Locust Winter 2015

42 degrees.

That’s what the thermometer said when I peeked at it with uncaffeinated eyes this morning at 6:30.

So, I rubbed my eyes, slipped on my glasses, and looked again.

42 degrees.

Three sips of coffee later – it still says 42 degrees, but it’s not as fuzzy.

And, after three openings and closings of the outside door, I don’t need the thermometer to tell me the third “winter” of this Spring has slipped in upon us.

Locust winter is here.

Brrrrrrr.

And, yes.  Locust trees are blooming.  I saw one Sunday on the way to church – the racemes were just beginning to lengthen, turn white, and open.

(Can’t help but wonder about the Honey Locust trees at the Zoo.  If they are blooming, the aroma there would be delightful!!)

Redbud, Dogwood, and now Locust – that’s three “winters.”  The next will be Blackberry.

I’ve located two blackberry bushes, both of which are full of swelling buds.  It won’t be long before the bushes are dotted with white flowers. Perhaps, they will bloom during this week’s prolonged cool down and we can strike two winters off the list before May slips in and Summer’s heat begins to tease.

Not one to wait for Cotton Britches Winter to send winter wear packing to the attic, I’m already sporting shorts and sleeveless shirts. But, I’ve kept out a jacket and a sweater – just in case.  And, this morning it feels like a mighty good idea.

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Dogwood Winter 2015

Slow down, Spring.  Please, slow down.

Your longer days bid me linger in your presence.

But, you’re passing so quickly I hardly have time to enjoy you.  I’ll blink twice and you’ll be gone.

Stay with me…settle in and pass some time with me.  Stay a while and let me soak up your sweetness and savor your beauty.

Red tulips. Yellow daffodils.  Grape hyacinths.  Flaming forsythia.  Violet violets. Pink peach blossoms. Hot pink redbuds. Green clover. New leaf green.

You’re in such a hurry – rushing toward Summer…. Slow down.

Let me touch you…smell you…feel you…inhale you…enjoy you.

Pear blooms – nearly gone.  Redbud burst blooms a week ago.  Peach blossoms…dropping.

And, now…now Dogwood spreads its bracts, wider each day, pale green, greenish white, whitish green, whitish tan, whiter…then white as the flowers within them bloom.

Today, a cold front rolled through with rain and storms and wind.  Tonight the temperature will feel more like Winter than Spring and offers a promise of frost for Easter morning.

Dogwood Winter is upon us.

That’s two down.  Three more Winters to go.

Recycling Giggles

The sign on the big, tall recycle bin into which we toss our recyclable trash says: Do not use for yard waste.

I think I now know why.

Upon first read, I assumed it was because some people might mistakenly fill it and place it at the road for the city to collect their leaves and grass clippings.

While I’m sure that has a lot to do with the edict, I have a feeling there’s more to it.

Here’s a clue:  If I say “recycle bin” my daughter erupts in a fit of giggles.

You see, I broke the recycle bin rule and used it for the collection of yard waste.

My next door neighbor has a large pine tree in his yard and offered me his fallen pine needles.  All I needed to do was collect them.

And, what better way to collect them but with a large, wheeled, light weight container?  The recycle bin was perfect.

So, I grabbed mine, freshly emptied by Metro, and headed across the yard, through the hedges, and into his front gate.

A rake stood against the old pine tree and I set about my task.  He had already created several piles of pine straw so the work went quickly at first.

I tipped the tall recycle bin onto its front with the lid flipped over its back and began to rake straw into it.  When I could rake no more into it without packing it down, I grabbed the handle (which was under the opened lid) and began to lift the bin into an upright position so I could continue to load it from the top.

Simple enough, or so it would seem.  The problem was the large lid that attaches to the handle.  Instead of flipping it closed, I allowed it to remain open. (Big mistake.)

As I pulled the bin upright, the large lid flipped outward onto the ground and I stepped on it.

I’ve yet to figure out the exact steps that caused what happened next.  And, no.  I’ve not tried to duplicate it apart from in my mind.

