Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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2020 soup musings

I made soup yesterday, roasted tomato and basil.

The beginnings.

As I was opening a can of tomato paste I noticed the expiration date was in 2020.

March 2020 will probably be pretty interesting.

Given the political climate at the moment, I wonder what the world will look like in 2020.

Somehow I can’t quite imagine it.

The onions, pepper and potato work up a sweat while the tomatoes roast.

So I sighed and finished the soup.

Torn basil finishes it up.

It turned out really good.

I hope 2020 turns out really good too.

Yum. Soup and cheesy garlic bread.


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Goodbye Senator

Regardless of whether you’re a Republican, a Democrat, an Independent or none of the above, tonight you have to feel some sadness at the passing of Senator John McCain. A decent man who tried to solve problems through bipartisan support, he repeatedly spoke up against the inertia that is Congress. He was frustrated, as many of us are, by today’s political wheel spinning, by the lack of progress, by the rhetoric.

Maybe now we should take a moment and think about the lessons he was trying to teach us. That regardless of our own beliefs it’s always important to listen, really listen, to an opposing viewpoint. That we need to remember the art of compromise. That we can’t solve anything without support from both sides of the aisle

That not everyone across the aisle is an enemy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in his memory, we all try to be more open, more accepting of differences, more willing to try to understand opposing viewpoints. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in his memory, members of Congress pull back on the rhetoric and work together to solve issues for the good of the country.

And wouldn’t it be wonderful if, in his memory, we all stepped up our attempts to be decent human beings. Regardless of political leanings.

Seems to me that would be an appropriate thank you for a life well lived.


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Grocery rant

I’m too old for this kind of stuff.

I came back to Michigan in mid-July and went to the grocery store to stock up the pantry. What should have been a 15 minute trip turned into an hour because while I was out of town they rearranged the store. All of it.

Why are there so many kinds of tomatoes?

I used to be able to shop the produce and the organic section and pretty much scoot out of the store. Now they’ve integrated the organic stuff into the regular stuff. Which made everything have to shift, but they didn’t just shift stuff, they moved a whole lot of it clear across the store.

What the heck is ‘bronze cut?’ I never saw this before.

It’s like they deliberately moved things so that you have to go up and down every row to find anything. And you can’t mindlessly wander the aisles because you’ll miss something important. I think it’s a conspiracy to get you to buy more stuff.

Pickles….so many pickles! And when I find one I like why is it not there the next time?

It takes a lot of work to do grocery shopping now. I had to ask a clerk where the butter had gone. He laughed and pointed to the other side of the store. But the up side of all of this is that I noticed a lot of interesting stuff that I knew nothing about while I was looking for eggs.

The greeting cards were moved too, so I ran across them accidentally. It was mom’s birthday last weekend and it’s been enough years since she died now that I could look at all the pink cards without tearing up.

Happy birthday mom!

After a couple weeks of shopping I can sort of get around now. But I figure by the time I really know where things are they’ll change it again.

Change is hard.

Produce stayed in the same place. Thank goodness.


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The farm connection

The perfect campsite; shade but no mud!


Saturday, August 11 was supposed to be a perfect night to view the annual Perseid meteor shower. I debated where to go to watch the sky light up, while also being close enough to Ann Arbor, a city about an hour south of me, to attend a production of West Side Story with my aunt and out-of-town cousins.

But what was the perfect location?

Why, the farm where my mom grew up; the place I, as a kid, hung out in barns playing with the farm cats, or pretended to drive a tractor down the lane, while sitting on my uncle’s lap.

The backs of some of the barns, across a soybean field.

I have so many special memories of the farm and my grandparents, my aunt and uncle, my cousins.

Morning sun makes the barns glow.

So I was grateful to get permission to camp Saturday and Sunday nights near the back of the farm, in what used to be the orchard. Today it’s a beautiful mowed area with a mulberry tree, beautiful oak trees and a couple of very old pear trees, heavy with fruit. The whole area is surrounded by soybean fields, giving me long vistas to watch the sky.

