Thursday, June 29, 2017

June. June?!

I am already partway through summer.  This is a good thing.  Rural summer things:

I came home from an extended stay out of town.  That Spouse o' Mine has also been away.  It appears that we have been having Coon Parties in our yard in our absence.  Lots and lots of coon scat on the lawn.  So, I called neighbor Joe and borrowed his live trap.  Last night, I brought our two cats in, and set the trap out by my grotto pond.  I peered out the window t 9:00 pm, and... I had trapped an animal!!
   This was an angry, semi-wild cat.  I immediately let him go, reminding him that even HE has a job description in this neck of the woods, and that is to keep the rodent and bunny population down.

I re-set the trap, and later in the evening, I looked out and WHOA!!  I got me a coon!  No photo of it.  And, it had to wait till dawn to be released many miles down the road.  In the morning I threw a blanket over the cage, gently carried it out to my car, and drove several miles in the pouring rain and lightning, and set the little coon free, right by a new little creek and lots and lots of woods. Be happy, little fella.

This is interesting:
It looks like maybe a sparrow overtook a bluebird nest out in our pine trees.  Sad for the bluebird mother.  I am eager to see what transpires in the weeks to come.

Another "Nature's Way" moment from this morning happened out by our front gate, high in the treetop. I saw some very agitated robins flitting on the tree limbs.  I knew there was a nest near there somewhere, because earlier in the morning I saw a robin with a worm in her mouth, waiting for me to go by before she headed to the hidden nest.  But this behavior by several robins made me curious.  What was going on?  I looked high in the tree, and I saw a baby bird lying on its back on a tree limb.  It was way too young to be flying - it was barely covered in feathers.  I walked around the tree to get a another look at a better angle.  But...then I saw no baby bird.  Only a big ol' thick snake.  The snake was eating the baby robins in the nest.  Poor momma robin.

Nature's Way is pretty tough. Not for the timid and faint-hearted, to be sure.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Chapter

I don't wish to ruminate here on my sweet Dad's death.  He was such a wonderful person.  I wish everyone could experience having such a great father.  We, his family, have received so many very meaningful  cards and emails from former students, artists, gallery owners, and friends from the decades.  My Mom and Dad were rich in their friendships and acquaintances.

We are all finding our ways without Dad.  Just last Sunday morning, I was listening to some jazz saxophone.  The terrific Wah-wah-wah made me curious: how did that musician make that sound on the sax?!  Immediately, my impulse was to call Dad and ask him.  (He, who was a band director...)  And then I paused, like so many times in the past three weeks.

Anyone who has lost a loved one has had this very same experience.  I still falter when I have something I want to tell my sweet deceased sister, now twelve years down the pike.  I see a funny, or I feel a hurt, and I call out to my big sister in mental hilarity or anguish.  WHY AREN'T YOU HERE?!

Losing a very, very loved one holds so many facets of emotion.  Different degrees and different hues.  Dark Sienna, Burnt Amber, Obsidian, Vermillion...

On that note, I found this painting which captured my days the week during and the week after my sweet Dad passed away:








That was me.

Certainly Frederic Leighton's oil is not at all a depiction of loss or depression.

But it does speak to me of my loss of my sweet Dad.

And so, that is where I will leave this chapter for the time being.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Our Sweet Dad

My Dad, one time, pointed out the cardinals at the window feeder just out his living room window.  "See how the male takes the sunflower seed?  He cracks it, and then he feeds the female the seed inside."  I was transfixed for some time; I never knew that cardinals did this - the mate feeding the mate.  What a sweet thing.  He and I talked about eagles, and how they both protected the nest of eggs, setting on them, turning them, warming them, until they hatched - and then, taking turns bringing food to them: fish, or other.  Again: what a sweet thing.

Nature's way, and the way God intended.

Swans mate for life.  Even black vultures do.  Too, wolves and albatross.  Turtle doves are smitten for life.  Our nation's emblem, the bald eagle, is sort of the "till death do we part" kind of lover.  I don't have an answer as to why all these beautiful creatures feel the peace to hang, life-long, with their partners.  But they do.

My Mom and Dad mated for life.  Yes, they did.  Thick and thin.  In sickness (very little), in health (really blessed in that department), for richer, for poorer (they had some of those "trying" years), to love and to cherish (they did certainly love, and they really, really cherished each other's company, love, humor, wit, art, music, travels, sports, {and even us five children}.)

