They left, and I missed it.

Is that nest that’s nestled in the back of the wreath still a nest if it’s no longer in use? Or is it just sticks and grass?

The babies have left the nest, and I didn’t even see them leave, which makes me sad.  And to add to the sadness, I don’t even recognize them any more.  My baby robins, not my kids.  And yes, I call them “my” baby robins because even though it was just a step stool pushed up to the door and a whole lot of observing while trying to stay hidden from a mother who was scared to death of me, for some reason, I feel like I’ve got some skin in the game and can claim some sort of accolade in their entrance into the world, if only for providing the Christmas wreath for the foundation of their nest.

My five baby robins were just days from their first flight, I’m just sure of it, as I saw them begin to flutter their wings while their mama shouted directions from a near by tree. How do I know that’s what she was doing?  I don’t.  I really have no idea.  She could have been yelling at them to tidy up that pig’s sty of a nest or just fly already and start pitching in on the food gathering, but my instincts tell me otherwise.  And I missed it.  All that time peering into the nest, while watching them get bigger and stronger and begin to open and flutter their tiny wings and I missed it. I missed their very first short flight to the dogwood tree just feet away.  Did they all make it?  Did they take turns or did they all leave en mass?  Was the first one to exit a show off or did he/she help convince the others that it was a good thing and to go for it?  I actually even thought about delaying my trip by a day but snapped myself out of that bad idea as my trip was to be with my daughter who was days away from having her first child!  Still, as I watched that morning, and saw fluttering wings, I hesitated, but quickly came around when visions of explaining to my daughter why I missed the birth of my first grandchild because of a nest of 5 robins in my Christmas wreath who were oh so close to their aeronautical debut. Yeah.  I made the right decision.  Now here I am, 5 weeks later, with a bird poop encrusted back door window, an empty and now rather disheveled nest perched in a Christmas wreath that is still hanging on my door at the end of May.  I’ve learned that robins will often return to the same nest more than once, which may be part of the reason I’m hesitating.  But a Christmas wreath on my door all summer?

The baby birds, the leaving the nest, the instructing mama, all seem so relatable to my own role as a mother.  Granted, I was a front and center witness to all 3 of my kid’s exit from the nest, and most likely their driver to take them away, but once they landed in their own nests, I had to rely on faith and good measure that they knew what they were doing and would stay on the side of safe and secure since I was no longer privy to their comings and goings.  Metaphorically, for their first 18 years of life, I stood on a stool and watched all 3 of my kids through the window of life as they began to spread their wings, and I knew, as their mother, when to reel them back into the comfort of the nest and when to give them a little push.  Again, there was a whole lot of relying on faith and good measure, which I got pretty good at through the years.  However, that was tested when my middle child came home from college for the first time and questioned why he needed a curfew because in reality I had no idea what time he came home when he was away and why would it all of a sudden make any difference now?  Well played, son, well played, but I got you on a technicality that we never addressed before…. my house, my rules, which really means, I won’t totally go to sleep until I hear the garage door go up and know that you’re home.  The hold on tight, let go, grab again while trying to loosen your grip part of parenting is hard –  on the hands, on the heart, but we persevere.  And although it gets easier with time, it is always a challenge because we watched those babies hatch, grow wings, spread them and fly, and proud as we are as parents for those accomplishments, we still have that urge to call them back to the nest.  Birds, babies… I’m grouping them all together on this one.  With 3 kids, living in 3 different spots, all at least a good day’s drive away or more, I’ve learned to set aside my worries (well, most of them) and let go as much as I can while trusting them and the decisions they’re making.  They are, after all, all adults.  Still, I’m their mom and just a tad bit of worrying seems to stick, no matter what.

While out working in my yard today, I saw more than one robin and realized that it was possible that I’m no longer able to distinguish the adults from the children.  I’m guessing they grow up that quickly.  So when I saw that first robin today and a big smile came to my face thinking about the babies in the nest and how far they had all come, I had to stop and rethink the situation.  That could have been the mom or the dad or for Pete’s sake, even the uncle or maybe, just maybe,  it was one of my 5 baby birds, all grown up and doing exactly what nature intended.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the nest, I mean wreath, and if I’ll leave it on the door with hopes that I’ll get to do this all over again with another generation of robins, or if I’ll take may chances with a new wreath next Christmas ( and a new one would be in order as this one is not “clean up-able” enough for saving purposes, but a small price to pay for the enjoyment it provided).

So, baby birds who likely look like adult birds by now and baby kids of mine who are tall and shave and drive cars and are having babies of their own and hardly look like babies either, you remind me, always, about the cycle of letting go and trusting.  My child who just had a baby a little over a month ago, will soon begin to understand this and more relevance may begin to come into play when it comes to baby birds and nests and hovering and protective mamas.  At one point, it will begin to not only make sense, but become eerily familiar…the continuous and cyclical nature of life,  both beautiful and difficult at the same time.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the many robins in my yard and am pretending to know who they are, or at least the ones I watched so intently from the step stool in my laundry room.  If I could get them to make eye contact with me, maybe, just maybe, they’d recognize my face as the one that peered down on their nest, several times a day, through the  window of my laundry room door, and whispered words of encouragement and bursts of “you can do it” when I saw the first wings begin to flutter and spread.  This.  This amazing miracle of nature and life, I have witnessed so often and whether with baby birds or my own children,  it never, ever, gets old.

Yeah, the wreath is staying. I want them to remember where they came from.

Painting my way back in time…

How many layers of paint does this make since the first one in 1941???
2009…. how many people stood next to a sold sign in front of this house, proud to be the new owners?

Three days ago, I decided to paint my family room.  I’m still painting.  My paint brush has brushed itself right out of my family room, down the hallway, into the living room and is now debating on whether it should continue its journey with a stop off in the dining room and the kitchen.  I have found the perfect shade of white, which was no easy feat, as there are endless choices for what I used to believe to be a “non-color.”   I can’t seem to get enough of the magic it is leaving behind in its wake.  It feels like I’m painting on a layer of light and bright with each stroke of my brush.  My rooms are coming alive with each brush stroke and I am as well.

My three day immersion into this continually growing project has become far more than changing the colors of my walls.  As my paint brush cuts in every door frame, baseboard,  electrical outlet and window frame, I can’t help but wonder about all the times this exact same process had been done before me in this house.  My house was built in the 1941, so I’m guessing quite a few times.  It was my antiquated electrical outlets in my living room, which accept only a two pronged plug and that I continually have on my “need to update” list, that brought that thought to my attention.

How many people have returned to these rooms in their memories?  The very same rooms that I’m now painting?   How many families have written down this address as their own and given the same directions that I have to people on how to find it?    The walls hold such a rich history of people and experiences that I couldn’t help but start to wonder about the specifics.  What joys were experienced in these rooms?  What heartbreaks?  What celebrations?  Did toddlers take their first steps here?  Did teenagers storm out the front door here in anger because of a disagreement with their parents?  Was there a Dad who sat up late in the front room that recently went from sage to white, worried and waiting for his daughter who ignored curfews?  What did his bathrobe look like?  On a side note, if anyone who lived or is living in the house I grew up in has ever wondered such a thing, I can tell them yes, often, and it was red plaid.  How many new babies were brought through this front door to ever expanding families?  How many kids have climbed out the upstairs bedroom window, as my son did several times, to sit on the roof and look at the stars?   Even though I’m in my 7th year of living here,  for the first time I’m feeling a sense of belonging and pride at being the newest member to a long string of people who were once owners that started forming in 1941.  It’s a club I joined whose members I will likely never meet, but oddly, think of often.

