Monday Musings

Hello, peeps!  I’m having sort of a lazy Monday morning to finish off a pretty lazy weekend.  I had an acquaintance (notice how I didn’t say friend?)  ask me what I’d “been up to” lately.  I don’t cross paths with this person often so that’s probably a fair question.  A few answers came to mind.

  1.  Well, I’ve spent the last year recovering from a traumatic accident and surgery.
  2. I’ve been solving all the world’s problems like famine, disease, and terrorism.
  3. Spiritually? Physically? Socioeconomically?
  4. I’m alright, slight bruises here and there, nothing i can’t handle (this is probably close to the truth).
  5. Today I’m a rutabaga, but tomorrow I’m thinking I’ll be a coconut.

But what I actually said was, “Nothing much.  Same old stuff.”  This must not have been the answer she was looking for because after few more minutes she repeated the question.  And then followed up with the zinger:

Haven’t you gotten bored yet since you aren’t working?

WHAT?  Bored?  Me?  She must not know me well at all.  Now, you must keep in mind that I have never in 22 years known this woman to “work”.  She stayed home with her children (which is ALL KINDS OF WORK) but did not have a job outside the home.  Then after the divorce, she lived off support from her ex-husband and talked about trying to decide what to do with herself. She did that for years.  And all of that is fine. Fine for her, but apparently not for me because she was all sorts of judgmental about me not working  for the last 6 years.  Never mind that I put in 25 years teaching science to high school students!  In the end, I just shrugged her off and said, “I knit.  I read. I have hobbies. I keep busy.”

But last night at meditation class, a retired friend said, “We are’human beings’ not ‘human doings’.  The meaning of life is to live it fully in each moment.  Our worth doesn’t come from a job.” She makes an excellent point!!  And she also pointed out that they aren’t hobbies at all; they are passions.  And she’s right again!

So here’s what I’ve “been up to” in the last few weeks.

  1.  Hubby and I put in a no-dig fence for  the dogs.  It’s not a tall fence, but it looks nice and works for our two dogs.  The golden is too old and not a jumper or otherwise we would have needed a taller option.

Shawzy looking out.  She’s adorable, is she not?

2.  I finished up a few knitting projects.  One,  a pair of socks for the hubby (to be discussed at another time) . The other is a baby sweater for a friend.  I think the sweater turned out quite cute.  Entirely made from leftover sock yarn.  One solid gray and the other a self-striping.  Thrifty and cute both.

3.  Exploring local coffee shops.  I take my dog to Pittsfield, IL to be groomed.  While I wait, I support the local economy.  There’s a gift shop, a diner, and a coffee shop that I love there.  Not to mention a few antique shops.   Free Press Coffee and Tea is a favorite.  Great atmosphere (and it’s attached to a historic hotel), good coffee, and even some gluten-free choices (with more to come).  It was pouring down rain last week when I was there so it was a cozy place to kill some time reading and enjoying a breve.  (We did have snow on Saturday though!)


Free Press Coffee last winter.

While I was there I bought a cup to add to my hand-thrown coffee cup collection.  I love it.  It makes me happy having my tea in it.  Small pleasures.  Isn’t it a beauty?


Cup by local artists at Crooked Clay Creations.  

4.  Yoga.  I’ve started a gentle yoga class to help improve my core strength in the hope it will alleviate some back pain.  It saddened me a little to feel like the youngest member in the class, but it’s okay.  I like it.  I love the instructor who’s very helpful at guiding me away from moves that might cause me trouble.  She’s one of the those people that you meet and know instantly that you could be great friends. AND, I’ve flexed my stiff spine in ways that it hasn’t been in over a year.  That’s a good thing.  I pay for it a bit afterwards, but that’s getting better too!   I’m only going once a week since it’s a 40 minute drive, but I bought a DVD to try to add a couple of days on my own at home. I’ve committed to 10 weeks and from there we shall see.  Maybe I’ll switch classes or add another class to the schedule.


A class at my yoga studio.  Not MY class (notice the “youngsters”).  My class would look much more “mature”.

5.  Reading.  Always a given.  But this time I am reading a book that I have looked at many times but always put it back.  I don’t care for the circus.  Never have.  I’m not sure why either.  I just don’t like them. I’m not sure what kept drawing me to this book but I can’t tell you how many times I read the blurb on the back.   We have a locally owned bookstore that I try to support,  so last week I didn’t put the book back on the shelf.  Instead, Andy wrapped it up for me in brown paper.  (I love that old-fashioned nod to times past.)


Isn’t it lovely?  Sort of like a living room filled with friends.

Anyway, the book that followed me home is The Night Circus.  It’s very well written.  Reads like a dream. . .both literally and figuratively.  It’s not what I expected.  It’s much, much better.  It’s not a dash to the end, it’s more of a slow contemplating read with stops to imagine the magical circus the author has created.  And I think it may be one of those books that I will be sad to see it end.


6.  Watching Blackhawks hockey with the family!

7.  Getting my pictures in order so that I can begin the scrapbook of last year’s vacation.  I think I’m about ready to start it.  It’s an overwhelming number of pictures to sort through.  Plus the idea of telling the story which turned out so different than we had planned. I know I’ll cry often while I do it.   It’s daunting.  But soon I will get to it.

8.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Grocery shopping.  And all the other mundane things we do to keep a house running.

9.  Tangling.  Doodling.  And drawing.

10. Cleaning up the yard and raking leaves.  I love my big trees – but oh my- the number of leaves to rake!

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The front yard leaves.  Doesn’t include the back yard at all.  That’s a ditch under there.

11.  Sometimes I just sit in my chair with the dog on my lap.  Small pleasures. (Again.)

So!  That’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s been pretty damn awesome too.  Part of me wonders if that acquaintance can say the same.


