dearanonymousfriend

Ramblings from a would be writer

Land that I love…

I am a flag-waving patriot.  I have said this before and I will repeat it again.  I love my country.  I cry each time I hear the National Anthem.  I cry when I hear America the Beautiful, I cry at each patriotic song I hear.  I admit it freely.  And, I am looking forward to tomorrow.  Inauguration Day.  A day that happens every four years.  A celebration of what the Founding Fathers fought for, dreamed of, worked for.  It’s a great thing to celebrate.

Tonight as I was thinking of the inauguration, I remembered the first inauguration I can remember.  I was five, just about to turn six.  I was in first grade at St Joseph’s elementary school.   The date was January 20, 1961.   The first Roman Catholic president was going to take the oath of office.

It was a school day.  In January.  In northwestern Pennsylvania.  A snowy, cold day.  I took my lunch to school, so that normally meant you ate in the lunch room in the basement of the school and then you went out onto the ‘playground’ which was the church parking lot and you froze for the hour while the nuns went to the convent and had lunch.

January 20, 1961 was different though.  The nuns wanted to see the inauguration.  Somehow they managed to have the kids who brought their lunch go home with those who didn’t.  We had an extended lunch hour.  I got to go home with a girl who has ended up being one of my oldest and dearest friends.  I took my lunch pail to her house and, along with my dried sandwich, I had a bowl of hot soup.  What a treat for me.  I got to take off my shoes and sit down on something comfortable and be in a home.  I will never forget it.  I sat in the kitchen and her mom talked with us and gave us fresh cookies.

We moved into the sewing room where her grandmother stayed and we watched the president being sworn in.  I confess that the only thing I actually remember is watching a bunch of old people on the television talk.  The best thing about it all was the actual cocoa I was drinking in the middle of the day.

The soup, the cookies and the cocoa took precedence over the President asking us not what the country can do for us, but what we could do for the country.  (My interpretation).

So, tomorrow, I will watch our new president take the oath of office.  I will feel pride in my country.  I know countless others do not feel this way, and that grieves me.  I have spent time living overseas.  During those years I missed being home.  Yes, I was on a base under an American flag and I was supporting my husband as he served this country.  But, I was homesick for our country.  It is hard to put into words the longing I had for home while I was there.  Home is more than a shelter you live in.  Home is the country you are born in.  It is the familiarity of a nation.  Yes, I have disagreed with much in the past few years, but, I respect the office of the presidency.  It is an office that deserves respect regardless of who it is sitting behind that desk.  Our founding fathers fought for the right for people to disagree.  They fought for the right to have a peaceful transition of power.  So, tomorrow, I will celebrate the freedom we have.  The freedom to cry tears of joy and pride over a national anthem.  The freedom to feel pride at a new president.  The freedom to pray for the former president, pray for his continued safety and for his rest from his service.

It has been a year of struggle for our country.  I pray tomorrow the struggles will start to calm down.  There will always be differing views and some loud voices raised on both sides, but, for me, for tomorrow, I am choosing to rejoice in America.  Rejoice in the fact that we can experience tomorrow, the swearing-in, the transition, the protests.  It is all American.  May God bless this country and keep it safe.

~ Cathi (DAF)

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45 years ago…

Forty-five years ago today was the last day I was by myself.  The 17th of September, 1971, I went about my day.  Our teachers were on strike and I was at home most likely doing nothing, but reveling in the extended summer vacation the lower class-men at the high school had.  The seniors continued on in school with teachers who were not union members so they could keep college and military commitments when they graduated.

I was a junior in high school that year, so I was blissfully at home wondering when we would be able to go back to school.  We knew the longer we were out in September the longer we would be in in June.  It was a weird year of school for certain.

Forty-five years ago today I made plans with a friend to go to a dance the 18th.  We would meet and one of us would drive to the fire hall where we would dance and flirt and not really meet anyone, since we were the quiet girls and mostly went unnoticed by most everyone in school.

What I did not know that day was that the following day would change my life.  Literally.    The following day, the 18th of September, 1971, a couple of my guy friends would help the music teacher move some things into his summer cottage.  It took them most of the day and at the end of the day they were paid.

