Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wedded Bliss

Amidst a crowd made up of circles and circles of friends and family, my goddaughter and her husband celebrated their fresh, new marriage with a reception, dinner and music at Devil's Lake State Park a couple of weeks ago.  They had been married about a month earlier in her husband's homeland of Colombia, South America.  Carley and Jose love the water -- they're scuba divers -- so it seemed especially appropriate that they would celebrate their recent marriage on a sunny, warm Saturday near a tranquil lake.  We raised a glass with Carley's father as he gave the toast, her mother led everyone in a bilingual song, and all present enjoyed an abundance of food and fellowship while wishing the newlyweds a life together of adventure and fun.  May Carley and Jose experience wedded bliss as they travel together wherever life takes them!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Red Stone, Blue Stone

While on the last lap of my evening walk recently, I passed by a house in front of which two women were seated on the front step, accompanied by a little girl of no more than four or five years of age.  I smiled and spoke to the trio and the two ladies replied, smiling back at me.  One of the women encouraged the little girl to "Say hello to the lady, Gabrielle."  But instead of greeting me, Gabrielle ran toward me, hand outstretched in a tight fist.  As she approached me, she opened her hand, revealing four little red stones and two blue.  Gabrielle told me in her sweet, little-girl voice that she wanted to give them to me.  So, she carefully poured her precious cargo into my grown-up hand and then ran back to the two ladies.  I thanked her for sharing her precious gift with me and I assured her that I would cherish them.  I look down at the six little stones as I write this post and I think of how lovely it is when someone gives so selflessly and joyfully, even to a complete stranger.  Once again, my life was touched by a child's wisdom and I am indeed the richer.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Having Fun

My friend Marcy told me recently that her elementary school-age daughter was home sick.  Marcy said that her daughter is the type who has so much fun that she wears herself out.  Now, isn't that a wonderful way to "wear" yourself out?!  Having so much fun, embracing life and its opportunities to the fullest?!  How often can we say that about ourselves, that we were having too much fun?  These days, all we read about is stress-induced illness, not having-had-too-much-fun-induced illness.  Perhaps we need to turn our perspectives upside down or inside out to see that life is brimming with more moments of wonder, enjoyment and fun, if we only let them in.  We may not want to have so much fun that we wear ourselves out, but we'll at least open ourselves up to more joy.  Many thanks to Marcy's daughter for teaching this adult a valuable lesson in life.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mound Builders

As early as 300 AD, native peoples called Effigy Mound Builders were creating ceremonial and burial mounds in southern Wisconsin.  Unfortunately, most of the 900 earth mounds in our county are long gone due to development.  Thanks to our local historical society, however, a rare and gigantic human-shaped earth mound measuring 214 feet by 48 feet is preserved at Man Mound Park, located just a few miles northeast of our town.  While driving the road less traveled from a nearby community one recent Sunday afternoon, Larry and I happened upon this important relic created by peoples of long ago. So we decided to stop in and take a look at it once again.  The "man" mound is standing facing north, arms down at its side, feet turned sideways.  He has something on his head that appear to be horns or perhaps a crown or headdress of some kind.  Most of the man's body is intact, but his lower legs and feet were obliterated by the construction of the road years ago.  I felt a sense of awe and respect while standing with the man mound on that sunny September afternoon.  I couldn't help but think of the builders of this great relic.  Little did they likely know that people in the 21st century would be examining and admiring their work and contemplating the lives of those who created it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swingin' and Twirlin'

Has your inner child ever gotten the best of you, challenging you to get on a swing or twirl around on a merry-go-round?  Mine came precariously close recently when Larry and I visited a quiet little, local park. There, we found the types of old-fashioned playground equipment that I recall from my elementary school days so long ago.  The swing set featured two swings with sling-style seats.  I used to love to swing -- not too high, but high enough to feel as if I was soaring.  The merry-go-round was made of wood with a cone-like structure in the middle that brave kids always climbed on while the merry-go-round twirled.  As a little girl, I loved to ride the merry-go-round on our school playground.  I can still remember the sensation of climbing over the wooden board seat, grasping the metal bar in front of me, then using my feet to scoot around as fast as possible with my little playmates.  Finally, we'd gain enough speed that we could raise our feet and hang on for the ride.  I can almost still hear our little-girl squeals of joy.  What fun to recall those carefree days when swinging and twirling were absolutely thrilling experiences.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Suicide Mission

