Stop! and smell the flowers.

I feel fortunate to be able to walk around my neighborhood.photo-38 Five months ago I wasn’t sure I would stand again, let alone walk. I’ve put my Fitbit back on and am able to walk about 7,000 steps a day. Of course my goal is much higher but for now I feel almost like a walking miracle. We were fortunate this year to actually have spring weather on the first day of spring. As I walked I couldn’t resist snapping lots of lovely flowers.

This is a happy post. I almost have a spring in my step and Mother Nature definitely has one in hers.photo-35

There are lots of pansies that survived the winter and they start to seriously thrive in March. Later, the hot weather will take its toll. This is a basket on my front porch. My daughter gave it to me. She must have known this is my favorite pansy color.

One of the first signs of spring is the blooming of the Bradford pear tree. I have mixed feelings about this tree.photo-25photo-70 There’s no denying its lush loveliness after a long winter. Our neighborhood is rife with these flowering wonders which means the distasteful (to me) smell is everywhere and if I stay outside too long I’ll get a headache.

I noticed as I strolled that there were a number of dandelions in the lawns that are left to their own devices. Like mine.photo-73 The seriously manicured lawns won’t allow weeds to grow. Their green four-inch grass is so thick that neither the owners nor the grass would ever allow such a pariah to set up shop in their yards. Personally, I like the “dandies” in all their stages. I still love to blow the seeds so they will land where they may and grow more yellow beauties.photo-80

My yard isn’t really a lawn. It’s a random collection of grasses and weeds that give it a wonderful green patchwork effect. I have planted a spring green (chartreuse?) ground cover under my pear tree and as you can see here, it’s starting to creep into the grass to make its own statement. I realize that my neighbors probably don’t like my kind of lawn but I feel the same way about their “perfect” chemically treated ones.

I saw violets on my walk. Some people consider this plant a weed. photo-68I don’t. Nor do the owners of this little clump. See how carefully they placed the mulch around it? The violet was Eleanor Roosevelt’s favorite flower. She had lovely violet wallpaper on the walls of her room at Campobello. I had the privilege of visiting there some years ago.

I think my favorite photo for the day is this whimsical winged pig flying through the pansy bed. I often use the expression, “When pigs fly!” photo-41It says so much with only three little words. If someone is so naïve as to ask me if I would ever marry again that is my answer. Would I consider going back in to the classroom and teaching? When pigs fly!  Would I ever buy another two-story house? When… You get the picture.

More photos from my yard. A white camellia. Yellow daffodils. A red camellia. photo-77photo-75 photo-76

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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.


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.

The Christmas marathon.

I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love.  ~ Conor Oberst

The marathon is completed for another year and I’m both happy and sad to be home in the quiet again.  I always start Christmas morning with Dtr. #3, then go a couple of miles up the street to #1 and after lunch there, I head up to Chapel Hill to the home of #2.  It is so much fun to see the children’s excitement and feel their energy and love.  I am extraordinarily well-fed on Christmas Day, a lovely meal at each daughter’s home.  It’s now 4:00 pm a day later and I’m still not hungry.  But I’m just tired enough to appreciate the opportunity to read and rest and even to take a nap.

This was a holiday of giving and receiving scarves and sweaters as if we all want to swathe each other in all the good things that will sustain us until next year.  I know that’s how I feel about my loved ones and I sense the same from them.  It’s not just physical warmth but love and kindness and support and a shoulder to lean on when needed.  It’s happiness and joy and freedom from strife.  It’s health and enough wealth to pay the bills.  It’s peace and sharing with the less fortunate.  It’s forgiving and accepting forgiveness.  It’s whatever we need to be happy.

I’m happy to be here, now, the person that I am, with all manner of possibilities stretching out on the road ahead of me.  And I’m happy to have you to help me along.

My holiday season so far…

Once again we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice.   ~ Dave Barry

This holiday season gives new meaning to roller coaster, merry-go-round, and other rides that might come to mind.  I’m only about halfway through it and am starting to wonder if I’ll make it to the finish line.  What the hell is going on?!

