Mother Nature

Yesterday started out quickly and dramatically in Hibdonville.

My husband, Michael, was out watering the plants. I was sleepily wandering into the kitchen when I heard some unusual sounds coming from the backyard. I was a little slow realizing that what I was hearing was serious–a pretty big error on my part.

To understand this tale better, I need to tell you that we live between two small communities in the hill country of Texas. We are not in town but we are not really in the country. We have undeveloped lots around us, which gives us the chance to observe some wild life: raccoons, foxes, occasional coyotes, many birds, including our favorite, the road runner and our least favorite, a very LOUD nocturnal bird called, Chuck Will’s Widow, many feral cats, and quite a few deer. The weather this Spring has been exceptional with new babies arriving daily. The fawns visit at least once a day,  jumping and running through the lots, making us laugh at their antics and marvel at their speed and dexterity. The two new litters of feral kittens provide hours of pure entertainment. We are not cat people so it’s taken awhile for the cats to work their way into our hearts. They have been very successful. So much so Michael named the newest members. The oldest litter of three: Moe, Larry, and Curly. The newest litter of two: Thelma and Louise.

Yesterday, tiny Larry enlarged his circle of exploration a little to far. The sounds I heard earlier came from behind a very large and dense persimmon bush. Larry either crawled under or through our fence. On our side of the fence stood our very gentle Lhasa Apso, Duffy. He had been watching patiently, anxiously awaiting the arrival of what I think he saw as the best new toy ever. A toy he grabbed excitedly, carrying the tiny white bundle further behind the shrubbery.

As fellow dog owners know, trying to take a toy away from your dog often does not go well or quickly. This was the case yesterday. It did not end well for Larry. We were devastated.

This left me wondering if there was anything I could do to prevent this from happening again? I cleaned around the perimeter of the fence, putting rocks in places where I thought something could crawl under. I walked away at the end of the day feeling I had probably discouraged something from crawling under the fence, but any small animal could still crawl through. I had done what I could. I needed to acknowledge that and let it go.

Sigh.

I did not see any kittens today. My guess is both mama cats moved their little ones further away from the newly perceived “danger zone.” Even though I miss seeing them, I hope they are away until they get a little bigger and a lot more street smart.

Mother Nature can be hard to understand sometimes. I’m just a “town kid” trying to figure it all out. I do realize I cannot fix it all and know I have a lot more to learn.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace

God’s Gifts

I am having a hard time focusing on a particular topic these past few days. Then, a Godsend, I got an email from my soul sister, Mary.  This is a new term for our friendship, a precious gift that has spanned 40 plus years. It came about because of one of my blog posts where we both learned we shared one more experience. We had both lost a sibling at birth. To a list of many, we have one more shared one. It was one more confirmation that we are all here to share our life lessons.

I heard from Mary very early this morning–a red flag whenever you hear from someone either earlier or later than normal. She had lost her Uncle Ber and making arrangements to go back to Iowa. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to meet her uncle. I did not know a lot about him. I did know that he was important to her and was a strong and positive male role model for her.

Her loss reminded me of all the people who had come into my life over the years. I was incredibly blessed by family who supported my sisters and I when no one else was around. I wish so often that I could go back and thank all of them for all the sacrifices they made for us.

There is a lot here to think about and share. For now, I encourage everyone to think back to those people in your life who were always there for you–without fail. God sent many people into my life to help my family and me through the years right after my mom died. I certainly never thanked them or appreciated them enough.

I will be making my notes and encourage you to do the same. Include the names of those who have helped you along the way without asking for anything in return.

I send you my love and sympathy, dear friend and soul sister, Mary Kelly Moline. Safe journey back home to Waterloo. Know I will be joining you in raising a glass, toasting the good life and kindness of Uncle Ber.

I love you.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless.

Peace

 

Sharing

I have been sitting at my desk for sometime trying to corral my whirling thoughts. There is so much running through my mind it is hard to pull it all together into something I can share today.