The squirrels seem to be on a suicide mission recently.  They wait until my car is right upon them and then they dart in front of me, sometimes scampering back and forth in front of the car, just to see how fast my reflexes.  The other day, at different intervals in a single city block, three squirrels burst out in front of me into the street.  Thankfully, all three made it across safely, but no thanks to their own antics.  That same day, I saw two "road kill" squirrels, one that became supper for two hungry crows.  The one crow was evidently so hungry that it hesitated to even get out of the way as our car approached.  As soon as we zoomed by, I saw that the crow quickly went back to its meal.  For those who have been following my blog for a bit, you know that I always cry, "Little Squirrel, Little Squirrel!" whenever one darts out in front of my car, as if my crying out to it will cause it to change its behavior and cross the street in the future with the light in the crosswalk.  Perhaps the squirrels' behavior is even more erratic these days as they gather food and prepare for the inevitably long winter.  Soon, they'll be tucked into their leafy nests high in the trees.  But, till then, they're making me catch my breath with each suicide mission in front of my car.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Song in Your Heart

I read the most interesting things on Twitter.  I have the good fortune of following some great people who bring inspiration and joy to my day, simply by the wisdom they impart in 140 characters or less.  One recent tweet from Soulseeds Coach (@soulseedscoach; said, "The pressure to conform crushes spirits."  That tweet made me think of a cute story my good friend Ellen shared about a little boy she encountered in a waiting room who was trying to be quiet, but ultimately, just had to be himself.  As she told it, the little boy was seated in a chair, silent. However, as he looked at a farm scene in a magazine, he started quietly singing a song about it.  Although he quieted down again -- for a moment -- after his parent scolded him, he started to sing again, this time more quietly.  He looked up at my friend Ellen and grinned.  The lesson:  If you have a song in your heart, really, you just have to sing it!  If you have spirit, don't let it be crushed by conformity.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


My good friend Charlene and I had an opportunity to sing in church again today.  It was United Methodist Women's Sunday and it had an international theme.  Charlene, who I always, always refer to as the "brains of our singing operation," selected a lively, joyful song for us -- in three languages!  Thankfully, one of them was English!  I got to test my high school Spanish on one verse and learn Zulu for the other.  No matter the language, the song was about rejoicing and that we did.  What I found equally fun was watching the many choirs from around the globe singing our piece of music on You Tube.  Charlene and I used You Tube to help us learn the nuances of our song.  We are but a duet, and a middle-aged, a cappella duet at that.  We certainly sang with gusto today, but nothing like the many choirs of young people, accompanied by myriad instruments in myriad settings on You Tube.  Their music was a treat indeed.  Once again, I was reminded that there are many, many ways to make a joyful noise!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saying Goodbye

I've never been very good at saying goodbye.  The act of separating from someone (and sometimes, something) can be very painful for me.  Recently, I saw a sign that read, "Say goodbye to the past."  I gasped as I read it because that's a huge challenge for me.  If I say goodbye to the past, I fear that I'll forget the wonderful people and experiences in my life and I don't want to forget them.  But the truth is, saying goodbye to the past is simply a letting go, which can be done while honoring our yesterdays and still living for today.  After all, the present is filled with too many gifts for us to ignore them.  So, with a grateful heart, I am making the transition to remembering the past and the many unforgettable experiences and loving people who have shaped me into the person I am today.  At the same time, I'm gently saying goodbye to it, realizing that today, this very moment, is all I really need.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Heart or Chutzpah?

