When All Goes Wrong….

Christmas carols turned melancholy soon after boughs of holly were hauled to the curb. A downpour of steady rain fell from a foggy sky. First steady drops in sizes of silver heads atop pins of straight, then pocketed pennies plopped from nimbus clouds under shadows of heaven’s dribbling gates.

For several days, I watched a curling ribbon of water trickle down the hill of my little forest land. Soon it widened, forming a rather large pond near a sewer drain. Loose twigs, bark of dark and soggy leaves washed down a gushing waterfall until they stopped to build a dam of sorts. In the end, local rivers and streams filled to capacity and beyond. Flooding of historic proportions became a constant topic on our local television stations, even making the international news.

The Meramec River is one of the longest free-flowing waterways in Missouri, draining nearly 4,000 feet while meandering over 200 miles until it empties into the mighty Mississippi at a point very close to my home.  I often visit parks near the Meramec River and have shared pictures with you that are close to my heart.

The last of 2015 ended with the New Year beginning in a rage. It seemed the Meramec River was out of control through no fault of its own. While the pond in the back of my yard continued to spread on all sides, big and wide, waters of my lovely river were rising. Higher and higher they inched, quickly covering banks of grass and walls of concrete until it was more than ever before. Streets and highways were underwater, buildings too, while some homes floated away until they slammed into bridges made of steel, crushing them like tin cans of soup. The river flooded into a fast and flowing current of murky madness.

Together with Doodle dog, my husband and I were pretty much stuck. Most roads leading in and out of our subdivision were under water. Basically, we were living on an island! Still, we were blessed with everything needed within the confines of our home. Most importantly, we didn’t have any personal flooding. Others were not so lucky.

By the third day we were able to drive to the point of no return, a main intersection used each and every day, Highway 44 and 141. Stepping out of our car felt like another world. Water rippled just a few feet in front of my shoes. Debris floated under the tips of stop lights while signs of fast food restaurants surely would be slow to invite the next guest inside anytime soon.

Thirty six hours later the Meramec River receded to less than flood stage. All roads are now open, albeit muddy from the sludge. Cleanup has begun in earnest and although pools and puddles of water remain almost everywhere, soon no one driving on highway 44 will ever know.

This morning when I woke the skies were no longer overcast or gray. Sun was shining, splashing across the cheeks of my face. When I opened the door to my paver patio the pond was no longer in the far back of my yard. Perhaps it had dried from new rays of sparkling sun or soaked into wisps of brown winter grass?

Down near the sewer drain, on what was left of the pile of twigs, leaves and dark bark, was a winter bird I had not yet seen this season. He was perched at the very highest point of the dam. There he sang a lovely melody. Perhaps he was calling to his mate in the nearby woods? So beautiful he was under the brilliant sun, black and white with a bright red breast.

When all goes wrong in the world, God makes everything right.

Steamed Heat

Steamed Heat arrived in St. Louis recently, lasting day and night.  Never a break it seemed to me.  An odd season of weather this year.  June was a bath of rain from heaven above while July might have baked bread of rye.  I wondered why?  The heat stifled me a bit.  My body, mind and spirit seemed to shut down.  Although rested from cooling temperatures and the beauty of a trip north, the slap of 100+ heat index took a toll on me.

Silence in the back of my yard.  No forest friends to welcome me.  It was too hot for them to venture out from beneath their tent of trees.  Truth be told, I only peered from the inside of window panes above cool air blowing up from the basement below.  There, I hoped to see legs and tails.  Wings and beaks.  Fur and feathers together with animals playing hide and seek.  Not to be.  Sweltering you see.

When outside, my city felt like the inside of a sauna.   During the day, mist covered the glass of homes, dulling sunlight that desperately tried to part invisible curtains.  Itty-bitty bubbles, small and slight clung to sides of clear until they evaporated late in the day or perhaps not until the next.  Steamed heat moved into neighborhoods, hiding any sign of window screens while air conditioning ran 24/7.

