Archive for July 2011

Whine Time

July 31, 2011

Hummingbirds like this

Thank goodness! Today is the last day of July.

It’s been a miserable month.  Too hot, humid, stormy, full of worries and woe. I’m sure many of you have had days, weeks, months or maybe even years where you couldn’t wait for that particular time to end.

July has been such a month for me.

If your situation is bad enough, and that’s determined differently by each of us, well then, that’s when time drags slower than a young child’s feet at bedtime. Or traffic snarls plugged up in rush hour traffic.

So my question is this.

Why is it when life, the weather, our relationships, our activities are going well—why is that the only time that the hours fly by faster than a jet breaking the sound barrier?

Yes I’m whining. Not that it will do me much good. But really—consider this point. Many people are very happy February is our shortest month—because that means the tough winter will be over soon.  But why couldn’t the same happen in July? No, instead we get two, 31 days in a row! Months we can be pretty sure, at least in my mind, that storms, heat and humidity will still hang around like unwelcome garden pests that ruin the beauty and abundance of the garden.

Time never flies in the heat. Nothing does.

Oh, I know many people have much more going on in their lives, situations that are more difficult than anything I endure, so I shouldn’t complain. I also know parts of our country and other parts of the world are suffering even more acutely due to weather issues.

But really, sometimes a woman just has to whine. We shouldn’t be bashful about our need.  After all, I suspect others out there, need to whine also. Especially if you’re not one to whine, do it today.  Breaking your longsuffering silence will make you feel so much better. And you’ll see others are shoulder-to-shoulder with you, whining.

Maybe our collective whining will have an effect on the weather.  If we’re lucky.

Balcony beauty

So today, please feel free to post your whine. I’ll really love knowing my whine companions are letting their troubles air out in cyber space. Perhaps our whines will cool the air, chase away the humidity and help our troubles fade away. At least our collective whine might push time to move a bit faster.

What do you think? Got a whine to share?  I promise I’ll respond to your whine. 🙂

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Gimpy Girl

July 24, 2011

I hurt so much...but I love my bandage

My writing buddy, the one who lies by my feet while I work in my office, hurt herself this week.

I don’t know how, but a hunk of the soft black pad on the underside of her right front paw was gouged out along with a portion of the toe nail on the outer edge.

This happened in less than 90 seconds during a quick, late night potty break last Wednesday. She bled all night long though I iced it and wrapped it in a towel. Nothing bit her as I was outside with her and literally carried her to her favorite patch of grass, now dry and brittle from the lack of rain and searing heat of the past two weeks.

So a trip to the vet early Thursday morning. Another on Saturday morning and yet another one tomorrow morning. Oreo’s no longer scurrying around the house nor doing her acrobatic jumps.

She hobbles. Whines. Limps like she’s in great pain despite the pain meds the vet gave me.

I wish I could do more for her. I hurt with her when I see her huge brown sugar eyes begging me to make her feel better. But other than petting her and offering soothing, nonsensical words, I can offer no more. These past few days have reminded me of the times I was a mother of young sons. When they got sick, they didn’t understand why I couldn’t make them all better—now.

It’s frustrating. Sad. Tiring.

But she will get better, just as my young sons did, and will once again be the energetic, cute, loveable companion we call Oreo. From her photo you can see why.

This week has been a very difficult week on many different levels. Oreo’s injury was just one of the major difficulties we faced. I’m very glad to see a new week begin today. But I leave you with one bright spot.

Next book's cover art

You know I received a contract for a second book several months ago. While I don’t have the release date, on Friday I did get the cover art for my book.  What do you think?

Just Breathe

July 17, 2011

Moving On

New beginnings can be exciting. They can also be rather frightening.

New beginnings provide us the opportunity to become more than what we are while retaining that which is most meaningful to us from the past. At times as we prepare for that new beginning, the abyss of the unknowns or the leaving behind of things and people we loved, we can be halted in our journey or perhaps suffer a minute hesitation.

When such a situation arises, we are very lucky if we have someone nearby to remind us of a very simple fact. To. Just. Breathe. The act will calm us–keep us focused on that new beginning.