During a recent Sunday sermon, my pastor's message had to do with embracing kindness.  She used Biblical scripture from Ephesians, chapters 4-5, as the root of her message:  "Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear....Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another...."  Our Sunday bulletin also featured a writing, titled "Seeds" by Thom M. Shuman, that included this golden nugget: "In a world which idolizes success, greatness, biggie-sized achievements, remind us of those mustard seeds planted deep within us...."  Today, sadly, I find more and more that kindness is a rare commodity and not always very valued.  Instead of having heart, it feels as if having chutzpah is the necessary attribute to achieving success.  I, however, would rather focus on those mustard seeds, those precious moments of kindness, forgiveness and building each other up as a way to measure the success of my life.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Like Butter on Hot Gingerbread

My cousin Sharon recently sent me a lovely note that included a photo of my grandfather with her father.  Both were tiny little tykes with slicked back hair, ruffled collars and happy smiles.  Their little sepia-tone faces reflected the sheer joy of childhood.  My grandpa didn't change much over the years.  I could easily recognize Grandpa the man in that little photo of him as a wee one.  Sharon mentioned in her note that she has in her possession an autograph book of my great-grandmother's, who was Grandpa's mother and Sharon's grandmother.  My great-grandmother had written in the book, "May your virtues ever spread like butter on hot gingerbread."   Reading her quote made me think a bit about virtues.  Patience, compassion and loyalty came to mind.  Then, I started to wonder, how well do my virtues "spread"?  Are they kind of thick and congealed or, as Great-grandmother Ella wrote in 1894, do they spread like butter on hot gingerbread?  I shall take her words to heart and aspire for the latter.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Going Misty All Over

While on an early-morning commute recently, not only was my head a bit foggy from awakening earlier than usual, but my surroundings were foggy, as well.  At first, there was a beautiful layer of mist -- a low, thin, white ribbon -- stretched like a strand across the landscape.  The contrast of white to the green lushness of a late-summer morning was breathtaking, causing everything to look almost magical.  Ascending out of the Baraboo valley, the sun shone like a brilliant orb through the mist.  Then, without warning, the car was plunged into a thick, gray fog, causing the prairie to look strange, mysterious and unfamiliar.  Traffic slowed to a crawl.  Even tail lights were barely discernible.  Then, just as quickly as we'd been tossed into the fog, it began to burn off, revealing a bright sky and a beautiful day.  Once again, I was grateful to live where I do, where nature's magnificence is present all around me, every day.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summer's Final Stretch

Summer's in its final stretch.  By the end of the week, it'll be fall -- already.  The other night, I watched the setting sun, a bright orange ball setting into the western horizon, and I realized it wasn't even 7:30 p.m. yet.  Evening comes sooner these days.  Sundown gives way to cooler nights.  Days start later, too.  I glanced at the clock yesterday morning, thinking it must still be the middle of the night, only to see that it was about 5:30 a.m. and it was still dark out.  It's inevitable that the seasons will change.  One solstice will lead to an equinox to another solstice and so forth.  But, I always hesitate to let go of summer.  Alas, I should take a cue from the weather by chilling out and celebrating the day and the season, the bounty at the farmer's market, the dew on the grass.  I'll celebrate summer's final stretch all the way to the first day of fall.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shoe Judgment

I've always been taught not to judge a book by its cover.  Instead, my parents instilled in me that I should look for the beauty within.  Therefore, I was quite disturbed when a friend told me about how her five-year-old daughter was being judged harshly by her little friends because she wasn't wearing the "right" brand of shoes.  Such peer pressure used to be reserved for girls in their teens, but it appears to sadly affect even little girls these days.  What has happened in our ultra-consumerism society that even children have to be aware of which brands of shoes are "in" and which ones are not?  Why is it OK to be judged by the clothes you wear, rather than by the content of your character, the kindness you show others, the competency of your skills?  I must admit that I have a very simple style of dress and I do not fall prey to fads.  If someone judges me by my appearance, may it be that I'm clean, neat and tidy.  How do we instill a level of confidence and joy in our children today so that they do not feel the need to be at the height of fashion in order to be accepted?  I feel it is up to every adult to teach the children with whom they interact that their actions hold much more meaning than their brand of shoes and that they are special and valuable just for the precious people they are.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My Man Larry