I have to wonder about the original owners of my house and how excited they must have been to be living in this brand new subdivision called “Leawood.” Did they get to help decide where to plant the 3 oak trees that are now massive and if so, did they wonder what they’d look like in 75 years?  And who would be enjoying their shade along with the tremendous job of leaf removal?  Who, in the long line up of families before me, decided to install a bomb shelter in the basement?  Were they afraid?  Did it make them feel safe?  Did they go to the basement to sit in their new investment just to see what it felt like while secretly trying to get their money’s worth on a fear based investment?  Did they invite their neighbors over?  Or did their neighbors have their own bomb shelter to enjoy?  When I was showing my son the house shortly after buying it, he saw the bomb shelter in the basement and was excited that I bought a house with a “sauna.”   Well, not exactly, son.   It now houses my art portfolio, several large canvases and a smattering of miscellaneous items that I don’t know where else to put and yes,  it is kind of creepy,  but it’s also become a bit of an attraction for anyone who goes down to my basement.  I’ve seen more than one workman anxiously show off the space to another workman, as if he discovered it.

There are switches that turn on nothing, outlets that predate the 2 prong models with 4 tiny holes that have been painted over so many times that they’re almost camouflaged into the wall, an exterior light fixture with no switch and a light switch that I found in the back of an upstairs closet that turns on huge vapor light in the back yard that could light up the whole neighborhood if it was switched on.  Frustrating as they are, I’ve left the quirks alone as its easier than trying to fix them.  Besides,  they add a lot to the charm of the house.

I feel a strong sense of responsibility as the keeper of this little piece of history that I call home.    The family who lived here before me called it their home for 35 years and raised their family of 6 here, which I think about every Christmas when I have an extra 4 or 5 staying here and it feels like we are busting at the seams.  I don’t know anything about the family, short of what my neighbors have said in passing, but do know that they loved the house as they sent me a letter telling me so shortly after I moved in.  They wished me the same joy from the house that they had had for the past 35 years.  I know they are still in the area and often wonder if they slow down when they drive by and what memories come to mind for them if they do.  I love that they cared enough about the house they were leaving to share that with me and think they’d be happy with the way I’ve cared for it.

Shortly after I moved in, I found a set of blueprints in an upstairs bedroom closet.  It was for the “new” addition of a family room.  Although it blends nicely with the original home, it does feel a bit “newer” with higher ceilings, different flooring,  the addition of a few sky lights and updated electrical outlets.  According to the blueprints, that “new” addition, which is what I started calling it after I moved in,  was added in the early 1970’s.  I was still living in my childhood home in Olathe, KS, sharing a room with one of my sisters and making my twin bed every morning when the “new” addition in my house was added.  I suppose it may be time to drop the “new.”  That got me wondering about the house I grew up in and who is sleeping in that old room of mine now?  Do they ever wonder about who came before them?  Do they share the room with their sister?  Did they ever want a room of their own so badly that they moved their mattress into the small closet and called it home for almost 2 days?  Did they ever climb out the bedroom window when they were grounded to make their escape on a Saturday night?  I would tell them if they asked that yes, perhaps that did happen once.  Twice at the most.

This has been an easy house for me to feel a part of and although I didn’t raise my family here, nor did I have any kind of history with this house before I purchased it, I can easily see my kids in the breakfast nook eating their cereal before school.   The energy of these walls have embraced me from day one, making me feel so comfortable and familiar that I have to remind myself that it was someone else’s childhood home and story.  Not mine.

I must admit that hours and hours spent crouched on the floor with a dripping paint brush in one hand and a container of paint in the other,  has put my mind into a full imaginative cycle that is now starting to put faces and expressions and clothing on the people I imagine wandering through my home 75 years ago.  My son suggested the idea of leaving photos behind when you move from a place for the new owners.  Oh how I wish that had happened here.  Maybe it was too many Nancy Drew mystery novels read as a child or an overly active imagination, but I want to find that proverbial  trunk filled with clothes and photos and trinkets from the past.  I thought it was going to happen when after purchasing the house, I discovered in the garage a set of wooden pull down steps that led to the attic.  Again, too many Nancy Drew mysteries, but I truly thought I had found my treasure.  Sadly, there was no history-filled trunk, but there were some old windows, stacks of wood and other building materials and decades of dust.  I have since added my own collection of things to the pile of items I no longer need but am not quite ready to get rid of.

Through this slow, tedious, yet mindful process of transformation one brush stroke at a time, I feel like I’m giving something back to this little house that has given so much to me.  It’s feels like a hug to a large group of people that I have never met and most likely never will, but whose presence is with me every day and who I’m guessing would also want the best for a home they once called their own.

Since I started writing this, I’ve added 2 more days and 2 more rooms to this process.  I’ve also gone deeper into my imagination about the people and their life experiences that this house holds in its walls, but after several days of my immersion into history with a loaded paintbrush, I’m calling it done.  There’s a very thin line between thorough and obsessive and I’m starting to teeter a bit.  Oh, and I’m running out of walls.  The process of adding a new shade of light and clean and airy to my walls has has given me a new feeling of familiar with my with this place I call home– like we’ve known each other for a very long time.

Finding my way out of the writing slump, one word at a time…

 

I’ve been in a bit of a slump… a writing slump, that is.  My inner critic has collaborated with my inner perfectionist, and their team work has resulted in a complete slowdown of my words making it to the paper process.  I’ve got the words, they just seem to be struggling at making their appearance.

Ann Patchett says in her book,  A Perfect Marriage,  that she doesn’t believe there is such a thing as writer’s block and that we pull those words out as an excuse for times that we perhaps aren’t being as diligent as we need to be in getting those words onto the paper, once and for all.  While in agreement, I also have to wonder why at times the words seem to flow with tidal wave strength yet other times putting together the words for a thank you note seems to be a tedious struggle for me.   It’s the same brain both times, yet it certainly doesn’t feel like it to me.  It feels like there is a bit of brain hijacking coming into play.

It’s so easy for me to lose myself in a creative project when I’m having success, but when I’m struggling, the minutes tick off slowly while my mind begins to make the list of other more pressing things I should be doing —  you know, important stuff like ordering vitamins online or sewing that button on the shirt I haven’t worn in 2 years or that bi-annual urge to clean out the garage that never looked messy or dirty or disorganized until the moment my creativity decides to go on break.  Whether with writing, painting, photography, knitting or any creative endeavor, the feeling of losing myself in the hours is blissfully wonderful and because it’s fleeting and unexpected, I feel like I’ve got to not only honor its presence, but treat it with utmost care and attention as I know this creature and I know it can leave as fast as it arrived.  This is the part about writing that I hate.  It’s also the part that I love and the part that continually nudges me to keep trying because I know how good it feels when everything comes together and I feel like I have something to say, regardless if I have someone to read it.

During my first year of college, while living in the dorm, the first thing I’d do when I had to write a big paper, was to clean my half of the room.   This always surprised my roommate, who had a more relaxed standard of tidiness, which included an ongoing collection of half-eaten meals under her bed along with an assortment of glasses and cups that once emptied, became ash trays.  Then there were the clothes… you get the idea.  I really did like my roommate and feel like I did well on the pot luck of the dorm roommate lottery,  but our ideas of what our living conditions should look like varied immensely and we both thought the other strange for her habits.   When she’d see me begin the familiar process of cleaning, organizing and re-stacking the stacks, she knew without asking that my next step would be to haul out Tippy (my typewriter with 3 legs, hence the name) and begin to work.  My sister, Susan, goes through the same routine before she cooks a special meal.  I understand this ritual completely.  In some odd way this process gives the task at hand so much more appreciation, while the freeing up the clutter and mess feels like erasing the chalk board and readying it for something new and fresh.  A blank canvas, a clean chalk board or kitchen counters that are free of clutter all seem to be a good way to begin something.  If you’ve got even a thread of perfectionist in you, this will make sense to you.  Of course Susan also cleans the kitchen post meal, but that cleaning doesn’t hold the importance or significance of the getting ready,  “pre-clean” that takes place.  That being said, I’ve cleaned and organized my space countless times the past few months and have sat behind Tippy’s replacement all ready to type but can’t seem to get past a few sentences that then go into a draft file.  I know the gig as I’ve gone down this road before, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

