Mar 30 2011

i am a turkey vulture

from a distance

there is



up close

this ability to soar

always remains



Mar 28 2011

little big things

Yesterday was a day filled with little big things.

I got up incredible early, I dropped my son off at the airport for his first solo trip to a big city, I watched the sun rise, and I went to a nature center with my brother and his wife and my parents.

There were all kinds of birds feeding out of our hands. Well, okay, not my hands because mine were holding a camera, but I got a lot of really great pictures of chickadees and nuthatches and a titmouse and cardinals and a beautiful turkey vulture. (Now that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one!)

This little sparrow landed right at my feet to pick up the piece of corn that is in his mouth, and then kept hopping towards me as I took his photo. Something about him just made me laugh. He was quite the show-off, puffing himself all up and acting tough.

A few minutes later, we had a visit from a four-legged friend that completely melted my heart. (I will be writing about that over at Inspiration Studio tomorrow.)

In the grand scheme of things, it was just another day, filled with pretty normal activities. But for me, there were a lot of big moments. Moments I will always remember, and some that I will probably forget. But I lived in each one, immersed in its beauty, significance, simplicity, and the ability to make me smile.

And every smile most certainly qualifies as a little big thing,

don’t you think?

Mar 26 2011

synapse no. 12


hitting the nail

on the head




Mar 24 2011

pictures of heroes

One of my favorite songs of all time is Springsteen’s Candy’s Room.

“In Candy’s room, there are pictures of heroes on the wall.”

I sit here in my living room looking around me, and I see pictures of heroes everywhere. My children, my parents, my grandmother, my husband’s father whom I never met, pets from both past and present.

In a row of six, along one wall, there is my grandfather working on a tractor, his face hidden, probably completely unaware that his photo was being taken. And there, in another shot, he stands with his brother and an uncle or a cousin, and next, there is a woman that I don’t even know, just that she was someone’s wife or mother or sister, someone related or someone that knew someone related.

In those days, pictures did not come as easily as they do now, nothing quick or instant or easy. They were records, of time and people and life.

Hardworking people stand before me in these pictures, people who worked themselves to the bone and then some, just to survive. People who struggled through the Great Depression, the World Wars, poverty, hardship, strife.

This is where I come from.

No one famous, no one rich, no one that stood out in any crowd. Average people that lived average lives and made the best of it all, and could still manage to crack a smile for the camera. My grandfather, stricken with polio at a young age and permanently disabled, was one of the hardest working people I have ever known. I wonder what he was like when he was young, if he was ever carefree and silly, if he ever had time to sit in his backyard and ponder life.

Down further on this same wall is my drawing of our dog, Coby, the dog that made his way into my heart, a gift to my husband on his 40th birthday. And around the room are our children’s senior portraits, reminders of a time that seems like just yesterday and long ago all at once.

On the bookshelves, there is the old frau who befriended my husband as a young soldier in Germany, my grandmother in her nurse’s uniform, a woman who worked as a nurse to support nine children, mostly on her own. And my parents, whose smiles have been a constant in my life.

These are my heroes.

They’re all over the place, right here in my living room.

I am honored to stand among them.

Mar 22 2011

if you believe…

Today I am over at Vision & Verb

along with the man in the moon.

Do you believe?


Mar 20 2011

a month of somedays

I have a lot of somedays floating around in my head, I always have.

There is the house I will live in, the perfect weight I will be at, the marathon I will complete, the garden I will tend, the book I will write. The world will be at peace. Someday.

And though I remind myself, often, that someday never comes, that there is only just today, this day, the one I am in, those somedays always come creeping back in. I suppose it’s human nature, to dream, to look to the future, to wonder what it might hold.

But then I wonder how much of my life I am missing or wasting by spending time on someday when I could be, should be, spending it in this day, in this hour, in this moment.

I go back and forth between the two, trying to find the balance. Living in the moment is so much more difficult than it sounds. My body can do it, my physical self has no choice but to be where it is when it is there. But my mind, it wanders.

And yes, I can rein it in, pull it back, sit it down in this chair and say, listen.

But is that always the best thing to do? Aren’t those dreams just as important as the smell of the flowers in the vase before me? Aren’t the possibilities as valuable as the present? Most days, I can’t decide. I try to do both, appreciate where I am, while also contemplating where I might end up.

In a perfect zen moment I am only here, in the now, in the sun I sit in, the leaves I rake, the floor I sweep. When I have those moments, I revel in them, breathe them in, embrace their importance.