Today, Larry and I celebrate our wedding anniversary.  While we've been together for nearly 20 years, today marks our third wedding anniversary (we were very slow to make the commitment plunge!).  Larry is a wonderful man and a loving, supportive husband.  I can't imagine my life without him and I can't imagine how I could've been so lucky as to have attracted such a pleasing lifemate.  My friend Melanie calls him The Sage, for Larry is wise and his advice (when requested; he doesn't just offer his opinions without being asked) is sound.  I go to Larry with all issues and problems, big and small.  He has stood by me during multiple illnesses and was kind beyond measure to my mother, in good health and during her dying process.  Our wedding anniversaries have been strange celebrations.  The first year, I was recovering from a serious illness and I felt lucky just to be celebrating our first anniversary together.  Last year, our second anniversary was spent at the funeral home for the visitation preceding my mother's memorial service.  This year, Larry is on his way home from having been away on business, so he's kind of an absentee participant. Truly, though, our anniversary is but a day.  The real celebration is having Larry in my life 365 days a year.  Happy Anniversary, my dear Larry!  I look forward to many more wonderful years with you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hairy Business

I got my hair cut again recently and was so glad to have the fresh "do."  I wear my hair short enough that it looks the same, whether I've been in the wind, just gotten out of bed, or am on my way to a meeting or church.  I wear it short enough that I don't even have to part it.  My hairdresser Bruce is fantastic at making me look presentable, despite the fact that I'm incredibly lazy when it comes to my hair.  As a young girl, I wore my hair in a variety of ways, including parted in the middle, down nearly to my waist.  I curled it, straightened it, parted it on the side, wore pigtails, ponytails, barrettes, braids and even a bun high on my head.  I've even been bald twice from chemo treatments.  Perhaps it's those last experiences that made me realize how unimportant hair is in the big scheme of things. Thus, I'd really rather be doing something else, anything else, than fiddling with my hair, because it just doesn't matter to me.  Recently, Larry and I were watching a PBS special of old Ed Sullivan Shows from the 1960s featuring pop musicians of the era.  Of particular fun were the many ways that young men wore their hair during that decade, beginning with fairly conservative short cuts to long hair that curled around their faces.  Seeing the many male hair-dos of the 60s sparked Larry's reminiscences about his own hairstyles over time.  Laughing, he recalled that his dad would comment to him and his brothers while watching The Ed Sullivan Show, "You boys wouldn't want to wear your hair long like that, would you?"  No matter his real opinion, Larry, in his crew cut, would reply, "No."  As it turned out, as time went by, like so many other young men of the 1960s and 70s, Larry's hair grew and grew and grew, as did his beard.  Today, he wears his hair in a pleasing cut that suits him perfectly. Our hair-dos express how we see ourselves and how we wish to depict ourselves to the world.  Whether I like to fuss or not, it was indeed nice recently to have a freshly cut, new "do."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Human Sand Crabs

When at Devil's Lake State Park for our evening walks, Larry and I see a lot of people enjoying the place in diverse ways -- fishing, hiking, rock climbing, picnicking, rollerblading, running, swimming, kayaking, taking photos, and playing sand volleyball, to name a few.  We've stumbled upon weddings, receptions, birthday parties and reunions.  We've even seen baptisms in the lake.  But recently, we came upon a group of young male athletes, walking on all fours, derrieres in the air, on the beach.  They seemed to be practicing something, but we couldn't tell what.  There were several of them, walking like crabs in the sand, going back and forth and back and forth along the shoreline.  Walking any distance that way would seem to be a challenge, but adding a sandy surface underneath your hands and feet would certainly compound the situation.  At any rate, our walks are rarely dull at Devil's Lake!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering Mom

