Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Any Fool

"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving." This quote, attributed to Dale Carnegie, pretty well sums up my 21-day challenge to curb my complaining.  Those who may have read my blog post from July 11 know that I had read of such a challenge and decided to try it for myself.  The past three weeks have been enlightening to me, for I tried to make the thoughts in my head and the words that came out of my mouth more positive and affirming.  Granted, I did have at least one complaint meltdown during that time, but just paying attention to what I think and say was a great exercise for me.  I learned that such self-control led to better self-understanding and forgiveness and that the attempt at adopting a feeling of contentment and acceptance of what is was worth the effort and then some.  It's all about how we perceive and interpret the events of our lives and how critical or judgmental we are about those events.  Now that three weeks have passed, I think I'll stretch my little experiment for three more weeks.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Remembering Dad

Twenty-eight years ago today, my dad Chuck Naidl passed away.  He had an eight-year history of heart disease, but somehow his death was a surprise to me.  Certainly, as I grow closer and closer to the age when he died, I'm sad that he had to be so young when he passed away.  Mom, Dad and I had a Sunday routine of going to church and then out for breakfast.  Dad and I would take turns "arguing" over who was going to pay for breakfast at the local restaurant.  On that given day, Dad grabbed the bill and some of my last face-to-face words to him were, "Next time, it's my turn."  Sadly, Dad died early the next morning and there was never another chance for it to be my turn again. But, while we haven't had any breakfasts together these past 28 years, I feel his presence in my life every day.  When I make a decision, I hear his wise words in my ear.  When I find something funny, I hear his joyful laughter.  When I'm inclined to give to a charity, I think of his many kind and selfless acts to help others. And I realize that I married a man who has many of the fine traits that Dad had, and I know that he would be pleased with my choice in a husband.  So, while it's been a long time since we last had a conversation, I still talk to Dad nearly every day.  And I think of him especially today with love and joy and longing.  'Love you, Dad.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing

While making a hotel reservation online recently, I ran into a little techno-glitch that frustrated me to no end.  I appreciate many things about our modern technology, but I sometimes truly crave for a simpler time when talking to a person was the way to conduct business, not a nameless, faceless transaction via a computer.  While I must rely on the use of a computer in my work, I make a concerted effort to limit my computer time in my away-from-work life in order to give myself a break and to make space for rest and "real-life" experiences. In the July 2012 edition of deliciousliving magazine, editor in chief  Radha Marcum wrote in her "editor's note" column that she had learned of a recent study about email's influence on heart rates.  She wrote that the study revealed that participants who constantly checked work email had consistently higher heart and stress levels compared with those who took a five-day email hiatus.  Those who took the hiatus also showed an increase in focus and productivity.  I would take those findings even further in my life:  When I consciously make the decision when to connect and disconnect from technology, I empower myself to take in the precious moments in my life with greater attention and respect and give myself the rest I need in order to think creatively and constructively.  Technology is a good thing, but for me, sometimes, it's too much of a good thing.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

American Daydreaming

I heard a thought-provoking interview on public radio recently about the American Dream and whether it is attainable today.  The guests spoke about the definition of the American Dream and its ties to our materialistic pursuits, such as owning a home.  Then, a caller to the program told about his view of the American Dream and how it has changed for him as a real estate professional due to the recent economic crisis, as well as painful experiences in his personal life.  He said that once we get into our 50s, the questions beg to be asked as to how much have we taken and how much have we given in this life.  I started thinking about my own version of the American Dream.  Beyond the ability to provide food, clothing, shelter, health care and a vehicle for my loved ones and me, is there much more in the way of things or services that I truly need in order to have a good, satisfying and meaningful life?  I've been given many blessings in my life.  But the caller's question of "How much have I given?" stays with me and offers a greater purpose as I look forward.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Blue Ribbon "Good"

