Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Early in the movie, Joseph Cotton's character, Marsden, says, "I'm a writer."
Easy. Quick. Confident. "I'm a writer."
Marsden come to Paris because he has been offered a job---as a writer.
Our book has been published. I wrote about 1/4 of that book...my words on the paper,but am I a writer?
Recently, my son asked me to autograph a copy of Four Ordinary Women. Dan purchased it for a former student who is a writer. That was outside--- far outside--- my comfort. Jessieh is a writer. My words are part of a book.
I love to write. I love to find words that fit--that lock in my thoughts---that are rain on my wonderful parade of a life. But does that qualify? Am I a writer?
Maybe not yet, but I am working on it.
Yesterday my friend, Karol, baked brownies "just in case a hungry grand child stopped by". That is what grandmothers do--anticipate. Actually, Karol does much more than anticipate. No matter the situation, she is there for her children and her grandchildren.
Today the batteries failed on Sam's school bus. Without missing a beat, Sam went to the cup of screwdrivers, picked the correct size and handed it to Papa. The bus was up and running in no time.
Sister-in-law, Barbara, records favorite books and sends the tape and the book to Eric in a distant state. Grandmother connects.
Millions of examples every day....millions of grandchildren and grandparents sharing a deep and wonderful bond. From my perspective, the pieces of gold in the Golden Years are the relationships with adult children and grandparenting.
It is in the air and resisting is a waste of the energy needed for the task...fall cleaning. My grandmother, my mother and I carried the ritual from ceiling to floor every year. My grandmother's rug beater had long been abandoned for a commercial grade cleaner but much of the process has stayed the same. It takes longer now and isn't as necessary as when the kids were young. But there is comfort in good work.
This deep cleaning was once a way of finding lost socks, even lost lunches, in most unusual places. Closets gave up the stash of 'ugly' clothes that miraculously disappeared on Sunday mornings. Forgotten toys moved up to the top of the box.
Every season has special joy, but autumn overflows...cooler air, back to school, Halloween and the cleaning ritual. My grandmother would be pleased that I still want the sparkle of Spic & Span.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wonder if that is how we see ourselves--through a brass mirror. Contour and color are fine, but detail hovers just beyond recognition. Each of us holds the self image developed as we either ran or stumbled through life's chapters. There is little doubt about what we find unacceptable or even offensive in others. Maybe that brass mirror hides those same faults in ourselves.
Introspection can be wearisome....and even a bit boring if it lingers too long. But change is a challenge and introspection is a sidebar.
Recently something brought a fairly major change---Blindside Blog kind of change. And I have not always grieved this one gracefully.
Anger and blaming have been out of proportion. If I were watching another woman teary eyed and obsessing, she would get my undivided attention and my best effort at comfort. But...as I have watched myself teary eyed and obsessing, I know I need a silvered glass mirror and a "get a grip" deep breath.
One of my self-talk expression is, "On a scale of one to eternity, where does this situation fall?" I am getting closer to honest perspective, but a little peek in that brass mirror just might be the comfort I need.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Mindfulness is a sensitivity beyond the obvious.
I like that.
That overwhelming awareness that happens when the phone rings just as you are thinking about a distant loved one. Or when you dial the phone because you absolutely know that someone needs your ability to listen with your heart. Or when your turn to catch the eye of a stranger who seems to need a response---a nod, a smile, an acknowledgment of their presence. That moment when you realize that asking, "How are you?" will open the gates---because someone truly needs to tell you how they are. And you listen.
I like that.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wonder if three days without writing a blog constitutes emotional hibernation.
Actually does feel like a comfort cave blocks out what needs to be handled, giving time and distance.
Weeks ago, I absolutely knew that blogging would be a challenge. We began the blog as a way to extend the experience of our book, Four Ordinary Women. Through the blog, we would connect with you, Gentle Reader, and you would share with us.
Last evening, it was our privilege to meet a new group of women at House of Menuha. These women shared our twin loves of reading and writing. Many of them spoke as if blogging were both fun and relaxing. Who knew? Blog sites were rattled off as easily as I can name the best brands of peanut butter. Amazing.
Several women spoke about self censorship when writing a blog---the constant awareness of sharing with some depth yet being careful that no other person is harmed by the writing. This, of course, is a tribute to the sensitivity of those women.
And finally, to my point---which is totally anti-hibernation. Blogging can be good, even great for some. It can be our quick post card, but never our handwritten personal letter.