I’m continually amazed by how easily ideas come to me once I step away from my method to record them, ie my computer.  I’ve come up with ideas, metaphors, strings of words and thought provoking ideas while out hiking, walking in my neighborhood or most recently, while riding the ski lift at Copper Mountain.  I was working with a ski instructor yesterday and after a successful run with him when all that he was trying to instruct me on seemed to magically click, he told me he saw the light bulb go off on the top of my ski helmet while we were riding the lift.  He was right.  It went off alright, and it was as bright as the CO sun, but it had nothing to do with me finally understanding the tweaks he was trying to make with my form as I skied down the mountain under his observation.  I wasn’t about to tell him that though,  the him who was a good, patient effective instructor who was making great progress with me.  The light bulb went off because I had an idea of what I needed to write about… finally… and it came as such a relief to me that there was no holding it back and that light bulb moment shined right through my red helmet.  Of course once I had returned home, with my computer in front of me, the idea’s substance  had dissipated to a scattering of bits and pieces with nothing to hold them together, but it did make an initial appearance to me so I know it is in there somewhere waiting to be recaptured when we both are ready.  I once tried to follow a friend’s suggestion to carry a small recorder with me for such moments of inspiration, which I did,  eventually replacing it with the recording feather on my phone.  When I would listen to what I had recorded during those shining moments of inspiration, my words never sounded like the image I had in my mind.  Rather, it sounded more like a shopping list than an inspiration.  The energy of the words that swirled around my mind with potential,  lost most of their energy once they were put into verbal bullet points.  It is better than nothing I suppose, yet it’s not the same as having the opportunity to wrangle those ideas into words the second they form in my mind with a keyboard at the ready (said the perfectionist part of her…).

Several years ago, I heard Jacquelyn Mitchard speak about the writing her first novel The Deep End of the Ocean, and how the entire novel came to her in a dream and once awake, she wrote down the dream, literally word for word and voila!  She transformed her dream into a best selling novel!  Although I doubt it was quite as quick and easy as I’ve worked it around in my mind to be, I’m still continually amazed by her process and more than once have fallen asleep with visions of nocturnal creating dancing in my head.  I usually do wake up with a slight memory of my dreams, especially the powerful ones, and have learned that if I don’t grab onto it, the very second my eyes open, it will fade quickly into a handful of scenes that have no connection to one another, in time or in space and their irrelevance only seems to become magnified when I try to share it with someone else.   The essence is there, but the details are random and hardly worthy of a book, let alone anything more than a sentence.  It’s a gift though, when on occasion those unrelated bits and pieces of my dreams will present themselves to me at a later time when all of a sudden they make sense  and have relevance to something that’s going on in my life.  If I can’t dream up bestselling novels,  a bit of personal relevance with maybe a lesson at hand,  is the next best thing.  I had the repeated dream the week before my hysterectomy that I was pregnant and because I had had a hysterectomy and no longer had a uterus, I had to carry the growing fetus around in a basket, which looked oddly familiar to the breadbasket I use for family dinners.  If that wasn’t an indicator of stuff my mind was processing during my sleeping hours, I’m not sure what is.  It was hardly best selling novel worthy, but it did give me pause to think about what was going on in my mind that maybe I wasn’t quite ready to face during my waking hours.

Elizabeth Gilbert, in her book Big Magic, talks about the creative process and her ways of attracting and keeping it by her side when she needs it, which is kind of all the time.  She says she’s even been known to shower, put on nice clothes and even a swipe of lipstick, that she claims never to wear otherwise, simply to get in the mood to write or to attract the creativity to her…. however you choose to look at it.  It makes sense to me.  Whatever rituals one must go through to help give the process a bit of a push forward seems like fair game to me.

With that in mind, Elizabeth Gilbert, I see your nice clothes and your lipstick and I raise you one…. one wedding dress. And to that wedding dress, who has already made an appearance in my blog several posts ago,  I say let’s get dressed up and get busy.  It’s time to start writing again.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.

I think, just maybe, I have accidently become a baseball fan…

 

6 rows from the top of the stadium, but in the stadium, no less.  This is what a 7th inning, post season comeback looks like (or perhaps it was the altitude…)
I do love this place.

 

 

And then they won… the WORLD SERIES!!

 

 

I was so excited about my new cap that I forgot to take the tag off… people I passed while out walking just hours after my purchase,  gave me one of those “Ahhh, love the cap,”  looks, or so I thought, until I discovered the tag was still attached.  I think those looks were really “Ahhh, how sad… you have no idea, do you…”

 

Enjoying the celebration parade for our World Series Champion team, the Royals, with 500,000 of my friends…

 

I’ve not written a post in over a month and I’m blaming it on baseball.  Now that the season, followed by the post season, followed by the World Series, has come to its conclusion, I’m trying to remember what I used to do with the 3 plus hours 5 or 6 times a week that I used to have before baseball filled that time.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a bit behind in their life.  Although I’ve devoted the length of one hand knitted sweater, 3 knitted baby caps, a major photo reorganization and another knitted sweater that went terribly wrong to the endless hours of baseball watching,  my participation pales compared to my sister’s.  While she’s questioning strategy and commenting on fastballs, breaking balls and change ups,  I’m commenting on beards, brows and, well, I’ve got to say it, butts.  She has earned her opportunity to wear Royals tee shirts or the whole darn uniform if that’s what she wants to do because of her unwavering dedication during the season, whereas I did the buying then started working on the earning part of the equation.  Still, we can both call ourselves fans who  without hesitation got our wallets out and didn’t hesitate to go deep to make it to a play off game, and I’ve got to admit, I’m still a bit surprised by that.

If someone would have told me when I started this blog, a few years ago,  that I’d writing a post about sports, I’d deny it,  simply because I’m not a passionate sports fan, or at least that’s what I thought. I think I may have been wrong.  Now before you start scrolling to the end, fearing I’m going to start spewing sports stats, rest assured, I won’t, although I must say,  and much to my surprised self, stats have streamed from my mouth more than once during this past month and I’m so excited when the bait is taken and a conversation ensues.  Seriously?  Who IS that person???.   In my humble, doesn’t know much about sports opinion, baseball seems to be a very easy sport to cut your sports fan teeth on.  And boy have I.

Those teeth weren’t cut on my own experiences with the sport, unfortunately, or maybe not so unfortunately given that the one summer I got to try my hand at the game, new glove and all,  the only stop I ever made with the ball was with my head.  Things went seriously south after that and I couldn’t wait for summer to be over and my timid participation with the team complete.  Robin, on the other baseball-gloved hand, was told by her teammates during her short run with the sport, to step into the ball and try to get hit as it was a sure fire way to get to base, which she found to be the easier option. Give us roller skates, or hula hoops or a bar on a swing set for skin the cats, but leave the bats and balls for someone else, I’m afraid.  I do, however, have very fond memories of baseball as a kid, but hardly while wearing that stiff leather glove on my left hand.  My Grandpa loved baseball and enjoyed playing the sport as a young man.  When I hear a game on the radio,  I can’t help but think of him on his porch swing listening to the Kansas City Athletics games on his transistor radio.  It is the sound of summer and comfort to me.

I was lucky enough to see a World Series game in 1985, 30 years ago, when I was 30,  which was all very exciting, but it paled in comparison to what I was feeling last night, 30 years later, when we won again.  I didn’t feel the connection to the team that I  feel now and have to think that the tremendous change in communication has a whole lot to do with it.  If I had a thought about Saberhagen or Brett or White or any of the other guys who represented the Kansas City Royals in the 1985 World Series, I most likely kept it to myself, or possibly shared it with those seated near me in the stands along with the handful of people that would hear my stories post game. There was no social media love, no connections to players after seeing videos of amazing plays or post game comments, but rather, a narrow window that the print and broadcast media had total dibs on, and if you missed it… well, you missed it.  It also had to be good enough information to share that you were willing to pay for a long distance call to chat with someone who didn’t happen to share your area code.  None of the current Royals players have graced my dinner table, met me for coffee or texted me their ideas on something, yet I  feel like I know them, as do thousands and thousands of other fans, simply because of what’s been shared.

