Saturday, April 7, 2012


Once I read /heard a story by Donald Davis, a famous and wonderful storyteller.
He pointed out that when he felt lonely he would go to the pasture at nighttime and lie down, carefully because the cows also used this pasture.  There he would look up at the stars, moon, clouds and know that all the people he loved were also looking and seeing those same stars, moon and clouds.  It gave him peace, he was not lonely anymore, he felt the spirits of all family and friends.

This came to mind as I watched the beautiful remarkable moon this week.  I shared some photos with friends and a comment I received was “Hummmm I saw that same moon off my back porch.  All of a sudden I felt much closer to her.  We shared the same moon. The distance from NY to GA was not far at all.

Sometimes I think of this world as soooo big with people I’ll never know, places I’ll never see, customs and ideas I’ll never be exposed to. Then I remember the moon covering us all and all of a sudden the world seems much smaller, more knowable and more livable.

So when I see the moon tonight I’ll know that it is also covering all my loved ones, we are not alone, we touch and influence each other in our lives.  I’m so glad to have relearned this thought. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Yesterday Joyce and I did our own version of the TV show “Chopped.” 

It began innocently enough.  I’ve just had a knee replacement and am not very mobile at this time.  I invited Joyce over to cook a spaghetti squash that I had.  I bought it sometime ago because it would look good in my bowl of fall veggies – squashes, potatoes, tomatoes, gourds and nuts.  My plan was to cook it after I tired of the decoration.  I think I’ve cooked spaghetti squash once before in my life so I did not feel up to tackling that dish.  My old and dear friend Joyce was up to the challenge and said sure, no problem. I might add that I thought she answered in such a nonchalant manner, I wondered if she really knew what she was doing.  Oh well.

She was supposed to arrive about 11 AM but instead called about that time to say she was in the middle of a project with her grandchildren (6 of them) and it would be 12 -12:30 before she got here. “Fine,” I say but I’m thinking – what about lunch?  I don’t see how this is going to work. I’m not energetic enough to think hard about it or make a plan – it will just evolve.

Joyce gets here shortly after 12 with apologies and a recipe.  We immediately determine that the meal she is going to fix will be dinner, therefore “what’s for lunch?”  Ok, check the fridge and find something.  She did and we had leftovers from the night before.

I showed her two recipes for spaghetti squash in two different cookbooks and she had a recipe.  My advice was “I don’t care what you do with it.  Whatever you figure out is fine.”  Meanwhile I rested in my easy chair, resting and being grumpy.  Joyce was in the process of picking and choosing from the recipes and making something.  I don’t know what all she put in the casserole but she raided the spice cabinet, pantry and the fridge.  After an hour or so she commented, “This is the last time I’ll ever cook spaghetti squash,” and she continued to mutter and mumble.  And I continued to grumble and grumble from my easy chair.

What makes this work is that we’ve known each other since our kids were little and they’re about 50 years old now.  Therefore, we don’t have to put on a pretty face or be nice & proper.  We can be just old us and its ok.

She kept remarking that she would never again do this.  And from my easy chair, I mumbled that whatever it was, it was ok.  Finally she said all done and put it in the oven.  Now it had to cook ½ an hour, I think she said. 

After careful calculation we decided we had enough time to watch a movie before she had to leave for another appointment.

I had nothing planned for the rest of the afternoon so we expected a period of uninterrupted time.  Now, under the best of circumstances the two of us watching a movie is an “iffy” experience. Neither of us really knows how to work a DVD – it’s a matter of trial and error.  We got it started, settled down – me in my easy recliner and Joyce on the couch. Then nothing went according to schedule – a friend stopped by, my tenant brought in a package and visited, the phone rang and future plans had to be changed.  You understand, each interruption means the DVD has to be stopped and started and I have to get in and out of the chair (slowly and with difficulty).  We have to find a flashlight so we can read the buttons on the machine.    With all the happenings, the movie was just lost in the shuffle.

About this time, Joyce says that it’s time to check the casserole. She checks it and tastes it.  She immediately realized that something was WRONG. She reread the recipes and realized that the squash was supposed to be cooked BEFORE the casserole was made!  After it was made, the casserole was supposed to cook another 30 minutes.  Joyce simply decided that the way to make it right was simply  cook it longer.  So back in the ovenl it goes.

