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They Followed Me Home...Honest!


There's a battle being pitched here in Virginia - Me vs. Stuff

Stuff is ahead by a long shot.

A really long shot, but I'm not giving up. 

I'm determined to clear some of this clutter out, and Phil keeps dropping stuff off at various thrift shops. Boxes and boxes and bags and bags of stuff. Three people live in this house, and stuff keeps following us home.

So, I keep sorting, tossing, boxing, bagging, and more. Even my art stuff, which is a history of everyshiny object that's caught my eye. I've worked really hard at narrowing down what I'm truly interested in, which is still quite a bit to be honest. That being said, how much paper do I truly need? How much washi tape (I really have a thing for washi tape!), how many art books on making stuff? 

I guess that some people might figure that all this downsizing and jettisoning of stuff is happening because I'm 65, and after all isn't that what old folks do? Downsize for their later years.

And, there might be some truth in that, but only a tiny bit. Memories of  clearing out my mom and dad's house still haunt me. Since both were depression babies, they really tended to hold onto stuff that should have been tossed years and years ago. Dad's dementia just added another layer to the mess. I would love to not repeat that mess.

Mostly, though, it's a wanting for things to be restful, for my house to be a haven and not a cluttered mess that constantly reminded me what needed to be cleared up, put away, etc.

Phil and I travel a lot, short distances mostly, but we've seen many a vacation home, hotel room, etc. And, so often, I'd enter and sigh in happiness. Clean lines, empty spaces on dressers where my eyes could rest. Nothing piled in corners. All of it makes me happy.

That's what I want...empty spaces to fill up something that I need. 

Along with this wanting of being able to simply rest easily, to like what I'm looking at, is a nagging feeling reminding me just how much money I've blown on stuff. Stuff that I'm now tossing and donating. I could sell it, but honestly, I just want it out, and I don't want much more coming in.

There's a heaviness that accompanies stuff.

These past several weekends, my daughter and I have been exploring all sorts of antique markets and design homes. We love it, just love it.

I've done so much imaginary spending and fake buying, your head would spin, probably both clockwise and counterclockwise. Maybe both at the same time.

Each market has its own signature; one is mostly restored furniture. Another might focus more on knick knack sorts of things. One is shabby chic; another gives off an edgy urban feel. 

Here's what I love - the inspiration. Color combinations, ways to repurpose things, and more. Dealers arrange their stuff into wonderful vignettes, and when one display catches my eye, makes me stop in my tracks, I stop and begin to analyze. 

What's making me go, "Ahhhhhhhhhh?" Is it repetition? a color combination? all the textures? 

I take photos to remember, print out the photos when I get home, and start jotting notes, because even though I'm certain I'll remember, I most probably won't. 

Most jaunts result in nothing coming home. Nothing. Because the little voices in my mind begin to nag.

Do you really want to have to dust that? Where are you going to store it? How soon before it ends up at the thrift shop? Do you want to pay to move it? Do you need another platter? You already have 4 or 5, and you're just buying them because your mom collected them and it makes you feel better.

And, we have a rule. If something comes into the house, something has to leave the house.

I do slip up every now and then. Those wonderfully quirky red stools/chairs above provide evidence of my all too human nature and the psychology of consumerism.

I could tell you that they are a late Christmas/birthday gift for Phil. I could also tell you that we've been looking for a chair that's going to relieve leg achiness from standing while cooking and baking. And, I did promptly toss a few large items out of the house.

But, honestly? 

They followed me home.


The Taste of Silence



Wherever it was
I was supposed to be this morning-- whatever it was I said
I would be doing--
I was standing
at the edge of the field-- I was hurrying
through my own soul, opening its dark doors-- I was leaning out;
I was listening.
- Mary Oliver, Mockingbirds

I love the quiet hush of early mornings; it's not completely silenced, but it seems as if all the sounds are muted, soft, and just barely there. There and then gone, teasing, enticing me to listen carefully. 

