Where is Mother?

My mother seems to turn up in the strangest places! I usually find her roaming in the garden since it always was her favorite place to be. But sometimes, there she is – hiding in the pages of a book, in the melody of a song, or the flutter of every bird that nests in my tree. I often see her face when I look in the mirror, or in the clouds as they roll by on the breath of the wind. Now and then I find her standing in my kitchen when the aroma of something I’ve made reminds me of home. Instinctively, my arms open to embrace her only to realize she isn’t really there… so I brush off the illusion and embrace the day instead… because that’s what she would want me to do.

It’s Only Words #2 – for Mother’s Day

Grandma and My Best Friend

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I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved my Grandma! When I was young, she was my best friend and my favorite person in the whole world. She was fun, she was funny, and she always said the wisest things.

     “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”

     “If you can dream it, you can be it”

     “Pretty is as pretty does”

These things didn’t always make sense to me, but I remember her saying them like it was yesterday. I always wanted to be the kind of person Grandma respected and admired.

     “Find the good in everyone”

     “Actions speak louder than words”

     “A smile doesn’t cost a thing”

Eventually, Grandma wasn’t my whole world anymore because she was no longer in it; but the older I got, the more I cherished her words of wisdom:

     “Every cloud has a silver lining”

     “You don’t get something for nothing”

     “Things will look better in the morning”

I was a young adult when God called Grandma home. Other “best friends” have come and gone since then. A few were bad choices, but most were people Grandma would have approved of.

     “A leopard never changes its spots”

     “You never know what someone else is going through”

     “Friends are the family you choose, so choose wisely”

At this point in my life it’s safe to assume that my best friend of today will probably always be my best friend. She is the personification of “pretty is as pretty does”. She is amazingly supportive, compassionate, fun and funny—just like Grandma!

If my best friend of yesterday were to meet my best friend of today, I know exactly what she would say:  “Isn’t it nice to have a friend, my Dear, whose beauty is more than skin deep?”

For Ragtag Daily Prompt: Can’t

Wishing You Cupcakes!

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Statistically speaking, I live in an affluent community—but statistics don’t mean a thing if you’re struggling to make ends meet. Whether in the continuous rut of poverty or a sudden downturn in luck, many families here need assistance. At our local food pantry where I volunteer once a week, these families can rely on the generosity of others for some basic necessities. Many churches, schools and scout troops in our area donate regularly to the food pantry.

One very charitable grocery store chain contributes their day-old bakery items. So, there – among the canned vegetables, boxes of cereal, rolls of toilet paper and bars of soap – are loaves of bread, packages of buns, muffins, donuts and cake! Families are limited according to size as to the number of staples they can receive, but they may take as many of the baked goods as they want since what’s left at the end of the limited expiration date will be disposed of.

It’s the cupcakes that are the most special! Thickly frosted and beautifully decorated, these colorful treats are like the sun in an otherwise cloudy sky for the children who come to the pantry. Two little girls, somewhere between my grandchildren’s ages of 4 and 8, were with their grandmother one day when she came in for supplies. As I gathered the essentials they needed, I let them know they were welcome to pick out a few bakery items. The grandmother selected a loaf of bread and hamburger buns. She told the girls they could get a package of donuts or cupcakes to share. They wanted cupcakes but couldn’t decide between a 6-pack of white or chocolate. I quietly told their grandmother they could each have what they wanted if that was OK with her, as we had plenty of cupcakes that day.

Oh my! You’d have thought it was Christmas morning! With giggles of delight, the youngest girl picked out white cupcakes with pink frosting and rainbow-colored sprinkles; the other one got chocolate with mounds of red, white and blue frosting.

I watched them walk away—the grandmother with her bags of grocery items, and the girls with their package of cupcakes held close like a favorite toy. They offered me shy smiles and waves as they got into the car. My heart was happy!

My wish for you is that you do what makes your heart happy! Approach the holiday season with excitement and joy… as if you’ve just been given an assortment of beautifully decorated cupcakes!

Image courtesy of Redbook

A Poem for Heidi

Nearly six months after the loss of our beloved dog, Heidi, I can finally string together a few coherent words about her.

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A Poem for Heidi

Lonely the yard where she once played

Cold the bed in which she laid

Silent the squeak of her favorite toy

Gone the source of our constant joy

Mournful the heart which continually weeps

 Our faithful companion now gently sleeps

We got our white schnauzer puppy 16 ½ years ago. She was supposed to be “my” dog – and she was – for about two weeks! Then a work conference required that I leave town for a few days, at which time she completely bonded with my husband, and he with her. They were the best of friends until the day she died. Don’t get me wrong, she loved me too, but I was clearly her second choice… except during a storm when she was all over me!

When Heidi was young, she would obsessively sit on her perch at the front window and guard the house while we were at work. She took her job very seriously, barking nonstop at the neighborhood children as they went to and from school or played outside during the summer.

Her favorite thing to do was play ball. She liked tennis balls with a squeaker inside because it was always such fun to be noisy. In the house she liked to stand at the top of the stairs and catch the ball we tossed up to her; then she would nod her head, release the ball and throw it back down. It’s a game she was very good at! Outside, she would fetch the ball from anywhere you threw it, then run like the wind to return it precisely at your feet.

