The First “REAL” day of Spring

We have had a beautiful spring.  In fact an amazing winter too.  I think I shoveled snow twice this year and that was all before the end of December!  But all the same, between the warm, sunny days of this pre-spring there have been others that were very cool and winter like.  Even the warm days, you could feel that underlying ice in the air.  

But today spring definitely and permanently arrived!  I knew it the moment I woke up even before I opened my eyes.  I could see the sun shining in through my bedroom window and hear a bird, cheerfully singing in the tree on our front lawn.  That one, small bird was announcing the arrival of spring TODAY! 

I recall another time, about 6 years ago when I had this very same feeling….. an actual time, date and moment when I felt/saw/heard spring “arrive”.  I was walking down the street of the neighborhood I lived in at that time, one early evening, talking to someone I love very much on my cell phone; I stopped for a moment and sat down on a step on the side of the street and there is was.  In the air all around me, the smell of everything fresh and new, the feel of a warm breeze caressing my cheek and the taste of it in my mouth…… what a wonderful year that turned out to be for me!  Every aspect of my life grew and blossomed along with that first “hello” of spring.

 My grandmother loved spring, I believe it was her favorite time of year and she came alive with everything around her.  She was the most inventive, avid gardener I have ever known and anywhere she lived turned into a Garden of Eden at her hand.  She died ten years ago in spring and I miss her still.  But every spring I think of her and everything she has brought to my life and the lives of many others in my family.

 This morning on my walk to work this phrase came to mind amongst the beauty of this wonderful first real day of spring “savor every moment of life”!

My Generation

A good friend of mine forwarded me one of those “chain emails” which I normally don’t pay much attention to and/or promptly delete.  But this one grabbed my attention and made me think.  In fact it made me feel like a kid again for a few minutes.

I found myself comparing my own carefree childhood full of play and wandering to my own children’s rigid, somewhat fear filled childhood.  My kids probably had more freedom and independance than most in this day as they grew up in the country where the worries of abduction, gangs, drugs, etc. were not nearly as prevelant, so for that I’m glad.  But it wasn’t like my own childhood that is so aptly outlined in this email.

I remember vividly those hot summer days; getting up bright and early in the morning, eating breakfast and then dashing out the door, barefoot, bare headed and with no sunscreen.  We played ALL day, literally until the “street lights” came on and sometimes even later if we were close to home.  We never got bored, we wandered freely around the neighborhood and we didn’t get into any trouble.  Everyone knew you and everyone watched out for each other.

However, I must say in defence of the current generation; perhaps they do spend more time in front of TV’s, Game systems, ipods, cell phones, etc. but not ALL kids are consumed by these distractions.  Just as not ALL kids of my generation were so great or turned out so wonderful.  I admire our children and in some ways pity them.  They become adults far too soon.  They deal with problems at an age we couldn’t even comprehend yet they have found the balance and use these marvelous inventions to their benefit, to be smarter, more productive, but still enjoy being a kid.  Afterall they ARE the product of their parents…… my generation.  So here it is:

*******

No matter what our kids and the new generation think about us, WE ARE AWESOME !!!!  OUR LIFE IS LIVING PROOF !!!!  To Those of  Us  Born  between 1930 – 1979:

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED THE 1930’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s!!
 
First, we survived being born to mothers who may have smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.   They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
 
Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-base paints.   We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, locks on doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had baseball caps not helmets on our heads.
 
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, no booster seats, no seat belts, no air bags, bald tires and sometimes no brakes.  Riding in the back of a pick- up truck on a warm day was always a special treat.
 
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle.   We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and no one actually died from this.
 
We ate cupcakes made with Lard, white bread, real butter and bacon. We drank FLAV- OR- AID made with real white sugar. And, we weren’t overweight.   WHY?
 
Because we were always outside playing….that’s why!
 
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on……No one was able to reach us all day. And, we were OKAY.
 