To find the depth and comfort of uncensored women to women communication, start a group. Gather on a regular basis. Build trust. Guard privacy. Open that women to women sharing to ease any difficulty.
If you have a group, treasure it as a lifeline that can sustain when other support fails. These women may never be luncheon friends, but you will be amazed at depth of beauty and enrichment exchanged.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Seven decades of dodging that elusive blind side, and THUD! It got me. Was it creeping just outside my awareness? Or was I turning my head in avoidance?
Maybe the 'how' of arrival isn't as important as the 'why'. Why did I let it happen?
My impending sort of instincts have always been a gift. Even when my children were young, answering the tug just outside my sensory awareness proved true.
At this moment, I am boxed and bundled into a situation that is basically outside my control. This is not a good place. Waiting has never been my first choice of response.
The tonnage of second guessing oneself is a low-to-the-ground heavy weight.
How does one deal with this? How have you, Gentle Readers, worked the maze?
Want to share? Surely, there is a way...not around, but straight through.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Millions of people share an August birth date and my hope is that each of those million persons is celebrated by someone.
In our family we celebrate Sam in January, Chris in February, Kaiya and Molly in March, Kristi in April, Dan is May, Bob and Mark in July, Ida in September and Cain in October--a year long roster of wonderful people. And August? August brims with birthdays...Paul, Elizabeth, Frank---and today we will meet the newest in our family. No name yet. His mother said she needs to meet him first, get acquainted a bit and then she will know his name. How nice is that!
Grandparenting is a bit like being reborn and each grandchild is a link in the chain of immortality. As we await this new baby, I am reminded of the joy of each birth, my children and my grandchildren.
How is my life? Better than I deserve...so much better.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Darkness protects and shelters...obscures or covers...sometimes Hide and Seek for the soul.
Dark times. Dark places. Dark reactions.
Often 'dark' can be a comfort word. Sitting on a porch as dusk becomes the dark that is pleasant and refreshing. Resting in a dark bedroom going over the day's happenings can be revisiting the best of times. A forest at night is amazing.
The other 'dark' is a burden. That feeling of pulling the top down and hiding is unfriendly darkness. Knowing that a reaction is negative and need not be happening is an ugly form of darkness.
Reminds me of that idea that for each opening bud a corresponding flower fades and drops. Sunrise--sunset sort of thing.
This blog has no where to go, my friends and Gentle Readers. It is just something I need to say. I wish you the best of dark's comfort.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The packing has begun in earnest. Translation: All the clothes on the floor of Mary Morgan's and Andrew's rooms are getting scooped up and put in boxes. Notice I said scooped up, not folded. Why go through an unnecessary step? Don't the clothes get wrinkled when you wear them, anyway?
So the floors of the rooms no longer require a GPS system to locate anything....but there is still work to do. Make that, the mom thinks that there is still work left to do. No fewer than 6 cereal bowls are upstairs, containing the shells of roasted peanuts from some long forgotten Royal's game, a bowl of Froot Loops....and oh, yes. Better put some ant bait up there while we're at it.
You see where this is going, right? The real work of cleaning, as in Pledging the furniture, making the bed, making the room look nice enough that you wouldwant to come back to visit, is left to me. Mary Morgan leaves Sunday. She hauled five boxes to the UPS store today to mail to her new apartment. But the room. A mess. She insists, while gesturing with her arm as in a frantic Vanna White posture, "What?? It's clean. I put all the stuff in boxes! What are you talking about? This will take me five minutes to straighten up...." as she wisks past me, with that smile, shampoo and a towel in hand, heading for the shower.
Andrew? The boy version. Stuff going to college piled all over the dining room table and floor. Some of it in boxes. Other stuff not. I am thinking a fourth floor dorm room...and how can we consolidate to maximize efficiency moving the stuff from car trunk to dorm dresser. I make a suggestion or two (okay, three) and he just keeps saying, "I know, mom. I'm not done yet. I am still bringing stuff down...."
The truth is, that as each kiddo walks out the kitchen door, I will be a bundle of tears....tears of pride first, then sadness. Sending an 18 and 20 year old to Denver and Lincoln, Nebraska, knowing that they can handle the challenges of getting along with a roommate, finding their classes, doing their homework, cooking a meal, brushing their teeth, not losing their room/car key, setting their alarm clocks and getting themselves out of bed. A lifetime of cumulative teaching.......
