Posted tagged ‘Birthdays’

My Big Brother

March 10, 2013

eagles Mar 7 2013

A quick update on the eagles. Photo taken this past week.

Many of you are new to visiting my blog. So I’d like you to read about my “big” brother. His birthday would be tomorrow. Jerry, are you still singing “My Way?”

And here’s Jerry

I’m Back…

July 1, 2012

Yes, I am and happy to be sharing Sundays with you again.

John is on the right. He was probably about 8 in this photo. The other two boys are his brothers.

I’m somewhat rested but definitely much more focused. I decided to conclude my break and post today because today would have been my son John’s 50th birthday. That day was a very hot Sunday just like today. If you knew John, send a birthday wish heavenward. If you want to know more about him, read a post from a few years ago.

I know if John were still alive, I’d have many more of these to-do items off my list.

When I took my break, I felt frustrated with the landscaping project. Well, I think that project will never end as it’s still in what I refer to as a seriously major mess.

In the shade mid morning. Ugh

We’re enduring a heat wave, something that doesn’t happen for extended periods of time in Wisconsin. The heat is coupled with no rain, and we’ve officially been designated a drought area. So the photos I’m posting today are from plantings I’ve photographed in yards other than mine. Why? We’ve not turned on our outside water due to the landscaping, and I’ve chosen not to plant anything this summer because of that project.

This week I had the opportunity to see some beautiful photos the results of a couple trips a friend and her husband took. He is an incredibly photographer. Of course, he has all the right equipment to capture in photos nature and landscapes that take your breath away with their beauty and their detail.

Lovely purple clematis in a friend’s garden.

Anyway, I also enjoy taking photos especially of scenery and animals or birds in natural settings. My photos will never be the same as his even if I had his equipment because his vision, his unique way of composing or envisioning his shot differs from mine.

I thought about this in relation to other artistic skills or talents. Take writing for instance. Two writers might hit on the same setting and even similar elements in their plot, but both those stories end up very differently. I thought about this concept while reading a book recently. The book had a subplot similar to one of mine in Seasons of Wine and Love. Same circumstances for the subplot, same state, similar characteristics in the heroine, but very different in the manner the story unfolded and the heroine’s journey.

As I’ve become more immersed in the skills of writing and preparing for publication the best story I can, I realize that this has impacted how I read or watch a TV show or a movie. Not that I look for what isn’t right, but to see different approaches to plot elements and how that’s done, why it worked or didn’t for me. In some ways that detracts from what used to be my simple enjoyment of such items.

Window box–thanks to another friend

My husband does this with his cooking and his analysis of possible recipes to try. He makes the recipe, then tears it apart to decide how he might make it better. Or maybe never remake it as it didn’t turn out as he expected. He carries this trait into dining out. Always he’s trying to determine what spices or herbs make the dish or not. What he might do to make it better.

Finally, I think this idea has some merit in our personal lives. As we get older and experience life more in all its manifestations, we take that wisdom and apply it to our lives and what we experience each day. Hopefully, that allows us to make our lives better or easier. Not make those stupid decisions we’ve all made in our earlier years. If you’re one of the few who never made a stupid decision, you’re very lucky and very wise.

For most of us the path of wisdom is living through our lives with all its bad decisions as well as good ones, but learning from both.

Lilies from hubby

I guess that’s why I call what I write Wise Women Fiction. My heroines are on that journey.

So I’m glad to be back. I hope you have a wonderful and safe July 4th holiday if you are a reader who celebrates the day the US celebrates our independence from Britain.

See you next Sunday.

A Birthday, A Bottle of Wine, and Snow

January 15, 2012

Birthday Sunrise

Today, I’ll be guest blogging on Stacey Joy Netzel’s website for her Sunday Share. She asked me to talk about my book Fireweed. She is reading it now and has lots of questions for me to respond to. And as you all know, I love to talk. J And I think you might enjoy reading about how this book came about. Plus I’ll be available to answer questions my answers might inspire. And if that doesn’t entice you, I’ll be giving away a digital version of Fireweed to some lucky commenter who stops by and chats before Wednesday. At least I think that’s the day Stacey set up.

So take a minute and click over to visit me at Stacey’s cyber home today.