In a time when so many of us are polarized with issues running the gamut from political to ethical and all points in between, it really does feel like a gift to think that most people who love or like or even tolerate baseball, all wanted the same thing a few nights ago, and that was for “their” team to win, and in Kansas City, that was our beloved Royals.  I thought about that a lot, while sandwiched in between thousands of devoted fans, most who probably weren’t even alive during our last big win, while we watched together at the Power and Light District.  So many different races, cultures, religions and political persuasions,  yet we all were on the same fan page while we celebrated our hometown team’s well-deserved victory.  There’s something about that coming together, if only for a few pages on the calendar, that feels reassuring to me.  And  comforting.  And maybe even a little bit safe.  If we can do that at a baseball game…well…

The high from last night’s win will stay with us for a long time and I know that many of us are going to find difficulty in letting it go and getting back to our lives.   We’re simply not ready to let it go… yet… and we’re certainly not done talking about it and because of that, I think I am beginning to understand the value of sports talk radio.

I like a good post event rehash, and don’t know a woman who doesn’t, yet can remember trying to get my former husband, or any male for that matter, to chime in on a rehash on any post event situation, only to get a shrug and a head shake and maybe a mumble about what the hell is a rehash anyway and is it really necessary?  For those of you who don’t know what a rehash is, it is going over and over, (often to a point of ad nauseam), the details of an event, applicable to not only big events, but the smallest and simplest as well.  It’s our outward continuation to something that we’re not internally quite ready to let go of, hence our need to linger, especially when the memory is a good one.   In other words, it is exactly what happens on a  sports radio call in show.  I have found a new landing spot on my radio dial and as of late, it has taken over the spot where NPR once claimed top billing,  and although this is a temporary adjustment,  I’m still a bit surprised by it.  Holy sports fans… I’ve become a talk radio junkie!  More specifically, a SPORTS talk radio junkie.  I listened, off and on all day yesterday to recaps, rehashes and a whole lot of reliving moments we never want to forget, case in point,  the 12th inning of the 2015 World Series game.   After a few hours of listening, even once or twice reaching for my phone to call in, only to stop myself with a quick “snap out of it” adjustment, I came to the huge realization all this calling in and replaying verbally what we all saw less than 24 hours ago, is nothing more than a major rehash.  When a man called in yesterday and 10 seconds into the conversation began to sob only to have the quivering voiced announcer try to talk him off of the emotional sports wall, but not before sobbing out a few of his own baseball memories, it dawned on me that, deny it all you want men, but you guys (and I know, I’m being very sexist in my generalization here, but it is predominately men who call in as per my observations) OWN a good rehash and I’m right there with you on all the “let’s tell it again, but use different words” analogies, even realizing that I could be a respected contributor, even if it was to suggest a baby name for the soon to be new father of our  2nd baseman.  Hey, it all falls under the big umbrella of sports talk, right?  Be proud my fellow sports fans and call it what you may, but you guys own rehashing!!

I’ve worn the exact same outfit to the last 5 social events I’ve been invited to with no apologies, have given sports radio a permanent spot on my radio dial, have spewed strings of stats to strangers and have waited for an amount of time that I’m embarrassed to admit in a line to buy a shirt that confirms our win in the World Series and all of this surprises me because call it what you want, but I’m starting to think I may have just become a very big baseball fan.  Last year, after the heartbreaking loss in the World Series, I had to wonder if getting emotionally involved with the sport was such a good idea for me as it sure was easier when I didn’t care, but I’m in it too deep to start wading over to the shallow end now.  Watching this group of incredible team players grace my TV, night, after night, after extra innings night, I’m calling myself a real life, love the sport, fan and that makes me very proud.  When the announcer on one of the sports talk radio shows today talked about  baseball as being far more than “just a sport” then going further by saying “sports ARE life,” I had to pause a moment because those words seemed to hold far more than I was willing to give them… then again, was it not “just a sport” that united groups who in other situations could have easily shown their differences with violence and aggression?  Or “just a sport” who has reminded so many of us that we really do live in a very nice, very amazing city?  Or “just a sport” that had so many of us tuned into the same show for 5 hours on Sunday night followed by celebrations that led to no arrests, no fighting, no gunshots and no cars set on fire?  Well, it’s “just a sport” that will have me mingling with a half million other like-minded fans to celebrate a team that has brought far more than the love of a game to the city of Kansas City.

Plain and simple, I’m calling this my preamble to a post game rehash, less the call in phone number.  Die hard sports fans, I know you get this…and now, I do too.

New decade, new attitude and thank goodness, a new hairdo.

 

Don’t adjust your dials… it’s not Bob Dylan… it’s me, still gracing my first decade.

I never really gave aging a whole lot of thought until I turned 59, then I figured I had a year…. a year for what, I’m not sure, but 60 was inching closer and it was beginning to present itself as a much  bigger milestone than the decades preceding it.  The whole decade change has always been kind of  a big one for me,  but it wasn’t turning 40 or 50 that gave me greatest pause, but rather, it was turning 30.  It was a big, damn deal because in my young mind, 30 meant being a grown up to me, which meant that the fun was going to start taking a back seat to responsibility.  This attitude left a whole lot of “finishing up” at the end of my 20’s, or at the very least, just minutes into my 30’s.  My get ‘er done in your 20’s before real life hits philosophy is evident when looking back on my time line – graduated from college (finally…), got married, got pregnant, had first child… ALL when I was at the tail end of 29 and the very beginnings of 30.  Of course now, on the eve of 60, 30 seems like puberty to me.  Fortunately,  I’ve lost the notion that life will end as I know it as a new decade comes on, but I must say,  I’ve become a bit more thoughtful when it comes to the math of the decades.

Recently, while listening to the last free concert in the park in Frisco, CO, I was standing behind an older couple who I’m guessing were at least a decade or two older than me, but in this competitively athletic  town, it’s kind of hard to tell.  The man, armed with the latest iphone (good goin’ old man),  was trying to video the band, but was getting frustrated because he kept videoing himself, even though he was holding the phone out in front of him and pointed directly towards the band, who was not all that far away from him in the small park venue.  He was on selfie mode, but didn’t realize it.  He’d make what looked like adjustments to his phone then would hold his camera out in front once again for several seconds to video, then would look at the screen and shake his head in frustration.  I was close enough to see the videos and the mistake he continued to make, but far enough away that I couldn’t hear the comments he was making to his wife….that would be the wife who had her fingers in her ears.  I guess the music was too loud for her.  I doubt I would have given the whole scenario a second look a decade or two ago, but now, now on the heels of 60, I was having a hard time looking away.  There was so much age-related vulnerability coming into play that I felt compelled to settle into the scene long enough to decide on an appropriate emotion… sadness, frustration, or depression. Although I know how to reverse the camera on my iphone, I’ve certainly done or haven’t done all sorts of things that have had all of my kids rolling their eyes and asking me to hand the phone over so they can “sort me out.”  Technology is moving at a much faster pace than is our aging, which is pretty damn fast, and given that most of this is only a few decades old for so many of us, a little behind the technological eight ball is valid and something we hold in solidarity with those in our same age group. Thankfully, attitudes of caring what others think diminish a bit, but also thankfully, not entirely.   A little bit of vulnerability keeps us humble but we traverse a fine line between pride and embarrassment when we expose that side of ourselves.

While on one of my favorite hikes a few days ago,  a hike that is so beautiful that it’s difficult for me to contain my enthusiasm, I met a nice couple quite by accident. We had been doing the passing back and forth so many times since the beginning of the hike that at the 5th encounter, I felt compelled to say something,  so made a comment to them about the hike.  He had been on it before, she hadn’t.  Each time we had passed, my eyes were drawn to her beautiful, long, silver hair,  so along with my gushing about the views they would soon encounter, I felt compelled to give an appropriate shout out to her hair and with great enthusiasm and most likely a little bit of posture adjustment, I took off my ball cap to a sisterhood of silver hair gesture and proudly said,

“Your hair is so amazing….  I’m trying to do the same thing.”

