Carpe Diem


Although the calendar says, “January,” today’s temperature will top 60 degrees. Yesterday, it was nearly the same with warm winds whispering inspiration through limbs of bare.

Opening a door to the sunroom on the back of my house, scents of mixed seasons seeped through wire screens. Musty leaves floated across blades of wheat colored grass blanketing the ground. In contrast, a lone birch tree of peeling white stood tall and proud among trees bathed in cocoa bark.

Sweet sounds of morning songbirds greeted me as I sat to soak the rare gifts of a winter respite. Suddenly a crow dipped in black ink made his presence known. Caw…caw…caw, he cracked in the silent sky above. I’ve neglected nature’s gift of birds during the last few months. Their songs have been missed by the ear of my soul. Perhaps I was too busy to notice their feathered beauty? My ears and eyes, deaf and blinded by busyness….

Last fall, trees were planted off the patio in the back of my yard. Bradford pear, purple plum, birch and the dark jade of pine. A sweeping willow, long and weeping is waiting until spring. Feeders will dance from boughs and branches. Covered shelters, short and tall will soon house nesting families. 

Before retreating, treats of tweets beckoned me to scan stark limbs. There, a lone robin, his red breast splashing against a sky of gray, sang “Goodbye.”

I shall not miss nature’s beauty in this New Year. Being busy is no longer an excuse. The joy of living here and now is fleeting, with postcard pictures disappearing in seconds.

Seize today for tomorrow is never promised.

 

*photo of robin courtesy of Google Chrome

A Few of My Favorite Things


There’s something to be said about downsizing. Purging through all worldly goods in order to make room for a smaller space. Not long ago, I went through it, and although not easy, it actually felt good in the end. If I didn’t absolutely love something or need it, PLOP, it was dropped into one of three boxes: selldonate or garbage.

This morning, I sipped a warm café latte from a painted cup of cream decorated in dusty roses woven in stems with muted green leaves. A matching bread plate sat in front of me holding a freshly toasted English muffin that called my name. “Come closer…nibble away….” Nearby, a shiny teaspoon of silver rested upon the cup’s saucer, while a butter knife in a flowered pattern of the same shined in rays of early morning sun.

The dishes were my mother’s, passed down to me after she died nearly six years ago. Afterward, I proudly displayed them in a packed china cabinet where they were used only once or twice a year during the holiday seasons. The silver was a wedding gift, over thirty years ago. I’ve used it perhaps twice a year, again, during the holidays.

In sorting through my life, I found a few of my favorite things simply put away, or saved… having chosen other items to use in their place. Why? What was I saving them for? When was the right time, if not now? Prior to my move, an estate sale was held where everything imaginable was sold, except a few of my favorite things…those that I had been saving. Downsizing opened my eyes to using and enjoying my favorite things. No longer do I save them for someday in the future that may never come to be.

Now in my smaller home, I use my mother’s dishes each and every day, including my wedding gift of good silverware. I’m creating new memories while bringing back some of the old. My mother’s dishes will forever trigger warm and loving thoughts of food and family around her Arizona table of solid oak. One day, my grand-babies will learn about their great-grandmother, of how much she would have loved them, and about the dishes they are spooning from. And too, about the very spoons themselves, those that are now clutched in chubby hands while dropping green peas or dribbling applesauce down wee chins.

Yes, there’s something to be said about downsizing. Use and enjoy your favorite things today, don’t save them for tomorrow.

 

moms-dishes

Sounds In Night


The skies were angry last night. Winds whistled through swaying trees. In the darkness, the sound of small quakes could be heard together with the padding of drums. Slow at first then faster beating in a rhythm that nearly shook my bed. Softer then louder. A rumble that reminded me of throw rugs my mother used to jar outside a long ago back door. Dust bunnies blowing away in the breeze…..

Listening, my eyes were closed to everything. I’m in a world full of black nothingness. Suddenly, a sense of hearing bloomed as if for the first time. An awakening in a world others would consider silent at that hour.

My husband’s back lay close beside. Even breaths. First in…then out. Soothing to me. The flat of my hand felt his warmth through the cool of fresh, crisp sheets.

An electric clock atop our nightstand. A snapshot within my mind. Glowing hands in fluorescent moved with every second. More sounds to my ears. Tick, tick-tock, tick-tock. Each second turning into minutes. turning into hours. turning into middle night foreverness.