Yet last night a break in the weather!  Cooler temperatures slid down into the 90’s with lower humidity and a breeze that floated under the skin of my nose.  Tiptoeing outside to water fried flowers, I stopped to sit without burning the bare of my feet.  As I often do, I gazed upward toward the top of the hill where crown vetch grows thick and tall this time of year.

There was movement to my left.  Slight, but I was right.  Except for eyes, I did not stir.  Darting this way and that, the two of blue searched for what my heart had been seeking. Suddenly, four pointed ears, copper in color, peeked above the tall of green.  Twin fawns, spotted in white munched on an endless dinner.  Surely their mother would not be far away   Seconds later, she stepped regally out of the woods in order to protect her young.

At the very same time, a blueish-grey turkey’s head meandered down the hill, gobbling all the way.  Still I didn’t move, afraid I’d spook the beautiful bird of feathered brown.  To my surprise, bobbing behind her were little rounds of balding blue.  1-2-3-4-5!  Five babies or poults as they are officially called.  I know this because I wrote a previous post that included them entitled What Nature Teaches You, http://wp.me/p41md8-1HQ.  Still, it’s the first time I’d ever seen a hen leading five poults down the steep of the hill.  Gobbling every few seconds, they moved their necks backward and forward, pecking a path towards their home among the darkened trees.

Just above my head hanging on a shady tree limb was a hummingbird feeder.  Call me lucky, but while all of this was going on two different birds, one dressed in lime green feathers and the other black and white trimmed in red stopped to feed.  They darted, flapping unseen wings while pointing long beaks into pink plastic flowers.  Inside, the sweet of red colored sugar-water waited patiently.

In those moments of minutes I realized that life is all about timing.  If Steamed Heat hadn’t lifted, I would have stayed in the house.  If I hadn’t ventured onto my patio to water flowers, kick off my shoes or take a seat in those very seconds all would have been different.  The animals I love may have still been foraging for food near fallen pine needles within the coolness of the forest.  I know I have God to thank for timing as well as Steamed Heat!

For a brief moment I was disappointed a camera was not at my side to capture the glory of last evening.  At the same time, I believe any slight movement of body or chair, a tilt of my head or a click of the camera would have startled all of God’s creatures.  Although unable to share them, I’m fortunate to have the wonder of their pictures forever painted on the canvas of my mind.

Steamed Heat Children


For Emma and Others

Since I heard the news last week, I told myself I wasn’t going to write about it.  Over and over again, the brain in my head whispered thoughts to me. “No, no, no,” it said!  Yet, here I am sitting at my desk where those same thoughts are speaking silently aloud to me.

Invisible memories traveling from my mind down the length of my arm.  Long fingers resting with air-filled tips atop printed letters.   A familiar keyboard speckled in dust.  Tap, tap, tap.  Jumbled words appear on a screen of white.  What will I write?

About a week ago, another child ‘close to home’ was admitted to St. Louis Children’s Hospital with the forever diagnosis of insulin dependent diabetes (T1D), an epidemic in Chronic Conditions.  I write, “close to home,” because this sweet, young girl is the daughter of my son’s co-worker at the National Weather Service.

A small office, everyone works hard to ensure the safety of the general public by tracking weather patterns and providing them forecasts ahead of danger.  Although men and women work in shifts, they are tight, like a family.  Nimbus, my son’s diabetic alert dog is always by his side.  Each time a co-worker opens the door, a moist black nose of the darkest night sniffs the air, making sure the scent walking in belongs with the ‘others.’

Upon hearing of the child’s T1D, diagnosis, I sighed before unconsciously biting my lip.  Eyes brimmed with glassy tears.  One or two spilled out.  Later, I washed dried salt from my cheek.

It doesn’t matter how many years have passed since I first heard the word, diabetes.  Whenever I think of that moment, the feeling is still here within me.  Deep down in the pit of my stomach.  A spring that never unsprang reminding me of a “Slinky” that was never removed from its original box.

I know how this mother felt when she received her daughter’s diagnosis.  The word probably came out of the doctor’s mouth sounding like it was in slow motion or under water.  Muffled, garbled and not understood.  In a split second, her family’s life was changed forever….