Morning light on a misty soybean field.

If only the sky would cooperate. I had high hopes as I watched the sun set behind a neighboring barn.

Sunset on the first evening.

Saturday night I saw one meteor, just as I stuck my head out of the tent about 11:00 p.m. I set up the camera and messed with the settings for a bit.

There were more planes than meteors . There are two planes in this shot.

Behind me I could hear thunder. Above me the sky was rapidly becoming cloud covered, the weather front directly overhead.

Clouds begin to encroach on my night.

I ducked back into the tent moments before the first rain hit, and then listened as the storm wound up to pouring rain and gusty winds. At one point I considered running for the car, but figured I’d get soaked just getting out of the tent.

The storm pushed away around 1:30 in the morning and I settled in to sleep. No more sky watching for the rest of that night.

Sunday morning was damp with fog. Everything was dripping but the sunrise was pretty.

Sunrise, spectacular in a quiet sort of way.

I spent the day with visiting cousins, catching up, enjoying meals, and the production of West Side Story.

A pretty nice set for the story of the Jets and the Sharks.

By early evening I was heading back to my camp hoping for a re-do of the night before. It turns out they had rain while I was gone, and steam was rising up from the ground while water dripped from the trees. A little after 9 p.m. I could see ground fog coming my way across the soybean fields. Soon my entire campsite was surrounded in white mist.

Still, the sky seemed clear.

I tried again, but the fog and lights from the city made most of the stars disappear. Mostly what was visible was a planet to the south. So I worked with that for a little bit and then tucked myself into my tent and slept the rest of the night listening to the night noises.

See that planet up there above the tent? There’s a star or two too.

Monday morning arrived dripping wet. I wandered down the lane toward the barns I remember so well. It was early and I didn’t want to disturb the tenants living in the old farmhouse.

Lots of roof lines.

I quietly walked through the wet grass remembering playing in the corn crib, remembering the pigs streaming out of the barn doors, remembering where there once was a watering trough, a fence. A gate.

Ingenuity.

So many memories.

No I didn’t see a lot of meteors shooting across the sky, just three total over the two nights. But that’s alright. As I packed up the soggy tent and headed home, I was grateful for the connection to my mom on her birthday, and grateful for two nights on the farm.

A good couple of nights on the farm.

A big thanks to my cousin for graciously allowing me to camp in the old orchard of the farm he now owns. Thanks to him, too, for keeping the farm in the family and preserving so many memories for all of us.

The whole experience was priceless.

An original fence post.


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What does 90 look like?

Last Tuesday, on our way out of our polling place, I noticed a small woman walking away. Short grey hair, slightly stooped, stripped pullover shirt. I smiled and told my husband she reminded me of my mom.

Mom wore a lot of shirts with stripes.

Today, August 11th, is mom’s birthday. I think about her a lot and sometimes wonder what she’d be like now. But I haven’t done the math in a long time. I never really know how old she’d be, just that she’d be older now than she was when I last saw her at age 75.

Today I did the math.

She would have turned 90 today. Ninety. That actually gave me a physical jolt. It seems like a huge and impossible number for her, such an old age. I guess it is.

Being a mom.

I have no idea what she’d be like at 90. I’ve seen other people reach that age. My uncle, my husband’s aunt, an elderly friend. But none of that applies to my mom.

Ninety.

Unfathomable.

I suppose it’s beyond my imagination to see her much differently than the way she was in July of 2004. Which seems like yesterday and a million years ago all at the same time.

She loved her birds.

So I’ll shake off the sadness and remember the fun times and wish her a very very happy 90th birthday up there in heaven. I hope she didn’t have to make her own birthday cake. I’m sure they have angels up there for that.

Happy birthday mom. You look marvelous.

On their 50th wedding anniversary. I know they’re celebrating mom’s birthday together today.


