Saturday, June 30, 2012


My friend Kitty shared the February/March 2011 Mother Earth News magazine with me recently, drawing my attention particularly to an article about wabi-sabi, a Japanese philosophy about appreciating things, even when they are imperfect, incomplete, simple and subtle.  Wabi-sabi promotes a physical and psychological space devoid of clutter and distraction, yet abundant in serenity and contentment.  I read the article with fascination, for if I had to put a word to the life I try to create for myself and the atmosphere in which I try to live, it would be wabi-sabi.  As I talk with friends and colleagues who have such busy lives, I see my own life more clearly. I have chosen a different path for myself (and in some ways, the path has chosen me) that embraces the simple, clean, slow and silent.  I've gladly exchanged my previously more frenzied days for today's quieter ones. Time to contemplate and pay attention is more than a luxury.  It is wabi-sabi.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Each of us has a story, a unique set of experiences and perspectives about life.  Within a matter of days, I recently had enlightening conversations with people who shared parts of their life stories with me, including one who agonizes over a fractured family, another with an illness that has resulted in her joy for each moment, one who clings to dreams despite difficult circumstances, another who carries photos of a beloved pet, and yet another who has such an entrepreneurial spirit that his talents have shaped an entirely new career for him.  I love to hear people's stories. So often, these stories are about ordinary moments that result in extraordinary courage, acceptance, joy and gratitude.  Others' stories give me a moment to pause and think about my own story.  From each one of these encounters, I believe I grow as a person, taking away something that benefits my life and my perspective about it.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Working Women of WWII

I had the pleasure of hearing a historian's lecture recently about the women who were employed during World War II at a then-new army ammunition plant on the Sauk Prairie near Baraboo, Wisconsin.  Women started out working there in the more typical clerical capacities, but were quickly trained for the more dangerous duties of making ammunition powders and propellants.  They were paid well for the times for their work.  And their numbers swelled to the point that there were nearly as many women as men employed there.  It was a time of great patriotism and a willingness to sacrifice at home for those fighting for our freedom in another part of the world.  This same ammunition plant is no longer in operation and the thousands of acres that once made up the plant are now being divided up between various parties.  A large swath of the land will become the property of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and made into what the historian called a recreation park.  In a transformation from forest and prairie to farms to ammunition plant to a park, as we recreate there in the future, may we always respect and remember the amazing history of that land. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Calendar Girl

I'm one of those people who still carry around a purse-/pocket-size calendar.  I love the feeling of jotting a note to myself, only to be able to cross it off later.  I refer to my calendar several times a day, making notations, crossing them off and double-checking to make sure I'm in the right place at the right time.  You can imagine my shock when I opened up my purse recently to find that my calendar was missing.  My first thought was:  How will I know what to do?  I reminded myself of a character I enjoy reading in a mystery series who refers to her notebook as reminding her of everything, including when to breathe.  If my calendar was lost, how would I be able to retrieve all of that important information?  Then, it dawned on me that I had likely left it in one particular place at home while attempting to do more than one thing at a time (shame on me).  Fortunately, my precious calendar was right where I thought it would be when I got home.  It's now happily back in my purse so I can refer to it over and over, making sure that I'm not only in the right place at the right time, but that I remember when to breathe.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Away with Words

I read a disturbing newspaper article asking the question whether texting is ruining the art of conversation.  The example given by the reporter was the story of a young girl upstairs in her bedroom who texted her mother (who was in the kitchen) what she wanted for breakfast.  The mother instantly confronted her daughter, telling her to speak to her, not text her.  Nowadays, people are reportedly choosing to text instead of talk over the phone or in person.  Yet, there are still those (like me) who enjoy the spoken word -- face-to-face communication where the accurate reading of nonverbal communication is still a necessary skill. Someone told me about a young relative whose way of speaking had become so fragmented, filled with texting slang, that she called him on it and instructed him to talk in complete sentences.  On another recent occasion, a friend informed me that more and more online social media communication will take place using pictures, instead of words.  For someone like me who loves the written word and face-to-face communication, this is worrisome news. Are we tossing away words, disregarding the fine art of conversing with each other and reverting back to caveman drawings in order to tell our stories?   All I can say is:  O.M.G. (Oh, My Goodness in text-speak)!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Marriage Test

