Friday, March 31, 2017

Marching along

This is the last day of March and as I have with each month these past nine, I'm happy to see it go. I don't normally like to see time pass, but this year each month has brought its share of pain and melancholy and I'm not sad seeing them go. There have been good memories of course, but they're all overshadowed by the bad ones. I know next year will be better and I'll be back to my enjoyment of each month and its treasures. But not this year. Like with any period of grief, the first year is the worst. Each month brings anniversaries of special times and memories that are not bittersweet. So, nine months in, I'm looking forward to the closing of this, the first year.

March is always an odd month, with great temperature swings and wild weather. Its one of those months when you need to check the weather report every morning to know how to  dress. Is it s heavy sweater day or a flannel shirt day? Do I need to heavy winter coat or will my down vest be comfortable enough? Do I need gloves? A hat? Only a quick check of the temperature and wind report will answer those questions.


So we say goodbye to March, not sadly, but with resignation for another four weeks gone. And with optimism that the future is going to be better than the past. Because it will.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The air

Spring is definitely in the air these days, from the bulbs popping up to the long sunlit hours, and I'm looking forward to April. Because April says "spring" to me much more than March does. Its unusual to get snow in April but not in March, so I tend to think of April as the month of Spring, despite the calendar.

April is the month of buds on trees and little girls in Easter bonnets. And April is the month we tolerate the showers for the promise of May flowers. April ushers in the season of hope and renewal and this year, more than any before it, I'm in need to that. My heart is longing for renewal and my soul is operating on hope. So Spring, in this year of 2017, is monumental for me.

I see good things ahead for me in April. I think its going to be a month of smiles and optimism and perhaps even some surprises. Good ones. I've had enough bad surprises and its time for some good ones.

April is coming quickly now. And I welcome it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Creativity

I've always been the creative sort and very much regret my inability to make use of those talents. It wasn't for lack of trying - a poor excuse for a guidance counselor led me astray back in high school, and then life got in the way - but it was never meant to be I suppose. What fun it would have been to be an elementary school art teacher! I think I would have loved that.

My favorite parts of the school day, from the time I was in kindergarten until I was out of high school, were the times I had art or music. Gym I could do without, but the arts were my true love. I have enjoyed dabbling in them as an adult but have never been able to make a living doing the things I truly love. (I loved raising my four children, but kids do tend to grow up and move away and don't need you forever. Thus I have had some pretty good years left with no real focus I'm afraid!)

I think I would have made a great graphic artist if not a teacher. Or perhaps a theater set designer of costume designer. Those are things I love and I always enjoy those categories at the Oscar show as much as I do anything else. I love design. I can even see my self as an architect, but I love color so much I think that would have bored me after a fashion.

Well I've enjoyed being able to use my talents over the years making Halloween costumes and designing church bulletin inserts and newsletters, but somehow its never been quite enough. My recent foray into glass fusion has been incredibly fulfilling, but I only get to indulge a few hours a week. If I had my own studio I'd be in it every day.

At this point in my life its a fantasy. But I do my bet to encourage my children to pursue their own dreams and fill their own souls with the stuff of art and music. I hope they will - they seem to be doing that now (at least some of them are). And I hope for them money will never get in the way of making their souls sing. Its a wonderful feeling.  

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Photos

Of all the things I have around my house, the photographs have to be my favorite.

One of my great regrets is that I don't have more wall space in my house. I have too many windows and doors and closets on my walls and space for hanging artwork or photographs is scarce. The result of that problem is that I have boxes of family photos, all framed and ready to hang, but shoved under furniture and in closets. At one time or another all of them were hung - some along the staircase or in the living room, some standing on tables or shelves, all of them treasured. But as the years go by things happen. Spaces get painted and the shelves are cleared. Things get put into boxes and never come out again. Or, as is most often the case, old is replaced with new and old is relegated to another place. If I had a nice family room in my basement, it would be lined with family photos dating from the 1800s and up until the present: children's school photos year after year, wedding photos from friends and family, graduation photos of the nieces and nephews I love. But...they're in boxes now for my children to discover some day and try to figure out. "Is that Great-grandmother Warren?" I can hear them saying. Or "Look at you - you were so little then!"


Perhaps it will be a fun exercise for them to go through the old photos. In addition to the framed portraits I have shelves of boxes filled with small snapshots of our lives, and the lives of my parents and grandparents. It would be nice to go through them all and label them, I know, but it will take the help of someone younger and more agile than I to take them down from the shelves and help me go through them.

Photos are a wonderful glimpse of our past and I love the memories they evoke. They aren't doing much goo in boxes I know, but short of buying a new house with lots more space to display the, that's where they're staying. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Company

I have company from Norway this week and I'm taking a small trip myself next week, so my posting may be erratic, I'm not sure. If I don't get a chance to blog no one should be alarmed - its simply an indication of my crazy schedule until April 6th when I'll be back into my regular routine again. But I shall try!

I can't remember if I've already spoken about my Norwegian sister, but she is visiting this week. She was an exchange student in our home when I was in high school, and we have kept in contact and visited each other numerous times over the past fifty years. I love Norway and love visiting that friendly, beautiful country, and I also love entertaining her and her family members here whenever she returns. So this will be a busy week and a half. I'm actually driving my two guests to Pennsylvania soon and we'll be visiting my daughter there for a few days. I'm looking forward to the break for myself as well as for them.

When visiting Norway they are the ultimate hosts, taking time off from work and driving their guests all over the country. They set a very high bar both in entertaining and accommodating. So I have a lot to live up to. This will be my first time ever doing it by myself so that's a new challenge as well. 

