Tuesday, May 12, 2015


One of my current projects was sorting photographs. I bought a nice re-usable bag for each family and filled it with photos, albums, framed photos, and other memorabilia. I gave them out on Mother's Day. They had fun looking through their things...but the next day, the bags were still here. Frowny face.

We had a nice time, though, with a simple meal of pizza from Papa Murphy's and ice cream for dessert and a fruit salad. A no-stress meal.

Lovely cards and flowers.

And we got a new driveway!

Kristi, my Livestrong instructor, lost her husband last Monday. He had been sick with cancer for three years but lived a rich, full life right to the end. I went to the service yesterday, with a plastic tub full of sugar cookies stenciled with a W for Wes. They were a mess to make but cute in the end. Next time, I'll do some research on stenciling cookies. It's got to be on Pinterest, right?

The service was lovely and profound and quite non-traditional with feathers and smoked sage. So much beautiful music and so many beautiful words. A sweet way to mark his passing.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Yesterday I sat in the sunshine with my beautiful daughter and watched Elliot play soccer. His mom and dad were a little disappointed that he wasn't more "in the game". I think he was looking at the blue sky and the butterflies. Nothing wrong with that!

I have been working really hard on my garden. Every day I can be, I am out there weeding and transplanting and spreading mulch. It's going to be a good garden year.

I remembered when I had neighbors who worked hard on their house and yard. They had a pear tree, a trumpet vine, many perennials. It was beautiful. Then they sold the house to a banker who promptly tore out the trumpet vine, cut down the pear tree, and let the flowers go to seed. It broke my heart to see the trumpet vine going down the street in the back of a pick-up.

I've seen it happen many times. I know people have different needs and desires but when it comes time to sell our home, I have to find a person who appreciates my garden.

The bird bath and lawn chairs. One of my favorite places to be this summer!

I planted six canna bulbs in one of the only sunny spots in the yard. They attract hummingbirds. I also bought these three pots from Emily and planted million bells at the end of the walk.

I love this little shady spot. Those are bee balm coming up. And some garden art.

My library has some cook books this week and some new children's books. We get a lot of visitors!

Some of my hostas. Thanks to friends who have shared over the years! Jill, you are one!

We love to watch the birds in the yard. On May 2nd, I put the long lens on the camera and sat quietly on the patio. First the female came to the bath. Then flew in to the apple tree to preen and dry her feathers in the sun. The male came in for a bath, dipping down, spraying water. They sat together in the tree for a long time fluffing and flirting. It was beautiful.

Today we celebrate moms in families. Mine is a great mom. I'll share this poem again that I wrote in 2011 for her. (Here's the tribute I wrote that year.) She and my dad also taught us about birds and plants. You can see those lessons stuck!

What She Taught Me

For Mom

She taught me knitting, sewing, Teeny Tiny,
and reading every night before you go
to bed. She taught me how to make things for
people you love. She taught me how to make

stuffing by letting the butter and chopped onions sit
on the stovetop overnight. She taught me how to
make spaghetti from scratch
and that leftovers make a good meal and that pets,

even messy ones who come through the screen door
during thunderstorms, are part of the family.
She taught me that it’s more important to bake
fresh cookies or to read a book than

have a clean house. She taught me that having piles
of books around your house is decorating and that wearing
a flannel nightgown until noon doesn’t mean you’re
lazy. She taught me that you invite people over

if you’re lonely. She taught me how to always
believe you can fix it yourself and to keep on learning
and that when you go on vacation you should
stay with relatives. She taught me that cookbooks make good

reading and if you don’t have what it calls
for, you use something else. She taught me that hunting
down a good deal and taking a long nap in the afternoon is
the only exercise you ever really need in life.

When my dad died, her husband of more than fifty years, she
taught me that you cry but you go on. You go on living. You keep
the ashes in the window sill, you tell stories about the memories
and you laugh and you cry. But you keep on living.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

when the going gets tough

From On Being

Monday, April 20, 2015

When the Going Gets Tough...

