Category Archives: Uncategorized

Solar Eclipse – Dancing in the Dark

DSC04150I’m not much on nature. I don’t camp. I don’t float (well, I didn’t float until this year and I’m sixty-two years old), and I’m not crazy about certain vegetables. But I do love the sun. It seems to me that the sun connects us all. It gives us light, creates shadows that you can use to dance in, and in most instances the sun when shining guarantees the absence of rain.

And I love the moon. Probably equal to if not more than the sun. I think it has something to do with the dark, which I am partial to. The dark is where you can make stuff up. Creativity begins in the dark – beginnings come oftentimes during the blackest hours. And besides, the moon is ours. It belongs to our earth. Whereas the sun has to be shared with a lot of others; planets, atmospheres, and fellow stars.

So when our moon takes on such an admirable and respecting move like going for blocking the largest star in our solar system (a star that’s heat can reach 17 million degrees Fahrenheit by the way), you have to agree, our moon has major nerve. Yeah, sure, the sun is basically a gazillion miles away, but just as I wouldn’t go close to one of Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, I know I wouldn’t take on the sun, no matter how far away I was. Dragon fire or huge burning orbs, take your pick, I choose to stay away.

Far away from both the sun and moon, I stood in my backyard as millions of others did yesterday to witness a showdown of sorts. A miraculous confrontation. The moon did what it does best. It gave us an exhilarating glance into darkness. I stood there watching as every fiber of my being was telling me it wasn’t time for darkness, yet it descended anyway. And it was glorious!

In that minute and forty seconds the moon prevailed proving that darkness can’t be avoided. There are times when it comes as a night sky with a shining orb giving off enough light to give direction. Or as in the eclipse, it comes during the brightest of times, giving us the opportunity to dance in its shadow.

As mentioned earlier, I don’t like a lot of things about nature, but I do like the knowledge that she brings, and along with it sometimes the organized upside-downs. The moon is brave enough to initiate night on a sunlit day allowing us a different perspective. It gives us pause, a fresh outlook and a common cause, if only for a brief minute and forty seconds.

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My Daily Routine – Now Vs. Then

I haven’t written a post for awhile. There are a lot of reasons. Been busy. Traveled a bit. Oh, and then there’s this – we have a new president. From the get-go please allow me to tell you, I have never been a fan of our new president. I didn’t like him from the minute he started making news – way back in the good ol’ days before he REALLY started making news.

This guy really scares me and a lot of people, as he should. He hasn’t a clue about running a hotel business, university, whatnot – let alone a country. He’s impulsive, manipulative, narcissistic, and really not very bright. If he is presidential material then I am in charge of the entire universe as I consider myself of very slightly above average intelligence thus defined as a brilliant genius in Trump terms.

So, to give you an idea of my daily life now versus my daily life before November 8, 2016 I have below a comparison of the two. If you see even a glimpse of a comparison to your life now, please let me know. I believe we are in good company. In good company, and lots of it.

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My daily routine before President Trump:

6:30 am – Wake up to birds chirping outside.

6:40 am – Workout on elliptical while watching Bloodline on Netflix.

7:10 am – Stretching and firming exercises while listening to “Shut Up and Dance”.

8:30 am – Drink coffee and read the comics in the newspaper for my morning laugh.

10:00 am – Work outside in the yard among my flowers and lush green lawn.

Noon – Eat lunch on my patio.

2:00 pm – Write and work on my stories.

5:30 pm – Hubby and I meeting friends for dinner.

7:30 pm – Settle in and watch a few tv shows like Big Bang Theory and Fixer Upper.

10:00 pm – Watch The Daily Show for my political laughs and updates.

11:00 pm – Drift off to sleep dreaming of travel to distant lands.

My daily routine now:

6:30 am – Wake up from a nightmare about big orange birds tweeting (not chirping)           maniacally while eating fat juicy earthworms.

6:40 am – Workout on elliptical while crying and watching Bloodline – I mean yesterday’s White House Press Conference.

7:10 am – Stretching and firming exercises while listening to CNN’s broadcast of Trump’s speech “Shut Up America, I Know What’s Best”.

8:30 am – Drink coffee and read the comics in the newspaper. Comics being every single thing said and done by Trump. Only I don’t laugh as hard. Sometimes these comics just aren’t funny.

10:00 am – Stay in. Afraid to go outside. The big orange birds are tweeting like crazy and have started to attack random people.

Noon – Eat lunch inside. The birds are building little hotel nests in my trees and giving their fat juicy worms to some vultures I’ve never seen before.

