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I didn’t think I would ever forget her name.

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I loved to bike when I as a kid.  I would go out on the roads in the country – gravel roads – and try not to fall into a sand burr patch.  My mother was our Girl Scout leader but as my siblings are 9 and 11 years younger, she couldn’t go camping with us.  A great lady who lived out in the country and was a Girl Scout leader was the person who took our troop on  so many camping adventures.

I thought of her this weekend as we were going up on the bluffs to Shefelbine’s Apple Orchard. There were 2 bike riders struggling going up the last part of the bluff.  My car was struggling so I know I wouldn’t do so well today on a bike.  I remember I had to get off and walk down parts of the curves on that road.  When you go up, you need to remember to save energy to go down, and visa versa.

It used to be that it felt like miles and miles of farm land before I arrived at this lady’s home.  I would ride out and help her do dishes or sweep the floor and then ride home.  Our troop went out once and she had this huge tent with a pole in the middle.  It had rained the day before and the tent pole was in soft ground and slowly fell during the night.  She was by the pole and it began to slowly pin her.  She rolled over and couldn’t find the door of the tent as it was slowly collapsing.  I heard my name “Barb find the door – lead us out of here”.  I guess she had remembered that my sleeping bag was close to the door. I started to wake everyone up too and led the group out.  She told me that I had saved her life.  I think that was a bit dramatic but it was nice to know I could lead even if I was half asleep.

We went into her living room to try and sleep until breakfast.  We had taken tuna cans and wound cardboard in them and put paraffin to make a burner.  We took coffee cans and but a “door” so that the burner would get air.  First we cooked bacon, to get grease on the top and then fried eggs.  The only problem was that her driveway was slanted and you could see for a long time grease spots all over the driveway where the breakfasts had been made for a long time.

We planted some pine trees and called it an experience!  When I went by her home the other day, the pine trees were taller than her house!  I almost missed the house for the pine trees except I knew which corner it was on.  Today the farm fields and sand burrs are gone.  There is nothing but houses all the way to her home and most of the way to the steep part of the bluff.  It isn’t out in the wilderness but in the middle of a settlement.

She was Presbyterian, I a Methodist but her life was a prayer.  She taught us graces to sing and pray before we ate.  She taught us campfire songs.  She cared so much for Girl Scouts and people’s experiences.  I was in college and she had moved but she had me come out to her new county to talk to a group of girls about all the experiences one could have as you get older. Most of the time girls drop out just when the experiences can be really interesting.  At the time I was still an official Girl Scout and a leader helping my mom.

I didn’t think I would ever forget her name.  Maybe it will come back or I will find where I wrote it down.  I have been going through old photos and I can tell you stories of the people but they names are gone too – some people the faces aren’t even familiar.

I am doing a project for Christmas using Close to My Heart: Stories by Stacy  – Short Story Workshop kit.  My husband used to tell stories of his youth to our kids as they grew up.  We are gathering the stories and photos so they can have them so our kids won’t forget.  You hear stories over and over as a child and you roll your eyes when it comes up again.  Yet now some of the stories are growing dim and some I can only remember how they made me feel.

Write things down.  Video people telling their tales.  Record them in audio form or written form so they will be safe from memories that fail.  Try the Stories by Stacy workshops and keep your memories alive.

 

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How long will it last?

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We bought our land in 1989 because it was the last lot in the neighborhood on the lake where we could build. There were lots trees on the bottom half of the hill.  Many cedar trees had to be cut down as they died in the drought of the 1980’s.  We had to redo landscaping as we live on a hill with a hill behind us and the rain gushes down.  An old elm got the Dutch Elm disease and came down.  We had a row of poplar and mulberry trees and now there are just a few left.  Our view of the lake is spectacular but we miss all the tall great trees that once existed on the land.

The stump in the photo is from the mulberry tree.  The rings of the tree tell us it was over 40 years old.  We had a number of mulberry trees that were very tall.  The birds loved them – for food and shelter.  It allowed more birds to come to our feeders on our deck because the branches were close by and they could sit and wait for the next available spot on the thistle feeder, the suet feeder or the feeder with sunflower seeds.