I then turned around to give her a view of the back, my confirmation to her  that it is still a work in progress as a good 8 inches of length is still brown.  Again, syncing with the sisterhood of silver hair…

Her response to me had nothing to do with my hair and my subtle (ok, maybe not so subtle) nod to our connection on a “we’re almost soul sisters because of our hair” level.   Rather, she expressed her excitement at finally doing this hike that she had heard so much about.  Well that was not quite what I expected to hear from her, but whatever.  We met again  a few switchback later, and I’m not sure if it was the lighting, my exhaustion or the altitude (when in doubt, blame it on the altitude),  or what it was that skewed my color perceptions, but her hair was not silver.  She was blonde.  Nope, not even a strand of silver in that blonde hair of hers.  And to think that I had just taken off my cap enthusiastically as a connecting gesture, only to reveal sweaty,  two-toned, not at all attractive, hat hair.  I wanted to quietly back down the mountain, never to see them again, but instead began to talk incessantly to cover up my blunder, as my correction.  She was (I’m guessing), 10  years younger than me and at that very moment, I felt like I was old enough to be her mom.  OK, honestly, her grandma.  I was the man trying to video tape the band but videoed selfies instead.  Go figure.   They’re from New Jersey.  They drove.  It took them 2 very long days. They spent the first night in Junction City.  She is kind of afraid of heights.  He’s cool with that. They might be married.  They kind of want to move to Colorado.  She has blonde hair, not silver.  Lesson learned.   Hold your enthusiasm until you’re sure you know what you’re talking about and then wait a few more seconds,  just because.  And if you mess up, really badly and don’t want to come clean, then talk.  Talk a lot.   Five more minutes and we would have been Facebook friends,  another ten and we would have had dinner together.

I’ve come to believe with each advancing decade,  that when you reach a certain age,  numbers become far less relevant than how you feel, which has become so relevant in the very physically-active state of Colorado, where I live part time.   Last winter I rode the ski lift up with two elderly gentlemen who asked me if I was alone, and if so, did I want to do some runs with them?  Yes, I was alone, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend my afternoon doing runs with two 80 plus year old men  (they shared their ages with me with pride).  I guess in the back of my mind, I assumed they’d be too slow for me, although I’m hardly a fast skier.  When they told me the runs they were doing, all bets were off… black diamond, back bowls.

“Ahhh, thanks, but think I’ll just do some runs solo… you know… alone time and all….”

In actuality, I could not have kept up with them… the them who were in their 80’s, while me, the kid in her 50’s.   It gave me hope that maybe, just maybe, I didn’t need to start eliminating things, but perhaps it was time to start adding to my list as I add another decade to my collection.  I’ve got to be able to ski black diamond, black bowl runs in my 60’s if I’m going to do it in my 80’s right?

I like to be able to attach an event to each decade, the one that had the biggest impact on the 10 years for me and have to admit that I’m just a little curious as to the event that will mark my 60’s.  My 20’s were my decade of exploring, making mistakes, being fearless, yet afraid of everything, while I began, unknowingly, to begin to forge my life path.

My 30’s,  in my young opinion, were my big step into adulthood, which at the time meant finishing college (finally), getting married and having my first child.  Bing, bang, done.  My decade of change… or so I thought…

My 40’s were my decade of letting go of the lead and by default, letting my children lead.  Their friend’s parents became my friends, their schedules became my schedules and long life friend bonds were forged.  Oh, and my hair started turning gray, and while I went in every 6 weeks to cover up that secret, I honestly thought no one had a clue.  Secret’s out now…

My 50’s were the decade that changed everything and my entry into it started with hurricane Katrina.  I had divorced just days before my 50th birthday and set out on an unknown and very scary path,  which had far more forging and exploring than I had anticipated and for that, I am now very thankful.  I made a lot of mistakes, worried far too much,  and seemed to learn every lesson the hard way, with the predictable pattern of reactionary hysteria, breathing, and eventually a slow recovery coupled with a lot of talking on the phone.  Case in point, the explosion of my water heater a mere two weeks after moving into my new house and my new life.  I’m still thanking my lucky stars that all of my photos that weren’t in albums were in plastic boxes.  Nothing was lost but a whole lot was learned.  That lesson started with me in a heap at the bottom of the basement steps, my head in my hands, my strength and my courage in another room.  When sump pumps, water heaters or garage door openers go on the blink, I remember that girl that sobbed in a panic on the bottom step, not knowing who to call or where to turn.  She grew a lot that night.  Life felt unexpectedly hard, but was softened with several of Emery’s friends, armed with dry vacs and encouragement, and in the end, I  became a whole lot stronger and added a good plummer to my phone book.

So… 60….a new decade and I can honestly say, a new women who is making the entrance.  I gave myself a very impromptu birthday present this year and returned from Colorado a few days early to hear a speaker who I discovered on Facebook a few months earlier and have been in admiration ever since. Her name is Tao Porchon-Lynch and she is 96 years young, still teaches yoga and has a light and an energy that completely filled the room and had most of its occupants as entranced as I was, I’m sure.  All bets are off on the thoughts of aging I had when I woke up to today – those pesky thoughts that being 60 is inching towards being old. Today, on the eve of my odometer clicking over one of the numbers that moves the slowest, I was flooded by the youthful messages from a 98 year-old yogi.  Seriously, after being in her presence for 2 hours, coupled with the intimacy of the venue that allowed me to introduce myself to her and give her a hug, it’s amazing that at almost 60 years to her 98 years, that I’m even old enough to drive a car let alone all the other things that come with true adulthood.  Next to her youthful spirit, I feel like I’m at the beginning, and right now, with so many wishes, hopes and dreams ahead of me, it feels like the perfect place to be.  For that, Tao Porchon-Lynch, I thank you, with deep sincerity for the birthday gift that you have no idea that you gave me.

With each decade comes gratitude;  the 6th bringing a bit more than the 5th and a whole lot more than the 4th or 3rd. I’m comfortably seated on my cushion of gratitude while I continue to adjust my sails to catch the best wind to carry me forward. It’s a good place to be and I can’t complain about the view.

Here’s to 60…to those who are there, those who have been there and those still to embark.  Salud.  Oh, and when you’re 60, you can do that, wishing yourself a happy birthday, that is.  It’s a rule I made up  just minutes into my new decade because adding another year to the toll is something we all should celebrate because we’re happy to be getting older, right?  I certainly am.

 

Life’s scars…

 

 

Relaxing on top… pre-fall, pre-scar
I don’t like this hike, but keep returning… my scar attaches me to it…

 

 

With all the moss and so many trails that I hike looking like this, it’s surprising that I don’t have a roadmap of white-line scars on my legs

 

While resting during a hike yesterday, with my dirty and freshly scratched up legs stretched out in front of me, my eyes were drawn to the 4-inch scar on my right calf that seems to be pointing down to my foot… that would be the foot that slipped on a mossy rock while hiking and came down on a piece of sharp granite many years ago.  Now had that thin white line ended up on my forehead or cheek, the memory of how it came to be might not conjure up the smile that it did yesterday.  It’s a gentle reminder of a fun day on Rooster Comb mountain, the same mountain by the way where  several years later, my daughter would be proposed to by my now son-in-law.  It’s a hike I do not like, but for some reason, whenever I’m in the Adirondack mountains with my sister, Susan, we do it.  We were close to the bottom and in a shaded area where slippery mossy rocks are common when I fell.  My leg was a bit of a bloody mess and once back at the lodge where we were staying, Susan suggested that maybe I should go to the hospital for stitches.  I had no idea if there even was a hospital nearby, but even if there had been, I opted out and patched myself up with a lot of bandaids and Neosporin.  Had I gotten the suggested stitches, I’m sure there would be far less of a scar, if any, but honestly, I don’t mind it a bit.  It feels like a badge of courage to me now and an ever present reminder of how much fun I have hiking with Susan.

Author Chris Cleave, in his book, “Little Bee”, says,

“A scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”

Once again, I survived Rooster Comb Mountain.


