Posted tagged ‘friends’

Alaskan Wildlife

June 16, 2013

A huge pod of Orcas showing off.

A huge pod of whales showing off.

Who doesn't want to see a real whale tail?

Who doesn’t want to see a real whale tail?

Last week I finished my blog post with a promise to post wild life photos taken in Alaska. Well, I keep my promise but these photos are a tiny fraction of what Alaska has to offer. Also, all of these were taken in their natural habitat. They were photo opportunities, lucky happenstances of being someplace at the right time with a camera ready to point and shoot.

Boreal Owl Denali NP

Boreal Owl Denali NP

I hope you enjoy them.

One time I was on a tour of Resurrection Bay, near Seward, AK, and a huge pod of Orcas swam very close. The captain cut the engines and announced we couldn’t move again until they left. The day was cold and drizzly and very overcast. Most of the passengers stayed inside the cabin drinking hot coffee and cocoa.

I’d brought warm rain gear and headed out to the deck and watched that family of about 15 Orcas of all sizes romp in weather they obviously enjoyed. Never got a photo. Too entranced with the show. That lasted for about 40 minutes until they did something like a synchronized “farewell” and took off.  AMAZING!!!

Dahl sheep enjoying warm temps at the roadside in Denali.

Dahl sheep enjoying warm temps at the roadside in Denali.

As I mentioned last week, photos such as these and lucky happenstances while traveling or in life can be the fodder that feeds a writer’s creativity. For those not writers, these sightings and memories of them either captured in our brains or by a camera, might inspire a painting, a collage, a mosaic, a screenplay.

Or perhaps most special of all—inspiring others with your memory and retelling. I think that’s part of why I was so happy to learn my friend and her sister loved their trip to Alaska and at least my friend hopes to go again. I’m sure she will. I’ll bring her with me.

And that concept inspired elements in the first two books of my Dessert Dames series, but most especially a chapter near the end of the second book, More Than a Trifle, that takes place in Alaska, in a very special place one of the friends decided would be the perfect place for her second marriage—starting it in a place new to both Katy, the friend getting married and her future husband Aidan.

You can see bears anywhere, even in Anchorage.

You can see bears anywhere, even in Anchorage.

But Katy brings her closet family and friends with her to share the beauty of that place and her second chance at happiness. I loved writing those scenes and all the time I wrote them I was surrounded by photos I’d taken of that place on several different visits to Alaska.

Have you ever listened to a friend or family member talk up a place they visited and then got lost in their photos? What did you do with that feeling? Those memories the photos or story embedded in your brain?

Caribou near Fairbanks

Caribou near Fairbanks

Bald eagles are abundant and always hungry.

Bald eagles are abundant and always hungry.

Potholes, Corned Beef & Life

March 17, 2013

Google image

Google image

If you live where I do, you’re hearing a lot of complaining these days about all the potholes in the streets, parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks. Potholes, sometimes referred to as chuckholes in our Western United States, are holes in the roads or walkways.

They can be deep and very large. Or not so deep and small.

Either way, if you’re driving on them, expect a bouncy, if not dangerous ride. If you are walking and not watching where you walk, you can easily trip and fall, maybe injuring yourself.

I did an errand this afternoon and drove on the little used road that leads to our driveway. Doesn’t matter that it’s used mostly by our neighbors and not heavily traveled. While the potholes weren’t the worst I’ve seen on this short road, those cracks and dips provided a jiggly ride and the chance to take a few photos for this blog. 🙂

Our washboard Lakeshore Drive

Our washboard Lakeshore Drive

Potholes around here are caused by the changes in the temperature with freezing and thawing of the road or walkway surfaces. They can be fixed with patches. But the patches are usually more temporary in the winter and sometimes need to be done more than once.

As a general rule I’ve not found many people who like potholes or dealing with them while they drive. However, I have discovered multitudes more than willing to grumble about them. I’ve grumbled on several occasions and will likely continue to do so.