2:00 pm – Sit inside at my computer. Can’t stop reading news stories about new Trump shenanigans. Or go to a protest rally.

5:30 pm – Hubby and I eat at home alone. Either our friends have left the country or they are at a protest rally.

7:30 pm – Watch CNN and cry.

10:00 pm – Watch The Daily Show and cry.

11:00 pm – Take a Valium so that I can sleep. Drift off to a nightmare about big orange birds tweeting (not chirping) maniacally while eating fat juicy earthworms.

Well, that’s about it. They say things can change in a heartbeat. I guess I understand that. I know things have changed a lot lately. I guess it’s time for lunch. And time to see what the big orange bird is tweeting about – and what he is having for his lunch – he’s running out of worms.

Ghost Stories

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I have a ghost story book that is very dear to my heart. It’s called “The Fireside Book of Ghost Stories” and is edited by Edward Wagenknecht and published by Grosset & Dunlap, New York in 1947. I believe this book is the partner book to “The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories.” Most of the stories are based in England and on the habitats therein.

Each October as tradition would have it I take the time to read as many stories as time will allow. I begin the first day of the month and end on Halloween. I then put the book back on my book shelf until next year. There is no possible way I would think of reading it any other time and yet I always hate putting it back up. It’s like I am saying good-bye to a very dear friend knowing I won’t see them again for a very long time.

The stories are written by well-known and established authors such as Daphne Du Maurier, Henry James, Mark Twain, and Edith Wharton. There is also a story by the book’s editor and also a story from the First Book of Samuel in the Bible. The stories are distributed into ten sections. For instance, there is a section called “Missioned Spirits”. According to the text, missioned spirits are those that “may be trying to right a wrong, or “bring some benefit to the living.” The story, The Corner Shop by Cynthia Asquith gives us a story dealing about a man that accidentally comes across a “curiosity shop”, a shop that deals in antiques, collections, and all kinds of used items.

The customer makes a transaction with the shopkeeper only to come back to the store a few days later to find out that the shopkeeper had died several years ago. His son tells the customer that his father, although deceased, has been reported to occasionally come back to sell items or make a deal with those that venture in. The son tells the customer that transactions with the deceased shopkeeper always went well for the customer, financially speaking, as in the case of this particular customer. This was because the shopkeeper was paying pittance for what he considered crimes he had committed many years ago.

“The Green Scarf” by A.M. Barrage is one of my favorites. It has to do with an old country house and it’s past. Apparently a long ago owner of the house was a Royalist after the fact (his side lost). He had to leave his house and stay in hiding most of the time occasionally returning if his servants sent words deeming safety at home.

However, one of his servants betrayed him. This servant through prior words with the now in favor troops waved a green scarf at an upstairs bedroom window indicating his master was home. Consequently, the troops stormed the house, captured the Royalist and executed him.

The present day owner and his visitor found the old worn out green scarf inside a long closed window seat. Upon retrieving the scarf the two began to come down with a serious illness, chills – fever – the gamut. Then they started to hallucinate or so the story goes, seeing men dressed in very old military garb carrying muskets and lanterns lit up all around the property. In their delirious state they crawled up into the attic of the old house staying there all night, scared out of their wits and feverish.

The next day they retrieved the scarf putting it back in its place. They instantly felt better physically and never witnessed those terrifying images of musket fire and ghostly lanterns coming at them again. It’s a story that is fun to read at night sitting in my comfortable present day living room, especially if the fireplace is lit.

I’m not entirely sure what draws me to this book each year. I believe it may have something to do with the fact that most of the stories are about people living in peaceful picturesque villages in the English countryside and what awaits them. Or it is possibly the way that most of the stories are told, slowly building in suspense and yet sharing some type of thought provoking message. Many of the stories seem to question what is real, what is important, and although about the dead, what gives us the strength to face future dilemmas and problems.

So, if you get a chance to find a copy of the book and you enjoy ghost stories, particularly philosophical and whimsical ones, I guarantee you will enjoy this book. Don’t pass it up, buy it. And if it is sold to you by an old kind gentleman with an English accent, don’t question and don’t try to go back to speak with him about the stories. He may not be available.

The Myth of Uncle Bill

I had an Uncle Bill. I didn’t really know him that well. I only knew that he scared the crap out of me.

My uncle lived in California. Los Angeles to be exact. Of all the relatives coming from my maternal grandmother’s family tree, Uncle Bill was the most glamourous to those of us back in southern Missouri, at least while I was growing up. In the 1960’s California was still that elusive, mystical place you only knew of from the movies and television. No one went there. It seemed that no one left here at all.