The flower in the picture is from our Hibiscus. When we first bought the plant and put it in the garden it didn’t bloom right away.  We later learned by prints in the garden that the deer were eating the blooms.  Yet even when the deer don’t eat the blooms, they barely last 24 hours.

I looked at the 2 – the old stump that started over 40 years ago and the bloom which lasts just a brief time and it got me to thinking about things that seem more permanent and that which seems to be impermanent.

In our culture today it seems we want things fast.  I include myself in this when I am at a restaurant and it seems like hours before our food is ready.  Our society is more throw away – it costs more to fix something, if you can find a place to fix it, than it costs to buy something new.

My sister sells Pampered Chef and she pointed out that those products will last for a long time but if people eat out all the time, the value of something that will last isn’t a selling point.  You have to eat at home and want quality cooking things so that you aren’t frustrated by the cooking process and using things that just don’t do the job.

We download ebooks.  We download just 1 song from an album. We want things fast and now.  It is easier to buy things online than it is to take the time to go to an actual store.  Often going to the store building takes time out of our day which just doing a few clicks onto the computer lets us be back doing other things.  Even Walmart allows you to click online and pick up in the store – No waiting!  I haven’t gotten into Snapchat or other quick apps which allow something to be there a short time and disappear.

Part of my musings led to thinking about friendships.  There are times you have really great friends and time passes by as well as distance.  For some friends it is just a few minutes and you are back where you where and sometimes in a few minutes you find your distance has increased being together.

There seems to be times and places for permanent and impermanent things.  If these are seen as opposites on a continuum, if you live too much on one side or the other, you don’t value that which you see is opposite of the world you live in.  I don’t know if living in the middle is what I am calling for, but knowing that there is a time and place where things can be valued.

When my son was in Junior High, his Health teacher told them; “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”  That isn’t making light of suicide but that things that seem to be the end of the earth are really more in the impermanent side of the scale if you can see the bigger picture.  Some elementary schools started a friend bench.  If you needed a friend you sat there and someone would come over and be a friend.  Yet in the news the other day, a 9 year old boy committed suicide when he came out as being gay and was bullied.

I don’t think we as adults understand the social pressures young people face today.  I have done classes on bullying and know that when I was little, I had a safe world at home away from the school, which doesn’t exist for kids today.  Sometimes home isn’t safe and home is where school and the internet follow.   What we see as impermanent is to young people the end of the world as they know it.  We can’t, as adults, make light of kids problems.  Somehow we need to listen and listen and then speak about a vision of the world that is larger and kinder and is open to them.

We babysat our grandkids for a week.  It isn’t seem like much time at all.  Also their mom was once in 3rd grade like her oldest child and it feels like that was just yesterday and a such a short time ago.  What in your world is like the 40 year old mulberry tree that has hung around for a long long time?  What memories do you want to hang onto?  What in your world is like the short lived hibiscus flower?  What is worth doing and then going on your way?

I remember once when our oldest was in college and being a camp counselor for the summer.  I had tried for years to get her to play the guitar and 2 weeks before camp she said “Can you teach me how to play the guitar?”.  We really only do something when we see a need and so that was ok!  What I told the director was “You know the saying ‘if it is worth doing it is worth doing well’?  Well the corollary is ‘if it is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly’. ”  The point was that if the director waited until she was better at playing, the summer would be long gone.  At the campfire no one really listened that hard and as she gained confidence and skill, she would get better.  By the middle of the summer she was a great player.  Somethings are worth doing for a short time and something are worth doing for the long haul.  We need both at different times – permanent and impermanent.

 

Responding to the world around you.

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Where I live there are more “critters” than people.  We have lots of deer, birds, foxes, ground hogs, and of course we have turkeys.