Stillness and silence seem intertwined, nearly inseparable. My soul needs both, and treasures the mornings that begin slowly and invite introspection. I miss it all when for whatever reason I tell myself that there's not enough time, that things need to be done.

Yesterday was one of those mornings, a bit rushed, a bit hectic, with things that "had to be done" before I took off to watch over a sick little one.

One of those "the world will end if you don't do this" things was taking out the recycling and trash. Bags in hand, I stopped short, staring a pretty amazing, awfully large black bird ambling through our back yard. His feathers glistened all sorts of purples and blues, the sunshine pulling them out of the black. 

I stopped briefly, bags still in hand, to watch and enjoy him. Not a crow...I've seen some big crows, and he outdid them. A raven? 

And, then I broke the silence, calling out a "Good Morning," and away he flew. Immediately, without hesitation, he flapped those large wings and took off, never looking back. The magic was gone in a heartbeat.

This morning, as I read and began to write my morning pages, he popped back into my mind. 

"Time changes, the world goes on changing, but the experience of silence remains the same...the taste of silence remains the same." (Osha Deck)

The taste of silence...I love these words, and as I wrote my pages this morning, thinking about yesterday's bird, another memory peeked through...Sister Delores, my oldest son's second grade teacher.

Sister Delores loved life and loved teaching, making learning come alive. She was on the uppermost floor of the oldest part of the school, the floor that at one time had housed the students who lived at school. Huge windows looked over a tiny town, and through one window, you saw the twisted, gnarled branches of a old tree. 

Beneath the window, she place a table with a log book, several bird books, and a few pairs of binoculars. Students could visit the station at various times, and they worked to identify the birds, logging them in with date, time, and other observations. By the end of the year, my son could identify any local species on sight, telling you whether the bird was male or female. No formal teaching, just putting the pieces into place for her kids to learn.

Her classroom was full of magic, complete with secret clubs you had to earn your way into, one of them having to do with writing. She set her expectations high, and the students worked happily to meet them.

I remember laughing aloud one day...on the door frame outside her classroom, a long strip of adding machine tape traveled the length of the frame. Sectioned off by day, various dead bees and flies were taped to the tape, with each day's tally at the bottom. Wide open AC!...led to many classroom visitors, and Sister worked with what she had.

And from there, my mother came to mind, an image so clear of her hanging out the laundry on an old clothesline, pegged with old wooden dowel clothespins. Each time she hung out the clothes, or came to unpin them to bring them in, a cardinal would alight in a nearby cherry tree. The cardinal whistled; mom whistled back, and on the conversation went the entire time she was outside. 

He only talked to Mom; when the rest of us were on clothes duty, he'd sometimes land softly on a branch, observing closely, but never made a sound. It was mom or nothing!

All of this poured through my mind as I wrote this morning...a stream of writing, loosely bound by feathered visitors. 

The sound...and the taste...of silence let the words flow.

Never Ready, Never Done

Bowl on table

This morning, I listened to a "Love Letter" from Meghan Genge, cohost along with Jamie Ridler, of Love Letters, a series of 32 messages on creativity and more. I have to confess that I've gotten really picky about these free events, since way too many of them end up promoting what they have to sell more than anything else. Jamie is a different story...she generously shares so much good stuff.

Meghan's video chat drew me in immediately; her message one that I've heard many a time in one form or another. But, it never hurts to hear it again, to be reminded of what I know, but I too often forget. 

"You're never ready; you're never done."

I can be the master of excuses at putting creativity off. My mind has so many tabs open: photography, writing, slow stitch, mixed media. I can't begin to tell you how much I've created - in my mind that is. I wake during the night composing a blog entry, working out a photo, and more. Trouble is I'm way too good at finding reasons that I'm not ready. I need my dslr, not my phone. I need my "To Do List" to disappear, because what's on there is way too important and really should be done first, done before I sit down to create. I get in my own way. 

Never done. I do this one well. I love to learn, to research, to explore. As I finish up something, another idea pops into my too many tabs opened mind. It might be a "better" way to do what I've done. It might be something brand new. I'm not idea challenged, but when I sit down to write, the little gremlin, aka inner critic, whispers, "Really? Why bother?" and then gives me a laundry list of why I shouldn't bother, and oh, yeah, remember all that stuff you need to do? Like laundry?

