Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As is usual for me this time of year I find myself looking forward to fall but I will miss the delightfully soothing mornings and evenings of summer---and even the lazy hot afternoons where you can sit outside for just a few minutes and listen to the bees buzz as you soak up the sun and you can feel the heat clear down to the inside of your bones...

 I really find peace and contentment in watering my gardens--and even weeding--in the coolness of a summer morning. I love to give the plants some renewing water and like to imagine them happily soaking their roots in it as the day heats up.

The butterfly bush has beautiful purple plumes right now, the impatiens are delicately and colorfully beautiful, and there is a fluffy white and purple carpet of allysum beneath the rose bushes that have caught their second wind.

Sometimes I have such a feeling of love and appreciation for the simple beauty of my garden that it overflows my heart and I want to hug all of the plants and thank them for living and growing and blooming and making my yard pretty---Really---it's true. There have been occasions when I have been out in broad daylight in the view of several other houses kind of 'petting' the leaves of my plants and softly saying 'thank you'. I have refrained from all out hugging because I don't want to give my neighbors any more cause for concern.  I guess you could say my flower gardens make me want to cry---thankfully this year---in a good way.

Those summer nights (except for warm sticky ones--I'm not a fan of those)...  they bring such a sigh of relief from the heat. It is great to go for walks on summer evenings beneath the 'starry dome of heaven' with a musical background of crickets. The nights seem to carry echoes of children playing and a faint smell of Popsicles--- leftover from earlier in the day---a time that seems so far away---a sweet breathing out after a long hot afternoon...

The other morning I felt a faint whisper of fall in the air. You know how when someone whispers in your ear it kind of tickles and feels soft and gentle against your skin---that's what it was like only it was the breeze that carried a whisper.

The older I get the faster time goes by...it can be a frustrating feeling like following a fly with your eyes and waiting for it to land and trying not to move or breathe or blink so that you can get it before it feels you coming. And the faster time goes by the more I find myself wanting to hold on tighter to moments---seasons---feelings---people. Normally this time of year I find myself weary of summer and eager to move on. I did mention to my daughter just today how I am tired of summer and of  being hot but my heart is holding onto the good things more and more...

I have had the experience several times of having a large portion of something sweet and rich placed before me and expressing my doubts about ever being able to finish it but then the next thing I know there I am finishing up the last few bites---it's gone! That's the way it is with time.

Enjoy these last few flavorful bites of summer!

To see the Summer Sky
Is Poetry, though never in a Book it lie -
True Poems flee.
~Emily Dickinson

Monday, August 22, 2011

Skin deep?

There is a billboard that kind of rankles me---Isn't that a great word---rankles. The billboard shows a picture of a beautiful young woman and the sign says, 'Make your inner beauty jealous'. Interestingly enough I couldn't remember what company the ad represented so I had to look it up to find that it is of course for a beauty salon. I thought it was for plastic surgery or something. Anyway...inner beauty to me is something special--something genuine--not something that would get jealous. The ad is clever and the statement is bold. I enjoy clever and creative ads but the idea of making your inner beauty jealous rankles me because it devalues inner beauty. That is not too surprising considering that we live in a society that places great value on outer beauty and on top of that, modern advertising frequently combines clever with crass which for me makes an unsettling combination.

Don't get me wrong, I think women should take care of themselves and do what they can to present a beautiful face and fit (nicely covered) body to the world. I have used makeup from the moment my parents first let me and I really enjoy going to the beauty salon to get my hair cut and styled. Makeup makes me feel dressed up and good hair days help me face the world more confidently. I must admit having a hard time letting people beyond my own family see me without my hair and makeup done (In the past whenever I have gotten up my courage and decided I looked okay people have expressed concern either vocally or through their facial expressions about my health).

Even some really young girls feel a need to not only wear make-up and have their hair done but also deem it necessary to be tanned, have their nails done, their teeth whitened,  and be waxed , polished, and enhanced in order to truly look their best. That is a costly attitude not just financially but emotionally. It sets expectations at a high and often unrealistic level  and perhaps the worst result of all is that it pushes inner beauty farther down on the list of important qualities. Besides if so many people weren't obsessed with looking beautiful then the rest of us wouldn't feel so bad about our unruly hair, our pasty white skin,  our unpolished nails, or our off-white teeth. I am pretty low-maintenance and definitely not beauty salon savvy because I am lazy and a cheapskate. There are some fortunate people who are naturally beautiful and we should really try to be happy for them and not mad at them. One of my daughters has said that she thinks that no one is ugly. I think that is a good attitude. There is beauty in everyone. We all know people that may be considered plain or even homely by some people's standards but we don't think of them as anything less than beautiful because of who they are. I think the most beautiful people are beautiful from the inside out.

