisters so she could say goodbye.  Then to call my brothers so she could see them both.  One of them traveled from North Carolina and another from a few minutes away.  It was hard watching them say goodbye.
I remember peeking in to her room when I heard singing outside her door.
I found my youngest brother holding her and signing to her. It was one of his finest moments.
I remember she stopped eating.
Then talking.
And that she could no longer keep her eyes open.
But she could hear me.
And the morning she died, I climbed in bed with her and held her in my arms.
I watched her face in between the agonizing and lengthening spaces between breaths.
And I remember telling her I loved her and that Jesus loved her.
One last breath.
One last smile.
Her soul flew over my right shoulder and was gone.
The room, so quiet now, held only two souls.
Mine and my husbands.
That was beautiful, I said.
And he nodded.
That whole last week was.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What Speaks To My Soul

 My only son lives here in town within miles of our home.  He comes by whenever he has his daughters and we get to spend time with all three of them.  Tonight he invited us to his house for a fire pit and some moonlight reading. 

 The fire was blazing when we got there and the girls were anxious to show off a bench the three of them had built that day.  The marshmallows were doled out and promptly eaten. Games of tag and coral the horse were played and then it was time to get down to business.

 He pulled out Scuppers The Sailor Dog.  A character that was his favorite as a young boy. I watched him gather his daughters around him and start the story.  I heard him reading, but what I enjoyed the most was listening with my heart. 
I heard the wind blowing through the trees all around us.  I watched as embers blew with the breeze above the faces so intent on the words their daddy was reading. 

Their bellies were full of a good dinner and sweet roasted goodness.  But their souls and mine were being fed by firelight and the music was the cadence of their daddy's voice.  I saw my son in his fatherly role and was at peace taking in the scene before me.  He makes the most of every moment he has with them and he makes their time one of learning and love. He made a book to be used for pressing flowers that the three of them find on their adventures.  A catalog of memories they all share.
Sometimes he wakes them early enough to catch the sunrise across an open field and he encourages them to chase lightening bugs at sunset and sit on the porch to watch a thunderstorm roll in.

Tonight was not a special night.  In fact, it is a school night.  But instead of the frenetic energy of getting preparations ready for tomorrow, he took the time to quiet them with fresh air, a building project they can be proud of and the simplicity of a story being read around a fire.  My husband and I count ourselves blessed to have sat at the fire tonight and watched their story being written.  And there were times when I felt the extended family that have gone before us watching and approving from the shadows.
When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.
                                            Joyce Brothers

Monday, November 3, 2014

How I lost my mind in 30 seconds....


I took a test today.
I failed a test today.
I really thought I could pass this test too. 
I mean, I took the evening appointment in the hopes I would be too tired to remember what kind of test I was taking.
After signing in and being taken to the back waiting room, I was asked to take off my bra, earrings and jeans. Other than the fact that I had to watch where I stepped now that my bra was off and I was in scrubs four sizes too big, I still felt like I would be fine.
The male technician escorted me into a room I had been in before.....I room where I had passed the same kind of test before.  But this time was senses were on high alert and I could feel the panic before I ever climbed onto the table.  A table, I might add that was made for skinnier people than myself.
I was beginning to think that MRI stood for Mental Resistance to Inclining while being shoved in a tube.
First they made me comfortable. A pillow for my head.  A pillow under my knees.  And then.........
a metal cage that was LOCKED into place over my hips.  The high point to this was the fact that when the tech felt around my pelvis to see where to put the cage, he found my hip bones.  I didn't even know those suckers were still there.  I haven't seen or felt them in a long time.
But I digress.
At this point, the table was elevated and I could see the tube that was going to be about three inches above my face as my destination. I was given a blindfold as if I were being led before a firing squad.   Earphones with music piped through them, so I could take my mind off of the small and enclosed space I was being delivered into, were placed tightly against my head. 
Shaking my head back and forth, I immediately began saying...
"Ummmm, I don't think I can do this." 
"This isn't going to work." 
 "In fact, I am about to lose my  $%!#"
Both of the technicians kindly removed the blindfold and earphones.  They did not give the impression that they were exasperated or peeved.  In fact, I don't think I was the first unnerved, middle aged, shaking woman they had pulled off the table that day.
I was kindly informed that I could reschedule this lovely experience and be given drugs to calm me down.  I was told that an Ativan should be enough to help with the anxiety.  I laughed and said I was a child of the "70's and it would take an Ativan and an IV drip of beer to get me back up on that table.
And while that initially sounded like a good idea, I immediately realized that once in that tube, where you cannot move, I would be relaxed and drunk enough to think every song was my favorite and I would need to use the bathroom.
Five minutes after walking back to take the test, I returned to my waiting husband with a modest shake of my head before darting into the changing room.  I needed my bra like I needed a vodka martini. 
My lovely husband was supportive and encouraging.  He didn't want me to beat myself up over the same kind of test he took not too long ago.  A test he used as a personal vacation where he slept through the procedure....without drugs.  "Everyone has little idiosyncrasies," he said.  "I have a brother in law who can't swallow a pill.  The man is over 50 years old and looks like a cat with a spoonful of peanut butter in its mouth when he tries."
Thanks honey, that and an Ativan or two should help me next time.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Call to Home

"In the chilly season, when the air grows cold and the spiders die, comes a thin time.  The days are short, so all the light of them is concentrated, squeezed between the dawn and the dark.  This is why the light is different, and each thing has a Shadow.  This is when the other worlds draw close, and the barriers between grow thin.  In a thin time, they say, you much be careful, because you might walk through a cobweb unthinking, and find yourself Elsewhere."