Just ask Larry -- I'm an avid (He might even say "rabid"!) recycler.  I have become increasingly concerned about the condition of our planet and ourselves, as we carelessly buy and toss and poison.  So, when our local county recently offered a "clean sweep," where you could safely and properly discard everything from medications to household products to tires, I was all for it.  I searched our home for any items we should be discarding and collected them into a small box, little bigger than a shoebox.  Larry joined me on our trek to the "clean sweep," only to find that we had to sit in our car for an hour, crawling bumper to bumper to our destination out in the country.  I chose to roll down the car window and enjoy the summer morning's sights and sounds.  Larry, on the other hand, was not quite on board with me.  He kept looking questioningly at the very small box of items on the floor by my feet and chomping on his chewing gum, trying not to let steam come out of his ears. For although he has many gifts, patience for such delays is not among them, especially for what appeared to be such a small box of stuff.  Alas, we reached our destination.  I was grateful to hand over the box, confident that our spent compact fluorescent bulbs, old drain cleaner, insecticide and other items would be discarded correctly.  And Larry was grateful to simply have the experience over with!  A true test of a strong marriage, I dare say!  But, as I looked at the sign as we departed the "clean sweep" sight, even the tension in our car diminished compared to the value of the good we had done, no matter how small the box.  The sign urged readers to think carefully the next time we make a purchase and to ask ourselves: Do we really need it?  How can we reduce, recycle and re-use?  An important message to remember.  Our planet's depending on us.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wanna Dance?

At my workplace, a new version of our Intranet is being rolled out this summer.  To help us get ready for the changes, we're learning about it through a series of clever and humorous, digitally animated videos.  On the first video, animated characters did the "dance of resistance" and the "dance of acceptance."  While chuckling at the humor behind the two characters and their respective dances, I couldn't help but think of those times when I might be standing completely still, yet I'm doing the "dance of resistance."  We always hear phrases such as "change is the only constant," but in this technologically advancing world, change is happening ever faster.  It's not always easy to have to adapt so quickly. Yet, to be able to adapt to change with some humor and a sense of adventure is indeed a dance -- a happy dance, if you will. When I go with the flow without worry or fear, I move with greater ease.  So, the next time I start to dig in my heels with resistance, I'll cue myself to think more broadly and with greater acceptance by asking myself, "Wanna dance?"!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guess I'll Go Eat Worms

Do you remember that children's rhyme that includes the phrase, "Guess I'll go eat worms?"  Recently, I almost had the opportunity to do so!  I thought I'd thoroughly washed the greens I'd bought at the farmer's market. But much to my surprise, as I was pushing my fork around my lunchtime salad, clinging to one of the slivered almonds was a chubby little worm!  Perhaps it was a caterpillar or centipede of some kind, but at that moment, it looked tiny and vulnerable and quite wormlike. So, I carefully lifted the little guy (still clinging to the almond) out of my salad and carried it (and the almond) outside, gently placing them in the grass in the noontime sunshine.  Obviously, I'm not the only one who enjoys a crisp salad of fresh mixed greens on a lovely, sunny summer day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Good Dads

During the past weekend, I had the opportunity to see two men interacting with their sons.  What made it a unique experience for me was that I knew those dads when they were the same age as their sons.  Time has a way of flying by, but I tend to only be reminded of it when seeing other people's children or parents.  As I watched Chris and Randy interacting with their sons, I recalled the boys they once were and the silly and fun things they did that made them so endearing.  But, now I view them as men with dreams and responsibilities, joys and sorrows, and sons who truly enjoy their company.  And their sons are neat people, too.  Teo has a clever wit, practical mind and mature outlook.  D.J. is creative and intent on carrying on a multi-generational family hobby.  So, congrats, Chris and Randy, for becoming the good men you are today and for being such great dads.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summer Solstice Song