A couple of things keep repeating themselves. I am discovering that writing is a very positive, healing experience for me. What I need to stress is that I am not writing to elicit sympathy. I am writing to share my experiences with those who may be dealing with some of the same issues–either in their lives now or in their past. I believe we are here to share the lessons we’ve learned. By sharing, two things will happen: I will be able to move on and readers will learn from me, hopefully saving them some time and heartache.

While researching quotes about grief, I came across a paragraph written by Miriam Toews. Finding this was like having that chance encounter at the grocery store when you run into an old friend–that friend who knows exactly what you need to hear as she greets and hugs you warmly.

Writing helps me create order out of chaos and make sense of things. It helps me to understand what I’ve experienced, what I’ve felt and seen, so it becomes easier to handle. On the other hand, I don’t want it to be just a cathartic experience, an outpouring of grief or whatever it is. 

My mind had turned to grief because of the newest terror attacks in Great Britain. Even the words of that sentence strike me as wrong. How could I be talking about an attack that killed many people with the descriptive word, ‘newest?’  We live in a world where tragedy seems to be a daily breaking news event. This morning I realized that terror attacks are becoming so common I am no longer shocked. For me, that thought stirred up a whole new level of grief. The memorial concert for the victims of the Manchester bombings had not yet happened when this new series–yes series–of attacks took place.

How can we find a way to understand any of this when these attacks, involving our brothers and sisters simply out living their lives, happen so quickly?

This quote attributed to Cheryl Strayed, gave me some comfort as it reinforced my belief that we are all in this together.

The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you’re talking about because she has experienced that thing too cannot be over estimated.

If there was ever a time for us to take that extra second for patience and kindness, it is now.

I am…

B…simply being…

I love you.

Peace

 

Short Notes

Sometimes my days in Texas seem like I have stepped back in time. Honestly, it is very  refreshing and comforting. Exactly what I need today.

The local radio station, KBEY 103.9, is a country western station–surprise! They have local staff talking about local news and events. They announce the time every hour. At noon, they play the National Anthem. Fridays are swap shop days, with people calling in to describe what they have for sale.  Local high school games are broadcast along with Sunday morning church services. The station is sponsored by the weekly newspaper, The Picayune, the best newspaper money can’t buy–still free after all these years, and local businesses. The downtown stores have store fronts and weekend market days. Our neighbors know us because they actually walked over to introduce themselves when we  moved in. The kids play outside and speak to us as we are out walking the dogs. Questions are answered with a yes, sir, and no, ma’am. People make eye contact when they speak to you and do not have a cell phone in their hands 24/7.

It’s the everyday things–the simple things–that makes life worthwhile. I am blessed. I am thankful.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless y’all. Peace.

 

 

My Little Sister

I lost my little sister ten years ago today.

Beth Ann Burton was the best person I ever knew. She loved me and most people she ever met, unconditionally.

I love you, Beth Anna. With all my heart. Or as you would say, I love you bunches.

I miss her every day.

Her story is an important one to tell along with mine–they are so intertwined it will take time to tell.

I now have the time.

It’s gonna take a while.

It won’t be easy. My heart tells me the story is important. My soul tells me the same.

The story is waiting… It is past time.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Lessons

The day is only half over and I am at my max level of frustration.

Being a retired person in today’s world is not easy. I spent the morning searching for a primary care provider who accepts our insurance. Hours later, after bouncing back and forth between the insurance website and various physician websites, I thought I had found someone. They have what appears to be good credentials,  great patient reviews, accepts our insurance, AND accepts new patients. I call. Many prompts later I am connected to a real live person. She tells me: only a few of their physicians accept new patients, my husband and I don’t choose a physician, the available care providers review our completed paperwork and decide which provider would best suit our needs. She directed me to their website–I had spent considerable time there already–where I could find the many paged new patient documents and return them via email, regular mail, or bring the forms into them.

Okay, thank you, bye.

I am learning that I need to take a break when things seem to be a little more insane than usual. This was one of those times. I am stepping back to share some of the things that have made me smile over the past few days. My internal scale of balance is reaching a critical tipping point.

