Friday, March 30, 2012

He may have thought he was furiously fleeing, and that I wouldn't catch more than a fleeting glance at his hardened derriere but he was wrong. 

Ogden Nash had this to say about turtles:

The turtle lives 'twixt plated decks
which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
in such a fix to be so fertile.

(This is my contribution to today's Photo Friday theme, Fleeting.) 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thoughts and Memories

I kind of hate to admit it, but I went to the cemetery again today. I rode with my youngest daughter. It was as much a mother-daughter time as it was a trip to the cemetery. We get in the car, we ride, we talk, and we remember.

As usual, I brought my camera and thought I’d get a few pictures. After we finished at the cemetery we stopped off at the home place of one of my grandmother’s sisters (now deceased). I immediately saw some flowers I wanted to photograph but I couldn’t make the camera work. I thought it had something to do with my aperture setting and I was impatient to get into the woods to see what I could see so I didn’t worry too much about it at that time.

Her house had burned down several years back and her son had the remains leveled to the ground and then buried it all in a pit. The trees were all grown up around the place and it was very hard for me to get my bearings. As we walked into the property, we saw a hurricane fence among the trees and I knew we were walking beside what used to be the yard. Again I saw something I wanted to photograph and when my camera did not cooperate the second time, I looked down at the screen to see the notice: No SD memory card inserted. Well, of course! It’s not going to work without that little card! I had charged my battery and I told myself to remember to get my card but obviously I did not listen to myself.

We walked around a bit more and I saw what I think were remnants of blueberry bushes she had planted. That would have been over twenty years ago so I don’t know for sure that they survived. But I might need to wander back and check on them when it’s time for blueberries to ripen (when do blueberries get ripe?). We were getting hungry by that time so we decided to head on out to a catfish place where we like to eat.

On the way there we passed through an area that was recently flooded. There was a crowd of cars around and I thought it was some sort of checkpoint but it was people who were going back into their homes to check on things or clean up. That was saddening to see. 

I thought of them going in to check on their things and of them having to clean up and rebuild. It’s so disheartening. Some of them may have done this more than once in their lifetimes. They are pretty close to the river in an area that is prone to flooding.

I thought of us going to my aunt’s old home place. The house is not there but I was able to conjure memories up just by walking back there and seeing the hurricane fence. The land is still there and someone could still make their home there if they wanted to.

My own grandparents’ house still stands in a clump of growing trees and I can visit there and enjoy my memories. The house is slowly rotting away but we could clear the land and build another house there on the same land where I have so many happy memories if we ever wanted to.

Here’s the thing I thought about after that:

I thought about those people in New Zealand who were affected by the earthquake in 2011 whose homes have now been “rezoned red.” That means the land has been designated too difficult to stabilize. They can’t go back to their land and rebuild. That made me think how sad it is not to have a sense of place. And yet, people move around so much these days. Is a sense of place still important to anybody?

When I return to these old home places and even to the cemetery I get a sense of who I am and where I came from. I’m grateful to be able to return to these places, to be able to really go there and not have to imagine them in my mind. 

Later, when we got to the catfish place, after we had eaten we walked out into the parking lot and saw this old fellow scurrying across the parking lot. I must have taken about thirty pictures of him! 

It felt almost as if he had a message for me. I read a little online about the symbolism of turtles and read some things that seem pertinent to me. Then I remembered a stone turtle I had in my collection of “treasures” back when I was a teenager. There was also a turtle shell about the size of this guy’s that a friend had painted for me. She used the psychedelic sixties colors and painted my name on the shell with those big puffy letters they used back then. I have no idea where either of those turtles is today but this old guy made me think of them.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rain, Photo Friday 03/23/12

Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
Oscar Wilde
(This is my contribution to today's Photo Friday theme, Rain.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Weather Vanes and Decision Making

I know a lot of people aren't bothered with this problem at all. I am trying to learn not to be bothered with it but it is a hard habit to break.

I've been thinking about reopening my Etsy shop. On the one hand, I'm telling myself I need to take myself seriously and on the other hand I am telling myself I shouldn't take myself too seriously. After that brilliant discussion, my inner gremlins start coming out of the woodwork and they tell me all kinds of ugly things!

I just have to get a little balance and make a few decisions. It doesn't have to be perfect right from the start. Does it (raising weather vane in the air)? It is probably quite natural that things would evolve gradually.

Anyway, I've been thinking. Let's hope all the thinking eventually leads to action!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Why Do The Weekends Pass So Quickly?