The porch light is always on.....
Ice Cream Socials have changed names, but the concept is the same; community, fun, food and home-made desserts. The secret ingredient is hours to days of volunteer work. Months before the event, the work begins and the intensity grows as the calendar shrinks.
Early in Saturday's set-up, the wind sent the tents across the schoolyard. Without a word of complaint, the fireman and the adult sons of some of the festival organizers started again. Bits and burst of rain, a Chief's game, and the aging population of workers didn't slow the evening.
Ethic food served in the school gym drew long lines of visitors who had walked hilly blocks from distant parking spots. Pre-teens sucked on candy pacifiers and baby bottles of sweet liquid. Younger kids had painted faces and jewelry of every description. Game wheels spun and provided prizes by the arm-load. The collective pulse was racing.
If each individual committee chair and volunteer were named, the blog would stagger. An unscientific poll determined that the majority of these women and men were well past retirement age, willingly giving time and precious energy to serve their community.
Maybe a few tempers barked now and again. Maybe old methods were challenged in favor of time savers. Maybe even a cross word raised an eyebrow or two. But the wonderful bottom line was a group of people working toward a common goal.
And so, a tribute to all those who gave so much to make the Festival a success.
Kudos, Ladies and Gentlemen. You ARE amazing.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Most of the sports pages go unread at our house. Skip and skim is the general rule. There was a time when I followed high school games, but kids grow up.
The exception to that light reading was a couple of local columnists. Though I might not know the player names, I did value the perspective of these writers who knew sports right down to the minutia. One writer dropped off my list when I simply could not reconcile his comments that seem to give notables a ' behavior pass' if they knew how to play the game--any game.
Mr. Joe Posnanski's talent is exceptional and his readers (fans) wish him well. After giving the Kansas City fans thirteen years of his writing, Mr. Posnanski has written a farewell letter. He has been hired by "Sports Illustrated". Guess that means I need a magazine subscription to give me the gourmet taste of sports that will be missing from our daily paper.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Captive audience? Sort of...though you have the 'exit' option.
I do try to refrain from too many grandmother stories, but failure to refrain is part of my joy.
Two and half year old little boy, busy playing trains looks up from his tunnels and tracks. For a few seconds, he stares across the room. Papa, too, is staring and seems not to notice the quiet attention.
This beautiful child comes to his grandfather, leans in and look up into Papa's eyes.
"Are you happy, Papa?" 30 months old and concerned that Papa is happy!
And next, there is the story of "Oh, Crapahauna!"
At almost five years, this grandson has developed a secret language. He frequently asks me not listen to his songs lest I decode and understand. One song is his favorite and he has a beautiful melody with a refrain that is constantly inserted.
His Daddy, my son, has the scoop on this one.
Naughty words are a clear and certain no-no and Frank absolutely understand that he is not to say those very attractive words. So he sings and suddenly "Oh, Crapahauna gets past the censors.
Life is rich and good.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Four spindle legs and dozens of those baby spots...alert and alone near the huge Halloween tree. The doe is behind the shed feeding on whatever plant is left after a summer of deer munching.
Faun-watchers most certainly invented the word 'frolic'. From a standing start, those little legs can carry a faun over the fence landing in a full-tilt run. They are beautiful animals.
And so were my plantings...beautiful. Now they are reduced to chewed-off stubs. At times, the adult deer have stood with front hoofs on the deck, reaching around the honeysuckle, to finish a breakfast of beauty.
There is a limit to the amount of netting we are willing to drape. The odor of the invisible fence spray goes from smell to stench in 50 seconds.
Of course, there are more drastic measures. Local parks have tried. But this morning, watching the twins return our quiet interest, it feels like a fair trade.
Wonder what our reaction will be in the spring as we begin the cycle again.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
What a strange morning. First I am hinting at the importance of Women's Studies in the high schools, colleges and universities and now I want to take a run at ego and greed. I didn't actually mention Women's' Studies, but I should have done that when writing about Sacajawea.
Lost Horizons was suppose to be the absence of ego and greed, a place of contentment brought about by the absence of ego and greed. Scene after scene of opulent living for the leaders, while the happy workers tended the fields and herded the animals.
So where do I go with this, Gentle Reader?
Where does ego cross a line from healthy self awareness to the ugly place of needing to be Number One...to have the spotlight, no matter the consequence? Where does satisfying true needs become lost in the greed for more? Where does knowledge switch from the beauty of learning to the arrogance of knowing-more-than?