By the time we retired, she began to slow down. I think she was happy to hand over the responsibility of protecting the house to us now that we were home more often. She got used to the routine of two walks a day. My husband would take her in the morning, and I would take her in the afternoon. She could get very demanding if she thought her walk might be delayed. Sometimes while running errands, I’d realize it was nearing 2:00. “I’ve got to get home”, I’d tell myself, “It’s almost time for Heidi’s walk!”

She began to have trouble keeping her footing on the hardwood floors inside our house, so we put down extra rugs here and there to help her walk. Eventually, nearly every square inch of slippery floor was covered with a rug. We carried her up and down the stairs for several years.

Arthritis and kidney problems plagued Heidi in her old age. She became intolerant of anyone touching her, so grooming was an issue. She looked like a homeless mutt at times, but you know what? If I was in pain, I wouldn’t want someone messing with me either!

We removed most of the rugs from the hardwood floors after Heidi was gone. I find the floors a little boring now; just like life is sometimes without her.

The Quiet Battle

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We left home several years ago in the wee hours of a January morning to attend a 10:00 funeral that was 3 1/2 hours away. On the drive we passed a beautiful farm where the morning fog was just beginning to lift. Last week we made the same trip for yet another funeral and we passed the farm again, but this time it was a bright summer’s day. I took both photos through the car window with my cell phone. Same farm, different season, years apart!

The following is a re-post of a story I wrote the first time I saw the farm:

THE QUIET BATTLE

Morning fog invades a lovely Kansas farm in the pre-dawn hours of a clear winter day. The fog will lie low for a spell, transforming rest into stubborn courage for the fight that looms ahead: an inevitable skirmish between Fog and Sun.

As Fog hunkers down, it blankets winter wheat and hugs the stubble of last year’s corn which lay dying in the field. It settles itself along the fence that separates the farm in stately fashion and it laces haunting fingers through the trees. It covertly surrounds the silo, the barn, the shed; and forms a luminous halo around the single light left burning to ward off possible dangers tempted to lurk in shadowed corners.

At sunrise, the battle begins. Fog is brave and refuses to yield, but the fight does not rage for long. Sun is a strong and formidable enemy. Flanked on all sides with no place to hide, Fog is swiftly defeated. Forced to surrender, a virtual white flag is waved as it retreats.

When the farm is fully bathed in golden rays, you would never suspect that a quiet battle had ever taken place here.

Foto Friday #15

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I’m taking a break from travel writing to talk about the weather!

Several weeks ago, it rained for six days in a row where I live. The ground was completely saturated and squished in minor protest beneath my feet. Temporary puddles thought they had found a permanent home. After a week, there was a pause for a day of sunshine… then it rained again. It even briefly snowed! I feared we were going from summer straight into winter with only a short-lived Fall.

More than rain fell during that period of time. Autumn leaves came down too, some prematurely forced from the trees while they were still green. Others were dead and ready to fall anyway, the progression of life returning to the ground from which it came.

We’ve had no new moisture for a couple of days, but a distinct chill lingers in the air. I’ve noticed colorful leaves now float in the puddles that remain, replacing the dull, monotonous leaves from a few weeks ago. Today I caught them swimming in a reflection of beautiful blue sky. Maybe there will be a Fall after all!

A Quiet Morning

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The faucet at the kitchen sink is dripping again. Hmm, I thought we fixed that! It’s amazing how loud it sounds as I lounge in my favorite chair with my morning coffee. Just as I take a sip, the automatic ice-maker deposits its latest round of fresh ice into the freezer’s dispenser. The sudden racket startles me and coffee dribbles down the front of my pretty pink shirt. Now I’m perturbed… even the clocks annoy me! We have two pendulum clocks; a grandfather clock in the dining room and a mantle clock over the fireplace. Usually the pendulums swing at the same pace, but this morning one is out of sync, so the normal “tick-tock” in unison now resonates “tick-tick-tock-tock” instead. How can that be, I ask you? They both show exactly the same time! I take a deep breath – and another sip of coffee. Tap-tap-tappity-tap-tap! Are you kidding me? The obnoxious woodpecker is causing commotion again today. He thinks it’s funny – I know he does – to drill like a jackhammer on the gutters of our house rather than one of the dozen trees in our backyard. I march out onto the deck, flinging my arms like a mad woman to shoo him away. I settle back into my chair, slip my shoes off, put my feet up and grab my cup of coffee; which unfortunately has gotten cold, but I drink it anyway. A faint clank and a whoosh of air tells me the air conditioner has kicked on and there will be a bit of white noise until the temperature inside the house has met its goal. I reach down and pull a light-weight blanket over my bare feet (they get cold when the air is on). A contented sigh escapes me as I begin to relax. Beep, beep, beep! The dryer down the hall indicates the clothes that have long been tumbling are finally dry. If it wasn’t so quiet in here, I might have missed the signal. Wait, what? It’s not quiet in here! It’s chaos! I might as well get up and fold the laundry… and change my shirt!

Playing with words this morning, this is my response to RDP #68 Word Prompt – Play