Divorce — the collateral damage.

I’ve been divorced long enough now to be somewhat comfortable in my skin again.  I have friends and family and church and mobility and … everything I really need to be a happy, helpful member of the human race.

I don’t always accept what divorce has delivered to me on a not-so-silver platter, but I have found peace with most of it, most of the time.

I find it interesting that each time I become resigned to what is, a new form of loss washes over me.  Lately I have thought of the many acquaintances whom I no longer have contact with because I have no contact with my ex-husband.  I miss them.  Many of them were repeat overnight guests in our home and I had come to think of them as friends.  These were business associates who worked regularly with D.

Sometimes they would take D and me out to dinner, their way of paying for their lodging, I suppose.  Often we stayed in and I cooked dinner.  Some of them, I knew, seldom got home-cooked meals.  A few came to know me well enough to request a particular meal.  I always suspected they were encouraged by D when he knew they liked the same meals he did.  I was comfortable with that.

Perhaps, as cynical Maxine says in the cartoon above, these old acquaintances are better forgot.  I should sweep them up like so much shattered glass and toss them.  Forget them.  Fortunately (or not), I’m not that much of a cynic.  Well, a few of those characters were forgettable.  But some were not.

I’ve thought recently of my favorite of the lot, T the Swede.  Let me say first that he was pleasant to look at.  Now that I’ve settled that, I can tell you that it wasn’t his good looks that captured my attention.  I think D and I liked him equally.  He was kind and thoughtful.  He listened and became totally engaged in the conversation at hand.  He asked questions as if he really wanted to learn the answers.  Everyone who knew him seemed to feel the way we did about him.  He invited us to visit him and his family in Sweden.  They had a place on a lake.  I think the invitation was sincere.  I wish we had gone.

A while back, D sent me an email telling me that T had suffered a horrible skiing accident and his injuries now confine him to a wheelchair.  I keep thinking about T’s love for his wife and boys and of the tender care he bestowed upon them.  T and his wife L and their first son A spent a few days with us once when they were in the States.  We enjoyed having them.  Little A was still a baby and T was an expert parent.  As I reflect on those days long gone, I find myself hoping that T is now receiving that same unselfish love and care that he so effortlessly gave to others.

It was kind of D to update me as to T’s condition.  It tells me that he remembers how much I favored T over all the others.  He also sent me T’s email address.  I think it’s time I should send T a note.

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Simultaneous sunset/moonrise.

I cry very easily.  It can be a movie, a phone conversation, a sunset — tears are words waiting to be written.         ~ Paulo Coelho

I walked the neighborhood this morning but the cool temperature called me out again this evening.  Here are photos of wonders and fun things I saw.

When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands… ~ Mahatma Gandhi

I rounded the corner after snapping a picture of the sunset.  Imagine my delight at seeing this view of the moonrise through a neighbor’s tree.

I had just photographed the moon and continued my walk when I heard a woman’s voice calling out, evidently to me, “Miss, Miss.”  She hurried up to me as I turned to her voice.  She was a short, elderly woman, and was apparently concerned that I might have taken a picture of what looked like a dead tree in her yard.  I wonder who she thought I was and why I would do that.  I introduced myself and explained that I was shooting the moon.  She told me her tree was not dead, that it was coming back.  I still don’t know her name but I’m happy for her tree.

At least one neighbor is ready for Halloween.  I can’t help thinking that the ghastly hands would make a greater impact if they didn’t put them out so far in advance.  Than again, I guess they don’t want to scare the bejeebies out of the little ones.

I will probably get stoned, or yelled at, or something horrible, for saying this, but I never have understood the football craze.  I love sports.  I just don’t particularly care for football.  It seems barbaric to me.  I think that statement puts me in a fairly small minority.  We have a very diverse neighborhood.  Many of my neighbors come from other parts of the US or from other countries.  I don’t imagine all of them pull for the local team, the Carolina Panthers, but one neighbor does .  This is the official Panther logo.

Home again.  I am always surprised at how rapidly the sun drops below the horizon, casting a sort of purple over the landscape.  It’s a quiet time, a gentle time, a gift.

There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free.  Don’t miss so many of them.    ~ Jo Walton

Sunrise, Sunset — Piano         Beautiful slide show.

Autumn.

Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking successive autumns. ~ George Eliot

Fall is officially here.  The calendar says so.  Here in the flat land of NC the signs are present; a few of them are.  The trees have not started to change yet but the humidity has dropped.  That’s a great relief.  We were expecting 86 degrees today.  That’s still pretty hot for me.  Ahhhh, but the nights are cool.  And early morning is cool enough for a walk around the neighborhood.  What a treat after walking the air-conditioned indoor track for the past two months.

I dug out the autumn flags this afternoon.  I like this one.  I like the idea of Ms. Squirrel storing acorns and nuts in her little home.  I hope she finds enough to make it through the winter.  The  squirrel in this picture reminds me of Miss Suzy the squirrel.  I wonder how many times I read Miss Suzy to my baby girls.

Oh I love to cook, I love to bake, I think I’ll make an acorn cake.

