For Everything there is a Season…

I usually do any deep reflecting at the end of the year, after Christmas and right around the New Year’s celebrations.   That is when I think of the past year and ponder what the new year will bring.  That is the way I have done it for years and years (and if I was truthful, I would add another ‘and years’ to that statement).

So, it has been unusual for me to begin to reflect this early in the year.  This time of year is when I complain about the heat and the mosquitoes, if nothing else, I am a creature of habit. Specific things for specific times.

I have a great-niece (actually, I have six nieces that are great) but this is actually a great-niece as in my niece’s daughter,  hopefully that made sense.  She is a wonderful young woman, (as is her sister), and she recently graduated from high school.  Her Facebook posts reflect those of a recent graduate.  They are filled with emotion and excitement, determination, anticipation and mixed in with all of that, is a measure of uncertainty and if I am being truthful, fear.    This is an exciting time for her.  Her whole life is before her.  A vast hallway filled with open doors and adventures.  She is standing in the doorway, ready to embark on the rest of her life.

Yesterday hubby and I were having a conversation with some friends.  We were talking about our age and how quickly we came to the point we are.  We talked how we felt on the inside versus how we ‘looked’ on the outside.  It’s a conversation I have had several times in the past few years.  In fact, I find myself saying the same things while having these conversations.

This morning I woke up in a pondering mood.  I lay in bed as I thought of my life.  I really could see many opportunities that I passed on.  I realized that my vast hallway filled with open doors had many doors still open or halfway closed, all covered in cobwebs for not being used.  I wondered if I regretted not exploring them.  As I dressed for the day listening to my creaking joints and looking at my gray hair, it occurred to me that, yes, I am as old as I look, no matter how young I may think I am.

I know these were deep thoughts for a Monday morning, but, when my mind starts a journey of thought, I determine that I will see it through, with or without my first cup of coffee.

A couple of songs went through my mind.  The first, by the Byrd’s , “Turn, Turn, Turn”  and then just a snippet of Frank Sinatra’s classic, “I did it my way”  But, for the latter, the only phrase that stuck in my mind was “regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”.

There were two things I took away from my morning musing which, obviously I am going to share with you.   The first, I did not explore all that was available to me, but, I would not travel back down that vast hallway just to see what I missed.

Secondly, each part of our life is a new season.  Each part of our life finds us at the doorway of a hallway.  That hallway may not be as long as what it was when we were freshly out of school, but, nevertheless, it is a hallway filled with open doors.  We each have new things to discover and explore.  New adventures await.  So, by this afternoon, this white-haired, creaky lady, who still feels like she is eighteen, albeit a very slow-moving eighteen year old is about to take a step from the doorway into her hall.

I also leave you with a quote from Ecclesiastes, which is where the song mentioned above came from.  This is Ecclesiastes 3:11-13 from the New Living Translation.   It sort of sums up how I am feeling on this Monday afternoon.   11 Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. 12 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. 13 And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

Thank you for stopping by today, hope you are having a good day.   Cathi (DAF)

 

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I Blame It On the Food Network…

I am married to a visionary.  He can see things and implement them, and I stand amazed at what he can do.  When we moved three years ago he mentioned that he wanted to start a community garden.  I dismissed that.  He mentioned it several more times, each time I would think, “he can’t actually be serious”.  He was.

The garden was started in March, and he is doing the garden in a unique way, but that is another story for another time.  We had a month of rain and through a series of  uncontrollable things, our garden got overtaken by weeds, lots and lots of weeds.  But, we were not discouraged, hubby and I along with another dear couple have worked hard at combating these prolific green monsters.  We have spent evenings swatting mosquitoes, no see-ums, and black flies while sweating in the humidity.  It has not been pretty, and I confess neither has my attitude.

Last Thursday I felt bad for my attitude and for my hubby.  I decided to fix a nice meal for him to treat him.  I made a cake for dessert, made a couple of salads and then, following the idea of a cooking show, I made pork chops.  We love those cooking shows, they have such wonderful ideas and make you hungry while sitting watching them and munching on anything edible while doing so.

