“Otherwise”

It’s Monday. All day. For another 13+ hours.

The last week or so, Jane Kenyon’s poem “Otherwise” has been my mantra. So much could have been otherwise.

Things were pretty quiet around here since the last entry. Oakley made a lovely recovery from the mild case of Lyme disease. We go back to the (more experienced) vet (who’s seen Oakley since puppyhood) this week for a recheck. My money is on that diagnosis because of how quickly he responded to the doxycyclene.  Within a couple of hours after he took the first dose,  he perked up, took nourishment, and wanted walks. I feel like I can exhale now. That could have been a huge otherwise.

Saturday was interesting, to say the least. A loud storm discharged a huge clap of thunder that shook the house hard enough to make one of the smoke alarms wail in protest. Granted that it was the alarm that goes off if someone sneezes while walking beneath it, but it was still disconcerting. It could have been otherwise, such as a bolt of lightning striking the roof. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

Later, as Oakley and I returned from a hasty walk between storms, one of the turkey buzzards that live in the trees down the road flew directly in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes as did the driver behind me. The bird lived to clean up road kill for another day; my windshield and both bumpers remained intact. A win-win situation for all resulted. That could have been an otherwise as well, and an incredibly messy one at that.

Despite a relatively late night, Oakley and I woke up with the sun. That could have been a huge otherwise, but it wasn’t. The sky had cleared. We had slept well, even after watching “Dark Angel” on PBS last night. Joanne Froggat, best known here in the states as Anna on “Downton Abbey” portrayed Victorian-era serial killer Mary Ann Cotton with chilling accuracy. I wisely cleansed my mental palate with many cake making videos before closing my eyes for the night.  With the way I carry what I watch on TV into my dreams, that could have definitely been otherwise.

But it wasn’t.

We go about today, another ordinary Monday, and make notes of gratitude that it wasn’t otherwise.

 

Lessons of the Leaves

Oakley and I completed our morning constitutional by 8:15. What breeze there was rustled the leaves, inviting them to dance. We went to the observation platform overlooking the green glass river, then retraced our steps to the car.

Today won’t be as bad as initially predicted temperature wise, but it will still be sticky for the next couple of days. It is equinox, autumn, the first day of fall, and we welcome it.

I shed no tears for this summer’s passage. In fact, if it had a rear end, I would send it off with the admonishment not to let the door hit it there as it left.

While it wasn’t all bad, it just wore on and on past its useful purpose. The two trips to Ren Faire went well, thankfully. The never-ending string of sticky days, mechanical and technological failures, loved ones facing health challenges, and Oakley’s colitis flare-ups just wore me to a nub. I had too many days of non functionality because of fatigue and the heat, but know I will perk up as autumn unfolds.

The leaves have started letting go, gracefully travel on the air currents to land on the earth, weaving tapestries to protect the ground and newly seeded life from the elements. I envy their grace and ease as I do my own letting go: cleaned out my social media lists; deleted some contacts from my phone, including the number of  a friend and teacher who passed almost two years ago; let go of some false hopes about close real life relationships and dreams.

As the release of the leaves from the trees makes way for the new ones next spring, I await the arrival of the new with curiosity and advance gratitude.

The Week that I Wish Wasn’t

Well, it was a little more than a week.

9/3/16 was good. We went to Ren Faire. All good and magical things happened, except for getting separated from Hubby. I had to visit the nearby Flush House of Easement (ladies’ room). He managed to miss seeing me walk out. I didn’t see him and returned to the bookstore where we’d shopped before the pit stop. He’d left his phone in the car, so my call landed in the voice mail box. I did hang up before I said anything. We finally found each other and decided that we needed to go home if we were that tired.

9/4-9/7 Hubby’s back acted up on him. Not much to do except hot and cold packs and feed him Advil. He was supposed to be tending to some outdoors chores best done before the weather gets too unstable. Still not a bad few days. He learned a software program to help him design woodworking projects. Coupled with the Labor Day “Downton Abbey” marathon, it wasn’t bad at all.

9/7 my crown fell out. Luckily it stuck to a piece of hard candy that I spit out. At first I thought it was a big popcorn hull, but upon further inspection realized that a trip to the dentist was in order. X-rays, an exam, and the good Dr. S. and her assistant cementing it back into place with their combined body weight pushing down on the crown made for a rather interesting experience.

9/8 the upstairs air conditioner died. This is the third time in two years this unit has given us problems.  A rather rude tech came out, gave the unit a cursory glance, then told Hubby it was a bad coil and would cost $500 to be replaced. Without testing said coil. And not coming up with a good reason for the cost except to inform Hubby that someone had to pay his insurance. And charged $100 for the service call. We decided to 1. wait until next spring and 2. in the meantime find another heating and cooling company.