Summer officially arrived yesterday with the summer solstice.  To observe the longest day of the year, I just had to have some "outside" time, both early in the day and again in the evening after dark. On summer evenings, I love to go to sleep with the windows open.  There's nothing like the cricket chorus and other summer night sounds to lull you to sleep.  Then, a few hours later, one wakes up to that fresh, clean smell of the cool morning and the jubilant bird choir.  Who needs an alarm clock when you have the birds to wake you up?  When I think of summer nights and early mornings, I think back to the frequent backyard camping experiences I enjoyed with my parents when I was a kid, first in the back of our station wagon, then in a tent, and later in a screen porch that Dad built.  We thought we'd really progressed when we moved our summertime outside sleeping arrangements to the screen porch.  These days, I've traded the backyard screen porch for a queen-size bed.  However, this kid-at-heart still raises her voice with the cricket chorus and bird choir in summer solstice song!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Thunder and Blazes

My good friend Jim surprised me with the gift of a miniature circus wagon he made.  It's a bright orange circus cage wagon, complete with snarling bears inside.  It's made of wood with brightly painted "sunburst"-design wagon wheels and all of the details of the large circus wagons preserved at Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  And this miniature wagon isn't any "ordinary" (if there is such a thing) wagon model.  It's also a music box.  I don't know if Jim knew it, but he couldn't have selected a more appropriate musical selection for my circus wagon music box.  My all-time favorite piece of circus music is Entry of the Gladiators, also known as Thunder and Blazes.  It's an iconic piece of music, always associated with the circus.  I so appreciate Jim taking the time to make such a wonderful gift for me, especially since I know that such items are often reserved for members of his family.  Thanks so much, Jim, for helping preserve the "stupendous, colossal" memories of my 15 years working at Circus World Museum.  I couldn't have a more beautiful and musical reminder!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bird Condos

When my friend Melanie and I walked the Baraboo River Walk a few weeks ago, the path took us under a bridge where scores of cliff swallows had created a neighborhood of gourd-shaped mud nests.  Packed side by side on the underside of the bridge, they looked like bird condominiums.  There was much activity that morning, with swallows flitting all about, in and out of their nests.  My mom loved all things related to birds, bird nests and bird houses.  I frequently wear a pewter pin of a swallow that had been hers.  Lately, I've been interested in learning how to distinguish the lovely calls of Wisconsin birds.  Not surprisingly, the Internet held the answer for me.  At, I am learning the various sounds, including that of the cliff swallow, and am having fun relating what I'm learning to the songs I hear on my daily walks.   The cliff swallow's song sounds more like a short, nasally mewing, while the red-winged blackbird (likely my favorite) is more of a conversation.  How fun it will be in the cold, white harshness of winter to listen to my favorite summer birds, thanks to this amazing website.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Dancing Butterflies

I had a glorious summer day off from work recently, so Larry and I decided to start it with a walk at Steinke Basin at Devil's Lake State Park.  And what a perfect way to start the day!  It's no wonder that our friends Ken and Esther Lange chose to be married at Steinke Basin and that Ken devoted an entire chapter to it in his book, A Naturalist's Journey.  For me, Steinke Basin is a sacred place. It is diverse in meadow, forest and marsh.  It's a lesser visited part of the state park. Thus it is often quiet, except for the sounds of nature.  And so it was on the morning when Larry and I walked out there.  We hiked the long road from the parking lot to the top of the bluff.  Along the way, the red-winged blackbirds sang "good morning" to us and the orange, yellow and blue butterflies danced around our ankles. The asters, clover and wild geranium were lovely in their lavender. At the summit of the road is a strategically placed bench, an inviting spot for reflection.  So, Larry and I accepted the invitation and sat there quietly for a while, soaking in the beauty all around us. Then, we headed back to the car. If there was ever a time when I felt I was in an enchanting place and that the moment was precious and to be remembered in vivid detail, it was that morning at Steinke Basin.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Grand Dad