A lovely friend who lives in our local nursing home devotes considerable time to making crafts.  Arlene is a very talented woman. On a recent visit, she showed me numerous items she had made out of silk flowers, as well as wood and ceramic figures she had painted and embellished.  She planned to enter them all for judging into the county fair.  As we parted company that day, I told her that I was certain she would come away with at least one blue ribbon on one of her half-dozen items.  A few weeks later, when Larry and I visited the fair, we sought out the various exhibit buildings where I was pleased to see that Arlene had won not only one blue ribbon, but blue ribbons on all of the items I recognized as hers.  I'm certain that Arlene enjoys spending time with her creative pursuits and would do so anyway, but it was particularly gratifying to me that her talents would be validated in such a big way with blue ribbon after blue ribbon after blue ribbon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Playing Games

On a recent evening, after sharing a meal with friends, we lingered at the dinner table and played games of skill and chance.  Both of the games were new to me, but we caught on with the tutelage of our friends and had a grand time.  For someone who professes not to like playing games very much, Larry won every time!  Sitting around the table that night, enjoying each other's company, made me think of a favorite game from my childhood, thanks to a loving and talented uncle. I loved playing "Candyland" and other children's board games that one could purchase at any toy store at the time.  But my favorite was "Aggravation," a game of marbles and dice.  My Uncle Bob was skilled with his hands and had made a wonderful "Aggravation" game board for me out of wood.  The indentations where the marbles were placed had been carefully routed out and painted red.  My name and the date were also meticulously painted in red onto the base of the board.  My parents and I spent countless happy hours playing "Aggravation."  Spending quiet hours playing a game with family or friends is a wonderful way to spend an evening, inspiring conversation and laughter and memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Learning from my Elders

I had the opportunity recently to spend time with four ladies in their 80s and 90s.  Each of these women is amazing, having experienced so many highs and lows in life, yet looking at each new day with gratitude and anticipation -- and with acceptance of what is.  One lady, age 98, is still a voracious reader.  Another lady in her 90s showed me elaborate crafts she had made to submit for judging at the county fair.  While I had planned to provide each of these women with cheer and conversation, once again, I realized that it was I who had received the cheer from them.  Each of their lives has slowed down and they each need assistance with everyday living.  Yet, their courage, faith, humor and hope are as strong as ever, if not stronger.  I thank them for spending time with me that day and for sharing their many pearls of wisdom.  I'd like to be just like them when I grow up.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


My friend Mike and I pulled up to church at the same time one Sunday this summer.  As he got out of his car, I noticed his license plate, LIV42DY, and I commented on it.  He said that it had been his late wife Barb's license plate and he wanted to keep it.  We both noted how such a message was so much like Barb, who embraced life with joy, engagement and gentleness, and how important that message is for us all to remember every single day.  So, for the remainder of that day and for days to come, I thought often about Barb's great advice to live fully today, to be present to all that each moment has to offer.  Thank you, Barb.  I miss you.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Looking Out

We've had some serious heat this summer -- days and days and days of record-breaking temperatures.  We've been forced to close the windows and live in constant air conditioning.  For those without a.c., cooling centers were set up in municipal buildings to provide some relief.  I've given a lot of thought lately to which is worse -- being cooped up in the house in winter or summer?  All winter, I wait for sunshine, warm temperatures, long days, green everywhere and birdsong.  Yet, with our recent blistering heat, there'd been plenty of sunshine, hot temps, long days, and brown and wilting foliage and grass.  For too long, I had little to no opportunity to hear birdsong because I'd been stuck inside with closed windows, looking out.  Before the next potentially harsh Wisconsin winter comes along, I plan to fling open the windows as often as I can, breathe in the cool, fresh air, and with all of the gratitude in my being, enjoy Nature's beauty.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Let Me Process That