The deer often stand in the road and look at you like “What are you doing in my road?  Can’t you find another way to travel around here?”  Many times, it is like they are playing “Chicken” and running across the road just ahead of you.  Actually, the chickens are also in the roads around here as are the ducks.   You can see what is left of the tires as they mark the road as they come to a screeching halt.

The turkeys feast in our yard underneath the bird feeders.  One day, I heard knocking at our front door and there were turkeys in our front yard and two of them were knocking on the glass as if they were trying to come in.

The critters often try to get out of the way of the car but often choose to run down the road ahead of you rather than going safely to the other side.

Today I saw 2 adult turkeys and lots of little ones.  I saw the adult turkeys with little turkeys by the side of the road.  I turned around to get their photo and caught the series I posted.   As I was coming back, the 2 adults began to herd the little ones – not to the other side – but down the road in front of me!  I wanted to shout out – that is bad parenting and it will get them killed!  If the cars don’t get them, there are the foxes and other predator birds around here that might get them first.

I began to think about how these were the same birds that were going down the road in front of me and now they were teaching the ‘kids’ to do the same.  Our youngest, who is in his late 20’s, had a wedding reception this last Saturday.  People shared their stories of when he and his bride were younger and then the stories led up to their work today.  I was gratified to hear some of the stories. I was amazed at how their lives have touched other people and they are making a difference in the world.  My husband and I talked about all those events that happened long ago but seemed like just yesterday.  The problem with parenting is that by the time you see the consequences of your parenting, it is too late to make any changes.

The event this weekend gave me pause to think about my parenting and what I have taught in classes to others.  There are some great things, some thing I would really do differently and there are the things that our kids have overcome and have done better by their actions.

I hope I can see these little turkeys growing up.  I know I will try and keep count of them and worry about what is happening to them.  I can’t change their reality anymore than I can change my past.  We both need to keep our wits about us.  We both need to keep safe on the roads and in the weeds.  We both have responsibilities that are ours alone.

If I see them later on, I will try and share how their lives are going.  Living out here with the ‘critters’ really is eye opening.  I love where we live.  I love the critters and the trees, the water and sky and the people who wish to share in this wonderful world.

What are you leaving in your wake?

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“Leaving (something) in its wake.” is an idiom. Often it can mean a path of destruction – such as “The hurricane left a path of destruction in its wake”.  What about leaving something “good” in its wake? The Pay it Forward movement as well as Random Acts of Kindness are people leaving good things in their wake rather than bad things.

I have benefited from someone paying my toll ahead of me.  I paid the toll anyway as I had seen several cars traveling together and I was in their lineup.  I told the toll booth person that the car ahead of me was with the car behind me and they just got confused.  Sometimes it is hard to accept compliments or help.

We were out on the boat on the July 4th weekend.  There were so many boats and so much traffic that all the boats were bobbing about as the wakes crashed into each other.  There are days that the lake is as still as glass.  You can see your wake going out from behind the boat and you can see that wake reaching the shoreline.

How many of you have skipped a stone and seen the ripples reach out and keep going?

Sometimes I have wondered what my blog has left in it’s wake.  I didn’t realize how time had flown since I was last posting.  My mind and camera have been busy but I haven’t found the time to write and post.  Thanks for reading this.  I hope it helps you look at the world with new eyes and make good decisions of what you are leaving in your wake this day.

What we say and what we do always leaves a wake.  It is up to us to try and leave “good” wakes.  It isn’t up to us to make others interpret them as we see it.  Sometimes our wake makes someone else bob up and down and is disturbing.  Often in the news we can see good or destructive things left in the wakes of tweets or actions.  It is harder to see our own wake and what it leaves behind.

There are protocols for driving a boat on any waterway.  There are also unwritten rules – like if someone is fishing you don’t run your boat fast right next to them.  Often when we are living and speaking we don’t think of the consequences of our words and actions on the world around us and after us.  How you drive by others, how you drive your life in this world makes a difference in your life (for sure) but also in many lives that you may not ever know you have touched.  Look behind once and a while and see what kind of wake you are leaving in the world.

 

 

Is Spring in the air or is it snow that I see falling?