I hope I can show her some beautiful parts of this country because its hard to beat the vistas in hers. Some day maybe she and I will venture out to the grand canyon - its one of the places I've always wanted to see. She may just be the excuse I need to get out of East Hampton once in awhile now that she's retired from her teaching job and has the ability to travel. That would be a wonderful thing.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dates

A week ago was the anniversary of my major cancer surgery back in 2009. Its hard for me to believe that eight years have passed since that day, but at the same time it does seem like a distant memory.

If I've learned one thing in my long life its that the major things we deal with in our days on earth are but a blink in retrospect. Our most difficult days eventually fade into the background amidst the canvas of our life, a blot here or there, a mere mark on a larger piece. If we looked at that canvas we could point to various areas - over there is the dark spot where my mother died, or over there is when my husband had his heart attack and by-pass surgery - each being part of a larger whole but not overpowering the artwork. They seem to be more like accents and focal points and no more ruin the total picture than they disappear into it. They are part of our story and a piece of the whole. And at the end of the day they combine to create a beautiful collage of our lives.

The year 2009 was monumental for me then, but now I see it merely as a year of growth and spiritual nurturing. Because I came out of it a stronger person in my faith and in my body. And I'm trusting God to do the same with this past year some day. May it be a mere blot on my still emerging canvas - not ruining the artwork but adding to it and making it more beautiful when all is said and done.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Televisions

Yesterday's post about my defunct television set made me think about the TVs of my youth. We've come a very long way in this particular technology and its kind of amazing to think about. But honestly I don't really even understand how it all works. I know there are people that do, but I'm not one of them!

I don't ever remember life without TV. I understand my parents bought their first just before I was born and from what I hear it had a very small screen and was bought mostly so my father and grandfather could watch the Friday night fights. I'm sure that's probably true because my parents had no money to spare in those days and I'm guessing my grandfather bought it and gave it a home in my parent's living room so he could come use it. That's kind of the way things happened in my family.

Anyway, the televisions I remember as a kid were always in cabinets, like pieces of fine furniture. Usually people had these pieces in their living rooms and very often they included a record player or radio in the cabinet. They were "entertainment centers" if I remember the correct terminology. We didn't always have that fancy type and there were times I can remember simple portables on topf of a table with antenna that we needed to fiddle with in order to get a clear picture on one of the two channels we could get out here in the hinterlands.

I loved it when the television broke and the repair man had to come. He had a special suitcase kind of thing that folded out on both sides and was filled with tubes of every size imaginable. He would open up the back of the set, determine which tube it was that was blown, and replace it with a new one. That was usually all it took and those old sets lasted for years. Of course there wasn't all that much to watch with so few channels and the fact that it came on at 6 or 7 in the morning and went off at 11 at night meant forget trying to see anything in the middle of the night. I remember at 11:00 every night the national anthem played and there was a visual of the flag on a tall pole waving in the breeze. As soon as the last note faded the picture went blank except for that small white dot that stayed for a minute, eventually fading into oblivion. We children of the '50s remember those details all too well.

Those early television sets are part of my childhood, along with Annette and Jimmy from the Mickey Mouse Club. They are happy memories because they come from a pretty carefree time of life, before the heavy things of life descended. So I'll keep them.    

Friday, March 24, 2017

News

My television in my bedroom bit the dust this week. I turned it on first thing in the morning as I always do, hoping to catch up on anything important that happened overnight and also glean some wisdom in terms of who to dress for the day depending on the temperature outside, and it made an unusual noise...and then....no picture. In the old days I would have said to myself "It just blew a tube" but in today's world, post tubes and all other outdated technology, I knew better. It was gone.

Now this is not a great loss in terms of the television itself. a few years ago - maybe 5 or 6 now - our children gave us a replacement television for our living room. It wasn't necessary as far as I was concerned because the Sony worked just fine, but they thought we needed a flat screen, so they gave us one. I saw no reason to toss the old one out because it worked, so with great difficulty the hunking old television was moved to our bedroom where it's lived on top of a tall dresser ever since. It takes up a lot of room, but who cared? I didn't. Now, its no longer a viable appliance and its sitting there. Taking up room.


And it will continue to sit there for two reasons. First, there is no way I could ever move it because its too big for me to budge. Not to mention the fact that the way I would need to pull it down from the high shelf would mean I'd probably end up under it on the floor, undiscovered before my body had become food for any mice that lived in my walls. That's just a prospect too gruesome to ponder but I've watched enough CSI episodes on that old TV not to take any chances. 

Second, I doubt I can find a television for under $100 anymore and wouldn't spend more than that to replace it. Its been years since I've bought a television set but I can't imagine they make them that cheap. I certainly wouldn't buy a big one like I had there because its a pretty small room, but even so, there's no way I'm spending much to put a television there. Sometimes my parents' depression era mentality still comes through in their daughter and the idea of spending more than that on such an unnecessary luxury just doesn't sit right with me.

So, here I am with this huge, useless appliance taking up room in my bedroom. In my mind I'm already redecorating the space just in case its ever empty. But I honestly think someday it will go to the dump with much of my other belongings when I'm no longer around to care.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clutter

My biggest enemy is clutter.

I keep my house fairly clean. I make sure surfaces are wiped down in the kitchen and bathrooms regularly, I vacuum weekly, I dust - all the things we're taught to do when we're growing up. But I don't enjoy it because its thankless work with no real reward. No one walks into a house and says "Oh your house looks so clean!"

So I keep it clean so its healthy and livable, but my real nemesis is clutter. I have a hard time keeping up with the clutter. It just seems as though things multiply around the house on tables and counter tops. There's the mail I still need to sort, the bills I still need to pay, the files for the various committees I'm working on, and things I need to take to the dump....just clutter.