Finally, she announces that it is done, she tastes it and says “You or I will never taste anything like this again!”  She prepares to leave and we realize that we will not get to see the end of the movie. Sooo – by now, we’ve forgotten what it was all about anyway. 

And so ends an afternoon when Joyce was the chef and was given a spaghetti squash to make something with.  It was a challenge.  I was like a judge – grumpy and cranky.  The conclusion was that spaghetti squash will never be cooked again by either Joyce or me. And that hopefully my disposition will improve.

We both agreed – yesterday should be “Chopped!”

As she left, she had the nerve to cheerily call over her shoulder, “And what would you like me to cook next time?”

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Precious Memories of Pet

Precious Memories of Pet

My Pet Squirrel

Pet adopted me, it was not me adopting him. 

During warm days I leave the sliding glass doors open.  I know, I know – bugs and stuff get in.  It’s okay – I’ll pay that price for the fresh air.  One day Pet decided to come into the kitchen.  I was horrified – oh, he would get scared, feel trapped, want to get out and forget how to get out.  So, in the process of looking for a way out, he would destroy and in general create havoc.  But there was something about him that made me doubt my idea of panic. I watched from afar.  He went to the bottom shelf of a bookcase and began searching for the bag of roasted peanuts I had bought from SC on my return trip home.  I had forgotten about them.  What a good nose he has.

Carefully I went over, took out a handful of peanuts, put them on the floor and watched him eat them.  The cats just watched.  Pet was just alert and watched them.  When Pet finished eating, he investigated the rooms a little bit and then left by the same door which he entered.

Oh that was fun and exciting.  I guess it’ll be the only time he’ll do such a thing. 
And I let it go.

A few days later, he once again appeared in the kitchen.  Where are the peanuts?  Do I have to come get them? 

I put a couple of handfuls in a tray, put it down in the living room and watched.  The cats watched too.  Nobody got excited.  Pet ate, the cats watched.  Some days the squirrel or cats would feel frisky and chase each other around the chair a time or two and then Pet would go back to eating and the cats would go back to napping. 

He visited all summer.  Sometimes, I’d feed him sunflower seeds on the deck railing.  He loved those.  I decided to hold them in my hand and see if he would take them.  I know, I know.  I was worried about him biting me and have rabies or some other terrible disease but I could not resist so I took the risk.  He came up, put his little paws on my fingers and took the seed.  He loved it.  He stayed and ate until he was filled.  I was so excited.  

There is something so special about a  connection with a wild animal.  It’s called trust. 

One day after about a year, he showed up, limping.  He ate from my hand and I never saw him again. 

That special time – the time a squirrel let me be his friend, is filed away under “Precious Memories”.

Top - Pet checking out the kitchen
Bottom Left - Cat, Starr checking out that strange thing
Bottom Right - Cat, Midas checking out that strange thing from the safety of a chair

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Teacher Habits

As a retired elementary school teacher I am used to scrounging.  We always needed supplies that the school budget would not support.  That meant the teacher either scratched the project, bought it out of her personal money, or scrounged.  We became expert scroungers.  We enlisted the aid of friends as well.  We saved plastic tubs, plastic lids (almost said kids), paper plates, paper bags, pine cones, scraps of fabric, and mats for framing and a hundred other things.

Every holiday there were projects. Santa was made out of paper bags with cotton balls for hair and beard, paper plate for face and cap of red construction paper.  Many goals were met doing this besides the fun of it. Some are:  following directions, measuring, imagination for drawing and coloring in the face and others.

The Thanksgiving turkey was often made out of pine cones, pipe cleaners, patterns for head and wattles which had to be drawn, copied, and glued in place.  Feet also required patience and skill in tracing cutting and gluing.  Eye hand coordination and imagination were important.

Apple head dolls could be used for Halloween to be a witch to take home.  Apples were gathered from a field trip or supplied by the parents.  Cloves were used for the face and then we sat then on the windowsill until properly aged & withered.

Empty egg cartons were a prize – many projects could be made using them.  One of my favorites was using them to plant seeds in the spring.  That’s when we were learning about growing things and understanding they didn’t just appear in the Super Market.

