Life’s Souvenirs

Photo Souvenirs

How is it that a trinket, of little or no cost, and only meaningful to the beholder, can stir up such emotions?

Souvenir #1
Whenever I look at the price ticket I’ve saved all these years, I smile to think how my negotiating skills started to develop at a young age. It was all due to a $13 dress that I wore to my first dance on a Friday the 13th.

Smiling and confident, I wait for just the right moment to approach my mom. I introduce my case in a short concise presentation and finish by making my request known. Bargaining commenced, both sides cordial, but willfully strong as to their intended outcomes. When the dust settles, we shake on a mutually agreed upon resolution: the black velvet dress with the white lace collar would be my mine to wear to the dance… and also on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and every other upcoming holiday.

Souvenir #2
After the Camino in 2018, we travel to Finesterre- Latin for “the end of the earth.” I situate myself on a flat rock and sit cross legged with my eyes closed and my hands in prayer at my heart. I hear the sound of a flute. A young man has chosen this spot to play for tips. His melody is harmonizing with the sound of the waves and I experience such peace. For a moment, I feel as if I am outside my body and wonder if this is what practicing meditation correctly feels like. The word “peace” keeps coming to mind and I tell myself that I don’t want to forget this feeling when I go back to my busy life. Eyes now open, I feel energized, yet so serene.

As we head back to our hotel, I notice two older pilgrims walking toward us. The one that looks like Santa Claus – except he’s wearing sandals and shorts – stops in front of me and hands me something. I hesitate and shake my head no, but he insists and says “Yes, for you.” As he walks on, I look down to see what he has given me. It is a card with a lovely hand drawn picture of a dove that I’ve since framed. Across the bottom are the words “Peace, Paz.”

Souvenir #3
The shells that I keep on my dresser always remind me of the 100 steps to the beach we would count out loud, as we ran up and down them. It holds memories of the time my younger sister stood on a sand hill, and with hands on hips, declared she was going to be a nurse when she grew up, get married and she and her family were going to live in our summer home. She did and they did!

Sauntering down that same beach years later, the heart shaped rock my sister found and handed to me stirred me out of my daydream. As the ocean waves repeated the same, never-ending crashing sound around us, just as they had back then, it seemed that nothing had changed, yet everything was so different.

Hang on to your memories and your mementos, keep them close and, once in a while, let them remind you of a time in your life that’s passed, but is never really gone.

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Senior Living: Not For the Faint of Heart

Photo JC Birthday

She’s double booked herself again. Tomorrow’s day trip was her idea, so she shouldn’t miss it, but her hair appointment got rescheduled for the same day. She promised The Knockouts – her boxing partners – she wouldn’t skip a class, but now water aerobics is at the same time.

When you’re 92 years young with a busy schedule, it’s hard to fit everything into a day – especially when Happy Hours start at 4 p.m.! My mom is a wonder and a force to be reckoned with. Moving into a new senior residence has given her even more pep and vitality, something we didn’t even think was possible.

According to the International Council on Active Aging, in 2020 the number of people age 60 years and over passed the 1 billion mark for the first time ever. That relates to one in every seven people with a higher average disposable income and more time to enjoy life than previous generations.

Seniors are trending as the fastest growing demographic and sparking excitement as marketers rush to cater to this lucrative untapped market. There was a time when old age meant declining into inactivity. Now, these new customers don’t let age hold them back. Young at heart and in good physical health, their zest for life leads them to look for challenging experiences and embrace life to the fullest.

Mom recently returned from a trip to New York, St. Pete Beach and Disneyworld with my sister. October is already on the calendar for a family trip to Puerto Rico. Now, she’s focused on 2023 travel plans. She’s been in contact with a younger friend, while also helping a new friend train to be free of her walker. My guess is she’s grooming her to be her next cruise partner.

Every year on her birthday, we convince her to wear her birthday outfit: white dress, silver jewelry and, of course, silver birthday crown. She’s always said “When you’ve got it, flaunt it” and now is definitely no time to stop!

As the population matures around us, seniors bring with them a newfound determination to practice Carpe Diem – Latin for “seize the day.” They’ve demonstrated that older is now synonymous with wiser, optimism can benefit you as a lifestyle choice, and seizing the day can be accomplished with style, grace and swagger.

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Pencil Me In?

Photo Pencil Me In

I have the uncanny ability to tell you what I was doing on any given day, beginning as far back as 1969. This has less to do with my psychic abilities and more to do with the small month-at-a-glance calendars distributed for free each year by Hallmark. For years, appointments along with noteworthy occasions were documented neatly in those small squares. Once Hallmark no longer cooperated with my calendar dependency, I graduated to a Filofax, the epitome of personal organization.