I worked in my home office this week trying to clear up the clutter that was all over my desk. I filed papers, payed bills, put things away in drawers and cabinets, and it looks much better today than it did a few days ago. Its not as neat and empty as I'd like it to be, but it is a working desk and some things I don't even have a space for. I could use a few more drawers, but space is limited and it is what it is. So I cope. And right now it looks pretty good. This space tends to be my "open closet", the place I toss things when I need to clear the counters or empty living spaces and I just don't quite know what to do with the stuff yet. It tends to end up in my office, out of sight for most of the day and only annoying when I need to go out there. Since its not a "pass through" space I don't do it everyday so its the perfect place to hide clutter.

I need to continually de-clutter my house. I guess I need to do the same with my mind. I'm working on that right now too! 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Magic

Yesterday I had a fun little job - continuing today actually - and maybe tomorrow - helping out at a local museum. 

Every few years its important to take textiles out of their storage boxes and open them up, refolding along different areas to keep the deterioration to a minimum. Textiles are incredibly fragile and, unlike wood, metal, or bone for instance, they can end up in crumbles and dust if not properly cared for - and even then. They are stored in acid free boxes, with acid free paper around them, carefully folded as little as possible, or rolled onto special rollers. As boxes were opened it was clear that dyes had been absorbed onto the paper as discoloration was evident. Some paper was yellowed, some pink, and replacing the paper was also part of the project.

There's something very moving about handling objects that are so old. And textiles are markedly different from furniture or other objects. There's something very personal about touching someone's wedding dress, or christening gown for instance. Even shoes belonging to a small child, or a fancy bonnet, becomes a symbol or someone's life. Because clothing is worn. It's placed on a person's body and it reflects their taste, their sense of style, their personality. Opening these pieces up and laying them out on a table feels a bit like sharing a cup of tea with the owner. You can almost hear their voice saying "Could you please use that beautiful blue taffeta?" to the dressmaker, or "I wonder if I can wear this brown silk gown of sister's to the dance Saturday night without shortening it?" Even shoes, worn black leather with satin ribbon laces, seem to hold their owners souls within them. Its magic, really. 

I like to imagine the woman who owned the beautiful blue and white striped dress walking down Main Street in her finery, heading to church in her dress and bonnet. Or maybe taking her child out for a walk wearing the small white dress and petticoat that she'd just finished for her. Even the man's navy blue wool two-piece bathing suit brings speculation as the bottom was more faded than the top. Did that mean he only waded to his waist? Probably so considering the c.1850 tag that hung from the corner.

I love treating each textile with the respect it deserves, from the hand woven bed coverlets that adorned private bed chambers to the tiny undershirts used by an infant but lovingly embroidered despite never being seen by anyone other than the child's parents. Each piece represents a life, a family, an era, and most importantly... love. Its a sacred duty.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Changes

I notice seasonal changes, subtle and light-handed, as I drive or walk from place to place these days. Yesterday's morning walk revealed a long row of green shoots coming up along a fence on Main Street - daffodils I assume.  I'm also noticing the sun coming up a few minutes earlier every day and of course now the evenings are nice and light. I can leave my window coverings open until well after 6, using the natural light to read of knit by.

These changes will become more and more evident as the days and weeks go by and spring will have a strong hold on us by mid-April. Even an occasional cold day will not discourage us because we know we're moving forward and that's we're not looking back.

Today I volunteer at the local hospital for a couple hours and the change in season is evident there as well. The ambulatory area is busier than it has been as folks are willing to schedule tests and surgeries when they aren't quite as worried about blizzards interfering. Yes, change is in the wind and its easy to feel. We are all ready for it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring

Well today is officially Spring but I can't say it feels like it outside. At least not yet. I understand we'll have a few cool days this week but then are in for a warming trend. I welcome that, as I do every new season as it comes.

It seems as though the seasons have been echoing my emotional life this past nine months. I went from summer, which was hot and uncomfortable, into the autumn which was a time of real death and destruction. My life had taken a terrible turn and I was dealing with huge changes, which led me into the dark days of winter, where I was bereft and incapable of seeing the sunshine for weeks at a time. It was a long, cold winter for me, but I do feel the warmth of the new season and know that sunnier, easier days are approaching. Life really does mimic nature at times and for me, this year has been one of those times. I feel as though I'm climbing out of the depths of despair and beginning to see hope and sanity ahead. Its a good feeling.

Spring is full of promise. We look forward to longer days of brighter, warmer sunshine, green grass and beautiful flora everywhere, and more time outside where new adventures await. I'm very much looking forward to the Spring this year, both in nature and in my soul. We both need it.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Unknowns

I'm a complete control freak. I know this about myself. I think from a very early age, control was an issue for me. 

I had a difficult relationship with my father and never had a sense of safety or confidence in my youth, often feeling lost and alone despite coming from a big family. I wasn't a loner necessarily, but just never felt as though I belonged anywhere and never felt the comfort or self-worth that comes from having a strong parent-child bond with both one's parents. I'm sure it wasn't unlike the feelings some children grow up with when they've been abandoned, or their parents divorce - thinking they aren't in a secure, loving place if it were. There's something to be said for growing up with two parents who remind you that you are loved and treasured and will always be safe with them. I didn't have that and I think my control issues are a result of that history.

