“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?” ~ PB Shelley

photo(12)‘Tis a month before the month of May, and the spring comes slowly up this way. ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

A couple of weeks ago I was preparing a spring pictorial post based on my strolls through the neighborhood.  Suddenly winter came screaming back like a lover scorned, taking the wind out of my sails and lashing it against my face with its cold rain.  As I wrapped my scarf around my neck against the renewed chill, I was feeling more than a little demoralized.

Today there’s still a chill in the air but the sun is out and it cheers me.  I heard from a friend photo(20)in the Blue Ridge that there are four inches of snow and it’s still snowing in the NC mountains.  I’ve decided it’s the perfect day to publish spring photos.  At the top of the page and to the right are shots of my Bradford pear tree.  The pear trees are among the first to blossom every year.  They are everywhere in my city and even though I don’t like the smell of the flowers, I love the sight of them.

photo(17)My daffys bloom even before the pear trees.  Every spring I welcome them with great joy.  I’ve seen them many times peeking defiantly through the snow in their golden glory.

It’s daffodil time, so the robins all cry, For the sun’s a big daffodil up in the sky… ~ Clinton Scollard

photo(6)I suppose the least appealing aspect of spring is the greening of my lawn weeds.  Some of you may remember that I don’t really have grass in my yard, I have mostly weeds.  Sometimes the weeds bloom.  If you look closely you may be able to see tiny yellow flowers.  This means, of course, that I will soon have to mow.  It also means that those obnoxious, pushy lawn company employees will start trying to get me to sign a contract allowing them to put all manner of chemicals on my space.  I’m not biting.

photo(10)Even rosemary is flowering in my herb garden.

As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship... ~ Sir Thomas More

Rosemary is used as a decorative plant in gardens and has many culinary and medical uses.  The plant is said to improve the memory.  The leaves are used to flavor various foodsWikipedia  Simon and Garfunkel sang about it.

photo(11)Easter comes early this spring.  I have my welcome banner out for the grandchildren (and their parents, of course) who will grace my home with their presence Sunday afternoon.  We always have a grand time eating, hunting for eggs, and bartering with a cousin or a sibling for one more of those yummy caramel eggs.  photo(18)

To all my friends who celebrate Easter, I wish you joy and love and peace.

To all my friends who don’t celebrate Easter, I wish you joy and love and peace.

Awake, thou wintry earth–                                 Fling off thy sadness!                                         Fair vernal flowers, laugh forth                          Your ancient gladness! ~ Thomas Blackburn

A tiny speck…


I’m concentrating on staying healthy, having peace, being happy, remembering what is important, taking in nature and animals, spending time reading, trying to understand the universe where science and the spiritual meet. ~ Joan Jett

This NASA photo of earth strikes awe and wonder in me every time I see it.  It seems appropriate to put it in a post and ponder its (in)significance and mine in the grand scheme of things.

It’s sobering to contemplate my smallness in the big picture.  I look at this globe and find the approximate spot I occupy on it, and it’s a little scary.  I mean, if earth is a tiny speck in the observable universe, and the universe goes on and on ad infinitum, and I’m a tiny speck on the planet; then my sum total is less than a grain of sand.

There are hypotheses that suggest that beyond our universe, there are other universes.  (Wikipedia)  I asked one of my teenagers, “What is the universe?”  She responded without hesitation, “It’s everything.”  This particular granddaughter is a woman of few words and I like that about her.  I also like her answer.  So if the universe is everything, how can there be other universes?  A better question would be, “Who cares?”  Or better yet, “How did I get myself into this deep line of questioning, and how the heck do I get out?”

I back up and I look at this remarkable picture and appreciate it for its aesthetic qualities.  It’s a work of art!  Focusing on how tiny I am does not serve me well.  Since my divorce I have felt way too small already.  I must not exacerbate the problem by comparing myself to a grain of sand.  I’m a work of art, too.  So are you.  I hope you feel like one.

So…from serious Joan Jett to fun-loving rocker Joan Jett, let’s dance and enjoy this  moment.

“I love Rock and Roll” by Joan Jett

 

The family tree and other scary stories.

We all grow up with the weight of history on us.  Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.                        ~ Shirley Abbott

Yesterday my daughter (I’ll refer to her as DJ in this post.) and I went on a little road trip to our home town, Boone, NC.  It was good to get out of the humidity and enjoy the mountains.  We went up to have lunch with my youngest sister and to take some things for her thrift shop.  We were all happy to see each other and had a nice time together as we caught up with what’s going on in whose life over lunch.