As I pulled the bin upright, my right foot stepped on the lid.  The weight of my body on the lid pulled the bin slightly sideways and off balance which threw me off balance as well. And, somehow, in attempting to keep the bin upright and myself from falling, I ended up headfirst in the bin which caused the bin to topple over onto its other side.

Exiting the bin a bit slower than I entered it, I brushed myself off and examined my stinging right shoulder and aching left pinkie finger.  My left forearm felt a bit odd, as did my wrist, but neither showed indication of injury. My pride, however, smarted a great deal and I looked around to see who might have witnessed my tumble.

The pine straw in the bin had cushioned my fall and become compacted to about a foot in depth by my jarring impact.  I quickly set about work and had the recycle bin full and ready to drag across my neighbor’s front yard, out his gate, down his drive, up the street, into my drive and across my yard to the backyard where I would dump it. (Was a far shorter journey when I could lift it over the hedges that border our yards.)

The problem was the little tan Chihuahua named Rose.  She was intent on accompanying me through the gate.

As I was pondering what to do and how to do it, I received a text from Daughter saying she was heading home from the zoo.

Problem solved.  I would just wait 15 minutes for her to arrive home and ask her to occupy Rose in play while I slipped out the gate with the recycle bin.

And, that’s what happened.

I had no intention of sharing my recycle bin fiasco with anyone, but when Daughter offered to hang around while I finished up the work of loading and transporting the bin twice more….

Well, sometimes things come up and out in casual conversation that you intended to keep private.

Such was the case here.

Of course, the telling of my debacle delighted Daughter.

And, every time she hears the words “recycle bin” she giggles uncontrollably.

Personally, I don’t see what’s so funny about it. 😉

The Promise of Spring

Daylight Savings Time slipped in last weekend and a week filled with rainy days followed.

I love rainy days – but a week of them? I’ve had my fill, thanks.

Sunny skies and dry ground – that’s what I’m looking for.

It’s time to reconnect with the earth and enjoy the changes that all the birds are tweeting about.

In other words – it’s time to get out the garden fork and turn over the garden soil.  Time to get my hands dirty.  Time to work my stiff muscles and build back what I lost during Winter’s idle days.  Time to plan the gardens and purchase seeds.

It’s time to face the future and embrace now.

Spring grass is growing.  Wild onions and blue hyacinths, henbit and chickweed will choke the yard – and the mower – if action is not taken soon.  As much as I dislike the thought of cranking the mower before late April, I have plans to begin early this year.

Early – as in this week.

The hedges will receive their first shearing this week, too.  Best to get it done before the poison ivy leafs out.

Gardens begun, grass cut, hedges trimmed….  That’s what’s planned outdoors for this upcoming week.

And, I’m looking forward to every scratch, blister, and sore muscle that will result. 😉

Of course, I’ll need my days to be longer than they were this past week.  I’ve not yet figured out how to stretch 24 hours into 36.  (If I could just figure out a way to live without sleeping or eating – oh the things I could accomplish.)

Heading into this week – head up, looking for opportunity, big plans, high hopes.

30 Days Absent

One month has passed since I last posted here.

30 days with nothing shared – no inward thoughts, no outward voice….

I was shocked when I signed in this morning and noted the date of my last post.

Life has been busy and my mind occupied with living it.  But, still…there was a time when I posted daily.  Suzansays served as a catharsis, I suppose.  Perhaps it’s one I no longer need.

Perhaps.

But, if that’s the case, why do I feel myself relax and open up as words begin to flow and my typing increases its pace?

And, why do I suddenly feel exposed…vulnerable…?  I’ve shared much over the years through writing.  Why do I now seek to draw the shades and pull privacy around me like a protective blanket?

Growth often takes place in dark places. You plant a seed where? Under ground. You don’t see it again until two things have happened. 1) a root system has formed and pushed its way downward to nourish and establish, and 2) it breaks through the earth mature enough to endure and be energized by the sun’s glare.

