Early Morning Adventure(s)

We all have our traumas. How traumatic is in the eyes of the beholder and there is nothing like professional back-up for assistance. 

About 3:25 a.m., a sound that mimicked a large bird that has fallen from the nest, filled my house. It took a couple of minutes to figure out it was not a bird, but likely a “detector”. It was the CO monitor. I did what any “sensible” person would do: I opened a door and windows, called 911, checked on the animals (none of whom was groggy), checked the monitor battery (which was fully charged). 

Officer Eades arrived from the local PD; and then 2 vehicles (or was it 3?) from the Fire Department. Bless their hearts, they scoured the house, shed and basement with their CO detectors. Basement access is difficult enough but I had booby-trapped it with hoses that had been pulled in when freezing temperatures were imminent, and not put away properly.

This was one of those times when one can look around the house and see it through someone else’s eyes. The clutter, not so much the dust after last weekend’s cleaning, the cat and dog toys, dog beds in partial rehab from Cinco’s chewing ability, animal carriers, equipment for a knee replacement (which is not going to happen now), books waiting to be read, etc. Not to mention the hoses.

So whether it’s a sick child, a sick pet, a sump pump with no back-up battery in the face of a power outage, a tree down, a death in the family, etc., it’s a trauma. And these days, a trauma on top of a trauma with on-going national Covid infection rates rising. 

End result – having company at 3:30 in the morning is not necessarily a bad thing. Having profession al assistance is great. A diagnosis of “old” detector, not CO presence, is the best. Mira! has a new friend in Officer Eades, and some of us could go back to sleep. 

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Observations on life now

I am a child of privilege. By birth, skin color, education, and scented soap in the shower. My first word was not Mama but most likely, “why?!”.  Education encouraged me to question, to challenge, to be an instrument of change, and to be not afraid of any of that.

I have had jobs that some would judge as unworthy of my degrees/education status. Any job I left, I did so voluntarily, to move on to something more interesting or productive, with valuable experience and no regrets.  

Now at the age of an Elder, I have learned, explored, experienced life in ways many people never even think about. “Fate” has plonked opportunities in front of me and I have responded. That in itself is a privilege, to identify the opportunities and be willing to jump in. Some would say that I have had my failures, depending on how they see my situation(s); others would say, as I do with gratitude, “what a learning experience!”  It has not been without pain, loss and re-orientation, and not just for me.

And now I watch as the world as I have understood it, is apparently falling apart, with a pandemic and riots reminiscent of the 1960’s. The unrest at that time propelled me to move overseas. 20 years later, I returned at the behest of a loved one, and stayed. 

In the 1950’s, a family member referred to U.S. society at that time, as an encore of the Fall of Rome. If she were living now, I wonder how she would describe our culture. The French Revolution would probably factor into her perception. Each enquiring generation has had their own take on what was happening at the time. 

Have I fulfilled the responsibilities imposed by my privileges? Frankly, I have bumped along, doing the best I could. Although I have been subject to the human characteristic of wanting to fit in, I have not been overly concerned with the judgements of others, and have instead embraced them as a challenge. Which puts me squarely where I am now. 

Change, loss, taxes and death. The inevitables of living as a human in the United States.  Inevitables. I know that’s not a “real” word, but it is now, because I have used it. Another challenge observed and met. 

At my age, loss looms above change, taxes and death. Every loss evokes a memory of a previous loss; they tend to compound one another unless faced and resolved. As a society, we are facing multiple losses which cry out to be resolved into new dimensions of growth and understanding. 

How successful we will be at resolution, growth and understanding has yet to be seen. 

In the meantime, everyone is fed, cleaned up after, laundry is done, and the cheese soufflé is ready to go into the oven. Life goes on. Whether we want it to, or not. 

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I was raised in a Republican family. I believe that teaching someone to fish is better than giving them the fish. My sympathies lie with health care for all, including access to medication, and a woman’s right to control her own body and make her own decisions. Living in a closed primary state, where one has to be registered with a political party in order to vote in a primary, I switch sides frequently depending on which primary looks more interesting. I guess that shows me to be an Independent.