 We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride them down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem
 
 We did not have Play stations, Nintendo’s and X-boxes. There were no video games, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s,
no surround-sound or CD’s,
no cell phones,
no personal computers,
no Internet and no chat rooms.
   
WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
 
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We would get spankings with wooden spoons, switches, ping pong paddles, or just a bare hand and no one would call child services to report abuse.
 We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
 
We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
 
We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them.
 
 Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.   Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment.   Imagine that!!  

 The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!  
These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever.
 
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. What can kids today do besides push buttons.
 
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all.
 
If YOU are one of them, CONGRATULATIONS!  
 
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.
 
While you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave and lucky their parents were.
 
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it ?

Mural

My son has been working on a mural, on the wall outside his art room.  Last week he met me at work, we went out for dinner and on our walk home stopped by the school so that I could finaly see his work.

It is not yet completed but here it is, a work in progress.

NaNoWriMo

nano_09_blk_participant_120x240_pngIt’s been a long time I know, but….

No excuses, it’s just been a long time.  Something new I’m working on is the National Novel Writing Month.  It’s this crazy idea that people all around the world will write a novel in 30 days during the month of November.  I can’t even remember how I stumbled across the website but I did and now I’m signed up.

I thought if I posted it here on my blog I would feel that much more obligated to actually go through with it!  So wish me luck.

Ava

My second mother and Ava

Well I can’t write about friends and not mention my oldest and dearest, Ava.  We have been friends for 40 years…. the very best of friends for 36 of those years.  Our lives have steered in different directions for a long while now, but whenever we have the opportunity to see each other it’s like no time at all has passed; we pick up right where we left off. 

We know each other’s history from almost the very start.  All the embarrassing, little secrets of childhood, the heartaches and the happy times; we’ve shared them all in some fashion.  Whether by phone, mail, email or in person we have managed to stay connected over the years and the miles.

Recently, my children and I had the great pleasure of attending a housewarming party at Ava and her husband Doug’s new home.  This was no ordinary housewarming and it was not held in just any house.  Ava and Doug renovated and moved into her childhood home; the house she grew up in and the one where the two of us spent countless hours together.  Growing up, we were seldom separated and Ava’s house was my second home. 

Going back there for this occasion was so special.  Even though parts of the house have been completely, yet beautifully transformed, it still feels so familiar to me.  I know every nook and cranny and every corner and shadow.  Walking through the house I could almost hear and see the ghosts of our younger selves, laughing under the covers in her Mom’s bed, listening to music in the “Big Room” and dancing in the rain in the backyard in our long white nightgowns. 

Ava’s mother was like my second mother.  She was always so sweet and kind and she was always trying to feed me!  Of course I didn’t mind.  It seemed like I was always hungry then.  She took care of us.  Made us wonderful meals, encouraged our imaginations and always loved us.

During the weekend of the party, among preparations, guests coming and going and the clean up afterwards, there was one moment in particular that will forever stand out in the forefront of my mind.  Ava’s mother, now 84 and confined to a wheel chair is still as lovely and dear as always.  She is happy and seeing her daughter married to a wonderful man, living in this house, obviously brings her great joy.  At one point during the party she wanted to go up to the “Big Room”, to sit there and visit with people. 

The Big Room holds a special place for us all.  It is the room where parties are held and it is full of fun and happy memories.  It is, as its name implies, a big room.  It has a high vaulted ceiling and large windows overlooking the backyard. It is at the end of the hall and up four steps, so to take a wheelchair up to it is no easy task.  But coming down the hall I looked to see Doug and my sixteen year old son pick up the chair and carry Ava’s mother up to the Big Room.  The relevance of the moment did not pass me by.  This house where I spent so many hours as a girl

had always been a part of my past and the memories associated with it were ingrained with me as a child; yet here was MY son, a tall, handsome grown young man carrying this frail woman, who is like a mother to me. 