After lunch DJ and I walked down to Daniel Boone Native Gardens.  It’s one of her favorite spots.  I hadn’t been there in years so I was happy to see it again and snap a few photos.  No matter how many times I return to my native “stomping grounds” I continue to be taken aback by how green everything is.  The reason is, of course, the fact that there is adequate (an understatement) rainfall there.  I took this photo of ferns in the moss and fern garden to emphasize the green-ness of it all.

From the beginning to the end of our little tour, we kept seeing plaques honoring, thanking, memorializing people with my family surname, people I knew or sorta knew as a child.  I started thinking about the family tree  and where these people should be placed on said tree.  I grew up thinking they must have been on the right side, up high, reaching for the sun (or the moon).  And we must have been on the left side barely above the root system, struggling for a little ray of light to keep us alive and growing.  That was my perception, more or less.  Alas, perceptions aren’t always reality.

Why did I have that perception?  That’s the question I’ve had rolling around in my brain this afternoon.  It sounds like a simple enough question, but of course it’s actually very complex.  As a child and a young person, I thought they have money and we don’t.  They are educated and we are not.  They have fancy homes and we do not.

I know now that my perceptions, my attitudes toward the upwardly mobile branches of the family came from my insecure parents.  And they got their attitudes from their parents.  Who knows why brothers and cousins from the same family started out with equal amounts of wealth and acres of land– in the same county at about the same time and some wound up wealthy while others were destitute?  That’s the way it’s always been and ever will be.  Different personalities.  Different sets of skills and training.  Different ambitions.

I’m happy to say that the destitute don’t have to stay that way.  They can learn things.  They can go to the university.  They can have a better life than their parents, and in so doing they teach their children that lesson as well.  My childhood wasn’t always fun but I learned how to survive and then how to thrive.  Would I have learned those valuable life lessons if I hadn’t suffered hardships growing up?  I also know now that those “Ozzie and Harriet” relatives probably weren’t.  They were just people fumbling much like the rest of us.

My Hometown by The Boss.


Random thoughts and silly questions.

A man has every season while a woman only has the right to spring.   ~ Jane Fonda

I took this picture this morning from my front porch.  The sky looks like April.  It’s an early spring for sure.  See the Bradford pear tree in full bloom on the left.  If this is early spring can late winter be far behind?  Suffice to say that our heaviest, deepest snows have fallen in March in this part of the country.  Beautiful, hard-to-navigate snows.  Time will tell.

I don’t like American football for a number of reasons, the biggest one being the damage it does to the bodies of the players.  But sometimes a football story catches my eye and my heart.  The Colts have dumped Peyton Manning after years of dedication to the team and the extended team family in Indianapolis.  He cried as he met the press.  Bless you Peyton.  I know exactly how you feel.

Andy Borowitz is an American political satirist.  I love this quote about the Republican primary:  “The only thing that is scarier than Mitt Romney not believing anything he says is Rick Santorum believing everything he says.”  All I can say is “amen,” Andy, and is this the best they can do?

Chely Wright is the first openly gay country music star.  I saw a clip of her appearance on the Ellen show.  She’s a charming young woman.  She has written a book called Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer.  She also has a recording entitled “Like Me” which is a love song to another woman, her partner I think.  You can listen to it here.  The decidedly not silly question, then, is:  Won’t it be nice when gays can be who they are and will no longer have to feel different and ashamed and think there’s something wrong with them?

Somewhere in the New Testament it says we must forgive someone seven times seventy.  (Forgive me if this is not correct. 🙂  I’m relying on memory.)  I’m wondering what that means.  Do we have to forgive one incident that many times?  Or do we have to forgive that many incidents?  Do you forgive easily or is it like pulling teeth?

One last question–What does the Jane Fonda quote at the top of this piece mean?

Ego–his, hers, mine.

…I made a conscious effort to think like a person who doesn’t put himself at the head of the universe. ~ Sam, in “Skipped Parts” by Tim Sandlin

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time.  I’ve done a little research on “ego vs. healthy self-esteem.”  Little is the key word here. I even listened to a Q&A session with Eckhart Tolle in which he discussed this topic.  I find him rather difficult to listen to even though I do respect his writing and his opinions.  There is a great deal of information “out there” about ego.  So much, in fact, that my mind got boggled by it all.  Alright, I admit it, it doesn’t take a great deal of something to rattle my brain.  I read a little and came to the conclusion that my opinion is just as valid as some of those I read online.  Hehe.  How’s that for ego?  Or is that self-esteem?

  • self-esteem–How much you respect and accept yourself.  Your concept of how worthy, valuable, lovable and capable you are in society.
  • ego–An inflated opinion of yourself often accompanied by a belief that you are superior to others.

I’ve been trying to understand how or whether ego contributes to or causes divorce.  I think it could do both.  (I’m in way over my head here and I’m trying to find a graceful way out.)  The best I can tell, healthy self-esteem is a good thing.  Ego is not.  And if my self-esteem goes too far in either direction, the ego takes over.  Once my ego takes over, I do things that are not good for me.  If what I’m doing is not good for me, then it’s probably not good for my relationships.