I have lived overseas and I have some appreciation for what this country is and what it represents. But now, Betsy Ross is ousted by Nike and its critics for some offense that at the time was acceptable and for which no apology or explanation can be offered. People are criticized for opinions they held years ago and that may well have evolved since that time. The Washington D.C. 4th of July parade this year is to include a firm militaristic slant, at the cost of depletion of funds for national parks.

The current President (Donald Trump, lest there be any confusion) is not old enough to remember/be influenced by the history of Nazi Germany, evidenced by his stance on many issues as authoritarian and belligerent. Several red flags are flying while people have lost any ability to think critically, or are too lazy to see those flags. People are swept up in a rhetoric peppered with lies presented as truth while the press is hammered for doing its job, a job essential to a democracy.

Conspiracy theorists might point to Daylight Saving Time, or requirements for seat belts, as wedges in the door to government control over how we live our lives. They may be right. With the changes we are witnessing in the Environment Protection and other Agencies, I wonder when the 4th of July will no longer be the 4th, but moved to some more convenient date. Why not? No one seems to be paying attention.

In the meantime, I will rejoice in what our country has been, for me and multitudes of others who contribute daily to our freedoms, not least being the opportunity to speak for myself.


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Plans !

It has happened often enough: I have plans for the day; I have an idea of what needs to be done, where I need to go etc. And then it is six hours later and I wonder where my “plans” shifted and why. My plan this day included cooking, getting the dogs out for a ride in the car, doing some minor shopping, and going to the YMCA for a swim. It’s an overcast rainy day; not suitable for outdoor activities.

Around 9:30 a.m., after about a year of procrastination, I just felt it was the right time to re-organize the sheets shelf in the linen closet. I knew it wasn’t a huge job; I just hadn’t felt the urge to do it until now. A stab of guilt would surface when I opened the closet door as I picked a clean set of sheets, and closed the door again.

But this morning, it felt right, to tackle this job. I was looking specifically for certain pillow cases I thought were in there. Somewhere. The laundry basket served as a temporary holding space as I pulled linens out, or re-arranged on the shelf.

I never found those pillowcases but everything else went back on the shelf, in more tidy piles, and a few really old (?about 40 years) pillow cases bit the dust, or headed for the washing machine.

It’s what happened during those six hours that wasn’t on the “schedule” that made it interesting. I was barely showered and half dressed at 10:40 a.m. when the phone rang. Had I followed “the plan”, this was a call I would not have answered in person, and we know the let down of not reaching our target person when needed most. It’s why people have cell phones. I have an “old fashioned” flip phone which is rarely turned on: I still like my uninterrupted personal space, especially when I am driving or with company. Catching me at home is the best bet.

As the call unraveled a remarkable story, I realized that was why I never left the house this morning. I needed to be here for that call.

And so it is, that the “best laid plans” go astray and develop into the best reasons for that straying. Chances are, we never anticipated the denouement.


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How To Make a Good Day Better

Route 113 is a local major two lane road. Driving south, I noticed what looked like a turtle in the northbound lane. I pulled into the first road and did a “u-ey”. In my rear view mirror, I noted someone else had slowed at the site. She also did a u-turn and stopped to block traffic on the north bound side. I pulled in behind her car, flashers on. We determined that it was a snapping turtle in the road.


Snapping turtles can be quick, powerful, and easy to “piss off”.  The woman grabbed a sturdy stick and started to try to maneuver the turtle across the road. Soon, there was a back-up of traffic on our side, when a south-bound pick-up truck stopped, facing us, and a fellow got out to help. Then a man in the car stopped behind my car, got out to help. Now there were four of us trying to maneuver this not exactly social critter across the road.


Finally, the deed was done. I think we all felt good about it, including, possibly, the Snapper. Maybe not so much the traffic halted for the procedure.

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A Tory Story, in pictures

This morning, I found Patch sleeping on a rocker, snuggled into two stuffed “teddy” bears. I have never seen him sleep there before. Next to the rocker, is a cat bed that he and Kaboodle used to share, but he rarely sleeps there since Kaboodle died last summer.



Kaboodle in the cat bed, January 2013


This morning, Tory was sleeping in that cat bed.


Tory has wiggled into the space that Kaboodle once occupied, and then despite having the cat bed to herself, Tory chose to move in next to her new best bud. It is heart warming to see Patch take Tory under his proverbial wing, after months of his wandering the house, crying in mourning.