I coated the pork chops with seasonings and then I browned them in my fancy Emeril cookware.  I carefully covered the pan with foil and put the pan in the oven so they would continue to cook.  When they were done, I carefully pulled out the pan and plated my hubby’s plate.  I was so excited for this meal!  Next, without giving it a second thought, I grabbed hold of the handle of the pan, without a pot-holder and quickly seared my hand.  It only took a few seconds to realize something was amiss!

My hand was a mess, to say the least.  Several blisters and yes, I do blame the Food Network, if I wasn’t inspired by them, we would have had plain old tough pork chops and my hand would still have all its calloused skin on it!

Actually, I should thank them also, for I got out of weed patrol for the next few days!  Thanks for stopping by!  I appreciate you.   Cathi (DAF)

Grammy’s purse…

My daughter is married to a Navy man, which makes our Little Miss a Navy brat.  A couple of weeks ago my daughter and son-in-law had a weekend military commitment, and hubby and I went to Florida to watch our Little Miss for them.

We arrived on a Wednesday and spent the next couple of days in a resort condo that belongs to a friend of theirs.  We loved the view of the Gulf of Mexico, the white sand, the boardwalk, and most of all, we loved being with our kids.  IMG_1914IMG_1911.JPG

Each time we went to eat, Little Miss would gravitate to my purse.  She would start with the line,”I really like your purse Grammy.”  It is a bright pink wristlet bag that is small but somehow holds a lot!  Little Miss would hold on to my bag, and then shake it.  Of course she would hear the mints inside.

My purse is a treasure trove for a three-year old girl.   Inside is a container of mints, some cute sticky notes, pens, and lips losps (lip gloss).  What more could a girl ask for?  Each meal the purse would come out, the contents rummaged through, mints eaten and lip gloss applied.  The sticky notes and pen entertained her for at least a minute, it was just pure heaven for her.

Friday of that week, we took Little Miss back to her house for the weekend, while Mom and Dad stayed at the resort for their event.  We got to the house, unloaded the car, unloaded Little Miss and got settled in.  A few minutes after getting to the house, Little Miss went down for her nap and Grammy decided it was time to head to the store to pick up a few things.

I am very particular in where I put my purse since it has all my id’s and cards, and basically my life.  I grabbed the keys, the shopping list and went to grab my purse.  It was nowhere in sight.  I looked in the car, nothing.  I looked in the laundry room, nothing.  Looked in our room, again, nothing.  I retraced my steps several times.  I asked hubby if he had seen it.  He told me he brought it in and where he put it.  It wasn’t there.  I questioned him over and over, doubting more each time and putting a sudden onset of dementia on him, thinking he just didn’t remember right.

I gave up and just headed to the store, praying that I would not get in an accident or pulled over with no license on my person.  I have never (up to this point in my life) lost a wallet or purse.  I was sick at the thought of having to replace cards and identification.

I made it home without meeting any of the local law enforcement and decided to pull a Scarlett O’Hara, putting my hand to my forehead and saying, “I will think about that tomorrow.”   Replacing the wallet was going to take a back seat to preparing dinner, although I was truly sick thinking about the lost purse.

After putting groceries away, I started to fix dinner, wanting to get it done while Little Miss was sleeping.   I went to get a pan out and there sitting on top of the pans was my pink purse.  Hubby had said that he had placed my purse on the kitchen counter and sure enough he had, within an arm’s reach of a certain three-year old who decided to put the purse up for safe keeping.    I stared at the purse perched on top of the pans and just started to laugh.  Never would I have thought to look there, but, it was there for safe keeping.  I picked up the purse and put it up, out of the reach of a certain Little Miss.   It was a wonderful time and I haven’t laughed that much in a while.IMG_1950

Thanks for stopping by,  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

Kindred Spirits…

Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.   

I Samuel 18:1 NKJV (New King James Version)

In life we all have our best friends, our long time friends, our fair weathered friends.  But, if we are truly lucky or blessed, we have a kindred spirit.  These are those friends we meet unexpectedly and bond immediately.