Recently, one of our neighbors announced, after a vacation to New Mexico, they planned to relocate there. They quickly sold their home, car, RV, truck and most of their furniture to other neighbors and were on their way, mentioning they planned to “pencil things in” as they went along.

That stopped me in my tracks! You see, in all of my calendars nothing seems to appear in pencil. I am strictly a pen/permanent marker girl. If you pencil things in, you are, in fact, winging it and have the ability to change or even erase your plans. I seem to have been born without the “play it by ear” or “off the cuff” gene. Which brought me to thinking about the yellow stick that started it all: the pencil.

When Hyman Lipman invented the pencil with the built-in eraser in 1895, writers everywhere were eternally grateful, no longer having to carry around a stale baguette under their arm. Before Hyman’s invention, the baguette was known to be the most effective way to erase ink off a page.

The best graphite came from China. In order to promote the fact their pencils carried the best quality lead, Chinese pencil manufacturers started painting their pencils yellow, the color associated with royalty.

Pencils have made their mark on history. In 1800s England, stealing a pencil meant banishment to the penal colony for seven years. Once graphite was found to be the perfect coating for cannonballs, it became a precious commodity on the black market. Mining workers were forced to strip before heading home and consumers were hoodwinked into purchases of wooden sticks painted yellow with black tips. During World War II, rotary pencil sharpeners were banned in England and people were encouraged to use a knife, thought to be a less wasteful way to sharpen.

Famous authors have drawn on the simple pencil for inspiration. In a 1935 article in Esquire magazine, Ernest Hemingway acknowledged the pencil as a means of constantly and easily refining his work. Working in his father’s pencil factory as a young man, Henry David Thoreau was responsible for introducing the measurement for the hardness of pencil lead. Having calculated levels from numbers one to four, the number two pencil became the standard in the U.S..

A single pencil has enough graphite to draw a line 35 miles long or write 45,000 words. Even though I have since moved on to a calendar on my iPhone, perhaps I should try to sharpen my skills, introduce the pencil to my writing world and not worry about being so precise. Write or wrong, it may be pointless, but it’s worth a try.

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Charleston, South Carolina: A City With Good Taste- November 2022

Photo Charleston Plantation                                                    Boone Hall Plantation

You won’t find any skyscrapers in Charleston. The cobblestone streets, horse drawn carriages and pastel colored antebellum homes are a testament to the city’s rigorous preservation and strict architectural guidelines. 

Humbled by its air of aristocracy and elegance, I couldn’t help but think of the element of human suffering that lurks in the city’s shadows. The city was the key port responsible for the sale and transport of enslaved African Americans to all the major cities in the U.S. Rather than shying away from its history, Charleston strives to tell the real stories of its past by honoring it and educating us. 

Stay

Our Airbnb was just a couple of blocks from King Street; the perfect location. It was a lovely, two story home and each bedroom had its own bathroom. I loved the cozy patio on the second floor and all the amenities the owner so thoughtfully left for us.

Savor

This is one of the few cities I’ve visited where making Open Table reservations one – two weeks ahead didn’t ensure our first restaurant choice. I’m not sure if COVID was to blame or if restaurants are always this crowded, but I suggest planning way ahead – especially if you’re a group, like we were. The six of us like to share entrees, so we experience the menu. Since we were in oyster country, our appetizer was a foregone conclusion.

We were introduced to our first taste of South Carolina’s low country cuisine at Delaney’s Oyster House. Seafood based and served mostly with rice, it’s similar to New Orleans’ creole style cooking. Dining in the historic home, we had a view of the palm trees swaying on the outdoor patio as we feasted on crab and rice, swordfish and fried oysters. By the time we dined at Poogan’s Porch, a restored Victorian home, we were well versed in the cuisine and headed right for the shrimp and grits, scallops and fried chicken.

Never ones to pass up French restaurants, we were not disappointed with the mussels and frites at the cozy Bistronomy. At 39 Rye de Jean, housed in a lovely building circa the 1800s, we enjoyed the scallops, pork chops and lamb shank, and chuckled at the sign above the bar that read “Ooh La La.”