We loved the idea of Miss Suzy, cozy in her wee tree house, baking acorn cakes.  I have to admit, though, that I tasted acorns several times when I was a child.  They were horribly bitter.  Now that I’m older I can’t help thinking how appropriate it is for there to be some nuts that humans don’t like.  It’s nice to know that provision is made for the critters.

In addition to the flags, I also attached my leaf wreath to the front door in honor of this lovely new season.

I haven’t done any research but I often wonder which season is most often chosen as a favorite.  I think it’s spring but I don’t know that.  I like spring, too, but for me it can’t compare to fall.

I’ve thought a great deal about why autumn is so special for me.  When I was a school girl it meant I could go back to school.  I loved school.  And I suspect my love of going back also had to do with escaping a less-than-happy family life.

As a young mother hen I felt as if I were doing a better job of nesting my chickies in the fall.  After a summer of playing outdoors, riding bikes, skating, etc., I had them back under my wing.  That always felt good to me.  And since I loved going back to school, I assumed they did, too.  I think they did.

My ex-husband’s grandmother loved the fall as much as I do.  It was her favorite.  We had that in common; that and our great love for our D.        D  and I were married in October.  He was also fond of that time of year.  Well, he said he was.  I guess it’s true.  We went to the mountains for our honeymoon.  Peak weekend for leaf color.  Beautiful.  It’s hard to realize that it’s been thirty-five years since we tied that knot.  I guess I will always feel sad that the knot loosened and then frayed.  But it is so.

So…the days grow shorter.  The sky gets bluer.  Mums bloom.  Trees have a final spectacular show before beginning their long nap.  The air gets cleaner and crisper.  And I get happier, more relaxed, less stressed.

I’m happy to be nesting again now that I have Lulu.  Lulu’s content too.  I can tell by her calm purring as she lies next to me on the couch. Life is good.

Do you have a favorite season?

My Obama dream.

Last night I dreamed about President Obama.  With nothing but politics on television and in the newspapers, it isn’t strange that I would be dreaming about a candidate.  I’m glad it was Obama and not his opponent Mitt Romney.  I woke up feeling relaxed and hopeful.  Had I dreamed of Romney, I’m pretty sure I would have felt agitated and tired.

The dream.  Obama is mingling with the crowd and probably driving the Secret Service crazy.  It’s a fund-raising event.  These are people who can afford to donate twenty dollars to the cause, not twenty million.  I notice the President is looking from side to side as if he’s searching for something or someone.  His eyes come to rest on me.  (Isn’t this a cool dream?)  Then he says to me, “You!  Aren’t you the one who gave me that piece of fabric?”  I nod.  He continues, “I wasn’t impressed when you gave it to me, but look at it now!  Isn’t it magnificent?”

He points to a nearby wall.  On the wall hangs a tapestry.  It’s the most beautiful, colorful tapestry I have ever seen or even imagined.  There are numerous pieces of fabric, artfully joined together in glorious profusion as if they were born that way.  Every piece, every color is perfectly placed.  A wonder to behold!

President O puts a hand on my shoulder (I told you this is an awesome dream.), and somewhat wistfully states, “What great things we could accomplish if we would all come together like the pieces of this tapestry.”

Credit:  “Tapestry” donated by my granddaughter Maddy.

Does it get any better than this?!

       “And drivin’ down the road I get the feelin’ that I should have been home yesterday…”  ~ John Denver

I have the good fortune to have friends who own a Christmas tree farm in my beloved Blue Ridge Mountains in western North Carolina.  I spent the weekend there with four of my favorite people.  Four girlfriends who probably continue to love me because of my flaws rather than in spite of them.  A fifth friend was noticeably absent and we missed her and the many laughs she always provides.

I sing John Denver’s “Country Roads” once I get far enough from the city to feel as if I’m really on my way “home.”  Sometimes I get funny looks from fellow travelers, but I smile at them and keep singing.  This country road takes me right to the front door of “Grandma’s” house.  She isn’t really my grandma but she’s kind enough to allow me to call her that.  She’s actually the matriarch of my friend’s family and the owner of this lovely retreat.  She’s the epitome of generosity, always sending us up to her haven in the mountains whenever we can work it into our schedules.  Once I get out of the car and see the tree sign in the photo above, I know I’m really home.

When I’m in the mountains I love to wander and wonder.  Now that I’m blogging, I always take my phone or my camera and look for photo-worthy subjects.  There are many — up, down, and all around.  I found this thistle gone-to-seed growing beside a little barn.  I think I snapped it because it looks like my hair when I get up in the morning.  Does that mean I’ve gone to seed too?  I’m saying no to that because I found this still-blooming thistle and I gotta tell you — I like the old one better.  All her bits of fluff can drift in the wind and land on fertile ground like Grammy’s bits of wisdom coming to rest in the fecund minds of her grandchildren.  I know, I’m still a dreamer after all these years, but I believe that some of those gentle reminders really do take root and can grow until they are something fine and wonderful.

