Flying By

Wow!  This month has gotten away from me. One day turned into two weeks in no time.

I went to visit my grandson who turned 12 this month.  We had planned on dinner and a movie and roller skating, but on my way there the Oldest Child called to inform me that the little guys had just won a football tournament against the “Unbeatable Team!”  All was excitement and plans were changed to an impromptu barbecue at the coach’s house.  Good times while the boys played and ran and hollered all afternoon and into the evening with the boundless energy that defines twelve-year olds. Next morning we were off to church and lunch and then I headed home. A quick turn-around, but always fun.

On a sadder note, on the way home I got word that my ex-husband had passed away. This was sad because although he was an “ex” for very good reasons, I have always thought of him in connection with some of the best parts of my life. Wyoming – ranching – horses – river rafting – golf – good friends and lots of good times. We parted on good terms, and though I never did, I always knew he was someone I could call if I needed anything.  Where do you mourn when you’re an “ex”?  In truth, we haven’t talked in at least 5 years, but it was a very sad moment, none the less.

20160926_181924After that I filled some time with a surprise root canal – always good for a few laughs and a day at home on the couch. I managed a little knitting and put buttons on the reworked red baby sweater, wrote to a friend or two and spent part of another weekend watching the just-released new season of Longmire on Netflix.  Yes. It’s true. I’m a groupie.  I’ve been a fan of Craig Johnson’s Longmire Mysteries for many years now and they have been turned into a TV show, first on A&E and then picked up by Netflix. Let me just put in a plug here – Johnson’s writing style is beyond excellent and I highly recommend the books if you haven’t tried them yet.20160926_182812

20160926_182011On the home front, the bird feeders are not emptying out like they were. See? Late afternoon and not a single bird. Seems we’ve hit the time when many of the little feather people are leaving for their winter homes.  Bye-Bye, Birdies. I haven’t seen a robin in weeks, and even the cardinals have slowed their feeding frenzies. They actually stay for the winter, as do the chickadees and a few others, but where do the robins go on their annual migration? Does anybody know?

 

Last week marked the first official day of Autumn on the 22nd, but to me, Autumn always starts on September 1st. If it’s September, it must be fall, right? Unless you live on the other side – then it’s Spring.  I say let’s get the pumpkins out, light a few candles, and run outside to jump into some leaf piles!   Who’s with me???

 

 

Changes

September 11th.  Autumn has drifted in again, taking its time to present us with the brilliant yellows and reds of leaves instead of flames as it did fifteen years ago. Not quite deciding, the days go from warm to rainy, back to warm and then turn chilly until we are grateful for each pleasant day. Snow has already fallen on the high peaks of the Rockies.

Fifteen years ago the change in weather came as a great relief. After the events of that awful day people moved about with strain and sorrow in their faces. The change in weather gave validation to churning emotions and thoughts. “You’re right,” it said. “Things are different.”world-trade-center

The leaves fall all around us like the bright confetti of a ticker-tape parade. They surround us with color and joy and the promise of new life to come. It’s hard to imagine that the gray, lifeless debris that fell from the towers that day could possibly hold the same promise for the souls of the departed, but perhaps it did.

Fifteen years is enough time for the babies to become active teens. It’s enough time for the teens to become fully functioning adults and perhaps have babies of their own. It’s enough time for not only our own lives to change, but our nation and world as well.

But it’s not enough time to forget.oneworldtradecenter

Falling things, be they leaves or debris, mark endings and beginnings. We’ve all changed, but let’s remember our promise not to forget. Let’s make all our fresh starts count.

 

Ummmm – Not So Much….

Last night I was invited over to my neighbors house. There was a little back yard bonfire and some barbecue. There were cousins whom I’d never met and teens playing football and it was all very pleasant Labor-Day-weekend-end-of-summer-last-hoorah kind of fun. The kids surrounded the fire and I parked on the patio with the grownups, pretending to be one myself. The weather was perfect (we’re having a cool spell at the moment) and the setting was lovely.

I tried to make conversation with these new people and we did manage to chit-chat a bit, but it was a little awkward and I found myself withdrawing more and more until finally I went home.  I know you’re burning to ask why, right?  Well, here’s the thing – while the teens were playing and roasting marshmallows and doing all kinds of fun outdoor campfire things, these adults that I was trying desperately to connect with were sitting at the table with cellphones in hand and noses glues to the screens. It was one of the most frustrating evenings I’ve spent in a long, long time.

cell-phonesI don’t hate cell phones. I have one and I use it all the time. On a trip not long ago, I was thrilled to be able to carry a computer, a stack of books, a radio, a camera and even a TV in one efficient, compact little package. It saves space and time and makes life very simple indeed. I’m grateful for the technology that is available to us now and I wouldn’t change that a bit, but here is the rant that you know is coming:  They. Drive. Me. Crazy.