Doodle dog slept near the end of our bed. I heard him roll over. A silver metal disk on his collar made a clinking sound against a matching buckle. He sighed, breathing out through the black of his nose with the pink spot on top. He slept. Even breaths from him with a touch of snoring. Yes, from Doodle dog!

Humming…the sound of a motor, followed by gusts of swirling fresh. An air-conditioner installed on our outside wall had kicked in. From the stark cement basement below, the sound of wafting breezes could be heard. Pushing up…blowing cooler air to our floor above. Maple stained in cinnamon color through bronze, grated vents directing the flow. Summer relief was felt.

A car drove by the front of our house. Not a truck or a motorcycle, but a car. It was small and drove by very slowly. The sound of it told me so. Smooth of four tires on a frame of metal. Small of crunch on a bleached, chip-sealed street. Not long before it was gone.

In the adjoining bathroom, sounds of a dripping faucet. How long has this been going on? I never heard or noticed it before.  Small drops barely plopping to the bottom of a speckled sink the color of toast. Droplets falling in slow motion with an echo heard upon landing. So long before the next one fell, it seemed. Soon, seconds were counted together with our friendly electric nightstand clock. Anxiety began to build.

In the woods out back, sounds of the wind picked up again. A whoosh together with a dog howling. Or was it a coyote? We have them here you know. Hiding in the woods. Suddenly, the skies became angrier than earlier. Thunder rumbled, flashing with lightning in the distance. My eyes opened at the crack of it. Rain pounded into the patio and beat into flower beds with all of Heaven’s vengeance. Once my vision adjusted to surrounding shadows, no other sounds were heard again.

Sleepiness finally came.

Stormy-Night

*photo courtesy of Google Chrome

Tangible Time


Hourglass handQuiet in my office space today except for the sound of clothes tumbling in a dryer a few rooms away. Things to get done before I’m on my way. Off to visit my father in Arizona tomorrow. Yes, leaving on an old familiar jet plane to soar above into a golden setting sun off the tips of shiny silver wings.

So much to do with extra excitement too. Lots of relatives to visit during my brief stay among the tall green saguaros within a painted desert land. My precious father of course, together with my father-in-law and my dearest great-aunt. In addition, I look forward to seeing three of my siblings and other relatives who live nearby. My husband and I will be very busy!

My great-aunt, who I love so very much is not doing well. She hasn’t been for quite some time. Now blind from her own Chronic Condition of Glaucoma, she’s not able to telephone me anymore. How I miss our giggling chats! I’ve written about her before, once on New Year’s Eve http://wp.me/p41md8-Uo , and it wasn’t long ago that I scooped her up for a visit to St. Louis. But, even then, I knew she would probably never be coming back.

I will treasure my Arizona memories perhaps like never before. Besides squeezing a frail hand of my precious great-aunt, the touch of my father and father-in-law will feel differently this time. The warmth of their skin will be soaked like a sponge, their hugs imprinted for only me to see. Time has become tangible as I feel my loved ones aging closer toward Heaven.

 

The Gift of An Unexpected Day

Oh to cluster sands of coral within an hourglass of time

Seconds trickle silently

Speck by speck, grain by grain

Falling through clear 

Dropping one by one

Ever s-l-o-w-l-y not to hear

Reaching bottom

Single seconds drifting into precious minutes

Until the gift of another day may come my way

The Hourglass of Time


With Father’s Day around the corner, my mind can’t help but wander to the days of little boy ways when I chased toddlers wearing diapers while ‘puppy dog tails’ followed close behind us.  Oh, please turn back the clock for me!  I would give anything in life to have a single grain of sand stuck in that hourglass of time.  To cuddle my babies once again upon my lap, kiss their sweet-scented heads, soak folds of skin in a bubbled tub or hum sweet lullabies to velvet cheeks soft against my own.

As life went on my toddlers grew to teens, morphed into men, married and became fathers in their own right.  What a privilege to peek into early windows of their Daddy Hood.

Today, my two sons have become the very best fathers I could have ever dreamed possible!  They love their little ones…love them!  With five between the two of them, their hands are more than full, yet I’ve never heard a single complaint.  They take joy in kissing chubby fists, mixing bottles of formula, pushing strollers beneath shaded trees and tickling bare bellies into giggles.  Often, I see Daddy Reading a Book or Daddy on the Floor to Play!