While I was driving, I was thinking about what to write about today and it came to me—potholes. Right…because if you think about it, our lives are filled with potholes. You know what I mean. Those little irritations we have that if not resolved become worse and can lead to major problems.

A parking lot

A parking lot

Or those issues that some of us just keep bouncing over and grumbling about but never fix. It’s as if the pothole/problem/irritation in life makes their lives more interesting—even if it only provides a reason to grumble. And how does that work for them?

I suspect after a while, just like the roads, the problem becomes huge and very difficult and expensive to fix. If it can be fixed. I think that’s when our personal road crews step up with emergency fixes or repairs to help us keep on, keeping on.

So if you’re on someone’s road crew for personal pothole fixing, be on the lookout for too much grumbling without any action on the grumbler’s part. Take action to repair pothole. And if you find yourself grumbling too much, consider an assessment of the potholes in your life. What can you do for a temporary fix?

But also remember this. What goes around comes around. In our lives, sometimes we’re the road crew. Other times were the road with potholes.

Begging for a ride

Begging for a ride

I’d like to say that my drive on the potholed road was to get the corned beef which I mentioned in today’s title.

But it wasn’t. (okay, I’ll admit it–Oreo was just begging for a ride.)

Because I already had the corned beef. After all today is St. Patrick’s Day, and in my family that means corned beef, cabbage, carrots, red potatoes and whatever else I decide I have time to make.

However, for one of my sons this day always presented a “pothole” and he’d grumble because he didn’t like corned beef. He was outnumbered since the rest of us did. So he’d have to make do with the potatoes, carrots, cabbage and whatever else. And he’d get teased by his other brothers because they’d tell him his not eating the meat left more for them.

Brothers and corned beef can be potholes sometimes.

So today while I’m cooking, I’ll be thinking of all those St. Patrick’s Day dinners when so many of us gathered around the table. We will miss them. That’s one of our potholes in our life, but we will treasure the memories and gorge ourselves on the treat we have once a year.

The leprechaun is here.

The leprechaun is here.

I’ll leave you with my favorite Irish blessing:

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

And may you not encounter any potholes this week. 😉

An Irish Lunch With Friends

September 9, 2012

September Sunrise

A busy week—one filled with deadlines—the mother type, wife type, writer type, friend type. Geesh, that’s enough to keep me busy, but I started out sick with some kind of bug. All that made accomplishing those deadlines a bit tougher.

Okay, for a moment or two, I even considered bailing on a few.

But I couldn’t do that. So everything just took me longer, like I was working encased in cement.

And that’s my excuse for not dashing out of the gate this morning ready to dazzle you with, well, with SOMETHING.

But Saturday afternoon made those cement-filled days fade away.

Why?

Because the day dawned clear, cool, and with an autumn crispness in the air. Even better my hubby and I were meeting dear friends and former neighbors we hadn’t seen in at least 6 years. They were back in town for a granddaughter’s wedding and we met for lunch at an Irish pub/restaurant on the shore of Lake Michigan, named Ashling on the Lough.

A Harp chaser–Jim got that. A hunk of cheese, spicy sausage stick, pickle, lime, lemon and 2 olives.

The restaurant was humming and everyone was enjoying food, conversation, and the beauty of the day. When our friends walked in, we spotted them immediately and after the hugs and kisses all around, we got down to business. Talking. Which of course makes one thirsty. Nancy and I ordered a bloody Mary as she said her son insisted we must try them.

Let me say this. That drink could have been my lunch as well as my liquid refreshment. Well, except for the dessert. We ordered one with 4 forks and that dessert tea and coffee were the perfect way to end a delightful and much needed visit between old friends. Ones who never age. Ones you can commence chatting as if you’d spoken with them yesterday.