We all taste this. We know the struggle. We win and we loose, but sometimes the line is blurred between what exactly we have won and what is so sadly lost.
History has never been my forte, though some of my children and grandchildren have an amazing sense of the importance of historical perspective and events. At times, it seems as if Bob has memorized parts of the journals of Lewis and Clark.
Last evening, we watched the first part of a documentary focused on Lewis and Clark as they followed Thomas Jefferson's commands to open and chart new territories. Napoleon's willingness to sell the French holdings greatly increased the unmapped area.
Undaunted Courage is the title of Stephen Ambrose's book on the journey. Perfect title.
Charbonneau, a French trader, was hired because his young wife, Sacajawea had knowledge, talents and courage to aid and inspire. The documentary is very clear, detailing the importance of Sacajawea's contributions to the success of the mission.
Earlier in the week, we found an old tape called Lost Horizons. The movie was made in 1937 and remarkable for scope, scenery, quality and budget. A plane crashed and a group of English people found themselves in a Himalayan village where ego and greed had given way to a gentle life free from want of any kind. Generosity and kindness were the order of every day.
Incredulous, 'George' was questioning the village leader. George asked, "And what about women?" The leader is stunned that the question would come up. "If a man sees a women he wants, she is his."
George follows with, "But what if she belongs to another man?"
"It would be impolite of the other man to refuse."
The woman would be given.
Now, I will grant that my mind does take leaps that raise eyebrows and can earn dismissive head shakes. I will grant that I don't always follow the logical and reasonable when I sort my thoughts.
However, in the early 1800's, a 16 year old pregnant Shoshone woman travels with the frontiersmen of Lewis and Clark. She shares the hardships in every detail, matching step for step along the journey. At one point, Sacajawea saves precious cargo as Charbonneau panics and flounders his boat. Lewis and Clark write that she has the courage of any man among them.
A 1937 movie continues the societal belief that women are possessions, to be handed off if a man likes what he sees.
How very slowly we have moved along the journey of equality.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Stillness. Sunday morning 4:30 AM, moonlight washed stillness.
On July 12, family arrived and our house has buzzed full-tilt since then. Additional family members arrived and added new life, moving through July and into August.
As we drove from the airport, I looked back to see my 40-something son moving toward the check-in and was reminded of the children's book, Love You Forever. He is an extremely capable person who handles life with assurance and care. Yet, I wanted to be with him to make certain he was safe. My next realization was that, if he and I were traveling together, I would depend on him to keep me safe.
Friday, August 7, 2009
Radio personality, Dave Ramsey, has an expression, "Better than I deserve."
Me, too, Mr. Ramsey.
It took three phone calls. Karol not only gave directions, but identified land marks to insure that we were taking the right highways. She has a remarkable mind for detail and a memory that files every detail in the right mental folder. If I believed in reincarnation, I would say that she was Sherlock Holmes in the once-upon-a-time.
Karol's directions got us to the Sugar Creek Park where we made another viewing stop, watching the kayaks move with remarkable speed. She handed me a shopping bag with multiple copies of Four Ordinary Women to be personalized.
Later in the day, Melinda called. Melinda is a multi-talented teacher with the determination to make things happened for students and curriculum. Our friendship is years old and gets better with time. Her encouragement is a constant.
Dr. S. is a remarkable educator, former head of a department and currently writing a very important book. While undergoing tests at Mayo Clinic, she sent a congratulatory email about Four Ordinary Women.
Wini wrote an terrific review of our book. She is a gentle soul and a wonderful teacher with whom I shared years at Westwood View.
Cynthia is my mentor (though I am the older) and friend. Together, we have solved most of the world's problems. Her notes of encouragement mean so much.
Copies of the Kansas City Star interview continue to arrive in the mail...Barbara and Pat include notes of friendship and support.
And those Carolina roses are as fresh and beautiful as the Tim and Sally support team.
A few hours in the quiet life of a very fortunate woman. I am grateful.
I just lifted that, "A Purse Full of Pennies", from an email...stole it from my friend.
Our friendship is built on lots of 2-cents-worth-sharing, daily emails, some phone calls and too few actual in-person contacts. Often the pennies are exactly the coin of the current realm, and less often they are an agree-to-disagree penny toss.