We went yesterday to visit the cemetery. I was overdue for a visit. Always, at the beginning, I am a bit on the edge emotionally. It's just still so hard for me to imagine I am going to the cemetery for my son. It was around noon when we got ready to go so we stopped at McDonald's for a small bite to eat before we headed out. We were going to pass through the drive-through but it was so packed we decided to go in. In the line in front of us was the most precious little red-headed toddler. I wanted to cry when I saw him. I was reminded of where we were going and I wanted so badly to tell that young father to cherish every minute he would have with his son.

We stayed a good while. We cried. We talked. We remembered. I took pictures of the clouds. They were beautiful. It was a bright and sunny day. If you stood still, you could see the clouds moving.

On the way home we stopped at a church camp where I've spent a lot of time, a place we both love. We walked around a bit and breathed the fresh air. He sat a little while to write and I sat in the swing and then took a few pictures. This was my favorite of the day.

It was good to get away for the day. Now Monday is rapidly approaching and I am remembering the bullet point list I made in my journal on Friday night of things I wanted to get done this weekend. I think I have partly done one of the things on the list! I'll have to see if I can get at least one thing done well enough to be able to honestly cross it off my list. Sigh.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Unwind, Photo Friday, 03/16/12

Nails (for a nail gun?) and in the second photo, a couple of curled up fishing worms, which I did not notice when I was taking the picture!

I walked a labyrinth earlier in the week. I thought about how that path curls and meanders and I am often not quite sure where I am on the path in terms of getting to the center and then moving back out again. Sometimes I walk and it seems like I am not moving at all. Other times I look up and see the end is near and I am shocked. 

I thought about how some finish walking sooner than others and I wondered if life was like that too, that some people walk their journeys quicker than others and yet, their journey can still be considered complete. Then I pondered the things we say to comfort each other when death comes and all the metaphors we use. 

Always, as I walk, the tension eases and I unwind.

(This is my contribution to today's Photo Friday theme, Unwind.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012


I've installed the "follow by email" widget and this is a test post to see what actually gets mailed out to anyone who follows by email. I may not leave the widget installed. At this point I am experimenting to see how it works and if it works!

In the meantime, I love how this chicken photo turned out after I added a few filters to it in Photoshop! It's not perfect but it's fun to see what can be done with the filters.

Edited to add: I have removed the "follow by email" option. It did not work as I wanted it to. :) The complete text of what I had written came through but the picture did not.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunday Afternoon

I used the hydrangea from the previous picture and a background page I'd made to create this. I like the way it turned out. Gretchin Rubin is author of The Happiness Project. I've not read the book but I've followed her blog off and on for some time.

Memorial services for our professor who died will be Monday evening so I will be able to attend. I have two doctor's appointments tomorrow, one with the ENT who removed the lump from under my jaw and another one with my regular doctor for a routine checkup. Hopefully the ENT will release me to go back to work. As much as I have enjoyed being home, it's probably time for me to get back to the grindstone!

We went yesterday to visitation for one of my husband's cousins. Lately I feel surrounded by death and decay. I keep saying I don't want to be morbid but I really do need to get a better grasp on the idea of my own mortality. There are other things behind that and I need to get them worked out.

Don't worry, I may be hyper-aware of death and decay but I am also aware of many life-affirming things around me. My vision is somewhat balanced!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Floral, Photo Friday, 03/09/12

Hydrangeas make me smile. I never get tired of taking pictures of their blooms. Depending on the soil, they are pink, purple or blue. The blooms are beautiful even when they are dried out and almost drained of their color.

They also remind of family reunions back when my grandparents and all their siblings were alive. The reunions were held near their old home place. The front porch was huge and the steps that led to the porch were high and wide. Or at least that is the way they seemed way back when I was but a child! The hydrangea bushes grew beside the steps, their huge leaves and flowers matching the gargantuan proportions of the steps and the porch.

Photo Friday may be a new thing on the blog, if I can discipline myself to participate on a regular basis! 

(This is my contribution to today's Photo Friday theme, Floral.)

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Three Months and Counting

Cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiac hypertrophy was the official cause of death. 

Today makes three months.

How I wish I could get him some Pepsi and a cheesecake!

Love you too, son.

Oh, yes, I know. I posted a picture of the "I love you" note already. I've found grief makes you repeat a lot of things and sometimes causes you to tell the same stories over and over. There will be no new stories. I have to treasure the ones I have. Twenty-four years, that's all we had. Such a short time. But I am grateful.

I go into his room and stand for a few moments just to breathe in the scent of him. We all do that. I am afraid we are going to breathe it all in and soon there will be no more smells of him.