And talk we did. Through ordering: Jim—Irish stew; Sam—hamburger (recovering from surgery so he’s forgiven); Nancy and I shared—the best sweet potato fries and a grilled chicken breast on sun-dried tomato focaccia bread smeared with pesto, topped with grilled brown tomatoes, smoked provolone, thick sliced bacon and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. Absolutely fantastic. Oh and we all had a cup of the BEST Irish root soup. That came garnished with a shamrock of heavy cream. Oh my, to die for great.

But remember that dessert I mentioned? Nancy insisted plus coffee, but I had an excellent tea.

She chose a homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream cheese cake (they make it on site) on a graham cracker crust and perfect glaze of chocolate ganache.

So now you’re asking wondering, where are the photos of such a perfect dessert, or that delicious root soup, or the incredible sandwich or fantastic stew?

Our leaves are dropping and their changing color.

In my mind and lingering in my taste buds. Remember that bloody Mary I mentioned to begin this story about the lunch?

Yeah, well, that and all that talking, that eating, that hugging and being so joyful to be with friends—I forgot about the camera. Oh, wait. I have the perfect solution.

I’ll just have to go again on a perfect September Saturday afternoon. Who cares to join me?

Hodgepodge Sunday

July 15, 2012

A neighbor’s cheery pot of flowers.

Some Sundays my topic’s focus is much like my dear hubby’s beef stew—or chicken soup. Today is one of those Sundays.

But what does that mean? First of all, his chicken soup is fabulous—always. However, this blog may not reach his soup standard, but I’ll do my best. 😉 Besides the staple of chicken, his soup can and will contain a variety of different ingredients depending on his mood, the time of year, the state of wilting veggies in our fridge.

The same pattern holds true for his beef stew. Beef predominates. But sometimes several different cuts of beef comprise the protein, especially if we have tidbits of steak or roast left from an earlier meal. In that case, we could refer to those meaty leftovers as gallimaufry. That fun word means leftovers which in the stew would be those beef cuts.

We’ll today’s post isn’t about leftovers so much as a mélange of assorted bits and pieces, a farrago of sorts—of newsy tidbits enhancing today’s main theme. (I was having fun this morning finding synonyms)

Caregiving.

A butterfly bush–if you plant it , they will come.

I suspect all of you know the term. You’ve likely filled the role willingly or not for someone you care about.

However, for most of us the term caregiving might incorporate a mélange of duties done by one or several people who may have a broad range of necessary skills to care adequately for someone requiring help. This aid might range from minimal, such as–let’s say–driving someone whose dwindling eyesight means he or she no longer has a driver’s license to someone who needs assistance in all areas of life in order to stay alive.

I’ve been in caregiving situations which encompassed all these elements. I’ve friends who started out as caregivers to a spouse or family member who required just a bit of help at first. Through the months or years that help increased in what must be done and how often. As the needs increase, the caregiver expends more physical and emotional energy, sometimes to the point they might be near burn-out or become ill themselves.

Caregivers need care themselves. Too often, the ones they care for haven’t the capacity, the patience, or the ability to see beyond their needs to extend a “thank you” or an “I appreciate what you do for me” statement. Illness and severe disability can rip interpersonal skills and relationships to tatters scattered around the emotional environment in which they exist.

In the best of times caregiving is not easy. Often it is not fun. Always it is demanding and requires an acceptance of responsibility few who take it on realize when they accept the caregiving challenge. The longer the caregiving lasts the more likely the caregiver becomes aware of how much life has changed. The more they need to take care of themselves.

Thank goodness for neighbors who have flowers

I know this from experience. Thus I try to reach out to others I know are caregivers to offer encouragement. Listen to their worries, their woes, their frustrations. Often their days are a hodgepodge of highs and lows, anger and stress, tenderness and love. Some days, months, maybe years, one of these emotions or feelings predominates. If the feeling is negative, life gets tough. Then tougher. Almost too difficult to keep going.

