Friday Afternoon Review

One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is thanking them for being a part of your life.

This has been an interesting and busy week in Hibdonville.

I’ve been able to spent a lot of time thinking about my early childhood days and the adventures or probably better said, the misadventures, of those years. Because my post is also on Facebook, I had several friends share their own stories. That has been so fun and it gives me so much encouragement and validation. Thank you.

I learned that first impressions may not be at all what they seem. This lesson became the incentive to check on my neighbors more often. We discovered that we all needed to make sure we knew how to get ahold of each other. Which turned out to be very timely because our plan was put to an early test.

Another neighbor had a health scare which sent him to the ICU for a few days. Michael and I kept a close eye on his wife while he was gone and made sure to call them once he was home. He is doing well–thank heavens. The nicest thing is he called us last night to tell us how much he appreciated our calls. How wonderful was that? Made me smile and also reinforced my determination to check on them–often.

Facebook was part of another gift of the week. I heard from one of the physicians I worked with many years ago when I was working at a community hospital in Waterloo, Iowa. How wonderful to have a way to tell him how important he was to me. Of all the docs I have worked with over the years–and there have been quite a few–he will always be my favorite.  When I look back on how young and clueless I was–heavens. What patience he had with me as I tried to figure it all out. There is one story I think about and re-tell often. It was a very busy day with many portable x-rays on the desk to be done. I ran into the reading room with my latest film–a chest x-ray on a sick newborn in the NICU. He looked at the film, studied it for a short time, and asked me what I thought about it? Did I think that the baby was flat or was the tiny little body rotated? Dang. Not a good sign for me. I sighed. Man. I did NOT want to have to go back and repeat that film. He turned in his chair, looked right into my eyes and said,” It will build character.” Years later I told him that I bet he did not know what a character he was building!

I finished my second MOOC–which stands for Massive Open Online Course–through Coursera. Now–why is this so important? For me, this is a very big deal because I have traditionally been a very good starter of many things. The bad thing–I rarely finished them. It was a huge thing for me to get these two courses COMPLETED. A strong suggestion if you need something to do as the temperatures soar, check them out. The options for learning are truly massive and free–unless you want a certificate of completion. Coursera.org.

Lastly, we finished a week of water aerobics. I had forgotten how good this form of exercising is–especially for this aging body! With the Texas summer ramping up, I’m thinking we will really be appreciating our trips to the pool.

It is hard for me to believe that this the last weekend before the 4th of July holiday. I hope y’all stay safe and have a weekend to remember.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, y’all.

 

A Short Stop

I wrestled with my blog yesterday. It won.

I lost focus.

I wanted and still want to capture the impact one person had on my life. The very rough and rugged thread that represents him in my tapestry of life traverses a very wide and broad area. I did not recognize that fact until I had finished my post about being lost. Interesting how subtle, yet powerful, one person can be.

This story took on a life of its own and it eventually convinced me it needed more time to brew.

And so it is. Brewing.

I’m leaving you today with the words chosen for me from A Guide for the Advanced Soul:

Do the thing and you will have the Power. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace

 

Exploring

 

I was thinking about my home town today. The reason is rather convoluted but that has made the thought process even more enjoyable. Let me take you on a short trip back in time with me.

My family lived in Traer, Iowa, for most of my childhood. This is the little town where I got lost for the first time–actually, like I had just watched on TV, I was trying to run away from home. After turning a few too many corners, I realized I did not know where I was. The thought of running away was no longer a strong motivator. The street around me was dark due to the heavy canopy from the huge old trees growing on both sides of the street. I had lost sight of the paperboy I had been following. My logic was if I kept him in sight he would get me to wherever running away took you. I did not understand that I could not walk or run as fast as he could ride.

I was all alone.

I found a lady watering her flowers. Good, I thought, she’s a big person so she can tell me how to get home. I ran to her with panic starting to work its way into my whole little, getting to be very hungry and thirsty body. I tapped her arm, telling her I was lost. Could she take me home?

I am not sure how old I was when this happened. I was able to tell her my first and last name but did not know my address or phone number. Those were the first questions she asked me as she tried to find a way to help. My name was no help, she did not know my family. This was NOT good. I was beginning to think I was already in a LOT of trouble. I had been gone HOURS. Couldn’t she just walk with me for a while? Please. Pleeeease? Together I knew we could do it. I knew what my house looked like, I repeatedly told her, please walk with me.