I am now a senior citizen.  You would think my days of scrounging would be over, but no, no.  I used all those saved products with my grandkids. Now they’re grown so you’d think that those boxes of scrounged and saved stuff would just be thrown out and no more gathered.

Well, somehow I haven’t been able to break the habit.  The lady who comes over to my house to try to help me keep some order looks at my boxes of saved stuff (treasures) and shakes her head. “Mary do you really need all these plastic bottles, Cool Whip tubs and this other “junk”, she asks. “Yes,” I say! I am thinking that some of my friends will need this stuff for projects they want to make with their grandchildren, some 1st grade teacher friends, some church groups or Day Care groups.  It’s valuable and I know somebody wants and needs it.

I lecture myself saying that I know today they use different materials and make different projects. BUT I can’t imagine how technology and digital stuff can beat the old hands on, get dirty, gluey and smudged with colors and paint making a project. Then with a smiling face say “Look what I did!  I did it myself!”

Written while in hospital after knee surgery, couldn’t sleep and was bored so wrote with paper and pencil in half dark.

Monday, January 2, 2012

It's Going To Be A Great Year

How do I know that?  How can I make such a positive statement?  Well sometimes nature tells you.  The signs are so clear and definite. 
Yesterday morning a flock of Cardinals visited my back deck.  Yes, I said a flock.  I’ve never seen more than two males at the same time.  Yesterday there were five males and two females.  They were gorgeous as they flitted about scouring for sunflower seeds.  The males would even take time out to have a short air fight.  The fight didn’t last long because they really wanted to eat. 
When I see such unexpected events in nature, I am never prepared and I just stand/sit there with my mouth open.  Reality sets in and I grab my camera to take pictures of this momentous event.  I’m not good at this – I’m so excited, I don’t wait to get a good pose.  I’m afraid I won’t get anything at all.  So I hurry and don’t take time to focus properly.  I think the birds know this so just before I’m going to click, they turn their backside or move and ruin the perfect pose.  But that doesn’t stop me and I usually get a few good ones and curse myself for not being more patient and careful.
When I was growing up on the farm in SC I was told that a red bird made wishes come true.  If you saw one, you threw a kiss, made a silent wish and it would come true.  Frankly I can’t ever remember if it came true or not but I do remember the excitement of sighting the bird, throwing a kiss and making the wish.  Even now as a senior, if I see a red bird I throw a kiss and make a wish. 
So yesterday instead of making many wishes (for all the opportunities), I just made one big one – that my New Year would be the best ever.  Then when I felt that was settled, I thought in bigger terms and wished Peace and Joy for the whole world.

It’s going to be a Great Year, the Red Birds told me so.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wounded Woodpecker