Anyway, I didn't start out to talk about my childhood but rather the problems I'm dealing with now that have to do with control and value in my life. Being through a trauma like I've been through tends to make one question both those things, and being that they were tenuous at best to begin with means they are in tiny little pieces now. I'm sure a counselor would say that the reason I've lost so much weight, and am continuing to lose it, has everything to do with the fact that what I put in my mouth is just about the only thing I can control right now in my life. And no doubt those ugly issues of worthiness continue to arise from my psyche simply because if I never really felt "good enough" before, why would I now? If anything the opposite is true. So - there you have it. I should have a degree in psychology for all the books I've read on it! And I do "get" the concepts.

I'm sure the "unknowns" in life are difficult for everyone to deal with, and surprise sits around every corner whatever road you're on, but for me, who has spent my entire life trying to work toward the goal of financial and emotional security for my old age, always combating my demons as best I knew how, this issue of the unknowns ahead is especially frightening. Some you expect, like illness or even death, and know they are inevitable. Some are impossible to foresee. And when they come, as they did for me, its easy to get panicky. I have moments when my heart palpitates so fast I think its jumping right out of my body and I can break out in a cold sweat just sitting with the check book trying to pay my bills.


Perhaps if I'd had a crystal ball when I was younger I would be in a whole different place today than I am now. Or perhaps I would have made the same mistakes and followed the exact same road but with new insight and maybe the ability to change directions at certain times. 

Of course, that's not the way life works is it? So I'll just have to face the unknowns and keep walking forward, into the fray, prepared for battle and bravely taking on the dragons as they appear.

So much easier said than done. But I'm working on it.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Writing

The East Hampton Star is the local newspaper here in East Hampton and it boasts some extraordinary writers both on its present staff and from years past. I always enjoy reading the various columns and opinion pieces - I don't always agree with them of course, but that's what opinion pieces are all about! Especially editorials! 

Occasionally though, one stands out above the rest, and this week I want to share one of those exceptions with you. It was written about the simple pleasures of a sense of place, which is very much what I write about here in this space. However this writer does a more excellent job that I ever could of describing that wonderful feeling of "home" and its worth sending along to my readers who may not have seen it in this week's paper. Hopefully I'm not breaking any copyright rules by cutting and pasting but I'm adding The Star's logo just to make sure credit is given where its due! Here it is - enjoy:


Relay: A Lexicon Of Place

The groove of the seasons keeps shaping my experience of time and my memories
What is it about staying in one place or, for that matter, moving around? I moved around a fair bit in younger days and still think of myself as that kind of footloose spirit, but the truth is I’ve been living in one place, here on the East End, for upwards of three decades, and in my little house on an old field lot in Springs for more than a quarter century.
The knowledge of this place, deepened year after year as the groove of the seasons keeps shaping my experience of time and my memories, is a force so central to my life I can no longer separate it from who I am.
I love knowing the world this way: as the time of the yellow flag irises around Town Pond or the days of lacy flowering trees or cherry blossom time or the time of year when that one curve along Accabonac Harbor with a certain mix of trees pops with color and tells me it’s fall, or when the overhanging bower along Old Stone Highway is a doorway into a magical snowy world. 
There’s the evening of the first spring peepers in the wetland behind my house — disconcertingly early, on Feb. 28 this year — the night of the first fireflies that send me to a quiet evening session in the hammock outside, the return of the osprey, whose piercing calls, flying over my yard, make me look up, the annual dragonfly swarm. The freezing nights of coal black that make the stars pop. 
I’m uncertain this is a thing I should admit, but if you asked me to outline my life’s highlights, they would be many of these things: another time sitting in the kitchen doorway listening to a thunderstorm roll in, another cozy day in the house both lulled and enlivened by the motion through my windows of the falling snow outside, a summer dusk sitting out in the garden dirt weeding, a glass of rosé at hand, when the year’s first screech owl starts its eerie song. The always startling discovery of the long-lived garter snake that comes out of the stone basement wall to sun itself on my doorstep each year.
The things that happen again and again, and the special ones: turning back home after leaving only a moment ago, to find a tall egret stalking up my walk (as if it was waiting for my departure to call for a party at the house, I always said); the night I sat in the yard with a little dog on my lap and realized two screech owls were overlooking us in the tree, and then watched another two, and another two, fly in. The moment, waking after a sweet nap in the hammock, me and a deer only a foot or so away locked eyes and, in unison, both let out a shriek of surprise. 
And there was the surprise of finally knowing about the massive tree in the woods out back — a giant Ent-spirit, I’m certain — only after it was felled in a storm, its root system upended, its massive structure calling my attention to that impressive thing I’d been living near, unknowingly, all this time. Somehow I’m proud of that, and all these things. I feel, despite other myriad, abiding questions about life, that I’ve landed in the right place — or one right place. 
I love the things that endure: knowing the treetop shapes that surround my little world, feeling the arc of the year through the changes and benchmarks of nature. 
Recognizing the different cheeps of the woodpecker hatchlings either fussing for attention or excited by a parent returning with food. Seeing what changes and what lasts — will the barn swallows be back this year, the orioles? Will the phlox on the old cottage site come back, the tiger lilies, the iris patch? Where will the tall comfrey stalks pop up, or the milkweed?
I’m blessed to have neighbors who also care about these things, who mark time this way, who share their observations. It bonds us in this little enclave as we swap those moments, helping each other define our place in the year, in this world. 
We know our trees — my stalwart linden, catalpa, and centurion cedar, the massive pines and maples across the street. We trade tidbits like currency, sharing the little gifts and gratitude for our lives on this patch of land.
Once upon a time I walked into this empty house a young woman who’d just, astonishingly, signed mortgage papers, who’d just signed on to I knew not what. I poured champagne into a paper cup and sat down on a milk crate in a cold and empty shell that lacked heat and had most recently housed a squirrel or two. And embarked.
I believed a home base, a home place, would not bind me, but set me free. So many things have turned out differently than expected — for just about everyone, I’d guess. 
There’s so much to be said for a deep knowledge of a place, for decades of sunsets over the same view. It gets deep, not old. Sometimes, though, you only know the shape of those deep roots when the wind exposes them and shakes things up a bit. 
So what is it about moving around and learning a new lexicon of place? That’s the other half of the balance, maybe the thing that keeps things grounded — and a subject for an essay all its own. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

March days

Its been very cold outside this week but the sun has been bright and the roads are clear and I was even able to get out and walk yesterday morning so I'm not complaining. All the sun means clear roads and sidewalks and ease getting around, so I'll take that.