Depression has revisited me with a vengeance.  I have a hard time understanding and dealing with it.  And I can never figure out if my various (but minor) physical woes are the result or the cause of the depression.  Today, for example, my body decided I should have a stomach upset accompanied by the usual symptoms that travel with the tummy bug.  Gross!  And I’ve been eating so well, so healthfully.  Enough of that, I’m sure you’ll agree.  I’ve certainly had enough of it.  Oh, but first–I must mention that I am already dealing with some kind of nasal and throat grunge.

I’m hoping (and trying) to learn something from my present difficulties.  I’ve shopped for fewer than half the gifts I want to buy.  My brain is screaming:  Simplify!  Simplify!  Simplify!  The question is:  Will I choose to listen once I start to feel better?  I am counting on feeling better one day. 🙂  I hope I will.  I’ve already roped and tied up the old decorating me and she’s not even struggling.  The tree is up, thanks to the children.  I made an executive decision not to display all the Santas and the silk holly and the music boxes, etc., as I have done in the past.  I’m trying to decide how much of it I’m willing to get rid of now rather than later.  I’m hoping my children and grandchildren will want some of it.  If not, do I still have (at my age!) the ovaries to sell it on eBay or at a consignment shop?

It is incredibly labor-intensive to unpack it, decorate, and then store it properly after the season ends.  Do I have any desire to do it another year?  I don’t think I do.  I don’t want to trash anything while I’m in a depressed state–or do I?  Maybe thinking about all the work is what caused the depression.

Meanwhile I keep posting silly greeting cards in the hope that you won’t give up on me or forget about me while I desperately seek to get my groove back.  If I were really optimistic, I would be hoping for mojo, but the realistic me will settle for the groove.

Thank you for reading.

The photo above is not another Christmas card, it’s my front door.

Fake it till you make it…and other myths.

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone.  Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.  ~ Orson Welles                                                                                                                  This Christmas season is the fifth one I’m spending alone.  I would love to tell you that it’s getting easier.  It isn’t.  The permanence seems all the more real with each passing year.

Last year, after the holidays were over, I threatened commented that for my next Christmas I thought I should go away somewhere and do something totally different.  I was quite serious, but the look of horror and shock on the face of one of my older grandchildren made that a very short-lived proposal.  I won’t entertain that thought/plan again soon.  Too selfish, obviously.

I started this season with new resolve and lots of plans.  It’s only December 1, and I’m already stumbling all over the depression, the lack of purpose.  I try, oh how I try, to keep my eye on joy and peace and giving and sharing.  All those good things are elusive.  I’m doing something wrong.  But what?  I get up and go out and do all the generous things I know I’m supposed to do.  I drive home with tears streaking my face.  I get home and here I am.  The same sad soul who left here a few hours earlier.

Last night I decided I would find a good movie on TV and cheer myself up.  I found one that sounded okay.  It starred Susan Sarandon, a fabulous actor, and Robin Williams, a good actor and riotously funny, as a rule.  As expected, the acting was good.  Unexpectedly, Robin played a serious role, nothing funny about it.  I think the title of the movie was “Noel” but I’m not sure.  Don’t watch it if you’re trying to get happy.  Saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.  I sat on the couch and went through a half box of Kleenex.  I should have turned it off but I got involved in the story and had to watch all of it.  The ending was only slightly up-beat.  So much for feeling better.

I don’t like to talk about being sad.  I don’t usually find any good in doing so.  Tonight, though, maybe I need to be brutally honest in order to round the corner and move toward the light.  I have a lunch date with friends tomorrow.  Tonight I’m getting some Christmas decorations out and trying to look forward to how beautiful my home will be once they’re all in place.  I’m also crocheting a scarf for a granddaughter.  Life keeps moving and so must I.  I’ll quote my mom again, “I can’t quit.  I have to keep trying.”  Thanks for that bit of wisdom, Mom.

Can anyone understand how it is to have lived in the White House and then, suddenly to be living alone as the President’s widow? ~ Jackie Kennedy  (My house wasn’t the White House nor my husband the President, but I feel your pain, Jackie.)