Later that afternoon on the 18th the phone would ring.  I would be getting ready for the dance.  The phone call would be for me.   Heading to answer the phone, my older sister would holler at me, “If it’s a guy and he asks you out… GO!”  It was a guy, he did ask me out, and I accepted.  I was scared of my older sister, and when she said jump, I would jump, hoping it was high enough. (Sorry, Dottie)

That night, forty-five years ago tomorrow, I went bowling with my hubby.  We bowled three games, I won one, he won two.  I confess by the third game I was a bit over bowling, but, what can you do when you are on a date?

Forty five years ago the 18th I had my last first kiss.  I was 16 years old.  I have been with my husband longer than I wasn’t.  We have grown up together, we have fought, we have made up, we have traveled the world, we have raised our family.  I really cannot believe it has been 45 years.

There are times when I look at him and still see that boy who asked me out.  That boy who spent his hard-earned money to take me bowling and put gas in his mother’s car.  We have always marked this day as a special day for us.  Tomorrow will actually be the first time in several years that we will be together on this day.  One of us has been traveling during this time recently.

So, happy anniversary of our first date, honey.  I would say, “here’s to the next 45”, but, I really don’t think we will be around when we are 107!

Thanks for stopping by, Cathi (DAF)

 

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Junctures…

The sun shines different ways in winter and summer. We shine different ways in the seasons of our lives. ~Terri Guillemets

In April of 2013 I wrote a post titled “One is Silver…”.   I have thought of this post several times the last week or so.    It was one of those posts that was on my heart when I wrote it and one I think of often.

In it, I talked about friends, old, new and those whom I had just met.   Seasons move on and it is always fascinating to me to see how things change over the years.

Having just reread this post I smile as I realize those friends who I knew were going to move into a different part of my life, have.    I cannot imagine my life without them now.  They are a part of the vein of my life that gives breath and laughter to me.

There were some who were in an autumn phase of friendship, and now I  look back and realize that those friendships were not cared for and sadly, they are dormant.  Sometimes too much time passes and it is hard to renew and start over.  I store the memories in my heart and pray for them, but there is a mixture of resignation, regret and acceptance that this is where we are as friends.

Other friends are slipping into different categories and it intrigues me to see the changes.  It is like I am standing at one of those car wash facilities where you stand at a window and see your car progress through the line.  You see what is happening with the car, but, you are helpless if you notice a window is opened a crack.  You can see the damage slip into the car, but there isn’t anything you can do until the car travels to the end and you can grab a towel to get it dried.

Some friendships are that car with the open window.  You can see the crack in the window and know that something is going to happen.  It is like it is out of your grasp, but there is nothing you can do to change it at the moment.

No, I have never left a window open in a car wash, but, I have imagined it often.  I use it as an analogy for the purpose of this essay on friends.    Sometimes that crack is there, you see it, but, it really isn’t doing anything, so nothing changes.

Other times that crack can let everything fly through and you end up with all this debris thrown about inside.

In thinking of this with friends, I realize that sometimes that debris is necessary.  Change is necessary.  Reevaluation is necessary.   Growth is different in each of us.  A tree’s branches do not grow the same length all together.  Each limb has its own unique character.    It is the same with people.  They are part of your heart, part of your life, but often times life itself, and circumstances and health all get intertwined and friendships suffer.

The good ones are renewed in time.  They come back stronger, fuller.   The joy is greater, the laughter is louder and the heart is more comforted by the other.

Thank you for reflecting with me on friendships.  I appreciate your visit here.

 When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares. ~Henri Nouwen

I will continue to think on my friendships.  I strive to be a true  friend,  for we need true friends in this world that is harsh and unfair and at times, unlovely.  So, to my friends, those silver, those gold, those who have a patina and those who are a bit rusty, know that my heart carries you with me.  You have helped to shape me into who I am and for that, I am grateful.  As the season of autumn approaches, know that I am here.  A little bare of leaves, as it were, and a little exposed, but rooted down in the bonds that tie us together.  Thank you for being you.  Cathi (DAF)

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Thinking on Disappointment…

I have been battling disappointment.  Someone has let me down and it has blindsided me so completely I have not been able to wrap my mind around it.