I have a picture of my kindred spirit.   She is sitting on a chair in her living room in Nagai Housing area in Japan.  She is in her flannel nightgown and one hand has a telephone receiver up to her ear and with the other hand, she is talking.  I look at the picture and am immediately transported back in time when I took this.  It captured Debbie.  Expressive, bubbly, full of life.

I can’t remember where we met; it must have been at the chapel in the housing area.  All I know is that we clicked in a way I never had before.  Time did not matter; it was like we had known each other all our lives.  The bond was instant.

We spent hours and hours and hours talking to one another.  I walked over to her house daily, after work, before work or instead of work.

We left Japan before they did.  When we said good-bye our husbands had to pull us apart as we did not want to leave each other.

We wrote for a while and then, as often happen, life got in the way and we lost track of one another.  I never forgot her.  My heart missed her.

Again, with the dawn of Facebook, we found one another.  We continued our conversations.  We didn’t start new, for we didn’t have to.  We caught up with each other.

Her life had not been easy; she is a cancer survivor, the wife of a dear man who has MS.  She works tirelessly for her family and grandchildren.  We are older, wiser, but, her zest for life is ever-present.  Her zeal for the Lord is still contagious.  She still talks with her hands, I haven’t seen it, but I can tell.

She is the David for my Jonathan’s heart.  David, for she loves the Lord and follows closely after Him.  She is musical as was David, and her words, like the Psalms bring comfort to me.

We don’t get to visit as often as we would like, but, when we do, we are still those young women who could raise the noise level in a room easily. (It is rumored that one of us once blew a whistle in a store to get someone to wait on us…  Of course the whistle was around Debbie’s neck.  Fortunately I was quick enough to blow the whistle and leave it hanging there so it did look like she had done it…)

Her friendship is a gift.  When I was homesick and feeling so alone in a foreign country, the Lord brought us together.  Knowing Debbie is like seeing that first daffodil of the season, it brings hope and brightness to a tired landscape.

Lord, may I be able to bring hope and brightness to someone today.

Thanks for stopping by today, Cathi (DAF)

“True friends are always together in spirit.“

Implementing an Idea…

For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to write.  I have always loved the idea of putting thoughts together to somehow have an impact on another’s life.  I don’t know if I have ever succeeded in doing so, but, as you know, it has not stopped me.

As we were leaving Japan to return to living in the states, I had an idea for a book.  Obviously, that has not happened.    The book was to be a devotional of the lessons I had learned from the people in my life.  I have tried a few times to start it and each time, I reread what I had written and either tore it up (before computers) and threw it away, or, I have hit the delete button and it disappeared.

After my last post, I realized that lately I have had a theme in several of my posts that talk about people in my life and what they have meant to me.  I have suggested that you tell those you love, or who are in your life how important they are to you.    As I finished my last post, it occurred to me that this might be the time for me to at least blog about the lessons and truths I have learned along the way with those precious people who have been in my life.  So, I am going to begin sharing some things from people who have been placed in my life.  This will be my (hopefully) gift to those close to me.

So, my blog will be my observations, lessons, and love I have gathered along the way.  Life is fleeting, and I want to take the time to share my love.  That is, of course, unless something really exciting happens and I have to write about that!

Thanks for stopping by today, I appreciate your visit.  Cathi (DAF)

Just Thinking…

Each year at this time I begin to remember and think of what I was doing and where I was.  Each year I add another number to the count of the years.  Each year I wonder where the time has gone.  Tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s birthday.  I don’t mind my own birthday, but, hers gets to me yearly.

Yes, I have two daughters, but until recently the only birthday that bothered me was my oldest daughter’s birthday.  Now, that her sister has made it to her mid-thirties, I begin to feel older in September also.

I can remember talking to my Dad on my birthday.  He would ask, “How old are you now?”  I always thought that was a bizarre question, I  mean, how could you not remember how old your child was?  I am beginning to think it was self-preservation that he asked that question.  I think he was most likely hoping I would give a lower number, which I never did, because, as I mentioned previously, my birthday never seems to really bother me. So, I would proudly announce my age and his response is one that I have become very familiar with, “How did you get to be that old and I really don’t think I am old enough to have a daughter your age.”   I guess with age comes wisdom.  I feel that same way.

