I just think it is so ironic that a man with so many marvelous opinions and thought provoking quotes through and about life, left us so abruptly this week... with no last word spoken for us to glean on.
And those are some mighty big- empty - shoes. May they never be filled.
Nor Steve's apple basket. That loss hit me to the core.
Jumping back into the dating game at my age is Kilimanjaro size anxiety for me. Imagine how you would plan to climb that mountain and that is how I feel about this process. Where to go, how to dress, how to communicate with the natives, what they will think about me, where will I sleep? A process; with a beginning and middle and end. That should give you a clue.
Youthful dating dodges a carbon stamp- you can afford to engage in the mantra of plenty of time, plenty of fish. Middle age dating is akin to a special Olympics race. You are racing to keep up with your younger peers while leaping hurdles of gray, Geritol, and weight gain and fashion trends which invite you to share your wardrobe with your teen daughter.
I have vacillated from swearing off the opposite sex to wanting to bring home anything that smells good. I'm kind of in the middle right now.
Random and spontaneous I am learning do not mean the same thing with dating. Random is agenda based selection. Spontaneous is free spirited choice without a plan. I wanna add a plant to my garden, so I go the the garden store and pick a plant that might look good in my yard, or at least appeals to me. That's random.
Going to the store and being surprised to see one of my favorite Italian restaurant's marinara bottled and then purchasing it, that's a spontaneous choice. My romantic needs are hoping for spontaneity, while the vast male population of my age group is engaged in random agendas. Can you begin to feel my conundrum here?
I am looking for a Reese Whitherspoon movie ending as a Sandra Bullock character. Is that so much to ask for?
Fall in Phoenix is like Springtime in other cities. We start to plant things and the air is crisp and rains are cooling. We don't have the change of leaves like Fall welcomes you in other places. The trade off is being able to plant things in pots like petunia, pansy, geranium, snap-dragon, zinnia and marigold.
I found some single potted sunflowers at the grocery store a couple weeks ago. I decided to give the raised flower bed I inherited with the house, some purpose in the yard. But the sunflowers seem to be struggling there. I guess they know they are not in Kansas anymore. I would add some mums but I am not certain they would do much better there. I credit the ill-tended garden bed for an not welcoming my plantings. Even I don't like to go to bed in an unmade bed. I suppose I should make the soil more inviting.
The nights are the best part of our Fall. The air is cool so you can leave your windows open with less fear of creepy things crawling in the screens at night. It just smells so cool and it is refreshing to air out the house after stifling summer heat. It rarely gets under 50 degrees right now so you can still wear shorts if you are not inclined to box up the summer wardrobe.
Fall is my favorite season. I like football games, sweatshirts and sweaters, and bonfires. I miss pumpkin patches and corn mazes, morning frost, and hay rides. I don't miss raking, wet leaves, or unexpected snow.
I'm happy to feel the weight of blankets I abandoned in the 100 degree heat. I'm starting to bake again and can't wait for chili and stew to overflow my crock pot. Can you smell apple pie and fresh baked bread?
I few weeks ago on a trip to Northern AZ, I saw cottonwood trees turning gold. When I saw a clump of them it reminded me of other places I have experienced Fall where hillsides and skylines offered watercolor kaleidoscopes of red, yellow, gold, and brown in the distance. I got so excited I had to find my camera to take a photo- but the clump of autumn opportunity was gone before I could focus my lens.
The evening sky is often a painted canvas of red, pink or orange sunsets and some of the cacti yellows and red rocks offer the backdrops we are longing to see. So God's artistic hand finds another place to led color from his Autumn palate to a desert waking from a sort of summer heat solstice.
As a child growing up in the Midwest, it rained most every year on Good Friday. I remember it with distinctness because of my mother's reply when I asked her why. She said it was to wash away the sins of the people who put Him to death and a reminder of those that were still crying. Since moving to Arizona, the weather is glorious this time of the year. The yard is in bloom and the sun couldn't be brighter. I praise the day knowing that this is also a marker of the weather's gentleness soon to be replaced with blazing heat around the corner. I seize the day in glorious reflection.
As a child, I remember picking out a special dress in preparation of Easter each year til I was 10 or 11 years old... and hat, white shoes, and purse...Easter called for accessories too. Those were the days it really mattered to dress in your best to enter God's house. One favorite shopping memory was the year I got a lavender heather wool coat. I hated growing out of that coat- and that tradition as a matter of fact.
I have a memory of church during Easter as a grown up, which I recall ever since I first experienced it. As usual, it popped in my head this morning.