Meghan's advice: Just begin. Just take one step. Then, take another. Yeah, I know this, but again, it's just good to hear it, to be reminded.

I've been working through a mindful photography course with Julie Fischer MeCarter, whose work never fails to inspire. One assignment this week asked us to take a meaningful object and photography it outside of its normal surroundings. I chose my mother's blue bowl, aka the "Cookie Bowl."

Bowl on path

Julie asked us to go with whatever popped into our heads, that it would be the right choice. 

And I thought, that cookie bowl is too big to be lugging around. Besides, it's too cold to go outside.

Sigh. That damn inner critic.

So, yesterday, I woke up to a gorgeous sunrise and the most beautiful light outside my window. Out I went in a fuzzy blue art making stained bathrobe, my phone, a pair of slippers, and at the very last minute grabbed the bowl. 

Exiting through our back room door, I stopped dead. 

Well, crap, it's morning rush hour and I live immediately off of one of Virginia's busiest roads. Not only are there thousands of commuters driving by, but the middle school busses passed by as well.

And, I was the crazy lady in her bathrobe making photos of a bowl. Well, if nothing else, I'd provide a bit of conversation for a lot of folks. 

Bowl in leaves

It's not pretty outside right now, not unless you happen to love brown. I happen not to, finding it a pretty depressing color. Looking around I spotted a grungy looking moose (dog toy), also brown. A few tennis balls, the toy car the twits drive, but not one thing I could see to do with the bowl.

I wanted my dslr (never ready!) but knew if I went back inside, I probably wouldn't come out. I knew I'd get some great shots if I laid flat on the ground...uhm, no. Not going to happen. Virginia's commuters and middle schoolers already had enough to talk about. Besides, that ground is cold!

Leaves. I had lots and lots of leaves. I also had a meandering stone path that would make for great leading lines. 

I went for both, and quickly at that. When I'm shivering, it's hard to get things focused the way I like.

In the end, despite the not readys, I ended up with some cool shots. I can only imagine what my mom would be thinking. You filled the cookie bowl with dead leaves? Girl, you need to see the doctor. 

I love this bowl; it holds memories more than leaves. 

I love my shots; I know what I'd like to try next (never done!), and it will involve lying on the ground and my big girl camera. 

I love how I learned to look at the bowl differently; placing it out of context does that.

I love the stories my photos tell.

I like that I did some thinking "outside the box." 

Most of all, I like that I didn't just write this in my head.



I'm sitting here, listening to the rain, a gentle rhythmic falling from the sky. Cool crisp air hints of autumn, but part of me still lingers in summer.

As I edit this photo, my mind plays out one of those tiny moments that seem like nothing on the surface but still manage to float through my memories nearly 50 years later.

We'd just moved, from one tiny town to another, and this new world around me proved rich for exploring. My sister and I roamed everywhere, for blocks and blocks. Tiny patches of wild flowers, ripe for the picking dotted the landscape. These I could gather, take home, and enjoy. Sheer magic, indeed, since at our last home, I'd learned several hard lessons about not doing the same with our neighbor's plantings!

I can picture that corner where Green Street met one end of Octorara Avenue, thick with weeds, trees, and these tiny flowers I'd never noticed before. Gravel bit into my knees, as I knelt down to investigate further, then begin to pick. 

Flash forward a bit, the scene shifting to my mother and I sitting on her bed, flowers everywhere and soft afternoon light coming through the sheers on her windows. She gently explains that the flowers are Bachelor's Buttons, a name that made no sense to this 7 year old. So, we talked.

We talked about what a bachelor was, a very strange concept initially because pretty much everyone I knew seemed to be married. With a bit of gently prodding on my mom's part, I realized that many of my uncles were the perfect example of bachelors, never married, probably never would be.