Attached to my blog today is a picture of a little tiny cross given to me by an elderly woman who was in line with me at our local Walmart. She turned around, smiled, and asked me if she could give me something. Well…I was in Texas…I was at Walmart…BUT she was a tiny little lady so I said, yes. She reached into her pocket and pulled out that very small cross. She pressed it into my hand with a “God Bless You.”

I had to smile.

I put the little beige cross in my pocket. When I got home I put it on my desk where it reminds me every day that I AM blessed.

My husband, Michael, and I live outside a tiny little town in the hill country of Texas. Not really in the country but not in the main stream of the city, either. We have a fair amount of wild life around us. We have a young buck who visits us several times a day. He is very curious, healthy looking, and handsome. We’ve named him Gorge.  There are several feral cats in the hood, meaning sooner or later, we will have new kittens. We have a very busy and cute litter of kittens romping around the neighbor’s backyard, with a second litter in the wings.  The first litter has three adorable kits, named by Michael: Moe, Larry, and Curly.  The crowning event happened yesterday afternoon. We were visited by a young doe and her new-born fawn. Mama was moving slowly with the little fawn following as close as he or she could on very wobbly legs. Exciting and wonderful things happening in our little corner of the world.

Mother Nature has helped restore some balance to what can sometimes be a world so out of control. For these and many other things, I am grateful.

I am…

B…simply being…

May you find things to make you smile today as well. I send my love and wishes for peace.

 

 

Memories of Memorial Day

Memorial Day has never been one of my favorite holidays. The reasons go back to my childhood. I grew up in Iowa in the 50’s and 60’s–a time when the excitement over the Indianapolis 500 was surpassed only by the almost assured fact that there would be at least one serious injury to the drivers involved, if not a fatality. This race was the only race I remember my Dad listening to. I was an anxious kid about most things. Putting this race on the radio for what seemed like HOURS was a guarantee I would not have one finger nail left by the time the checkered flag flew.

When I was about seven or eight years old, Memorial Day activities changed. Our family suffered a loss that was very hard for my parents and, I believe, on their marriage. My mom had a very difficult pregnancy, one that sent her to specialists who were not successful in helping her preclude pre-term labor. Her prayers for a baby boy were answered; our prayers for his survival were not. We had one more Memorial Day together as a family, traveling to Waterloo, Iowa, to a cemetery not far from the hospital where Richard Dean Burton lived his short life and died. We did not linger there, I’m not sure my mom even got out of the car. One of us put a small bouquet of flowers on his yet unmarked grave. The short 50 mile journey did not take long. What made it seem long was the static on the radio as it played the sounds of the crowd and the racing engines of the Indy 500.

Shortly after that Memorial Day, my mom was diagnosed with a type of lymphoma. She fought hard but was not able to defeat the disease. Our family and our observation of Memorial Day changed forever. The family going to the cemetery was now smaller, sadder, seriously silent, lost in our own thoughts as the radio played the chatter of yet another Indianapolis 500.

Visiting the cemetery, even though it became one of the most constant traditions of our family, is not one I continue today. I moved from Iowa which gave me an honest excuse. It did not take away the guilt I felt for not going. To give myself some peace, I created a garden as a remembrance of my family members who have died. My garden is named the Donna Bethie Garden in honor of my cousin, Donna, and my sister, Beth. This past week, as pictured in this blog, I was able to get a great start on my garden here at our new home in Texas. I am thankful for the rain that has given it a boost and even more grateful that none of the rain storms came with hail.

And NO Indianapolis 500 coverage at all.

I wish you all a safe and memorable holiday spent in ways that give you joy.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace.

 

 

 

Be Kind

Memorial Day .

School’s out.

It signifies the beginning of summer.

It is the first long holiday weekend of the summer.

The pool’s open!

What more could you possibly ask for?

This holiday also represents a time for us to remember all of those we have lost–not only those lost in service to our country.

Which means this could be a very hard time for some of us.

Some of our losses are new.

Some of those losses are still raw. We are exhausted, from  working  hard “get over it”  so we can begin to move–like so many impatiently expect us to do.

Some losses are renewed because of international losses experienced over and over, via social media

Or, one last scenario, maybe we have never given oursleves the time or the permission to grieve.

For these reasons and for many others, please,

Be aware.

