Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 -- A Bittersweet Goodbye

It's time to say goodbye to 2011.  And this year, it's a bit harder than usual to say so long to the old year.

It's not that it's been a good's been difficult.  But there were some things in 2011 that are now gone forever, and that makes it hard to crack open the bottle of ginger ale and toast to the new year.

In January, my mom passed away.  Our relationship went from rocky to none, and we never got to say goodbye. She chose to not have me around at the end, and that remains incredibly painful almost a year later.   But even with all of that, I am sad that she will not be on the planet to see the arrival of 2012.  She did a lot of good for a lot of people in her lifetime, and it should have been longer. Knowing that 2011 was the last year she would see makes seeing it go even harder.

2011 also saw the passing of an uncle I had become close to after years of not seeing him,  I am grateful for the chance I got to finally live close enough to feel that we knew each other, but sad that the time was cut short.  He was great guy, with a dry but always ready sense of humor and a love for Hershey Chocolate bars and black licorice.  Like my mom, I wish he was around to great the new year,

2011 was supposed to be the first full year my new husband and I would have together...a chance to learn about each other and build our marriage.  Instead, he had to take a job out of state, while I remained in Florida to ready the house for renters and wait out the school year.  The result was 6 long, stressful months apart.  The coming together again was wonderful, but we are still recovering from each others absence and the unique stresses it caused for each of us.

And even the reunion was bittersweet, because it meant leaving behind my beloved home state of Florida, where I have dear friends, family and a lifetime of memories.  The move to Texas meant no more late night suppers on the patio of Flashback with Polly and Karen, no more snorkeling trips with Jimmy and the rest of JAC, no more lunches with friends from work who had become such dear friends, no more driving past my high school every day on the way to work, no more running into old friends at the grocery store, the mall or a concert.  Yes, change can be good, it's also difficult when it's not chosen.

So forgive me, 2012, if I don't greet you with open arms and a cheerful countdown.  I need to hold on to every last minute of what will never be after 2011 fades away. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

A walk in Austin

Last week, we went for a walk around the park in Austin. We had a bit of rain in the days before (after weeks and weeks of nothing) and the entire park had come to life....

A few hours of much needed rain brought out the blooms

A simple circle plus two benches created a magical feeling to this river overlook

Austin from the other side of the river

Autumn is finally arriving, after the unbearable heat of summer, and the trees are offering a colorful display of gratitude

Double the beauty

The swans on the river are so elegant....this one's mate was just out of camera range, but each time I've visited, they've been within sight of one sweet!

Miss Maya, Queen of the Hill, loves these hikes

As evening arrives, it's time to head back home

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Saturday, 2 July 2011

A 101 Year Old Happy 4th of July - For Pink Saturday

It's not red, white and blue, but it is a piece of history.  It's a 101 year old 4th of July wish -- a postcard I found it yesterday, in a big box of papers and maps and postcards in a shop called Uncommon Objects in South Austin.

There's no postmark, so I have no idea where it was written...although I did find a mention of a Flora, Texas

But whoever Beulah, Uncle Charlie and Mamma were, they left us a perfect message for this holiday weekend.  And I'd like to think that they'd be tickled to know that their wish from so long ago is being shared with all of you now.

So Happy 4th of July to all...and Happy Pink Saturday to my friends and family.  And to Mamma, wherever you are, thanks for the card.  I hope you caught up with Uncle Charlie.  And thanks for sharing it with all of us, Beulah.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Free fall and trust

Image from Samma Samadhi
I will admit it.  I have a problem with trust.

No, not with the little things, like trusting someone else to make the dinner reservations or drive the car pool.  But with the big things.  Like trusting friends to be around when they say they will, or trusting in the universe to provide.

But most of all, I have a problem in the whole idea of trusting someone to take care of me, when I need help.

I won't go into the reasons why.  There are several, and they have left me shaky in many ways. But the why is not important.  It's the effect that matters now.