The truth is, that it isn’t the first time I have experienced disappointment from this person.  But, I usually can just look at the situation and get over it.  For some reason, this time is different.

I try my best to not be a disappointment.  My daughters have always told me that the worst thing I could ever say to them is that I was disappointed.  Although I have said it to them at times, they could never disappoint me.  The joy and life they bring to my heart is a constant source of peace to me.

That is one reason why I have struggled with this.  This evening after dinner hubby and I were talking about things on our hearts and mind.  I started to verbalize, for the first time in weeks what I was struggling with.  He listened intently and gave me wise counsel, which I have mulled over in my mind.

So, since this is the place where I am honest with myself, I decided to write about it.    I am not looking for a resolution, but, I needed to write this out.  Mostly for me to see and know that this nagging feeling that has been pricking my heart has a name and a reason.    It is disappointment.

A quote I found sums it up for me: “Nothing hurts more than being disappointed by the person you thought would never hurt you.”    I found this on Iliketoquote.com.

DAF

 

 

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I’m More Interesting on my Blog…

Today I have received two surprises via mail and delivery.  The first was the mail.  I received a card from a friend.  It’s always fun to get mail, especially when it is just because.  There were no birthdays or anniversaries for me and there it was, sitting in my mailbox, a red envelope with my name on it.  I was thrilled!

Inside was a wonderful card…  it had the word blog all over the front of it and at first that is all I saw.  I was outside in the sun and the lettering is shiny.   I then focused on the colored lettering and saw the phrase, I’m more interesting on my blog.  I just started laughing.  This friend knows me well, I thought…

But, she did not mean that, she wrote an encouraging letter inside the card.  The card, she said, reminded her of me.  She then went on to tell me that she enjoys my blog and that she is glad I started writing it.  I felt humbled.   Humbled, because the last couple of days I have questioned if I should continue writing,  and if anything I wrote really made a difference in the greater scheme of things.

I love to write.  I always have.  I laughed when I read the card, well, because, I AM more interesting on my blog!   My confidence level when I write is strong.  I can express myself better when I write.  I look at things and learn more about myself when I write.

In person, well, I tend to be quiet.  Unless of course, I feel extremely comfortable around you, or I have known you my entire life, or you are related to me.  Large crowds creep me out, although I would love to speak to groups of women.  I do well with one on one conversations.  I do not ask questions.  I am trying to change that.  But, on a whole, I am a bit of a boring conversationalist.

I am an  introvert.  I have said this before and I know I will repeat myself.  Saying this and repeating this is a self-defense for introverts.  It somehow allows us the excuse to not say much and not join in.  I am married to an extrovert.   Through the years we have gone to parties and he mingles and goes from conversation to conversation.  I stand there, making small talk.  Nice dress.  Pretty place.  Weather has been good, bad, rainy, hot…  (depends on the time of the year).   That is when I see people’s eyes glaze over and they make an excuse to go get a drink, even though theirs is full.  I don’t get hurt by that, I understand.  Get me one too!

Countless evenings have been spent in agony.  Of course, in my mind, I am making all sorts of conversations, but, they never seem to come out audibly.    Yes, I am more interesting on my blog! 

The other gift today was from a friend who sent me a Bible study book.  It looks fascinating and I cannot wait to start it.  She had gone to a retreat recently and heard this author speak.  She said she had reminded her of me.    Opening the book and seeing the detail and the depth this study goes into, I wondered how this author ever reminded her of me.  I read the author’s biography and again I wondered.   I looked at the author’s picture and it looked like how I wore my hair the last time I saw this friend, so maybe that was it.

Again, I thought,  I am more interesting on my blog.    Maybe that is the key though.  As my friend wrote in the card, she gets to see more of me in my writing.  She said she sees the inside me.

Maybe that’s what this blog is for me…  A place to allow myself to be me.  Maybe that is why  I am more interesting on my blog!

Thanks for stopping by today.  I do appreciate you.  Cathi (DAF)

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Grateful…

Yesterday I was in a funk.  Big funk.  I was tired and weary.  I spent most of the day chiding myself for feeling that way and yet, I could not get out of it.

