Closing for the Season

17 10 2018

Last night, I had a strange and unsettling dream. Don’t worry, I am not going to tell you ALL about it. It’s enough for you to know that it was about copper-colored round elevator cars that seemed to shrink when I entered; dust-covered burgundy-colored vans I had to board, even though every seat and the floors were packed with passengers; and damp slippery paths that led to stark, windy, crumbling rooms.

I awoke thinking this was simply a nighttime figment of my claustrophobia, but, after half a pot of coffee, I realized it was really not that at all – it was about mourning the end of a season.

Ever shrinking copper elevators of sunlight rake across my browning landscape. The  ruddy, rusty reds of foliage threaten a quick tumble to bare earth.  Blustery rain showers away the remaining color from my garden. 

I am sad to see the summer go. 

I do not trust autumn to cruise gently across the calendar.

Winter has never been kind. 

The last few weeks have been underscored by a feeling of melancholy and last night, my dream-mind tried to explain why. Although I still feel that low-grade sadness, at least I know the cause – and I know that, worst case scenario, it will only last until the first little green bud awakens in a few months. We’ll be back in business, then!

Until that time, I will medicate, as I did this very afternoon, with a very effective – if temporary – compound. Take two (scoops) as needed.


Road Running

10 10 2018

I remember my teens – a time when car engines were big and gas prices were small. Driving was for the sheer joy of moving asphalt under treads.

Then, I grew up and got a job that required me to drive many miles and cars got smaller and gas prices, well . . . driving lost some of its charm. When I retired, I was very happy to let my car sit in the driveway, un-started, for days at a time.

Well, today was more like the old days, except for the big engine, low gas prices, and joy . . . I made a nice round-trip through Philly to Ft. Dix (and I get to go back to Philly, tomorrow – another hundred miles one-way) . . . for my beloved family and for my very important volunteer job, so I guess there really is some joy.

Okay, after I have a nice long nap, I’m pretty sure there will be quite a bit of joy. Until I sleep, though, there’s just “Jeep Seat” and furry contact lenses.


Thanks, Dad, for the 16th birthday present! Soon, I’ll dream of you and the Goat, both now gone from me, but both remembered with reverence.

Works in Progress

3 10 2018

Remember that whole “Mars-Venus” explanation of the difference between men and women . . . yes, it’s a lot of BS, but I do think that there is some validity to the idea that some people are born “fixers.” I am such a person, as are many of the women in my family and my circle of friends.  We are the “See Something Wrong – Do Something About It” folks who see most problems as challenges and we never back away from a challenge.  If you know my nuptial history, you’ll understand that I have (finally!) learned that this is not always a good thing.

I started thinking about this while mowing the lawn, pondering the changes in my neighborhood, as kids have grown up: specifically the oddness of the (lack of a successful) relationship in the life of one very fine and lovely young man.  As I blundered along behind the Toro, letting it slowly growl its way through grass that has been far too well watered for the last month, the reason for this fellow’s troubles came to me. 

He has chosen women who need to be fixed.

(It should be noted here that there are two kinds of “fixers” – the empathetic, kind, and too generous type, which describes my neighbor, and the ornery, bossy, authoritarian kind, like my sister and I.)

Now, even though I am an inveterate fixer, I will not barge over and tell this kid’s mom she needs to make him read this, but if I could give him one piece of old-lady advice, it would be simply this.

Pick a Partner, not a Project!

A partner is someone who, as perfectly described by my (ornery, bossy, authoritarian) sister, does not need to be changed nor wants to change you; a partner is someone who helps you become the best you and is their best them because of you. 

After (quite a) few fits and starts, I am delighted to have found such a fine partner over thirty years ago.  To paraphrase someone whom I am loathe to quote, “Can you imagine if I hadn’t, what a mess I’d be? I’d be the world’s worst.”

Partner with someone who’s your equal, not your mirror. Don’t mistake neediness for loyalty or charity for love.  Projects involve stuff. Partnership is about far more than that. 

When I began to write this, I failed to note the date of this post – October 3rd.  Now, I more fully understand why Miss Muse brought me to it.  This is my (ornery, bossy, authoritarian)sister and her husband’s 37th wedding anniversary and they certainly exemplify the beauty of a true partnership.

Happy Anniversary, Phyllis and Eric!

Partnership is a beautiful thing. This one was established 37 years ago!


Every Crayon in the Box, and then Some

26 09 2018

Every once in a while, something comes along that thumps my brain. This week, there’ve been two bits of news that also poked at Miss Muse and her high falutin’ ideas about her importance.

First, I read one fine blog post about how talent plays into the professional artist equation. It is by the wonderful potter Mea Rhee, Good Elephant Pottery and you can read it here:

Second, I got a preview of the new homepage of the marvelously inventive, introspective, and inquisitive Karen Anne Isaacson Glick’s website:

Karen’s choice of adjective to define herself  – multidisciplinary – is simply perfect, but it, coupled with Mea’s post about talent’s role in living as a professional artist led me to do a little introspecting of my own . . . and now both my brain and Miss Muse’s ego are in need of a booboo kiss and a band-aid.