When the going gets tough may I resist my first impulse to wade in, fix, explain, resolve, and restore. May I sit down instead.

When the going gets tough may I be quiet. May I steep for a while in stillness.

When the going gets tough may I have faith that things are unfolding as they are meant to. May I remember that my life is what it is, not what I ask for. May I find the strength to bear it, the grace to accept it, the faith to embrace it.

When the going gets tough may I practice with what I’m given, rather than wish for something else. When the going gets tough may I assume nothing. May I not take it personally. May I opt for trust over doubt, compassion over suspicion, vulnerability over vengeance.

When the going gets tough may I open my heart before I open my mouth.

When the going gets tough may I be the first to apologize. May I leave it at that. May I bend with all my being toward forgiveness.

When the going gets tough may I look for a door to step through rather than a wall to hide behind.

When the going gets tough may I turn my gaze up to the sky above my head, rather than down to the mess at my feet. May I count my blessings.

When the going gets tough may I pause, reach out a hand, and make the way easier for someone else. When the going gets tough may I remember that I’m not alone. May I be kind.

When the going gets tough may I choose love over fear. Every time.

From Random Thoughts n' Lotsa Coffee
Find Your Tough


When one is amidst the storm, seeing no further ahead than the darkness will allow, courage to continue moving forward comes from a primal place so deep within your soul, you never knew it was there.
~J.V. Manning

There have been many times in my life when things were so bad, I was sure I would break. Times when I was convinced I would not have the strength to face another day, another heartbreak, another problem. Moments that seem to stretch into years of nothing going right and absolutely everything going wrong. I have walked through some of the darkest days life has to offer, doubting with each step I took that I had what it would take to see myself through them. When one is amidst the storm, seeing no further ahead than the darkness will allow, courage to continue moving forward comes from a primal place so deep within your soul, you never knew it was there.

It has been there all along.

Even at your weakest, you are strong. If you allow yourself to be. Sometimes, those victories seem small. Opening your eyes in the morning to face another day. Getting up and dressed. For some, this requires an incredible inner stalwartness. Perseverance. The refusal to give in. Baby steps lead to achieving more as time goes on. For others, strength comes forth from necessity. Life situations that force you to think on your feet, times when others are counting on you to pull through for them. Life teaches you. Life beats you up, but at the same time, shows you exactly what you are capable of.

I watched my baby brother and sister in law these past few weeks find a strength neither one of them knew they had. When it became apparent that my nephew, who wasn't supposed to be born until the 20th, was going to be coming three weeks early. There were some very serious medical issues with my sister in law and with the baby's heart. I watched as both of them overcame every fear with steely resolve. Fighting back the panic to do what needed to be done. Both of them reaching into that primal part of their soul to find the strength they needed to bring baby into the world, through heart surgery at two days old and to fully embrace being new parents. I am in awe of them. The strength I saw, as they stood in front of the surgeon who had just operated on their son, was palpable. It was fierce.

Now that baby is home and growing stronger with each day, a new strength is being born. Adapting to a new reality. Shifting perspective and priorities. It takes courage to change. Even when the exhaustion threatens to overwhelm them, they dig deeper. Finding what they need within. That internal spring that never runs dry, we just must remember it is there.

During a life coaching session, one of my clients, who I admire greatly, said to me; "I will never be as strong as you." "I can't face anymore, handle anymore or deal with it anymore." Her "it" isn't important. We all have "its" but what is important is the desperation I heard in her voice. It echoed the same tone I have heard in my head over and over again. Just because I am strong, doesn't mean I don't battle being weak. It just means I am stubborn broad who refuses to give up. Ever. We all have the power, we all have the strength. What we all don't have - is belief in ourselves.

When you are in the thick of something, your strength is in each step, however small, you take to get through it. It is loving yourself in the process. It's being gentle with yourself. It's being a champion for your life and your sanity. Life is complicated, sometimes. It's hard. But, the hard doesn't last forever. Though, believe me, I know it feels like it. You don't have to be Hercules all the time. It's okay to feel weak. It's natural. It's okay to be tempted to just throw in the towel and give up. What's not okay is giving into those temptations. The world around you may have gone to shit, for one reason or another, but that doesn't mean you give up on your place in it. It means you lick your wounds for a while, dig deep, deeper still and pull yourself out of the darkness.