So…When D started to have an affair with S, he started avoiding and neglecting me.  Over a period of time his inattention eroded my self-esteem.  Once my self-esteem became wounded (unhealthy), I started acting in a way that further damaged our relationship and our marriage.  That’s one scenario.  Another might be that I was already operating on too much ego and that might have been the reason he strayed.  Or maybe not.  I don’t really like that scenario.  (Ego?)

Bottom line–I can’t analyze, in retrospect, the ego of D, nor of S, nor even my own with any degree of accuracy.  Therefore this exercise in self-esteem/ego is a waste of time.  To quote an elderly priest D and I used to listen to when we were on the road together: “It matters not how the donkey got in the ditch.  Just get him out.”

I hereby promise myself that I will give up the search for what caused it and just get myself out of the ditch.  I mean it!

All the wrong reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

All the Wrong Reasons                                                                                                       ~ Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne

Trouble blew in on a cold dark wind
It came without no warning
And that big ol’ house went up for sale
They were on the road by morning
Oh, the days went slow, into the changing season
Oh, out in the cold, for all the wrong reasons

Well she grew up hard and she grew up fast
In the age of television
And she made a vow to have it all
It became her new religion
Oh, down in her soul, it was an act of treason
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons

Where the sky begins the horizon ends
Despite the best intentions
And a big ol’ man goes up for sale
He becomes his own invention
Oh, the days go slow into the changing season
Oh, bought and sold, for all the wrong reasons
Oh, down they go for all the wrong reasons

This song has taken up residence in my brain.  Not just the tune, but the words as well.  Some singer/songwriter poems stand alone.  Bob Dylan’s and Leonard Cohen’s work, for example.  Those guys are true poets in my opinion.  This one by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne needs to be sung.  With the music, the Oh becomes Oh, oh, oh, oh.  But even when I quadruple the word, reading it doesn’t strike the same chord (no pun intended) as when TP sings it.  I want to share it with you to find out if others feel the same way.  Click here to listen.

I’ve tried for days to figure out what I’m supposed to learn here, if anything.  It has caused me to reflect in a way that I wouldn’t have, had my daughter not given me the CD for Christmas.  I wonder how much of what we do when we’re young do we do with intention and logic and an eye to the greater good.  It’s not that I think I had sinister motives ever; it’s just that I wasn’t mature/experienced enough to understand the far-reaching consequences of my decisions.  I think the same is true of most people; and in particular, I give that bit of grace to D, my ex-husband.

The angels are back.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~  Norman Vincent Peale

Around this time last year, I wrote a post showing a photograph of a snowflake against a cloudless azure sky.  I took this angel photo in the same park this year.  (Click on photo to see angel more clearly.) In fact, the street lamps alternately display angels and snowflakes.  In last year’s post I commented on the incongruity of the snowflake against an amazingly bright Duke-blue sky.  I went from incongruities to oxymorons (aka oxymora) and the race was on.  I’m feeling a bit less playful as I sit down to write today; in fact, I’m downright pensive.  We’ll see where this angel takes me.

angel, a definition:  a typical benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth, especially in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Zoroastrianism.

Here you see the angel of my childhood.  She certainly looks benevolent and celestial, doesn’t she?  When I was a youngster, and even through my teens, this picture resided on the wall beside my bed.  Living in the mountains meant we had our share of rickety little foot bridges similar to the one in the picture.  I imagined this was my brother trying to make his way across the bridge and the girl was our older sister helping him along, which she would have done with great good nature.  Of course they couldn’t see her, but the guardian angel was there to help them both across.  Sweet story.  Reassuring to a little girl who lived in a less than adequate home with less than competent parents.  (They did love us, though, I’ll give them that.)

Alas, the sweet story went awry.  Not his sisters, not his momma, not even an ethereal being sent from above could save that little boy from himself and his demons.  He died of a drug and alcohol overdose at the age of sixty-one.  Like father, like son.  He spent his entire life wanting and trying to do something, anything better than our dad.  He finally succeeded.  He out-lived him by about a year.

Ahhh, but “hope springs eternal in the human breast.”  (Alexander Pope said that.)  And so we bring out the angels at Christmastime and we burden them with our hopes and wishes.  We charge them with keeping us safe.  We put one on the tiptop of the Christmas tree.  What’s she supposed to do up there anyway?  Guard the tree?  If we’re lucky, we have an image of one in a difficult childhood who helps us through all manner of hard times.  Who/What are these ubiquitous presences?  I have a theory but first I’d love to know what you think.  Care to comment?