Overwhelmed, exhaustion finally set in.  Suddenly, this mother was the newest member of a club she NEVER planned to join.  Yet, there in a pastel, painted cement block room was an IV pole saving her daughter’s life with the magical powers of insulin.  Drip, drip, drip.  Thank God.  Yes, Thank GOD….

There is nothing good I can say about diabetes.  Absolutely nothing.  For those who follow my blog you know I try to stay positive.  I believe there is a reason for everything.  We may not understand it at the time, but eventually we discover it.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, will provide Emma with a book that I wrote over twenty years ago entitled, Rufus Comes Home.  She will receive it free together with a cuddly stuffed teddy bear like every newly diagnosed child in their “Bag of Hope.”

Here is the irony.  Emma will read a book written by the mother of one of her father’s co-worker’s.  It was written shortly after her father’s ‘co-worker’ was diagnosed with diabetes when he was a young child….just like little Emma.  Hopefully, the story will help her and her family cope while giving them some sense of peace during this most difficult time.

I am not promoting the book.  Fourteen years ago I sold my tiny publishing company together with rights to all of my titles.  I no longer receive royalties.  Regardless, it truly warms my heart to know that this particular story is still helping children many years after being written.

If there is a ‘reason’ for my son, Jayson developing diabetes, certainly it was to inspire others through the books I wrote.  They never would have helped another without him blazing the first trail.  I thank you in my heart forever, my son.

What will Emma’s “reason” be?  Perhaps one day she will entertain us as a beautiful ballerina or sing upon a stage?  Maybe she’ll become President or wear a Miss America crown upon her lovely head?  She’ll help another family or go on a Mission far across the great blue sea…  She might become a doctor or a scientist working with a microscope?  In spite of living with diabetes, Emma can capture wishes while living all of her dreams.

I’m still hoping there will no longer be a need for any of the books I wrote on Chronic Conditions.  Someday in the distant future…. How wonderful that would be!

No more Emma’s.  No more, Jayson’s.   My own wish you see…my every day dream…my evening pillow prayer.


A Few Statistics on T1D (insulin dependent)

As many as 3 million Americans may have T1D

15,000 Children and 15,000 Adults are diagnosed each year

80 people in the US are diagnosed EVERY day

Each year, T1D costs our health care system nearly 15 BILLION dollars.

There is NO way to prevent the onset of T1D.  It’s thought to be triggered by a combination of environmental and heredity factors.

Insulin is not a cure, it’s Life Support


Symptoms of T1D

Frequent thirst and urination

Drowsiness or lethargy

Increase in appetite

Sudden loss of weight

Vision changes

Sugar found in a urine sample

Fruity odor on breath

Heavy or labored breathing

Unconsciousness, seizure, or stupor.  Call 911 Immediately!!



Better Than New

Today, it felt like spring was officially here!  It was time to clean the garage of cotton cobwebs, sweep spiders from hidden corners and hunt for colored clay pots to fill while the weather is warmer still.

After tidying up, I drove to visit my favorite hardware store.   Where everything imagined is sold!   From skinny rubber bands all wrapped in bouncing balls, to single silver nails dropped to the bottom of a brown paper bag…plunk.  The store is nothing like you’d think. It’s not a chain store like, ‘Lowes’ or ‘Home Depot.’  No, a trip to this hardware store is akin to stepping back far, far in time to a very distant land.  A different time and place.

The building is made of all wood and tin, a “Freight and Grain Elevator” that was built way back in 1877, by a small family.  It was their business then and hasn’t much changed since then.  Pulling into the gravelled parking lot, my car wheels made a crunching sound as they slid by the side of a red pick-up truck.  Near-by, a sign spelled, “C.H.I.C.K.S- for- S.A.L.E” in big, black letters.  Hand-printed by someone very young.  I could tell.

Wide, wooden planks of grey greeted me the moment I stepped outside my door.  Perhaps long ago, they were painted emerald-green to match the grasses all around?  If so, years of hot St. Louis summers had completely bleached the color from every board.  So old and worn, they were.  If I kneeled down, could I blow wooden dust through uneven cracks to the bottom?   A ramp led to a long covered ‘front porch’ of sorts.  Under its ceiling, I found bags of musty mulch in all sizes.  Mmmm…..the earthy scent seeped from within allowing me to breathe it in deeply.  A favorite scent of mine.