I am almost sorry Ava never had children.  I wonder what they would have been like.  Would my children and hers have been the inseparable friends that we are?  She would have been a wonderful mother, just as she is a wonderful Aunt. 

She is one of the most sincere, caring and generous people I know.  She is also wise and sensible and has often been my anchor in life’s stormy seas or the voice of reason in my crazy head. 

I wish my own daughter would have had a best friend like Ava.  There is something about girlfriends in a girl’s or for that matter woman’s life that cannot be filled by a man.  Boyfriends come and go, husband although for life cannot share the same connection as a girlfriend.  I am fortune to have Ava and the other wonderful women I do have in my life.

Friends

friendsI had the most amazing, therapeutic experiences this past weekend and all on account of those special people in my life that I have the great fortune to call friends.  What amazing people they are and what wonderful, full lives they lead.  They inspire me on a regular basis and without them my own life would be quite empty.  So over the next week or so I am going to devote my blogging to my dear friends.  I hope they won’t mind and I promise that everything I post will be generic enough in nature and will focus only on the positive things they bring to my life and heart.  As they all well know I never divulge personal information or secrets.

 Let’s begin with my friend Laurie whom I have known for about six years now, although it seems like forever.  By that I mean I can’t imagine my life without her or a time when she wasn’t my friend.  But I do recall the very first time I ever met her and thinking, “Wow, this woman is amazing!  She is the same age as me and just look at her; she is confident, accomplished, smart, a successful business woman and beautiful to boot.  If we ever had the chance to get to know each other, I just know we would be great friends.”  That was about three years before Laurie and I actually did have the chance to become great friends.  

She is perhaps one of the first role models of my adult life and thinking back on that initial meeting with her I can’t help but recall looking at her and comparing myself to her.  She probably never knew that she opened my eyes to myself; what I had become and how short I had fallen of my life’s goals and ambitions.   Knowing her inspired me to do better.

Laurie exudes an air of professionalism combined with genuine sincerity, a combination of qualities that I regard as unique and rare.   Even now, I find myself going to her for advice and wondering how she would handle a certain situation.  But what makes a great friendship is that I believe she feels the same about me; that I too can offer her support and insight.  We’ve been through a lot together and somehow our lives often run on a parallel. 

If I had to narrow it down to only two qualities or characteristics of Laurie’s that stand out the most I would have to begin by recognizing her eternal youthful, optimism.  No matter how old Laurie is she will never be old!  She embodies that old adage “young at heart” and when I am with her I feel like a kid again.

 Secondly is her commitment to family and friends.  She goes out of her way to build and maintain these relationships and I see them paying off big time for her.  She is surrounded by people who love and appreciate her; me being one of them.

Over the weekend I spent a night at her place.  When I arrived I was a sorry, sad, little woman who was feeling very low and discouraged about life.  After an evening of good conversation, over a few blended drinks, I began to feel like myself, with renewed hope, direction and ambition.  Laurie has a way of making everything so much clearer and a lot less scary.  She has this wonderful talent of helping you take a huge, ugly ball of a million fears, dashed dreams, disappointments and seemingly impossible challenges and compartmentalizing them.  She can break it all down into small bite size pieces that are easy to digest and in the end your plate is clean and you are satisfied. 

Further into the weekend my daughter and I had the pleasure of being involved with the wedding of a relative of another wonderful friend; my beautiful friend Jill.  Although I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to socialize with Jill, it was great to just be a part of this event .  It was busy, fun, wild, crazy; full of love and laughter (just like Jill).  The fact that my friend Jill was responsible for my inclusion in this celebration did not go unnoticed to me because this is one of the many endearing qualities that I love about her.  She is a woman so full of passion and life and she very effortlessly wants to share that with the whole world.  Anyone willing to take her up on the offer is welcomed with open arms and carried away on a sure to be whirlwind adventure. 