She did not think that was a good idea.

Her solution was to call the town police officer. That really made me nervous. Would he be mad at me for running away? Would I be in trouble with him, too? In a matter of minutes, he was there. As he looked at me, he smiled and asked, “Is Merle your dad?” I nodded yes and we were on the way home.

I was still scared. I mean…I’d been gone a long time…

He walked with me to the front door and knocked. Mom came to the door, with a questioning look on her face. “What in the world,” she said. I squeezed in the door as she opened it so he could come in. He explained to her that I had gotten lost following the paperboy. I’d been exploring, he said. He did not tell her that I’d told him I’d run away from home. In my little kid mind, I’d expected him to side with me. Tell her this was serious stuff–serious enough for this little girl to run away from home! Whatever she and my Dad had done–it was serious.

Well…not at ALL what happened. Just the opposite. As he told the story, she LAUGHED!

This reflection was sparked by some of the memorabilia I discovered today while preparing to do my blog today. Writing has certainly been interesting. I’m looking forward to sharing some of these finds with you all. Maybe they will spark some for you as well.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace and love, y’all.

 

 

P.S.

Think twice, the impression is not always the intention. 

Aniekee Tochuku Ezekiel

I definitely was tough on my neighbor last Friday. I felt she had not followed through with her commitment to water our plants and I was angry.

As usual, there was much more to the story. Much more.

Late Friday evening, our door bell rang. I opened the door to see my neighbor standing there with an expectant look on her face. I had a few seconds to decide how to handle things. Do I simply say, thank you or do I start asking questions? Fortunately for me, she began speaking quickly, asking me if I had heard what happened? By the grace of God, I answered with a quick, no.

Suddenly, I experienced one of those times when you feel time slowing down. I started noticing little things: she was so pale with very dark circles under her eyes, her speech was slow, more deliberate, she stopped often to get her breath, her hair had that kinda funky look you get from being on your back for a while, the t-shirt she had on was definitely not her usual going outside type of dress, and her poor little forearms held up for me to see were covered in bruises with patches of that super sticky residue left behind from hospital grade tape.

She paused, took a breath, sighed, and said, “I had a heart attack Wednesday.”

A series of words poured out of my mouth that I won’t share here…

Lessons come in kinds of shapes and sizes. I have been given this lesson many many times. I seem to be having a very hard time learning it–this may have been the real crash course.

I put my arms around her–who, I must add, had come over to our house immediately after getting home from the hospital to explain things. Together we walked to her house,  she going into more detail about her experiences while I gave thanks she was able to be there to tell me all about it.

Life is precious. Life is fragile. Life can be so damn hard.

Be aware. Be patient. Be kind.

I am…

B…simply being…

With a grateful heart I wish you love and peace.

 

 

Merle

I was never good at writing about my Dad. It seemed like many of the kids at school had adventure stories to tell about their Dads–places they went or things they did together. I didn’t have those experiences. My story was always short. My Dad worked. The end.

He was the manager of the lumbar yard in the little Iowa town where I grew up. I did not really know exactly what that meant–but I was proud of him and that he was the BOSS–cool.

I’m not sure why, but I spent a lot of time there. I loved hanging out with him. I met a lot of the people who came in to ask him how much lumber they would need for this or what type of wood they should use for that. Some came by just to visit and share stories. I was very young–probably seven or eight years old. He would take a minute to introduce me to his customers. If he was out of the office, his bookkeeper, Delta, would do the same.I felt like just another one of the guys–and I liked that.

My favorite thing to do was clean his desk. It was a collection of catalogs, papers, and a gigantic business ledger. Now, as I look around at my own desk, it looks very much like the desk I used to “clean up” for him. He was a stacker. I did not realize until now that I’d inherited that trait. Gotta love those things that pop into your mind, onto the page, and into reality! I would dust and clean and re-arrange the stacks, all while listening to him order supplies or talk to customers on the phone or in person. He would tell those visiting that I was there to help him work and I was doing such a good job it would take him weeks to find things again.

What is so amazing to me now is how tolerant he was of me being in his work space.