Finally, late last night I went to my blog.  I figured that I could possibly write, but knew that if I attempted anything , it would come out wrong.

I have a dear friend who, when we are in that frame of mind, say to one another, “Step away from the computer”.   We have both, on several occasions go online and written something that we regret as soon as we hit the enter key.  I did not want to make that mistake yesterday.

The next best thing is to read.  So, I went to my reader section on my blog and got caught up with others in the blogging community.

I am grateful for being able to read other blogs.  It does help me.  I read blogs from all over and it gives me a glimpse into lives of others.  Soon, the focus goes off of me and onto others.  That is a good thing.

This morning I have had the pleasure to chat with two of the bloggers I read.  One is in London and the other New York City.  These women bless me so very much, and I am grateful for them.  They encourage me to break out of my funk just by their words and their conversations.

It does help to refocus your thoughts.  I can have a tendency to withdraw and just keep myself alone.  We are people who need to be with other people, we need to touch lives and allow ourselves to be touched.

What helps you to get out of funk?  I would love to hear from you.  Thanks for stopping by.  Cathi (DAF)

 

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What I did over my summer vacation…

School is starting up again.  Some of the kids returned to school this past week, some will go back on Monday.  The schools in the area have been busy with lawns being mowed and more cars in the parking lots and signs signaling the beginning of the school year.  I know that in several of those classrooms there will be an assignment for the students to write about what they did over their summer vacation.

With this in mind, I have decided to  write about my summer vacation(?).    This summer did not turn out the way I had imagined it.  But, that is okay.

It’s not so much what I did over the summer that I am thinking about, it is what I learned over the summer.

I have learned that hoses do leak.  Sometimes they erupt sending a deluge of water all over.  I have learned not to wear my glasses when working on hoses because I end up not only being drenched, but also not being able to see since my glasses are dripping water and not providing me a way to see which way to go dripping wet.

I have learned that maintaining a pool is a daily thing.  I was so used to seeing hubby out there doing ‘something’ and me getting changed to go into the pool and lounge.  I have learned that the lounging only comes after the cleaning, backwashing, checking the chemical levels, adding what is needed, straining the basket in the filter (my least favorite part) and trying not to squeal like a girl when I see dead toads in the filter, bloated and looking up at me…  Ewww….

I have learned that wasps are mean.  I don’t react well to bee stings.  But, it has been years since I have been stung.  I forgot how they feel.  I forgot how they itch and itch and swell.  I forgot that the swelling stays for weeks, not days for me.  Stupid wasps.  They tricked me into a false sense of security and feeling victorious trimming bushes, except that last one… it is still wild and going off in all directions.

I also realized that even though my body aches and my legs ache and my back is rebelling, that things can get done.  I have found that either praying or listening to hubby with his armchair quarterback instructions that things can be done.  Also, there are those times when I scream aloud at myself and even let loose with a few words that don’t necessarily edify anyone or anything, that helps too.

Yes, I have learned much this summer.  Some things I thought I already knew, but sometimes you need a refresher course.  Neighbors help and turn into friends.  I knew this, but, I was reminded in so many ways of this during the past few weeks.

I have had people tell me to not do so much.  To let things slide a bit.  I considered what they meant, but in the end, chose not to listen.  This spring hubby did a lot of preparation for the summer.  He worked hard and had plans.  I could not, and decided would not, let his plans be ruined.

Did I do the gardening exactly like him?  NO.  I know under his care the garden would have produced so much more.  But, we did get some nice cucumbers and tomatoes and squash.  He had fresh beans for lunch and we had some rhubarb pie.  I look at the garden and sigh most days.  This is the one area where I feel like I could not do everything.  I have watered, and fed the garden, but, alas, it was not a huge success.  I know that although I love the produce, I think I am better suited to roses.

Did I  get all his plans done?  No, I didn’t.  But, I tried.  I tried because it was important to me for him to at least know that some things were getting done.

The biggest lesson learned?  I still don’t know.  I am sure that this time next year I can look back and see the end results of this summer, but, it’s still not done.  The light is at the end of the tunnel.  He is up and walking, but, with only being able to bend his leg 30 degrees, we have a way to go.