Last week one morning had a spectacular beginning. I was moving around in a semi-awake state as is usual for the beginning of my day.  I was in the kitchen fixing something for breakfast when I heard a loud thump.  I went to the studio to check it out.  Opened the sliding glass door and there on the deck floor was a woodpecker, lifeless.  I have a suet feeder right about where he fell.  Evidently he got confused, missed the suet and flew into the window knocking himself out. It was a miracle – there were no cats around.  I quickly picked him up, held him and went inside for warmth.
I sat there holding him, trying to think of a container to put him in, or a safe place to put him but could think of nothing that was better than me holding him. I was afraid that if I put him down somewhere outside one of my animals (2 dogs and 3 cats) would cause a problem.  If I put him down inside and he began to fly around then getting him out would be a big problem.  My thinking was that holding him would be short term since he looked healthy.  He was a Hairy Woodpecker I think.
So I held him for about 5 minutes and then he became alert.  He started looking around and making strong movements.  It was time to go outside and see if he was ready to rejoin nature.  I went outside, opened my hand and off he flew – swift and strong. 
He chirped “thank you” as he flew away.  Now I know what that sound is that I hear most mornings.  It’s a Hairy Woodpecker.
While I was holding him I really wanted to take a picture.  What a chance for a close up and I also wanted to document this occasion so my friends would believe me.  I had no idea how difficult it is to take a photo with one hand.  Friends, it is next to impossible.  Of course I didn’t let that stop me.  I tried and tried.  Finally I got two good ones.
I was so pleased when I saw them on the computer.  After rejoicing at my success another reality hit me.  Is that my hand?  Can’t be?  My hand is not blotchy and wrinkled like that hand.  It must be my hand.  Seems I had not really noticed or paid attention and there is an old hand indicating the passage of time. 
Sometimes things just creep up on me like the blotchy wrinkled hand.  But other things are the same since I can remember.  I always rescued animals, any kind of animals.  Maybe the first bird I ever held, took care of and made pets with were the chickens we raised on the farm. 
Funny, how an ordinary morning takes your mind so many places.  And I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Friends - It was just a short time ago that I wrote Pain.  Well, time has passed and the Dr. gave me another shot of cortisone so I feel better.  I'm not in severe pain, just regular pain but I can live with that (temporarily).  I see knee replacement in the near future for me.  Anyway this is what happened last week. 
Just when I decided that I’m a helpless old lady something comes along to prove that there is spirit in the old girl yet. Last night at about 3AM when it was very dark, I found myself out on my back deck swinging a broom at an intruder. Let’s see, you need a little background on this.
For the past three nights my dog Rusty, who is my pet, protector and constant companion, has awakened me 3 to 4 times a night with furious excited barking. I slowly climb out of bed – I do everything slowly these days and go to the study. There he is standing by the sliding glass doors poised to shoot through them like a bullet the minute I open the door.
I’m also slow deliberately because I really want whatever is out there to get away before Rusty gets there. I don’t want a fight, hurt animals, blood and such. So far we’ve been successful. I knew our visitors were raccoons because the first night they got into the bird seed that I keep on the deck in a sealed container – one I thought was secure. I bought bungee cords, fastened it again to make it double safe. Didn’t work, they chewed through the cord or just pulled it aside and opened the container. Next step – I now bring the container inside every night. Problem solved – oh no. Now the garbage looks and smells interesting. I had anticipated this and had put a heavy crock pot on top of the garbage can to make sure it was safe. Ha, they said as they knocked it off and broke it to smeetherines. That was one I really liked too. Of course they scattered the garbage all over. I’m using bingee cords again and making sure I don’t put any food in the garbage. The food goes to the compost pile.
They seem to have just found me and just keep coming back. Each time I solve a problem and think that I am brilliant with my new and better solution, they out do me. They just find another interest. Last night it was the hanging bird feeders. I also am naïve enough to think that once they have had a narrow escape from Rusty, they will stay away. Not so, they keep coming back.
I think raccoons are cute and pretty. But, I tell you – their charm has worn off. Right now I’m just annoyed.
So for the third time last night I let Rusty out. He’s off like a bullet, barking like crazy (wonder what the neighbors think). This time he doesn’t just check out the deck and yard and come back inside wanting praise from me because he is such a wonderful dog. He just keeps barking. I go to the door to try to determine what’s the problem now. I notice that he’s barking over by a lamp post that has a bird feeder hanging from it. I look carefully and there sitting atop the post is a big fat happy raccoon. My timing was off when I let Rusty out – the raccoon didn’t make a get away. So now what? The raccoon can’t get down because Rusty is there and Rusty is not going anywhere while that raccoon is in sight and on his property.
It seems to me I’m going to have to do something. I manage to get Rusty off the deck and into the dog pen below. Now the raccoon can come down on the deck and get away. But the stupid, dumb, aggravating raccoon just sits there and looks at me. Doesn’t he know that I just threw him a lifeline? Evidently not!
Ok, a next step has to be taken. I know, I’ll get a broom and knock him off his perch. I’ll have to be careful, I don’t want to knock him into me and I make sure I have a straight and clear path to the sliding glass door. Alright, it seems safe enough until I visualize this sight and have an attack of the giggles.
Here it is at 3 AM or thereabouts, and this old lady is out on the dark deck in her nightgown swinging a broom at a raccoon. Why it’s enough to make you laugh. I guess there’s some spirit left in me yet!
I push him off his perch, he begrudgingly comes down and ambles off. Rusty has now figured out that he was tricked and is fiercely barking to get up on the deck and at this monster. I let him up, the raccoon makes his getaway and Rusty and I go back inside and to bed.
Tonight is going to be more of the same thing. I’ve got to come up with a plan. These visits are just too much excitement.