Be patient.

Be kind.

I am…

B…simply being…

I wish for you thoughts of love and peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More on Poppies

My memories of past Memorial Days sparked my curiosity about how the poppy had become such a strong symbol for our veterans. Who had started this tradition? How long has it been a part of our American lives?

I returned to The American Legion website and discovered that the soldiers returning from WWI had vivid memories of the battle fields covered with wild poppies. Poppies that were as “red as the blood that had soaked the soil.” These survivors felt that this little flower was Mother Nature’s message to them that their fallen comrades lived on–that they had not died in vain. Their feelings are expressed so poignantly in the poem,  In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place…

and in the sky The larks,

still bravely singing,

fly Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved,

and now we lie in Flanders Fields.

Take up or quarrel with the foe.

To you from failing hands we throw The torch;

be yours to hold it high

If we break faith with us who die

We shall ot sleep

though poppies grow in Flanders Fields.

Col. John McCrea

It was this poem that influenced Miss Moina Michael to write her response:

…the blood of heroes never dies

But lends a luster to the red

Of the flower that blooms above the dead

in Flanders Fields.

She was very moved by Col McCrea’s poem. On a November day in 1918, Miss Michael bought all the red poppies the New York City Department Store, Wanamaker’s, had in stock. She returned to the New York City YMCA where she worked, and gave them to a group of visiting business men. She asked that they wear them as a tribute to those who had given their lives in WWI. She told them that the war may be over but America’s sons would rest forever in Flanders Fields. Miss Michael went on to campaign for the poppy to become a national symbol of the sacrifice.

I believe that more knowledge is powerful. The symbolism embodies in this little red flower is strong. May it empower us and help us remember the sacrifices made for our freedom.

I am…

B…simply being…

God bless. Peace.

Thinking about Memorial Day

Do you remember the paper mache’ poppies? You know the ones we used to see everywhere when we growing up. I was one of the kids passing them out at the local grocery store in exchange for whatever donation was given. I am sure I was not happy to spend my Saturday there!

I was young and really did not appreciate–if I even knew–what that poppy symbolized. Because my dad was a veteran of WWII, he was an active member of the local VFW. My mom, my sisters, and I were part of the American Legion. One of the things we did for Memorial Day was make sure everyone had a commemorative poppy.

Late Saturday, an older man came up to me and asked if I knew what the poppy represented. This type of interaction happened to me all the time. There could have been ten other kids standing around but I was the one who was asked the questions. I debated saying I did know, but thought he may quiz me about it. I was honest and said I really did not know the whole story.

He told me it was important to know and shared this with me:

First of all, he said, you are not wearing the poppy correctly. It is to be worn over your heart. As he looked me straight in the eyes, he stressed that I would understand why this was important after he finished his story.

My memory is not complete so I am borrowing from an American Legion post:

The red petals stand for the vast outpouring of blood; the yellow and black center, the mud and desolation of all battlefields.

The green of the stem is symbolic of the forests, meadows and fields where generations of Americans have perished to make this land free.

The stem represents the courage and determination of our fallen warriors.

The assembled product, a flower, is a symbol of resurrection, which is sure to follow.

His words were much more simple, filled with the type of emphasis that only comes from being there, really experiencing the battles of war personally. He watched my face as he spoke, pausing now and then to make sure I was getting his point. When his story was complete, he stepped back in silence and somber reflection. He leaned toward me, asking me if I thought I understood why it is important to wear that poppy correctly? Now I was able to honestly answer that question. Which I did, with a soft and respectful, yes.

That was decades ago–probably over fifty years have passed since that grocery store lesson. I can picture myself standing beside this little round man, dressed in his bib overhauls, giving me the gift of a very powerful lesson about the real cost of the freedom.

Oh the challenges our nation has faced since that long past day in May. One thing has not changed. As Memorial Day approaches, it is vitally important for us all to remember those who have fought to defend our freedoms and those who protect us today.

We are in such turmoil and unease. As I asked last night, I ask for your prayers, remembering our great country and for those who defend and protect us. God bless them, God bless us all, and please, God, bless America.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace. I love you.