Much like I thought it would, the old screen door squeaked and creaked when it cracked open.  Behind the short counter (people were smaller, years ago), I asked the smiling young man if he would help me load my car.  “Of course,” he said, before tossing chocolate-brown mulch into my trunk.  To the side, he added burlap bags sewn in red.  Chock full of seeds they were.  For flying feathered friends waiting in trees of pine near bricks of my home.

Before leaving, I couldn’t help but notice a brand new furniture store being remodeled right next door.  Modern and ‘state-of-the-art!’  What a contrast to the nostalgic hardware store of 137 years old.   Nearly the same as the day the original doors opened.  Sighing, it gave me pleasure to know of something old that was better than anything new!  One day in the future, perhaps my grandchildren will tag along with me for a visit.

There, we can buy fresh earth to scatter round trees that grow towards heaven.  Or fill pockets with seeds to fill feeders for wings of wonder.

10585564585_a613c2200e  6824952043_a2aae1685a

There’s No Place Like Home

I was on the 5:45 last night.  Yes, sitting on a silver jet plane flying from Phoenix to St. Louis.  Beheld below was the setting golden sun among a massive crystal clear sky.  An orange fireball, surely sent by God Himself was there to say, “Good-by” to me.  Twinkling lights, a million or more reminded me of Christmas past, or maybe one in the future to come.  The sky was a lovely dusty blue with waves of muted grey clouds swimming slightly above shaped like shark fins.  I gazed at the beauty through my diminutive “port-hole” window site.

Closing my weary eyes to remember what I was leaving behind, I thought of my temporary desert home: of my “other” family, my mother’s house and the gift of my father.  Reaching for a Kleenex a single tear drop fell.  “Good-by,” is hard, you know.  Still, I looked forward to getting home where my grown children were surly cozy and warm.  I’d see my boys again, my “Gracie-Girl,” my “Doodle” dog, and the new snow on the ground.  How different it will be for me.  Am I prepared for it?  Only time will tell.

This morning I sit in my cracked and torn leather swivel chair.   I’m writing at my old familiar keyboard, the one with some of the painted letters worn and missing.   I must say, it feels a bit strange to me.   My fingers aren’t quite here.  They need to pick up the pace.  The rhythm is missing.  My hands feel clumsy and not “quite right.”

On the top of my half-moon desk I see nothing but a great big mess!  The mail is piled sky-high with un-opened glittering Christmas cards.  They arrived after I’d gone.  Over-due bills sit in a rattan corner basket with “junk-mail” not far behind.  I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with all there is to do.  My suitcases are un-packed; laundry will be next, piled to the painted ceiling, and there’s cleaning to do.  I can’t even think of it all.  Then, there’s my work; writing deadlines make me shudder to think of them!

I’ve got to “catch-up.”  Before I forget, I will tell you the temperature when I departed the plane was a shock to me.  18 degrees the thermometer read.   Yes, I’ve left the warm desert far, far behind for the freezing Midwest.

Still, there’s no place like home……..

Dorothy's Ruby Red Slippers from 'The Wizard of Oz

Arizona Memories

Last night we looked for a Mexican restaurant nearby for dinner.  I hardly had an appetite.  Most of yesterday, I spent packing for today, when I get on that great big jet plane to fly home to my St. Louis town.  I had already said “Good-Bye,” to friends and a brother by phone.

Earlier in the day, I left my guest house to amble down a familiar path around the desert in the afternoon.  Jumping dogs on chain-link fences howled as I passed by.  Along the dusty, gravelled road, I waved to them for one last time.  Ahead, a tall saguaro looked down quietly from the rose and slate blue sky.  It didn’t say a word to me.  The crisp, dry air was silent.  Still, a message was whispered to me…..