But my mind has its own set of wings and often takes flight before I can stop it. And when it soars high above me looking towards some other time and place, I have to wonder if it’s fair to keep it tethered to my ankle.

I don’t have the answer to which way is best. I know it’s important to enjoy what I have when I have it, where I am. I know this. I see beauty in the tiniest of places, in the green daffodil shoots there, at my feet, in the steaming cup of tea that starts my day, in that kitten cleaning his paws in the corner. I recognize the value of immersing myself in these things.

But then my mind will hear the echo of a promise and take off in search of the source.

Sometimes, I just sit back and let it wander.

My body can holds its place ’til it returns.


Mar 18 2011

march madness

We’ve all got the fever at my house, everyone is restless, even the animals. Yesterday was a gorgeous day, especially for March, sunny and almost 60 degrees. Every bone in my body wanted to go running, except for my right knee which has staged an all-out revolt and is no longer my ally.

And so, no running. I raked a little, as much as a girl who can’t bend much, or squat at all, could do. I sat in the sun and listened to the red-winged blackbirds chirp about how much they wished I would go back inside so they could eat in private. I took 323 pictures, and I smiled, on the inside, all day.

I found my happy place, apparently it has been hiding outside, in my garden. I felt my heart stretch after months of cringing, my body relaxed, my mind wandered, little pieces of my soul danced on the breeze. And I wasn’t even out there for very long.

It was just long enough to restore my faith in progress, the moving forward, the changing scene. Long enough to allow myself to stand still and breathe in the scent of earth, the call of bird, the blanket of sky. I wrapped myself in its warmth and carried it back inside.

I feel it still, cradling me, as I whisper these thoughts to the moon.
I will keep it close by my side for a while longer, as surely there will be more snow, more cold, more rain, more grey.

But it’s March and there are birds singing and buds on trees and tiny green shoots poking tiny green heads up through the ground.

Soon it will be time to shake out that blanket, fold it ever-so-gently, and pack it away.

For now, I’ll take these days as the gifts they are, and hold them carefully in hands dry and brittle from a too-long, too dark winter.

Grateful for the prettiness of promise, the reassurance of renewal,

fine wrappings for the platitudes of life.

Mar 16 2011


an ocean of hope

sinks into my heart

and washes it clean

of bitterness.


only temporarily,


that is



i send those

tiny boats of optimism

back out

with the tide.


an exercise in futility,


that is




it rolls

back in.


this post is part of one shot wednesday

Mar 14 2011

what speaks to me

crows, in groups of three.

a tree that stands, alone, in a field.

yellow daffodils whose smell is louder than their color.

a never-ending winter that i have made my peace with.

the promises that life has whispered in my ear.

this silence that pours into me like honey.

unopened buds singing songs of tomorrow.

a branch, extended like a hand,

to land on.

Mar 12 2011


we lose it like keys, knowing, always, that it must be here, somewhere, but we have a way of putting it down in strange places, mindlessly tossing it onto counters or in drawers, the bottom of a purse, the pocket of that jacket we hardly ever wear.

and we might not even know that we’ve lost it, its hiddenness will be hidden by our failure to notice that it’s missing. until there is something to lock or to start or to open, and then we search frantically for a long time and after that, not at all, thinking it will turn up, it has to be around here somewhere. we give up, a little.

and then suddenly one day, there it is. a whole bunch of perspective dangling from that little ring.

you jangle it in your hand, wanting to hear it to be certain, check the shapes to make sure it is your perspective and not someone else’s.

and of course, because you found it in such a ridiculous place, you feel foolish for ever having lost it at all. and so you make sure to hang it on the hook by your back door, right in plain sight which is where it is supposed to hang always except, of course, when you are using it. you chose that spot so you won’t forget, you walk by it a million times a day, it’s such an obvious place.

and then one day you go out for a run and you lock the door by mistake and now you know just exactly where those keys are but you cannot make any use of them because, once again, they are not where you need them to be at just the time that you need them.

but then as you sit there waiting, wondering, pondering whether it’s best to break a window and climb in or just hope that soon someone will come home and let you in, maybe even feeling sorry for yourself a little, you start to realize that it’s not the keys, themselves, that are all that important. it’s not the unlocking and the locking and the starting that matters, it’s that you have something to unlock and something to start and a hook on a wall to hang those keys on in the first place.

and then suddenly, you have a whole new set of keys, right there in your pocket, and a whole new row of doors to unlock.

and you realize how lucky and how blessed

and how alive you are.