And yes, they sleep together on my bed at night.

Life goes on.





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The Hypocrisy of Christmas; Ditch the Gifts

Looking at Christian traditions, one might think that the Christmas holiday time was a once a year opportunity to truly exhibit a Christian spirit and to be in good company doing that.

Instead, people feed greed : good slogan, eh? Feed Greed for Christmas.  They try to replace the spirit of Christmas with things.

Why not ask our children, “what would you most like for Christmas? One thing. One thing only. And understanding that Santa/parents may not be able to supply that one thing or may not be able to sustain it for you, e.g. a pony.

So a second option may be needed if the first request falls into one of the impossible categories (cost, maintenance etc).

The point is – choose One Thing you would like to have that Santa might be able to bring to you.

Instead of seeing a slew of less meaningful gifts under the Christmas tree, there might be the one thing you (child or not) would really like to have, could care for, could use, could cherish.

One year, for me, that was my first bicycle. It was a surprise and probably The Best Ever. It challenged me to master it, I had to take care of it, and it provided my first sense of freedom.

But the chances are that our children will not be challenged with choosing The One Thing, with facing the responsibilities of caring for a longed-for gift, and will face a slew of things that will be tossed aside, ignored, and last a short time. What for? So they can indulge in an exercise of instant gratification, never anticipating a treasured possibility, and plunge into a cycle of buying to fill a spiritual gap.

The spiritual gap. That’s what we’re really talking about. In many places, there is no such tradition of giving outrageously at Christmas time. How do they survive without having Christmas gifts raining down on them? They find joy in other ways.

Go out and buy, and wrap, and give to your heart’s delight. But understand that that is not what Christmas is about. Christmas is not about feeding an economy that harbors planned obsolescence and senseless purchases. Christmas is about honoring a spiritual tradition.

When people as a group honor the spirit of Christmas, you can feel it. You can feel the shift in focus onto loving thy neighbor, of tolerance and patience, at least at this one time of year. With any luck, those assets will continue on into a New Year.

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Getting Older or Growing Older: it’s not just semantics.


Life is a pot luck: a lot depends on what you bring to it, as well as what others bring.

The “others” could be people, nature, education, opportunities etc. Life is rife with choices. But, you have to keep your eyes, ears, and attitudes open. No matter what your age, the question remains: do you get older, or do you grow older? Or both.

What and how you learn depends on what is available to you combined with your own abilities and initiative. Even those considered to have “disabilities” find ways to learn and express themselves.

When we are very young, we are consumed with curiosity and an innate desire to accomplish and get ahead. These impulses drive us to learn and achieve. Watch the progression from pulling oneself up to learning to walk.

We all have fallow times (just look at the gaps between my blog posts!), when life doesn’t seem to be rolling along as we might like. These hiatuses need to be observed and honored; they are times of rest and regrouping. Ignore them at the risk of future burnout or crashes. Honoring them can be difficult as our initiative impels us to keep going, keep going. But something in our psyche or body is saying “slow down”, digest what you’ve learned, coast for a bit.

A plateau in sports is when despite your best efforts, you seem not to be progressing. This is a kind of hiatus. To push too much at this plateau point could be a serious mistake. Your body may not be ready yet for what’s coming next. So you maintain, as best you can, what you have achieved so far, kind of like treading water. Treading water becomes easier as you spend more time doing just that. You become an expert at treading water, you relax into it so it is no effort. Eventually, you will ease your way through the temporary lull, and move on.

As I am aging, there seem to be more plateaus. How one handles these depends on what we’ve brought to the pot luck feast: experiences, learnings, leanings, understandings, relationships, family, curiosity… Our plateaus require rest, and paying attention to limitations of aging. Just as when we were younger, if we push too hard, there will be consequences, only now it takes longer to recover from those consequences.

It is inevitable, so long as we are alive, that we will get older. At times, that’s a primary goal: to grow older: remember being 4,5,6… But how many of us will grow older? As the baby boomers take over the stage of the elderly, there are increasingly available programs for continued learning and communication. Hallelujah!

Staying isolated, in the age of the internet, is a choice. There are times when I need a sabbatical from my computer but in general it is an amazing resource. As you age, will you muddle along or take up the challenges and opportunities that offer themselves to you?