This was a busy week. We got our first measurable snowfall of this winter season–really late for Wisconsin. But I can’t complain since my Alaska son and all Alaskans residents are REALLY dealing with snow. When I talked with him on Wednesday night he said they were expecting another minimum 18 inches of the white stuff on top of the already 90 inches on the ground.

Winter patio

Now that’s some snow!

Another reason this was a big week was another birthday for me to chalk up. It was a great one even though it was very low-key. At this point, birthdays to me mean I’ve survived another year and all its experiences and hopefully have grown wise as a result.

Oh, and besides a great meal that my hubby made he also made his famous key lime pie. And we had a very special bottle of wine. It was a spectacular wine: delicious and brought back memories of the perfect day we spent in the Paso Robles area of CA with my brother and his wife doing wine tours. And of course, days and trips such as that one also helped me gather background information for my recent book Seasons of Wine and Love.

Here’s a linkto the boutique winery where we bought this particular bottle of Nadeau Syrah 1997. The vintner even autographed it for us. He also took us into the ageing cellars where he pulled samples of wines not quite ready to move on to the next stage of his life. He gave us a sample of the wine we had for my birthday and when we bought a few bottles because we loved it, he told us to take it home and lay it down for a few years.

What a grand Syrah

Well, I’ll tell you this. He was so right.

So this bottle of wine is significant for many reasons and I’m keeping it forever.

Thanks for stopping by today.

2012: A Better Year?

January 1, 2012

London New Year's Eve 2011

New Years Day. If you believe the Mayan calendar, it will be the last one. So enjoy it.

Maybe sleeping in–if you partied too late or too hard last night.

Or perhaps, you got up early to watch the sunrise. Winter sunrises where I live can be spectacular. But that kind of spectacular event didn’t happen today.

New Year’s Day isn’t just about the birth of a new year. It’s the day when babies are born, especially those special ones we read about every year on January 2nd or late news on January 1st. You know, those first babies of the year.

To Nancy

I have a dear friend who was one of those special babies–or a few years ago–who’s celebrating her birthday today. Knowing her she’s probably hoping the Packers win their last regular season game.  My birthday wish for her is to have a good year, a healthy year, a relatively stress-free daily life.

That would be the best gift other than my forever friendship that I could give her.

New Year’s Day is also a day when people make resolutions. You know those goals or changes individuals write out. Usually those goals relate to becoming better or more successful, either in their personal, professional, emotional, intellectual, family, or spiritual lives. Some people write out goals for all those spheres.

Many of them are never achieved or even remembered after the first week of January. I have my theories about why this happens. But that’s the topic for another blog.

Anyway, I have a few goals for this year. One of them is to identify and write out what’s on my bucket list. I think I’ve reached that time in life where I should really think about doing this. But I’ll have two of them. One will be a bucket list of things to do if my life changes drastically.

The other one will be what I want to achieve if the parameters of my life conditions remain stable. I hope these become the items I achieve. For the most part I like my life and those who are part of it.

So here’s my point–if I have one today. Resolutions, goals, bucket lists–all of them are helpful to reinforce motivation. They provide the framework from which we can direct our daily, weekly, monthly yearly goals and accomplishments occur.

But the unexpected will happen and significantly change a person’s direction in life. Those who are successful realize this and work with it.

Same Time, Next Year?

My wish for all of you is that this coming year sees you all with the energy and verve to achieve your resolutions or goals–and if you’re faced with major changes, you see the opportunity and challenge and use the circumstances to grow and see the implications for creating unexpected adventures in your lives.

Happy New Year.

Birthday Women–Pure Platinum

December 4, 2011

For Stella and Ella

Two very special women are celebrating their birthdays. My world is better for knowing both of them. I’m quite sure others who know them feel the same. While I can’t be with them today, I’m with them in my thoughts and I’m remembering the times I’d see them regularly.

Stella came into my life first. My mother taught her children. Her family attended the same church my family did. She taught at the college my brother attended and she was one of his professors. When I started back to college part time, I would nod at her and she’d nod at me. After all, we did see each other in church. She knew who I was. I knew who she was.

Then my life fell apart. My husband and I separated after 10 years of marriage; I was basically single parenting three young boys and trying to support them on a work/study job which only allowed me to work ten hours per week. Just prior to this, Stella was promoted at the college and became the head of her division. She heard I needed a job or I’d likely have to drop out of school. Now if my personal life was a mess, my academic life wasn’t. I was doing very well, exceeding in all my classes.