The stinging part of this post is what comes next - that which has made me cry, yet again:

"...from this day forward, until death do us part."

My sweet father ran a 5K last fall, at age 88.  He was first in his age group!  Because he was the only one in his age group.

The next week, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  We, his wife of 67 years and his kids, rallied around him as he soldiered on jauntily through the months at hand.  Last week, our sweet Dad passed on to what we all believe is the Peace Which Passeth all Understanding.  He is at peace, and we all are, too.

This is not to say that we do not grieve.  Sweet Dad was our patriarch, and even through his last week, we stopped each day to go tell him of our family activities - the tennis, the triathlon, the family breakfasts and dinners.  We rejoiced in his comments, some of which were humorous, some of which were mono-syllabic-yet comprehensible...

And then, there was an abbreviated coma, and a swift passing to the Peace to which I alluded, above.

Our sweet Dad.



* * *  Our sweet Mom will continue living in their home of 57 years. * * *



Saturday, February 11, 2017

I Don't Know

My post title is I Don't Know.

Truly: I don't know what in the world.  I have had so many trials and tribulations, near-misses and such in my 50-something life.

Today's "I Don't Know" was this:

 A fun friend of mine (Gail) and I met up to do a quick bike ride on Manhattan (KS) Linear Trail. So fun, we had!  She is in the midst of breast cancer chemo.  We had a couple of miles of "cancer/chemo" chat, but most of our ride was fun and games and catching up with Huz and family news.

At the end of our ride, Gail headed west to her home, and I headed north to my car, parked north of Pathfinder (if you are local, you know this terrific shop.)  I took a trail that I thought would lead me to my car.  But then I saw that there were railroad tracks between me and my "4th Street" road.

No worries, thought I.  I stopped, slipped my mountain bike over my shoulder, and stepped over two railroad tracks   This whole, little ordeal took about 10 seconds of my time. Maybe 20 seconds, at best.  I jumped back on my bike and pedaled forward to the 4th Street/Ft Riley BLVD intersection.  As I approached, my light was GREEN.

GREEN, as in GO.

I pedaled forward, to make the GREEN, but then:

WHOA!!!

WHOA AND STOP!!!

A shithead white pickup ran the light.  He ran the red light.

He ran the red light, not seconds from when I was to be pedaling across my GREEN LIGHT.

If I had not been hampered by slipping my bike over my shoulder and hauling it few yards...would that shithead pickup have hit me and killed me?

Most likely.

I am haunted.

But let me take you further into my day.  I pedaled back to my car, parked north of the Pathfinder.  I threw my bike into my station wagon.  And that's when I saw the car parked just beside mine: two twenty-something women, ploying with a clothes hangar, trying to unlock their car.  I walked over and mentioned that they could probably call a locksmith and have them come by.  One of the young women replied, with tears in hers eyes, that she could not afford to do this.

I walked down the road to an antique-ish place I visit maybe every month; nothing there, and so I walked back to my car, and the young women were still there, still working their clothes hangar on their car lock.

That's when  I made my decision: Call the locksmith for these young women.  Heaven only knows, that Spouse o' Mine and I were in similar circumstances in our young "twenty-somethings".  And even if we had not, surely now I could do something for these two young women.

And so, the thing: I Don't Know?

I don't know.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Dancing in Life

Tonight that Spouse o'  Mine and I were in the kitchen, making pizzas.  His: Ham & pineapple.  Mine: Vegetarian.  We were listening to my all-time favorite Saturday evening radio show, The Retro Cocktail Hour.  As we waited for the oven to heat up, we began dancing across the kitchen floor.  It was fun!  We laughed and danced and laughed.  And then I reminisced about our sweet Michigan neighbors in East Lansing:

He was head of the Math Department, and wore a wry smile and a Scroodge McDuck hairstyle.  She, a petite thing, sported a brunette pixie cut and a calm demeanor.  Such great neighbors they were!   They were both jolly and positive folks.  We could not have asked for better neighbors.  They seemed to get a kick out of our young brood - a four year old, a three year old, and an infant.