St. Patrick, Wadsworth IL (The old church)
It was during the first leg of many moves to come, only after 3 or 4 years of marriage. We were living in a far Northern suburb of Chicago, after our 3rd move. The church we attended was built by the farming settlers in the1800's. It was a white church with a steeple just as you would think of a church with one row of pews on either side of the aisle and an ornate marble altar framed with Mary and Joseph on either side. A Catholic church of white clapboard not brick and mortar. I think it was a mix of intimate architecture, spiritually dedicated mixed-aged parishioners, and the pastor that gave that church remarkable life. For some reason many sermons have stayed with me to this day, more than most other church services I have attended. But it is the Paschal Triduum of three days from Holy Thursday evening to Easter Day that were remarkably emotional memories there.
Like at Christmas, there was a small scenery of figurines put out to the side. Every reading made you sad and you could look at that table of figures and wonder what were they thinking (!) as you listened to the Gospel. The chancel was cleared of its dressings as typical of the solemness of the faith and a white drape hid the giant crucifix hanging behind the altar. The song lyrics were visual and very emotional for me as they are to this day. But on Saturday evening just as the Easter vigil was beginning, the white drape covering the cross was gently pulled down - and there where the Savior should be.... was completely 'replaced' by a blanket of real white flowers. It was so remarkable!
I remember that feeling of expecting to see Him on the cross, but of course He was no longer there- what was there now were those beautiful flowers- a reflection of Him being given New Life.
I wish I could pull the picture from my mind to share with you the enormousness of that blanket of snow white flowers hanging above the altar- and share that feeling both of surprise- amazement-joy that I felt in seeing that display- that expression of faith. After feeling so depressed in that place for two days before; and now to feel such joy revealed. I relive it and feel it each Easter. I have not had that experience repeated. I am so grateful to that parish for giving me that memory- that feeling - to carry with me- for reliving every Easter.
The following year in that Parish, we built a bigger church behind the white church. The town was growing with many young families and the little church could no longer sustain us all. They could not duplicate that Easter event in the new modern big glass church. I became a cantor and choir member to better embrace the services. On Good Friday the first year in the new church they added the sound of hammering nails into wood from the loft overlooking the congregation during the verses of the song, Were You There, which made it nearly impossible to sing- with or without tears in a candlelit church.
St. Patrick (The new church)
When I became a mother I started celebrations for my daughter's Easter memories..both embracing the faith of the events and yes ingredients of the commercialism for innocents sake. Baking resurrection cookies, opening Holy week eggs (an egg carton filled with a dozen plastic eggs, each containing a symbol and explanation of the Holy Week) , Easter trees with ornaments, egg decorating, brunch and egg hunt. One childhood memory my mom did for my sister and I was to hide our basket in a maze of string through the lower level of our house. We had to follow various strings to find the gifts. It was so fun that I repeated that experience for my teen daughter when we moved to Arizona. We even took a Sugar Egg class to learn how to make and decorate panoramic eggs like I recall from my childhood. Sadly I don't think she has had the emotional Easter experience yet. But then I didn't experience mine until my 20's. It will find her too.
This year we are celebrating apart. So, hopefully the memories and our faith will do the job of drawing us together for this day. I do miss her though.
Happy Easter Dear Friends and Family - He is Risen - Rejoice in the Day.
Last year my daughter acknowledged my birthday by sharing the traditions she and her friends enjoy for their birthdays. Decorating the house with a maze of streamers and painting the car with window paints of wishes are two favorites. She even gifted me with my age displayed on the car...that infinite "29". She really went all out making me feel very appreciated.
College would separate us this year, however. This year was a milestone for me and I was dreading not being with her. However, she outdid herself!
When she departed for school after winter break, she knew she would be back in a few weeks...but I didn't. She had already planned to return not wanting me to celebrate my big day without her. I had actually planned on not even acknowledging the day.
Before she left for school she cashed enough summer checks to purchase a few Visa gift cards. When she discovered the Airlines website would not redeem multiple gift cards for one ticket, she then used them to buy Airlines gift cards which could be redeemed for a ticket. This way I would never see a charge for airfare appear on my card. She secured her tickets and anxiously waited for her return date.
However, Mother Nature had some surprises for her. Her college town in the Midwest was hit hard with snow. Nothing resembling a delivery truck or even cab was running. The night before departure she dialed the airlines on her phone hourly, feverishly checking the flight schedules. Her roommates were not at all silent about their lack of confidence in her flight leaving. She was resolved. "Oh, I AM going," she would snort at them. Finally at nearly 2 am she scored a flight to take her home. Next obstacle was how to get to the airport...and the fact that her flight would be canceled by the time she got there.