You’ve heard it before: how cell phones and computers are separating us from one another. You’ve seen the cartoon/comic strips of teens sitting in the same room not saying a word while they text each other. I’m not the first and I’m not the last, but I want to add my voice to the list.

I sat there last night while complete strangers thrust their phones in my face to show me photos of people I didn’t even know. They rarely looked up, and when they did it was to look at me blankly and say, “What?” when I answered some question or statement they had made – that is if they didn’t interrupt my response by throwing another screen in my face. I would like to have talked with them. I would like to have gotten to know them a little better. As it is, all I know is that they are cousins of my neighbor and they take lots of pictures with their phones. I don’t even remember their names.

After and hour and a half, I thanked my neighbor and went home.

Ok, Ok – I appreciate that they were trying to share something with me. I appreciate that phones and technology are a part of our lives now and they’re not going away.  I appreciate that I was invited to share time and food and a lovely evening with friends.  I really do! But as I sat there, I felt ignored, dismissed, and irritated and I found myself questioning the not-so-good manners of not only neighbors that I truly care about, but strangers that I don’t even know. I hate those feelings and I resent being placed in a position where they could be dredged up. I want to be a bigger person, but I’m sorry folks, some things are just plain rude. Should I have said something?

On the other hand, I write letters on paper with a pen and ink. I like conversations about things that matter: feelings and ideas and beliefs. I think it’s important to have connections with compatible souls and I just wish as a modern, technologically advanced society we could remember that human contact still matters and now and then the phones need to be put down. Maybe I need an upgrade, because I think I’ve finally become outdated. And yet, I am writing this on a laptop computer and you are reading it on a phone or computer, but I am alone at home, and I hope wherever you are, you are alone too, and not putting your machine between yourself and another human.

So there you have it. I’m adding my two cents to the pleas for having the good grace to pay attention to the people you are with and practice good manners. If you’ve gotten this far, thank you for allowing me this space to rant, just a little.

What do you think? Does it bother you to be dismissed in favor of a text?

Autumn Glow

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Early morning sunrise and the treetops look golden.  They’re not yet, but I can feel it starting.  I love getting up with the birds and watching the morning wake up – opening the back door to let in whatever bit of nature is happening outside.

Here in the middle, September can be blistering hot and humid but it still means Autumn to me. Most years actual fall weather doesn’t show up before mid to late October.   September, though, has always been filled with autumn things.  The children on school playgrounds are the soundtrack for the bright yellow school buses that match the changing leaves. The stores start stocking Halloween candy and putting out fall decor. Apples in the grocery store are crisp again and we start seeing pumpkins and harvest vegetables, not to mention the occasional straw bale and scarecrow on a stick.

There is a day when the light changes from the brilliant burning white of summer to a softer amber glow. Like the last rays of sun mark the end of day with a glorious crimson and golden sunset, the end of summer is marked with the same burst of scarlet and gold before we are moved slowly into the still, quiet darkness of winter.

It’s a fine thing, this changing of seasons. Has it started yet where you live?

 

 

Taking Care of Ourselves

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I tend to think of myself as a fairly unruffled person. Nine times out of ten, when I say something doesn’t matter or isn’t important it actually isn’t, in the sense of rocking my world or my psyche or my mood or even my day. I’m inclined to give things that disturb me their fifteen minutes of fame in my awareness, then I want to put them down and move on. Sometimes I’m surprised when an issue continues to habitate my mental space and I need to take a deeper look to get it sorted out.

Like everyone, there are things that instantly piss me off and things that can sit and simmer for a long time but usually a few minutes to a couple of days is all I’m willing to invest. I really do make a conscious effort not to dwell, dredge, or feed the negative energies. That said, neither am I an overwhelmingly joyful person. I may be missing the boat, but my personal happy space floats on the bay of calm contentment. Please don’t mistake that for “settling.”

I believe joy is something that comes to us in moments and afterwards we live in the glow of it for a while until either the next joyful moment – or trauma – shows up.  It’s in the glow that we find space to catch our breath and relax and rejuvenate and my happiness lives in the quiet peace of knowing everything’s OK for a while. It’s there that I’m able to take care of myself. I write a little and knit a little and watch the endless shows that nature provides. I just saw a fluttering of yellow leaves puffed out of the tree line by a wayward breeze. The other morning I felt the seasons begin to shift. I give myself this time, and to me it’s sacred.