The sun makes such a difference. Even on the coldest days as long as the sun is shining people seem to be upbeat and happy. Its those miserable gray winter that depress us! Bring us sunshine and we can cope with just about anything, right?

We're only days away from the official start of spring right now and as always in March, its a welcome addition. The crocuses began poking up through the ground weeks ago and will take no time at all to respond to warmer days as soon as they arrive, which should be very soon. These next few weeks are busy ones for me, which I welcome, and before I know it April will be with us. The days move quickly and life moves on. We may be cold now but in a few short months the air conditioners will be cranking and we'll be sitting at the pool. And that's the joy of the seasons.

Today is a good day. And so is tomorrow. Because life is what we make of it and I'm going to make it really, really good.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ignoring

I've decided that one of the most difficult things to deal with in our relationships is being ignored.

Remember the famous Michael Douglas movie "Fatal Attraction"? It scared the temptation out of most men I dare say. Well the one line I remember from that movie very clearly is when Glenn Close announced in anger "I will not be ignored!" She was right to be angry but she was also a psycho so there needs to be a little balance there! I totally get the sentiment though! Nothing is more insulting and demeaning than being ignored. Whether its in the classroom and affecting a child's self-esteem or as an adult trying to make a point, its not fun at all.


I was reminded of this truth again recently and felt the effects myself. As I child I often felt ignored by my father, and as an adult it brings up all those feelings of marginalization and pain. And I hate it.

Its a lesson for me. I have plenty of grandchildren. I need to always remember never to ignore them. They're too important for that and even though I may be busy, I need to be present for them. A very good reminder...




Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Speaking of spring...

Yesterday I was talking about the spring being right around the corner - which is it coming next week on the calendar - and when I was looking for illustrations I found this one which really touched me. Its so true that we only truly appreciate thing when they are taken away from us!

I still have an appreciation for life that post-dates my cancer scare. I see things with different eyes now, appreciating everything more, from the color of a new orchid blossom on my plant to the sound of children laughing. Each holds a magic that I do't overlook and each makes me smile in a way I didn't before. And thus it is with spring. We treasure our warm, colorful spring days because we've just emerged from a clod, bleak winter. Its one of the reasons I love the seasonal changes so much, because they put things in perspective as we move throughout the year.

Ans of course my own past nine months has brought so many things into focus for me. I know now how to treasure my family and friends in new way, and I'll never again be complacent about the wonderful things in life. Relationships have taken on new meaning, and many other things have changed, but mostly my own sense of self, of value, and of faith has been altered forever. I have emerged a new person with a new life view and new goals for my future, whatever that may be. I will never again put my own self-esteem in somebody else's hands and am grateful for the lesson.

Yes-life has changed. Fo
r the better I think.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bust

Well the snowstorm is a bust, my computer is working better, and life goes on.

We have more rain than anything else right now, but it is icy out there. I went to get my morning paper and the deck was icy and it looked as though we've been getting an icy mix for some time. If anything the snow already here has melted off a bit with nothing left on my hedges at all. We dodged the bullet on that one but its not a nice day out there and still a good one for staying put, which I will do.

My computer is working up to speed again. I'd re-booted it a couple times but finally took a nice long time to turn it back on and that seemed to do the trick. Back up to speed and responding to everything I ask it to do. Lesson learned.

So today I still have a nice block of time to get something done. As soon as I get my breakfast down I'm heading upstairs to work on my bedroom closets. Its something needing to be done for a long time and will take more than today to accomplish, but starting would be a good idea!

I'm taking a snow day, even though there doesn't seem to be any of the white stuff falling at the moment.
No doubt it will be the last of the winter - after all from here on out it will be Spring so winter is leaving anyway. Onward and upward - today is an open book and I have things to write in it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Unplanned

I may be taking another (unplanned this time) hiatus from my blogging this week. Not because I need a break, because I honestly need to write more than ever right now - but because I'm having computer problems.

I use my phone a lot these days to check mail and browse the internet, but there are some things that I really need my desktop computer for. Looking at accommodations at a hotel, for instance, or shopping at various clothing sites, need the full size of a desktop for good visuals. And writing, as in doing my blog or sending complicated emails, really requires a full-sized monitor. So my desktop is really my go-to computer for many things. Sometimes I see something I want to buy on my phone but then go into my home office to the desktop to complete the transaction. I don't know if the younger generation does everything on their phones, but its not for me.

Anyway, my desktop is giving me problems. Suddenly loading any program takes forever. I have closed everything, rebooted, done whatever I know to do to fix it, but I know its beyond my abilities. This morning its taken me a full thirty minutes to get to the place where I can do my blog, all this time loading. Something is certainly wrong.

All this brings up one of my problems these days and that is "help". There are some things I just can't do myself. After so many years of relying on someone else to "fix" certain things I'm a little lost when I face them now. I'm quite sure someone needs to run some "programs" to "clean-up" my computer (you see - I know the lingo!) but I haven't a clue how to do that. And my children, who are wonderful and do whatever they can for me, have their own busy lives and I get very tired of asking them for help. Which is why I've been sitting on this one a couple days now.