Today marks one year since my wonderful mom passed away.  It has, admittedly, been a hard year without her because so much of my life was entwined with hers.  In some ways, we were so very different from each other, but in other ways, we were such kindred spirits that I described us as taking the same breaths.  She made her last year the very best she could as cancer slowly consumed her.  I learned during that time with her to not take anything or anyone for granted.  We would sit on the side of her bed in our local nursing home, with our arms around each other, looking out the window onto the garden and watching the seasons go by.  We looked at old photo albums together time and time again and reminisced about all of the fun she had had in life and that we had shared together.  We re-read aloud newsletters from her hometown's historical society.  We celebrated her 85th birthday with genuine joy.  We remembered her 80th birthday with all of the parties and the fuchsia feather boa she wore as a gift from our good friend Chris. We cheered on the Green Bay Packers to victory.  We danced together at the nursing home's Valentine's Day ball.  Thanks to that precious time with Mom, I learned to slow down and to take in the details, really take them in.  I learned to honor the moment in which I found myself, whether it hurt or not.  In the end, Mom slipped away, with me holding her hand, wishing I could start life with her all over again so we could have even more fun times together.  Perhaps that is the gift of a life well-lived:  Enough is never enough.  But, now one year has passed and I realize that although she is not here for more fun times together, I am still blessed because my life was made the richer, simply by having her as my mom.  I miss you, Mom.  'Love you always.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


As I noted a few weeks ago, I finally succumbed to the big purchase of a food processor this summer after years of contemplating it.  Since the processor has been in our kitchen cupboard, I've been using it weekly.  My favorite processed concoction is basil pesto.  I can't seem to get enough of the stuff.  With the help of my good friend Kitty, we always have enough basil and garlic.  Add a little oil, some grated parmesan and a handful of pine nuts, and you've got a whale of a good pesto.  I guess you could call me a pestomaniac.  Larry's not real crazy about the smell of basil, but he loves the taste of pesto.  I, on the other hand, think that basil ranks right up there with the scent of a fresh Christmas tree.  I just sniff and smile, sniff and smile, and sniff and smile.  I've found some other recipes for pesto that use a variety of herbs, so that will likely be one of my next experiments.  If ever I was glad to have finally bought something (because you know me from my previous blog posts, I don't like to burden my life with caring for "stuff"), it is that food processor.  Thanks to it, I can now add "pestomaniac" to my resume!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Month Is It?

This has been the most confusing year weather-wise in my recollection.  We seem to be one month ahead of the calendar.  For instance, in March, it felt like April.  In July, it felt like August.  And in August, it felt like September.  After scorching heat and relentless dryness, we finally saw rain last month and, along with it, cooler temperatures.  The relief was palpable.  With windows thrown open each night, I slept more soundly and comfortably, lulled to slumber by the crickets.  We're entering a lovely time of year.  Autumn was my mom's favorite time of year (I must admit that mine is spring) and it is also the favorite time of year for my good friend Kitty.  The starry, crisp nights and sunny, warm days make for a perfect combination.  We wear sweatshirts on our hikes and end them with a trip to the apple orchard.  Larry and I will drive slowly along a little stretch of road near the orchard between the north and south shores of Devil's Lake State Park where the trees hang heavy overhead, forming a canopy.  It is one of my favorite stretches of road around here and I always, always comment on how beautiful it is, no matter the season.  But, in the fall, it sings.  At the end of the road, next to an old one-room schoolhouse-turned-dwelling, there is a maple tree that always starts to turn color early, erupting into a blazing red sensation.  Larry and I always comment on its beauty, no matter how many times we pass by it.  So, perhaps it doesn't really matter what month it is.  What matters is that there is so much beauty as we welcome autumn into our lives.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whatcha Reading?