This, I do know, though, I love my husband.  I may not be Florence Nightingale, but I try.  I  try because he deserves this.  It was not his choice to sit all summer long, but, it happened.  There is a reason for it all.  So, although I have cracked jokes about it, I am so thankful that I could be here for him.

What are some of the lessons you learned over the summer?  I would love to hear them.  DAF (Cathi)

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Taking a Trip Back in Time…

We transferred back to the states in spring of 1979 from Japan.  We had lived there three years and it was one of the best places we had lived.  We met friends, we started our family, we became Christians there, and we grew up there.  I call those years my ‘college years’ as I never went to college and I spent the years in Japan at the age where I could have been studying in school.

We moved to Maine in early June of 1979.  Hubby worked sixty miles from where we lived.  He got up early (and I did too),  and after cleaning the house and doing chores, I felt lonely.  I knew people, but, it was early in our tour there so I had not discovered the joy these ‘new’ people would bring to my life.

One morning I was moping around the house missing my friends from Japan.  I was lonely and miserable and was crying off and on.  I was in the United States, people spoke my language, but I felt out-of-place.  I wanted to go back to Japan.

That morning, as I cried and prayed, I felt like I learned a lesson from God.  It was like He showed me a scrapbook.  This scrapbook was filled with pictures and mementos.  The lesson learned was this, the people and experiences I had in Japan would always live in my heart and mind.  They were like a scrapbook I could open.  I could remember and enjoy the memories, but, I could not live there, I needed to focus on the present and where I was.

From that time on, I have often thought of that lesson.  I have tried to live my life, focused on the present.

Today I have opened that scrapbook often.  My sister posted a picture of the first house she lived in after getting married.  It was the home where she started her family.  I looked at the picture and thought of the laughter we had when we visited there.  I remembered my oldest daughter taking her afternoon nap on the hammock that used to hang on the front porch.  I smiled and thought of several other memories of that time.  She had found the picture of the house on the web and that got me thinking of finding some of the places we have lived.

My first thought was to go to Japan.  I ended up finding a blog with pictures of the area we lived in Japan, Nagai, or Admiralty Heights.  It was wonderful!  Immediately, I was transported back in time.  Seeing the wide roads in the housing area that were actually airstrips for the Japanese airforce  in World War II.  We could see Mt. Fuji from our living room windows and our bedroom window.  That was our view each day, seeing the sun rise and the sun set with that magnificent mountain always in view.  Seeing the pictures brought back the memories of the people there.  Thanks to Facebook, we have been able to be in touch with one another again.

Finally, I realized that a year ago today we moved our furniture into this house.  I posted that picture and then said, I never want to move again.

As I thought about that, I chided myself, for being so adamant.  We do not know what the future holds and saying things so definitive puts a box around your life.  If I had not had a spirit of adventure 41 years ago, my life would have been so different.  I could not have written anything in this post.  For, my world view would have been vastly opposite of what it is now.  Each of our lives is an adventure and journey.   We all have scrapbooks in our minds filled with moments that our memories are made of.  The adhesive may be yellowing and lifting off of photos that are fading, but those memories are still clinging there.

I have been so blessed in this life.  Starting out from a small town in Northwestern Pennsylvania, I have traveled and met some incredible people along the way.  I have smelled things I could never had imagined.  I have seen sights I didn’t know existed.  I have been so blessed.

There is a quote from the movie Hook that is a conversation between the old Wendy and Peter that goes like this:

Granny Wendy: So… your adventures are over.

Peter Banning: Oh, no. To live… to live would be an awfully big adventure.

I have had an awfully big adventure and I am waiting to see what is next…  Thanks for stopping by today,  DAF (Cathi)

 

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Uncovering…

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The front yard before moving in

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The driveway

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Another front yard view

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Our gazebo in the front yard

I have not shared pictures of our home.  I had wanted to wait until it was completed and looked like a spread in a home and garden magazine.  I don’t think that will happen in the near future.

