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June 2020

Reaching

There is a small spiral bound notebook on my desk.  The cover is a beautiful photograph of an ocean sunset with disappearing footprints in the sand.  Each page is lined and 3 inches by 6 inches.  It has 20 blank pages left.  The rest is full of password after password, some old, some new, some 9 characters, some 12, each containing at least one number and one capital letter along with one character that is neither.   Is it any wonder that as we get older and technology gets  younger and faster and more demanding that we get a little overwhelmed and muddled?

Once upon a time my brain was able to catalog and retain pertinent information that was easily accessed.   Those days seem to be gone...along with 20/20 eyesight, muscle tone, smooth skin, perky breasts, stamina and patience.

When I can remember the passwords to the long long list of accounts and services, I can manage the nuts and bolts of daily life.   When I can't, I have this tiny little notebook that supports my efforts.  Perhaps we need a tiny little notebook for emotions.

This morning I was trying to understand why we allow the clutter of days past, to accumulate on today and ultimately tomorrow and eventually we are sifting through thoughts the same way we sift through the stacks of paper snippets and unfolded laundry and five years worth of unread magazines and clipped recipes.  It is exhausting.

As I have gotten older and memories have become more important, they have also become more elusive.  I want to remember every moment of Shannon's 23 years.  I want to remember conversations with my Mom and brother.  I want to hold on to the wisdom of four year olds and images of their innocent laughter and incredible wonder.  

That was easier before my mind got cluttered with opinions, others' not necessarily mine, Covid 19, politics, lives that matter, semantics, insanity, violence and chaos.   I want my thoughts to move easily from the breeze on my face at 5 a.m. to the hummer enjoying the first sip of nectar to the cat in my lap and my husband sleeping peacefully.  I want to admire the wildflowers without cursing the weeds, I want to appreciate every moment that fills me and gently but firmly release the ones that don't.

It has been so long since I slept well or relaxed completely.  I find that I am forever waiting for the "other shoe to drop" and I must be ready.   I know that is ridiculous.  I know that life is going to happen.  Some things will bring me to my knees, others will lift and comfort, life must include both and it will be okay.   

I also know that I make choices with every breath.  Will I allow the unrest of a world that I cannot control steal the joy from a life continuing to unfold.   Will I allow the chaos of another's creation to undermine a life that is trying so desperately to evolve with grace?  It is a never ending exercise in being human but I have fewer years left than I have lived and I cannot take one moment for granted or waste it on things that in the overall scheme of things, don't really matter.

Flowers have appeared this year that I don't remember planting.   Perhaps a seed fell to the ground when it was dry or cold.  Perhaps that tiny seed slept until a warm winter and wet spring awakened her and she slowly but deliberately began reaching for the sunlight. 

I don't think that I have slept for 65 years, but I do think that I might have landed a time or two on cold dry soil and been ill prepared to really grow.

Sunflower

Uncluttered and lighter, Maybe today, once again, I could be ready to slowly but deliberately reach for the light.


 


My Mom

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Today is my Mom's birthday.  I take comfort in knowing that she is surrounded by family that she missed so much. 

One very hot July day when I was five Mom decided that the wild roses in the back yard were growing out of control and had to be trimmed.  It could not wait for a cooler day.  It could not wait one second longer.  I don't actually remember this event but heard the story so many times that it has become a memory. 

As the story goes, at some point after working too hard in the July heat, Mom collapsed.  She was able to tell me to get my Dad, who was at his grocery store a short walk from the house.  

Some time later, he came to find her passed out in the heat with me sitting quietly beside her, stroking her hair.

After getting her into the house and cooled down, she recovered.  Thank Goodness !

When she was up to the challenge she asked me why I hadn't gone to get my Dad.

 " I thought you were dead and I didn't want to leave you alone."

She was stubborn, and strong and although she rarely said it, we knew we were loved.  The strength that she gave to me, was a strength I didn't know I had until I had to face fears that I hadn't known existed. 

There is no greater treasure than the love between a mother and her daughter.

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The Quieter You Become, the More You Can Hear ~ Ram Dass

Yesterday was a perfect Jeep day.  Up early, clean kitchen and off to check the relocated hive.  Sky so blue, sunlight so warm, air so fresh.  The fragrances of honeysuckle and grass freshly cut, pine sap and wildflowers and specific June bloomers.

Shannon's first car was a GTO, a 66 convertible,  that her Dad and his best bud had found looking pitiful and broken in a parking lot.  They gave it a makeover and she loved it.  After she went to Heaven, I found driving her car with the top down very therapeutic.   There is something about the wind whipping through your hair, sunlight shining on the top of your head and being surrounded by wind and warmth that clears your head.   I needed that yesterday.