Diana Gabaldon
When the calendar page rolls over to November, I begin to feel the inward tug to slow down and the call of my soul to turn inward.
It's not as if the month is any less busy than the previous ones or  that anyone thing changes in my schedule.  I work the same number of hours a day and my weekends still find me at soccer games, grocery shopping and preparing for the following week.
During the spring and summer months I yearn to be outside.  I find any excuse to sit on my deck surrounded by woods, plants and herbs sipping coffee.
In fact, coming inside feels almost claustrophobic and stifling.  
I want to smell freshly turned earth.
I want to feel a spade in my hand and experience the act of planting flowers and herbs that will bring me joy in the months to come.
But November brings
cold temperatures and blustery winds.
The elements drive me inside.
I have been released and given the permission I need to come inside.
To sit.
To read.
To write.

The season itself is a burst of color and has its own appeal to the senses.
The air brings a coolness and  smell of a grateful earth...
finally liberated from the rays of the scorching sun.
It grants the observer one final display of colorful beauty
in the showers of wind blown leaves that give a rich visionary palette even in their death.

My hands no longer yearn to toil in the earth. 
The tools are put away and the garden has been put to rest.
 I carve out time for solitude.
I cultivate the skill of capturing expressions of my heart and soul.
I take the stories that whirl around inside of me and pour them onto paper.
November is the month of my birth.
Each year it is also the birth of new stories to be told and opportunities to create.
This November finds a wiser woman ..... a more seasoned woman....a woman
ready to walk into the light of truth.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

To Everything There Is A Season

   My last blog post was submitted almost a year to the day of this newest post.  I have asked myself why I haven't posted on this blog or written anything of much consequence and have found that the excuses ..... they are legion!

But just because I haven't written doesn't mean I haven't been thinking, planning, jotting or exercising this gift.  I feel I have come through a storm, of sorts, and have come out a stronger individual who is more inclined to give herself permission to make the boundaries that are needed  for self preservation. 
I began the journey back to my true self several months ago when I began reading a book that my daughter gave me called,  Women Who Run With the Wolves  by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. At first, I was unsure about the nature of the book.  It gave me such a different way of looking at myself and the world around me, that I wasn't sure I would have much use for the content.  But my continuing struggle to carve out time and follow my dream, forced me to look deeper within myself and at the words I was trying to assimilate into my life.  But one day I read these words.....

     "The world is lonely for comfort, and for the hips and breasts of women.  It calls out in a thousand-handed, million voiced way, waving to us, plucking and pulling at us, asking for our attention.  Sometimes it seems that everywhere we turn there is a someone or a something of the world that needs, wants, wishes.  Some of the people, issues, and things of the world are appealing and charming; others may be demanding and angry; and yet others seem so heartrendingly helpless that, against our wills, our empathy overflows, our milk runs down our bellies.  But unless it is a life and death matter, take the time, make the time, to "put on the brass brassiere." Stop running the milk train. Do the work of turning home."

   These were the words that forged my courage and forced me to look at the "milk train" I was running.  My choices were no longer about me, but about everyone around me. I have a large family of four children and nine grandchildren.  I am a nurturer by nature and while this is wonderful trait that benefited those around me, I had allowed my desires to be placed on the back burner.  I allowed the never ending task of housework to overrule the need to sit down and write.  And if all of that wasn't enough to cause my writing to peter out, somewhere along the journey of my life I had begun to believe that writing was frivolous and unnecessary. Before long I laid down my pen and stepped away from the computer.  I couldn't find my way out of the labyrinth of excuses I had developed. 

   the ARTIST"S WAY by Julia Cameron was given to me by a dear friend who had seen my struggle.  The exercises in this book put the pen back in my hand and gently set the rule that I had to produce three long hand written pages of stream of consciousness writing. These are called "The Morning Pages".  It was in the writing of those pages that I unlocked secret doors to the inner censor that told me my writing had no value.  The writing flung open the closet doors and the skeletons hiding there were thrown into the light and the doors were removed from the more dark corners for the lies to take up residence.

   It has been a busy year.  A year of introspection.  A year of truth. 

  I reached out to two fellow bloggers whose work I respect and whose words move me whenever they graciously share them with the world. I asked for their wisdom and their virtual friendship.  I asked to be considered a sister in writing.  They lovingly answered with encouragement.  And now, with the gentle nudging of  fellow blogger  and friend I have never met, I sit down at my computer and once again allow the words to pour forth.  I hope that the numerous thoughts that bounce around in my head like popcorn in a pan of hot oil will feed my soul as I follow my desires. I excitedly look forward to this month of November and look forward to the challenge of a daily post!