Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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On loss and spring


I’ve been to a lot of funerals held in winter and I used to think the hardest thing in the world was to walk away after a winter graveside ceremony, bowed with grief, huddled in a coat against the wind and rain or snow. Though you knew your loved one couldn’t feel the cold it was just so hard to leave them there in the darkening light of a winter day.

I used to think that was the worst.

But yesterday, when a local family had to leave their young man behind in the cemetery, the sun was shining and the bright blue sky was filled with puffy white clouds. It was a perfect spring day.

And now I wonder. Maybe losing a young life in the midst of the hope that is spring is the worst.

Yesterday a family had to come to grips with a life ended way too soon. I don’t know them, or the young man gone, but I understand their shock. Accidents happen, but never to your family. Never to someone with an infant and a wife and loving parents and a huge extended family.

Never just as spring is blooming with promise.

How can someone just be gone when so much around us is bursting into life? How does a young wife with an infant son survive without the loving husband, the doting father, at her side?

How does a family walk away from a new grave, bowed with grief, when bright blue skies are smiling down? It just seems wrong. Certainly the sky should be crying too.

But this young wife is strong, and she has a strong family to help her. She has good friends to listen and provide support. They know that sometimes the road takes an unexpected turn; they know how to navigate grief. They’ve been there before.

She’ll be OK eventually. And her son will grow up surrounded by people who will tell him about his daddy. How he loved his family. How he will always be there in their hearts.

It takes family and friends to get through grief filled but beautiful spring days when life is bursting from every tree and shrub, every bulb and seed, but tears are hiding behind every eyelid.

May the beauty of spring moving on into summer give some comfort to a family whose hearts have been broken once again.

And may that tiny little boy know that he is truly loved.


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Still experimenting

I think it’s been more than a year now that I’ve been trying to cook meatless meals. We started out eliminating red meat, and that’s been a constant ever since, except for an occasional night out.

I’ve talked about trying to cook vegetarian and even vegan on this blog. How it was a learning curve and a slow process. How I felt clumsy, how worrying about meal planning and the actual preparation seemed to take up the entire day.

In the beginning there are tomatoes.

You’d think after a year it would get easier. But it hasn’t, though now I have most of what I used to think of as odd ingredients stocked in my pantry, so shopping is easier. The actual searching for recipes and the chopping and stirring and roasting, well, it all still takes a lot of time.

Tonight I made eggplant parmesan. It was supposed to be vegan, but I used real parmesan cheese and cow’s milk, so it was only vegetarian. I have to say, it was better than any eggplant parmesan I’ve had in any restaurant. I’ll make it again for sure.

Yummy.

We’re trying to eat meatless meals about half the time. Sometimes we’re doing that even more than half our meals. I haven’t really seen a difference in our health, but I have to believe we’re better off eating like this than consuming heavy meals with meat as the main course.

And another benefit I just noticed today; all that produce piled up on the kitchen counter sure is pretty.

I guess we’ll just keep on experimenting.

Colorful and good too!


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Surprise!

Katie here. No I’m not the surprise…you knew I’d pop up again sooner or later. I’ve been mostly resting since we got home from our grand adventure. I still get my mama up really early every morning, but then we go back to sleep. She seems to need more sleep these days. Guess she’s getting old.

Anyway.

Yesterday afternoon it started to snow. Mama made me go sit in it.

Really mama?!

She thought I looked pretty with the snow on my fur. I thought she was being ridiculous. I mean, when it rains I don’t make her go stand around outside do I? Oh. Well, yes I do, come to think of it.

Ahem.

Mama was surprised that so much snow had stuck around when we got up this morning. It was all over the tops of trees, but didn’t seem to get to the shrubs underneath. She says it was really pretty and we ran outside to take pictures.

Hey mama, come on out, the snow is great!

Well. She took pictures, I spent the time sniffing stuff, checking to make sure it was all safe you know. But when she called me to COME! I ran right over to her. I love doing that because, as you all expect, mama has a treat for me. Sometimes I run with my eyes closed, dreaming about that luscious treat.

Running for joy in the last snow of the season.

Mama was fascinated with how the snow emphasized the shapes of the trees…

Birch branches outlined in fresh snow.

…sometimes, she says, you don’t notice things like this until the snow points them out.

Look at all the cool shapes out there!

And then do you know what happened? The sun came out! Man oh man that sure made stuff even prettier!

Blue sky and fresh snow…with a little bit of cloud action.

Look at all the colors!

A special moment in time.

The green of the pines and the yellow of the forsythia buds next to the white shrouded birch trees was spectacular! I almost didn’t notice but mama pointed it out to me. She’s good like that.

But my feet were getting wet and cold and I was hungry. After all I’d only had one tiny treat and it was way past time for breakfast. So I made her take me inside. But that didn’t keep her from taking more pictures as the hungry birds stopped by for breakfast too.

Incoming chickadee!

I guess having a little spring snow isn’t all that bad, mostly because I know it will be gone by this afternoon.

Already melting.

And this weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny. I’m going to get mama to take me to my park. Or maybe a couple parks.

A girl can hope anyway.

Waiting for summer.


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Meandering

Headed out for a day on the lake.


Retirement. What a gift! Here Katie girl and I are wandering without time constraints or obligations.

We’re visiting family…

Riding the waves.

…sleeping in.

Good morning!

Taking lots of pictures of nothing much in particular.

Evening light on azalea.

Exploring places we’ve been many times, and other places we never knew existed.

Morning glow.