We were impressed when one of the members of the Hyman family stopped by our table to greet us. Hyman’s Seafood, the big, rollicking family owned restaurant has been perfecting itself since 1890. We were greeted with tastes of warm hushpuppies while we waited outside for our table (no reservations are accepted). Brian has been cajoling anyone that walks by into tasting their specialty for years. The combination of the warm, cornmeal based golden fritters and his warm smile and big personality, made it hard to say no. While we waited for our (award winning) she crab soup and fried seafood, served with more hushpuppies, we took turns reading aloud the small cards left on the table. Each with its own positive saying, you are invited to choose your favorite and then turn it in at the gift shop for a free magnet with that same saying. You can guess where we headed right after lunch. At first, we were surprised to see six large, old fashioned working sinks in the middle of the shop, but then realized how clever that was. They were placed there to wash your hands with their famous salt scrub and give it a try before you made a purchase. 

The message on the menu read “Lard Have Mercy!” That set the tone for Sunday Brunch at Big Bad Breakfast. After ordering The Jack Benny (a crispy fried hash cake, two poached eggs, sliced ham, wilted spinach, hollandaise and ham powder), it was hard to choose a side, since it seemed as if most of the menu was already on my plate! My choice of the broiled, sugar coated bruleed grapefruit was a good one. Having raised breakfast to an art form, no reservations are accepted, but if there is a wait, it’ll be worth it. 

This is not your ordinary de-sanctified church turned bar/restaurant. Look up to the ceiling at Church and Union and you’ll notice rows of white cursive writing on the black ceiling. Artist, John Morris was commissioned to paint the inspirational messages from “The Wayward Seaman,” the 2500-year old manuscript that discusses the art of war. Penned by Chinese General, Sun Tzu in the fifth century, it provided motivational guidance and strategic thinking that proved applicable in all situations. One of my favorite quotes was “Move swift as the wind and closely formed as the wood.” Working 12 hours each evening, it took Morris six months to complete all 13 chapters. 

Sightsee

Walking to the wharf via historic King Street, it was refreshing to see local and regional shops outnumber national chains. Eclectic, yet exuding sophistication, we were taken with the area’s vibe. Across from waterfront park, you couldn’t help but stop in front of each mansion along the street to relish its splendor and wonder about its past.

When in Charleston, a plantation tour is a must! Named the No. 1 plantation in Charleston by USA Today, we chose Boone Hall Plantation, not the closest, but well worth the Uber ride. Built in 1681 by Englishman Major John Boone, the 738-acre estate is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is still a working farm.

Our tickets included an entire day of events and tours. Boone Hall is the only Charleston plantation to present a distinctive presentation titled “The Gullah Culture,” in which descendants of the Gullah people present the history of their slave culture through stories, song and dance. A tour of the mansion built in 1936 provided us with some background into the life of a plantation owner. A 40-minute tour of the grounds on a motorized tractor helped us appreciate the vastness of the property and its farm. The self-guided tour of the nine original slave cabins dating back to 1790 – 1810, were an emotional glimpse into the aspects of daily life.  

Still eager to discover more about this amazing city, we booked a walking tour through Walks of Charleston. Not only did our tour guide, Amy Tankersley, have a wonderful sense of humor, she had a way of making every detail interesting. Who else would take it upon themselves to actually construct a diorama in order to explain the original city’s walls?! I particularly loved the alleys we visited; narrow public streets that widened to all of a sudden surprise you with glances of interesting homes and beautiful gardens. We would never have found these hidden gems on our own or gained so much insight into Charleston. 

In only a few short days, Charleston had succeeded in winning us over us with its southern charm, reminding us “Y’all come back now, ya hear?”

Photo Charleston Alley

                                            Another “secret” public street

Something Old, Something New Mexico- October 2021

Photo Santa Fe 1

Albuquerque

New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque, spreads itself out in two distinct areas: a modern downtown and the historic Old Town, made up of adobe buildings dating back to 1706. 

Old Town is where we wanted to be, so we chose the Hotel Albuquerque, just a short walk away. The hotel lobby, with its tile floors, white adobe walls, rustic chandeliers and tooled leather furniture made up for the plainly decorated rooms. 

Shops and galleries specializing in Native America lined Old Town’s Plaza. Winding paths, placitas (small plazas) and gardens softened the tourist feel. The Sawmill Market, the 25.000 square foot artisanal food hall/market sits alongside lofts, artist studios and retail space in the Historic Sawmill District.

Dinner at El Patio was worth the drive. The old hacienda with its lush gardens and famous tree lined patio is home to their famous sopaipillas (English translation- sofa pillows); deep fried pastry eaten with honey as a bread. Serving Northern New Mexican food for the last 40 years, the large dining room at Tomasita’s had a loud, cheerful vibe and was the perfect place to share some of its lunch specialties.