Oh, I guess my parents left for Kansas City. But that was still in the state. A few relatives went to join the Army or Navy, but they came back eventually, to farm or run the family store.

But Bill left. He did join a military branch, the Army. He was stationed in California. And he didn’t come back . Given, he did come back for the bi-yearly visits to see his mother and occasionally my mom and aunt. But he never stayed. He always went back. He had a wife and a daughter. That was home, for him.

He became a California Highway Patrolman. Then later, he achieved the position of a State Highway Patrol Inspector, one of four in the state. When he came back into town my mom, his sister, would always say, “the prodigal son is back.” “Billie.” That was his name to my grandma and to all that knew him back when. After he left for California, my grandma was the only one that still got away with calling him that.

He didn’t say much. But when he spoke he had a deep voice and it seemed as if his conversation was always in a certain tone. He wasn’t much of a talker. If he asked how you were doing you responded truthfully, not by just saying fine.

As a teenager, when we visited my grandma I would be the designated point person to pick up dinner from our favorite hamburger joint. If Uncle Bill was in town and involved in the order, I made sure I got it right. The funny thing now when I think about it is that I’m sure he would have just laughed if I forgot the onions or his burger had mustard not mayonnaise. But at the time I would have been devastated. Huh.

He died at the age of seventy-nine about ten years ago. After he lost both his wife and daughter within months of each other. My mom had passed away a couple of years earlier so I made the trip to the funeral with my husband, to the same small town that he left.

There were several people there and many accompanied us to the graveside ceremony. As an Army veteran, the family requested full military honors. The honor guard ceremonial folding of the flag, the sound of Taps playing as we sat, and the photo depicting him as a family man – wife and daughter in happier days on a small table, all these are deeply felt memories for me of that day. Memories involving a complicated, complex man that I never really did get to know.

I believe in not knowing him I made him into a mythical creature. Something we are all prone to do with those we don’t know but are somehow connected to. I suppose in some sense it brings us closer together.

I’m really sorry I only had the myth. I am pretty sure that if I knew the real Uncle Bill I would have really liked him.

Makes you wonder how many people are out there that we build myths around? How much better off would we be if we just got to know those people? I’m sure most of us, like me, can say we may never know.

Teamwork

Dad's Royal's jacket

Teamwork. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines teamwork as a group of people working together as a team. Team is defined as a group of people who work together. Sounds a little redundant. I think it bears repeating. So many of us, I am including myself as duly noted, need the word team or teamwork repeated often.

My hometown team, the Kansas City Royals, won the World Series about ten days ago. We are still in a mood of celebration. We watched our guys throughout the regular season as they marched in step toward the postseason. Then we watched as they won and lost their way to the American League championship and then the motherlode.

The thing that got most of us and resounded throughout the coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and other gathering places (like the cash register lines at all sports memorabilia shops) was their amity. They genuinely liked each other. And they played that way.

There was none of that one-upmanship you see sometimes in sports, or any other form of entertainment. No one star athlete winning the day, no leading man, no lead singer – it was all of them. Oh, yeah – there were players that wowed us but they all gave their best. And more important, they put their team ahead of their egos. It wasn’t really a baseball team but Team Baseball.

I think we can all learn from this. We all catch balls every day. And we miss some as well. There are times that man, I really do think I hit a homerun. But, as for most of us, our days can be filled with missed swings, sitting on the bench, and a pitch that doesn’t quite hit the pocket.

 If we let ourselves get caught up in both the good and the bad, if we aim for the stars and fall short and do this alone there is nothing gained or lost. We have to build together. Whether it be a team, an organization, or a nation. Doesn’t matter. No one person can do it all, not in baseball or any endeavor that requires teamwork. My hometown won the World Series. As a team. I’m thinking as a team we can win the world.

Mr. G and The Red Carpet

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My daughters and I went to the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha last year. We had a really good time. We loved the sea lions, tigers, and really enjoyed the aquarium but my favorite memory of that day has to do with a gorilla.

This particular gorilla was very nonchalant. He didn’t care that hundreds of people were taking his picture and oohing and aahing over him. He didn’t care that little kids were climbing all over the window to get a glimpse. I would like to think that as a huge star (which he is) if he were to walk the red carpet before an awards show he would meet his public with the same wearisome expression that he has in my picture.