But we each own a purse that is full to overflowing.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
This is hard. Two rights searching for a way to avoid a wrong, to find the correct solution without breaching strongly held opinions.
We need you, Gentle Readers. We need your bits of history and wisdom earned by sorting your decisions that deeply affected self and others.
Together, back and forth, we have traded thoughts, being careful to manage the emotion and continue to express nearly opposite opinions. We have acknowledged that there is spillage from other life situations causing some added stress and coloring this disagreement.
But it is there---that gorillaphant in the room. Over? Under? Through? Around? This IS hard.
We need you, Gentle Readers. We need your earned bits of history and wisdom. How do you insure that two rights don't create a wrong?
Boulders roll right over without leaving a scratch. Even an avalanche fails to register on the Antonopoulos-Rumble scale. But that single grain irritates to a Richter 10.
This has been the summer of the revolving door as friends and family have made our days brighter with their visits. We have smiled and laughed our way through long days and short nights.
Grocery and paper product runs have been constant. The stove and refrigerator actually seem to sigh at the approach of yet another meal. Our rural water company is probably planning an event to honor their increased revenue. Sleeping arrangements ebb and flow as our tiny house shifts air mattresses from porch to deck when the extra beds are filled. Cleaning supplies and laundry products are moving from store shelf to our recycle with amazing speed.
Granted there are times when momentary differences need a bit of time and space. But over-all, we have had a terrific summer enjoying every moment with family and friends.
And now to that grain...the toothpaste tube and the Incredible Hulk grip that molds the tube to a five fingered mess. What's with that? A lithe and gentle 15 year old girl re-mangles the tube no matter the number of times I rearrange it to our normal.
OK...we laugh about it. Of course, by now, she probably does it just to get another bit of granny-action. Wonder how I got so toothpaste tube staid when little else seems to get a rise?
Monday, August 3, 2009
The MR 340 Race starts at 8:00 AM tomorrow, August 4. Kaw Point will see the launch of about 279 boats, kayaks, canoes, singles and teams. Mark's goal is to finish in 50 hours to match the number of candles on his July birthday cake. Brother, Dan, is a one man crew driving from check-point to check-point with water, food supplements and plenty of Advil. Dan is in for the duration, handling every stage of support. The preparations have been hours of meticulous check and recheck.
Last month, we watched the Gritty Fitty from Lawrence to Kaw Point, marveling at the stamina and determination of the paddlers. Tomorrow's race will be in grueling August weather. Many paddlers continue day and night, taking only mandatory stops to check in.
Life passions are a must. They keep us 'ahead' of ourselves, giving goals and a special measures for success. I marvel at the passion of these women and men as they push their limits, emotional and physical.
Bon Voyage to each participant and most especially to Mark as he continues to test himself in yet another rigorous sport. The team of Mark and Dan will triumph, no matter the official race results.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Four Ordinary Women is on my desk. Next to it, a vase of beautiful 'Tim & Sally' roses. Reminders.
Rainy Day hosted an author event. Books were sold. Autographs were written. Gentle smiles and supportive words exchanged. Vivien, Roger and staff were there to offer experience and expertise.
Much more happened.
Family came. Bob and Barbara, Kristi and Sally, Susan and Erin, Terri and Amy, Janelle, Dan and Frank...you are so appreciated.
Family closing ranks to support and validate.
Friendships with amazing women were renewed. Rita, Peggy, Joanne, Jane, Connie, Marilyn and Cynthia...colleagues from whom I learned and who are such an important part of my life. Sharon, a friend from elementary school and high school was another wonderful surprise. And Nancy came. She walked the miles with us, sharing her wit and grace.
Rachel, who wrote our story for the Kansas City Star, left a long day of work to offer her support and that beautiful smile.
A Fairway Road 'family', Bob, Melanie, Erin and her beautiful young daughter...past and cherished memories revisited.
Dena with her ageless beauty and talk of Daniel...deep and lasting connections from so many years ago.
Tory found the time to purchase our book for Lindsay who lives states away and still remembers.
Caitlin, with her darling face, reminding me of her diligence in mastering so many of those first grade spelling lists.
And Jimmy, grown to competent and caring young man, sharing stories of his life and of his mother, Linda.
So many other women and men came. Family. neighbors and friends of Patti, Shawna and Jo Ann, shared the evening as did new friends, Gentle Readers, who knew our book was to be a part of their permanent collection.
Four Ordinary Women had a most extra ordinary experience.