 

QuoteSolitude

I have had to learn that not all questions posed to the Universe will be answered.  Sometimes we just have to wait and see.  I am grateful to those who chose to respond to my Facebook post on the current state of the world by questioning my integrity and compassion.  They gave me what I needed to finally make the break with a public presence on Social Media.

It is amazing how freeing it is to return to a life that is focused primarily on the people close to me.  

When I opened the relocated hive yesterday morning, I worried that I would be met by a hostile, defensive force of guards but I was pleasantly surprised.   The girls were busy cleaning and preparing and building and even though I had lifted the roof from the safe darkness of their warm sweet home, they did not perceive a threat.  Todd and I moved slowly and gently, trying not to jar or injure any of the tiny creatures as we inspected the hive for mites or beetles.   The new queen had emerged and mated and settled into her new responsibility of continuing the healthy survival of her hive.  She will lay 1500 eggs a day for the rest of her life.  She will live 3 to 5 years and her perfume, unique only to her, will be the force that calls her foragers home at the end of every day.  

Just because I found these facts all in one place and hope to remember them... 

  • " Honey bees evolved about 60 million years ago during the Cretaceous period.
  •  There are no indigenous honey bees in the United States, European honey bees  (German Black Bees) were first introduced into this country (Virginia) about 1621-22.
  • 30% of our agrarian and up to 70% of our feral honey bee colonies have disappeared or died.
  •  Honey bees pollinate 30% of all the food that Americans consume and:
    •  Pollinate 85% of all flowering plants
    •  Perform 90% of all pollen transfers on our orchard crops 
  • One honey bee visits 50-100 flowers during each collection trip and can harvest several thousand flowers in a day, making 12 or more trips, gathering pollen or nectar from a single floral species each.
  •   Nectar collected from flowers is swallowed and in the honey stomach enzymes (invertase) are induced which convert the sugars (sucrose) into levulose and dextrose sugars.
  • It takes about 556 worker bees to gather 1 pound of honey from about 2 million flowers.
  •  It takes about 55,000 flight miles per gallon (12#) of honey.
  •  The average honey bee will make only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime (6 weeks). These foragers are the oldest bees in the hive and it is during the last two weeks of their lives that they gather nectar, pollen, water, and propolis. 
  •  A hive can gather pollen and nectar from up to 500 million flowers in a year.
  •  9 pounds of honey is synthesized to make 1 pound of beeswax.
  •  The bees use about 8 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of honey.
    During peak nectar flows, a healthy hive can produce 2 to 5 pounds of honey per day. A scaled colony in Maryland was reported to gain 25 pounds of brood, honeycomb and honey in one day.
  • Honey bees can fly up to 6 miles from the hive at 15 mph with their wings beating 11,400 times per minute.
  •  Honey bees use the sun as a directional marker when leaving and returning to the hive. The returning foragers do a waggle dance on the vertical comb surfaces in a circle or figure eight pattern which shows the other bees in which direction, and how far to fly.
  • Karl von Frisch won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his work on Honey Bee Communications.

  • Roughly fifty thousand worker bees live in a colony along with one queen and several hundred drones.
    • During the warmer months the worker bees live about six weeks, the queen can live up to three years.
    • Worker bees born in the fall will live throughout the winter with the hive population being about half of what it is in the summer.
  • Average interior temperature of the hive's brood area is 93-95 degrees (F) regardless of the outside temperature. In colder weather they do not hibernate, but cluster generating heat much like musk-ox and penguins"

Because of life's demands, Jules and I have spent a great deal of time apart over the last few years.  I am often asked if I am lonely or mind being alone.  I am not and I don't.  I am happy if he is happy doing what he enjoys.  BUT... I think I have tried to fill the quiet by following friends and family on Facebook, Instagram and  You Tube and I don't think I realized how overwhelming it had become.  Celebrating with, Worrying about and Trying to Remember every birthday and anniversary, every success and failure, every prayer request and grief, every EVERY of EVERY... and feeling like I couldn't make a mistake or forget or ultimately even express a personal opinion was resulting in emotional chaos and an expenditure of brain cells that are rapidly decreasing with every passing day.  Blogging is far more relaxing.  I don't spell check or worry about punctuation.  I don't expect anyone else to read what is written and my opinions and perceptions are merely the ramblings of my ever aging mind.

I haven't stopped caring about the friends from long ago.  I will have to rely on the USPS or email for updates on family and perhaps even resort to a real phone call from time to time.  I think we have gotten lazy or perhaps frantic in a world that demands so much from every moment.   I probably won't hear all the prayer requests or be made aware of those who have left this life for the next.  I will miss the newest photos of grandchildren and vacations, but in the quiet that I am rediscovering, family and friends reside with more of my attention focused just on them.