So - if my blog does not show up for any length of time in the near future please know I am fine. I'm not buried in the snow and I've not fallen down the stairs - I'm simply without the desktop computer than I need to function here. And know that I'm frustrated beyond belief, but I have no idea when I'll be back! And most likely I won't be putting an illustration on this one because pulling up anything else could take me another thirty minutes....

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Calm

Well its a beautiful sunny day today but its the calm before the storm. They're predicting  we'll be getting up to a foot of snow Monday through Tuesday and I'm not looking forward to that.

Tuesday is normally one of my best days as I volunteer at the hospital in the morning and it gets me out of my life for a few hours and thinking/helping other people, which is good medicine for me these days. I dread the idea of being stuck at home all day Tuesday, not to mention trying to keep the snow cleared off my deck so I can move once the storm is over. Ugh - a lonely day at home to come. They're using the term "blizzard" on the weather reports. Please...no!

I think today I'll work on a plan for Tuesday. Perhaps cleaning out my home office, or organizing my bedroom closets (no, I haven't finished that job yet! I completed all the cleaning out - but haven't yet gotten to the re-organizing. I have more closet space than I know what to do with and really want to fill it up with other things, but first I need to get my clothes in order! There'll be plenty of space left to use for other things eventually, but right now I jst need to get myself organized!) I completed a knitting project so I don't have that to do, and the Bible study I wanted to get started on has not arrived in the mail yet, so I need some focus for a long day stuck in the house.

I don't normally mind a good snow storm....in February. I'm over it now that we're a week away from Spring. I wish I had someone to share the time with because I can think of plenty of things I could do with company, but alone? Not so much. It makes me feel sorry for all the lonely elderly people out there who aren't as able as I am to get out and shovel, which at least gives me a goal to work on. At least I'm still physically able to do whatever I decide to do. And I have no problem driving in the snow once the storm is over.

Well the snow is coming one way or another. I'm hoping against hope that it changes course a bit and we only have a few inches to deal with. Now that I can handle!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Post storm

We had a small snow storm yesterday. From what I hear it may pale in comparison to what's to come later in the week, but nevertheless it was a surprise following so many warm days that the crocuses are all in bloom.

It was a truly beautiful snow though. It was the heavy, wet kind of snow that is horrible to clear off the walkways, but beautiful to look at. Every tree, every bush, every outdoor surface was beautifully outlines with white, and some of the branches of trees were so heavy I was worried about them breaking. Fortunately the sun came out in the afternoon and took away most of that danger, and today everything is ice and crunchy out there. I took this photo as the storm was winding down. You can see the huge chunks of snow weighing down those branches! Today the branches are clear again and only the ground is covered in white.

I was careful to get my walkways cleared yesterday in anticipation of the colder temperatures today. I hate ice. I also made sure to let my downstairs bathroom faucet dribble out all night lest the pipes freeze, which they have done in the past more than once. Being alone here means any little thing like a frozen pipe is yet another new adventure for me - something my husband always took care of in the past but now falls to me to figure out. I think those are the most difficult things I deal with after all these years of not having to! Car maintenance, lawn detail, frozen pipes....none of which I'm terribly good at due to lack of experience.

Well today the sun is out and its a bright and beautiful day, albeit very cold. The faucet will continue to dribble, I'll stay safely inside the house (as soon as I collect my newspaper in a couple minutes) and I'll pretend ifs January in East Hampton. But surely March cannot be far behind, right?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Full moon

Today is my son's 35th birthday and every time I see a full moon I remember the night he was born.

I woke about 3:30 in the morning. This was my third pregnancy so I knew it was time to head to the hospital. Because a few years earlier I had gone in search of a more modern delivery and hospital experience (when I had my second child), I was now with a doctor in Syosset and was traveling to the hospital there, a good distance from home. In those days it was worth the trip for such modern amenities as Lamaze trained nurses, birthing rooms, and open visiting hours for fathers, none of which were yet available in the local hospital. So, I wasn't going to try to sleep any longer - I got up without waking my husband and started to get dressed. Once I was ready I woke him so I could change the sheets on the bed, and while he was getting dressed I phoned my mother who was coming over to stay with my girls. 

We finally left the house at about 4:30. It was a very cold night - so cold that the handle on the passenger side door of our old yellow Buick station wagon was frozen and I had to hold the door closed until the heat thawed it out a few miles down the road. I think we were at Town Pond when I was finally able to slam it shut.

Mostly though, I remember the moon. It was a big, full moon, beautiful and bright on that cold winter night. It was floating just in front of us all the way up the Long Island Expressway to the exit that would take us to Syosset Hospital. I can still remember it in great detail, like every moment of each of those days in my life - the days I participated in miracles. And forever the full moon will be a reminder to me of that particular night and that particular miracle - arriving at my destination with only about an hour to spare before our son made his debut. Never before or since have I been filled with as much love as I was on the four days I gave birth. It was 7:04am March 10th in 1982. How many events can we remember in our lives right down to the exact moment? 

And then, there was that moon...Josh's moon. And Josh's mom will never see it again without thinking of him.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Friends

I really can't emphasize enough  what a difference our friends make in our lives. Especially when going through some type of trauma or trouble.