Bear with me now – my mind is piecing together this puzzle and I’m simply typing as my mind unravels the mystery of why I’ve been silent and absent for so long.

I’m growing. Changing. Becoming.

I wasn’t even aware of the depth of the change that’s taking place within me until I sat here to type in the quiet opportunity that this Saturday morning provided me.

Oh, I know – that’s something we all do in some form or fashion.  But, this is a radical makeover. And, it’s not something I instigated. Outside forces initiated various changes within me.  And, as those life forces pressed in – some things within me began to change.

(I’ve sat still and silent for 7 minutes now, unsure what words to type next – my mind a whirl of thoughts….)

Pressure has a way of affecting change.

Here’s a simple experiment to explain what I mean.

Take a Ziploc bag and fill it halfway with water.  Remove the air from it. Place it in the freezer – on a flat surface with nothing touching it. Take another Ziploc bag and repeat, just like you did with the first.  Toss it into the freezer then place upon it and around it whatever is handy.  Leave both for 6 hours.

When you return to the freezer and carefully remove the Ziploc bags – what will you find?

The one bag that felt only the pressure of its own weight and no confines apart from its own will conform to its own boundaries.  The bag that was tossed into the freezer and had the pressure of the weight of other things bear upon it is far more interesting and unique than the bag that felt none apart from its own.  It holds the same amount of water, but the pressure experienced by it redirected the flow into various directions and shapes.  It embraced that which bore down upon it and flowed as it was able.

The way I see it, we have two choices.

  1. We can insulate ourselves and resist the pressure of anything that might press in on us.  (resist change by confining ourselves to and conforming to boundaries we place on ourselves)
  2. We can go with the flow and use that which presses in on us as an avenue of growth. (accept change and allow the pressure to redirect us)

 

(Just FYI – this post took 84 minutes to write. That’s over an hour out of the 24 allotted me today. The pressure of time constraints indicates this post is finished and I need to flow on to other things.)

 

Wiggle Room

There’s not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to acknowledging another person’s beliefs, thoughts, way of living.

I thought for a while this was true only within the ranks of conservative groups. Not so.

Don’t believe me? Log into your Facebook page and scroll through the pages of your friends (or read your own posts).

Those who think differently are often looked down on, judged, and labeled as heretics, fools, and just plain wrong.

There’s no wiggle room and little room for meaningful discussion.  Someone always has to be right.

And, before you point a finger at me or this post, take a moment and think of why you’re pointing the finger.  It’s because you’re certain YOU are the one who is right.

I read what people write and listen to what they say. People speak (either in written form or verbal) for a reason – to give expression to something within.  And, that something within involves their belief system, thought process, past experiences, and future hopes and dreams.

If my experiences and understanding lead me to believe other than you do, does that make me wrong?

If I hold conservative views and take a narrow line (or embrace liberal views and draw no line) – and you don’t, why am I automatically the one who’s wrong?  Am I not entitled to my opinion…my belief?  What happened to freedom of speech…of religion?

If I choose to set boundaries, or set none at all, why does that offend and anger you? I respect you and your decisions.  Why can’t you respect me and mine?

Why can’t we just be friends…family?

Must we disagree?  I’m open to hearing your side.  Why are you closed to understanding mine?

And, why denigrate me for what I believe?

“Hypocrite” – that word flies both ways, you know.

You are opposed.  I am open.  But, you probably see things opposite.

Must it always be EITHER / OR? Can’t it sometimes just be AND?

Did you just call me liberal?

See what I mean? We’re quick to judge and slow to understand.  We close doors when we should be opening conversations.

I’ve learned to leave a little wiggle room.  And, as a result, I’m growing – evolving – expanding – becoming.  My views change as my understanding is enriched and my belief deepens.

We need a little wiggle room – but in all honestly, it’s probably good we don’t have any.  We’d probably use it to settle ourselves more firmly in our position and set up defenses all around….

More walls. More barriers. More closed minds.