Sandy, a dear friend of mine, one I’ve had since third grade, became a widow a few months ago. She’d been a wife for fifty years, knew her husband for several years prior to that. Her husband’s death thrust her into remaking her life. In the weeks since then, she’s made several decisions—knowing her as well as I do, this is the first time in her life when her decisions were based solely on what she wanted and needed.

That had to be scary. And exciting.

One thing she knew for sure: she wanted to be back in her hometown, with her children and grandchildren and those forever friends she’s had since grade school. She found the perfect place to live and bought it. Then as she told me, “Spent money like a drunken sailor,” to buy some new furniture that she liked, that fit her new home and her new beginning.

But it was frightening. She was leaving a part of her behind as she walked into this new life. When we talked about it, I listened and then reminded her that what she was leaving behind was still in her heart and in her memory. Her hubby would want her to move on, be happy, be with those she loves.

Sandy and her husband raised a fine family. They miss their father just as Sandy does. But they’re very happy she’s returning to them, moving closer to them. I think it helps them feel their family bond tightens up that void of their dad’s death, gets filled with their mom being closer. Nearer them—so they can enjoy her and watch over her just as she watched over them and her beloved husband.

But as I mentioned at the start of this post, new beginnings can be scary. The day came when the final papers would be signed and the new home would officially be Sandy’s. Accompanied by her eldest son and daughter, Sandy experienced a bit of panic at the closing.

“Just breathe, Mom,” her son said to her.

Sandy did as he urged. This huge moment occurred when her old and new life converged. With her signature, she officially has begun on her new path in life.

Sandy & I being silly

I’m so proud of her for grappling with her grief and not letting it best her, for forging a new pathway for herself, for making plans to do things she will enjoy. She deserves many years to explore and enjoy this new self. So does her family. So do her friends.

Life is not always easy for many of us. At times we may feel we can’t move forward because of frustration, anger, loss, whatever. However, it we allow ourselves to stay swamped in such feelings, we won’t grow, become stronger, learn something from what we are going through. “Just breathing” is that moment when we allow our minds to move beyond the now to refocus on what might be, to find solutions to our situation, to determine what it is we can do differently. In those cases, breathing takes longer than a single breath.

But it’s the start of a process.

Or sometimes it’s just the need to breathe, to calm down, to gather our energy.

I hope you all have someone in your lives to remind you when you need it: Just. Breathe.

Heartlifting Moments

July 10, 2011

“So what?”

Sometimes the very sweetest little situations appear in life, and they just make your heart smile.

Each person likely has their own take on what these would be. In fact if people thought about it they might not even know. I’m not sure I could give an answer that would incorporate exactly what would make my heart smile, but in a moment I’ll give you three examples of ones that happened to me in the past week.

In fact, even well after the heart-lifting tidbits occurred to me, I still feel an inner glow when the memory slips again into my consciousness.

Early in the week, my niece called unexpectedly and asked if we didn’t have plans, would my hubby and I like to join her and her little daughter for dinner that night. Her husband was out of town and the timing worked right for us. We agreed to a time and place.

Having a very pleasant dinner and conversation with my niece as great niece was exactly what both my husband and I needed. My niece is a busy young mother who works as a nurse part time, is expecting her second child and busy chasing after a very inquisitive and energetic 18-month old daughter. Every time I see my great-niece I’m amazed at how quickly she changing. She’s learned so many new words and uses them quite accurately and clearly. Her manners are clearly in place and age appropriate. Her appetite is adventurous as she ate her food but was more than willing to try and enjoy other items we offered. While she’s very much a little girl she’s clearly developing a distinct personality who’s not afraid of new situations.

Can you tell she delighted me? Us? I can’t wait for another such opportunity to arrive.

My second heart-lifting episode happened yesterday and again involved the next generations. I got a phone call while I was drying off from a shower. It was my great nephew, age five, and the cutest little red-headed, dimpled darling in my life.  He said so clearly in his high-pitched excited voice, “Aunt Mary Jo, we’re outside on the lake in our sailboat. We have yellow and black sails. Wave at us.”

