A day for reflection.

photo-1My ex-husband and I first met Jim and Joe (not their real names) at least twenty-five years ago.  Happily, they have continued to include me in their lives by inviting me to their parties and life celebrations.

Very few of the people I met through or with D have kept me on their social lists.  That includes family.  I have come to understand it isn’t that most of them are cold or uncaring; they simply don’t know how to be inclusive in situations that they fear (real or imagined) may get a little “sticky.”  My fiery temper during our separation and divorce didn’t help.

But this post is not about me, it’s about the remarkable and always inclusive Jim and Joe.

Since gay marriage is still not legal in North Carolina, J and J went to New York a while back and tied the knot after almost thirty-five years together.  Legal or not, they’ve been married all those years.  They never needed a piece of paper for those of us who have loved them and recognized their commitment to each other.  Yet I find myself feeling joyful on their behalf now that they have taken this big step which wasn’t available to them before.

I was not surprised when I received this most recent invitation from J and J.  I had attended their “twenty-five-years-together anniversary.”  But I felt a warm glow when I saw the announcement that they had wed.  And I felt extraordinarily happy that I was considered one of many friends with whom they wanted to share their good news.

At three o’clock on a beautiful autumn day, surrounded by family and friends, J and J had a ceremony on the front steps of their lovely home.  We friends gathered on the lawn in front and celebrated with them.  There were chairs for those who can no longer stand.  A very eloquent gentleman made comments and then J and J reconfirmed their vows of commitment, each in his own words.  We cheered!

As I drove home, I noticed dark clouds gathering on the horizon and the wind was tossing yellow leaves into a whirling dervish dance.  As I drove through one leafy frenzy after another and another, I thought of the many frantic dances my friends Jim and Joe have had to perform as they were growing up feeling different.  As they met with intolerance at every turn.  As they quietly accepted that they had none of the rights that other committed couples shared. I wondered if they did the same dance over and over for each situation they encountered, or did they vary the steps sometimes.

I keep coming back to the last statement “the eloquent gentleman” made about J and J.  He said, “Jim and Joe have taught us all how to live our lives.”  As I shout “Amen” to that, I realize the answer to my pondering in the last paragraph.  Sometimes these wonderful human beings danced a waltz.  Some days they did the twist.  There must have been days when the hokie pokie seemed appropriate.

Now that I think about it, I doubt their dances were ever frenzied.  And the type of dance is irrelevant.  Whatever the dance, they did it together and with purpose.

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?

 

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

 

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.

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?

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.


It was a dark and stormy morn…

I awoke this morning to the guttural rumble of thunder and the heavy, constant drumming of rain on the roof.  A morning to roll over and sleep indefinitely.  A lazy Sunday.  I had family most of the week and felt a little tired, in a good sort of way.  I had passed off my Sunday morning duties at church to someone else.  Time to take a break.  Aaahhh.

Just as I was settling in for the long haul, my brain jolted and my body bolted and I realized I had a soccer match to attend.  I grabbed the phone and texted my daughter to find out if the game would be canceled.  Delayed by two hours.  Not bad.  Unfortunately the activity had thoroughly awakened me and I went down for coffee.  I guess my mother goddess didn’t intend me to sleep this morning.  The powers-that-be sent out a cancellation once I reached the point of no return.  I have no doubt the field was flooded.  We got a lot of rain.  (Soccer ball photo, Wikepedia.)

I’m happy to say, though, that I have spent the day on the couch with Lulu, reading, doing crossword puzzles, and some more mindless endeavors which I will not enumerate here.  Lulu loves all the attention.  She reminds me of Sam, a chocolate Labrador Retriever I had (my last pet).  Sam couldn’t get close enough to me.  Neither can Lulu.  I’m starting to think I may be allergic to her long hair but I’m trying hard to ignore the signs.

As the rain started to subside I stood looking out and remembering how I loved rainy days as a child.  Rainy days meant we didn’t have to work in the garden or the yard or the tobacco fields.  Then, as now, I spent much of the day with a book, or several.

Now that the rain has ceased to fall and the sun is trying to take center stage, I feel regret deep in my soul.  Why regret?  When I was a child, even a teenager, I would have put my books aside and gone outside and welcomed the downpour.  I would have squiggled my toes in the mud and I wouldn’t have worried about how wet my hair and my clothes got.  I would have felt joyful and free.  So why didn’t I do that this morning?  I didn’t think of it.  I think that’s sad.  Why didn’t I think of it?  My mom wasn’t here to give me permission?  Ah, but she was here.  She’s always with me.  And I could always talk her into letting me play in the rain as long as there was no lightning.

I’m making myself a note.  I’m going to stick it to the door or the fridge or both.  Go outside, Pat.  Play in the rain!  That’s what it’s for!

There are numerous songs about rain, and I like most of them, but this is my favorite.  It’s called “Baby the Rain Must Fall” and was featured in the movie of the same name, starring Steve McQueen and Lee Remick.  The artist is Glenn Yarbrough.