Giuliana would ask Mr. G about the beautiful fur coat he had on for the occasion and he would just shrug and say. “Dahling, I have had this old thing forever. Now, can you direct me to the closest appetizers? Do you know if they are serving Bananas Foster tonight? Oh, and who are these people (pointing to his adoring masses) and why are they here?”

Now please don’t get me wrong. I love an awards show along with everyone else but sometimes I get a little tired of all the paparazzi. I don’t care about the Dugans or Caitlin. I really don’t care about who broke up or who gained or lost weight, how Melissa McCarthy drives (or doesn’t – although I do like her). It just seems like that’s all we do anymore. Even the morning network news shows have more fluff than food for thought. Or, I know…news!

I believe I can understand how some celebs just go off the rails. When you are poked and prodded so much and every little sentence you utter or outfit you wear or opinion you state becomes a viral Boeing 787 I’m sure it can dislodge a piece of your brain that you never thought was there. A piece that becomes its own Dr. Jekyll.  More than likely that is why a lot of celebs throw tantrums, say things they never would have said to their worst enemy, and/or take a punch at a demanding or irritating reporter. I’m not condoning that behavior but I can understand it.

I guess I’m a little like everyone else in how I am infatuated with quote – the famous- unquote. I love George Clooney, admire Sally Field, and am in awe of Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren. I faithfully watch the Real Housewives of New York and yes, always try to catch the Red Carpet interviews before any awards show. But I change the channel, turn the page, or change the subject when I feel oversaturated with any star’s personal drama. I have enough of my own. Don’t care about their’s.

I’d like to think that the Doorly Zoo gorilla doesn’t like all that attention. As he looks out at us crazy humans he is probably thinking, “What the hell? Don’t you people have anything better to do?” And we should have something better to do. Because although Mr. G was very interesting and I really enjoyed watching him, I moved on. Just as all the rest of the zoo visitors that day. Too bad we can’t say the same when it comes to our own species. Do we really need to become a part of their personal dramas? We need to know when to separate our lives from their’s. After all we do have our own lives to live. Can we just move on, please?

Happy Birthday Mom

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Tomorrow is my mom’s birthday. She would be 86 years old. She died from lung cancer at 73. I miss her. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think of her. I guess that’s pretty true of almost anyone that has lost a parent. No matter when. No matter the age. The age of the child or the age of the parent. Doesn’t matter. Parents are greatly missed when they aren’t there anymore.

My mom was what writer’s call a complex character. She would be charming and civil one minute and downright mean the next. But she never meant to be mean, I know that. Most people don’t, it just happens sometimes.

My mom’s mother could be a handful too. Maybe that’s why Mom became a little like my grandmother. Grandma took in laundry to make money to raise three kids. Her husband had left her when my mom was twelve. He came back, but not until Mom was twenty-five and had a child of her own. A little too late you might say. Mom had to hold on to herself in the midst of a depression and a time that wouldn’t tolerate fools or anyone remotely resembling a soft character. I suppose that’s part of it.

So Mom was hard on Dad sometimes. And hard on me and my brother sometimes too. But she made up for it with her dry sense of humor and her quick retorts, her fast comebacks to sass or smart words that I would dish out to her.

And she loved being with people. This seems to be a contradiction to her sometimes melancholy ways. I think she thought of people as her saving grace. I know they thought of her that way.

She was quick to make fun of herself. She made fun of her big hair, her inaptitude at housekeeping and cooking. Her driving skills were somewhat questionable and she knew it.

Her sense of self was very strong. She knew what she wanted and when. Lord help anyone that tried to get in her way, including my dad. She was stubborn that way.

When she died it was on her terms. She told my daughter she would be there for her high school graduation and she was. She made it to her 73rd birthday and had a great time with a lot of friends and relatives where she joked about not having a hat big enough to cover her large bald head. Eleven days later she died. She wasn’t supposed to go that soon. Even hospice said she had a good two or more months to go. But she wouldn’t allow it. She was stubborn that way. And I miss her.

The World and All That

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I get to travel once in a while. I guess you could say if I could travel all the time I think I would and wouldn’t get tired of it. Maybe. Gary and I travel some, but when we do we tend to loop the same places. We love cruising and the Carribbean is the best in our humble opinion. St. Martin’s happens to be one of my happy places. As is St. John’s, St. Thomas, Barbados, St. Lucia, Grand Caymen’s…..