Our Michigan winters were long.  They started early with short daylight and meager temperatures. For Halloweens, we planned our kids' costumes around heat and warmth.  We could have snow until May.  It was OK.  Everyone makes adjustments to their particular winter deals.

So, back to tonight, dancing along to the Retro Cocktail Hour:  I reminisced to that Spouse o' Mine about an evening in February, so many years ago:

Our good neighbors would put Christmas lights outdoors every year.  Annually.  And they never took them down until mid-February. She explained one year that they kept the Christmas lights up until after their wedding anniversary in February.  I thought this was stellar.  (Having a February anniversary myself.)  I thought that was so sweet.  The Michigan snow would build and build onto these outdoor lights until all we neighbors could see was a hedgerow of white snow interspersed with glowing lights of all colors.  It was a hazy mix, there in the winter dark.

One particular year, in February, I walked into our kitchen to do whatever it was a young mother does: get baby breakfasts ready, make formula, assess the laundry, WHATEVER.

And I looked out our north kitchen window.

Dark and full of snow.

Next door, beyond the hedgerow of white snow and glowing lights were our two sweet neighbors, dancing together.

I knew it was their anniversary.  I love that I witnessed their evening.  



Saturday, January 07, 2017

Beyond Twelfth Night

Yesterday, Friday, was Twelfth Night for most people.  The Twelfth Day of Christmas.  Some people take their holiday stuff down and kick the tree to the curb earlier, but I have always waited for the Twelve Days of Christmas.  And this year I invited the ladies of our little village over for a New Years coffee, set for this morning, and so I left our tree and all the holly and ivy up for an additional day.

I slept late (for me) this morning, and when I awoke I realized that that Spouse o' Mine was leaving for Ghana in an hour and a half, and the ladies of Wabaunsee were walking through my door in two hours.  Sheesh.

We normally do not keep pets indoors.  But this week has been bitterly cold, and so the 85-lb dog and our two pet cats have been spending the nights with us.  Ditto, the wild Black Cat.

(Black Cat first began showing up by skirting the edges of our 15-acre property.  We left the country for three weeks back in September and he moved further into domesticated territory.  And he beat up our two pet cats.  But then they rallied and beat him up, enough, I guess, that he decided that the score was sort of even.  No more fights.  An occasional spat, but that is it.  Then, Black Cat showed up at meal time, and so I began feeding him.  And now he is sleeping in our mudroom.  I pet him periodically, and have picked him up twice.  But I do not trust him 100% and so I keep him at a distance most times.  My intention with all this is to get him tame enough to load him into a cat carrier and haul him in to get neutered.  Then Black Cat can go live his life wherever he pleases.)

Well, I intended to mop the floors of the two rooms that we and the animals share, before company came.  (I abhor smelly dog smells, and hair on the floor.)  Poor smelly, hairy dog and hairy cats...out into the morning snow they went, and I DID mop, all while my first cup of coffee was brewing.  A 60-second shower, throw the pigs-in-blankets into the oven, feed some animals, kiss that Spouse o' Mine goodbye, and then BOOM!

Hello, ladies, come on in!

We sure had a fun time this morning.  It's a shame that we do not gather more frequently, we ladies of Wabaunsee.  We were four generations, the youngest of which was six months old, and our elder was ninety.    

That was my whole morning!  After my friends left, I sat in silence for quite some time.  And then I took my cup and saucer into the kitchen, and moved on to the task at hand:  Time to take down the tree.

I love putting a Christmas tree up, and I love packing away everything after Christmas.  I wonder sometimes why some people don't like this?  So many fun and sweet memories go onto my Christmas tree.

After the ornaments were packed away, I unwound the Christmas lights, and then I skillfully managed to drag the tree to our front door without spilling a drop of water onto the hardwood floor.  And then, as I stepped out onto the porch, the tree tipped over, and all the water from the tree stand spilled onto our porch and FROZE IMMEDIATELY.

I think I said a bad word.  

This porch is on the north side of our house and that means I will have an icy porch for the next few days.  Well, as it happens, we have been experiencing a north wind, too, and we have been using our south door for comings and goings.

Tonight that Spouse o' Mine called me from his plane, before take-off, and that did my heart good.  Now I am going to make a pizza and listen to Retro Cocktail Hour on the radio.  My kids and that Spouse o' Mine know that is a favorite Saturday night radio show for me!  


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