I have his phone on my nightstand and sometimes I pick it up and look at it as though it is some sort of teleporter gadget that is capable of bringing him back to me.

I dream of him and hear his voice and it sounds so real and clear that I wake up filled with yearning.

I just want to remember every single bit of him. 

Monday, March 05, 2012

On the Threshold Again

I was so giddy with relief when the oncologist declared that I had stage 1 colon cancer (rather than stage 2, or worse) and that I would need no further treatment (other than to get regular colonoscopies!). The odds are good that it won’t return. Staying away from high fat foods will help and I am working on that.

But there are times lately when I think “Man, I really want to make it past that 5 year mark.” I’m calculating that in my head right now. When will that be? November of 2016. It seems so far away! Most of the time, I am shocked to hear someone refer to my “life-threatening illness.” I just never have spent much time thinking of it in that way.

I’m relatively healthy. I didn’t have to endure any extra treatment. The surgery is almost four months behind me. It is easy for me to forget and think that I have all the time (and good health) in the world. But the thing is-none of us do. We are all mortal beings.

And now I am left wondering about how I should live with this thing (that I have had cancer). I am most assuredly not going to live in fear of it coming back. No, if it comes back, I will trust that I will have what I need and I will make it through. I don’t want to live with a morbid sense of my own mortality but I do believe I have been given both a sort of wake-up call and a gift. I want to wake up and pay attention.

I’d like to live with more intention than I have been living. Things are changing in my head. You don’t go through storms like these without being changed. I’m “on the threshold again” and new life will rise once more through this stony ground. It’s true-my story is not yet over.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Thoughts on Non-attachment

 (Okay, so in all honesty, I started writing this post on February 19th and then I forgot about it. Then I had surgery and forgot about it a while longer. A tiny part of me still holds out hope that my favorite pencil will be waiting for me when I return to work! Silly me!)

My favorite pencil went amiss this week. This is not it in the picture, BTW. My favorite pencil had a cushy little thing on the barrel. It was purple. Or green. I forget. Purple and green. Yeah, that's it. I'd know it anywhere. I just forget some of the details of how it looks. I've had that pencil since I started work here in July of 2008 (Lord, how did the time pass so quickly by?). It disappeared once before and stayed gone for a couple of months. During that time, my red pencil became my temporary favorite, which does not indicate any loss of loyalty to my real favorite pencil, the purple and green one. I was merely preparing myself in case the purple/green pencil never came back. I tend to develop attachments to my favorite writing materials (and other things as well). It becomes almost like a compulsion to use only my favorite pen or pencil to do my work. What can I say? Loyalty is one of my strengths. Or weaknesses. Anyway, I decided this time around I was not going to fret over this missing pencil! I went to the cabinet and got two new pencils. I grab which ever one of them is the closest when I need to write and I write.

Why am I going on and on about this missing pencil? It has to do with attachments, which, for me, has a lot to do with expectations. We get ourselves in so much trouble when we form attachments to certain expectations of how things are going to be in our lives. We get our own ideas of how things are going to happen, or how certain people are going to treat us and when it doesn't go down that way, we are disappointed and often hurt or angry. And then we tend to react to the circumstances or to the other person out of our own hurt or anger. My dad has this "tongue in cheek" thing he says--"Don't expect anything, that way you won't be disappointed." It's not really the "expecting" that gets you into trouble. It's what you do with the disappointment of that expectation not being met that can lead to trouble.

It seems to me we will be happier in all circumstances if we can learn to let loose of our preconceived expectations of people and circumstances. Letting go. It is sometimes a hard thing to do. Believe me, I know.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Guarding the Tomb

In all my cemetery travels, this is the strangest guardian of a tomb I have seen. When I first married so many years ago, I really, really, really want a Cigar Store Indian, just like this guy. We never found one we could afford and my tastes eventually changed although I have to admit seeing this guy still kind of makes my heart swoon!

I don't know if I mentioned here that I had signed up to participate in a Photo Walk in a town about two hours away from mine and when I got there, I couldn't find the group! I was so disappointed! When I got back home and email the sponsor, it turned out that I was right on top of where they were supposed to meet! I had walked around a little while, thinking surely the area where they were going to be was so small that I had to run into them eventually but, alas, I am talented at missing the obvious!

On the way home, I stopped at this cemetery in the middle of nowhere. I am not sure I could find it again if I wanted to (or if I wanted to return and ask this guy to come home with me)! This was about the only statue of interest in this particular cemetery.