But then, more confusion ensued. As my mom explained that many bachelors wore flowers in the lapels of their suits, especially on important occasions, I began to protest. My seemingly almost always drunk unmarried uncles would not have been caught dead with a flower anywhere on them.

I don't remember how mom explained that one; mostly I just remember that tangle of utter confusion about this flower's name mixed with delight in the flower itself. 

It's such a tiny memory, a few random minutes of my childhood, of my mother. 

A few random minutes intertwined with love. 


I Just Want to Say


Death has been dancing on the fringes of my life for these past few uncle of a family member, a friend of my sister's, people related to those I've come to know on line.

But, last night, he sucker punched me, even though I knew he lurked nearby for someone I loved dearly, my dad.

We're never ready, really ready, I think. I wasn't.

Logically, we all know death is inevitable. Logically.

But, not emotionally.

Because even though I knew it was time, really well past time, it seemed, I'm just not ready.

But, ready or not, death claimed my dad last night.

Right now, I'm a bit adrift and caught up in all that death entails. So many arrangements to be made. A jugging of who can be there, and who can't. Figuring out who will play what part in the days to come.

The business of death keeps everyone moving and doing. The emotional crash will come sometime next week, I think.

For now, I'm focusing on what needs to be done.

The monkeys seem to be in control of my mind, willy nilly tossing out thoughts and memories like so many seeds scattered on the spring breezes.

For now, from my heart to his, because in so many senses, he'll always be with me:


Now that you've gone,

I just want to say that I loved you,

And that I woke up thinking that you can't possibly not be here with me.


I want you to know now that you've left,

That you taught me so much

Lessons tucked here and there in the busy-ness of life.


I love the memories of you leaving everyone laughing

As you walked away, a twinkle in your dark brown eyes

And a shit eating grin on your face.


Let me just say that the days ahead

Are going to be incredibly tough

Gathering together to honor not your passing, but your life.


I've always thought that funerals should be

More about celebrating

And less about dark clothes and gloomy faces.

You loved to laugh, to dance, and

You took every chance to be ornery that you could find.


Let me just say,

That I know you had faults.

Don't we all?

But you never left me feeling unloved.


Now, that you're gone,

I want to tell you thank you

For teaching me that this world holds so much magic

And that I need to get out and see it.


Know that I loved it all

The hot dog pieces floating in Campbell's chicken noodle soup.

I thought you quite the chef.

The beach trips with all of us tucked

Into that one tiny trailer, like sardines in a can.

The gift of photography and

The ability to capture light.


Let me just say,

That I'll hold these memories and more,

Tucked into my soul and my heart

And, I'll toss them into the air

Like confetti

And capture all of their magic in my hands.



He Sang to Me

Nov2016backyard 058

Just 7 days ago found us on the road to Pennsylvania and to my dad.

Dad's beat the averages several times; most patients admitted to a dementia ward live about 18 months. Dad's well past that, and although the mental decline grows rapidly, he's a strong old man and a force to be reckoned with when he doesn't feel like complying. Having blood drawn or his fingernails cut invoke his wrath, but so does simply getting out of bed some mornings. The nurses and aides learned to read his moods years ago, and they know when to let him just be.

I never know which dad I'll find; I do know, with certainty that it won't be the one I grew up or the one I knew even 10-15 years ago. I enter through Wallingford's doors just hoping that he'll acknowledge my presence. During many visits, he's simply sat in his chair, not making eye contact, not saying a word, even when spoken to. Other visits, he's slept through, so I just sit vigil for a bit and then leave.

This was a "good" visit. I found him wide awake, a twinkle in his eye, and full of things to say. His voice is weaker now, and so soft, that we have to lean forward to begin to figure out what he's saying. Most of the time, it's sheer and utter nonsense, random babblings of a mind that's gone missing.

He talked, talked, and talked some more. At times, he was back during the time of WWII and on a naval carrier. Other times, he'd gone dancing and looking for girls. He proudly informed me that he never had trouble finding a girl since he could dance so well. And, when they got tired of dancing, they'd go walking and do "other things." Usually at this point, I'd try to distract him, because it's definitely uncomfortable to hear those exploits from your dad!