Today as I was going through my Facebook page, I started to read the responses on a friend’s post.  As usual there was a secondary conversation that was between my friend and a friend of hers that I do not know.  The conversation went like this, (friend 1) “How is your Mom?”   (friend I don’t know) “She is good.  64 now and healthy.”

I swallowed hard.  This comment made it sound like at 64 the woman should be in a home for the infirm and aged.  This, on top of my oldest approaching what could be a milestone year as she hits a big year next year (sorry Sweetie), made me start to look for my walker, a cane or my bed pan.  Or all three of them.

It truly is amazing that I have my facilities to actually write this out and think coherently.  Age, in wine, cheese and Sean Connery it is a wonderful and delightful thing, each year making it better than before.

So, I will continue to think on this.  This business with age, and numbers and gray hair and arthritic hands.  This business of growing older.

I close with this quote I found.  
Never use the passing years as an excuse for old age. ~Robert Brault

Thanks for stopping by today.  I appreciate your visit.  Oh, and to my dear daughter, Thank you for the years of laughter and tears and worry and joy.  May #%* be the best year yet for you!  Cathi (DAF)

 

 

Weeding…

When we bought our first home there was no landscaping in place except for a small patch of grass in the front yard with a lone star-pine tree planted there.  I loved the star pine, Hubby did not.  It did not last long in the front yard and eventually the landscaping never truly took hold.  It was a thorn in my side the entire time we lived there.

When we were looking for our new home, landscaping was a must for me.  I wanted landscaping in place and that was one of my must have’s.

We found our home and yes, it was landscaped.  We found our home almost three years ago next month.  The front yard was covered in leaves, but, underneath you could see spring appearing in the form of daffodils, irises, crocuses, and hyacinths.  I was thrilled!  In the back yard in back of the pool was a large area garden.  It was overgrown, but, I was certain it would be an easy fix.  Ahhh… the dreams of a potential homeowner!

That garden has been the bane of my existence since we moved in.  The first summer I did nothing to it.  It was fascinating to see what bloomed and where.  During the winter I cut back some things and discovered things that had been hidden.  A rose-bush, some ground cover, a few trees.    But, I never quite got complete control of the area.

This month I went into the yard.  Garden gloves on my hands.  Loppers and clippers were my weapons of choice.  I made the decision, anything higher than 18 inches was gone.  I know.  I know I have just made gardeners cringe.  I have just made gardeners gasp in horror.  I attacked this area.  No more ‘Mr. Nice Guy’.  I started at the edge and worked my way into it, tackling sections at a time.  I am still not done.  There are still some things that are as tall as me standing.  But, not for long.

I pulled things up from their roots.  I have tossed them into a big pile of debris.  I have cut back trees, hoping some will return stronger and not caring if others ever show themselves again.  I am determined to see what exactly is in that garden.  To start at the bottom and see what survives and what can be transplanted.

It has been therapeutic for me.  I am seeing something accomplished.  I am seeing what lays beyond the glancing eye.    I am digging down and pulling out the dead stuff, the weeds that have taken hold and died and covered the fragile green things underneath.

Yes, I have found a spiritual lesson in this all.  How often have I allowed dead things to cover me up?  How many times have I left things blocking my new growth?  How many times have I allowed things in my life to be smothered by things that are decaying?

Yes, I do know that this is still January and some of what I am uncovering is going to be exposed to the cold of the rest of winter, but some of this needs to be exposed, to get the light, to get the air and get the chance to breathe.   Myself included.

I am always amazed by this time of year.  It is still winter, but there are signs of spring.  Tiny green shoots.  Soft green leaves.   An image of hope that contrasts the bare trees and the dormant grass of the yards.

Being outside, working, pulling things both in the garden and in my body, I am filled (not only with aching muscles) with hope.  For each year spring comes.  It comes for me also.  New growth.  New hope.  New adventures.