9/9 seemed like a good morning for scones. A misty rain fell; we didn’t have to be anyplace. I looked up recipes on my iPad. Suddenly a convincing-looking window popped up saying that there had been a firewall breach and my device would be immediately shut down if I didn’t call Apple with the codes right now. I took it to Hubby, whom you may retired last year after more than 35 years in telecommunication engineering. He called the number. They said that I could take it to the nearest Apple store to get fixed, or they could do it for us if they could have our IP address and a credit card number. Hubby hung up. He called Apple, verified that it was a scam, and downloaded a bunch of security software from them. It was harrowing and embarrassing. We debated calling the sheriff and the states’ attorney, but somehow that dissipated.

9/10 made it better. Another cool rainy morning. This time, however, I went to a non corrupted site and found a great scone recipe.

Hopefully, that energetic purge will be the last for a long time to come.

Retrograde: The Condensed Edition

Tomorrow, everyone’s favorite planetary trickster, Mercury, amps up the fun by appearing to go backwards. Mercury rules communication, electronics, and transportation. It makes for interesting times. No need to panic; just be extra careful signing contracts, driving, and protecting your devices.

Yesterday featured a thirty-minute period that felt like the whole three weeks in one shot. Many pleasant hours filled the day; don’t get me wrong. I took lunch to my friend who’s recovering from surgery and we watched “Outlander” for the afternoon’s entertainment. I’d slept well. The list of blessings goes on and on. But there was just that one half hour that I could have lived without.

En route to R’s house, I stopped to do a  bit of shopping. The customers in front of me at checkout time had been on an extended vacation. The cashier, likely a newbie herself, had to walk them through the use of the chip card that had arrived in their absence. Between the explanations of how the card worked and the customer taking the card out of the reader several times before the transaction had been processed, the cashier overlooked about a quarter of their merchandise. She rang it up, then had to explain the use of the reader again. OK. Finally finished that.

Next task: the procurement of lunch. We like the same Tex-Mex takeout place for the freshness and flexibility in customizing our selections. Usually.

Me: Two bowls, please. First one with half a serving of black beans…

Counter person: (puts a half-scoop of black beans in bowl, then almost puts half-scoop of pintos)

Me: NO! I’m sorry, just the half scoop of beans….

And so on down the line.

I escaped to the car with the bowls. Noticing that the gas gauge needle hovered uncomfortably close to the big red line, I decided to fill up at the nearest gas station. Not the best price, but cheaper than a blown fuel injector. As I put the gas pump into the tank, a jabbing pain and burning sensation spread through my right leg. I looked down to see a yellow jacket flying away. The stinger had fallen out of my leg of its own accord.

Luckily R had some essential oils that helped with the initial discomfort. We enjoyed the afternoon immensely, then parted ways.

The flakey energy leveled out by the time I arrived home. Oakley was happy to see me. We were able to get out for a walk. Plus there were tomatoes from a talented and generous neighbor. Home-grown tomatoes always make it better, whatever “it” is.

Some pretty intense storms missed us, causing flooding to our south, more of an annoyance that life threatening. A rainbow capped off the afternoon.

It was all good. It was all good, indeed.

Oatmeal Morning

e77e12fab99df33a7a99cd3b2e63bb90.jpg

Rain came through the soybean field on Saturday. It finally broke the endless string of days hovering between the high 80s and low 90s with tropical humidity levels. The windows have been opened since then.

The six a.m. sun turned the condensation on the window pink. The crickets’ songs of harvest time harmonized with the fan’s steady whir, gently waking me up. Make coffee, mix Oakley’s breakfast (he wakes up when he hears the microwave beep), then sip coffee while I offer prayers and intention to The Great Mystery. A few lines in my journal, and we begin the day.

That’s pretty much how every day starts. Today I had a definite craving for oatmeal. I’ve had yogurt or eggs or toast with a reasonable amount of nut butter on it and some fruit, but this morning I wanted oatmeal. Maybe it was the coolness of morning, but that called to me. So I had a packet of instant oatmeal with flax, a spoon of almond butter, and blackberries. I do instant because the need for portion control overrides the other benefits of plain ol’ rolled oats, plus you can’t make cookies with it, so it prevents scarfing down the dough.

If you can actually get the cookies in the oven or not sit and fudge with portion sizes, whole grain or rolled oatmeal is a great breakfast. The fiber fills you up, helps to keep cholesterol in line, packs in a good amount of magnesium (helps with generally feeling mellow as well as keeping muscles relaxed), and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Wanting lunch at 10 is a bit awkward. If you give in to the siren song of the donut to get you through until noon, that can cause a bigger blood sugar crash that will leave you feeling rotten and craving more sugar.

The biggest issue is making sure that you choose toppings that won’t play havoc with your nutritional goals for the day. Recipes abound for high-sugar variations on the oatmeal theme that pretty much negate the benefits, so I find it best to just stick to fruit and milk with a tablespoon of nuts or nut butter to boost the protein.