I love that spin on scars and have a whole lot of surviving going on on my body.  I’ve got an 8 inch “zipper” on my right side that shows that I survived the removal of my right kidney when I was 21.  I remember sitting in the doctor’s  office with my Mom by my side when he told me that my kidney needed to be removed.  My response was, “What will the scar look like and will I still be able to wear a bikini?”  Seriously?  Not even a hint of how will this affect my life, my health, my overall well-being?  At age 21, I couldn’t look beyond the scar and honestly, I was devastated.  Not with the loss of a key body part, but at the thought of a scar wrapping its way around my mid right torso.  The removal of the diseased kidney left me healthier than I was with it, by the way, and has not affected my lifestyle, health or general well-being whatsoever.  It did bring on a question or two back in my bikini  days, which like the scar on my leg, always brought on a smile – a smile because my 21-year old self has grown up and feels no shame in showing the necessary trail of the surgeon’s scalpel.

The small scar duet, one just below my left brow and the other on the upper left side of my lip are easily forgotten until at a stop light on a sunny day and I catch my reflection in the rear view mirror, and then it’s,   “Oh yea…. I remember you guys.”  They found their way to my face during a car wreck with my best friend, Susie, in high school.  A car ran a stop sign and hit us from the side.  He wasn’t going fast or it could have been a lot worse, but had I fastened my seat belt, it would have been a lot better as my face probably wouldn’t have smashed into the windshield.  Lesson learned.  The hard way.  My biggest fear that time was not the scarring (this was 4 years before the kidney came out and my attention was in the immediate, not the future) but rather, my date’s reaction when he picked me up for the Black Oak Arkansas concert later on that evening.  Looking back, I probably should have given him a head’s up as he was certainly surprised by the sorry sight that greeted him at the door. My eye was black and puffy and freshly stitched and was nearly swollen shut and my lip, also freshly stitched was so swollen that my mouth wouldn’t close all the way.  I’m surprised he still wanted to take me, let alone be seen with me and more surprised that my parents let me go!

On the same leg as the hiking incident scar is a much smaller scar that is positioned just below my knee and is a straight up and down, one inch long white line.  It is my knelt down on an exacto knife scar while wall papering my soon to be 2nd baby’s room.  I was 8 months pregnant and although I should have had stitches,  I didn’t feel I had time to go to the hospital to get them.  I was mid-way into the wallpapering project and it’s not wise to pull a nesting mother from her project. So no stitches.  I mostly blame this round of bad judgement on the hormones.  I’m not sure where all of the braincells go when you’re pregnant (the baby?), but there is definitely a period of misfiring and the closer to delivery time, at least in my case, the worse it seemed to get.  This scenario happened again when I was 8 months pregnant with my 3rd child and I sliced my palm open on a tin can lid, while trying to extract it out of the can.  That time I did get stitches… a lot of them… and without an ounce of fat on the palm of your hand, that’s a painful experience that I hope never to go through again.  Then there was the whole situation of showing up in the ER, very pregnant, and trying to explain to the rushing around staff who had me in a wheelchair headed straight up to delivery,  to NOT take me to delivery but rather to the stitching up room of the ER.  That’s my scar that I’ve been told by more than one person, messed up any future palm reading on that hand.  Well shoot.  I missed that opportunity as I’ve never had my palm read. The scar did add an extra branch to my life line, though, which could come in handy someday.

With every one of my children’s entry into the world, or pre-entry, I’ve earned a scar.  With my first born, it is a 6 inch scar in my lower abdomen where he made his entry into the world during an emergency C-section due to an rapidly lowering heartbeat.  Rather than being stitched up that time,  staples were used to close the incision.  I never thought twice about the scar and would have welcomed one on my face if that was what it took to bring him into the world safely.  I saved the staples in a box along with my hospital bracelet (and his) as it seemed important at the time. Now it seems kind of creepy to save the staples, but I still have them, which either says they still hold importance, or I need to do more cleaning and clearing out.   I remember having a friend who saved her tonsils in a glass jar filled with water after they were removed when she was 5 and I thought that was pretty cool as I only had a sore throat and some cards after my tonsils were removed for my take home gift.  I didn’t want my kidney after it was removed (and am pretty sure that is against hospital policy now), but when they told me they had to take out a rib to get to the kidney, thoughts of making art or jewelry out of that rib made me wish they had saved it for me.  Today, the scar seems to be more than enough reminder to me, without needing to hold onto the rib, which is far creepier than an envelope of staples, right?

I survived.  And the relics of those survivals are etched all over my body – my personal badges of strength, courage and maybe stupidity for not going to the hospital on some of them…

I’ve often wondered what it would be like if rather than tucked away in the depths of our heart, if we wore our emotional scars side by side to our physical scars.  Would it illicit kinder behavior to those who we don’t know but think we do when we see them yelling at their kid or throwing trash out of their car window or mistreating their animals?  If we saw the scars of all of their pain, would we act differently towards them?  Maybe it’s best they are tucked away and held where only we can feel them.  The emotional wounds do heal in time, but no doubt, they leave scars in the wake of their fading pain and every once in a while, I will get the gentle or maybe not so gentle reminder of their presence.

We’re all scarred, inside and out, but it’s in those telling marks that lies our history, our bumps in the road, our accidental lessons in life, but we survived, and no doubt, with a story to tell.

Growing brave at the rate of 3/4 of an inch a month.

6 months work… to here…

 

Yep.  I have silver hair.  Gasp.
Not quite as dramatic from that back…but it’s in there!

 

Although I would hardly call myself brave, I do have a taste for adventure and seem to be able to find my way to it, whether looking or not, but what has many people making mention of my “bravery” has nothing to do with anything that would raise my pulse or the hair on the back of my neck. I have been called brave not for anything I’ve done, but rather for something I’ve neglected to do for the past 8 months.  I quit dying my hair and just as predicted, the tiny white line at my part has been growing into a large swath since last October.  Eight months in and I’m rocking a skunk do.  I’m flattered, surprised and somewhat amazed by people’s response to my “brave act.”  Is what I’m doing really all that brave?  I’m not sure, but I am surprised.  Who knew?  It wasn’t  a solo hike to the top of a 14,000 foot mountain or having to give a speech in class during my freshman year of college with hands shaking so much I had to set my notes down as they were becoming a distraction to myself and the class or anything to do with me and small airplanes and singing out loud to calm my nerves on my first few solo flights.  Nope.  None of that.  It was letting my hair go silver that has me earning my bravery badge.  (I do, by the way, call it silver as that sounds “younger” than gray… so maybe I’m not really all that brave after all…).

My monthly routine of sitting in a salon for a good hour and a half while my roots are painstakingly colored, followed by a wait time for the chemicals to do their work, is something I’ve been doing since I was 40 years old.  Every.  Single.  Month.  Which adds up to almost twenty years….twenty long years in the chair getting my roots painted to match the rest of my hair.  The only exceptions would be the times when I traveled for periods of time longer than a month, when creative cover ups and do it yourself kits would come into play, allowing me to buy a few weeks time before heading back into the salon for damage control.  Once, while on an extended stay in Lima, Perú, I closed myself in a tiny shared bathroom and sat on the toilet while impatiently waiting for the 20 minutes to pass, at which time I could stand under the tiny drizzle of cool water and rinse the dye out of my newly covered roots.  This was no easy feat, especially given that it was a bathroom shared by many.  I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t quite bring myself to fess up as to what was taking me so long in there and that it had nothing to do with traveler’s stomach.  I’m not sure which bothers me more today… the memory of my clandestine cover up in the small bathroom or the fact that I shrouded myself in such secrecy.  I went in with gray roots and came out with dark roots.  Seriously.  I wasn’t fooling anyone.

While at my 20 year high school reunion, 20 plus years ago,
OK, I’ve got to pause a minute here… it’s been over 20 years SINCE my 20 year high school reunion???  Holy cow.  Time flies, but hair grows slow.