Ella--tiny and terrific

Well, one day just as I got home from picking up my sons from school the phone rang. The caller was Stella’s assistant. She indicated Stella suggested she talk to me as she needed some help in the office. She would like to interview me for some work in the office. Could we establish a time to discuss what she wanted.

That assistant was Ella, the other birthday woman today.

Ella offered me the job. While I worked in that office under her direction, Ella taught me so much. I have used that knowledge in so many ways with every task and in every position I have held since then. She was a mentor, a friend, a woman to admire. I owe Ella. And she holds a very special place in my heart. Working full time around my classes and on the same campus made my life much easier.

While taking classes, I was able to take several from Stella. I not only learned grammar, writing skills, and literature from her, I watched and learned how she handled her classes, interacted with her students, displayed her deep love of her subject in such a way she pulled her students into her world and learning became a powerful adventure.

She became professor, mentor, friend. But I never called her Stella until I started teaching and she offered me a part time position teaching writing. But I still found it difficult not to call her by her title. She’s that inspirational.

When I left the college to pursue graduate work in another city, my days of interacting daily with two women ceased. But not our friendship. Not what I owe them for aiding me on my journey to become the woman I am. (The photos today were taken at the “goodbye” gathering on my last day of work.)

Stella and Me

Stella and Ella are pure platinum. These days their hair color reflects their inner worth. I am honored I had my time in your very special worlds.

So a very happy birthday, Stella and Ella, my two platinum friends. And thank you so much for taking me under your wings and into your hearts when you did.

Ella and me

November Slips Into View

November 6, 2011

November 1st sunrise

A beautiful night–crisp in temperature, a quarter moon bright in the star-filled sky. Then dawn arrived–a real beauty.

November burst upon us disguised as a glorious late October day. Mother Nature and the calendar fooled us into not thinking about that calendar flipping over.

To November. The month of monstrous gales off the Great Lakes. Ones whose fury has been immortalized in Gordon Lightfoot’s, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” That sinking happened on November 10, 1975. Sustained winds that day were 40-58 mph. Some were higher in the 70 mph gust range. Those winds and waves, some as high as 35 feet eventually took the freighter down. It’s all in Lightfoot’s song.

Well, last week after November’s Trojan Horse arrival, it launched its usual behavior. The next day gale force winds buffeted us living along the shore. High winds whipped 10-20 foot waves. They raced to shore and crashed against the rocks, bluffs, and sand beaches. We had overcast and dreary, dark days for a couple days.

Angry Lake

Nothing is more majestic in its fury than water, especially large bodies of water. The shipping freighters came closer to shore as they headed toward Chicago or the Soo Locks. November pushes them hug the shore.

November is the time nature prepares to rest. It must rest better with dim days and leaden overcast skies. Resting during the day mustn’t be enough as days get shorter and shorter and night falls well before dinner is on the table.

November has its good points. It contains only 30 days. They can swiftly move by as we prepare for the coming winter holidays.

November is the month we remember our veterans and the sacrifices they have made to keep our nation free and our democracy intact. On Friday, November 11, 2011, we should all stop for a moment and face east at 11:00 AM in memory of the moment WWI, the “War to End All Wars” concluded.

I remember as a child doing that. If that day fell on a school day, the teacher would watch the clock. Just before eleven, she’d have us all rise and face East. Then with hands over our hearts, we’d say the Pledge of Allegiance and then offer a prayer that peace would remain for the world. If the day fell at home, my parents and grandparents did the same. That was part of November for me and still is. And unfortunately, the initial reason for the day didn’t hold true. It wasn’t the war to end wars.

This year, come Friday, I will do as I’ve always done, but add another prayer–that the wars happening today will soon end and our world can find a way to live together with civility and fairness to all.

But back to November. For the US, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s the time to be thankful for the harvests we’ve been granted. It’s the day we celebrate the blessings in our lives. It’s often the day families gather together to remind themselves they are family and have traditions.

My Favorite Photo of my son and grandson

November is also the birthday month of my grandson. In fact his birthday will be tomorrow.  Fifteen years ago he arrived a few weeks early and had to fight to live. I will never forget the phone call I received that morning from my son, his father. The anguish in his voice told me more than his words how dire this baby’s chances were to survive and be a healthy child.