He informed Phil that he had some lovely daughters back in Parkesburg and invited him to come home with him and pick one out. Phil assured him he'd do so, and then turned and grinned at me.

Dad then turned to me, and softly said that the best thing he'd ever done was to marry me, and I knew that he thought I was my mother, so I sat up a bit straighter and really tried to hear what he was saying. In all his years since the stroke that accelerated his dementia and landed him in Wallingford, he's very rarely mentioned my mother.

And, then, he began to croon songs to me, mostly nonsensical words, but I rarely heard Dad sing while growing up, and I never heard him sing to my mother.

Did he sing to her while he courted her? I'll never know for sure, but I think he must have.

His voice shifted a bit, a subtle change, and as I listened I heard, "I love you, I love you, I love you."

I don't know what look was on my face; it must have been a mixture of sheer and utter disbelief mixed with happiness.

Dad was definitely a product of his times; he never said, "I love you" aloud. I knew I was loved, well and truly loved, but the words never got said, on his end anyway. Even well after I grew up, when I'd kiss him, he'd nod his head, and say, "mmm...hmmm."

I wish I had thought to record him, but I was so completely caught up in the moment, I just sat, smiled, and told him that I loved him back.

He'll never know the gifts he gave me last Friday...being present to me, his voice and non stop chatter, his talking of my mother. But, most of all, those words.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," he sang, complete with a few blown kisses my way.

Oh, Dad, I love you, too. Somewhere in the deep nooks and crannies of a mind gone astray, I hope you know that.

I love you.

Do You Remember?


I love snail mail, the making, sending, and receiving of it. Not much else that appears in my mailbox makes me smile the way snail mail does, and certainly not the bills. The junk mail, at least, has the possibility of ending up in my journals as "art."

I also think that life's simple moments make the absolutely best memories.

So, a few weeks ago, I conned convinced my most awesome sister, Denise, to participate in a project where we would snail mail each other memories from our childhood or more (much more) recent past. The snail mail could be note cards, letters, post cards, whatever fit the moment. We'd do it when we could, no specific timetable. I wanted this to be workable, or as we say, the most "awful fun."

A few days ago, I received the card you see above. Denise wrote, " Do you remember peeking inside the trunk of the cherry tree near the kitchen? A mama bird would build a nest in a hollow spot in the tree trunk each year. We would wait for her to fly away and then run to steal a peek of her babies."

And, yep, that long forgotten memory came flooding back. We've each sent two now, and I wish I'd thought to document and share them here before.

I first sent her a postcard of Chincoteague, reminding her of the time where we swore to my dad that we'd be sure to take the rental key with us, since he'd not be around to let us into the house. You can see where this is going, right? We left it behind, and when we got back, sure enough, Dad was gone, and we'd locked ourselves out. No way on God's good earth were we going to wait for him to return and suffer his laughter. So, we broke in, all the while laughing like loons and hoping no one would see and report our efforts. Long story short, I tumbled through a window we'd prodded open, fell onto the kitchen floor, and could not stop laughing to let her inside. We kept that secret from Dad for YEARS until my husband blew it wide open in casual conversation, which immediately ceased while Dad raised his eyebrows and just gave us the "LOOK."

Denise replied with memories of running and jumping along a pile of rocks that created a jetty in Rehoboth. I never could understand why this activity caused my mother to have near heart attacks, until a few years ago when I stood and looked at that jetty, wondering where in the hell my mind was all those times! We had absolutely no fear back then, and we did it as often as we could.

I then sent Denise a card reminiscing about the time that Mama Cat and her daughter, Katie, each had a litter of 6 kittens withing days of each other. Two mamas with 12 babies between them. My mother wept, and even my dad's face blanched. Another sister proudly told everyone that we had a "real cat house in our garage."

And, now, I've got another memory ready to be dropped off at the post office, and in a few days, when I think she's gotten it, I'll reveal its contents here, because I don't want to ruin her surprise.