I probably shouldn't get so rankled about a billboard. It will only add to the creases in my forehead. (Gasp!) I just think that it is pretty silly to think of our outer beauty competing with our inner beauty. They should compliment each other and not compete. There is enough contention to deal with without our insides turning green with envy because our outsides look so darn good!

I think I will go and try to do something with my hair and dark circles and while I'm at it say a prayer of gratitude that I have hair and eyes to see my dark circles---in hopes of touching up my inner beauty.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Just Wait...

Mothers spend a lot of time waiting...

Over the course of the past few weeks I have found myself in situations where I felt a significant---to the heart of womanhood connection with other women.

When I was registering my daughter for school there were many mothers there waiting on the sidelines with checkbooks in hand while pictures were taken, schedules were worked out, and friendships renewed. Mothers were waiting as they walked to find lockers and classrooms. I had even asked my daughter prior to joining these waiting women if she just wanted me to send the checks with her but she wanted me to go...and I was very happy to go along and wait for her and with her and breathe in the youthful atmosphere of anticipation still heavy with the scent of the freedoms of summer.

The same daughter I accompanied to school registration also wanted me to go school shopping with her. Again, I was deeply grateful that she wanted my company and I must admit feeling pretty content to watch her spend her own money. She has a job and we all know how exhilarating it can be to have our own money from our first job...excitement and worry and a puzzling sense of frugality. Once again I found myself in the company of many mothers in the process of waiting while children tried on clothes that promised so much more than just being something to wear. I found myself frequently looking for a comfy chair from which to watch the impromptu fashion shows. My daughter reminded me to stay close by as my children are quick to remind me that I have had a habit in the past of straying too far from the dressing room and wandering through the store so that I am nowhere to be found if they need my opinion. This is somehow ironic because normally I am trying to get them to stay put so I can give them my opinion.

Anyway...from my viewpoint (on an assortment of chairs, cushiony cubes, over-sized stools, or out-of-the-way places to stand--preferably with a rack or wall to lean against) I witnessed several poignant moments between mother and child as differing opinions boiled into frustration or similar tastes mingled into mutual agreement. Mini dramas and comedies played out before my eyes and I could relate as I kept holding up shirts or skirts or pants that I thought my daughter might like and my selections would be viewed with thinly veiled disgust,  shocked disbelief, or sometimes a surprised look of approval and even interest. (I cannot begin to tell you how good it felt to watch my daughter like and actually purchase something I spotted) While being observer and participant in back-to-school shopping I could almost feel memories swirling around me of a time when all of those mothers were shopping with their mothers and harboring their own secret desires of being admired for their amazing fashion sense.

At the beginning of this week two of my daughters and I went to Baskin Robbins for a family night treat/ reward for doing some clean-up work in the basement and as we were leaving we saw a mother-to-be dash in for an evening treat just before closing time. I think she stood out to me as the perfect example of how much waiting mothers do and where it all begins...although really a woman's waiting begins long before pregnancy---but that could be the topic of another blog...

All of these experiences have got me to thinking about waiting and its place in the life of a woman. The very act of waiting could be seen as feminine in nature. There are ladies-in-waiting who wait to attend to their ladys' needs (Interesting that waiting and serving are so closely connected) and pregnant pauses--breaks in conversation or oration that fill us with anticipation as we wait to absorb their meaning. Why is it that Father Time is a father and not a mother???

I have spent much of my time as a mother waiting. I have waited for my children to arrive on earth, waited for their first smile,  for teeth to come through, for them to walk and talk and feed themselves---and waited for them to be potty-trained, to get out of school or soccer practice or dance class, to finish homework and school---to come home at night, to get married, to have children of their own---waited for them to get a clue, to understand me,  to forgive me...I have come to the conclusion that I am thankful for all of this waiting because it has given me time to contemplate being a mother, time to understand my children, time to remember and plan and dream, time to ponder life and the passage of time...

Mothers can always find something to do while they're waiting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's Up?

I have come to the conclusion that we as human beings spend too much time looking down.

Not long ago I stepped out onto our back deck to gaze at the night sky with my husband. I never cease to be amazed, awed, and intrigued by looking at the stars...

I remember when I was young and I would stretch out on my back on the lawn at night and look up at the sky and get lost in the stars. It was very comfortable space travel with the solidness of the earth just beneath the cool grassy carpet against my back and the soothing cool night air breathed in lazily. Of course I experienced  the standard feelings of smallness and insignificance but I was also visited by a curiosity that took up residence in my soul--a deep wanting to know---how I fit into something so vast, why I was where I was--or when I was or why--- I was...