Today is the day we set aside specifically to honor fathers.  My dad will have been gone 28 years this summer, so over half of my life has gone by since I lasted celebrated this special day with him.  My dad was a great guy.  Even as a teenager, I thought I had a "cool" dad.  He was fun and interesting.  He always took interest in me as a person.  We had deep conversations. We even had father-daughter dates all the way up to the summer he died, when we would go out to dinner, just the two of us.  I was so lucky to have such a wonderful father, especially because sadly, he didn't have his own father long enough as a role model.  From everything everyone said, Grandpa Frank was a kind, gentle, likeable person.  He was a photographer and a musician.  Unfortunately, Grandpa Frank died from what appeared to have been a brain aneurysm when he was only 41, leaving behind a young wife and four children.  My dad, age 7, was the only son.  Despite the disadvantage of not having his dad present for most of his growing up years, my dad just seemed to know how to be a great father.  As I look today at the photos of him as a child, a young man, a young husband and father, I think of all of the great memories with joy and some longing that we couldn't have had more time together to create even more memories. To Dad and all of the other great dads out there, Happy Father's Day.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nature's Bounty

Someone really needs to take me by the hand the next time I go to our local farmer's market.  I can't seem to grasp that I'm buying for only two people.  For some reason, with or without a list, I come home with too much produce.  It's strange because I don't do that when doing our other grocery shopping.  It seems to be a dilemma that's unique to the farmer's market.  I think the issue is that I'm so overwhelmed with joy to see such a wide array of healthy, locally grown, and organic produce, that I can't help but buy just a little more of this and a tad more of that.  Consequently, we are getting much more than the minimum number of daily vegetable servings these days and I think my skin is turning green from all of the lettuce and spinach I've eaten.  Will I change my tune?  Probably not.  It's just too delightful to have crisp, fresh produce for our meals.  What a gift from nature's bounty!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot

At this time of year in Wisconsin, the weather is fickle.  One day, we need sweaters and contemplate putting that extra blanket back on the bed.  The next day, the temperatures soar and I'm wondering if it's time to close up all of the windows and succumb to air conditioning.  Recently, we had such a strange, roller coaster spell of weather, beginning with some hot, hot, hot days -- temperatures in the 90s with high humidity.  As sticky as I was, I just couldn't make myself turn on the a.c. and relieve the heat and humidity.  We wait so long to be able to open windows in the northern Midwest that I let myself sweat.  I sat quietly, downed lots of water and let the warm breezes blow in.  I thought about the days as a kid when we didn't have central air.  That's what fans and lemonade were for.  I think we've become kind of soft, not wanting to experience the temperature extremes.  I'm just not ready to give in. Larry, on the other hand, seemed to find our condo's lower level much more interesting.  Granted, his office and the TV room are down there, but he seemed to not want to venture upstairs too often.  Soon, hot weather will come with full force and the air conditioning will feel more like a necessity than a choice. But for now, I'm going to bask in the breeze (even if it's a warm breeze) and be glad that summer's here.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hummin' Along

My friend Kitty's home has an expansive deck, which is decorated with carefully and artistically arranged planters.  This year, the plant color scheme is shades of purple.  Earlier this spring, Kitty painted, decorated and situated on her deck several flower pots, watering cans and implements, a table, a garden sculpture and even a wheelbarrow in bright green, dark turquoise, brilliant yellow and soft brown to accent the vibrant plant life. Whenever I spend time with Kitty on her deck, I feel as if my entire body exhales with anticipated relaxation.  From the vantage point of her deck, we sip on ice water while solving the world's problems, watching butterflies and bluebirds, and soaking up the spectacular view of the rural property she shares with her husband and their cat.  Recently, Kitty and I moved to another section of her beautiful deck, right under a hummingbird feeder.  Soon, we were joined by tiny hummingbirds, dashing in and out to get some nectar from the feeder above our heads.  I read that hummingbirds' wings flap an unfathomable 12 to 80 times per second.  It's no wonder that they sound as if they're humming when they dive in for some food from their feeder.  With all of that wing activity, I'd be humming along, too!  I firmly believe that we all need a place -- whether we own that place or simply have access to it -- that helps us rest, relax and commune with nature.  There's so much to explore and entertain, and it's all so good for the soul.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Driver's Ed