Seeds of Hope

The day was rainy, the air was warm and it smelled of the promise of spring.  But, the forecast warned of frigid cold, of lows near 0 and highs of barely 20.

My thoughts, of late, have turned more and more toward the gardens and work that awaits me when weather clears and time permits. I’ve not touched either garden since I pulled the last tomato, purple pod pea, and cut the last okra before the first hard freeze turned everything brown.

There is much work to be done before Spring planting and I was feeling that familiar itch to dig in the soil.

Warm days and the scent of damp earth stirs something in me that’s basic and natural. I find it hard to confine my thoughts and self to the four walls that surround me when all that’s in me screams to be beyond them.

Winter – it’s either too wet to work the ground or it’s too cold.  (OR, it’s the Holiday Season and there’s NO TIME.) But, Winter lasts only 3 months and those few months are best spent planning and preparing for Spring’s arrival.

With rain falling and frigid weather coming, the Rare Seeds catalog pulled from our mailbox couldn’t have come at a better time.  I couldn’t work outside, but I could surely work inside – planning and dreaming of an heirloom garden filled with delicious and healthy non GMO vegetables.

Though in my possession only a few hours, the seed catalog is dogeared and marked up.

Winter winds may howl and the ground freeze and heave, but the seed of hope has sprouted within me and I think beyond what is – to what can be.

Pope Francis Asks 10 Things of Vatican Employees

– “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

 

– “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

 

– “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

 

– “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

 

– “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”

 

– “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

 

– “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”

 

– “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”

 

– “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”   Catholic News Service Blog

Add Ten

As Summer slipped into Autumn, I noticed the number on the scale begin an upward creep.

A half pound is not much.  Weight vacillates.  Too much salt, weight goes up. Dehydrated, weight goes down. I’m accustomed to watching the scale relate my fluid balance on a daily basis.

So, when my weight showed an inclination to rise, hold steady, and then rise again, I took immediate action.

I upped my caloric intake and reduced my activity.  And, since the season of all things sweet was nearing, i began to celebrate with sugary treats.

While active in the Summer, I was able to eat anything and all I wanted and still lose weight.  But, with the coming of the cooler, slower, less active months, my metabolism slowed because I slowed.

And, here I am on the back side of New Year’s wondering what happened and how – and what to do about it.

Cut calories, kick sugar to the curb, eat natural, push myself physically….yes, I know what to do and I know how to do.

It’s a matter of doing it.

Outside activity revs my engine and burns calories.  Inside…I just want to sit (here at the computer) and build a layer of insulating fat.

Spring? Where are you?  Yet three months away…by the time it arrives I will have packed on 10 more pounds.

Losing 10 pounds creates enough angst.  The thought of losing 20, well…let’s not go there.

Truly.  Let’s not.

What took me 3 months to pack on will take me 6 to take off.  It’s time to stop making excuses, lace up my shoes and head out into whatever the weather….

Nuff said.  I’m up from here.

Hmmm…. Where did I put those long-johns??

It All Comes Down to Choices

2015 arrived.

With bells, whistles, and fireworks the ball dropped in NYC as confetti filled the air. Hugs, kisses, and well wishes were shared.

We went to sleep.

We woke up.

And, now a brand new year stretches 365 days before us.

What will we do with it?

Will we make resolutions? Will we welcome change…force it…fight it?

What will 2015 look like as we stand at the cusp of 2016 and look back across it?

Will we smile at the journey the past 365 days took us on? Or, will we sigh because we spun our wheels and never got anywhere?

In truth, it all comes down to choices – those we make and those made by others.

We can’t do much about choices made by others that affect us.  But, we can do something about choices we make.

Where do you want 2015 to take you?  What choices need to be made to point you in the direction in which you want to go? How willing are you to choose wisely those things that will bring about the changes you desire and the direction you prefer?

Hard questions for my sleepy head this morning, but important ones if I’m to live fully into who I’m created to be, filled with hope as I celebrate each breath as a gift from God, and each sunrise as a new opportunity to begin again.

Happy New Year!