I like to travel lightly through life.  I don't like buying too much "stuff" -- certainly not gadgets that tend to seem great at first, but later just catch dust.  I'm not what you'd call an impulsive shopper. For years (literally!), I've contemplated the notion of buying a food processor, but just could never justify the purchase to myself, even though I had been drawn to countless recipes that required the use of one.  Larry and I started looking over recipes and cooking together a few weeks ago.  We discovered that we were both attracted to recipes needing more than just our trusty knives.  So, we bought a food processor on the 4th of July and have gone processing mad ever since.  We've made energy bars.  We've made basil pesto.  We've made vegetable taco filling. And we've got plans for even more recipes (Why not try making our own roasted red pepper hummus?!).  Although I still pride myself in being a discerning shopper, I'm very glad that I finally succumbed to the "big" purchase of a food processor, so we can enjoy many new, healthy and delicious recipes.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Making It All Better

My recent quiet Saturday morning shopping at the farmer's market was suddenly interrupted by the cries of a little girl.  She had stubbed her toe and her tears came quickly.  Her dad, one of the vendors, walked quietly over to the tiny child, asked her what was wrong, embraced her, rubbed her foot and scooped her up into his arms.  His love made all that was wrong so much better for his small daughter.  I recalled that special time in my life when all that hurt or upset me could instantly be resolved by the love of my parents, kissing my owies and boo-boos away.  Now that I'm well beyond those years and my parents can no longer kiss my owies, I wondered how much I reach out or make myself available to others to listen and help them heal their hurts and pain.  I may not be able to make it all better for them, but that brief, intimate interaction recently between a father and his little girl gave me some good food for thought.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Agree with Henry

I agree with American author Henry James: "Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." I've been taking some randomly scheduled days off from work this summer as an opportunity to pursue my writing and to spend time with Larry and with friends. At least a portion of each of those days is spent simply relaxing and reading in the rocking chair on the sun porch. There is just something about a summer afternoon that draws me to exhale and to simply be. It's not as if it should have to be a seasonal thing or that I should have to somehow get permission to spend time doing nothing, but summer afternoons just seem to be made for letting time pass by without my exerting too much energy. In the delightful, little Abbey Press book, Slow-down Therapy by Linus Mundy and R.W. Alley (1990, ISBN # 0-87029-229-3), Tip Number 11 states: "Allow yourself time to be lazy and unproductive. Rest isn't a luxury; it's a necessity." So, as I enjoy this summertime, when the livin's indeed easy, I'll relish those afternoons in the rocking chair doing absolutely nothing, but rocking.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finding My Way

Have you ever tried to fold a map, only to realize that no matter how you fold it, it's not going to go back the way it was originally?  I read in a magazine recently that there are now waterproof maps  that are intended to be wadded into a ball and stuffed into your purse or travel bag.  The benefit of this new style of map, according to the magazine, is that, unlike one's smartphone where you can only see a small section of a city at a time, when you use a real map, you can see the entire city or area at a glance.  Nowadays, we're increasingly dependent on our smartphones, Internet directions and GPS, making paper maps seem to be destined to extinction.  But not so fast. I had to laugh lately when traveling to a conference with someone from my workplace.  Despite our printed Internet directions and the GPS, we still got lost!  We finally stopped at a local chamber of commerce to get directions, which seemed so much easier when explained by an actual, live human being pointing down the street.  Then, while out of town for yet another conference, one of the presenters asked the audience how they found their way to the conference center.  As expected, people mentioned GPS and various Internet way-finding methods.  Then, one woman in the back of the room stood up and proudly yelled out that she had used a paper map.  Everyone in the audience applauded!  In a world of so many newfangled things, it's nice to know that good o' maps are not only surviving, they're thriving, neatly folded or wadded up into a ball.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Back by Popular Demand: Rain

