A perfect day.

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. ~ Vince Lombardi

I seem to get philosophical when I do yard work, especially as I mow the lawn, or in today’s case, as I mow the hay.  I’m pretty sure there’s enough to bale.  Or there will be when the job is finished.  I’m taking a break to let the battery recharge.  Mine and the one that goes in the lawn mower, she says with a grin.

Some aspects of maintaining a house and lawn try both my body and my soul.  More often my body, I guess.  That’s what I was thinking as I moved the hammock off the grass and back under the pine trees.  When the children are here they pull it down on the grass because it’s more level there.  They never remember to pull it back up.  Maybe it’s too difficult since it’s uphill.  I would never scold them for it.  It isn’t that important — until I try to heave-ho by myself.  I slowly move one end at a time until I get it out of the path of the lawnmower.  It’s heavier than it looks.

Actually, the hammock belonged to my ex.  I bought it for him for a birthday or some other occasion.  I don’t remember.  I suppose I should have left it for him when I moved my furniture, etc., from our house, but I didn’t.  I never once saw him relax in it.  The children loved it from day one.  I took it for them.  I knew they would enjoy it.  And they have.

I was upset that I was having to move by myself when half the “stuff” was his and I had to go through every room and mark what was going with me and what stayed for him to move later.  It was the hardest job, physically and emotionally, I had ever tried to do.  I wasn’t feeling very kindly toward D.  He should have been there to help.  He wasn’t.

I think it may have been that day when I really understood what a coward he became once he decided to end the marriage.  He either couldn’t or wouldn’t face me.  He fled.  Ran away.  I suppose the fact that I can still get angry at him helps to assuage my guilt for taking some things that weren’t mine to take.  Actually, he can have the hammock now if he wants to come and get it.  I don’t deliver.

Hey!  Where the hell did my perfect day go?  Maybe it just went from perfect to excellent, but I’ll take excellent.  Excellent is good.

So why is today an excellent, if not perfect, day?  Because I stand on the deck and look beyond the pergola at the blue sky.  I work in the yard in ideal weather — sunny with a high temperature of about 68 degrees.  I’m happy outdoors.

Though it’s sometimes a challenge, I am physically able to care for my lawn and house.  I’m grateful for that.

I’m able to take out small pieces of sadness and/or anger-inducing aspects of my past, but I no longer have a need to wallow in any of it.  It is what it is.  It’s part of who I am today.  I have more happy days than sad ones, I think.

Today is one of the happy ones.  An excellent day.

So…how’s your day?

 

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.


Summertime blues.

“…and there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.”  ~ Eddie Cochran, 1938-1960

Back in 1959, young Eddie Cochran wrote and recorded “Summertime Blues.”  It has since been recorded by many other artists, including Roger Daltrey and The Who.  It continues to entertain me whenever I chance to hear it.  I included the link so that you might enjoy it, too, if you choose.  Music, as I have said before, soothes my soul and brings me great joy.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have bouts of depression.  Some of the worst times come in the summer.  I am at my core an outdoor “girl.”  When we have days, sometimes even weeks on end, of ninety-five plus temperatures, it starts to wear on me.  Walking in the mall isn’t my idea of satisfying exercise.  Walking outside is out of the question–even dangerous.  Stubborn soul that I am, I try hard to outwit my depression and negative thoughts.  Tonight I’m looking back on my last twenty-four hours and remembering the things/people/events that brought a spot of happiness into my world.  For example, red flowers in a summer bouquet as seen in the photo above.  I bought these for myself at my local grocery.

Stella and her mom spent the night with me last night.  This is her Bananagrams message on our Winnie the Pooh rug in her favorite room.  You can see Pooh’s feet, lower right.  We rocked and I sang the songs I used to sing to her mom when she was little.  S sings with me on You Are My Sunshine.  We read books, ate chocolate cake, watched a bit of Sponge Bob Square Pants (a very funny show for adults), and lots of other fun stuff.  No time for depression with S around.  She’s a joyful little girl.

This is Stella’s t-shirt for the day.  She didn’t want to pose long enough for me to snap a picture but she finally relented so I would “just get it done” and leave her alone.  I’m proud of her parents for teaching this message to their children and for promoting it in the community via t-shirts and attitudes.  Title IX lives! and I’m glad for that.  In fact I can gratefully add that all three of my daughters encourage and support this message.  Thank you, Daughters, for your open minds and progressive thinking.

High on my list of hot-weather activities is visiting my nearest book shop, so I don’t need to tell you that I was delighted when Daughter #1 (numbers established by birth order) texted and asked if I wanted to meet her there.  Of course I did.  It’s a large store and it’s wonderfully cool.  I often spend a couple of hours browsing, and I admit it, I buy far too often for one who has an electronic reader.  It helps that there’s a Starbucks there.  This time of year it’s the coffee frappuccino that calls my name.  Yum!

I keep telling myself that I must start to spend more time at the nearest public library so I won’t buy books.  It would be just as cool.  Of course they don’t have a Starbucks and the library is farther away.  One of these days.  Maybe.  I’m considering it.  Really!