Jill has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met!  She can accomplish more in one day than the average person can in three; the whole time making people laugh.  She is the youngest friend I have, but has the wisdom, common sense and insight of a much older person.  Again, she is a friend that I often go to for advice or ask myself when I am in a difficult situation “what would Jill do?”  She can take any situation, no matter how difficult or uncomfortable and put it in order.

There are two distinctive qualities about Jill that I especially admire. The first is her zest for life.  Jill lives life to its fullest, always finding the extraordinary in the ordinary.  She can take a simple, seemingly dull task and turn it into a festival.   The second thing about Jill is her willingness to accept people for who they are.  She never judges unless there is good cause and even then she keeps those judgments to herself.  She finds the good in people no matter how deep it is buried then she uncovers it and pulls it out for everyone else to see as well.  There you sit looking at this person thinking “wow, I never realized that about them before.  They’re really awesome!”  What an admirable way to see the world and people in it.  After all how dull would it be if everyone was the same?  On the contrary Jill appreciates people for their individuality and idiosyncrasies.  She appreciates my strangeness and never asks me to change it, what more could I ask for in a friend?

 I could go on for pages about these two amazing women and I very likely will in future posts.  For now I just wanted to set down these few thoughts that were inspired on account of a weekend that has rejuvenated me and sent me home with new perspective and motivation. 

 True friends; they are one of the most valuable assets we have in life and should be treasured.  They are priceless and without them how empty would our lives be?

Jackson

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It seems that no matter where we live we have an affiliation with our neighbors’ cats.  I’m not really a cat person, although I always seem to have one.  They are too aloof to be a nice pet.  Not like a dog that loves you no matter what, never makes demands and never considers itself above you.  But I have met some individual cats over the years that I’ve grown to really like.  One such cat was our neighbor’s cat Jackson.

I first met Jackson shortly after we moved into our first real home after my divorce.  This home was our sanctuary after a tumultuous time and we loved it.  We moved in, on what must have been the hottest day of the millennium.  I remember carrying in the last load of furniture and collapsing in the middle of the living room floor with my daughter.  We were both absolutely exhausted and dehydrated.  But it was worth it!  We spent eighteen glorious, happy months there and there are times yet when I look back on that period of my life and miss it.

 A few days after we moved in, I took my morning coffee and headed to the sliding doors off the kitchen, that lead to the deck.  I was surprised to find a big, rather ugly looking, tabby cat sitting demurely at the door, quietly looking in through the glass.  He was very odd looking, with a sharp, sphinx like face.  He dashed off as soon as I opened the doors though.

The following morning, same thing; same cat sitting at the door.  This time I said hello to him and instead of rushing off he paused at the bottom of the stairs and looked over his shoulder at me before retreating.   A few days late he was back and this time he let me pet him.  That is until my own cat came tearing out the “cat door” and chased him off.

Several days later, I came into the kitchen one morning to make coffee and stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of a strange cat sitting in the middle of the kitchen, just staring.   As soon as I talked to him he darted back out the cat door.  The following day he was back, only this time I caught him eating my cat’s food.  The next day I came home from work in the afternoon to find him curled up, sleeping on our sofa and the day after that I found him sleeping on my bed!

This was Jackson and this was his way; he would eventually get to where he wanted to go.  That old saying; “give em an inch and they’ll take a mile” comes to mind.  He did sort of grow on a person after awhile even if he was a bit ugly.

Bee Man

bee man

Every community has its own character and “characters”.  By characters I mean those people who stand out in a crowd.  You know the type; they are recognized throughout a neighborhood or community for some distinguishing characteristic.  They become a part of the landscape of your community and if you didn’t see them for awhile, you would notice and wonder why.

In our former community we became quite familiar with one such character and although to this day I do not know his real name, or where he lives, or what he does for a living, and I’m sure he doesn’t know a thing about me; I feel that in some way I know him and he is very familiar to me. 