Today, I'm not only celebrating my 200th Time to Be blog post, I'm celebrating the first rainstorm in I don't know when.  Our dry, arid countryside received a great gift of an honest-to-goodness storm last night -- real, serious rain with dashes of thunder and lightning.  It had been so long since I'd felt rain on my skin or heard it slashing against the windows that I stood in awe.  And I was not alone.  Facebook was filled with posts from ecstatic souls celebrating the return of rain, back by popular demand.  We take so many things for granted, including our verdant Wisconsin landscape, rainstorms and water tables that are usually on the abundant side.  Recently, there've been bans on outdoor cigarette smoking and talk about the pressing need to conserve water.  While no one wants to see our farms suffer as they have this summer, one possible blessing hidden in all of this severe drought may be that many of us who are used to having so much have now discovered a newfound appreciation for our water supply.  Rain, Glorious Rain.  Back by popular demand. What a wonderful thing to celebrate today!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Magnetic Attraction

My grandpa always used to say that you should wash bird droppings from your car as soon as possible to prevent the paint from being ruined.  So, when my car had been decorated with some droppings recently, I thought I'd better get to the car wash. We hadn't had any measurable rain for weeks, so it seemed like a good day to wash the car.  As you might expect, the minute I got out of the car wash, it started to rain!  We didn't get very much precipitation -- certainly not as much as we needed to quench the dry land and restore the brown, crinkly grass -- but enough to make spots on my freshly washed car.  I decided I could laugh that off, attributing my timing to Murphy's Law, so I drove around and parked my car in various locations as I did errands.  Following the last of my stops, I returned to my car only to find that it was not only rain spotted but now dotted with a fresh supply of bird droppings!  I'm not sure what the moral of this story is, but I now have several people asking me to wash their cars, just so it will rain.

Monday, July 16, 2012

By the Number

While looking through the note cards at our local St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store the other day, I ran across some cards featuring colorful paint-by-number pictures, and I immediately thought about my Grandpa Joe.  Grandpa really embraced the paint-by-number phenomenon of the 1950s and 1960s, painting many lovely scenes, framing them and either displaying them in the downstairs rec room of Grandpa and Grandma's house or giving them as gifts to others in the family.  Grandpa gave one to Mom, Dad and me that depicted Jesus Christ.  The back of the note cards that I saw at St. Vincent's described paint-by-number pictures as American folk art that reached its pinnacle during post-World War II.  I recall painting by number myself, thrilled with the thought of being able to make a painting (with my limited talents) simply by following the numerical instructions.  As I recall, Grandpa's paint-by-number creations were mostly landscapes, often with snow in them and they frequently featured light turquoise blue paint.  So, when I saw that at least one of the note cards at the thrift store featured a snowy rural scene using light turquoise blue paint, I had to buy the card for 25 cents.  I'm not sure to whom I'll send the card, but for now, I'll enjoy looking at it and reminiscing about Grandpa Joe and his artistic talents.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fragrant and Lovely

In early summer, I seem to sniff my way around.  At that time of the year, I can't seem to get enough of the fresh and fragrant scents.  As we walked at Devil's Lake State Park many evenings earlier this summer before the temperatures soared to sweltering, I commented nearly every time to Larry (who was probably sick of hearing it, but politely agreed anyway) that the air just smelled grand -- sweet, fruity, fresh and lovely.  The commingling of trees, grasses and wildflowers must have made this delightful concoction.  Those fragrances are lovelier than most anything I can imagine.  As I would breathe in the air as deeply as possible, I would try to imprint that scent in my mind so that when winter comes, I'd be able to retrieve the smell of summer freshness.  And with it, I'd see the darting dragonflies, hear the giggles and splashes of children swimming in the lake, and see the beautiful place that we call Devil's Lake.  Now that mid-summer is here and the ground is brown and the vegetation stressed, memories of those early-summer scents are even more precious to me.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