Getting back to that night on the deck ...I looked up and saw a multitude of stars but there was one spot directly above me that captured my attention. There was a small cluster of stars and as I looked at them I glimpsed for a moment so many more stars beyond that cluster--beyond the reach of my seeing-- that I could almost see--but not quite. I was fascinated and excited by the idea that the number of stars I could see with my naked eye were like grains of sand that brush across the tops of my bare feet when walking on the beach compared to the number of grains of sand that make up the entire beach...

As I have grown older when I look at a starlit sky I still feel small but at the same time I feel important precisely because I am so small and insignificant and that is at once humbling and comforting.  In comparison to the universe I am but a speck of life but I do live and breathe and think and feel and laugh and love and hurt and take and give...In the Bible we are told that a sparrow does not fall without God noticing and that the hairs of our heads are numbered. LDS scripture tells us that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. I am small and insignificant but I believe God knows my name and who and why I am. Perhaps we need to feel small before we know that we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.

The night sky tantalizes the human mind with possibilities and a depth of meaning that tugs at us as we feebly but persistently scratch away at excavating the treasures of our souls. The term 'naked eye' so often used in connection with star gazing is an interesting term---one that gets me to thinking about just how much we can see with our naked eye and the sometimes astonishing amount of things we miss with our naked eye---like walking past a window several times a day and not really seeing what's outside...

I see more and more people, myself included, spending a significant amount of time looking forward at a movie screen or a computer screen or looking down at a phone or an IPod---I think if we spent more time looking up both literally and figuratively we would feel lighter somehow and we would see more or the possibility of more...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ramblings---Toward the end of May I got bronchitis which made it a bit taxing to walk to work. Luckily my work is not far from home so it was survivable. When I was on the mend I needed throat lozenges to help keep me from coughing while walking and one day I started coughing soon after I put in the throat lozenge. The lozenges did such a good job of keeping my throat from getting dry they caused my mouth to generate too much saliva and that made me cough. For some reason it made me giggle to think of the irony of choking on a throat lozenge---luckily I didn't giggle too much or I would have choked...

Since getting a part-time job my existent appreciation for women who work has deepened. My job involves a small number of hours each day but I still find it challenging to get everything done. It seems it is getting harder for me to pack my days full. I should just take the same approach to packing my days as I do to packing a suitcase. I usually fit everything I need and a few things I want into my suitcase. However, when packing I usually take a lot of things I don't need. Do I do that when packing my days? Yes. (I didn't have to think about that for long at all)

 By the way, walking to work is quite delightful. We miss a lot when we drive.

Yesterday I ate a perfectly ripe pear. Before I ate the pear I tried another pear that I thought was ripe but as soon as I started peeling it I knew I was wrong. It was crunchy. Crunchy is good in apples but not so much in pears. Anyway, I was musing about how when we pick a fruit that isn't ripe we are disappointed but we usually don't blame the fruit. We realize it was an error in our judgement that made us pick the fruit before it was ready to meet our expectations. But when it comes to people if they are disappointingly under-ready we tend to blame the person without thinking it could be an error in our judgement in expecting them to be perfect. Something to think about...

I have decided yet again to try and develop a healthier relationship with food. Perhaps I have mentioned before that I have more than one sweet tooth and I sometimes eat like a garbage disposal. I am always going to start eating better tomorrow but then tomorrow turns into Monday and Mondays are lousy days to start diets so that turns into the next day or maybe the day after whatever holiday is approaching...You get the picture. I know at my age I am embarking on an uphill battle when trying to lose weight but I am tired of bulges. Jiggling is fun when it comes to Jello but not when it comes to one's body.

I define a healthy relationship with food as one in which I do not think of food as my best friend, my confidante, my designated driver (as in motivator), my drug of choice, my crutch, my comfort---or my tormentor, but I think of it as fuel. Food enlivens and invigorates. Eating is one of the most pleasurable uses of our senses and seeing  food for what it really is doesn't mean we can't fully enjoy it. So I am trying to make wise choices and give my body what it needs to perform at its optimum level. I am eating less and exercising more. I am going to try and take the time to really get to know the food I eat. I will be a thinking eater but be careful not to over-think---if that makes even a tiny bit of sense. I want to savor and appreciate food and it is easier to do that if I go for quality and not quantity.

My daughter found a great quote that says something like this---If hunger isn't the problem then food isn't the answer---I need to repeat that to myself frequently.

Enough about my weaknesses---I scrubbed my kitchen floor today, emptied a bag of dog food (that was in the way) into the dog food bin, vacuumed and dusted, polished cabinets and counters---and all of that mostly before noon. Household chores can be very cathartic. We make things clean, smooth, shiny---we straighten, fold, and tuck...everything in its place. Housework is good because we can see immediate results (again and again). Now there are all of those other areas like improving my skills, mothering, being a good wife, doing family history, being a good friend and neighbor, working on goals -those big ongoing projects that crowd around me breathing down my neck reminding me they need attention---I think I will go iron. Then I can hang up all of the nicely pressed items and feel accomplished while trying not to think of all the wrinkles that still need to be ironed out...