In a recent Facebook post, someone asked what other people had been reading recently.  Many of the respondents listed serious or enlightening books that sounded like interesting reads.  For some courageous reason, I decided to add that I had just finished a P.G. Wodehouse romp because I'd needed the laughs.  As I've said in this blog before, I absolutely love the writings of the late P.G. Wodehouse, particularly his Jeeves and Blandings series where all was hilariously convoluted and light.  I'd been feeling rather heavy and serious of late and decided that one thing that could lighten my emotional load was to read some good ol' Wodehouse and he didn't disappoint.  Often, I discovered I was smiling and even laughing out loud.  Wodehouse could turn a phrase or describe a situation with such hilarious eloquence that I just have to laugh.  Some other more profound book posts followed, along with one that was probably as silly of a book choice as mine had been.  There is always room for serious literature, but for me, there's also always room for a little Wodehouse. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

That New School Year Smell

My good friend Donna told me over breakfast recently that she loved this time of year.  It made her think of the excitement of starting a new school year when she was a child and the scents and sensations that a new school year brought.  She said that she loved the smell of her new box of crayons, her pencils, even the paper in her new notebooks.  We both agreed that the smell of paste was also alluring!  The scent of cigars also weighed into the mixture, for at her school, elementary school-age children were asked to bring a cigar box from home in which to place their pencils, erasers, crayons and more.  Our conversation drifted to new school clothes and what that entailed.  Neither one of us boasted big, new school wardrobes.  It was more like a new dress or two.  Donna said that her mother always made her a new dress for the new school year.  It was frequently made of brown fabric, for her mother associated brown with autumn.  Sometimes, the brown fabric would feature little flowers and at other times a subtle plaid.  She said that the feel of the new fabric meant a new school year until the dress had its first washing.  We ate our blueberry pancakes that morning, reminiscing and reveling in the happy memories of those old school days when the scent of crayons was the most delectable scent of all.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kind of Corny

My friend Betty has been eating corn on the cob from the grocery store for weeks and enjoying every kernel.  Until a few weeks ago, Larry and I hadn't had our first corn of the season.  Fortunately, however, our local farmer's market featured corn one Saturday and we got hooked.  It seems that every other night for a while we added an ear of corn to our supper, no matter what the rest of the supper entailed.  Instead of whole wheat pasta, brown rice, couscous or quinoa, we ate an ear of corn each.  Despite the drought and sad state of our area's corn crop this year, we enjoyed one deliciously sweet and juicy ear after another.  As the weeks went by, we ate our quota of corn for the growing season -- and then some.  We're now ready for the next item from the harvest -- apples.  There have been some devastating stories published recently about our area's apple crop being up to 80% less than normal this year due to the strange weather dating back to last winter and spring.  However, our local orchard, Ski Hi Fruit Farm, was brimming with apples, pears and more today.  So, on a crisp fall-like day, we bought apples, pears and honey.  We're enjoying those first tastes of fall. At this time of year, my taste buds switch their preference from one delicious food to another, and so they leap now from corn to apples.  Autumn is definitely on its way.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Purpose Search

Perhaps it's a 50-something sort of thing, but I've had some amazing encounters with men and women in my age group recently who are searching for purpose and pursuing their passions.  I attribute my own search for purpose and pursuit of passions to the realization that I now have a fair amount of time behind me through which to look backward, along with a knowledge that over one-half of my life is likely over and wondering what I want to do with that precious remaining part.  One person I know is pursuing photography with gusto, taking classes in order to perfect craft, while also exploring other aspects of creativity by composing poetry.  Another person is quilting in earnest, making elaborate, beautiful and meaningful quilts and decorative, quilted items to give as special, personalized gifts.  Yet another person is returning to painting, using the brush to create a glorious image of the world.  Me? I can't seem to get enough of writing -- writing this blog, reminiscences, articles and other people's stories.  We always hear that life is so short, yet we often don't take the time to examine our purpose and pursue our passion.  I'm grateful to these wonderful people who shared the details of their own personal searches with me.  Their journey helps to validate my own.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

God Sky

I was driven to take a walk through our neighborhood one recent evening.  It had been a stressful work day and I needed the time to meditate.  As I mounted the hill heading west, all around me was what I call God Sky.  When we were young girls, my forever friend Pam and I used to refer to God Skies and God Clouds after seeing too many televised versions of "The Robe," "The Ten Commandments," and "Ben Hur," where God's presence would be made known by particular sky scenes -- usually sun's rays angling out from behind clouds.  On my evening walk, that was the sky I saw, a God Sky.  It was so captivating that I couldn't lower my eyes.  I just had to look at that magnificent God Sky. I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of peace.  I knew that my worries could be put to rest and that all would be alright.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