I met most of the sales people who called on him. My favorite sales person, and a friend of Dad’s, was a man named, Royal. I think he was my first crush. He drove a huge, shiny, black car. (A car that would come into play later in my childhood.) Royal was very tall, tan, had thick very dark, slicked back hair, and he always smelled good, like my Grandpa. Regardless of the weather, he wore a suit with a tie. Dad would tell him to loosen up his tie and relax for a bit. I am sure I just sat and stared at him. He would take Dad over to the pool hall and buy coffee and pie–I was always invited and I had my choice of ice cream or a malt. One of my most vivid memories is Royal giving me a wooden nickel–remember those? Each time he was scheduled to visited, Dad would tell me so I could join them for coffee and I’d get my nickel and ice cream. I absolutely worshipped Royal. He made me feel special and he would sit with Dad, have coffee, and make us both laugh. I didn’t always understand what they were talking about but I knew he made Dad happy. Of all the things I did understand, even as a little kid, was that making Dad laugh was no small task.

Dad was not the typical Dad nor were we the typical family. He expected a lot from his oldest daughter–the daughter that he really wanted to be a boy. We all did our best, as strong and stubborn individuals and as an embattled family unit. We certainly faced some extreme situations. I am sure there were times when things were not handled very well but we somehow found ways to stay together. What I have come to understand is we all did the best we knew how to do with what we knew at the time.

I wish I had taken the time to really talk to him. I was so busy working at being the woman who could do it all and learn it all. I was fully aware that time was racing by but I felt I’d have that next visit to sit down and talk. That’s the cruelest of tricks, though. You always think you will have more time. Don’t fall for it, my friends.

Interesting, isn’t it,  for someone with no story to tell about their Dad, I seem to have stumbled upon some wonderful memories.

Take some time today to talk with your Dad–listen to him and tell him how important he is to you and that you love him. Next Father’s Day may be too late.

Give yourself the gift of making a memory today.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and Peace, y’all

A Commitment

We are home from a short camping trip over to Big Bend country. We both love it there because it is so isolated. We were quickly reminded that it is very very very warm there this time of year.

Once home, I learned a tough lesson–one that comes with several parts. In an earlier post I shared a picture of the garden I planted in honor of my sister, Beth, and my cousin, Donna. Michael and I worked so hard on it. We used all the tricks we could think of preparing for what we knew could be stressful for it while we were gone. In addition to that, we asked a neighbor to come over daily to water that garden and a collection of potted vegetables. They agreed and visited with us the day before we left. We gave watering instructions and told them we would have the hose out and handy so the chore would be a quick and easy one.

Well…I think they may have passed the job off to one of the kids. We were gone four days and the attached picture is my memorial garden today. Michael watered it quickly in hopes he could make it look better before I walked out to see it. I am not sure we can revive it. Now, on the plus side, the vegetables look wonderful–we are thankful for that but sure do wish everything looked as good.

There are a couple of lessons here for me. The first one is to be cautious when you create things in memory of someone. When something happens to that honorary thing–whatever that may be–be prepared for that loss. It is a new one that will pick at that  roughly healed scar. Heavens, this is not a huge loss by any means, but it feels that way to me and it will cause me some grief for a while. The second lesson–and it is one that I am given over and over again–be careful when you ask a friend or a neighbor to do something for you. What happens when it does not work out? It may be worth hiring someone to do it–if that paid worker makes an error, you have recourse. When it is a friend or neighbor–you only have hard feelings.

There is also a tangential lesson here and it is an important reminder for all of us.  If you agree to do something for someone, do it. Simple. Keep your word. This past week saw very high temperatures with high humidity in our area–all making that walk over to our house a lot less enjoyable than it was a few days ago.

I found this very gentle instructional quote while I was thinking about my lessons of the day.

Commitment means staying loyal to what you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you. 

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, y’all.

 

 

What’s Cooking?

I am going to take some time away from writing next week. I have been hitting the research hard these past few weeks. I feel the need to step back a bit and allow my brain to absorb some things before I move on. I’ll be back on-line in a few days.

Before I do that, I want to share a couple of things.