My daughter and I took notice of him during our evening walks.  From spring to fall we walked for 1 1/2 to 2 hours each night.  The first time we noticed him, he rode by at a slow, methodical speed with his bright black and yellow jacket, large black rimmed goggles, black spandex riding shorts and bulbous, white helmet.  As he rode past us we both just looked at each other and grinned.  He was an older man; somewhere between 60 and 65.  If you took the time to notice you would have seen that he had the legs of a 20 year old man.  Lean, tanned and muscular.

The second time we saw him we grinned at each other again.  By the third and fourth time we realized this was a regular activity of this elderly gentleman, to go riding around the neighborhood each and every night.  Some nights he passed us 2 or 3 times.  At first we weren’t quite sure what to make of this.  Was he following us?  Of course it didn’t take long for us to figure out we weren’t that interesting to him.  Before long he became known as “Bee Man” to us.  I can’t recall who said the name first but it stuck and Bee Man became a bit of a mascot to us and we expected to see him each night.  Every night when we were out and about, one of us would spot him somewhere up the street and say “there’s Bee Man”.   It became a bit of a challenge as to who could spot him first.  Something like “Where’s Waldo” or when you are on a road trip and everyone searches the horizon to be the first to spot the mountains.  Well, at least people from the prairies play that game. 

When we had to move from that particular neighborhood, we were sad to leave many things, Bee Man being one of them.  However it didn’t take long before we realized that living in a small city has its advantage because Bee Man was everywhere!  One of the first evenings in our new house I happened to look out our kitchen window and saw him riding past our house and I just had to yell out “there’s Bee Man”!

During a time of great turmoil in our lives, when things were changing faster than we could run after them, there was something comforting about the consistency and familiarity that Bee Man inspired.  So Bee Man where ever you are riding tonight; I just want to say thank you.

Our Backwards Neighbor’s House

From the very first day that we moved into our new house, in our new city to start our new life, there has been one little persistent thorn in my side.

The neighbors who live directly across the street from us, have for some bizarre reason, known only to themselves and no one else on the block, built the back of their house facing the front of the street. So each morning when I look out the front room window at the city laid out in the valley below, I see that ridiculous house with its dryer vent and air conditioner sitting there in its unfinished, unlandscaped backyard facing out onto the street, where the front of the house should rightfully be. I know I shouldn’t let it bother me and it probably wouldn’t but the fact that there is always some strange, weird thing going on there on top of it all makes it impossible to ignore.

For example, in the middle of winter we come home one afternoon and there “he” is on top of the roof with a little man in a tool belt with a blow torch, melting the snow off the roof. Yes, I said little man. This guy was not a boy and he wasn’t a midget, he was a very little man with a big tool belt hanging off his hips. There was also a fire truck parked out on the street which oddly enough had nothing to do with the fact that they were up on the roof melting the snow with a blow torch. Apparently they had a leak in the roof and now their roof has this big, unsightly, patch that looks like melted shingles, directly in the middle of the roof.

But it gets better……. We soon began to notice random objects appearing on the front yard which looks like the back yard. We never really saw anyone put them there; they just seemed to show up. And not just overnight, sometimes there would be nothing there in the morning but by mid afternoon a child’s chair would be sitting there in the middle of the yard. Other times it was furniture. It looked as if someone had brought it out to the sidewalk to be picked up, but days would go by and it would still be there. Sometimes it even got rained on. But the weirdest thing, the icing on the cake was the clown car! Well, it wasn’t really a clown car, but from our viewpoint it looked like one. We determined that it is some kind of old arcade game with a bright red playing screen and big yellow chair to sit in. It’s still there, although it periodically gets moved from one place to another and is now on its side.

Just the other day I walked into the living room and my daughter, who was lounging on the couch reading a magazine, said “mom, guess what our neighbors have on their front lawn now”?  Of course I couldn’t guess and certainly never would have, so had to look…… it was a boat!  Motor and all.

I guess it keeps life interesting and the neighbor’s entertained