It's been a strange year weather-wise.  It seems as if our weather's been weeks ahead of the calendar since the winter.  We had hardly any snow or sub-zero temperatures in January or February. We experienced 80-degree days in March.  We endured unseasonably cold weather in May. And in June, there was hardly a drop of rain, causing the grass to slowly become brown and sad-looking and crinkly under foot.  As Mother Nature has parched our area, Larry and I have taken to the watering can, giving plants and shrubs around our condo regular cool drinks.  Usually, we hardly have to water at all in early summer because Mother Nature seems to perfectly time the rain.  But not so this year. Now that mid-July is here, it makes me wonder what we will experience by autumn.  Some of our trees and shrubs are so stressed that they're already changing color or losing some leaves. This drought is have worrisome and even catastrophic effects on our farms.  Water and locally grown food are truly precious commodities, and in a drought, they become even more apparent and important.  Nature continues to astound me with its power, its ever-changing beauty and its mysteries.  I remind myself in this browned state that there is much to enjoy every day in nature, no matter the season, no matter the weather, no matter the color of our summer - green or brown.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Something for Everyone

My friend Rene showed me some PVC pipe pieces recently that she had bought at Delaney's, a local surplus store complex.  This mid-summer conversation about Delaney's took me back to mid-summers so many years ago when, as a child, I'd accompany my mom and dad to Delaney's, usually because Dad needed some type of tool to complete a project at home.  While Dad looked in earnest for the item he needed, Mom and I would circulate throughout the big store and seek out treasures.  Delaney's has always been one of those places where there's something for everyone.  From packaged snack treats to barrels of shoes to bins of children's books to shelves of tools, Delaney's was always a treasure trove in this child's eyes.  I recall Mr. Delaney sitting behind the counter and answering customers' questions, mainly about prices because nothing in the store had a price tag.  I really liked Mr. Delaney and I was fascinated  that he could quickly calculate in his head the price of any item that crossed his counter.  Those were great mid-summer adventures. I was grateful that Rene reminded me of them.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

All's Fair

Larry and I visited our county fair today, first to work in a tent sponsored by my employer and then to enjoy all of the great sights, sounds and tastes that a county fair offers.  I love our Sauk County Fair.  It epitomizes the rural spirit, presented in a setting that's appropriate for all ages.  I like to look at the farm animals that are lovingly cared for by children and youth.  I like to tour the display buildings featuring floral arrangements, crafts and baked goods bearing blue and red ribbons.  I like to walk through the midway with its carnival games and thrilling rides.  I like to hear the concerts in the grandstand.  I like to eat something delicious from the 4-H stand.  At the county fair, I get to see friends from a lifetime of living in my hometown.  There's been a lot of talk lately with the passing of Andy Griffith about small-town values and the joys of rural living.  I felt very much today at our county fair as if I was happily living in my own Mayberry experience and, all of a sudden, I realized I was whistling that old "Andy Griffith Show" tune.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

No Complaint Zone

I read something interesting online about a Kansas City pastor who challenged his congregation to go 21 days (the amount of time it reportedly takes to develop a new habit) without complaining.  He even handed out special bracelets to remind his parishioners to live complaint-free lives.  Whew!  Would I be up to that challenge?  It's pretty easy to let a complaint slip every now and again, from wishing it would rain to lamenting that it's too hot to barking about how unfair something is.  Then again, if I'm aiming to live a life of gentleness and gratitude, what better time than now to start my own 21-day challenge?  So, here goes my experiment.  At the end of 21 days (July 31), I'll report back in as to how I think I've done.  I don't have a special bracelet to remind me, so I'll use my wedding ring as a prompt instead.  Each time I look at my ring during the next three weeks, it'll remind me to curb my complaining.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For the Birds

While listening to bird songs on the Internet, I realized one recent day before the prolonged heat set in that I was hearing a house finch on my computer, as well as outside the open window.  It was fun to hear the call and response between the two, wondering if the bird outside was somehow attempting to communicate with the bird inside my computer.  In my quest to become more knowledgeable about our area's feathered friends this summer, I've not limited my education to their sounds.  I've also been working to identify more of them by sight.  During one evening walk at Devil's Lake State Park, I saw some shiny bluish-black birds with brown heads in a little cluster on the edge of a wooded area.  Could they be brown-headed cowbirds, I wondered? I'll never be an ornithologist, but I'm enjoying my attempts to expand my understanding and identification of the many delightful birds that break through the everyday sounds with their glorious song.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Where I Belong