I do other things for myself. I see a chiropractor now and then. I try to eat well and take my vitamins. I try to recognize my strengths and limitations, but mostly I try to live in that balanced zone between being too busy and doing nothing at all; between over-the-top excitement and the depths of despair. My happiness is that place where I’m able to move through my days with a graceful serenity and it happens quite often.  It happens at work when I can do my job at a steady pace without being crowded. It happens when I make good food choices so that I’m not being bullied by cellular gastronomy pushing and pulling me in a thousand directions and moods. It happens when I’ve gotten enough rest and can stay clear on my boundaries and limits. It happens when I give myself enough time to ponder the issues and events that are going on around me.

Does anybody do that anymore? Ponder?  In our world of designer tea and guided meditations, does anyone ever take the time to just sit and think about something to discover how they actually feel about it?  Here’s my thought: we (I) take hands full of pills – prescriptions, vitamins, herbs and supplements – and they are fabulous aides to our health and well-being, but how often do we Just. Take. Time?  Time to smell the roses. Time to dance. Time to love, to breath, to laugh, to sleep.  Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that to everything there is a season and a time. It’s a gift we shouldn’t refuse.

I’m an advocate of time. Can’t afford it?  Don’t have it? Can’t find it?  I get that. It’s hard and usualy there isn’t enough, but it’s out there and sometimes the cost of a little time is a lot less than the cost of doctors, therapists and yes – even suppliments.  I know there are a million ways to approach this whole discussion, but I believe, with my whole heart, that we might discover that a little bit of time here and there is almost as good as chicken soup.

Can you find a few extra minutes in your day and if you do, can you keep from filling them up? Can you find room to take a breath? I hope so and I hope you find healing in those moments of quiet.

 

 

 

 

 

Morning Prayer

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I woke up early this morning and this moon is what I saw. But now I wish for a better camera because this moon was a soft orange color and the sky had a gentle glow to it.  The sun hadn’t peeked over the edge yet and I quietly watched the moon dip slowly downwards. It was beautiful. I felt Autumn for just a moment.

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A few minutes later it looked like this, and I understood the reason for the tornado hole left in the tree line.

20160818_064620_001 Gradually the light increased and the moon faded away in the morning fog and I thought,

Yes.

Thank You.

 

Free Time

I’ve been off work this week taking a lovely little “stay-cation.”  You know those – days off where you just stay home and relax.  I’ve been napping and reading and watching my birds and it’s been very nice and very unremarkable. Just the way I like it. I gave some serious thought to trekking off to somewhere new and exciting but the truth is, it’s just too hot. It’s too hot here and it’s too hot just about anywhere I could get to in the few days allotted me, so, for now, I’ve been pottering about at home.

I finally finished knitting the green socks and have made significant headway on another pair. (Plain vanilla, 3 X 3 rib on cuff, for my knitting friends out there.)

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I vacuumed. A lot. (ok – well maybe that hasn’t been the best part…….)

I’m watching the bird feeders. It’s the time of year when all the Spring babies have fledged (left the nest) and are starting to feed on their own. The feeders are full of these gangly, clumsy, awkward teenagers. Bad hair, bad tempers and no sense of style.  Right now most of them are molting and the poor things look absolutely ragged. For those of you that have been here before, you know that my bird pictures are compromised by having to be taken through a screen door, but even with that I think you can see what a fluffy, drooping mess these little guys are at the moment.  The little ugly ducklings waiting to turn into beautiful swans. I remember that stage. Do you?  If we can get through the galaxy all the way to Mars, couldn’t there be a better way to get through puberty and 7th grade?

This is a sparrow and a cardinal.  The little sparrow sat there for a long time before slowly tipping forward till his head bumped into the wire mesh of the feeder. I swear he just dozed off. The cardinal is molting and the most red on him is his beak. Maybe he’s a she. It’s hard to tell at this stage.

Speaking of 7th grade, school started here today. Sure seems early to me.  Like many of you, I remember when school started the day after Labor Day and ended the first week of June. Of course, I mostly went to school in Florida where we didn’t have to consider snow days. My first four years of school were in northern Illinois, and I don’t remember snow days there, either – but I was shorter then.

One thing that’s been fun has been having time to run errands and actually browse around a little bit. In my real, non-vacation life I function in “run-in-run-out” mode. Get the task done and move on to the next one, right? It’s nice to have time for a leisurely stroll up and down isles even if it is just the grocery store.

I head back to work on Friday – just in time for the weekend. Didn’t I plan that well?  This is what happens when you have to use those vacation days before time runs out. As I said, it’s been remarkably unremarkable, but sometimes that’s just what we need to regroup our energies, isn’t it?

What would you do with your days off? Are you an adventurer? Are you a napper? Are you a catcher-upper?  What is your idea of vacation heaven?