Everyone talks about the joys of home ownership and most of the time it is talked about sarcastically.  I confess, I have done that also.  This home, though, has made me smile.  Each morning I awake, open the drapes and smile when I look outside.  Yes, there is so much to do.  But, it is our home, and for the first time in our marriage, I feel like we are home.  We are no longer in transit.  We are no longer temporary, we are putting down roots and being planted here.

As you can tell from the pictures, there were lots and lots of leaves when we moved in.  We got to some of them last summer, but, we did not make a dent.  Then, autumn came and all those leaves were doubled.  It was beautiful, amazing and daunting all at once.  We joked with one another that raking would be our retirement entertainment.

This spring, we have started once more to uncover.  We uncovered a bit of the front yard by the driveway and discovered  three azalea bushes.  They were small and totally overwhelmed by the leaves.  We were thrilled at the discovery and wanted to see what else was here.

About a month ago, some dear friends came down from Pennsylvania to visit.  She brought me some plants from her gardens and together we planted flowers from home along with some dirt from our hometown.  I welcomed each plant and was thrilled to have combined our past with our future in these little plantings.  They have taken off growing and thriving, reminding me that we do bloom when we are planted where we are supposed to be.

We planted the plants by our gazebo, as they are spreading plants and I could picture them growing down the hillside there.  We raked and cleared a space for them.  Again, we uncovered several things.  Leading up to the gazebo is a stone path, buried and waiting to be discovered.  There were plantings there, hosta, sedum, saplings, all hidden and unable to grow.

Last week, our dear friends who are family came up.  She looked at the large garden by our pool and  gave me ideas for the garden.  It was the first time I could picture what to actually do in the garden instead of just weeding it, and being confused.  She helped identify things in the garden that I didn’t know.  I showed her what I did know and had learned from my friend from Pennsylvania.  Together we discovered more things that have been hidden and overwhelmed.

Yes, this home is a process.  We will spend several years uncovering and discovering.  It is a journey and an adventure.  What I have learned is I also discover lessons about myself.  Uncovering things that are hidden is a lifetime chore.  Each stage of our life reveals something we don’t know about ourselves.  I had thought when I reached my 60’s I would have arrived.  I would be exactly who I am supposed to be.  I am, to a point, but, there are things in me that I am still uncovering.  Areas of my life where I have let debris pile up, stunting growth and opportunity.  I am realizing as I rake and discover that there are places in my heart and mind that need to be raked and brought into the light.  Places that need to grow and discover their full potential.  This, too, will take time.  I may not know a lot about gardening and weeding, but I am learning as I go.

Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Thanks for stopping by today, DAF (Cathi)

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When Your Body says, “Enough!”

I tend to push myself.  It’s a bad habit of mine that I tend to ignore too often.  But, the truth is, I feel if I can move a bit, then I should be able to accomplish the things I want to get done and I push myself to get busy.

The past year has been crazy, to say the least.  There is so much to do on my ‘to-do’ list that I really haven’t a clue as to where I want to begin.  Hubby and I have been busy clearing and cutting and dragging branches and we have had a ball working until it is dark outside.  We know things look different, but, the truth is, it is not so obvious to others.

I have weeded my favorite garden one and half times since January.  I was going to dive in between the busyness of last week, but, fortunately, rain came and I could not get outside.  I welcomed the rain for that reason.

Last week we had some wonderful company and that was a welcome respite for us, but once they left, our lives were overtaken by appointments and travel to the appointments.

By Saturday, hubby figured out that we had traveled 428 miles for three doctor’s appointments.  Saturday evening we went with a group of friends to dinner and dessert, traveling once more.

Saturday night I came home, exhausted.  I knew I had eaten something that did not agree with me as I started feeling itchy and congested.  Hives appeared and this was the beginning that my body was telling me enough!

So, today I have not done much.  I did some laundry and straightened up my kitchen and most of the day I was on Facebook.  I walked out to the mailbox and looked at what was waiting for us.  For a slight moment I considered getting busy, but soon lost that thought.

Yes, sometimes our bodies say, Enough!.  We need to listen when that happens, because sometimes the best days are spent on the couch doing nothing.  I even stopped long enough to write!  Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate you, DAF (Cathi)

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