The hourglass of time typically exists only in our minds.  Yet, already grains of sand are slipping away….one by one.  Falling s.l.o.w.l.y. from top to bottom.  Seconds turn into minutes of lifetimes.  In the blink of an eye, years go by.  Babies crawl upon floors before toddlers learn to walk.   Pre-school begins one day while college ends the next.  Suddenly swaddled babes are old enough to say, “I Do.”  Crowded nests of chicks are bare, hushed silent with shells of emptiness.

So, here’s to my boys on this coming Father’s Day!  For my youngest, it is his very first ever!  Enjoy every second each son of mine.  Kiss your babies from head to toe.  Hold them close to your heart forever and tomorrow.  Breathe them in to memorize their scent. Don’t ever let it go.  And, never take a single grain of sand for granted.

Happy Father’s Day.

HourglassofTime

What Are Your Traditions?


Seven days ago on March 19th a few steps were taken back in time down the carpeted stairs of my red brick home.  There, below the main level slept a spare bedroom with a nondescript bathroom.   Together, they waited all cozy and warm for March Madness to begin.

A buzz was in the air, much like you see and feel during holidays minus decorations everywhere.  Our big television was ablaze in all its LCD glory!  Red, white, royal blue and emerald-green uniforms waited for imaginary cheerleaders to jump out of their metal chairs.  To the left, a natural wicker table was set for a boys day of play.  On top, colorful bowls and baskets overflowed with taco chips, salsa dips, chicken wings and candy in case of low blood sugar attacks.

Ding-Ding!  What was that I heard?  ‘Doodle’ dog barking at the leaded glass door up above.  Running to open it, there he stood.  My oldest son, Jay, who took time off from work in order to watch basketball with his brother and father.  It had been a long-standing tradition in our small family for years and years.  Ever since the boys were very young like my husband had once been too.

In bounced my son’s service dog, Nimbus, his jet black tail knocking everything off tables before I had time to get to them.  Nothing mattered.  How glad I was to see them both!  Doodles jumped up and down with kisses of, “Hello.”  The two dogs rolled on the floor then chased each other all over the house.  Soon, the lab’s master firmly commanded, “PLACE!”

Minutes later, my youngest son popped over, jovial with a bear hug for his mama.  Warmth through and through.  A few minutes later my husband arrived home from his trip on the road, delighted to see his two sons already waiting for him.  So thrilled he was at the prospect of tradition.  Basketball together with March Madness plus so much more.

Jay and his dog were spending the night.  Too late to drive home after games played into overtime, he planned to sleep in a room that had once been his own.  How kind of his wife to extend this special gift to her husband.  Bonding time with his father and brother like no other.  Rare in these days of work that included varied shifts of hours never known.  Days and nights of travel, duplicate families, little children and babies of all ages.  Yes, grown-up lives….

And, an enormous “Thank You,” to my youngest son’s wife for holding down the fort all by herself with three babies at home.  Yes, three.  T.H.R.E.E!  Twins girls who are three months old plus a 17 month old daughter scattering every which way!  Such a gift to us all, but especially to my husband who rarely has such special time with both of his sons together.

March Madness.  Yes it’s about basketball, but in our house it’s so much more.  When I hear those two words, “March Madness,” it’s not a brown ball tossed through a hoop of white rope that comes to mind.

No, to me March Madness is all about tradition.  The tradition of family.  Bonding over munchies set on an old table of wicker.  Screaming faces in front of a screen that doesn’t respond.  Brackets, favorites, cheering and choosing.  Stomping feet, tossing heads in disbelief or smiling faces slapping high-fives!  Balancing paper plates on laps of sweat pants while taking notes with pencils of yellow.  Wiping mouths with printed paper napkins or hopping up in the air to yell, “No Fair!”

And, in the end hugging Good Bye to a son and brother in the dark of night.

Tradition….

What Nature Teaches You


Sunlight shimmered, streaking through white window panes of my kitchen patio doors this morning.  Brightness woke my limbs from further slumber.  Six o’clock.  A smiling face of walnut wood from the clock on the wall told me so.  Scents of lemon oil drifted beneath my nose.  Time to wake-up!

“Doodle” dog nudged my feet of bare, signaling his readiness to go out into the world, to sniff wheat-colored plumes of grasses nearby, and to check invisible boundaries for any possible intruders.  My hand was on the door’s bronze lever, seconds from pushing it down to open it up.  Outside, a ruffle of feathers caught the corner of my eye.