I took these shots in the late afternoon on Friday.  It was a glorious sunny day with lots of fluffy white clouds, along with a few dark afternoon-shower clouds.  But the showers skipped us.  The tree in the foreground is a Fraser fir waiting for Christmas.  Well, I think it’s a Fraser.  Tree experts, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

As I continued my walk I stumbled upon numerous eye-catching goodies:  interesting stumps and trees, wild flowers and not-so-wild ones, acorns.  Here are a few of the wonders I beheld.

The teapot at the bottom is one of Grandma’s many artful touches that make her home feel so welcoming to us sojourners.


To Momma.

Today is my mom’s birthday.  If she were alive she would be ninety-two years old.  She died three years ago just days shy of her eighty-ninth.  Mom loved pretty things, most of all flowering baskets to hang on her front porch.  One of the last gifts I bought for her while she was still living in her house was baskets for Mother’s Day.  She would love this one.

In Mom’s honor I went around the house and yard this afternoon looking for things I knew she would like.  It was a good exercise for me as it helped me to recall many of the sweet memories I have of her.

I think she would enjoy this colorful bookmark.  She loved to read, and her favorite color was blue.  I prefer to remember her when her vision was still good enough for reading and jigsaw puzzles.

The photo on the right is a beautiful wind chime my daughter gave me.  When I moved to this house four years ago it became a tangle of colors and glass and keys.  I guess I didn’t do a very good job of packing.  It’s waiting patiently for someone to untangle it and free its lovely song.  If Mom were here she would sit on the deck and carefully straighten every strand, restoring it to its intended artistic state.

I have a profusion of chives growing in my unkempt, weedy little garden.  She loved growing things so I know she would enjoy the flowering chives.  I don’t think she would be too pleased with the weeds but she wouldn’t scold.  She stopped that years ago.  I can imagine her saying, “Well, it’s just to hot to do much weeding down here, isn’t it, Honey.”  She and I are, after all, mountain women.  We don’t do very well in hot weather.

There’s a new little tree asserting itself in the back yard.  We’ve had “extra” rain this summer.  I’m sure it has achieved additional growth because of the rain forest conditions.  I’m rather proud of it.  I know Mom would be, too.

If I could, I would give this sweet jeweled box to Mom.  I think she would put her favorite earrings in it.  And maybe a ring or two.  When she was a young mother she couldn’t afford nice jewelry.  Hopefully we (her children and grandchildren) made up for that when we started to earn salaries of our own.

I especially like this afghan.  I made it with scraps of leftover yarn.  I think Mom would appreciate my attempt to be frugal by using what I had on hand.  I would like to give this to her, to keep her warm.  Of course, she would let her dog Odie sleep on it, too, but I’m finally mature enough to give with no strings attached.  Did I say strings?  Aren’t afghans made of strings?

This sentimental journey has made me cry a bit.  Okay, a lot.  I would like to leave you with a chuckle.  My caption for the photograph below is “Even my cat is voting for Obama!”  So would Momma if she were here.

Disparate subjects: politics, and a musical cat.

The Democratic National Convention is in town.  The air crackles with excitement.  Okay, maybe that crackle is road rage.

I’m pretty sure Michelle Obama stayed at a hotel a mile and a half from my home last night.  I think that because the streets that form a perimeter around a certain hotel are closed.  The media have warned us for several weeks that traffic patterns will change.  And we all know that those folks are not particularly subtle.  Those changes, of course, cause detours and overcrowding of surrounding routes.  As I move about these next few days I will have to plan my trips a little more carefully than usual.

You might think I’m complaining, but that is not the case.  I am thrilled to have these guests in town.  I think what they/we are doing here is an important part of the American political process.

I considered attending the convention.  I chose not to.  I could have secured a ticket because I worked as a volunteer this summer.  I registered voters in a predominantly Latino neighborhood.  (We aren’t very subtle either.)  I decided instead to watch part of it on television.

Already today I have learned how Jeff Bridges makes a white Russian.  (With a lot of alcohol, by the way.)  To be fair, I also heard him talk at length about his No Kid Hungry project.  Bridges attends both political conventions because he believes strongly, as do I, that hungry children should never be politicized.  I give a resounding “Thank you and keep up the good work!” to Jeff and his children.

Now the other story.

I was in the kitchen recently cleaning the sink when I heard a sweet melodic sound.  I stopped being noisy and listened.  I heard it again.  And again.

The radio, ipod, and television were quiet.  There was no one else in the house.  At least that’s what I hoped.  Just Lulu the awesome cat.  She couldn’t have made that sound.

I dried my hands and tip-toed toward the music.  There was Lulu on the dining room table in a large bowl.  It’s what I call a low bowl because it has a low rim, or side.  I watched quietly.  She didn’t know I was there.  She lifted a front paw and swiped the rim of the bowl.  What a wonderful dulcet sound it made.  She did it again.  Another sweet tone.

Who knew a cat could do something like that?!  When the children were little we had a cat that played the piano, but this is a whole new level of feline musicality.  I tried to take a video so I could maybe enter Lulu in a kitty-cat talent show, but I was too slow.  I’ll try to be ready the next time she plays for me.What did I do for entertainment before Lulu came to stay?