Anyway, while at said reunion, one of my former male classmates made the comment to me that he was surprised that so many of the men were graying yet hardly any of the women were.  I looked at him in utter amazement and asked him if he really didn’t know that with the exception of  the few lucky ones whose hair just simply wasn’t going to go gray, most of the women in the room were dying their hair.  He looked confused and possibly disappointed and I realized then that I may have just let the proverbial dyed cat out of the bag.  It really is a secret that’s held within the sisterhood of women  who have passed their 40th birthday, otherwise, when going to the salon for my monthly procedure, I would have called it what it was, which was getting my roots dyed, rather than what I wanted people to think, which was getting my hair cut.  It’s like pulling up the dress to show everyone that your core strength has an assistant that’s helping with the flat stomach… an assistant called spanx. Coming clean, fessing up and going a la natural is a heck of a lot easier than having to fake your way through and like my hair stylist, Bill, says that when you go with your natural color, it ALWAYS will match your skin tone.  The gene pool color swatches were already in the works before you were even born and he’s right.  They do match because nature always gets it right, even if it wasn’t exactly what  you had planned on.

I’m finding myself stalking women at the grocery store who have the color of hair that I think I’m going to end up with,  simply for a visual aide for what my hair might end up like.  Sometimes I get too close and they’ll turn around and I swear they give me the tiniest nod of encouragement when they see what I’m growing on the top of my head.  OK, maybe I optimistically made that part up and they’re simply wondering who the creep is that has followed them from the produce aisle to the canned goods, but still, I’ve got to think there’s solidarity within the group for all of us who have let go of the covering up.

I’ve gotten mostly positive comments from friends and family, especially my sister, Robin, who went before me, but have had a handful of people commenting with the predictable,

“Aren’t you afraid it’s going to age you???”

I started getting gray hairs at age 35 and became a regular to the chair at age 40.  If this ages me back to 40, well, bring it on!  But seriously, put your glasses on.  The hair cannot take full responsibility for the aging component.  My face holds a road map of experiences in its lines and wrinkles, each and every one of them earned, although not all of them loved.

I’ve had dark hair for most of my almost 60 years (I went through a bald-headed Eisenhower look the first 6 months of my life),  so to begin to go light, is a pretty dang big deal – big enough that maybe it is an act of hair bravery.  This process still gives me a moment of having to catch my breath when I glance into the rear view mirror while driving and see nothing but silver and wonder who the hell is driving my car.  Exposed.  Vulnerable.  Real.  It’s the real part that’s giving me the nudge to stay with the game.  I wrote a blog post a while back about skiing naked, or at least feeling naked in a vulnerability sense.  This whole ordeal has me feeling slightly unclothed and a little bit stared at, but also kind of proud at the same time.  The slightly unclothed feeling has me texting my girl for confirmation that YES, it IS the right thing.  Thank you, Emery.

Besides the huge savings of time and money, the simple act of leaving the hair dye off the hair has become far more of a freeing gesture than I anticipated.  I’m claiming my age and the side effects that go along with the number, both good and according to some cultural norms, maybe not so good.  That being said,   I have of course reserved my right to a full reversal if the results aren’t what I anticipated, but am doubtful it will come to that, especially after the time I have invested. Unfortunately, for impatient me, this is not a TAH DUH I decided to go silver moment, but rather, is an arduously slow process and even though my hair does grow fast compared to the average, there are times I swear it is growing back into my scalp and will this project ever come to fruition?

So, slowly but surely, I’m transitioning into one more layer of authenticity at the rate of 3/4 of an inch per month.  This I know because I’ve stood at my bathroom mirror with a tape measure in one hand,  an outstretched lock in the other and a calculator doing its magic.  I’ve invested 8 months in this project and probably have another 8 months of two-toned hair before all is said and done and silver.  Call it what you want, but if calling it brave makes this whole process more exciting and please oh please a tad bit faster, than so be it….  I’m a two-toned brave girl.

A big ole thanks to Bill Harding, my supportive, encouraging, wise, and has done this before, stylist.  You got me over the transitional hump.

To be continued…

Knitting love.

 

There was usually a cat tucked in there somewhere…

Although it’s been over 50 years since my grandma taught me how to knit, I can still feel her presence every time I pick up my needles.  I’m right back on her scratchy, bumpy couch, tucked in tightly under her arm while she’d guide me through the process of moving the yarn from one red plastic needle to the other.  It was magic to me; long pieces of yarn growing into something I could hold in my hands and maybe even wear on my head.  Grandma was left-handed and I was right-handed so the whole learning process was backwards and terribly confusing until I gave up on trying to learn right-handed from a left-handed teacher and simply learned the way my Grandma taught me.  Left-handed.

Last year I wrote a blog post about hands and how they are the keepers of so much of our history.   Knitting is the ultimate in hand thinking.  In their callouses, scars and imperfections lie the very rich history of creating,  which only becomes richer with experience.   Grandma’s arthritic fingers moved my young hands through a process that has become refined over many years with a lot of trial and error with things I’ve created and am very proud of and a host of projects that went the other direction and are still shoved into the back of the closet waiting for me to fix them.

It wasn’t always cool to be a knitter and the patterns available were proof as most of the end products were nothing you’d ever want to wear.  Thankfully, it has become hip and yarn stores and pattern choices are much more readily available.  Much to my surprise, there is a knit in public day in April, or KIP for those in the know, a knitting awareness week in October and a national knitting night in November as well as societies for right handed knitters, left handed knitters and a day set aside for those who love yarn.  Yea, I know… and no, I’m not a member, of any, but you’ve got to love a serious knitter.

My knitting skills started off with long strips that were made into headbands and graduated over the years to a constant stream of sweaters for my babies and toddlers.  After sitting out for several years, when I did pick up my needles again in my late twenties, I re-taught myself to knit right handed, which was much easier and far less complicated when trying to follow right handed instructions.

It has always been nurturing for me and maybe that’s because of who taught me more than what she taught me.  Seriously, I would have learned algebra at age 8 if it meant getting to be squished together on a scratchy couch with my grandma leading the lesson.  Although the hopeful outcome of a wearable woolen is what gets me to the yarn store in the first place, it truly is more of a process than product situation for me.  I’ve ended up with a lot of almost finished projects that were either way off on size or simply didn’t end up to be the project I had in my mind.  The only exception were the many baby and kid sweaters I knitted, which always ended up being the right size, at one point or another because my kids did grow and if it started out too small, there was a younger one waiting in the wings.  When my oldest was 4 or 5 he asked me when he could stop wearing the sweaters I knitted and start wearing sweatshirts like all the other kids.  And that was the end of that.  All energies then went to the daughter, who hung in there a long time with my hand knitted sweaters for her.

Everyone who knits has a story and usually those stories are about projects, both the success and the failures.  Sadly, my story is one about how my own knitting caused me tremendous public embarrassment and taught me the lesson on the importance of keeping your knitting supplies, ie yarn, a bit more organized. I know when you drag toilet paper on your shoe when you come out of a bathroom it’s called a tile comet, but what’s it called when you unknowingly drag yarn from a knitting project from your car, all the way down the sidewalk, about 3 feet high, unknowingly setting up a makeshift boundary line that’s not crossable?  And to add to the fun,  there was a sidewalk sale going on so cautious shoppers were mindful of the boundary that I unknowingly put into place while I went into a bakery to get a sandwich. Of course I, also, was being respectful of the “roped off area” as I returned to my car, until I realized it was coming from my car…and this was no short piece of yarn.  Unfortunately, the yarn boundary ran the better part of the south side of Corinth shopping center.  I’m a messy knitter who learned her lesson through embarrassment.

This meditative movement of slipping stitches made of yarn from one needle to another, hopefully yielding something wearable, is far more about the history that connected me to it in the first place than anything else and that was my Grandma, and the many hours spent next to her learning.  I didn’t care if what we were knitting was wearable or not as in my 8 year-old eyes, we were knitting love.  Plain and simple.

Dust, noise, a swimming pool sized trench in my yard and PATIENCE.

My front yard has become a construction zone and I should really wear a hard hat when going to my car, which as of yesterday, and until further notice, is parked several houses down the street from my house.  My driveway is no longer accessible and with that, I lost my garage.  Mail delivery is iffy and my overly full recycle bin was finally returned to my garage in the same position that I hauled it out in as I got tired of waiting for it to be emptied.  I can hardly blame either the mail truck or the recycle truck for not making their way down my street.  It takes a brave soul.  This is what happens to homeowners when their old neighborhood gets a below the surface facelift and it’s out with the old pipes and in with the new.  That alone, is helping me stay positive about the whole mess of a situation, but when trying to get to my house yesterday and having to quickly change from drive to reverse because a fire truck was backing down the street just feet in front of me, my  positivity started to wane.