Not wanting to wake too many people she finally called a dorm friend she knew had a truck. Not so surprising by now, the truck would not start, so after some debate she begrudgingly asked her suite-mate who willingly offered to brave the elements to get her to the airport.
At the airport she overheard a gentleman attempting to get on an alternate flight, having been previously booked on the same canceled flight as she. Thanks to his conversation, the gentleman and she were the last travelers to leave that airport before it closed due to the weather.
My mom and sister's part in the plan was to pick her up at the airport in Phoenix to bring her home that evening. After a very long work day, and dreading the acknowledgment of my birthday I arrived home. The pizza man was leaving and upon entering my kitchen, I was greeted by streamers and balloons and family. And my biggest surprise was my beautiful collegiate, standing behind me. I could not believe she was there. I had known about the terrible weather she came from and truly could not believe how she was standing there. Love got her home.
So now my dread of that BIG birthday is only a memory of one of the sweetest gifts of love I have ever been given for a birthday. Equally I will forever be forced to regale with delight the tale of hurdles she conquered to share my day to make my birthday special. My daughter; so determined and resourceful. What other life surprises do you have up your sleeve?
Got up the morning after Boot Camp- Day One and thought I did not work out hard enough as I had only limited pain....by noon I wondered how I was going to get through another class tonight. Sitting down and getting up from my chair was excruciating.
Yesterday, I wondered where my body went as my arms and legs were shaking under the strain of toning in process...today my muscles were like rubber and harder to move in the directions I was asking them to go. I asked the gal next to me if she could see my legs.... I couldn't feel them anymore.
I want to go go and my muscles say no no. I got a knot in my calf - doing the only thing I am semi-good at... jogging in place.
I confessed out loud before doing reps of the Tasmanian Something or other, that I both loved and hated my coach. (He said he dad tells him the same thing).
I can feel body parts I never knew had muscles- or lack of them.
Why is it after working out your brain is tired too? Driving home I decided I am turning into a zombie. Can barely move, and my brain is mush.
When the coach says, "this next one might be hard" and I am still panting, prepare yourself for the wrath of resistance doom.
This morning the Day After Boot Camp -Day Two and I feel like I have been hit by a truck or the very least a small wrecking ball. I negotiate with myself on how important that thing on the floor is for picking up. I dread a bathroom visit- that's alot of bending. I hope this 'gimme a walker' syndrome passes soon.
No one's dropped out yet. The class is great. We whine and groan and gasp for air nearly in unison so no one feels inferior in ability. We are probably feeling Day After pain together too. I can only hope.
One thing you cannot outrun are the flames of birthday candles. The heat from those seemingly harmless yet iniquitous wax symbols is growing each year. While I am waxing my hands and feet with a near cousin to prolong 'youthful' smoothness, those eventful candles bring a smoldering of wrinkles and gray hairs every year. And lets not forget how nicely they illuminate the path to senescence.
This year was a big one for me. Please don't count them. Trust me. It was more like a mile bolder. However, the love of friends and family, pushed me over the boulder with grace and fun to the point of this writer's shameful acknowledgment: its not the number of years but the number of friends that matters. You can't outrun those candles, but thank God for friends and family to take your mind off of the quantity of them.
In my department at work, my interactions include three of the most upbeat people you will meet. They are the kind of people that light up a room when they enter and I look forwarded to going through the day with them. They inspire me with their positive attitudes and humor! Sometimes when we are sharing stories during the day, the elements are so funny we break ourselves up.
One of my sunshine friends told me the cutest story yesterday that I thought I would share.
Mornings can present natural challenges for getting out the door and to work on time. When your challenges include a 60 minute commute and a 4 year old, every minute of the morning counts.
Forgetting about an early morning meeting, my friend proceeded to her workout ritual. When she suddenly realized her memory error, she stopped her exercise and hastened to backtrack her routine at near light speed until she was heading toward the door to depart.
Crossing the kitchen to say her goodbyes she was met with a freshly buttered bagel and a hot pot of coffee. Her husband had made breakfast for her. Explaining her meeting memory loss, she thanked him, wrapped the bagel in a napkin and proceeded to leave. They both eyed the coffee pot but she didn't want to take the time to search for a to-go cup.
By the time she put her key in the ignition, her husband had met her at the drivers side of the car, something in hand. "This was the largest coffee cup I could find," he said holding up a large pretty floral decorated ceramic 'cup'. "Honey," she smiled, "That's a vase!"