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Grocery store flashback

Time out for lunch memories.

In the grocery store this morning I rounded a corner, not paying much attention to what was in front of me, concentrating on my list of must haves and the fact that while I was in Alabama they rearranged the entire store.

I was having trouble finding anything.

And suddenly there, right there on a table that I almost ran into, was a lunch box display. Cute little boxes and bags, a reminder to kids everywhere that school was starting soon.

Instantly I could smell the wax paper holding my cheese and olive sandwich, could see the little bag containing a few cheese crackers, or maybe a cookie, the apple or banana, could remember the way I always wished my carton of milk was chocolate instead of the white we always had to get. Immediately I was in grade school again, though today’s lunch boxes don’t look anything like the red plaid tin box I carried for years.

I stopped for a moment and let those memories wash over me. I smiled as I tucked that little red plaid lunch box back into my memory. Funny what catches you by surprise and transports you into the worry-free world of a nine year old.

And then I moved on, my cart with the wiggly wheel rattling as I squeaked my way down the next aisle, my thoughts moving on too. What to make for dinner, I wondered, what to make this evening and tomorrow and the day after that?

Cheese and olive sandwiches come to mind.


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Still looking

I should have been driving home from Alabama with Katie-girl this week, but instead I flew home on Monday evening and met with my primary care physician on Tuesday. My husband, who had driven home a few days earlier, flew back to Alabama on Sunday to get me to the Atlanta airport and drive the princess home.

Toys at the beach were settling in for the night.

My Tuesday appointment was filled with questions and few answers. But he took me seriously, as I knew he would, and got me into a cardiologist’s office on Thursday when normally it would be weeks before I’d be seen.

The cardiologist took me seriously too, and arranged for me to go to the emergency room of the local hospital, armed with a list of tests he wanted. The emergency room hopped to attention when I arrived.

Only a few people were still in the water as the sun set.

More tests, some repeats of things I had done in Alabama, others more detailed and intense were done. I spent seven hours in a small room in emergency, when not being wheeled to tests on other floors.

They gave me good pain drugs too, so I was happy and comfortable. I read an entire book. I think.

But in the end there were no answers. No reason why my back and chest hurt when I’m active. I’m comfortable when I’m resting on the sofa, or sleeping overnight. But getting up and dressed, going to the grocery store, even walking to the end of the driveway still bring on the pain.

It was a pretty evening.

Making a simple dinner tonight made me hunch over the sink and gasp.

So. The local doctors, and I saw 5 of them on Thursday, think I should try an over the counter ibuprofin and see what happens. So far that hasn’t done much of anything at all.

But we’ll see.

Perhaps the bird had the best view.

(PS: Images are of a sunset over a local lake, on an evening when I was feeling sad, a few days before my husband and dog made it back home safe and sound. I’m sure Katie will have a lot to say soon. She’s resting up now for an early morning wake-up call.)


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Paddle away the blues

Sometimes being here at the house my parents built without them gets a little sad. Though it’s beautiful here it’s also filled with lots of memories.

Savoring the stillness.

Everywhere.

So the other evening, feeling a bit melancholy, I took a little paddle upstream. The evening was warm and still.

Mountains of clouds.

I spent a little time just sitting near the green trees, floating in the water, the clouds reflected all around me. It was just what I needed to fix my blues.

Green reflected in green.

Being a weekday it was quiet, all the weekend lake lovers had to go back to their jobs and city lives. But as I was paddling back to the house a big pontoon boat slid by me creating large waves that gently rocked my kayak. I waved at them. They waved back at me.

Rocking in warm waters.

Southern living. It’s a good thing.

The day’s clouds produced no rain for us. This time.

I headed home to wait for the evening’s sunset.

Perfect.

Pretty in pink.


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Best of Carson

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.” – Khalil Gibran

Hi there!

For many years one of the joys of spending time here at the lake was a neighboring dog named Carson. We’ve watched him grow up from a soft fluffy bundle of joyous energy …

OK, I’ll hold still for your photo lady. But be quick about it!