One of the spins gaining popularity in recent times is the jar breakfast: put oatmeal, milk of choice or yogurt, and fruit in a jar and refrigerate overnight. In the morning the oats will be soft enough to be edible. That way a person can reap the benefits of the humble oat year round without turning on the stove in hot weather.

It may not be the most exciting of breakfasts, but it’s reliable and does its job. You can’t ask for much else.

Cricket Songs

A lot, yet not too much, goes on hear in the soybean field. Oakley and I go about our day to day routines and rituals of heat and humidity truncated walks, our early morning communes with The Great Mystery.

We were up about six this morning. I had to turn on the kitchen light so I could see to make coffee, and the sconces by the fireplace needed to be turned on as well so I could journal for the morning. Just a couple of days ago the glow of the candle had been enough to see the pen leaving its tracks across the page, but not this morning. By the time we were out the door, all was bright, heavy and humid. If we don’t get a storm I’ll be surprised. This unending string of days in the high 80’s and low 90’s will break this weekend. I look forward to open windows during the day so I can get the house aired out.

At bed time, unless it’s storming or oppressively muggy, I turn off the air conditioning and open the windows for a dose of fresh air and to listen to the sounds of the night. Some sounds like the squeal and growl of the trains slicing through the dark or the coyotes announcing their presence pierce the night all year long.

Others happen only between the height and end of summer. If the field next door has been planted in corn, the wind runs its fingers through the leaves, rippling the dark silk of the night. The crickets chant like a Gregorian choir in a never-ending canticle of worship to the darkness, the turning wheel, conveying gratitude to the Mystery for a bountiful harvest.

The songs of the dwindling summer remind us to get it done, whatever the sacred “it” is before it’s too late. Corn and soybeans and produce can all be harvested and stored in canning jars and the freezer for later use, but the song of the crickets remind us that time cannot.

 

 

 

 

The Summer of Our Discontent

1shakespeare002-277x320.jpg

image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

Yes, I know that the quote from “Richard III” is “winter” and not “summer.” However, the hellish humidity combined with a heat index of something like 103 is not making me happy. Throw in an air action alert, and we are neither amused or comfortable. It’s making us all downright crabby, in fact. Short, clear sentences with no room for misunderstanding are the order of the day.

Oakley and I slapped together a 30-minute walk. Emphasis on “slap” due to the mosquitos that plagued me. He tended to his social networking and business while I frantically waved and swatted. The good parts of the walk were its speed and efficiency and not whacking myself in the face with the cleanup bag. I am truly grateful for that.

When we finished, I dropped Oakley off at home, then ran to Walgreen’s to get antacid tablets for him and ice for me so I can indulge myself with a homemade iced coffee later this afternoon. I look forward to that. Not the same as from my favorite drive thru window, but worth it in the long run between calorie sparing (I use stevia here at home and can throw in a splash of vanilla extract to liven things up) and not contributing to the flow of plastic, even that which is destined to be recycled.

Later on we might make a run to one of the farm stores. This one allows dogs, and we will both benefit from a couple of laps around the store. For some reason, Oakley is infatuated with the automotive department. The scents of rubber and metal must have some kind of exotic appeal, the way that humans search out food not of their own ethnic background.

I’m doing my best to avoid news on TV. Part of me wants to monitor the weather, but the desire to avoid the deepening insanity surrounding the elections competes with it. I know that I can go on line, but the visuals and the walkthroughs by the weather people makes it more real, somehow.

Reading is always an option. I’m still working on Seafaring Women purchased during the opening Ren Faire weekend. I’m bouncing back and forth between that and Lake Woebegon Days. 

Oakley has toys to quietly maul. I’ll freeze some pumpkin in a Kong for a special treat–the last time he had the soy-based ice cream for dogs it didn’t sit well with him. He doesn’t mind pumpkin at all, especially with a squirt of spray cheese thrown in just because.

Tonight will bring storms and some respite. If not, a Thai curry is in order and we’ll pretend we’re in Bangkok. We’ll live, but the quality of doing so must be maintained.

The Point of Sweet Tension

Some years ago, I had a yoga teacher who called the place where you’d bent into the pose enough to get a good stretch, but not far enough to put yourself in pain “the point of sweet tension.” As August slides into its middle weeks, I find myself in that place. Not so much in a forward bend, but with life and time in hurry up and wait mode.

On one hand, I look forward to Labor Day and all that comes with it. We’ll be making a trip to Bristol Ren Faire (sigh) for closing weekend, the start the countdown to next July. Daytime highs will begin to creep to more acceptable levels, and the colors will turn to golds and crimsons. And in November, we will finally be through this election season that has been unparalleled in sheer bad behavior and insanity.