While driving the snaky road down and back up again from Devil's Lake State Park's south shore, I was reminded recently of my mom learning how to drive.  At age 40, she decided that it was time to have her own wheels and the only way she was going to achieve such independence was for her to learn how to drive.  We lived in the country and my dad traveled extensively for his work, so Mom and I relied on taxis, neighbors and the school bus for transportation.  It wasn't an ideal situation: driving was the better alternative. With Dad as her instructor, the two of them would drop me off at friends' homes while they did some on-the-road training.  One summer Saturday evening, however, close to the time when she was going to try for her license, Mom and Dad had nowhere in particular to take me so, saddled with me, they ventured out with Mom behind the wheel.  That particular evening, we took the snaky South Shore road down and up.  Dad was calm and collected and Mom drove beautifully, though tense from all of the sharp curves and heavy traffic all around her.  I, at the ripe ol' age of 8, thought it was all a great adventure as I played with my dolls in the backseat.  In the end, Mom got her license, got a car and from then on, it seemed as if we were never home!  Mom had wheels and we had fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Buzz Word

It seems lately that I've been hearing a lot about innovation. We're all looking to innovate in order to function in this ever- and rapidly changing, competitive global economy. Innovation was the big topic throughout the recent edition of a favorite magazine -- primarily illustrated by one digital application after another. It got me to thinking about my own definition of innovation. I tie innovation, creativity and the human experience together. I see innovation as a thought that contributes to a new way of being, seeing or doing something. Such thoughts may manifest themselves as technological advances (and they often do these days), but I don't see innovation as being exclusive to technology. I think it can also be applied to such things as programs and initiatives that benefit society and our planet. I would like to think that the innovations in our world are not only seen through the lens of technology, but through the hearts, minds and actions of humanity.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunny Side of Rain

I read in a book the other day a phrase I'd never heard before, yet aptly described how I had felt on a recent day: Smiling showers.  The sun had shone for days and days until the grass was turning yellowish, the ground hard as rock, the plants limp and the farm fields filled with a dusty haze.  Everyone was waiting for a good, soaking rain.  And it finally came one recent Friday evening and Saturday.  As much as I love a sunny day, I could only see the sunny side of rain as we watched the downpour.  And how the farmers must've danced with joy!  A rainy day is such a welcome respite.  The earth gets replenished and I tend to take it easier.  My to-do list looks less threatening on a rainy day and the easy chair and half-read book look more inviting.  So, I'm grateful in many ways for our recent rainy spell (those smiling showers) and all that it did to help us have a sunnier disposition.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Artfully Speaking

I had the opportunity to participate in both a focus group and a pilot discussion program recently. In both situations, the facilitator was seeking information about a given topic in a controlled setting, but the latter experience had an additional component, a focus on civil discourse, no matter how difficult the topic. In today's society, I feel that we've moved disturbingly away from the ability to share views without it becoming a shouting match. One voice grows louder than the other. Interrupting the other person's thought without regard or respect for his or her perspective is becoming the norm, not the intolerable exception.  I've witnessed this sad state of communication in our politics and experienced it in our media, and now such uncivil discourse seems to have oozed into everyday encounters between families, friends and neighbors. The pilot program was a refreshing way to bring back the age-old art of conversation, sitting around a table for a couple of hours where discussion is free from interruption of television, telephones and texts. By listening carefully and then respectfully replying I was reminded of how enlightening and delightful conversation can and should be. In so doing, those difficult topics didn't feel quite so difficult after all.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Picture This