The highlight of our Albuquerque visit was our stay at the Hotel Parq Central on our return to Albuquerque the last night of our trip. Though not as centrally located as the Hotel Albuquerque, the hotel provides shuttle service to the airport and within a three-mile radius of the hotel.

Listed on the National Historic Register, the hotel was once the home of the hospital for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad employees. Painstakingly renovated back to its 1926 splendor, every space exuded art deco elegance. I made it a point to luxuriate on a chaise lounge in the sun filled conservatory after our gourmet continental breakfast (included). We toasted to our last day in New Mexico while rocking in custom made rockers in the lovely manicured garden with a central fountain. Having visited their rooftop bar, The Apothecary, for a daytime view of the mountains, we just had to have a nightcap and a glimpse of the city view.

Santa Fe

Nestled in the rugged foothills of the Sangre Christo Mountains, travelers have long been  attracted to Santa Fe for its mystical energy and health focus. Not sure I completely understood, I was told by friends to “allow the environment to introduce itself by exploring its space.”

Explore we did and I began to recognize and appreciate the peaceful vibe. Even though the streets were crowded, there was this ever-present feeling of tranquility. Everyone seemed laid back and there no loud sounds trying to grab your attention.

Since a few of us were traveling together, an Airbnb was the perfect choice. It’s fun to breakfast and cocktail together each day, while still having your own space. A bottle of wine was there to greet us when we entered Casa Nona’s Two Casitas and we were immediately charmed by the Southwestern style furniture, heated floors and Kiva fireplace. 

Thanks to the audio tour, included in the ticket price (don’t forget your earbuds!), the Georgia O’Keefe Museum came alive and helped us to understand this iconic modernist artist. This quote of hers seemed to sum it all up – “I found I could say things with flowers and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way…things I had no words for.”

A visit to Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return was a must. Described as “a mind bending, interactive, immersive, explorable art experience,” it’s 70 rooms featured hands on art. Picture 100 artists given carte blanche to create their innermost psychedelic dreams in a cavernous space. As we entered through, what looked like a home, we quickly realized the only way to continue was either opening the refrigerator and walking through it or opening the clothes dryer door and sliding down it. Part jungle gym, part haunted house and part children’s museum, we all were enthralled with the level of creativity and downright outlandishness and realized the best way back to reality was via their bar. While the adventurous one in our group opted for a neon colored cocktail topped with cotton candy, the rest of us were content with a cold beer. 

Photo Santa Fe 2

We all agreed that dinner at Luminaria at the Inn and Spa at Loretta stood out as outstanding. We’re not sure what impressed us most: the adobe architecture, the famed Angus beef filet, the Heritage Duroc pork, or the purple potatoes. 

At $1300 per night, The Bishops Lodge is a soulful retreat on 317 secluded acres that border the Santa Fe National Forest and is the winner of the National Geographic Legacy Award. We brunched at their restaurant, Skyfire, which allowed us to tour the grounds, get a feel for the pueblo style resort/ranch’s ambiance and have a taste of their excellent roasted shrimp and grits with smoked pork belly.

On the other end of the spectrum, when we read that Dolina Bakery & Cafe, a small rather non-descript looking restaurant serving Eastern European food, was named one of the top restaurants, we had no choice but to give it a try. The chicken and waffles left us wondering how we could fit in another visit before we even left. 

Shopping the historic Santa Fe Plaza, we stopped in every shop and gallery until we each found just the right souvenir to bring home as a reminder of this very special city. 

Taos

Though a few extra miles drive, we chose to take the High Road, the 56-mile scenic winding road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Passing desert, mountains, forests and tiny pueblos, our first stop was El Santuario in Chimayo. Known as the “Lourdes of America,” three hundred thousand people make the pilgrimage here each year to dig up some of the sacred dirt, which, much like the water at Lourdes, is said to grant miracles. 

The Greater World Earthship Biotecture Community peaked our curiosity and we had to see it for ourselves. Back in the 1970s, architect Mike Reynolds purchased a sprawling 600-acre mesa and began creating homes that were entirely off the grid. Utilizing solar and wind power, these “earthships” were intentionally constructed out of recycled, reused and reclaimed materials. Rather than appearing to be space or hippy like dwellings, the homes had a surprisingly stylish look to them and a video of their interiors was rather impressive. Our only regret was that we realized too late we could have booked an overnight stay in one; next time!