First, our newest kitchen tool, a Power Cooker electric pressure cooker. It has quickly become a favorite at our house. We had planned to buy another crock pot to use during the summer months–I am learning very quickly that temperatures in Texas are too hot to even think about baking. We debated going the crock pot route or venture into the newer technology. The Power Cooker was more expensive but gave us many other cooking options, one option being using it as a slow cooker. We read the reviews but could not come to a definite decision. So, off we went to a store near us so we could see and feel the different types of cookers available. The Power Cooker won our vote. It was a good size for storage space we had, it offered the most options, and the inside pot was well made with clearly marked liquid measurements.

We are still learning and fine tuning our cooking techniques. Our comfort level rises with each use. It is easy. The “quick use” guide really does take you step-by-step through the cooking process so your first meal is successfully and fast. There are many recipes on many different sites, from appetizers to desserts. Most recipes are prefaced by the words, “I was afraid to use it because of the old pressure cooker my grandma used to use….” I was also hesitant but the directions were well written and the recipes included are ones most of us would use often. If you need a new cooking option for the summer, check it out.

Secondly, I watched Anne Lamott’s Ted Talk last night: 12 Things I Know for Sure.  Anne has been one of my favorite authors since I read her book, Bird by Bird. If you are looking for a quick and entertaining source of enlightenment, check this out.

Of the twelve things she presented, the one that rang truest for me was #2:  Almost anything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes–including you. 

I saw that as a thumbs up from Anne for some down time.

Once again, timing really is everything.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace

Exploring

Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the starts, and they pass themselves without wondering. 

St. Augustine

I have been doing a lot of research. I began my blog as a way to get my thoughts out of my head. I wanted–I needed–to share my life stories and experiences. To me, this has felt as though I am back in some type of new therapy. Alone. Bouncing thoughts, ideas, and memories on and off the papers I have scattered around me. I have pages saved, pages tossed, pages where question marks abound, and pages that give me pause–I shake my head and wonder how I had survived?

The focal point of my research has been women writers. Women writing about writing and women writing about their lives–their memoirs. I love my little local library and I visited it earlier this week. A book caught my eye as I walked in, the woman on the cover vaguely familiar. I thought, hey, cool, a new memoir. I grabbed it. I was in for a treat and some direction for my own writing.

Grace Notes by Katey Sagal won my heart and soul. So many of the things she writes about prick long-buried memories of my own. Isn’t that what it’s all about, though? Sharing and helping each other through this journey called life?

Her book is arranged in “snippets” and they are simply lovely. She had me from the prologue on. Here is a collection of lines from the prologue:

I am getting older. 

It is time to write things down…

…I need to start now.

Because getting older makes me think a lot about the end…

…My keen sense of knowing that this amazing life I have could end at any time is a fucking pain in the ass. Seriously. 

And it is always on my mind…

…In other words, I have the time.

Time to write.

I can sit still now…

…I now feel more grounded in the center of myself, with no desire for overstimulation or permission needed to wallow in wherever I am. 

To be myself…

She had me captured–word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter. The final chapter came quickly and here are a few of her thoughts from there:

…Like everything I do, I wanted to keep my writing to myself and share it, both at the same time…

…along the way, I have struggled with the vulnerability that these “notes” of mine have brought up. 

Am I brave? Am I egotistical?

…I have set myself up for attention, and true to form, I’m not sure I want it…”

Katey’s notes–snippets–were encouraging, comforting, and enlightening to me. Thank you, Katey Sagal. You were a wonderful addition to my small little group therapy session.

I am…

B…simply being…

Peace.

 

 

Triumph

One of the things I like best about living in Texas is the people. Maybe it’s because I have more time to observe them. That’s probably part of it. I think a bigger part of it is that people here practice their faith–they don’t just go to church on Sundays. They support and show their love for each other in their daily lives. They take the time to talk with you when they meet you–something I am still getting used to–they are simply kind.

Yesterday, Michael went to one of the local big box stores to get some supplies for our garden. He was wearing one of his old motorcycle t-shirts. When he went up to pay for his purchase, the woman at the register looked at his shirt and said, “I just LOVE your shirt! I bet you really can triumph over ANYTHING!”

Michael chuckled as he me told the story. He shook his head and said, “She’s obviously not a motorcycle person.”

No, she’s probably not a motorcycle person–but she’s certainly a very sweet and kind one.

I am…

B…simply being…

Love and peace, y’all

 

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