When I was preparing to graduate from high school in 1976, I took what at the time was considered a bold step by having my graduation photograph taken outdoors.  I stood in tall grass in front of an old, paint-peeled building, wearing a 19th century-style dress that was popular in that era, looking down at a bouquet of lavender asters.  It was quite an artsy shot and certainly a departure from the normal, posed graduation pictures.  It was so out of the mainstream that I was obligated to have a regular posed shot for the yearbook.  Fast forward 35 years to today's graduation photos published in a special supplement of our local newspaper recently.  There, I saw an amazing array of photo styles.  There were outdoor and indoor photos, faces smiling and not smiling, kids wearing hats, some holding musical instruments and yet others cuddling their pets. What I loved about the photos was that these kids looked like real people, not posed graduation mannequins.  Gone for the most part were shirts and ties or fancy sweaters. Instead, you got a glimpse of the essence of each individual in those graduation photos -- relaxed, casual, fun, authentic. Best wishes to all of this year's graduates -- May you always be true to yourselves.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Flight of Fancy

Faith Baldwin wrote in Face Toward the Spring that "Nothing is lost to us:...not the parents we knew but now know only in our hearts and spirits...."  I find her words comforting as I continue to grieve the loss of my mom in this first year since her death.  Sometimes, however, it's hard to accept the fact that Mom now resides only in my heart and spirit. Recently, I was focusing on my yesterdays with her, flooded with a downpour of grief, when my friend Mary surprised me with a lovely pin of a dragonfly with silver body and iridescent wings.  Mary and I have often talked in recent years about the symbolism of dragonflies, so it was particularly appreciated to receive such a beautiful dragonfly pin from her.  According to the Internet, dragonflies symbolize the poise and wisdom that come with age, the understanding and acceptance of change, the maturity that embraces a deeper understanding of the meaning of life, and the ability to live in the moment, aware of who you are (and who you aren't) and what you want (and what you don't want).  Mary's generous gesture brought me out of my sadness for my yesterdays to all that is beautiful about today, once again allowing me to live in this moment.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Good Eggs

A friend recently gave me some hens and chicks -- not the egg-laying kind, but the succulent-plant version.  For the past few years, I've been adding hens and chicks and other succulents to the narrow flower bed that runs between our garage and front sidewalk, with the hope that they will eventually take over the landscape stone-lined area and make it perpetually green.  As time goes by, I am getting to be a lazier and lazier gardener, favoring plants that prefer to take care of themselves without too much of my intervention.  And I'm not alone. My friend Kitty and I had heard such a presentation at the Garden Expo in Madison, WI a couple of years ago.  What we learned was that as we age, we still like being surrounded by green things, but we want the freedom to be gone for a few days (or weeks, now that most of us are Empty Nesters), without coming home to brown, dead vegetation.  And, for those, like Larry and me, who have chosen condo-living, succulents can be a great way to enjoy some green in a planter or on a patio, without having to have a big yard.  So, three cheers for those "good eggs," my new "flock" of hens and chicks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I've been seeing the most amazing shoes on women lately -- thick-soled, ultra-high-heeled creations in bright colors.  I haven't actually seen any women walking in them but I've seen lots of photographs of women standing or sitting in them.  As I get older, I embrace comfortable shoes -- the kind that I can stand and walk in without feeling as if I'm going to turn an ankle or squish my toes into a permanent point.  As a young woman, I scoffed at the thought of ever reaching that tender age when wearing "sensible shoes" would seem so appealing, but alas, I've reached it (I have to admit that I reached it a while ago).  It's no wonder that podiatrists are treating so many bunions, hammer toes and other foot ailments.  Women, especially, tend to think that it's a good idea to cram our feet into fashionable shoes, yet secretly wishing that we were wearing simple flats. If life's a dance, I'd much rather feel the beat with happy feet!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Brisk Wind