Rather than book one of the resorts that offer a body-mind-spirit experience, due to our short visit, we opted to stay in town at the Hotel Don Fernando de Taos. Once again, a charming Southwest lobby gave way to non-descript rooms.

In the lovely little plaza and historic district, we chatted with an artist and purchased one of her watercolors of Chimayo. At the historic Taos Inn, we enjoyed Happy Hour and live music at Doc Martens, AKA “Taos’ living room,” and wondered why we hadn’t arrived in New Mexico sooner.

Photo Santa Fe 3

Ask…and You Just May Receive

Photo Never Hurts to AskI I I can hear it now; the collective gasp from the Millennial population that live in JC’s* swanky building if they ever found out that JC has not had a rent increase since she moved there in 2016!

How, why, you ask? It involves just a five-word mantra that anyone can adopt:” It never hurts to ask!” Sure, you’re putting yourself “out there,” each time you take a chance and ask for something, but think of it as gambling with nothing to lose.

First, let’s concentrate on your demeanor and take a lesson from JC’s playbook. You need to dress for success. Looking your best will boost your confidence. Take a minute to take a deep breath and rationalize that your request is a fair and equitable one.

With a smile on your face and with your head tilted ever so slightly to either the left or right, look directly into the person’s eyes and ask your question. Then- and this is most important- do not say a word. At this point, silence is golden and is a game changer. It will seem like hours and you will want to blurt out a long explanation, but that minute or two will usually turn the awkward silence into a win for you.

This can also be adapted to phone conversations. Dress for success is still applicable. PJs just don’t give you the same performance level. Try standing up and smiling when you begin to speak and remember to stop talking.

Mr. Wiz,*a shining example of poise and self-assurance, has been preaching this refrain to me since we met. I’ve watched aghast as he negotiated a discount in a department store on a high-ticket item (I didn’t know that was even possible) and with a brief explanation, offered, what I thought to be, an insultingly low bid on our dream condo which was immediately accepted.

Shy at first, I began my training slowly:

  • In the grocery store, I asked if I could switch to an available brand of soup and still receive the sale price; it worked!

  • Now with a spring in my step, I walked into Dunkin’ Donuts and said since the gift card I had purchased for my boss had not been validated, I embarrassingly had to retrieve it and return to the store. The least they could do was treat Mr. Wiz and me to a complimentary breakfast. Five minutes later, we were enjoying their ham, egg and cheese sandwiches.

  • It was time to conquer the ultimate challenge. After some yoga deep breathing, I gathered myself together and called my credit card company. The concierge that had booked our high-speed train tickets had neglected to email the tickets to me at our hotel. We had no choice, but to go to the train station and pick them up, resulting in us missing out on a whole day of sightseeing. I felt we were justified to receive the expensive European train tickets at no charge; they agreed.

Practice makes perfect. With a little fortitude and a lot of moxie, you can change the course of your life, one simple question at a time. It never hurts to ask!

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

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Ready, Set, Unmask?!

Image

I wasn’t sure if I was ready to reveal myself. Being in disguise all this time, I blamed my late bloomer tendencies for not being one of the first to unveil, much like a bear that cautiously steps out of hibernation into his new surroundings.

But, I can honestly say all it took was a couple of hugs, dinner at a favorite restaurant and the opportunity to dance to win me back and I began to wonder if the past year and a half was all a dream. Once again, I could smile at strangers and watch their countenance change before my eyes. No longer would I have to suppress my hugging tendencies. I could shake your hand and not strain to hear your voice from six feet away. 

Ever the enthusiast of the glass being half full, I began to wonder if my mask was revealing as much as it had concealed. It gave me a newfound respect for my sister and her profession as a nurse. Due to a limited supply of N95 masks, she initially had to travel forty minutes each way to have hers sterilized each morning. With so many unanswered questions about COVID, she undressed at the door each evening and left her work laptop outside. Meditation helped her get through those perilous days and has since become a part of her life.

JC* loved living with millennials in her chic downtown apartment, until they all started working from home, never to be seen in the daylight again. This was not a concept that she was familiar with and it took some explaining. We joked and told her had she been employed March 14, 2020, one day after the city shutdown, she probably would have been fired. Through it all, she remained her usual fun loving, upbeat self and I was so proud of her. Alone during quarantining, she worked on her paint by number art, knitted hats for charity, called friends, researched vacation locations and filled up her bucket list.