Today I’ll call my Great-Aunt who lives about an hour away.  One last hug and kiss over the phone from my father’s home.  Later, I’ll squeeze my second brother tighter, thanking him for playing board games with me.  When it comes to my father, how do I say the words I feel?  I’m not sure they’ll be there when we must part.  He’ll drive me to the airport pulling to the curb.  I won’t let him park.  He’ll help me with my bags, our eyes will well with tears.  We’ll hug, I’ll kiss him on his rosy cheek before skipping away without looking back.  It’s too hard in fact.

So last night we headed off to the Mexican restaurant to have “our last supper.”  My spirits were low, how could they be not?  We pulled into the parking lot.  Like a western movie reel, there it was.  We pointed and did a double-take!  I laughed out loud, jumping from the car.  A saddled horse with a bridle and spurs was next to cars in the parking lot!  A beautiful horse with his reigns tied to a tree!  It was a sight no one would see in any other state.

That was my last Arizona evening sight.  It was perfect you know.  It’s in my pocket now, next to my boarding pass.

And the memories I shall never let go……………

Bittersweet Dreams and Starry, Starry Nights

The sky was the color of dark black ink last night: crystal clear.  I peered up to observe starry, twinkling wonders.  Was that the “The Big Dipper” hanging from above?  Is the “The Milky Way” dangling in the distance there?  Stars are sprinkled like fairy dust or golden glitter, it’s true.  God drew perfect sketches in the sky.  Was I dreaming while I waited near the car?  Shivering with my jacket on, my eyes could not turn away.  The desert is cold after the sun goes down.

My son, the “Forecaster” in my St. Louis town hasn’t called.  He is too busy now.  Snow and freezing temperatures have left the city a mess.  Schools are closed, stores have shut down and homeless ones look for a bit of warmth in the hopes of getting much-needed sleep.  The contrast between where I live and where I am now is not lost on me.  I’m thankful to be here in this part of the country, but I think and pray for all the rest.

I’m missing my boys today, my daughter-in-law, my grand-daughter, my new “grand-son” to be!  I’ve gotten messages that my friends and family in the place I call “home” are waiting for me.  It’s wonderful to see and spend time with the rest of my family here in this desert land, of course.  A gift it has been to be sure, the “gift of my father,” especially.  Not many can do such a thing, I know.  It is not lost on me.  My work travels wherever I go.  That in itself is a present to me.  Soon, it is time for me to part.  A few more days.  I’ll be ready then.  Mixed emotions.  Tears of course.  It’s always difficult to say, “good-bye.”  Bittersweet dreams of my family here, and starry, starry nights twinkling from above.

“It’s a…….”

On this last day of the year I’m far from my St. Louis home still in the dry desert here.  It’s black as Santa’s coal out my guest bedroom window here.  When I open it to breathe in the fresh air “SWOOSH” it feels as cold as his North Pole.

Stretching my neck to free nightly pillow kinks, I cock my head this way or that.  If I slip out the window a tall Saguaro cactus will surely catch me, OUCH!  I see a prickly tumbleweed ball blowing down the dark dusty street, and hear the haunting howl of a lone coyote near the rocky mountain base. God’s country.

What a year we’ve all had.  Children have grown, others have wed, babies were born, some became sick, and a few have left the nest.  Back in St. Louis…… my heart melted when a wee hand clasped mine to say a simple seven letter word in her sweet voice aloud, “Grandma.”

While I’ve been here a “present” arrived.   It was a surprise.  A square white box with a pink printed sticker from a bakery, no less!  My cell phone rang.   It was my son.  “Face-Time” it said.  The small colored screen suddenly came “alive.”  There he was with my daughter-in-law, too.  Something was “different” this time.  Something in their eyes, in their secret, silly smiles.

My son told me to, “Grab a kitchen knife, to open the box.”  I did what he said.  Inside was a beautiful cream-colored frosted cake with pink and blue polka dots.  On the top it read, “It’s a …………..”

With much anticipation I sliced into the lovely decorated cake to see what “color” the cooked batter might be.  While my son and his dear wife looked on from states far away (thanks to technology), they saw my reaction in “real” time.  There it was.  Inside the frosting, a moist cake of baby blue!  I was overwhelmed.  I cried a tear or two.  I’m “expecting” my first grand-son sometime next May.  What a “New Year” for me to look forward to!!