But the wonderful trait most caregivers have is they do keep going. Like energizer bunnies. They realize perhaps that they may be the one cared for at some future time. They hope their generosity of spirit will be reciprocated with a good caregiver. Maybe they store up memories of what made them feel good and bad as caregivers so they won’t repeat that if such time comes for them.

In the meantime, if you are in a caregiving position now, I salute you. I hold you in my thoughts. I send a wish that you will always find the strength to carry on. Because some days that’s not easy.

If you aren’t a caregiver, but know others who are, reach out to them. Listen to them. Or maybe just tell them “You’re doing a great job.”

As I said, I’m a caregiver—have been for 18 years—but these past few years life has gotten much more difficult for many reasons. But this week my spirit lifted when my nephew and his son and daughter called me. They were on their boat and sailing past our place. They wanted to let me/us know they were thinking of us and wanted us to see them wave. We did.

Just a little thing really. But it meant a lot.

This morning’s sunrise 5:15. The heat and humidity are building

Oh, and today my first Sunday Morning With column ran in our local paper. I’ve already had an appreciative email about it. 🙂

And Thursday, I hit the PUBLISH button for Better Than Dessert to go to print.

Last evening hubby and I joined a few friends for dinner at a favorite restaurant. Great food, great time, a break in the routine.

All of these last items help us keep up the good fight.

I’m pumped and ready for the week, are you?

X Marks the Spot

March 27, 2011

Dawn March 26, 2011

When we were growing up if anyone read about buried treasure, pirates, lost gold mines, or hidden money, a map was always part of the hunt. And X marked the spot. Even one of my favorite Michael Douglas movies, Romancing The Stone, had a treasure map with a variation of X marking the spot showing where the giant emerald lay hidden.

So imagine my delight when I woke up yesterday at dawn and looked out the window. Even before I could let out my little Oreo, I grabbed my camera to capture that great photo op. My own X marks the spot.

Then I realized how appropriate this dawn was for me.

Right now, for me some days still prove more difficult to muddle through than others. Those are the days, maybe you have them also, when life seems to beat you down. You hear about other places that seem to be the perfect haven where stress never falls upon its inhabitants. It’s the Camelot of earlier times or future times, but certainly not the present moment when everything about us churns with turmoil.

Life deals most of us some pretty horrendous blows. Walking away from our environment in search of treasure or instant escape isn’t likely to make us happier. Think of those various lottery winners who win the jackpot, and in the span of a few short years, their lives are often worse than what they were before they found their “X” for treasure.

Perhaps you’ve heard of people who pack up and move from where they were, hoping to find a treasure in a new life elsewhere, an “X” spot that will bring happiness and/or easy living. Personally, I know many who return because that perfect place wasn’t so perfect after all.

So back to my reminder: my dawn delight, my “X.”

I have to admit I’ve thought about getting out of here lately. I’ve been overcome with grief which at times I find very difficult handling. My oldest son and his family live far away; so does my brother and his wife, and my sisters and their families are busy with their lives. I’m certainly not happy with our state and what’s happening politically and economically cause greater stress as I see our income diminishing, our expenses increasing almost daily, our support system for our disabled son who lives with us challenged and threatened in every direction.

But yesterday I saw my sign with a dramatic dawn.

Icy Boulders March 27, 2011

So I considered all day what treasures are here. I took an inventory: my ever-changing lake, my “perfect” home, my incredible friends, my sisters and their families who live near enough that I do see them regularly despite their busy lives. We have a faith community. My husband, who’s my greatest support, is happy here and enjoys the friends he’s made. We have wonderful neighbors. I’m within driving distance of several writers so we can gather together and enhance our creative skills. And most of all, my parents and two sons are buried here. I couldn’t leave them when they were alive; I don’t want do so now.

So yesterday’s dawn served its purpose. It stimulated me to look for the treasures I have about me, not seek elsewhere. This spot is my treasure.

What is a treasure is your life?  Do you need a reminder?