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Crisis times – Fear and Expectations

The household was in an uproar. Everyone was yelling, to be heard above the others. No one was communicating. Ranting was rampant, pent up emotions exploding.

Time for a “talking stick”, a tool that indicates the speaker, with the rule that no one else speaks at the same time, until the talking stick is passed on to the center or to someone who has raised a hand for receipt. The din becomes listening time. Tempers still simmer but everyone can catch their breath. Unless of course, someone throws the stick.

Why do these eruptions occur? A couple of basic and significant factors need to be examined: fear and expectations. (1) What are you afraid of? (2) What are your expectations?

Most people are, on some level, afraid of death. Either their own, or of someone close to them, of a relationship, a job, or some other form of security. Often the only way to learn your way through such an event is to experience it. Finding out that you can survive it, as they say, for better or worse, is crucial to a healing process. The chances are very high that you will survive it. The better or worse part depends on you and how you look at life.

Then the questions are: how did you survive it? What did you do? How did you prove to yourself and others that you can survive a crisis? How do you show that you can move on from a crisis?

Most recently for me it was a sudden loss of water. Standing in the shower, suds-ed up, conditioner on my hair, and then no water. No gradual tapering, no warning, just no water. Fortunately, I keep a large jug of water beside the toilet for when the electricity fails. In a rural area, if electricity fails, there is no water and no heat. Electricity starts the well pump; electricity sparks the furnace. You need to know how to cope.

A week later, there was a loss of heat. 16ºF outside, and no heat. The furnace went on furlough. Fortunately, there is a reset button which flashes red when it needs attention. But you need to know what to do.

It’s the same with other types of crises. You need to know what to do.

The first step is to take a deep breath; then breathe steadily, in and out, focusing on your breath and nothing else. Acknowledge any intrusive thoughts and let them drift away. Go back to focusing on your breath. In. and. Out.

The crisis may, however, be the result of built up emotions rather than the loss of physical comforts. You can’t fix it by repairing the part. Or can you?

The part that needs repair is your psyche. That’s where the questions come in – what are you afraid of, and what are your expectations?

Disappointment is almost always a result of expectations that were not met. You expect someone to behave in a certain way, or supply certain comforts or conditions, and that doesn’t happen. Are your expectations realistic?

What is important is how you respond to disappointment. Look for a pattern to your responses over time. Do you yell and carry on like a mad rabbit/rabid raccoon? Or do you stop and breathe, step back and assess where the underlying difficulty is?

If you are young or caught up in intricate emotional territory, you might feel trapped. When you feel trapped, what do you do? The usual response is fight or flight. Fight is where a crisis can escalate, particularly if there are other people involved. Flight gives you space, even if only temporarily, space to decide what the best next step is for you.

Words are tools. In a crisis, words take on a life of their own. As humans, we tend to remember the criticism and harsh words. Statistically, it takes a lot of positives to right a negative. The negatives tend to stay with us a long time, unless we choose a different response. The adage “sticks and stones may hurt my bones but words will never hurt me” is wrong. Just wrong.

Moral? Choose your words carefully. When you go into fight mode, choose words you are not going to regret later. Amen.

A tactic I’ve found useful when someone flies into a rant, is simply to watch. Not say a word, just watch. Let the rant run its course. Without fuel from you, eventually it will slow down. There are a couple of exceptions found in pathological conditions but in general, the rant will die down when you don’t fight back. Just watch.

If you are seasoned enough, this is what you do: you stop and assess; you breathe.

There will be crises in life. Learn how to deal with them.

Choose your responses.



See Finding The Tiger, A Coming of Age, pp. 46 & 48.

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Turkey Alert!

Months ago, a neighbor called to ask if I might take some photo’s of wild baby turkeys (turkettes?) who had wandered off a neighboring farm and into their back yard. My timing wasn’t right at that time – no success.

Eventually, the turkey family made its way onto their porch and then moved on through the neighborhood, and finally, they came to my house for a visit.

Afternoon tea on the back terrace:


Thereafter, they have been seen on the roads and visiting other yards.


My cousin decided this sign was appropriate. The neighbors agreed.


And apparently turkeys can read. Not that they need a sign…


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