I love the idea of all of this - the memories surfacing and being shared, the cards that brighten our mail boxes, and the thought that after a period of time, we'll each have a wonderful bundle of memories, for us, and for our kids after we've gone, not that either of us plans on making our departure any time soon!

As we say, it's just the most "awful fun!"


From Hot Dogs to Lobster, Part 1


Wednesday night brought IKEA and hot dogs; Thursday night brought Wegman's and lobster. Both nights gifted me two of the people I love.

Phil and I excel, Olympic gold medal style, at fake shopping. Two nights ago, we meandered through IKEA, redesigning our home from bedrooms to living rooms, with a few additional things thrown into our imaginary cart.

Just a few years ago, this fake shopping would create a bit of a brat in me, the screaming two year temper tantrum kind of brat. That brat wanted it now, right now, because what she had wasn't good enough, and later simply would not do. I could give you a myriad of reasons as to why I felt and acted this way. Let's just say I've gotten over it.

I can now fake shop with the best of them, every now and then jotting down a few items that truly might become reality, or at the very least inspiration for what I could do, adding my own twist.

I confess to loving IKEA, loving the displays that heap, pile, string multiple copies of the same item. (I still lust over those hanging industrial style light bulbs...) IKEA on the weekends equals a full blown nightmare of children running amok, families strung across the aisle so that you can't pass, long lines stretching into eternity and beyond, and more. IKEA on week nights equals lots of space, few if any screaming children, your choice of short lines, and plenty of time to gather inspiration and ideas.

We ended up buying packages of napkins, those wonderfully big, inexpensive, brightly colored packs of napkins. Their colors make me smile. Happiness needn't cost much.

And, as always, we celebrated with the two dollar hot dog deal.

I need to tell you that I don't much enjoy hot dogs. At best, I tolerate them, but Phil and I like our silly traditions.

It began quite innocently, on one of those days where IKEA strove to be - and succeeded at being -  one of Dante's levels of sheer hell. Painfully crawling along behind about 80% of Virginia's population, Phil became grumpier and grumpier. Knowing full well that traffic on local highways and byways would be moving even more slowly, I suggested we grab a hot dog.

Please note that I am making a wifely sacrifice here; as much as I barely tolerate hot dogs, my husband adores them.

Despite my best efforts, one word snapped resoundingly out of his mouth.


Armed with the knowledge that his grumpiness would accelerate exponentially, I persisted with a "Are you sure?"

His response caused a few heads to turn, "Damn it, I said NO!"

Bags full, I steered him toward those hot dogs anyway, informing him that he needed a hot dog, and that I didn't care much for angry grumpy husbands. I especially  didn't care for ones that would be crawling along through Virginia traffic hell shortly.

Insert dramatic pause here, as he stared at me, and then God bless his sense of humor, he just stood, laughed aloud, and agreed to eating a few hot dogs.

Fast forward a bit...the eating of hot dogs became a challenge. Whenever we travel, we look for quirky independently owned hot dog stands to visit. One of my favorites, King Tut's, remains on our need to visit list.

Better yet, a Bogdan catch phrase came into existence.

"Aw, does some one need a hot dog?" said in a dramatically silly voice signals the family member being addressed that they're being somewhat of a complete jerk. Without fail, the idiot of the moment loses it, laughs, and the situation improves.

I even took the expression into the classroom, the silliness of it amusing my middle schoolers. Once, unknowingly I told the story to my class on the very day our cafeteria offered hot dogs.

Going outside to pick up my group, they were literally jumping with excitement to tell me they'd had hot dogs. Several of them added that they really didn't much like them either, but because I'd told the story, they felt they had to buy them. Everyone agreed that they were the best hot dogs they had.

To be continued...




Lock Down


"Active shooter at the hospital. We are on lock down. Of course, I have to go to the bathroom."

I laughed out loud...yep, of course, the bathroom. His "Casual stroll bys" to the nearest bathroom make for a great running gag here abouts.

But, then I focused on the first part of the message.

Active shooter?

There's an active shooter and this idiot's last words to me are, "Of course, I have to go the the bathroom?"