Honestly, if I'd been forced to go through these past nine months without friends and family I'm not sure I would have survived it all. I mean I know we humans are tough, and we have many defenses for our own protection. But we build up walls and become "harder" people and we run into those sad folks who have drifted into that place all the time, right? Or, we become isolated and begin to think differently, always forming opinions based upon what we watch on television or read in the papers and never having the ability to see things from another perspective because we aren't surrounded by people who may offer them. Having human faces on any issue changes how we view it. Isolation makes us more self-absorbed. Its the "hermit syndrome" if you will - simply turning us into humans who only consider ourselves and our own ideas. Its not healthy and it doesn't make for well-rounded, interesting individuals who can be instruments of peace and understanding in the world.

I see the value of friends in so many ways since going through this difficult time. I'm incredibly grateful to have already had good strong friendships to take advantage of, and those relationships are stronger than ever now. Its our friends that get us out into the world when we are in danger of eschewing it. And its out friends who, at the end of the day, help us maintain and nurture our humanness. I'm so incredibly grateful for mine.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Accountablilty

It was raining when I got up for my morning walk and the gym just didn't hold much appeal for me so I'm skipping my work-out today. That means I'll need to make it up tomorrow morning and hopefully the weather will be more conducive to a nice long walk then. But I'll be taking it alone as my walking partner is going away for a few days.

I'm not good at motivating myself. I need accountability. I'm not sure what that says about me as a person, but I've always been a person who does better with accountability. I guess I'm just lazy. It's easier to stay in bed than get up and out for a walk.

Even when it comes to keeping my house neat, doing things like taking my shoes upstairs with me at night instead of leaving them on the floor for the next morning, I seem to be better at it when there is someone else in the house. That may not seem like a big thing - I mean who cares if the bed is made every day or the shoes are put away every night? But there's something about living with order and avoiding the slow spiral into chaos that helps our minds to stay clutter-free. So even if I'm alone and not thinking about the effects of my laziness on someone else (I mean who wants to step around - or worse yet trip over - a pair of somebody else's shoes?) its important to keep my place in order. Being an ambulance volunteer has taken me into enough houses where hoaders live that I know I don't want to fall into that trap! So while making the bed every day may seem like a small thing, its the sum total of all those small things that helps make us human. And civilized. 

So here I am feeling guilty that I failed to go to the gym this morning and telling myself I must make up for that tomorrow by getting out on my own, friend or no friend, and taking a morning walk to get my work-out in.  Because I need to. Not only for my physical health, but my mental health as well...

Ah the duties of a well-ordered life...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Encouragement

Sometimes a word of encouragement comes in the most unexpected, but very welcome, ways. Multiple times in the past week this has happened to me - always when I most needed it. I call them "divine appointments".

The first came in the form of a knock on my back door. I walked into the kitchen to see who was there, always able to know whom I'm opening to because I have french doors with lots of nice windows for visibility, and there was a woman standing on the other side that I've known most of my life in casual settings - a fellow "local" whom I remembered in school so many years ago, whose children went through the local schools with mine, and a community member that I respect and admire for their dedication to making the world a better place. But I've never had her in my home before so I was a bit surprised, wondering what she was looking from me. It turns out that she had simply come to offer me encouragement and boost my morale on this somewhat rocky journey of mine. 

We sat and spoke for maybe twenty minutes. Mostly it was she who spoke - I was the pretty much the listener. This was someone who has known great pain in her life and her words had meaning behind them. She wanted me to know I was appreciated and that my community cared about me - and wanted me to know it was important for me not only to survive but to thrive. And that as difficult as this was for me right now, it would get better. She knew what she was talking about.


She left me feeling better than I had in awhile.

Then I received an email from an old friend. Again, it was a word of encouragement, again from a fellow traveler who has known pain - this time a man, not that it matters! But seeing things from another perspective sometimes does.  Again meaningful and completely unexpected and totally appreciated.

Then there was the friend who decided I needed to celebrate my birthday and facilitated a dinner at a local restaurant with my two sisters and another friend. A much needed "girls night out" with some of the special people in my life. Again - something that lifted my spirits and lightened my load. I was so grateful.

I hope and pray that if I'm ever in the position to offer encouragement to another, or share my own path with someone who is struggling, I won't overlook the opportunity. I hope that I can pay it forward, just as these people did. And maybe make a difference for somebody else, just as they did for me. Small gestures, with huge payoffs. I'll never forget them. I'll never forget the people, or the unselfish ways they offered themselves. I think they were the angels that the Bible talks about. It says we "entertain" them without knowing it. And they make a difference in our lives. I say bring on the angels!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Life

Saturday was my birthday and it was an unexpectedly wonderful day.

Sometimes it seems as though the moments we most dread turn out to be among the best, not the worst, of times. And that is exactly what happened Saturday. I wasn't sure how I felt about this birthday - its a big number and I'm alone for the first time in a very long time. Will I be sad all day? Will I feel lonely and a failure? Will I wish I was somewhere else, doing something else?

As it turned out it was a wonderful weekend. Friday night I was out with friends. We had dinner together and they made me feel as though life was good. Saturday I had lunch with my son and his family because his daughter shares the same birthday and I was happy to be with my little buddy as we celebrated our day together. She's a bundle of joy, all cuddles and happiness, and her zest for life is contagious.

My kids and their families came to prepare dinner that night and I had hours to enjoy my amazing family. And I went to bed feeling blessed and content with my reality. I see a future now. I imagine smiles and laughter. It was a week of ups and downs that ended with a wonderful affirming time and I climbed out of bed Sunday morning ready to conquer the world.

Isn't it amazing how a few positive things can turn us around? An unexpected email, a meeting with someone that brings about change, a celebration of life and love....all things that in and of themselves might have been significant, but not necessarily altering. And yet put together they became a touchstone moment and lifted my spirits. And I'm so grateful for that. Because now I'm running headlong into a new year of my life, with optimism and enthusiasm that feels fresh and new. And that has to be a very good thing. 