I surely LOVE to make things. My imagination runs at RPMS that would make a NASCAR pit crew sweat. There’s no questioning my drive to combine, cut up, color, stitch, paint, write, melt, photograph, smear, anneal, bend, . . . well, to dance to whatever tune Miss Muse is humming.

Therein lies the rub. Miss Muse has eclectic taste in music. She’s yet to meet a genre that doesn’t get her toes tapping, so, while Mea is talented and dedicated and Karen Anne is multidisciplinary, I am simply curious and have no discipline whatsoever.
I’ve decided that’s okay.

There are gifted and driven potters, painters, performers, and poets. My true talent is that I know my limitations – but I ignore them, in the name of having a good time! Not every artist will be a great artist, but as long as creating things (even if what is created is simply a messy studio) is fun, let’s play.


Put Yourself in My (Gardening) Shoes

19 09 2018

Today, I set out to write a heavy message about how every story has two sides (not always equally valid, of course)–and that we should guard against always taking the side of the victim, the shareholders, the students, or whatever other group we seem to have a natural affinity for – how we should try to understand those with whom we don’t connect automatically – how we need to work hard to put ourselves in others’ shoes. . .

Big, lofty idea, right?

I sat down at the keyboard, but then, I noticed that the sun was shining, a very rare occurrence this month.

My soap box sermon only a single sentence long, the pull of the garden was just too powerful. I was out the door. I saw a fat little chipmunk, watched dozens of moths and bees, and was buzzed by a hummingbird at my tall phlox. These delights led me to a morning spent in the mulch and on the grass, enjoying the beauty of the day, being so absorbed by it, I was almost late to a meeting . . . and this little note.

I hope there’s sunshine for you. Here’s a little of mine.

Deep Breath and (Think Before You) Exhale Slowly

12 09 2018

Have you ever been confused by someone’s behavior? You know – someone you’ve known well for a long time just seems to you to suddenly act out of character for no reason you can see? I have.

Occasionally – okay a LOT of times, because of a prize-winning inferiority complex – I have embroidered all kinds of meanings onto such odd situations, always concluding that what I am observing is clearly, unequivocally directed at me! Not smart.
(Did you know that one of the strangest parts of having an inferiority complex is that, while you always feel a little bad about yourself, you also always feel it’s always about you. Thanks, Jake, for great therapy to get me to understand that painful truth.)

Sometimes, when someone acts, in your eyes, in a way that is out of character, it IS about you; however, sometimes it is about the situation itself. It is hard not to take everything in the world personally – it’s how humans are wired – but it is not conducive to cooperative coexistence. One of the lessons I learned in my 50-minute hours is to not jump to emotional conclusions when someone acts differently toward me.

What is different about the situation? Could those circumstances be the cause of the change?

What other external factors, ones that I can’t see, might be the cause of the change?

Most of the time, it turns out that it was NOT all about me. It was a normal function of something in the situation or a part of their personal life that does not include me. Once in a while, it is because I have done something that I need to fix – so I ASK the person to see how to do that.

In the case of those I feel close to, this third question is always the most important:

Why would the person that I (inferiority complex burnisher) feel has been rude/mean/unkind/generally weird to me want to hurt my feelings?

If I can answer that question with anything but a resounding “NO!” the next step is to adjust my calibration as respects just how important that person is to me; anyone who’d intentionally hurt me is surely not my friend and I learn.

Fortunately, the answer to the third question usually leads me to the logical conclusion that I was busily making something out of nothing and working myself into a state that would only leave me feeling sheepish at best and mortified if I reacted before I thought things through.

We all have egos, equally strong and fragile. It’s hard to think rationally, if you feel bruised, but I know from experience that it is easier to pause and work it through in my mind than to have to undo something that didn’t need doing in the first place. I am not 100% proficient in this, but I work hard at it because it makes my life a whole lot easier.

Who wants it always to be “All About Me?” Not I!  Too much pressure – so I should not let my nagging negative inner child talk me into thinking that way. Go to your room, you little brat!

“Oh, I must be terrible. Just look at those judgmental, disapproving faces!” 1960


The Game’s Rigged

5 09 2018

It’s not FAIR!

Oh, my, that’s a phrase we’ve all uttered, heard, and thought too many times to count. After a few – ahem many few – years of experience, however,  it begins to crystallize . . .

Life is not fair.

Life is unpredictable: anyone remotely familiar with my marital track record would never have guessed that my dear (4th!) husband and I would be together over thirty years and are still both planning to stay that way!

Life is challenging: when we became parents, neither of us even considered the possibility that our child would have struggles that we never faced, but there she was – epileptic and autistic and beautiful. Worth everything.

Life is wickedly weird: my sweet husband is an animal lover. He never met a dog or cat he did not want to pet and would like nothing more than to have one in our home, but he is extremely allergic to animals!

Since we all know that life’s not fair, we need to stop playing with it, for it will win every hand. We need to view this it less like poker and more like skiing: some days are blue-skied, with beautifully-groomed easy paths; others are rutted and ill-defined and make you work just to keep your feet under you; and once in a while, there’s an avalanche that just flattens you . . . but then, someone rescues you and you get another run. Go for it.

Yes, life is hard, but life is GOOD.


Future sled dog encounter in Skagway, AK, was worth a little sneezing for my husband. Thank you Claritin and Kleenex! Photo taken by Maura Nester.