Do your best.  Give.  Eat good food and share.  Celebrate tradition.  Cherish family.  Look back.  Look ahead.  LIVE NOW.  Play games.  Dream.  Accept change.  ~~  These are the messages on a lovely, handcrafted Lazy Susan which sits on my kitchen table.  Today, I’m happy to say, I did most of these things.    It was a good day. 

Birthdays are not for sissies.

I had a birthday recently.  I’ve also been a little sad of late.  Are the two connected?  I don’t really know.  Maybe.  My mom did not age gracefully.  She fought it like a tiger.  I asked her once if she had thought of having a “friend” or another husband.  Her answer was classic Mom:  “I’ve thought of it but the way I see it I’m too old to get a younger man and I don’t want an older one.  I DON’T LIKE OLD MEN!”  I decided to rib her a little and told her that she was, in fact, an old woman.  She stood her ground as she told me she knew that but “I STILL DON’T LIKE OLD MEN!”  I conceded and I don’t think I ever mentioned it again.

I’m not sure why I brought this up or where I’m going with it but I will tell you that I don’t dislike old men as long as they don’t act old.  I think that order gets taller the more birthdays I have.  Now I shall return to this most recent birthday celebration.

Through and throughout the malaise of depression sadness I never lose sight of the fact that I’m very fortunate to have family and friends who are kind and giving and supportive.  Witness the beautiful rose bouquet pictured above or the chocolate-covered strawberries (right) which were delivered to my front door.  Yum!  Equally important are the thoughts and wishes that aren’t or can’t be pictured here.  Lunch out AND dinner cooked in by my best buddy who loves me no matter what dumb thing I might say or do.  All-girl family dinner with two daughters and two granddaughters where we named the worst and best things about our day and some of us couldn’t think of a worst.  How great is that!  A Barnes and Noble gift card to cover my nook-book purchases for quite some time.  Hugs and kisses from my Latino friends and a loud “Happy Birthday to You” sung in Spanish.  The Face Book greetings, the phone calls and the snail mail printed cards.  The handmade cards made by the grandchildren.  My favorite birthday quote comes from a card my grandson F made:  “I hope you have a great birthday but I know that it will be great because you are with the people who love you.”  My second favorite comes from a card his little sister S made:  “On your birthday, can you take me to the toy store?”

Life is good.  As I wind down this little essay I leave you with what I consider to be my funniest card.

Hello blue skies; bye-bye depression.

Blue skies                                 Smiling at me                          Nothing but blue skies                     Do I see.  ~ Irving Berlin

A brisk walk in brisk weather is a cure-all.  The sky is blue but I’m not.  I have places to go, things to do and people to see.  Better get busy.

Peace to us all in this fresh new year!

Christmas weather.

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.   ~ Steve Martin

Monday, December 19–A beautiful sunny day with a beautiful sunny ten-year-old boy.  F and I went shopping for his Christmas present.  He’s at an age where I need his help choosing what he will enjoy.  We spent quite a long time in the toy store while he made his decision.  Granted, it won’t be a surprise but he will be a happy boy all the same.

After all that hard work we needed a snack.  So we walked down to Brueggers Bagels to get F a late lunch.  This is an unusual Brueggers in that it’s housed in the same space as a Caribou Coffee.  While I was waiting in line for bagels, F informed me that Caribou has the best hot chocolate in the world.  I simply couldn’t resist a line like that so I gave him money and he bought hot chocolate while I took care of the food.

As we sat and ate and sipped, he informed me, “I like spending time with you, Grammy.”  (As if those bright blue eyes hadn’t already melted my heart.)  We try to have these outings ever so often but it’s probably not often enough for either of us.  We talked about why we like being together.  We always have lots to talk about and we feel comfortable in each other’s presence.

Tuesday, December 20–Cloudy all day.  Very dark.  A lights-on-in-the-house day.  I absolutely need company on a day like today so I’m glad that I have a standing date with Daughter #1.  (You may already know that I have three daughters and they are numbered by birth order just for convenience.)  Number One and I meet every Tuesday morning from 10:00 to 12:00 and visit with each other.  We’ve done this for about two or three months now and I have come to look forward to it immensely.  In fact, I guess I’ve learned to depend on it.

We don’t have an agenda, thus there are no expectations other than spending this bit of time together.  I drive to her house one week and the next she drives to mine.  We talk.  It’s amazing to me how helpful it is to say what’s on my mind and then have her say it back to me as she understands it.  It’s good to have another human being tell me what she thinks I just said, especially when that human is as astute and intuitive as she is.  And I guess I’m not surprised that I generally express myself better in writing.  It helps, doesn’t it, to have time to think it through.

I hope we will continue to have these tete a tete for a very long time.  It’s just good to have my daughter all to myself.  We didn’t get to do this when her children were younger.  I wish I had equal time with Numbers Two and Three.  Maybe one day.

Back to the weather report.  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and yes, Christmas Day–rain, rain and more rain.  I try not to project about things such as the weather but sometimes it helps to realize what I will need to do to scare away doom and gloom.  I will be smiling and spreading sunshine as I finish my shopping, make toffee, and complete my crochet/knit Christmas gifts.  And I will seek smiles and sunshine at the same time.  One grandchild and one daughter at a time will carry me through to the other side and to a Merry Christmas.