Love and Mothers

Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own. ~Aristotle

This quote has always made me chuckle a bit – I think mostly because it’s attributed to Aristotle and to think that there were doubts about paternity even three centuries before Christ.   And I see tons of memes on Facebook that deal with a mother’s love for her child.  Or a child’s love for his (or her) mother.  All very nice.  Many make me say “awwwwww” even.   But then I came across this blog post and found it truly fascinating. I think science has finally validated what all mothers have known instinctively.  When I was pregnant with my son 23 years ago, What to Expect When You’re Expecting was a relatively new book.  I must have read the entire thing multiple times over.  I really wish this book was out there then.  The science geek in me would have relished the details on the “evolutionary why” things happen the way they do.  In the end, it confirms what I have always known in my heart. . . that my son (and the two children that I miscarried as well) and I linked on more than just an emotional level. Bottom line. . . our children are not just little versions of ourselves that we protect, raise, and set free – they are really a physical part of us –forever.

Vintage 1996

Vintage 1996

just a GLIMPSE

My son is graduating from college next weekend.  It seems like I just moved him into the dorm and now it’s time for him to move on to the next part of his life.

So I offer a little visual trip back in time of some of my favorite pictures of him.

JoyThis is one of my most favorite pictures of Levi as a little guy.  Covered in spaghetti, he was having a great time eating lunch. Spaghetti stuck to his chest. . . well at least I didn’t have to work to get a shirt clean!  Technically, I shouldn’t have used the flash, but I was still learning then – and it was in the pre-digital age.  In color, it was just a bit nasty.  But I love the infectious grin and the joy that he exudes.  It still makes me smile.

Little ManSlightly older and wiser little boy looking very thoughtful.

Pout like you really mean it!

Another favorite.  Can you see the tears threatening to fall?  I’m sure he was angry with me for capturing the moment, but it’s a classic to which all parents can relate.

New Orleans 2005 - before Katrina

New Orleans 2005 – before Katrina

Such a difference a few years can make.  I love this picture and page.  His beautiful green eyes really stand out.  It was a quiet moment at the zoo.

AwesomeThat last picture was 2005.  This is from fall of 2010.  I took most of his senior pictures myself and these were three “attempts” at nice shots while he was acting goofy.  It was only like 105 degrees outside so I’m lucky he was smiling at all.

Graduation 2011High school graduation.  It seems so far off on that first day of kindergarten, but is sure creeps up on you with record speed.

Since then . . .

He’s been to college.   He’s ridden his Harley.

Saturday Afternoon Ride

He’s grown a beard.  He’s studied abroad.

On the Mosel in GermanyAnd he’s grown into a man.  I’m not sure when it happened.  I think I must have blinked and missed it.

But I confess that sometimes when I see him sleeping, I still that little guy that stole my heart so many years ago.

A mother defined. . .

Various pictures of my mother-in-law between 1954 and 1957.

I’m still working on my husband’s heritage album.  There are just so many pictures, it’s hard to decide which ones to use.  Just like it’s hard to decide exactly what to say.  She passed away several years ago and my husband wrote and delivered a beautiful eulogy at her funeral so that’s what I’m going to share here.  It says more about her than I ever could.

Mom was kind, loving, humble, and generous. She never spoke of her accomplishments nor sought recognition for them. She always put family first and chastised me often for working too much and not spending enough time with my family. I regret today that, as usual, I have learned too late, she was right. What I appreciate today is that my values reflect her values. My character is a product of her and my father’s parenting and guidance.

My mother always believed the best about her sons; even when we disappointed her. There are tales of us boys breaking Christmas lights in a Texas neighborhood but Mom would always say, “Not my boys.” 1969 was a particularly difficult year for Mom. Pop was in Vietnam and Mom tried keeping us boys happy by buying us whatever we wanted. We wanted BB guns. She bought them and we shot out a neighbor’s window and shot each other. Still, what I learned from Mom, what she taught us all was; parents never stop loving their children. She encouraged me to excel in whatever I chose to do. Because of her love, I could always take a chance. I knew she would be there if I stumbled. Her generosity extended to her grandchildren too. She loved giving them gifts and usually gave them too many. But she cared so much about a child’s happiness and downplayed our concern about how much money she spent. She was extremely proud of their school grades and their musical abilities. She was always showing their pictures to friends and family who stopped by the house.

To my brothers and me, whenever we wanted something, Mom was an easy mark. We need only ask. I thought it was just a mother’s love. I later learned Mom had an overwhelming love of children and a heartfelt generosity to give. I remember years of watching the Jerry Lewis Telethons and Mom would call and make a donation. She gave to countless charities including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and St. Jude Childrens Hospital. If someone called and the charity was for needy children, Mom gave . . . even at times when she couldn’t afford to, she always gave. Over the years, she made regular donations to St. Jude Childrens Hospital and if any of you are seeking a charity to support, I know she would ask that you adopt this one.

And Mom’s love of my father is endless. While he seldom speaks of his service to our country, Mom was extremely proud of him and his Air Force record. She enjoyed the travel to other countries and cherished those experiences. I always enjoyed looking at the photo albums with her. She had an incredible memory and sharp mind. She could tell a story about every picture.

My mother was an avid reader and could have started her own library with the volume of books went through. She and I could talk about the two most volatile issues people can discuss: politics and religion. There were times when we would disagree and when that happened, we seldom changed each other’s opinion . . . because Mom was tough and strong-willed. I was just stubborn.

I’ll miss my mother. I’ll miss her telling me that I work too much and asking if I’m taking my vitamins. And checking to make sure I’m taking 81 mg of aspirin a day because I’m over 40, you know. She always concerned herself with my well-being. I’ll miss her telling me I’m too skinny one week and that I have put on weight the next. I’ll just miss her . . . and her love.