Local author Ken Lange wrote in his book A Naturalist's Journey about his love for the Baraboo Hills.  "When we have formed their acquaintance, we become attached to them," Ken writes -- a quote attributed to William Canfield, an early Sauk County historian.  Re-reading Ken's book recently and, in particular the Canfield quote, has been reassuring to me, for I have had a lifelong love affair with the Baraboo Hills, this place I call home.  I often say to Larry that I can't imagine being able to live anywhere else, for the Baraboo Hills, the Sauk Prairie and Devil's Lake State Park are just as much a part of me as my DNA. We likely all have places that are important to us, where we feel we are our real selves and where we just know that we belong.  I believe that the more we interact with those special places, the more our lives will be balanced and healthy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Have Fun. I Did.

I heard a woman speak recently about her deceased husband.  During her remarks about him, she showed the audience a small notebook in which her husband had written down information about their finances and investments to help her after he was gone.  He only wrote in the first few pages, leaving the majority of the book blank.  On the last page of his writings, there were only four words written across the top: Have Fun. I Did.  Hearing those four simple words got me to thinking about how I live my life.  Will I be able to say at the end of it that I've had fun?  I certainly hope so.  Those words also made me think of a funny Steve Martin comedy skit from years ago. Martin said, while brilliantly playing his banjo, that the instrument just didn't lend itself to sad songs.  Then, he proceeded to try to sing one with dreary lyrics. The skit was hysterical and I recall laughing every time I heard it.  The question is:  How much do I sing that song instead of reciting the words that the husband had left as an enduring message for his wife?  As we live our lives and experience all that it has to offer -- some wonderful, some incredibly difficult, it's easy to cart around the banjo song's sad lyrics.  But I'm going to work very hard from now on to replace those words with Have Fun so that when it's all said and done, I'll be able to conclude it with I Did.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Just Rosy

People who visit my office probably wonder why, for the longest time, I had a dead rose on my desk.  It may have been shriveled, but its scent was still divine!  My lovely friend Diane dropped by my office a few weeks ago to give me a wild rose.  She had read one of my reminiscences about the old-fashioned roses we had in our yard when I was a girl and she wanted to deliver the flower to me.  Although Diane's rose grew along the side of the road near her house and not as a shrub, it looked and smelled very much like the roses I had written about: Delicate pink petals, lots of tiny thorns on the stem, and the scent, that heavenly, spicy scent!  Even though it was completely wilted, that rose's scent lived on for weeks.  Whenever things got stressful or I felt like an octopus with hands in too many work projects at once, I could literally stop and smell the roses (or in this case, the single rose on my desk).   That glorious scent stilled and calmed me and reminded me of all that is lovely about summer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Aunt Emma and the Silver Bullet

While on a recent evening walk, I happened across a camping trailer in a backyard.  It was silver, with rounded edges.  It looked like a big bullet with windows and a trailer hitch.  Immediately, I recalled a larger version of such a trailer from when I was a little girl.  Our beloved neighbor Elsie shared her rural home with her husband and elderly mother, and her aunt Emma lived in a silver bullet-type mobile home behind the house (or at least that's how I recall the trailer in my mind's eye).  I was never in that mobile home, but I was always fascinated by how it looked.  There was something sleek about it.  It's funny how a brief glance at something had the ability to take me back some 50 years --  even for just a moment -- to Aunt Emma's amazing silver bullet.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Talking Over the Fence

I love small-town life.  Things just seem to be more personal, more intimate, more gentle, even more wholesome.  In the summer, small-town life blossoms, as neighbors enjoy neighbors, friends gather and kids play till dusk.  Take, for instance, my walk to and from the public library the other evening.  Along my route home, I saw three women enjoying a casual conversation while standing at a fence that divides their backyards.  Further on my route, kids were dashing on a spacious expanse of lawn, their giggles gliding across the summer evening air.  A few blocks down, the aroma of something scrumptious on the barbecue grill and the sound of laughter and conversation indicated an informal gathering on a backyard deck.  There were folks out watering their flowers and a woman following behind her silent hand-push reel lawn mower.  There were kids on bikes and women out walking. No matter where I was that evening, everyone looked up, smiled, waved or had something pleasant to say.  I wouldn't ever trade small-town life because enjoyment is as simple as talking over the backyard fence.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