Think about this: Your track record for getting through all the horrible, painful, undeniably awful days... is 100%. Know how I know this? Because you are sitting here, reading this. When it all gets to be too much, remind yourself of this. Your track record is 100%. Impressive my friends. Maybe you are Hercules after all.


This was a draft post from a while back. Not sure what I planned to say about any of this but here it is. Kind of a funny collection of stuff.

loving spring

I'm loving this spring so much that I haven't taken time to write much here. I think I'll have to get in the habit of posting from my laptop or ipad while I sit on the patio. Ah, well. There are worse things than enjoying spring.

This is a mandevilla. A smaller version of the giant ones you usually see. It has bright red flowers and is attractive to hummingbirds.

Pansies are thriving!

Regis takes a selfie with the 35 mm camera. I'm in the background giving the peace sign. Ha!

One of the projects I completed this spring was the photo sorting. Early one morning, I dragged four tubs and three boxes of pictures up from the basement. I sorted them into a tub for me to keep, a tub for kids to go through, and a bag for each kid. Such a good feeling to have that mess cleaned up.

It's only May 2, and I have already raked the entire yard, raked the garden, moved plants, started a compost pile, painted my two patio tables, and planted my patio pots. There are still things to do but it's so much easier to transition into summer when I'm not teaching. Back in those days, I wouldn't get to yard work until June. Ugh.

I was out on the patio taking pictures of the plants and Gus and Woody kept an eye on me. They love the new door with the full glass view of the yard!

Last night I went with friends to get our first pedicure of the season. We took this picture in the parking lot of Pappageorge after we had dinner. What a good time.

This is a jack-in-the-pulpit. It had been growing in the back yard behind the air conditioner since we moved into this house in 1997, almost twenty years. Every year, I intended to move it and every year I didn't get around to it. This year I did. Ta da! I discovered that there were several small shoots, too, so maybe it will multiply in its new location! Last fall, I also managed to move the fern leaf peony and the rhubarb into sunnier locations so we're looking for better results from them!

We are hoping the asphalt men will come this week to put in our new driveway.

This week, I'm going to paint the wood around the new door and I'm going to paint the back hallway into the basement. That's another project that has been waiting a long time to get done.

I'm going over to Mankato to pick Elliot up at noon. He's playing soccer this year and I can't wait to see one of his games. The other kids are coming at three. We're going to play on the patio, walk down to Lone Star for root beer floats, and maybe stop at the park for a picnic.

Well, this all makes for a busy day so I think I'll get started. Get outside and enjoy the day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

potentially fatal

We went to see the cardiologist yesterday for an annual check-up on Regis's heart. He had a triple by-pass procedure done eighteen years ago, has been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, and most of the time we can forget about all of that. But sometimes, it scares us.

The doctor, a very kindly woman, had read all the reports of his pancreatitis and gall bladder and hospitalization. She said the most stunning thing to her was the small cancer they found in the gall bladder. Say what? Cancer in the gall bladder is almost always fatal because by the time a person has symptoms, it has metastasized. It's too late. So, she said, it was a very lucky thing to have this gall bladder issue. That puts a new spin on things.

She also said that there was no need to do a stress test. The stress on his heart from pancreatitis, surgery, overloads of pain, high and low blood pressure...was all the test she needs to know his heart is functioning well. Small favors.

Today is the first day in a long time where I have nothing on the calendar and nothing on my mental list of things to do. Of course, there are always things to do if a guy looks hard enough. Today, I plan to avoid looking too hard. I am going to enjoy my slothfulness.

This is Regis with Shelley, one of the hosts of our favorite radio show, Shuffle Function. They celebrate Intergalactic Bacon Day every year so we went up to enjoy the bacon treats, of which there were many. Here are a few:

We celebrated World Book Day by restocking the little library. I used to have enough books piled around my house to stock several libraries but over the years, I have culled the herd and now I have to go to thrift stores to buy books I read in the past. Crazy.