You often read about these sorts of messages, messages sent during a crisis situation that profess undying love. Me? I get told that he has to go to the bathroom!

Plainly, I was not on all cylinders here, if I were having a snit fit about his message. I knew he wasn't at the hospital on base, but active shooters are known to travel. And, let's face it, if it the shooter was military, chances are he/she could have some great access to some powerful weapons.

Yesterday, we celebrated our wedding anniversary - 42 years and counting. On our way to a wonderful old used bookstore (We tend to really do things up when we celebrate.), we'd been chatting about my nephew, due to head out to Turkey soon to work with refugee children. The recent terrorist attack there had stirred things up a bit on our end, and my sister, God bless her, put on a brave face, admitted to being scared to death, but whole heartily supported her son and his decision to go. Phil and I chatted briefly about the world in general, and its many opportunities for danger. Without much fanfare, we reaffirmed out choice to continue to live our lives the best we can, and more importantly, not to live them around fear. Little did I know that fear would rear its ugly head about 12 hours later.

My cell phone rang, my daughter on the other end.

"Dad's teleworking today, right?"

"Nope, honey, he's right in the middle of that lock down mess. He's complaining about not being able to go the bathroom."

We both laughed, promised each other to keep in touch, and went about our business, phones kept nearby.

You see, we'd done this drill before. Several times.

Just missing a bomb at the IG Farben building when stationed overseas.

Being in the Pentagon on 9-11, yards from where the plane rolled to a halt. Waiting hours to hear if he were alive, all the time rocking my students as they sobbed and waited for a parent to come get them. Watching him go back into a still burning Pentagon the next day, to show the rest of the world that we would not be defeated. (If you watched the coverage that day, there was a smiling man cheerfully waving to the reporters as he stood in line to enter that burning building. Yep, the very same idiot...and I say that in a loving way...whose last words could well have been about the bathroom. He's mine, all mine, and has been for 42 years.)

About a year later, we dealt with the DC Snipers.

Throughout the years, this sense of what could go wrong, tends to reside in the back corners of our minds. If we chose to focus on it for any great length of time, we'd all be nuts. It comes with living in the DC area, and it comes with his job.

I can still picture the day that I figured out that his then job (computer on the back up plane for Air Force 1) mandated that in effect of nuclear war, he'd leave on that plane. It absolutely horrified me that he could get on that plane knowing full well he'd be leaving us to die. His only response as I went ballistic was that it was his job. Finally after about 24 hours of disbelief, I shoveled that bit to the back of my mind as well, because, honestly, should that scenario play out, he'd be the one behind. We, most likely, wouldn't know a thing.

So, yeah, we've been there and done that in various forms, and we'd made a very deliberate decision not to focus on it all. Except, that sometimes, like today, it spills over into reality.

I briefly checked the news outlets; they really knew nothing but were doing a fine job of speculating, and I didn't need that. So, I prepped dinner, did some laundry, edited a few photos. I knew to keep busy; sitting, sobbing, and worrying wouldn't help. I put out a few calls for prayers, let a few folks know that most likely, Phil was not anywhere near the action, and just kept moving.

A bit later my daughter texted that Joint Base Andrews had been given the all clear. I briefly checked the news, still tons of speculation, but the upshot seems to be that a practice drill for active shooter on base was slated for today. Apparently, someone who missed the memo about this being a practice, looked out a window, say some men with some awfully big weapons, and called for help. The news reporters kept harping on finding out why not everyone on base knew about the practice drill. Well, I can answer that...people don't read all their email and memos. That's pretty much a topic of daily conversation here. Phil does an awful lot of briefings for folks that don't read their daily reports. The reporters dramatically voiced that the folks at Andrews had been on lock down most of the morning. Well, nope, not really. It lasted maybe an hour and a half. Now, to those sheltering in place, unsure of what's happening, that would be a very long 1 1/2 hours. But, it's not most of the morning. This is why I rarely watch/listen to the news.