When I was a little girl, I didn't like fire.  I didn't like candles nor did I like matches or lighters.  On the 4th of July, I had to be brave, however, and allow myself to take a lit sparkler or two and help light up the sky with my own little version of fireworks.  Once I summoned up the courage, I'd enjoy holding the little metal wands of the sparklers, waving them around, listening to the sizzle as the fire burned down the wick, creating little flashes of light all around me.  It was all so magical.  But nothing was so magical as watching real fireworks.  To this day, I ooh and aah, just like the little ones, when I see a magnificent fireworks display. Alas, due to the oppressive heat and drought, our community has had to postpone its 4th of July fireworks presentation this year until later in the month when, hopefully, the conditions will permit.  Tonight, we'll watch the full moon instead and look for fireflies.  So, however you spend this star-spangled evening -- lighting sparklers or basking in the light of the full moon, watching fireworks or chasing fireflies, enjoying a big gathering or quietly appreciating the meaning of our Independence Day, may you have a Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I heard a radio disc jockey recently talking about all of the things that are going the way of the dinosaur:  Landline phones, telephone books, newspapers, to name a few.  Then, we received the June issue of AARP Bulletin that featured a page of things anticipated to be goners within the next 50 years, including snail mail, gasoline pumps, glove box road maps, and even toilet paper.  The article also highlighted nine things that are almost gone already.  Being the old fuddy-duddy that I am, I realized that I still use six of those items:  An answering machine, tube televisions, phone books, bank deposit slips, Rolodexes and incandescent light bulbs.  Granted, I rarely use bank deposit slips anymore, I no longer rely on my Rolodex (which is in a drawer these days), and we're using up our supply of incandescent light bulbs at home and replacing them with the more energy-efficient versions.  However, it's a reminder of my "advancing age" when the things that were once familiar and commonplace become extinct.  My favorite thing on the AARP Bulletin "vanishing" list:  Cursive writing, which they claim may have to be taught someday only for the purpose of being able to read historical documents!

Monday, July 2, 2012

These Lazy Days

Summer days are meant for lazing around.  I'm one of those who faithfully follow a to-do list and pride myself in getting things done. However, unlike in the winter, my summer to-do lists hold less power over me.  Summer has a way of luring me to the rocking chair in the sun porch to read a good book, feel the breeze, contemplate, and listen to the bird chatter.  And now that July's here -- the heart of the summer, I'm increasingly inclined to while away the hours, doing absolutely nothing constructive whatsoever.  I've been taking some randomly scheduled days off from my job this summer in order to write. I've spent my fair share of hours at my laptop, but across the room, I can see that rocking chair in the sun porch and can practically hear it calling me to take a little rest. That "little rest" easily turns into a couple of hours of reading, thinking and snoozing. Oh, well!  My to-do list will wait.  Meanwhile, I just love these lazy summer days!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mix Carefully

I was recently invited to a shower for a young bride-to-be.  Each guest was asked to provide the young woman with a recipe.  While I could've dug through mine and written down one for anything from Apple Bars to Zucchini Bread, I decided to offer instead a recipe for A Long, Happy Marriage:  Ingredients:   Equal parts love, communication, kind words, devotion, loyalty and encouragement with a pinch of patience, a tablespoon of tolerance, and a dash of good humor.  Directions:   Mix delicately and carefully, so as not to cause any lumps.   Allow to simmer, never to come to a boil. Well worth the extra time and effort.   Rich and satisfying!  Serves: Abundantly!  As I composed my "recipe," I realized that it is one that requires constant effort in order to get it right.  And no matter how many times I mix the ingredients together, it's still a work in progress for me.