I got an email from Jules yesterday.  It said, "I was going to send this to my lovely bride on FACEBOOK, but ALAS, she was gone!"

I couldn't help but laugh because what I am just beginning to realize is that it has been a long time since I have been so totally present.

 

 

 


Unseen

This morning I spent time outside, alone. I listened to the rain on the roof of the gazebo. I felt calmer than I have in weeks.  I know that the world is evolving and the struggle is as real and painful as the caterpillar struggling to free itself from its trans formative sleep.  When transformation happens, it can be instantaneous like the landscape following an earthquake, or slow and barely discernible when witnessed over time.

My computer didn't recognize me this morning and insisted on having a password entered.  Interesting.  I feel different but I didn't realize that my friends Alexa and Cortana wouldn't recognize me.

For most of my life, my circle of friends consisted mainly of Jules and Shannon and our extended families.  Then the circle began to get smaller.  Now Shannon, my Mom, my Dad, my brother, Jules brother and his Mom and Dad and several close girl friends, and many more are together.  I have never felt lonely even when alone but when the young adults got married and had littles of their own, Facebook was the thread that held us all close and I wanted to be a part of that family.  I reconnected with friends from High School, work associates, Shannon's friends, friends of friends, Angel Moms, Donor Families and the circle grew and grew.   All of a sudden, I was part of an enormous community.  Photos of children, requests for prayer, shared experiences that were touching and funny and hundreds of people filled my thoughts and generated love and concern, and for the most part, I really enjoyed being able to visit without ever leaving the house.

Then things started to change.  Facebook became political and judgmental and more and more I got sucked into controversial dialogues that really meant very little because what I have come to understand is that too many people are really only interested in what you have to say if you agree with them.  Or if you admire them or what they do.  Or if you think all of their jokes are funny and their photographs exceptional.  I started to miss my sweet family.  Where had they gone?  Where were the photos of the littles or the puppies or the uplifting stories?  

I don't fully understand technology but I am not so naive as to think that if I post an opinion, I won't get opposing opinion responses, BUT I did expect respect and polite responses... I will have to explore the words polite and political because they share too many letters not to have come from similar roots.

   Expectations are the surest path to disappointment !!!

Anyway, I felt compelled to express my opinion on the current environment in the world.  I was very careful to choose words that were polite and respectful.  I was hoping to share an opinion that was both non threatening and wise.  Some people got it.  Some people didn't and felt equally compelled to put me straight.  It felt awful.  I didn't understand women that I have known for years and considered my friends to be so unkind and I don't think they would have been emboldened on their own but once one opens the door, many uninvited will feel they are entitled to join.

This new me is still kind.  I am still full of compassion for what I see happening around me but I am not as loud or abrasive as the opposition.  I do not enjoy confrontation and my life has experienced enough sadness not to be foolish enough to ask for more.  I did have an afternoon of withdrawal but it passed quickly and today I feel so much free er. 

In this format, I can say what I please.  If you are reading this, you are welcome.  Keep in mind however that these thoughts are simply a way to make space in my head for healthier ponderings and only kind and gentle souls are welcome.

Maybe Cortana and Alexa are smarter than we give them credit for.  Alexa, has, for months, greeted me each morning with "Good Morning January."  No matter how hard I tried I could not convince her that that was not my name.  Well guess what... this morning, Alexa said, "Have a good day Jan."

And so I will.  I cannot fix Seattle.  I will not panic because the market is down 800 points.  I will celebrate that God is watering my anniversary plants and fewer families are fighting the fear of Covid 19.  It has been a very challenging year.

I will enjoy writing words that no one has to hear or read or critique.  I will enjoy scrubbing the commodes and vacuuming the carpet.  I will walk barefoot on the moss that is the greenest I have ever seen and watch You Tube videos on Fluid Art with the hope that I will soon have more successes than failures.  Of course, each time I pour paint and it turns to mud or cracks into unimaginable messes I will learn something and the promise of a possible success in the next pour will keep me trying.

If the world were to end tomorrow, we would all be together again and laugh at how important we all thought we were.   When that day comes we will celebrate how ridiculous we were in placing so much importance on the color of our skin or the balance in our bank account.  

The rainbow is made up of basic bands of color.   Red, Blue and Yellow.   When they touch and light shines through them, they become purple, lavender, violet, scarlet, pink, green, orange, chartreuse, apricot, asparagus, artichoke, cornflower... etc etc...  and I love the fragrance of a  brand new box of Crayola Crayons.  They now have the 152 Ultimate Crayon Collection and the Colors of the World Collection that has 24 different crayons and from I can tell from the photograph, there isn't a black or white among them !