I am about to leap into a free fall.  And it will involve trusting someone to be there, to take care of me, until I can get my bearings, and find a new direction.  And I am scared.  Really scared.

I love the man I am trusting to catch me.  My husband is an amazing person, a strong, gentle, loving, caring man.

And's freefall.

I'm scared.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Midnight in Paris -- ahhhhhhhhhh

This weekend, I took myself to a movie. Now before you feel sorry for me, let me tell you, I love going to a movie by myself.  It's relaxing, I can focus entirely on the film, and I don't have to worry about whether anyone else liked it, or it wasn't their kind of film, etc.

A lot of the movies I've seen lately have been "okay, but..." kind of films.  As in "It was okay, but it kind of dragged a bit..." or "It was good, but they showed all the really great scenes in the previews..."  You understand, right?

Saturday night, I went to see Midnight in Paris.  This movie was NOT an "okay, but...." film!  It was not the stupid, trite romantic comedy the preview made it seem.  It was a "Wow, can I see it again, because it was so rich, I am sure I missed things" kind of film.

It was Paris (and better than that, part of it was Paris in the rain!)

  • It was the 1920's
  • It was Hemingway and Stein and Picasso and Dos Passos and the Fitzgeralds (especially loved Zelda) and...the list went on and on
  • It had a message that resonated - really resonated
  • It had dialog that WAS dialog, the way people really talk, with interruptions and  hesitation and misstatements -- rather than a script where lines are delivered (writer/director Woody Allen is a master at that....even if you hate his films --- and this is NOT a Woody Allen film in any way you would expect -- you have to give him credit for that)
  • The cinematography was beautiful 
Can you tell I kind of liked it????  

 It came out of the film festivals -- Cannes, to be exact, which explains the quality.   But in a world where movies so often mean violence and more attention paid to special effects than content, this movie was a wonderful treat. 

And I am so ready for a walk on a rainy Paris night, at midnight.....soon!  Soon!

Okay,.so here's the questions for you...
1) Do you like going to the movies alone?
2) What is the best film you've seen in the last 3 months?

And there is a give away!  A randomly selected commenter will receive a Paris gift basket (Unfortunately, sent from Florida, unless someone want to send me a ticket to Paris, so I can be really authentic and mail it from there!)

Ready to play? 

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The need to share

Let me say, I am not an eavesdropper. But sometimes you can't help but hear something....

I overheard a man telling another about some sad news he had just received...a member of his extended family had been killed in a car accident.  I wasn't trying to listen, but from where I was sitting, it was impossible to not hear.  After he shared the news, he explained his relationship, shared a couple of memories of the person. The other man listened, and said he was sorry to hear, and that he understood how hard it is to get news like that.  And then they parted.

The whole exchange took maybe 2 minutes.  But it reminded me how very much that kind of sharing is hard-wired into our lives as humans.  For as long as we can go back in history, there have been funeral rites of one kind of another.  And mourning.  And however it's couched in terms of the next world, the fact is the process is really for living.  It's a way to share and to be comforted in that sharing.

Decades ago in our culture, the exchange I overheard would have been unnecessary. People in his community/town/neighborhood would have known the relative.  And they would have gone to him, to express their sympathy.  Odds are, they would have known the relative who died, too, so everyone would have shared their stories and memories.

It's much harder now.  We have to find someone to share with...a coworker, a friend, an acquaintance.  Our blog readers. Or even a stranger, like I did when I started to cry in a restaurant a couple of weeks after my mom passed and the waitress sat down and listened.

I've found myself in that "stranger who listens" role a lot lately.  I've been giving away some furniture using Freecycle, and people are sharing their stories of why they need the items I have to offer.  I haven't asked...but I hear that they need to share, even though we are complete strangers. So I listen, because I can tell that these are stories they need to tell. And I am touched that they are trusting me with these pieces of their lives.