I perused my phone’s contact list, stopped to think about each person, and decided to reach out to them. Keeping in touch with my sister weekly on Zoom, the goal to make her laugh, brought her, JC and me even closer. FaceTime with family replaced visits and was never taken for granted. Considering time to be a gift, I had no excuse but to use it wisely. 

Though I’m not exactly sure where we are now (mask or unmask?), I’ll make an effort to try not to take anything for granted again. If I do, I’ll take out my collection of face masks and marvel at how such a small piece of cloth could hide me behind it and change me so significantly. 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

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A Pickle, a Ball and Me

Photo Pickleball

Though diminutive in size, this one inch pickle pin is the pride and joy of our neighborhood’s Pickleball community.

“I’m bored, there’s nothing to do.” That whiny lament has been heard by parents everywhere, but back in the summer of 1985, little did three dads know that inventing a game in order to entertain their bored children would create a world phenomenon known as Pickleball.

A cross between badminton, table tennis and tennis, this is how Pickleball originated. The smaller court meant less running and helped to make the game so popular. With 37 countries now members of the International Pickleball Federation, it is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. with over 2 million players.

Was the game named after one of the family dogs? Did one of the wives liken the combination of different sports to the pickle boat in crew where oarsman are chosen from leftovers of other boats? Though accounts of how the name originated differ, it is agreed no actual pickles are involved in the playing of the game.

It’s safe to say there will be no golden pickles in my future. According to the official Pickleball dictionary, this is when you win a game on your first serve, never giving the opposing team the chance to serve.

Unfortunately, my clumsiness prevents me from participating. I don’t say that to hear I should just give it a try or with practice, I could become a good player. I know my limitations and awkwardness is just something that has always accompanied me through life.

Years ago when I first met my new boss, who happened to be Mr. Wiz,* I tripped over my own feet as we strolled down New York City’s Fifth Avenue. As I lay there on my stomach in my new suit and matching heels, a crowd formed around us as he helped me up. I tried to brush it off as I brushed myself off, quickly cleaning the blood off my knees with my saliva and trying to turn the rips in my hose off to one side.

The next day, the rain did not deter us and I was feeling great in my new matching raincoat and hat. I was impressed Mr. Wiz wanted to stop in at one of those ritzy Madison Avenue jewelry stores where ringing the bell lets you in and I felt so elegant as we entered. Then, when I looked down, the water that had gathered on the brim of my hat hit the jewelry case and all the security alarms in the store started to screech. As we were quickly escorted back out to the street by the security guards, all I could think to say was “Lunch?”

Preparing to regally walk down the staircase from my bedroom for a first date and then falling, tripping in my garden and on to all the plants; these are just reminders I’m right when I say I have two left feet.

Luckily, it’s all worked out for me. I focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t and when I ever do misstep, I know Mr. Wiz is always there with a loving smile and a strong arm to lift me up and remind me it’s not about the trip, but about the journey.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

Author’s Note:
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Moving to the Rhythm of Nature’s Song

Photo Rhythm Natures Song

“Are you OK?” My neighbor noticed me lying on my stomach with my hands under my chin, staring at a plant in my garden that looked as though it had seen better days. After I answered all was well, I realized I might have been in the same position longer than I had thought.

“Black thumb” gardener that I am, (the result of city condo living for 25 years), I was disturbed to see some of our plants were not responding to the Texas sun after our major frost. I thought I noticed something green measuring half the size of my pinkie nail on one of the crispy dark gray branches that was once a beautiful full bush with bright orange flowers. Having originally thought it a weed, I was delighted to see it was the tiniest of buds, after all!

If only we all could be as resilient as plants. What Mother Nature teaches her flock is how to come back even stronger. How must a small seed feel, knowing it must prepare itself to push up through all the black, dense dirt in order to thrive? Or, how about a tree whose branches are so strongly bent? Unaware of its peculiarity and against all odds, it just keeps growing.

Watching some ants march past me, I was fascinated at their teamwork and organization. Persistence counteracts any obstacles and goals are met. Instead of those fancy employee team building exercises, companies should bring their staff outside, lie on their stomachs next to me, and document their tiny compadres’ remarkable achievements.

Deep in thought, I realize I am being serenaded, once again, by Enrico Caruso. Having named this tiny bird with the melodious voice after one of the most famous Italian opera singers, I look forward to his daily recitals. He stands majestically on my neighbor’s roof and sings his heart out, never letting his size impact his stature.

Brushing myself off, I stand up ready to continue the day with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. When I take the time to pay attention to what nature has to reveal, she never ceases to amaze me.

Come forth into the light of things,
let nature be your teacher

William Wordsworth

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