Like is truly good

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Hard to believe that Easter has come and gone---now it is time to emerge into the light and feel the warmth of the sun, stretch our winter stiff limbs and shake off the weariness of our hibernation---
I found a lovely quote by Katherine Lee Bates (yes she wrote America the Beautiful) describing Easter---
It is the hour to rend thy chains
The blossom time of souls (Doesn't the blossoming of souls sound miraculous and splendid with a promise of being everlasting)

Easter is not merely a holiday---it is a celebration of life.  It celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and his gift of resurrection to all mankind and on a deeper level it is a time to ponder the significance of the Atonement to mankind as a whole and individually. Yes there are Easter eggs and beautiful new dresses and bonnets all arrayed in the pastel palette of earth as it takes a breath of fresh new air----tender new green grass, baby pink buds on the trees,  blushes of lilac, the soft blue of the sky ----all warmed by the gladsome yellow glow of a stronger sun....everywhere we look the earth is returning to life and within us seeds of hope are stirring...

Easter at it's most joyous is a personal celebration---a cherishing of a gift given selflessly and at great cost---a gift given out of a love so pure it is almost incomprehensible to our mortal understanding but a love we so much want and need to understand---a love that brings joy too great to hold in small hearts--a love that expands hearts...

I do go on---again and again. Anyway, we were able to attend a Presbyterian Easter service last Sunday and hear our daughter play in a bell choir as part of the service. It was a unique experience. I especially liked something called 'passing of the peace' where everyone was encouraged to shake the hands of people near them and wish them peace. It felt good to connect with people in that manner. It was also wonderful to hear the choir (and anyone from the congregation who wanted to participate) sing the Hallelujah Chorus. I have always associated that with Christmas but it is inspired music that is very powerful---that reminds us that we truly are spiritual beings having an earthly experience and it felt right to hear it expressing the joy that is Easter.

"There would be no Christmas if there had not been Easter. The babe Jesus of Bethlehem would be but another baby without the redeeming Christ of Gethsemane and Calvary, and the triumphant fact of the Resurrection."
Gordon B. Hinckley

I guess what I really want to say is that I had nice Easter---I hope you did too!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fun With Leafy Green Vegetables

It's a rainy day and I have long loved rainy days. They make me want to curl up under a grandma quilt and take a nap or take a cozy journey through the pages of a good book. We have a high likelihood of flooding this year though so as fond as I am of rain it isn't the best forecast right now...

The other day when I was grocery shopping I was passing through the produce section on my way to the check stands and I heard a noise behind me that sounded a bit like heavy footsteps. When I turned around to see the source of the noise I saw that 4 or 5 heads of lettuce had fallen on the floor. There was no one else in the produce section but me (which was actually a bit odd now that I think about it) and I had not touched the lettuce.

Why did they fall at that particular moment in time??? Had one bold head of lettuce decided to set off on an adventure and convinced others to follow? (Come lett-uce go...)
Had several heads gotten together and simultaneously made a daring leap---perhaps cheered on by the other heads of lettuce?? (lett-uce entertain you)
Was it a sign that I should eat healthier???

Well Mondays can be hard enough without subjecting you to any more produce puns---so perhaps I will attribute the strange timing of falling lettuce to the more logical and scientific explanation offered by my husband---things settle and the settling of the lettuce could have been triggered by the intermittent sprays of water---definitely plausible but not nearly as much fun... Besides...somewhere in the back of my mind I vaguely remember a similar occurrence recently with something else falling off of a shelf when I was the sole person in the vicinity. Either I need to lose more weight than I thought or there is just something about me that seems to upset the balance of things. That is kind of an unsettling thought...

Other things to ponder about the produce aisle----
Why do I always want an apple or orange that is on the bottom of the pile---maybe I should just walk past and the one I want will fall onto the floor...
One sure way to learn patience is to try opening a plastic produce bag----without spitting on your fingers...
 I worked with a girl once who would break of the bottom of broccoli because she didn't want to pay for a part she wasn't going to use--a part that accounted for most of the weight. I guess that is why broccoli crowns are more expensive--you are paying for someone else to break off the useless part---(actually broccoli stalks are quite good but you have to peel them) I could kind of see my co-worker's point but following that line of thinking would lead to people peeling their oranges and bananas before buying them--- and what about eggs--we don't eat the shells...

I think I will go find my book now --and a quilt--