Happy New Year to You, Be Healthy the Whole Year Through, and May All Your Dreams Come True.

The Friendship Ring

friendship rings

This is quite unusual.  Earlier, I startled awake having dreamed of writing my post with a title already in place.  I accept the fact that it’s not extraordinary for a writer to dream of words.  Often during my “sleep state” I see them dancing in pairs to a beautiful waltz.  Polished wooden instruments are playing among a full orchestra down in the pit shining under stage lights.  The scene and sound within my sleeping mind may go on the whole night through.

This is different, though.  In the darkness of my bedroom last night, I slept like a baby in a big crib.  It’s only when my eyes popped open this morning that I was startled so.  There was this title, “The Friendship Ring,” milling about as I slid cozy blue cozy slippers upon my feet.  Rarely do I ever title a post until I’m finished writing it.  It’s just the way I work.  The simple and true fact is that I never know where the keyboard will take me until I’m finished.  Today, I’m working in reverse.  It’s a surprise for you and me!  Let’s see where we go ….

Last night a holiday party was held in the neighborhood where I caught up with friends I haven’t seen in a while together with others I’ve never met before.  My neighbor’s house was decorated beautifully,like a picture postcard ripped from the pages of “Better Homes and Gardens.”  Trees were lit in every room, berried wreaths were hung on colored papered walls, and reindeer pranced down snowy table runners sprinkled with Christmas colored diamonds.

As I went from room to room, “oohing and ahhing” at the most magnificent decorations, I was stopped by a middle-aged couple from down south; Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be exact.  They were visiting the host who they had known for years and years.  The gentleman had a slight drawl, the kind I caught only at the end of certain words or phrases when he spoke.  His head was thick with hair the color of salt and pepper grey, and he wore a long-sleeved red woolen shirt.  Taking my cold slender hand, he warmed it when he shook it jolly, like Santa would.

His wife was different, yet similar.  They were a nice complement to one another, I could tell.  She was dressed in festive slacks and a fuchsia silken blouse, loosely draped at the neck.  The moment she smiled her warmth radiated like I’d known her all of my life.  We shook hands politely and introduced ourselves.  Then we talked for what seemed like hours.  In fact it was.  It felt like we’d been friends for years or maybe more.

They loved my stories of writing, something they dabbled in, while I was enthralled by their tales of travel.  They could “pick up and go” whenever it fancied them so.  At one time, their eyes widened in horror listening to my snowy weekend weather report.  “Can it really be that bad?”  At the same time, they mused of “balmy blue seas, tropical temperatures, and crepe myrtle full of buzzing bees.”

When it became apparent that the party was near its end (almost everyone had left by then) we exchanged addresses, e-mails,  and promised to “stay in touch.”   The three of us said our “good-by’s,” before walking into the cold and snowy night.

For me, the party was a great success.  My neighbor’s house was a holiday card of beauty incomparable.  The food and drink were better than any restaurant could have served.  It was a pleasure to see my friends and other neighbors: to talk and laugh and have some fun.  The biggest surprise of the evening was the gift of new friends.  I learned so very much from couple I met last night.  They taught me about their culture, their love of nature and their freedom.  I felt their warmth, and their love of spirit.

This new day I have two new friends who live way down south in another state.  It is a long ride down river away from me.   Yet, I will always remember them and hopefully they will always remember me.

candle on the christmas tree

Double Celebation

It seems the holiday train has already left the station and is moving fast upon its tracks.  If I listen very closely, I can hear the whistle blow softly in the distance.  Lofty, grey steam swirls up toward heaven, rising from the engine’s shiny red smokestack.  There is no stopping it now, so I must hop aboard.  I will decorate our tree today with dancing antique ornaments and loose white popcorn on a string.  Assorted needlepoint stockings in red, blue and green, will hang from the fireplace mantel.  Drooping from above will be twisted evergreen boughs going every which way.  Their scent will soon fill my rooms with the freshest bouquet, reminding me of my home town in Michigan near the bay.