I have also been to parts of countries that give me pause. I really don’t know how to express what I see except for the knowledge that for some strange reason (which in my opinion is no reason at all) I drew the lottery. I can’t say how that happened. I think some people believe they drew the winning ticket because they are entitled, pre-ordained, or have some type of purpose. I just feel lucky. And when we all queued at the starting gate, well, we were on equal footing. No one started sooner or later. And it didn’t matter how hard we ran, how fast, or where, we didn’t really have a say in where we landed. We just did.

I hope I get to travel more. I want to see all this planet has to offer. I’m older now and not sure that I can see as much as I would like but I am going to try. If for any other reason than it makes me realize how crazy, wonderful, and special life really is. And I hope to see you along the way!

In Search of Dragons

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Last night I watched Game of Thrones. Yes, current season’s Episode 9. I plummeted to the depths watching Shireen Baratheon die as she was sacrificed to the Lord of Lights and later I soared along with Daenerys Targaryen on the back of her dragon.  

This is what “Game” does.  The unexpected.  Okay, sometimes they lay the groundwork (as in the case of Shireen) and sometimes, more often than not, I find myself saying “I didn’t see that coming”, as in the case of Daenerys and her dragon or as I watched the Red Wedding.

Life is so much like that. Some days are very predictable. Or unpredictable as we find ourselves chasing dragons and not flying with them.  Some days we can’t catch a break and find ourselves thrown into prison like Cersei. Maybe not literally but it can seem like it.

And some days we triumph, we soar. 

So, on that note, here is a list of life lessons I have learned from watching GOT:

  • Appreciate good weather.
  • Watch your back, especially with royalty.
  • Don’t be a hypocrite, you just might end up in jail.
  • In battle find a nice big giant. Believe me, they are a must have this season.
  • Do not accept food from a stranger.
  • Have your wedding in a public place. During the daylight hours. Have a weapons scanner at the entrance.
  • And most important, if you come across very large eggs, incubate them!

OVERWHELMED

Overwhelmed

Here are just a few things I would like to do as of now: 

  • book a trip to Argentina
  • book a trip to New Orleans
  • help my daughters in every way possible
  • help my daughters without bugging them
  • book a trip anywhere
  • lose ten pounds
  • mow the lawn
  • fix a good dinner – for a nice change of pace
  • finish my book
  • eat a good dinner elsewhere
  • get the laundry done
  • volunteer
  • volunteer
  • volunteer, yeah three times – once for each organization
  • make a mean salad with crabmeat, greens, gruyere, and honey balsamic  vinaigrette
  • oh, and volunteer
  • makeover my bedroom
  • be there for my husband
  • be there for my friends
  • know when to be there for my friends
  • know when to be there for my husband – I know when that is – after 40 years we both can make that perfectly clear
  • shred the pounds of stuff in my office that needs shredding
  • read “Anna Karenina” once and for all
  • go on another wine trip with my daughters
  • bake healthy cookies

And this is just the start!  A few years ago I retired – well, semi anyway.  I thought I would have some time to do things.  Hah!  Maybe it’s because I do things that I don’t have time…or something like that. 

I am overwhelmed.  Google’s definition of overwhelmed involves three interpretations of the word:

  • bury or drown beneath a huge mass
  • defeat completely
  • give too much of a thing to (someone); inundate

Being buried or drowned is not a good thing.  Nor is being defeated, completely defeated.

We are all guilty of it.  At least most of the people I know.  The first thing a person says when you see them again after a long period and you ask how they are has to do with being busy. “I am just so busy” or “Life is crazy right now.”  We never stop.  We always have lists, plans, agendas, to-do lists, goals, and schedules.  But after all that stuff, the rushing, the planning, the doing, where are we?  Have we gotten what we wanted?  Or even more of a question – did we know what it actually was that we wanted.  Or right now – do we know what it is that we want?

Oh sure, when I finally get to visit my daughter in Argentina after I make the plans to do so I will be very happy.  And when I finally finish my book I will feel a great sense of accomplishment.  But then, after Argentina will I sit back and enjoy the memories? Or will I rush to the next thing?  After my last sentence is complete in my story what then?  Will I let myself enjoy the achievement of finishing an actual book?  Or will I be hard on myself and criticize every little sentence I wrote?

Therefore, I choose the last definition of overwhelmed.  “Give too much of a thing to (someone), inundated.”  I interpret “someone” as being me.  I also withdraw the “too” from “Give much of a thing”. And in this instance I narrow “a thing” to the most important thing, life.  This makes the definition “Give much of life to me.” 

So, let’s make that the new definition of overwhelm, give much of life to me.  I want to stop feeling buried or drowned by all these things to do.  I choose to feel inundated, overwhelmed by much of life – given to me.