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Today Is April 3, 2018.  We are under a winter storm warning.  We might get from 2 – 6 inches of snow.  There are reports of strong storms – possible tornados and lots of rain for other parts of the country.  These lovely flowers were out in the sun yesterday.  They don’t get a weather report to know that for this week it will be way below temperatures for April.  Their DNA says “It’s spring – go for it!” and they bloom.

We are waiting for the ground to get warmer to plant other plants. We are waiting to see the other annual flowers that will come blooming.  We are waiting so that we can plant vegetables.  We are waiting for warmth and it looks like a snow globe outside.

I remember years ago that our kids came home from college and said that Global Warming really didn’t mean that it was going to get just a little warmer.  Climate Change is now the phrase we use because as they told us, Climate change meant that weather would be more violent and unpredictable.  It is happening.

Easter was Sunday.  Lent is a time for waiting and searching and seeing what needs to be in one’s life – sort of spring house cleaning for the soul.  Easter is a time a celebration and living that life.  I look around my craft room and get discouraged for all the “cleaning” and sorting I need to do.

What gets you down?  Winter that will never end?  I think of the Chronicles of Narnia and the winter that never would turn to spring.  Do you get down listening to the news? Today is also a voting day.  Some people get so discouraged with what they hear and see that they don’t vote.  We’ve seen the Parkland High School students in the news being articulate in that their spring and new life will come with assault rifles are banned and other gun sense laws are passed.  I keep hearing with the young people say that they will be voting soon and they will vote OUT those people that will take money from the NRA which takes the lives of our children when gun sense laws aren’t passed.

Today in the news there are teachers again striking in many different states.  It is for their students that they fight – for better schools, having good textbooks and so they don’t need to have 2 other jobs to make ends meet when they have 2 degrees.  Sometimes it seems that winter and cold are never going to end.  Sometimes I can see new life in so many areas.  Look for the volunteer plants and those bulbs that are coming forth in new life.  Enjoy them as you wait for Spring to really come.  Then I suppose people will be complaining about the heat in the summer!

 

 

#BrainFog

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I didn’t think of capturing the thick fog when I first woke up today.  Now the fog is beginning to lift and disperse.  The weather person said last night that the fog would bring icy road conditions this morning– then freezing rain and we would have icy conditions in the morning and late at night with sun in between.   I love when the fog leaves frost on the ground and trees.  Today it is just fog.

As I was looking out at the fog, I don’t know why but I began to think about the term “Brain fog”.  This description of Brain Fog and what you can do at home comes from the Internet (https://www.healthline.com/health/brain-fog):

Brain fog isn’t a medical condition by itself, but rather a symptom of other medical conditions. It’s a type of cognitive dysfunction involving: memory problems, lack of mental clarity, poor concentration, inability to focus. Some people also describe it as mental fatigue. Depending on the severity of brain fog, it can interfere with work or school. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in your life.

It can be caused by: stress, lack of sleep, hormonal change, diet, medications, and medical conditions (a major symptom of chronic fatigue syndromes one being fibromyalgia)

If it is persistent and disruptive in your life, a doctor can do test to see what Brain Fog is pointing to.  There are things you can do at home: sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night, managing stress by knowing your limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine, exercising, strengthening your brain power (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles), finding enjoyable activities, and increasing your intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

I would like to say that I have never experienced Brain Fog but that isn’t true. I do know that I have experienced it.  I don’t know when I am in the midst of Brain Fog but I can see the result of little mistakes that I have made – not at the time I am making them but later they become so apparent.

When one is driving in fog it is interesting how you see it.  Standing still one had a better understanding of how thick the fog is and what is obscured but when driving we forget we are being propelled in a car at speeds which may be too fast for how we can see. I think life is like that too. I look at the white fluffy clouds in the sky and see what images I can see – a duck, a dog etc.  Yet when you are in a plane in the middle of those white fluffy clouds it is really like driving through fog (all be it propelling through it at a much faster rate than in a vehicle on the ground).