One of the first things I do when I get home from work is to take off my watch.  I'm through thinking about time for the day.  A busy young mother told me recently that her days often feel long, yet the years seem short.  I agree.  There are days that feel long because I've had so much packed into them.  At the end of such days, all I can do is flop into bed and fall into deep, rejuvenating sleep.  Yet, when I look back from one year to the next, each seems to have flown by.  "Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new," says a wise statement attributed to Paracelsus, a Medieval physician.  As I reflect on that brisk wind that I call my life, I am reminded of the preciousness of each day and the gift of enjoying even those days that feel long, for when I look back on them at some point, they will have gone quickly and the question I will ask myself is: Did I use those hours, those days to the very best of my ability?  Did I enjoy time for the gift that it is?

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Gift of Friends

This spring, I have had the opportunity to enjoy more special times with my friends than I've had in a while.  A breakfast, a walk, a song, or a quiet visit from a shady deck, I have been connecting more frequently with my friends. And it feels so good.  I heard a respected physician during an interview recently extol the benefits of socialization, noting that human beings were meant to socialize, not be isolated.  As we get older, that socialization reportedly helps prevent depression and may even help delay the onset of age-related dementia. I feel as if I'm the Socialization Poster Child lately, for I am so enjoying my diverse and wonderful friends.  They are amazing people with so many profound things to say, fascinating interests, and outlooks on life that positively affect my own. And it's not just me.  Larry and I together have been connecting with other couples in very pleasant and in sometimes new ways.  As an only child, you'd think I'd love my own company most of the time, but I derive energy from the presence of others (so long as there's a balance of some quiet time, too), so this connection is life-affirming to me. When it's all said and done, I won't look back to measure my life based on my so-called accomplishments or if my house was clean or whatever.  I'll reflect on the wonderful people who have touched my life and the memories I'm making today with those very special friends.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sharing Talents

Sometimes, it takes a small child to deliver a big message.  Our church's children and youth presented a musical one recent Sunday with the message that we all have the capacity to do even the smallest things in order to make big change. At about the same time, I learned of three people I thought I knew fairly well who had what I would call hidden talents.  One surprised me by accompanying a children's tone chime and vocal choir on the piano at church.  Another person recently signed up to volunteer at our local nursing home where he will give of his time as an organist, providing much appreciated dinner music for the residents during their lunchtime.  And another person showed me a lovely eyeglass case she had created.  I also learned of two not-for-profit organizations that are doing tremendous work. I'd never realized the extent to which their missions were so far-reaching.  I also had a conversation with a gentleman who is affiliated with another noble local cause, who compared his group's work to Biblical Scripture about sharing our talents for the greater good.  These encounters made me start thinking about their common theme of talents. We all have gifts of one kind or another that contribute to our own joy, but may also have the capacity to contribute to the greater good.  What talents might we each have that could make a difference for someone else, no matter how small or insignificant we might think those gifts to be?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Oak Folks

A horticulturist friend told me recently that the strangely warm weather had expedited the budding and blooming of so many things this spring.  Yet, the oaks had stayed on their regular timeline and were leafing out when they normally would.  That got me to thinking about steadfastness and about those people I know who remain calm and steady and on terra firma, even in the face of rapid change, upset and the whims of the moment.  These folks, like the oaks, don't respond with a knee jerk to the latest craze or concern.  They hold fast and, thus, they help keep the rest of us holding fast.  I really honor those people who are the oaks in my life.

Friday, June 1, 2012


When taking out the trash can the other night for the next morning's pick-up, the thought dawned on me that some people call our refuse rubbish, while others call it garbage, while yet others call it trash.  I attempted to find out if there was a difference in meaning between the three words, but came up dry.  Whatever you want to call it, I think it always feels good to dispose of it.  One thing I've noticed in recent months is that the amount of trash that Larry and I accumulate each week has greatly diminished.  Even the amount that we recycle has decreased.  We're buying fewer goods period, let alone goods in complex packages. Thus, we're reducing the amount of garbage we have to put out on the curb.  The less we have to dump, the more we're doing to help preserve the planet. And that's a good thing.