Only a few feet from garden bricks was a new ‘family’ for me to see!  Beneath our bird feeder, the one where bright red Cardinals, Blue Jays and Sparrows of speckled brown rest on perches near, five Turkeys pecked leftover seeds on the ground below.

I have often seen one or two before.  The Hen, of course, who feeds for the invisible brood she hides safely away.  And once or twice in the last six years, I’ve witnessed a large Tom waddling up and over our backyard hill, his long turkey neck of reddish-blue wobbling back and forth within the breeze.  This morning, it was a true gift from God for me.  To see this sight of such rarity!

As the large Tom bobbed his head, pecking for seeds within the earth of clay, the Hen spread her wide wings, revealing three tiny babies, “Poults.”  Not much larger than the eggs of a goose, they were covered in brown and white downy feathers that glistened in the sun.  Their small eyes were dark black the color of wet ink.   Darting this way and that, they were already keenly aware of any possible danger.

Just as I was about to grab my camera, a doe and her fawn scampered by, spooking my new backyard ‘family.’  WOOSH went the Tom who flew straight up into the nearest, tallest tree!  I never saw a turkey fly, but most definitely they do.  The noise is shockingly loud, like thunder clouds of flapping feathers.  The Tom flew straight up into the bright blue sky, rather than soaring side-to-side, like most birds do.

As for ‘Tom’s’ family who were left quite skittish in my back yard, they took off very quickly.  The Hen tried to gather her poults, spreading her wings while running toward the forest.  Being ‘babies,’ the feathered toddlers waddled in different directions while ‘Mama’ yelped her loudest, trying to keep them close to her.

Like little wind-up toys zipping towards the woods, three baby ‘poult’s carried a lesson for me today.  Life moves forward in a flash, often unexpectedly.  Don’t wait to pocket a picture of your dream.  Catch it before something surprises you.

On The Road Again


We stood on red brick pavers in the driveway of my home.  Me and my father.  His big cream-colored four-door was packed to the gills.  The early sun of morning shined, warming us ever so slightly from the east.  A cool breeze whispered, “It’s time to go,” out of the north.  Golden rays of light picked up sparkles of grey in his hair.  We took turns hugging for all the neighbors to see.  I was first to plant a wet kiss on the pink of his waiting cheek.  One on each of them before swooping in a second time to breathe the spice of him in again.

“I love you, Baby.”  That’s what my father said to me.  His voice crackled deep in the back of his throat, as if he might choke.  Climbing in the car, he shut the door with one hand, reaching back to buckle the belt of his seat.  “Click.”  Somehow the loudness of the steel sounded harsh in the stillness of God’s peaceful morning.   My father rolled down his tinted window, wanting to hold on.  One last wave between us.  Aging fingers with thickening knuckles moved slightly back and forth, trying to stretch the briefest of moments.  Plops of damp drops fell below shades of gray protecting crystal pool ponds of blue behind.  His, ‘Big Moon’ face smiled at me.  Our last seconds quickly ticking by….running out.  Nervously, he smacked shivering, quivering lips, slightly.  No one noticed….except me.

Then, off he drove endlessly into baby blue skies that floated fluffy with cirrus clouds like cotton white.  I noted suitcases, boxes of ‘treasures’ and hangers of clothes swaying in the back of a wide rear window.   My brother sat in the back seat.  A special lady sat next to my father.  I liked her…like her.  She is a blessing in my father’s life.  My mother in heaven would approve.  No man should be alone.  Life is short.

Three weeks of ‘travel’ chugged up….up…up…the chipped, paved street.  My eyes followed the rear of cream.  Shiny silver and a flash of black rubber together with clear lights not needed during the bright of day.  I viewed the car climbing a slight hill v.e.r.y.  slowly before rounding the bend…. until ‘tiny heads’ were no longer seen.

Turning around to enter my house, I knew I wouldn’t see my father again until… who knows?  Folding my hands in silent prayer, I thanked God for the special time I had with him.  Moments and hours my family was able to share with him, together.  He is in the midst of a three-week ‘road trip’ to see other loved ones.  My two sisters, his own baby sister, nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends.  It is bittersweet, and yet my father is truly blessed with good health oh-so-much-happiness.

Yes, my father is on the road again…………