When I had my total hip surgery, I was on different opioids for pain.  I got off of all of them as they messed with my mind and I still had pain.  I was playing a handheld Yahtzee game and had 3 Yahtzee’s in a row and couldn’t manage to move the buttons to log it in.  It was a small thing but it told me I was in mental trouble.  When I play Sudoku and start making too many mistakes, I pause and think if I am distracted, or tired and I don’t do anything that really requires accuracy.

We all experience a little Brain Fog from time to time.  If it is persistent it requires help beyond just getting more sleep etc.  If you have a broken leg and refuse to put on a cast or use crutches, you will fall down and do more damage to your body.  If you take time to acknowledge you have a broken leg, and take time to heal you will heal and walk well again.

Brain Fog points to other problems although it is a problem itself.  You may not recognize when you are having trouble so you may need to rely upon a friend to help you.  Ignoring a symptom won’t make it go away. I guess I was thinking about conversations I have had with friends lately whose loved ones are experiencing dementia, Alzheimer’s and slowly losing the spark of who they were.  Those diseases are really different from Brain Fog even if symptoms may at times look the same.  One needs to explore what is going on in one’s life rather than ignore feelings, facts and medical knowledge.  The fog is lifting slowing outside today and the sun will shine.  I hope if you are experiencing Brain Fog, it too can lift for you and you can live in the sunshine of your life.

Hug a tree

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“Tree hugging, frog licking, environmentalist”.  My sister and I were called that once at a conference.  I am proud to be a tree hugger – saving trees and planting trees.  I believe in Climate change and that we need to save the environment directly by political action not only on environmental issues but in other ways that have direct effect on the environment.  I am proud to be called an environmentalist.  I have no idea what a frog licker is or does.  But that isn’t what I wanted to talk about today.

Do you remember the purple dinosaur called Barney?  On one of his shows he was sharing with children that if they got lost in the woods, they were to hug a tree and stay there until someone found them.  Most children wouldn’t understand Grid searches nor know that if they are running around trying to find their way, they might land in an area already searched and no one would find them.

There are many time in our lives when we feel lost.  The problem is that sometimes no one else knows we are lost and no one knows they need to come and find us.  I found the image of hugging a tree – all by itself – can help me to not be lost or feel like I am Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in a tornado spinning around.

What do I do to “hug a tree” or “find myself”?

  1. I practice Centering Prayer – there is actually an app for that. I do this at church in a group. I use centering prayer with Val Isenhower’s book “Meditation on Both sides of the Camera”.  I do it just by myself.
  2. I use mindfulness practices that are helpful to me to stay grounded.
  3. I use Zentangle and coloring pages.
  4. My daughter gave me “The Artist’s Way” and I am getting into that book by using “Morning Page”.
  5. When I was a pastor, there were times that conflict and trouble seemed to incase me in cement. I would lay on my office floor and turn up the music – usually Bach 6th or 9th symphonies or other classical music. I would lay there and let the music wash over me and little by little the cement encasement would wash away.  The issues were not changed, but I was and I was ready to look for creative solutions.
  6. There are times people are helpful in “finding your way back”. Going up to someone and saying “Can you be my tree I hug today because I feel lost”. Asking for help and someone just to listen to you is really important.

Do you have ways you want to share with others that are helpful in being grounded and whole?  I went to a music workshop in Illinois with John Bell from the Iona Community in Scotland.  While he was leading us, he was barefoot so that he felt grounded in his singing and spiritual leading.  What grounds you in your life’s journey?  You might just find a tree and hug it or find someone to stand in as your tree.

By the way: The tree in the photo is from the front yard of the home I lived in until I was in 6th grade.  My mom, an artist, said I drew the most beautiful trees.  A few years ago, traveling down the road after I had drawn a tree from memory, I realized this was MY TREE in my drawings.  It is what was in my head that a drew over and over and over.  I had hugged this tree, sat under the tree, talked to the tree and I realized I had drawn THIS tree my whole life.  My hope is that you can find a tree to hug when you are lost and find your way back home.

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