My little library is visited frequently during warmer weather.

My mom has a little library in her front yard!

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April 19 getting my head back on straight

I worked last night. It was the last night of my month long work-a-thon that was interrupted by three hospitals in three different towns. I might not have been the patient but it was difficult just the same.

When we came home on Friday and decided to have Easter on Sunday, I had to make a wide swath through the house. I put all of the Regis-related stuff on one bag and all of my stuff in another bag. Now the bags sit here in my office, gathering dust. My goals today are to clean off the dining room table, put the Easter table cloth away, and clean up all the paper we have gathered.

Tomorrow we buy groceries and my writing group resumes. I get a hair cut at noon.

Tuesday, I go back to my volunteer job at the Treaty Site.

Life is getting back to normal.

I have worked very hard in my yard in the past week. The garden has been raked. The side yards and the back yard have been raked and the last pick-up load of leaves is waiting to go to the compost site.

I have gathered the sunny perennials from the shady side of the garden to move them into new spots. They are resting in a nursery pot for now. I've moved six small columbines from a back garden into a shady spot along the walk where they will get more attention. I transplanted some tiny flowering things from the back yard (where God only knows how they survived) into a pot so they can find a better place to live. These are things I usually think of in July and then promptly forget until the next year.

I'm going to trade some plants with friends. Coneflowers for cannas and trillium.

This could be my best garden in a long time.

And yet I wonder about all this busyness. I want to be done being so busy. I want to take a book out to the patio, plop into a chair with a cup of coffee, and spend the morning reading. Being busy is over-rated.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

end of the day

I seem to find myself here at the end of the day.So many things happen in one day. I signed up to bring a meal to Kristi and Wes. I don't even want to think about what that might mean. Zaida is out of the hospital and in the Ronald McDonald House. That's not even all of it.

Regis and I sit on the patio and the neighbors come by and say hello after the long dark winter. We're all out of our houses, raking our yards, walking bare sidewalks, anxious for summer. Hosta are poking their skinny fingers through the dark dirt. Tulips are being bitten bare by rabbits. Red-winged blackbirds make thier cell-phone like calls from every tree. It's a cacophony.

Tomorrow is another busy day. Appointments, work, fun. Life goes on.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

moving along the road of life

Regis had surgery last Tuesday, April 7th, at 5pm. The surgeon said he would be in the hospital for 4-5 days but my husband is a fast healer and he was done with hospitalization so he was sprung Friday morning. No flies on him.

It's so good to have him home. The dog was depressed. I was depressed. Woodrow didn't care so much. That's how cats are.

I have tried to get him to rest and recover but he is right back to doing laundry. Yesterday, he made bean soup from the Easter ham bone.

We got home Friday about noon and decided to have our family Easter celebration on Sunday. Lots to do...shopping, cleaning, baking, organizing. I had doled out most of the side dishes but I want to make desserts. I spent all day Saturday making cut-out cookies, strawberry trifles, and chocolate bird nests. All way to putzy for such a busy time.

In the middle of the day, I decided to rake out one corner of my garden because I would much rather make the outside look good than the inside. I ended up raking the entire garden and getting all the leaves and sticks into the pickup. I needed to do this on that day?

I am working this week at North Intermediate, helping with MCA testing. It's boring but the money is good. I'll sacrifice my principles for that.

Yesterday was a big day. Here's what happened:

  • Bob and Emily bought a house...not far from us. In our neighborhood!
  • Peter and April set a date for their wedding! July 23, 2016
  • Tiffany made a decision about her life.
  • The city came to mark gas and electric lines for our new driveway.
  • Our new doors arrived at the lumber store and will be delivered today.
We celebrated all of this with our friend, Deb, on the patio with a glass of wine and the rest of the sugar cookies. My garden is clean, weeded, and the garden art is installed for the summer. Here we go!