Thanks for stopping by today.  Hope your day is filled with a hint of spring.   Cathi (DAF)

 

 

 

Snow…

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Yesterday we woke up to this.  Beautiful, isn’t it?  I love snow.  I smile when I see snow.  I turn into that child that wants to run outside all bundled up and play.  We had heard we may get snow, but, we have heard that a couple of times this winter.  Each time has been a disappointment to hubby and I.   We read accuweather and saw that the snow was supposed to come at 3:00 a.m.  We actually stayed up until 3:30 a.m. hoping to at least see some flurries.  Every few minutes one of us would go out to the front porch and look.  Each time one of us would report that although we could smell the coming of snow, it was not snowing.

Finally, saner minds took control and we went to bed, knowing that we would be disappointed once more, but resigning ourselves to the fact that we once again, may not have snow.

You can only imagine our excitement to wake up and see our beautiful property covered in glorious snow yesterday.   We watched as the snow kept falling throughout the morning.  We had a late breakfast and went out to explore our property.  We walked through our woods, loving each snow covered branch, each tree laden down with the weight of the snow.  We were out until our feet were cold and our hands cold.  It was a day I will always remember.

Snow is important to me.  It is part of who I am.  I know that sounds strange, but there is a part of me that comes alive in snow.  I don’t tire of it.  It is a part of my childhood and it is a part of our young married life living in Maine.  It makes my heart glad.

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Snow especially means a lot to me on this day.  Forty three years ago today, I woke up to a blinding snow storm.  I gasped as I looked out the window.  I wasn’t expecting snow on that day, it hadn’t really crossed my mind.  But, there it was and still falling.  I got dressed, curled my hair, put on my make up and then posed with my family for my wedding pictures.

It was a day I will always remember, as you do whenever you get married.  But, this day had so many unexpected laughs and memories that I hold dear.  So, as I look out our back windows today at the snow covered woods behind our home, I remember seeing my dashing young groom come sliding into a parking place in front of the church, bounding over the snow drifts and heading into the church.

I will remember my forever friend’s father making snow balls and throwing them at us as we were getting our pictures taken inside the church.  I will remember walking through knee deep snow in the parking lot of our reception hall and being caught by my groom as I went sliding into the hall almost losing my balance.  I will always remember the look on my Aunt Dot’s face when she saw me almost fall.    I will remember the band walking in late for the reception since they were in three snow related accidents trying to get to the reception.  None of those memories would have happened had there not been snow.  So, yes, I do love snow as it makes the best memories to hold.

Outside of living in Maine some thirty nine years ago, we have not had snow on our anniversary.  It was a special gift to me this year.  One that I will always remember.  Happy Anniversary to my dear hubby.  I may not have written anything lovely on Facebook today, but, this is for you.  It has been an adventure, hasn’t it?  IMG_1869

Thanks for stopping by today.  Cathi (DAF)

Looking Back…

In November, I had great plans for writing about our Thanksgiving visit with Little Man and his folks.  I took pictures and I may still use them and write about them, but, somehow, time flew by and nothing was written.

I had a wonderful holiday season.  I was so busy making memories that I did not take time to write about them.  I would not change a thing.  Sometimes it is so much more important to live in the moment and catalog each giggle, each smile, each sigh in your heart than to think of how to express those deep feelings with words.

We spent Thanksgiving with Little Man, like I mentioned.  We stayed with some dear friends and we celebrated Hubby’s birthday all in the same week.  It was a week filled with hugs, kisses, old movies, mini golf, lots of food and the comfort of being with friends who are family and family .  It couldn’t have been better.

We drove home from Thanksgiving and I dove into decorating.  I took my time and I have to say that this year’s decorations were surprisingly beautiful.  My ideas of what I would like to see actually worked!  I was amazed.

We had a couple of parties at the house and the house echoed with laughter and conversations and of course, there was plenty of food.

Christmas saw Little Man and his family here.  From the greeting with my obnoxious ugly Christmas sweater (which Little Man loved) to the tearful parting and good-bye the day after Christmas, our home and hearts were filled to the brim.  Laughter rang out and there was music and old movies and new movies, legos, games, puzzles and old stories filling our home.  These all outshined the decorations.  When your home is filled with loved ones they are the perfect decoration and make the gifts and ribbons and bows pale in comparison.