But the neo-natal team members were skilled and talented and Remi was a fighter. Each call from my son noting Remi’s progress showed concern, but less anguish. Within a day, this valiant newborn was doing much better and while he spent a few extra days in the hospital to get up to weight, he’s been a healthy boy.

Tomorrow he will be 15. As he’s gone through his childhood and I see photos of him and compare them to his day, it’s as if I’m taken back in time they are so much alike in looks.

Today is one of those gray November days. The wind whips off the lake and our lakeside trees are bare-limbed. Waves pound the shore like canon balls.

A November sight

We got an extra hour of sleep last night with daylight savings time retreating till next spring. That means this afternoon will be dark by half time in the Packer game.

What a difference an hour makes, in our calendar, in our day, in our lives.

November is a bitter sweet month. A month of contrasts.

What are your November thoughts?

Sister Shelley

March 20, 2011

My Sister

Today is the first day of spring. Officially it’s supposed to arrive sometime late this afternoon. However, while the calendar may say that, sometimes spring doesn’t show up on the day it should.

I think today is one of those days with its cold rain and leaden skies.

However, what I can expect to happen today is my sister’s birthday. When she was born, I was 10 and thought I’d never be fortunate enough to have a sister. She arrived on a real spring-like day. I remember walking home from school with my girlfriend, like I always did, and we planned to jump rope since the temperature was great and we didn’t have any homework.

Instead of Mom greeting us, my grandmother was waiting and her news was I had a baby sister. Her name was Shelley.

Now my friend Jane was just as excited as I was since she had two brothers and I had three. We were surrounded by boys who delighted in teasing us and making our lives miserable. Or so we thought at the time.

Why a baby sister would be perfect! We could take her for walks, hold her, feed her, she’d be our ally against all those brothers. I guess we expected this baby to grow up fast for the last part of that dream. But she sure filled our desires in doing the walking, the holding, and the feeding. Because of our age difference, I was more a little mother to her, especially when my mom went back to work.

But I didn’t mind. Shelley was just the perfect baby—always agreeable and cute as could be. She had a hint of curl to her hair, a sweet smile once she learned that skill, and she rapidly found her place in our busy home.

One of the hints we got of how strong and stoic she could be, occurred when she was about 2. My dad’s family would always have a huge family reunion on a small semi-private beach at one of the large inland lakes. Lots of kids playing in the sand, adults catching up on news, food galore, a generally busy and hectic day. But that summer, Shelley, barefoot and toddling in the sand, stepped on hot coals covered with sand. Someone the night before had not used the firepits. Of course, Shelley’s little feet were horribly burned, and the rest of that day we spent either at the hospital learning of the burn damage or back at the beach worrying about our little sister. For several months she was in a lot of pain and couldn’t walk. I carried her, my brothers carried her, we all kept her occupied with games or walks.

But Shelley was a trooper and rarely cried. She battled through it far better than most expected for such a little one. I knew then she’d be tough when she had to be.

Fast  forward through a few years. Shelley grew into a responsible, somewhat shy young girl who became the older sister/mother to my babies once I had them. Just as my mom depended on me to help her with my little sister Shelley, I depended on Shelley when I had my sons. It’s a debt I can never repay adequately. She always said when she grew up she wanted five boys; maybe helping me with my boys helped her—since she did ultimately have 5 sons.

I am so proud of Shelley, the little sister I always dreamed of having. She’s now grown: a strong woman, a grandmother, a special-ed teacher, a talented musician, a caring woman.

Is she perfect? No, she’s Shelley—that’s so much better. But she was born on the first day of spring. She is tender yet can be a force of nature—just like spring weather.

Spring may not always arrive when March 20th rolls around; however, Shelley’s birthday always will. I’m so glad she came into my life.

Breaking Through to Sun

And one day this past week, we hit 70 degrees lakeside. Almost all our snow is gone now. However, the exposed winter detritus stares at us on still-soggy lawns. Maybe next week will be dry enough for us to get out there and clean up. However, I walked over to the garden on Friday to see if any of my spring bulbs were poking their heads to the longer days of sunshine.

Yep—they were. If we get a few warm days next week, I may have cheerful daffodils and crocuses. I can’t wait to check. Let’s hope we soon she spring flowers. 🙂