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Inspiration

I saw this little inspirational piece on Facebook the other day and it absolutely turned my week around. I believe it was sent to me by God directly and meant for me to see. It made me stop short and think about what I'm doing and how I'm doing it. And it gave me peace.

And then I went to a play reading the other night and heard this little gem: "When the circus comes to town you may as well join the parade because its passing through one way or the other!" Another bit of inspiration. Meant for me. Funny how that happens.

I am on the upward trend again. Its been a real roller coaster ride this past eight months, and I like the peaks much more than the valleys, but I'm learning to just hang on and close my eyes if necessary because the next peak is just around the bend. And eventually it will slow to a stop and I'll be able to get off. Now that's something to look forward to!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

More birthdays

Some birthdays are more difficult than others.  I promised myself when I survived cancer that I would never again complain about a birthday, and I won't! But I can say that  with hard times comes some sadness over impending days like the one you were born. 

One of my goals as a parent was to always celebrate my children's birthday in a way that made them feel loved and appreciated. The days that they were born were as special to me as to anyone because they were the most important days of my life. I remember each one in great detail and re-live them every year. I was more blessed when I had each of them than at any other times in my life. And those days are sacred to me. But my own not so much.

It was to my own mother though! She loved to tell the story of my birth because it was a poignant one. She nearly lost her baby and she nearly lost her life all at the same time. I was a placenta previa baby back in the days before MRIs and sonograms and they only suspected why she began hemorrhaging in her fifth month. Once she was released from 6 weeks of bed rest she was able to take care of my older brother until the time a couple months later when she woke up and had hemorrhaged all over the bed. It was the early days of emergency services and they carried her down the stairs on a dining room chair and loaded her into the crude ambulance for a trip to the hospital. Thankfully her old country doctor was skilled enough to be able to perform a Cesarean section on her during a time when they weren't at all common, and both Mom and I were spared.

I sometimes wonder, especially lately, why I was so blessed. What was it that I was supposed to accomplish in this life? I don't feel as though I fulfilled whatever that mission was. But maybe, just maybe, one of my grandchildren will invent the cure for cancer some day. Or become a great world leader. Or maybe - just maybe - the world will be a better place because of the good people my grandchildren all become. And that would be enough for me. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Someday

I am sure that there will be easier times in my life. I'm told that someday I'll be in a better place.
But I wonder about "someday".

I think we take the joys of life for granted here in the civilized western world. We have many wonderful things in our lives - conveniences and luxuries not known to the rest of humanity, and there are millions of people on earth who never have the gift of three meals a day, running water, clean clothes, etc. So really, why should things get easier for me? I've been blessed for sure.

I've had a good life. I've known comfort and I've known blessings. I think it would be rather selfish and high minded of me to expect that for the rest of my life I should be so lucky. Perhaps we are given a certain measure, as luck would have it, and then its over. Not that there aren't those that live charmed existences their whole time in earth, but it certainly isn't to be expected. Fate, or luck, or whatever it is you want to call it - steps in and life is always easy. But not for everyone and I am certainly no more deserving of ease and comfort than any of the millions who never experience it. So I shouldn't complain about a rough road now should I?

I'm not going to think about "someday" any longer. I'm going to try to make the best of my final days here on this earth and be the best person I can be. I'll work toward leaving behind a legacy of love, but I won't keep waiting for things to get better. Because I'd just be wasting whatever time I have left. I may not be soaring, but sometimes just getting into the air is enough. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Spring

It seems as though we've had a nice taste of spring recently here in East Hampton and I enjoyed it because the temperatures were perfect for me. I like the high 60s and even the very low 70s on the thermostat, but anything above that is not my thing. So for a couple weeks there we were able to forget about winter and think ahead to those golden days of April and May. And now we're back to winter again.

But it was a tease and that was great. Because now we are only a few weeks away from the actual thing and I'm looking forward to it. I have lots of plans over the next weeks and months and being busy is a key to my sense of contentment right now. As long as I'm busy I can't think about what's gone from my life and I can look forward to the future with optimism, which is nice. So this is going to be a good run coming up.

Spring may not be quite here yet, but we are poised for it and the world around us here on the East End seems to be as well. The early bulbs are beginning to poke through the dirt and I've heard birds early in the morning more than once recently. Yes, Spring is coming. And none too soon for me...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March...again

Its really hard for me to believe that its March again. Its certainly been a long and painful year but right this moment I can't quite believe its March.

Because my birthday is in March, and because this year I turn a certain age (how did that happen?) my mailbox has been full of literature about Medicare recently. I'm not sure how the entire world knows how old I am, but it seems that way, and I'm getting rather tired of the brochures and letters reminding me of my impending old age. It would be nice to think its because someone out there actually cares, but I know its more about someone wanting to sell me something - some kind of extra medical coverage. Its all so confusing to me - part A, part B, etc - that all the paperwork in the world is not going to help me figure it out. I need a secretary to do that. But I don't have one. Heaven help me if I live to be eighty! It seems as though things are getting more and more complicated for me, not less like it should be.

I really didn't want to celebrate my birthday this year. Its painful for me to think about getting older now. I have wished more than once in the past eight months that I didn't live this long, always asking God to forgive me for the thought, but honestly it would have been easier. God in His wisdom chose not to do that so here I am coming up on another birthday. And trusting God to show me how to get through another year.

March is bringing me a lot of agita. A big birthday and a reminder that life is sometimes really hard. But....there is, hopefully, still time to soar!