On the other, despite the highs being uncomfortable, in the face of political insanity, and despite the changes and challenges foisted on me this year, I don’t want to wish it away. This ride, even with the pain and the headaches, is just too short. There are days when the middle years feel like a war of attrition: life choices and genetics catch up with a person eventually, and sometimes a passage just happens for no apparent reason.

If some how I had been able to fast forward, I would have missed the hawk making lazy circles above me as I drank an iced coffee with a shot of caramel at a park. I would have missed an excellent lunch with a spirit sister last weekend, and the song of the crickets this morning as I woke up. Don’t forget the gifts of homegrown tomatoes, green beans, and cucumbers, either.

The sweet point among the salad is the need to stay in the moment, and knowing that eventually you can straighten up, but enjoy the stretch in the meantime.

 

Strange Days, Indeed

lady-with-elkman-thm-2-GraphicsFairy-320x320.jpg

image courtesy The Graphics Fairy

In the smaller, personal word, I laid a bird to rest this morning. A thunk reverberated through the dinette and family room. He laid on the back step with glassy unfocused eyes staring at the sky. I think he might have been an immature cardinal based on the coloring, still mostly white but with bright orange-red feathers sprouting through.  With the help of a plastic bag, I transported the remains to the northeast corner of the property, then gently laid him on the ground. “May you rest and may you fly free,” I said. May it be so.

Now we wait the long wait for the vets’ office to return the second call. Oakley was a little restless last night. He finally found a cool spot near the fan and dozed off, or so I thought. By some act of grace, Hubby was up early. Oakley wasn’t snoring in front of the fan. Hubby went downstairs to find Oakley panting and pacing by the back door. Hubby woke me up so I could take him out. Out we were in the nick of time. It was bad enough that Oakley  is staying home from day care today. I called the vets’ for an antidiarrheal and an antibiotic used in extreme scenarios. The former is ready. Somehow, the request for the latter didn’t get filled.

Before that, Hubby had to wake me up at 1:30 this morning. Whatever I was dreaming about caused me to yell in my sleep. He gently woke me up. Usually, that’s the end of the story. But my brain took off on me. I never really went back to sleep. That was the second night in a row.

The not-so-personal world has ratcheted up the nuttiness to new levels

I struggle not to attach meaning to the deceased bird, the bad dreams, the upset tummy, or the incoming full moon. But after the last few days of news, I wonder. Tensions between law enforcement and minorities simmer as they did back in 1967-68 as I remember. We had Dallas, near St. Louis, St. Paul in the last week. The national conventions lie just ahead. Demonstrations will be held, I’m sure. May they be peaceful on all sides.

Another round of potentially severe storms hovers on the horizon for this afternoon. I took Oakley out about an hour ago. Hot sun plus mugginess plus a cool breeze indicates instability. We watch and wait.

Hopefully, the storms through the power of the water and the energy generated will provide a cleansing for the world. Or at least our little corner of it.

Showing Up on Monday

Dealing with the relative (now recovering nicely, thanks) and an assortment of other non-usual events made the last couple of weeks hiccupy in terms of writing and general sanity. Things are finally leveling out here in the soybean field, making the first full week of summer in the soybean field a more peaceful one.

A severe weather outbreak livened up last Wednesday. The two tornados that did damage were pretty small. No fatalities, thankfully. The rest either stayed airborne or went through open fields. Oakley and I sat watching the sound and light show in the sky and its coverage on TV. We didn’t even lose power.

The next couple of days brought chaos in the larger world. Unexpectedly, Britain voted to leave the EU. WNIU very rarely mentions news stories, so when one gets mentioned, listeners know it’s going to be a big one. Oakley knows that when Mom spits her coffee back into her cup it’s a big one. That triggered off days of losses in the stock market. Initially, I wanted to pull our investments, stuff everything into coffee cans, and bury them  in the back yard. It has to level out, and hopefully will in the next few days.

Today is mercifully quiet. Well, except for Oakley having a mild flare-up of colitis caused by the heat, most likely. He asked to go out at 2:30 this morning, then had a peaceful rest of the night. As we walked at the park this morning, he acted cramp-y (frantic pacing, hunching), and, well..I’ll spare the details. I called the vet, changed his herb for a few days. He’s napping peacefully on the floor in front of the fan.  We will have a better night tonight.

With a high of 90, this is a bit warm for my taste. I personally max out at 80 and begin to wilt at 85. Cooler foods are in order, such as salad and sandwiches and gazpacho. It’s due to be cooler tomorrow. I’ll cook the chicken legs then. Maybe oven-fried? Sounds good.

So begins the summer. Next on the agenda: we are eleven days from the Ren Faire opening. Oakley will be staying at Ms. Lanette’s for the night. We all need a bit of frolic, and we have those events to provide it for us.