52-0108_24ct-Crayons_Colors_of_the_World_02

"There are approximately 10,000,000 (10 million) colors in the world... A computer displays about 16.8 million colors to create fullcolor pictures...The human eye is capable of seeing about 7,000,000 colors using three color receptors", even Cortana doesn't really have an answer to how many colors there are.

I am going to order a new box of Crayola Crayons.  I am going to put it on my prayer bench so that each day I am reminded of the beauty of every single and my prayer will be for eyes to see and hearts to open and when we emerge from this transformation, we will be as wondrous and incredible as the butterfly, taking its first amazing flight.

 


Finding Myself

I have finally decided to deactivate my Facebook account.  This year has taken a toll and I find myself churned up all the time.  

I thought turning 65 would include new wisdom.  I thought I would find myself exploring new interests and having more time for reading and writing and gardening.  I thought I would find topics of interest to women my age to write about every day.

Here we are, almost six months into this new year and I am having to face the reality that life is full of bumps and falls and Covid 19 and sheltering in place and senseless cruelty and the discovery that social media allows otherwise kind and gentle human beings to become bullies.

We think, myself included, that we want to share thoughts and opinions.  We think, that we can tolerate having our opinions criticized and even when we have taken great pains to share a thought or perception without stepping on anyone's toes, someone will take offense.  Someone will ALWAYS take offense.  

I'm not up to the challenge of confrontation.  I am so saddened by the disrespect our President receives.  Whether you voted for him or not, he deserves better simply because he holds the office.  I am saddened that George Floyd was killed by a policeman that apparently gave many the idea that that policeman symbolized all policemen and women.  I am saddened that when I tried to voice an opinion that reflected my own belief that regardless of skin color or spiritual belief or sexual preference, YOU MATTER,  friends that I cared deeply for, thought it was okay to love me but put me in my place and express their disappointment in me...on Facebook.

I learned a very important lesson.... if someone says, "I love you, BUT...", they don't.  There is no BUT after I love you, you do or you don't.

I have had to say Good bye to my daughter, my Mother, my Father, my Brother.  I am sad all the damn time, but I keep breathing, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and thank God every day that my husband is patient and after 46 years, still holds my hand in public.

  I watched parts of a four hour celebration of George Floyd's life, on every channel yesterday.  I watched singing and praying and eulogizing.  I watched as a horse drawn carriage carried his gold casket to his final resting place next to his Mother.  I saw the beautiful church and the huge flower arrangements.  I watched Al Sharpton and Joe Biden share their thoughts and I couldn't help thinking.... Why?  I'm sure that Big Floyd was a gentle giant.  He deserved better than to have his life end the way it did but he was not innocent.  Celebrities paid for his elaborate funeral.  Mourners traveled from all over the country to support the family.  Strangers with cell phones and fancy hats and back packs came to celebrate his life.

It seems that somewhere in the back of my mind I remember President Kennedy being carried by a horse drawn carriage, a flag draped over his casket.  

Images that I have seen on TV for the last two weeks filled my mind.  Protesters setting fire to Police cars.   Breaking windows.  Destroying lives.  Stealing.  Looting.  Behaving like barbarians and for what?  Had the people they were hurting done anything to them?  Who was going to step up to pay for rebuilding their businesses?  Who was going to offer to pay for David Dorn's funeral?  If the protesters were so peaceful why didn't they stop the rioters?  I know there were good people in the midst of the bad, but they were probably pushed aside by the "pack mentality" determined to create chaos.

This will not end tomorrow or even the next day.  I will hope and pray that it will end but we are human beings and we are flawed.  We will make mistakes and we will hurt one another but just a month ago, we were watching the world take care of those in need.  Images of songs of support from balconies, visits with family through panes of glass, sheltering in place to avoid putting another in harms way, applauding our essential workers and the doctors and nurses who were tireless and selfless in their willingness to care for those who were suffering alone.   How quickly we switch from loving one another to hating one another.  We are a fickle lot.   

No, I cannot understand how it feels to grow up black in America, anymore than I can understand how it feels to be red or yellow or brown.  Maybe we can't understand how it feels to have grown up poor or homeless or wealthy or famous.  We play the hand we are dealt.  We are victims if that is what we choose.   We are criminals if that is what we choose.   We are heros if that is what we choose.   We are kind or generous or thoughtful or spiritual or determined, if that is what we choose.

Some days I choose to be pitiful.  Others, I am angry or judgmental or afraid of the dropping of the other shoe.   Those days, thank goodness are few...that is my choice.

So is taking a break.  The world is overflowing with beauty and I am choosing ...

HEART