We’re watching the weather up north, trying to figure out when we might go home again. There doesn’t seem to be an urgency.

Dangerous dive bombing mockingbird.

Especially when we watch the weather patterns slide across the country full of snow and rain.

Might have to snuggle down here in the South for a bit longer.

Condo living.


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WordPress Photo Challenge: Wish

Tonight as I sit out on the deck of the lake house, watching the moon rise, I wish everyone had such a warm, beautiful and safe place to relax.

I wish upon a moon.

I know that many of my friends ‘up north’ are facing their third night of no electricity following a major wind event. I know the temperatures are heading down toward 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.77 C) tonight.

I wish that spring could come early for them. That I could somehow share the warmth and color and contentment surrounding me here.

I wish they could all just come down here and soak up the sun. Or sit with me under the moon listening to the waves gently lap against the shore

I wish, not upon a star, but upon the bright moon, that the warmth from here in the South could find it’s way up to the dark and frozen North.


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Doing the best we can

I’ve alluded to stressful times around here recently. We’ve had lots of unexpected and unplanned things to deal with lately. I guess I shouldn’t have expected that retirement would be all golden beaches, blue skies and fruity drinks.

This morning I left early, heading over to my physical therapy appointment a couple of towns to the west. The sky was pretty, big clouds with purple bottoms piling up. I wished I was out with the camera instead of going to PT.

Once that appointment was over, my shoulder iced (which is the best part of my day) I head over to my gym, a couple of towns to the east, intent on getting some cardio in. The sky is filled with more beautiful clouds. I consider heading home for my camera, skipping the gym and the visit to the nursing home.

I debate doing something I want to do v.s. doing the thing I should do.

At the gym I walk three minutes, run one minute, repeat about 11 times on one of the treadmills. It’s an attempt to get back to running after many years of slothful living. But one minute is about all I can run without my heart rate soaring above it’s max rate. Still, I’m pleased I stuck to the plan.

Sweaty I headed to the locker room and dress in layers to head back outside into the 10 degree day. The blast of cold air actually feels good pulling at my sweat soaked hair. It’s afternoon now and I’m hungry. I could stop by MacDonalds….but I only spent 340 calories in my three mile walk/run, and I could waste that in an instant if I’m not careful.

I buy a cup of chicken noodle soup (130 calories) there, and sip it in the parking lot of the nursing home. I burn my tongue, as I always do when I’m trying to hurry.

Inside I visit with Aunt Vi who at 101 is not happy to have given up her own home. She says she’s doing worse today than yesterday, but to me she seems pretty good, though confused about tests she’s having done. More family members arrive, and we spend a bit of time talking, even laughing, but receive no explanation to the pain she’s experiencing.

It’s frustrating.

Glancing at my watch I realize time has flown and I must fly too in order to get dinner into the oven at home. As I prepare the meal I update the husband on the aunt’s status. It’s so hard to know what to do. Everyone wants the best for her, but it’s hard to find that within the health care system.

And then I notice the headlines rolling across the television across the room. The sound is down and I’ve been talking about our daily stresses, not paying attention.

Five dead in the Fort Lauderdale airport. Another shooting. More terror, more grief, more confusion, more debate. I note that the radio playing during my drive home hadn’t mentioned it. The stock market didn’t blink and Wall Street analysts don’t mention the tragedy. They’re talking about the agony of the Dow being within .37 of 20,000.

We have become immune.

My day, filled with stress, seems pretty straight forward now, and in fact quite good. My shoulder didn’t hurt. I got my workout in. Aunt Vi spent some time laughing.

And I recognize I should be grateful.

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PS: The latest test shows she might have a gall bladder problem. We and she are headed to the hospital now. Still, we’re grateful for an answer.


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A New Year Begins

It’s 4:30 a.m. and Katie the dog wants to go out. Just like every morning, her timing is meticulously accurate. I shake the sleep from my eyes as she shakes the tags on her collar and together we stumble to the front door where she prances impatiently as I don shoes and coat and gloves.

And then we step out into the blackness that is early morning.

Deep silence surrounds us. No cars out on the freeway, no stirring in the neighborhood. Only the far away wail of a train intrudes on the thick blanket of quiet. I whisper to her, unwilling to pierce the silence myself, to find a good spot as we wander the yard.

Almost directly overhead is the big dipper, sitting upside down, spilling good wishes down upon us. Orion’s belt has long since gone to bed. “Hi Dad,” I whisper. “Here’s to a New Year. Another one starting without you and mom.”

And then I pause, a bit of happiness floating from me up to him. “Well, not really without you…I feel you right here. See you tomorrow morning…say hi to Mom”

Katie and I head silently back to the house. At the front porch she stands on her back legs asking to be picked up. I do, picking up her awkwardly lopsided bobble-headed cone encased self and give her a tight hug and a kiss.

“Happy New Year baby-girl, Happy New Year.”

Happy New Year mama!

Happy New Year mama!


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12 years ago today.

Dad's favorite place to be was on a boat.

Dad’s favorite place to be — on a boat.

I wasn’t going to write about this. That today is another anniversary of the semitruck crash that took our remaining parent.

Big brother

Big brother

But today I seem to be blocked and unable to write about anything else.

One of my favorite of his childhood pictures.

One of my favorites of his childhood pictures.

And so I will mark the day so that I can move forward. Not move on, because that implies that I leave him behind, but forward.

Young man growing up to be a dad.

Young man growing up to be a dad.

Today I am moving forward with him, and mom, always with me.

Merry Christmas you two.

Merry Christmas you two.