Calling to shore

Oh, the joy of cell phones…

Then my nephew took the phone and explained they’d likely be out front within a few minutes with the great wind they had. Could we come out at wave? 

You betcha!

My hubby and I did and their sail was quite spectacular against the blue sky and water as we watched and waved while it passed. (yeah, I got dressed first) I carried a little smile in my heart for the rest of the day that my nephew and his son thought enough to call and let us share for a moment their joy in being out on the lake.

And the third event which makes my heart zing every time I see it in its finished state involves my hubby and the perfect shelves he made for me in the garage. Now I’ve wanted shelves in that area for some time but finally got rid of the last of the firewood which had taken that space. Dear hubby, scraped, painted, revarnished the window and put up the shelves for me. The project took about three days and I helped in small ways. He enjoyed the project, and I swear, every time I see those shelves or put something on them, my heart skips a little beat—in a good way. Then I smile.

My moral I guess is we have to be open to these tiny gifts of charm and love. They make our ordinary lives precious and keep a smile in our hearts which otherwise might become overburdened when life beats down on us as it can do.

So, did you have any little heart-lifting tidbits that helped you get through your week?

Once In A Lifetime

July 3, 2011

Storm Clouds Massing Over Lake

Storm Clouds Massing Over Lake

Our county was in line for a severe thunderstorm with very high winds—all to arrive within the next 15 minutes.

I glanced out the windows and noticed the skies darkening and looking threatening, but then they had been looking strange for the past few hours.

Five minutes later we had no power. No phone. Pitch black skies.

Winds off Lake Michigan shook our eastern walls. I looked out the east windows and saw our huge old trees bending at threatening angles. The wind was so strong off the lake it literally lifted water from the lake and slammed it into our outer walls seventy feet away.

I saw incredible lightning within the dark clouds out over the lake. But we never got a drop of rain. Just wind and incredible menacing cloud formations. For hours.

I’d never felt such strong winds before. And they lasted for hours. All through the night and early the next morning the winds eased, but not much. We didn’t get power until mid day on Friday. But we were lucky, many people were without power for a couple of days.

We learned the strait line winds that lasted for so long were 75 – 80 mph. When they lessened, it was to 45 mph which made cleaning up very difficult and dangerous for the utility crews trying to restore power.

An Example of A Downed Tree

During a Friday night newscast, I learned the weather forecasters were calling it a “once in a lifetime storm.”  That’s what I had told my Alaska son once we got phone service restored. I know I never experienced such a storm and I’ve lived through a lot of storms.

Our greatest devastation was the loss of very old trees. Ones that have been a beautifying part of our lakeshore ever since I remember going to the lake as a very little girl. When I drove into town yesterday, lines of trees and power poles were down for miles.

Our county and our lakeshore will miss the trees. I will not see such trees grace our shoreline in what remains of my life. The family who lost a son riding his motorcycle just as the storm hit and a huge tree fell on him will never have him in their lives again to share holidays, build more family memories, grow old.

I empathize with them. I buried two sons—both of them died during very bad and unusual weather events. John’s birthday was Friday but I wasn’t able to get out to the cemetery and yesterday was busy still cleaning up. However, I planned to go today only to learn the cemetery is closed because of all the huge old trees that are down. Maybe it will be open next week.

I wonder if the huge old oak tree which housed an owl family will be standing when I get there.

Bringing in the Big Trucks to Clear the Trees

That tree which shaded the plot where John and Jimbo are buried with their beloved grandparents, my parents, comforted me.

 I miss those two sons. Had they been alive they would have been out here with chain saws helping to cut away the storm’s debris. Instead I’m thinking they may be looking down on that cemetery oak tree whose fate I’m wondering about. They’re either discussing how the cemetery clean-up crew should go about removing it, or they’ll be glad that unlike them, that old tree managed to survive yet another Wisconsin storm.

Tomorrow is Independence Day. While you’re enjoying your picnic or day at the beach, look around you. Give thanks for those who are with you to share the day. Send a kind thought to those who no longer can be with you. Treasure each moment and place you are in.