I relayed what I knew to key folks, barraged heaven with thank you prayers, and continued with my day. No message yet from Phil, but having an idea of how things worked, I just waited.

And, sure enough, about 1/2 hour his message lit up my screen.

"All done. Long line at the bathroom!"

Yeah, honey, I love you too.

So, we'll talk a bit this evening, and then, simply put it away in that  back corner of our minds, making that choice to not let fear take over our lives. We'll enjoy the twits, each other, our family, and more.

But, I have to tell you, I'd just as soon not do this again any time soon.



The Gifts of Ordinary Days


A low long roll of thunder woke me this morning, and I instinctively snuggled deeper into the covers, listening to the rain, perfectly content. Eyes finally adjusting to the darkness - no morning light dancing across the hardwood floors today - I ventured downstairs to grab my coffee, being careful not to be waylaid by a lurking cat, desperate to join me in bed.

Back upstairs to light a candle, sit and meditate in the morning's silence, and offer up my prayers and thoughts for the day. Morning pages written, I treated myself to more coffee and a podcast.

Yesterday, I wore my cranky pants all day, no special reason, just out of sorts. I had meant to clean the house, do some writing, edit some photos. Nothing on this list got done; I spent the day curled up, doing crossword puzzles, Suduku puzzles, and getting lost in the maze otherwise known as the interwebs. I know that each day gives its own gifts, but I had a hard time finding them yesterday. I can see them now, but yesterday? Yesterday seemed to be a lost cause.

Last Saturday, though? Just a perfectly ordinary, beautiful day, full of gifts and tiny ordinary miracles. Saturday was the kind of day that feeds my soul.

Most weekends we have the twits, often together, and we've learned to get them outside and moving whenever we can. Ages 5 1/2 and nearly 8, they each possess the energy of an atomic bomb. After tooling around in Twit#1's car, helping Grandpa to gather sticks to be burned, digging for rocks (Our yard is the mother lode of rocks; the boys seem to be constructing a funeral pyre of rocks, and we're not sure who/what is going to be sacrificed!), the natives showed signs of restlessness, with tiny spats rising to the surface.

Out came the corn hole boards and beanbags...perfect! Each twit had his own board and supply of bean bags, so no need to wait for his turn. After a few reminders that we did not want to hear competitive counting, we let them at it.

Sitting in the shade, watching the light skittering across the yard, I shot photo after photo and simply enjoyed watching them play.

Placing a stick in the grass to serve as the throwing spot, the fun began. Twit#2, a bit unhappy with the reminders to stand behind the stick, indulged in a bit of problem solving, grinned at us, and moved the stick closer to the corn hole boards!

Eventually tiring of throwing straight at the board and creative counting - Twit#2 had reached Googleflex20 after all, the next level of fun began. Facing away from the boards, they thew the bean bags without looking to see if they could earn some points. A bit later, the corn hole boards got upended and leaned against a tree to serve as a basketball hoop of sorts. Let me tell you, dribbling bean bags takes some skill!

Still later, the boards found themselves serving as soccer goals, and when we eventually went inside, they became - along with the couch cushions and a few blankets, the perfect walls for a fort. I loved watching the natural progression of ways to use the corn hole boards, and I wondered why, as adults, we can't hold onto this sort of "outside the box" thinking that often happens so naturally in kids.

The day ended with catching fire flies and marveling at the tiny light shows.

Very little TV or electronic devices crept into the day; instead, good physical play, lots of creative thinking, and a ton of laughter. Each of us simply enjoyed the moments as they came, no real plans or structure in mind. It all seemed so perfect...sun light, no humidity, simple meals, and so much fun.

So, today. Today will be the cleaning I didn't do yesterday, as I indulged in sulking and crankiness. The herb stuffed pork roast will get popped into the oven right after Phil comes home. I'll indulge in writing out some snail mail - I love writing and sending real mail! I'm sure a few puzzles will get worked, some art made, some reading done.

But most of all, I'll focus on what's good and right with my life today; the cranky pants lie buried under some dirty laundry.

I don't plan on getting back to them any time soon.