…to a soft fluffy sophisticated man about town of eleven.

You’ve been taking my picture for years! I just keep looking better!

Carson liked to visit everyone in the neighborhood, and he seemed to know when we were in town, showing up by the door to check in with us, sometimes meeting us at the car when we unloaded luggage. Each time he asked for an ear rub or a tummy tickle.

That’s a good spot lady!

He wouldn’t decline a treat if you happened to have one on you…

nom nom nom

…but mostly, for Carson, it was about a little loving, a little play. And the lake.

My favorite place to be – my lake!

His favorite thing to do was to walk along the shoreline, knee or chest deep in the water, hunting for those pesky minnows. When he found some he’d pounce on them and then grin.

There’s one over THERE!

All summer you could find him in the water. And year-round you could find him on a neighbor’s porch, getting some loving.

Hey Katie-girl…want to PLAY?

Katie wasn’t too sure about him visiting us. It wasn’t that she was afraid of him. But he was so big…and when he barked it was with one deep baritone WOOF! She always jumped.

She just didn’t know what to make of him, but the rest of us? We loved Carson. It didn’t matter that he didn’t belong to us, we all just loved him.

Is he still back there mama?

Carson was most famous for being the softest dog any of us had ever touched. And he smelled good. Yes he was a dog, and yes he loved to wade in the lake, the muddier the better, but he always started each day smelling good.

You still taking pictures lady?

I imaged he took a shower with his person each morning because he always used to smell like Irish Spring soap. This last week he smelled like some other shampoo, but he still smelled too pretty to be a boy.

Everybody loved Carson, the dog that smelled so good.

Sunset is my time to head for home. See you tomorrow lady!

Sadly Carson crossed the rainbow bridge this week, suddenly and without warning. I’m so glad he stopped by a couple times since I’ve been here this trip so that I got some Carson loving.

My last Carson loving.

But man. We are all so going to miss him. I look for him every time I leave the house, he was so often sitting on my porch. I look for him along the lake shore. I listen for his bark.

We’ll always remember you sweetie!

I am more than sad. But I’m trying to remember that I was lucky to know him.

Somehow it’s not enough.

Who wouldn’t love this face?


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When a screwdriver turns into a walk in the park

I’m at the lake house, enjoying the view and the weather and what appears to be spring happening all around me. But evening comes early in this part of the country and during the long dark hours I wander the house, noticing stuff that needs to be done.

Like cleaning — especially those places that aren’t automatically done during a regular visit.

So I decide that the cold air return needs to be spiffed up. I doubt it’s been cleaned in the almost fourteen years since mom and dad left us the house. It’s not something a person would normally pay attention to, but after two weeks of living here, it’s moved to the top of my to-do list.

I look at it more closely and figure I’m going to need a phillips-head screwdriver to get it off the wall. We still have dad’s workshop set up in the basement so I traipse downstairs to search.

Hmmmm….where would I find the right screwdriver?

There’s a lot to choose from, and I quickly find what should be the perfect tool.

Back up the stairs I tromp, petting Katie-girl who is waiting anxiously at the top, unsure of where her mama went. I get down on the floor to begin loosening the screws. But darn! The screws need a flat screwdriver. I don’t know what I was looking at before.

There’s one of everything here.

Shaking my head I get myself up off the floor (which isn’t all that easy these days) and stomp back down the stairs to the workshop. I put the phillips-head back in it’s appointed spot and grab a flat screwdriver.

At the top of the steps Katie waits patiently, wondering what in the world mama is doing now.

Back on the floor again I get the first three screws out; both sides and the top of the grate came out pretty easily. But the screw on the bottom, right down at the floor, is smaller. And, as I peer at it my head flush with the floor, and through my trifocals, I see that it needs a phillips-head screwdriver.

“Hey Katie,” I say, “Want to go to the park?”

Parks are good mama!