I asked the fireman, who was headed to my car, what was going on and was everyone OK and am I really going to have to back down the street to the busy road I just turned off of?

“A major gas line was broken a block from here… down there on the corner… sure does take patience to live on this street these days, huh?  And no, we’ll move the truck so you can get by.”

Thank you, fireman.  Yes, it does and I sure did appreciate the acknowledgement of that.

As I was making my way through the tight squeeze around the fire truck,  I realized that “a block from here and down there on the corner” was, of course, my house.  Sometimes all you can do is shake your head, be grateful that the firetruck was called and leave candle lighting on my porch for another time.  I’m still scared (although they said it was fixed and I couldn’t smell gas).  The whole gas line breakage has resulted in a hole the size of a swimming pool in the front corner of my yard.  I’m not even sure it could still be called a hole.  A trench, perhaps?  Whatever it is, there’s a deep end that could certainly support a high dive as it was a few feet deeper than any of the men working in it – my estimates from my kitchen window said 10 feet and once all the workers had left and the coast was clear, I stood on the edge of the pit and without scaling my way down, 10 feet deep seemed about right.

It’s just not as inviting as say a wreath or a potted plant would be…(that would be my front yard…)

 

THIS is the corner of my yard…

 

No worries… there’s a plastic net fence around it for safety.  This would be a pretty ugly fall in the dark of night…

Patience.  I’m trying to find it, keep it, put it into action.

The initial work involved replacing the 75 year old gas lines to my house, which meant there was a pretty steady stream of workmen traipsing through my house and into my basement to do the work, have their work checked, and light my hot water heater, followed by a few rounds of shutting the gas off and relighting the heater.  They were in my house often enough that I felt like I should at least offer them a cup of coffee or maybe a piece of toast.   Only thoughts.  The good news is that the work has totally moved away from the inside of my house so the workers are no longer in and out,  but the bad news is that my yard seems to be the headquarters and where all of the really big machinery seems to be hanging out.

I know having to back up those big huge machines to the nearest side street so that anyone who lives in this chaos zone can make their way to their houses has got to be frustrating for the workers and has me being a whole lot more thoughtful about how many times I leave my house, knowing that I’ll have to weave my way through the mess to get home.  Three weeks ago I was making eye contact, followed by a quick nod and a smile.  I figured it was the least I could do to offer my encouragement for no doubt a difficult job.  I quit that last Monday when at 7 a.m. my house was shaking so hard from the concrete smashing that was going on in front of my house,  that I was sure photos were going to start falling off the walls.  That, along with the noise and the dust that has enveloped my house and has left all horizontal surfaces in my house coated so thick that you could write your name on it,  has my smile waning a bit.  Just as well to keep eye contact out of it.  I don’t want to be “that” person who is in continual complaining mode but given what my front yard looks like, I truly feel like I’m taking one for the team here and feel totally justified.  Still, best to just keep on moving and keep my facial expressions out of it.

Most people have friend’s cars parked in front of their house… not me!  I’ve got KOMAT’SU parked in front of my house!

 

The pipes have to be stored somewhere while digging the trenches where they’ll eventually be… my side yard seemed to be the best choice…

 

Just random stuff in my yard…

Throughout this whole process, I do have to think of how much worse it could be.  My neighbor has a 9 month-old baby, who probably hasn’t had a decent daytime nap for 3 weeks (the noise is a constant).  Then there’s the danger element… if ANY of my kids were of “that” age, it would sure be hard to keep them out of that enticing canyon that seems to be growing in my front yard, let alone any curious pets.  For that, I’m grateful, as the flimsy plastic fence hardly acts as a barrier.

Every time I see this, I want to steal it.  I’m not sure why.

I suppose the clincher to all of this should be that a short 3 months ago, I had  my old and very crumbling driveway replaced with a brand sparkling new one, something that I’ve put off since I moved to this house 4 years ago because driveways are not cheap, nor a fun way to spend your money.  It was removed to the first joint this morning, as was everyone else’s on my side of the street.  I couldn’t watch.  I’ve been assured multiple times (because that’s how often I’ve asked) that the section will be replaced with a driveway of the same or better quality.  For now, I’m believing them until I see otherwise.  It’s keeping me sane and a whole lot calmer than I could be given the situation.

Patience.  Inhale.  Exhale. (being mindful on the inhale as I live in a cloud of dust right now…).  This will end up good and I truly believe that.  Besides, who gets to actually see what lives 8 or 9 feet under their street?  There’s a whole other world under there!  That’s a start…

 

Wallowing in the mud, binging on Breaking Bad and finally… the shirt is changed.

I fell in the mud two weeks ago and have been wallowing in it ever since. Sometimes you have to step back a few feet to gain perspective and then again, sometimes it’s simply just best not to look.  This would be one of those times.  I got a glance,  and it wasn’t pretty.

When your day starts with 2 hours of binging on Breaking Bad before the coffee pot’s even emptied… well it’s a pretty good indicator as to the direction the rest of the day is going to go.  I think I need about 4 hours of a PBS or maybe a Brady Bunch cleanse to counteract the effects of Breaking Bad. The show truly makes me feel like I need sunshine, some fresh fruit and maybe a long bath.

And then there’s the whole shirt thing.  Today is day 12 wearing the same shirt that I was wearing when I went shoulder first into the mud.  I’m teetering between being totally disgusted with the rate at which my personal standards have gone south and how easily I’ve adapted to the whole decline. Something about it makes me sad… or is it proud?  I may not be physically up to the challenge of a multi-day backpacking trip… yet…but I feel I’ve made a lot of headway in other areas that will come in handy on multiple days on the trail.  I’m over the hygiene hump.  I crested it about last Friday.

That was my morning, but it got better, even with my wallowing in the mud in an overly worn shirt and with too much Breaking Bad in my system for that early in the day… but I digress…

I spent a big chunk of my day in the KU orthopedic lobby (thanks, Robin) waiting to hear if all of the not moving my shoulder by leaving both my shoulder AND my shirt in tact, fearing still, that one false move and I’m back to square one, has been a fruitful commitment. I’m very happy to say that the doctor told me that things looked very good, no surgery necessary,  and I could downgrade to a simple sling and,

“You can change your shirt…”
(it may have come up in the conversation that the shirt had been worn for a “few” days, or more accurately, longer than the length of most yoghurt’s sell by dates.

He (he being the Dr.) did ask me quickly in between his transcribing two nurses who stood behind rolling computers, how I had broken my shoulder.  I was SO glad to be able to tell him something that in my opinion is legit….

I fell in the mud while hiking.

Where?

Colorado…Frisco, to be exact.

Oh. nice… at least you had a nice view.

I’m so glad I didn’t have to tell him I fell off of a small ladder perched on top of a leather ottoman so I would have the height I needed to hang some art work.  Sadly, I know this from experience, but it was in Frisco, so I did have a nice window view.  I swear by a smelly black shirt that’s heaped in the corner of my closet, that those days are over.  Really.

So..my wallowing in the mud time is over and I’ve climbed out of my hole, have put on a clean shirt and am on my way to happier days.  I’m not quite ready to find my gratitude or the silver lining in all of this as my shoulder still hurts too much to find my resolve there, but soon, I’m sure.  In the meantime,  I have found a new appreciation for shoulders that work in full range and are far more awed by seeing a shoulder in motion these days than I am by lean runner legs, chiseled abs or cut arms as a working shoulder is a far more useful goal for me right now.  Oh to do a down dog again….

But for now, just one more Breaking Bad…it’s an open bag of chips and I can’t seem to keep my hand out of the bag… then I’ll do some PBS or Brady Bunch counteracting.

New shirt, new sling, new attitude… the hair still needs some work though…

Oh yea and the truth on where I ended up on the black shirt lies somewhere between Emery’s worries of our separation anxiety and Robin thinking I should burn it.  It will be washed, twice, then hung in the back of my closet for posterity, or something like that…