Shortly after Christmas, Hubby and I traveled to Florida to see Little Miss and her folks.  We spent ten glorious days with them.  Again, the time spent with them was time that we will cherish.  Seeing Little Miss be herself, complete with singing, dancing around, playing with her dolls and her legos, made our hearts glad.  She is full of life and she reminds us how fun it is to be three…  we laughed for ten days straight.

Looking back on this holiday season fills me with such a peace.  I was hugged and kissed by two of the most important people in my life.  Their obvious love for hubby and I melt our hearts.  Being hugged by sometimes sticky hands is the absolute best feeling in the world.  I was spoiled this year with gifts, but the two gifts I cherish most are my grandchildren.  Their smiles, their laughter, their stories, they are the things that make anytime special.

So, Happy New Year!  I hope 2018 holds the best for you all.  My year ended and started in the best possible way,  I look forward to the coming months.

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

Dredging up the past…

Today was a fall day.  The sky was bright blue, but the air was crisp and there was just a general feeling of needing to be wrapped up in something comfy and staying on the couch all day long.

But, that was not the plan for today.  Instead, hubby and I drove an hour and half to Columbia to visit the VA hospital for an appointment of his.

The morning started out wonderfully, we loved our drive down and spent the time munching on some fruit and sipping our coffee and tea and chatting about upcoming events.

And then…  we arrived at the VA.  We were an hour early and were thrilled, hoping we could get in sooner and leave sooner.  We drove into the facility and immediately stopped, vehicles everywhere.  We entered the first parking lot and immediately I was transported back in time.  The years were 1982- 1985….  The time was the same, fall, bright blue skies and a nip in the air.  The kind of cool that cuts through your sweater and settles into your bones.  It only comes in sharp gusts and takes you by surprise each time it happens.   During that time frame I was a mother of two young children.  We were living in San Diego and I was in a parking lot like the one I was in today.  I circled the parking lot several times, praying each time I entered into a new row, ‘please let there be an open space!’.    None were ever available, and I would finally go into a pay parking area and fork out the $2.00 that was needed for my vehicle.    The parking lot would be a quarter to a half mile from my destination…  the pediatric care clinic of the Naval Hospital.   Pushing my car into park, I would then unload my girls and proceed to carry them, sometimes both of them at a time to the clinic.  I was usually exhausted by time I reached the clinic and it always made the bright days seem cloudy.

I haven’t thought of those times in years.  I haven’t had to, they were neatly tucked away in my stored memory file.   But, somehow, today, circling those parking lots, it all came flooding back to me.  And, in that moment I was feeling the same weight I felt all those years ago.

Again, hubby and I did not find a parking place.  A half hour after arriving, we finally found the overflow lot and proceeded to circle that lot, an unpaved, pot-hole strewn lot where a semi could get lost in a pot hole. Not one place was available.  Finally, we backed into a grassy area and parked our car.  We walked the quarter mile to the building we needed to be in while I tried my best not to find a place for my soap box which, unfortunately is always with me.

Why a soapbox?  I find it reprehensible that our veterans have to spend a half hour trying to find a place to park in order to been seen by their physicians.  These people who have pledged their allegiance to our country.  These people who have given their youth, their energy, their best cannot easily use the facilities that are there for them.

So, as we walked to the clinic, I mentioned that I knew there was a blog post in all of this.  I will now put away my soap box and sit and try to shove those memories back into storage.  Those memories make a part of me want to sit and cry.  Although so many of my memories of our time in the Navy are wonderful, there are some that just make me ache.   The feelings that were resurrected today are some of the worst.  Feeling helpless with sick children and knowing that the only way for them to be seen was to jump through the hoops that were present during that time.  After being seen we then had to go to pick up prescriptions, which, at that time meant sitting on a group of metal bleachers outside in the elements with your sick children while your prescription was filled.  That always added an hour to the ordeal.

Yes, I know things have greatly improved for military families, but, just one question remains for me… why can’t they pave a stupid parking lot for our veterans?

Thanks for reading my rant…  Cathi (DAF)