So Bright I Need Shades

While watching the closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, Monty Python's Flying Circus star Eric Idle had the crowd singing along as he belted out, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life."  And what a great song to make as my personal theme song!  Too often, I get caught up in the negative, the worrisome, the dark and the fearful.  But, then, I hear Eric Idle singing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," and I can't help but see things from a sunnier point of view!  And isn't that what living with a grateful heart is all about -- looking for the good, seeing the good and embracing the good?  It doesn't mean that one should deny or look the other way when something bad happens.  I think it means that you should speak the truth, show anger appropriately and do something to make things better if need be.  But, all the while, if you look on the bright side of life, I believe you will help cultivate it for others.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Winds of Change

It's been warm and breezy for the past few days.  With all of that breeze, I can't help but feel that we're experiencing the winds of change.  For one thing, it's a new month.  September brings a new school year, autumn, the harvest, fall color, warm days, refreshingly cool nights, and, if you're a fan, football.  Our local University of Wisconsin-Extension horticulturist Phyllis Both published a newspaper column recently in which she quoted George Santayana:  "To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring."  And so I sit, in a happier state of mind, knowing that the winds of change are bringing about a new season, a new beginning, and a new way of being and thinking.  We'll take walks in the autumn sunshine, eat apples from Ski-Hi Fruit Farm, listen to and watch football games, load up on farmer's market produce, enjoy fall's breathtaking palette, and let go of summer, one day at a time.

Monday, September 3, 2012

For a Good Cause

Driving past a local park, one might be surprised to see colorful brassieres and kitchen aprons hanging from a line stretched between two posts, but they're there for a good cause.  For the past nine years, women age 30+ have been devoting their Labor Day weekend in our community to fighting breast cancer.  Scores of women gather into teams, wearing funny costumes and even funnier team names, and they play ball, while having a ball at the same time.  To be sure, theirs is a serious cause, but they address it with a spirit of fun and joy.  Over the past nine years, they have raised thousands and thousands of dollars that benefit breast cancer research around the globe and fund two breast cancer support groups locally.   Thanks to their efforts, one day they may indeed see breast cancer eliminated.  Till then, they'll play ball and Catch for a Cure.  Many thanks to them all.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Cup Runneth Over

My forever friend Pam recently described her sister and herself in clever detail as different types of coffee. Her writing made me think of how I might describe the precious female friends (who feel like sisters) in my life.  I decided that one of my friends is chamomile tea with honey in a beautiful pottery mug. Another friend is a soothing serving of warm milk in a lovely floral china cup with matching saucer.  One of my other friends is a fun and frosty mug of root beer.  Yet another friend is a tall, cool and refreshing glass of water with a wedge of lemon or lime in it.  And another friend is a strong cup of coffee, straightforward, likely served in a recyclable paper cup.  No matter how I describe these lovely "sisters," I'm blessed they are my friends.  Because of them, my cup runneth over.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Once in a...

Last night was one of those rare occasions, once in a blue moon, when we have -- a blue moon! For the second time in a month, we experienced a full moon.  While the first one on August 2 was bright and bold and the night sky starry and spectacular, last evening's sky was overcast and the moon was shielded behind a heavy haze, almost indiscernible for a while.  I kept looking out the window, thinking that it would be a lovely evening for a stroll with Larry under the blue moon.  But, alas, we were both tired from the hot and humid day. Instead of strolling anywhere, Larry watched the Milwaukee Brewers play ball on TV while I sat beside him on the couch with my nose tucked into a library book.  We may not have had the romantic blue-moon stroll that I'd originally intended, but there was something lovely and normal about sitting together for the evening, finding comfort in each other's quiet presence.  The next blue moon isn't scheduled until July of 2015, or so I've read.  Till then, I'll simply "moon" over Larry.