Monday, April 28, 2014

Bless the Beasts and the Children

Yesterday seemed to be a day designed around the beautiful Karen Carpenter rendition of "Bless the Beasts and the Children."  Our community and county celebrated Earth Day with a time of exploration, education and appreciation for the Earth at UW-Baraboo/Sauk County.  The event blessed the beasts and all other life forms through more than 50 exhibitors, workshops, music and an exhibition of art made from recycled materials.  Larry and I always enjoy this event, where we tend to linger longer than planned because we are among kindred spirits. The afternoon also included a run out to The Kids' Ranch, a local not-for-profit organization created as a blessing to children by helping them to learn compassion, non-violence and literacy. It was there that a retirement party was held for our special friend Judy who has devoted years of volunteer leadership and support to Kids' Ranch, among other causes. Throughout the afternoon, I was reminded of how fortunate we are to live in a beautiful place in which every day seems to be Earth Day and how the good people of our community foster a healthy and healing environment for our children. From Earth Day to a good friend's retirement, the day was indeed a blessing and a celebration.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

All Gussied Up

In a day when photographs are taken simply with the click of one's cell phone and "selfies" are all the rage on Facebook, it seems almost unusual to dress up in our best clothes to pose for a professional photographer. However, such is the case this evening. Larry and I are scheduled to have a professional portrait taken for our church directory tonight. It's been ages since we had our photograph taken and years since we posed for a formal portrait. There's something rather pleasant about having to get "all gussied up" for a photograph. Of course, there are the strategies that the photography firm recommended, including that adults wear long-sleeved clothing in complementary colors and timeless styles, that you schedule your photograph at a time when your haircut isn't fresh, and even that your fingernails are trimmed and your shoes appropriate, just in case they show in the picture. That isn't to say that you can't be original. The material on the photographer's website invites you to bring your pets, toys or musical instruments if you wish to show your unique personality. Ours will simply be Larry in suit and tie and me in an ensemble comprised of colors to complement his. The last time I had a church directory photo taken, I posed with mom. To honor her memory, I think I'll wear one of her pretty nature pins so that a part of her is in the picture, too.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Resurrection Song

For the past several days, the hymn "Easter People Raise Your Voices" has been going through my head. The jubilant nature of the song coincides well with the joy of the Easter holiday and of the spring season when all comes alive. It is at this time of year when thoughts of resurrection take on special and deep meaning. In a letter our pastor wrote to the congregation, she suggested that we "remember 'resurrection' is a call to new life and an appeal for us to practice resurrection here and now." I witnessed signs of new life as I took an Easter afternoon walk yesterday.  There was the purple crocus peeking out of a crevice, the daffodil clump in bloom, children on swings in their Easter go-to-church clothes, teenagers playing baseball and shooting hoops, adults on front porches and on patios, dogs barking as they raced around their backyards, the scent of a barbecue grill in the distance. As Christians celebrated resurrection yesterday, the Earth celebrated a resurrection, too, in the form of a renewal from the quiet of winter to the awakening of spring.  This is indeed a time of new life, an opportunity to explore our own renewals and to raise our voices in jubilation for all of our blessings.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bird City

Larry and I had the pleasure of hearing a speaker from Bird City Wisconsin a few weeks ago.  It was one of those evenings when the wind was whipping and the notion of staying in the warmth of our home sounded almost too enticing.  But, we ventured out anyway and heard an entertaining and informative program about the Bird City Wisconsin initiative that encourages Wisconsin communities to make a bird-friendly commitment.  The program complements the Arbor Day Foundation's Tree City USA designation.  There are some 80 communities in our state that have made the commitment to "make our communities healthy for birds... and people."  That particular evening, a portion of the program was presented by a teacher from the Baraboo School District who is passionate about bringing the fascination of science to her students.  This young woman spoke with such conviction and excitement that I only wished I was in middle school again so I could have her as my teacher. I'm no ornithologist, but I have a deep appreciation and gratitude for the birds that grace our community, bringing their beauty and song to enhance the day.  There is nothing so lovely at this time of year than to hear their sweet songs in the early morning on my way into the office.  I'm all in favor of Baraboo taking the plunge and engaging residents of all ages to become birders and to make our neighborhoods better places for people, birds and all living things.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Bookin' It

For the past three months, I have busied myself during the cold, wintery weekends with lots of writing and public relations projects.  I have plunked myself in front of my laptop for a portion of every Saturday and Sunday to write news releases, feature stories, interview questions, video scripts and the like.  The days have flown by, but I haven't given myself sufficient time to lollygag in my comfy leather reading chair and ottoman for some serious reading.  I've given myself time to read, for sure, but not prolonged periods of time when nothing on my to-do list beckoned loud enough to pull me out of my comfortable surroundings.  One recent afternoon, I found that my list had been completed and there were no writing or PR projects reminding me to be done, so I sat down in my chair, allowed myself to sink deeply into it and I read from the stack of three library books beside it.  At first, I had a sense of guilt. Shouldn't I be doing something constructive?  Then, I realized, I was doing something constructive.  I was giving my mind, body and spirit a break, a respite from the hectic workday pace and the weekends at my laptop.  It was sheer bliss, something I will do from here on out on a regular basis as a gift to myself.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Screen Show

Evidently, it doesn't take much to make me happy.  One recent Saturday, I swept the mounds of sand from the floor of our garage, Larry washed winter off of his car, and I put the screens back into our casement windows.  It's been our habit in recent years to remove the screens in the fall, wash them down and store them for the winter so we can get the most out of the precious daylight during the long, dark months.  When I heard that the temperature was supposed to soar into the 60s, I decided that it was time to put the screens back in so we could open the windows, if only for a few minutes, to bring in the fresh air and release the stale winter, cooped-up air.  I practically danced as I did these chores, for it meant one thing: spring is here and the warmer weather is on its way.  Two friends and I laughed the other day about how we practically wore our winter coats last July when we had a day with a high only in the 60s.  Yet, in March or April, on that first day that climbs into the 60s, we practically pull out our shorts and sunhats.  I guess it's all in our perspectives, but sweeping out the garage and replacing window screens were elevated to joyful, memorable moments.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Culinary Delights

Our office has a cast of great cooks.  Last week, three of them put their heads together and decided that we needed another staff potluck.  We hadn't had one for a couple of months, so it was time to gather together for a delicious lunch made by our many talented chefs. I love potlucks, for you never know what culinary delights will grace the table and what new recipes may be shared.  That day, the centerpiece of our potluck was chicken chili.  Everyone who attended brought a tasty array of treats to complement the main dish. Better yet, the meal was an opportunity to relax with co-workers, spend time chatting about topics other than work, and bond in ways that only breaking bread together can do.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Ruffled Feathers

As I got out of the car to head into church recently, I pulled my hat down on my head, yanked my scarf up around my neck and lowered my head to address the brisk wind.  As I did so, however, I caught sight of a fat, fluffed-up robin under a bare deciduous tree.  I could only imagine what he or she was thinking:  Where is spring? Although it probably wasn't the case, the robin looked as if it was shivering, which made me shiver all the more.  Spring is here, but it still doesn't consistently act like it (according to my definition of spring anyway). The wind can still be raw, the temperature in the teens and the snow falling as if it were December, but spring it is anyway.  For just as soon as I give in that it's cold, blowing and snowing, the terrible weather stops, the sun comes out, the winds fade away and the snow melts to give subtle hints of green grass.  Like the robin I saw that recent Sunday, my feathers get a little ruffled that winter won't just give in and go away with some level of grace to allow spring to fully enter.