Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dog Days

We endured triple digit temperatures this week and I'm pleased to say they are gone! Mid-80's to low 90's are expected for the next several day. Whew! Much better than 107!

After running unexpected errands with the girls and I in 107 degree weather, Sammy - who was given many a drink on the road and was never left in the car but was with us the entire time - was happy to be home. He headed straight for this fan which was circulating cool air from the a/c window unit. Smart pup! Cassie put a wet towel on his back - you can sort of see it - and he was content. He found a cool place to lie down and slept.

This poor squirrel! I found this photo on our local news' website. For a few days I felt just like this. Blaahhhh.....

Today, 'tis good. Morning's air was cool and fragrant - energizing.

I hope you are comfortable wherever you may be!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fences and Granola

When studying macrobiotics years ago I read that it's important to sweat. Keeping the air conditioning off is important and letting my glands work essential.

Keeping that in mind I stirred up a batch of granola during the hottest part of the day.

Currently, in an increasingly hot kitchen, I am opening a 250 degree oven to stir grains and nuts every fifteen minutes for one and one half hours.

And sweating...just a little.

Tom is building a fence and sweating...just a lot.

Water is plentiful. Our bodies seem to like the purging of toxins.

So, with my face in the oven I stir. In between bouts I water gardens.

And Tom builds. In between bouts he sips tea.

I feel happy in this.

It is natural.

It is good.

(But I will still cool off the house unnaturally later because too much of good thing, well, you know.)

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Hill

Of all my parents' children it was I who lived the most years with them on The Hill. Forty years ago this summer my family moved to that place my folks still call home. I left for college, then for a short-term out-of-state job, and to live alone in an apartment, all the while spreading wings which were formed in my wild home. Between wanderings I returned to regroup in the nest that nurtured me until confident wings took flight for good.

The Hill, as it is affectionately called by those of us who've lived there, was my friend, my teacher, and sometimes even my foe. In roaming its face I discovered contemplation and solitude and the benefits to be had in letting nature and seasons envelop me. Hiking through wildflowers - buttercups, Queen Anne's lace, wild roses and flowers whose names I do not know - a trusting of cycles formed. Growing, dying, growing anew, resting, reproduction, steadfastness. Beauty. Strength. And courage.

My cousin, Denny, artfully cut two roads on the hill before my uncle, aunt, and parents began to build. Should he make a pilgrimage to the hill I think he'd be pleased to see how well those paths have done their jobs! The lower road became my first running track. I remember the first morning as a mid-teen when I'd donned sweats for the first time, walked down to the dirt road, stretched to warm-up, climbed over the gate, and began to run. It was a cool early summer morning, the grass was wet, the sky was clear blue, and the cows watched me while they chewed their cud. I sweat. I smiled. I did it!

As the years rolled on I ran in rain, in mud, in summer's heat. My ankles became strong from encountering uneven terrain, my legs and balance improved from sliding on mud while staying upright, and my calves and thighs became accustomed to springing me over the occasional cowpie or poison oak clump. A confidence grew that has served me well all these years.

This past weekend Tom and I traveled to the hill to help Mom and Dad cut firewood and trim tree limbs too close to the house. Mom and I provided refreshment, encouragement, and hot meals while the 'boys' reveled in logging.

It was the most pleasant weekend I can recall in a long time back in the arms of my parents and the hill. Dad worked hard, pleased with the progress he and Tom made. Mom was more like her old self since her health took her into a strange place last summer. She was spunky - in a good way - strong, alert, as if she has finally awakened to herself again. She even went outside on her own without her walker to water her flowers which surprised Dad. She looked at him like, "So what's the big deal? They're thirsty." I drove Mom out to the point where the guys were cutting wood and she said excitedly, "I haven't been out here in years!" Her eyes brightly surveyed the scene. While I snapped photos and served lemonade she sat on the tailgate and watched the men cut firewood with a contentment that softened the edges of what has been a very long year.

Mom is back. Once again the hill worked its magic! Dry summer grasses waved greetings, breezes gently caressed Mom's skin, delicate-looking flowers greeted her eyes, tall evergreens directed their aroma to her senses, the sun dappled through the mossy oaks energizing a woman who still has fire in her belly and the determination to care for this land she calls home and let it sustain her for as long as God wills.

And Dad? He worked hard and felt supreme satisfaction that he could still - with Tom's help - maintain the safety of his home and harvest his own firewood. He looked at the piles of wood they'd created with relief and a bit of pride.

None of us knows what the future holds but we do know this, that within life's struggles are lessons valuable and necessary and unique to each of us. Persistence is the key.

Always, always, always determine to get back up.

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Moment

One moment to stop, sit on the porch beside freshly watered lawn, unclench jaws and hands, relax my face, breathe deeply.

One moment to catch the perfect gliding of a circling bald eagle overhead in a pale blue sky. Three time slowly around and away he soars. My heart cheers his confident movement, his expertise. Inspiration.

One moment to hear the buzzing wings of a hummingbird, turn my head and witness the level sipping. How can he appear so calm when parts of him are frenetic blurs? Delight.

One moment to smile as a dragonfly hovers and dives and helicopters round and round seemingly tempted by my red shirt, daring closer and closer but finding another distraction to lure him on to new paths. Amusement.

One moment to marvel yet again at a V of honking geese, flying north to another pond or river or lake, sloppy formation as if the heat took perfection's care away. What does it matter? Getting there, that's the goal. Instinct.

One moment between this and that, between attention here and there, between the doings. One moment to be. Just be.

I prayed for joy, for contentment, for energy, and for recollecting the reasons I thrill at being alive.

And God sent me one moment.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Flicker in a Dark Place

Like I'm a step and a half behind, or unable to see and hear clearly, slightly off-balance, dizzy I am out of sync with the rest of the universe.

Fumbling along. Frustrated. Stupid.

But, even though I feel out of it I know that life continues on. The garden teaches me this. I merely water. Every day. I don't even notice the new fruits until one day I look and sure enough, there they are. They've been growing all this time whether I notice or not, whether I feel synced up with the process or not.

I suppose I am growing, too. And the fruit will be noticed.

One day.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Good Wife - Sheesh

A friend sent me a website rhapsodizing about the good old days, the early 50's mostly, before I was born, and the mid-50's when I was born.

Included was this:
The type is small I know, so I'll take the time to type it out. Then, I'd love it if you shared your response with me. (Curious? While some of the suggestions I consider common courtesy for husband, wife, or child, I found myself shocked by a lot of it. And then I was happy the women's movement arrived when I did to save from me a life that would have made me suicidal. Cassie said, "Well, that was obviously written by a man." I might add, a narcissistic, possibly cheating man.)

Okay, here we go:
The Good Wife's Guide

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed. [So far so good.]

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it. [Duty? Be a little MORE interesting?]

4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. [Oh, yes, the king doth approach.]

5. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc. and then run a dustcloth over the tables. [Dust the freakin' tables? Everyday?]

6. Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction. [Immense personal satisfaction. Don't light a fire because you and the children might enjoy it, wait for his royal highness, then find your satisfaction in catering to him.]

7. Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer, or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. [Little treasures playing their parts? No wonder my generation is messed up.]

8. Be happy to see him. [If you have to be advised to do this, there are serious problems that food, fire, and a ribbon won't help.]

9. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. [Huh? How does one do this? Show sincerity in your desire to please him? Are we to fake a smile and fake sincerely desiring to please him because if we sincerely desire to please him this whole step is redundant? Ah, this explains a LOT.]

10. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first - remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours. [Grrr.....yeah, sure, any topics I bring up such as personal business, the children's needs, the car blew up on I-5 but I only broke my pelvis, and 'by the way, I may be pregnant again' are not as important as his 'manly' topics.]

11. Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax. [Is this mutual? Can the wife ditch the dude? I mean, she has a world of stress and pressure - a bunch of kids, er, um treasures - he can't even deal with and a mother-in-law from the underworld.]

12. Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order, and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit. [This is a good one, I applaud this, but not just for the man, for everyone who enters the home; family, friend, neighbor, invited stranger.]

13. Don't greet him with complaints and problems. [Another good one. It's a common courtesy we can all share with one another to respect the tired among us.]

14. Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. [Holy smokes. Yeah, leave the lady to stay on her shift of caregiving for the kids, answering the phone, dealing with the same stuff she's been faced with all day, and now explaining to the kids and whomever why he's out and she's subbing for him. Huh uh.]

15. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. [Frankly, I was nervous about where this was gonna go. But then I remembered, it was the 50's and people just didn't talk about that.]

16. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice. [Hmm. Same thing one does for a crabby baby.]

17. Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity . Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. [Yes, it really says that!]

18. A good wife always knows her place. [Firmly under the sole of her husband's royal shoe.]
Thank God the times changed!