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how isolated we've become, and how most Americans have on average only about 2 people in their lives they can really talk to about important, soul-touching things.
So we share our sorrows -- and our joys -- in little pieces with whomever we find who will listen.

The question is, is it enough?

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

When we're together again.....

Image that was on the
candy bar favors at our wedding 
As some of you know, my new husband and I have been apart for the past 6 months.  That's a very difficult way to spend most of your first year together, and I won't pretend it's been easy.

But our time apart is drawing to a close, so I can finally allow myself to think about all the little things (and big things) I can't wait to do together are a few, in no particular order...
  • Talking about our day, face to face instead of on cell phones that make it hard to hear, and often drop calls at the worst possible moment
  • Taking a walk together in the evening, holding hands and looking at the stars
  • Cooking dinner together...and eatting together, instead of talking about what each of us had for dinner
  • Showing each other an article, a picture, or some other tidbit by saying, "Hey, come look at this!" instead of having to send it and hoping you remember why it mattered by the time they get it 
  • Seeing the expressions on each others' faces and the body language instead of having to guess what a tone of voice or a word omitted or chosen means in a late-night-and-we're-so-over-tired phone conversation
  • Getting back to learning how to live together, instead of putting that on hold when we had only just started
  • Making plans together with friends, rather than each of us trying to keep busy far apart
  • Getting into long discussions about our favourite geek-topics without worrying about phone batteries dying
  • Good night and good morning kisses
  • Spotting that great festival or annual event in the newspaper and go to it together now, instead of making a mental note to do that "next year"
  • Having birthday parties and anniversary celebrations and date nights on the calendar, instead of flight times and countdowns
  • Seeing a movie together, instead of just talking about it after we each saw it separately
  • Laughing together at something silly we see or hear 
  • Cuddling on the couch 
  • Starting to see plane flights as something WE take to go somewhere, rather than something one of us needs to book to see the other one
...Building a marriage and life together, instead of trying to imagine it while  1,357 miles apart

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Speaking of oranges ....

Suppose you selected a nice bright orange from the stand at the farmer's market.  When you cut it open, you'd expect to see juicy orange sections inside?  You might wonder if it would be sweet or sour, but otherwise, you'd feel pretty confident about what you'd see.

Even if you had never seen an orange inside, the match between the outside and inside would make it a pretty un-surprising experience. A no-brainer, so to speak.

Now take the kiwi.  Its fuzzy, rough, exterior gives no hint of the sweet, juicy, bright green interior.  Someone seeing a kiwi cut open for the very first time would be understandably surprised. But we're all kiwi sophisticates here, right?  We know about the secret green interior, so we're not fooled at all. We have experienced kiwis before. It may have taken a few times, but we're ready for it now.

Now suppose for a moment, that you went to that farmer's market, and you selected a big orange.  And you cut it open, only to find that instead of the orange segments, there was a soft green interior.   A kiwi center in an orange wrapper. Even a sophisticated, in-the-know kiwi pro would be shocked at this point, right?

I was thinking about oranges and kiwis after I stopped for a snack at a neighborhood fast food place the other day.  Ahead of me, heading for the entrance door was a young man wearing what most people would consider gang or street attire.  His pants were half way down his behind, with his underwear showing.  The hat, shoes, shirt and jewelry were all what we have come to expect from young men in what are called "economically challenged" neighborhoods if we're PC or "slums" if we're not. And truth be told, the neighborhood where I had stopped would fit either description. 

As I approached the door behind this young man, he stopped, waited for me, and held open the door.  I thanked him, and he replied "You're welcome, ma'am" and smiled. 

And that got me thinking.  

If I was to look at this young man like the orange, I would have expected his insides to resemble his outside.  I might even have been afraid or at least nervous when he stopped just ahead of me, expecting an action to match his attire and his surroundings. Many people are afraid to stop in or even drive through poorer neighborhoods, because they are absolutely sure the inside and outside are the same. 

If I knew the young man, over time I would have learned something about him.  And based on those experiences, I might have understood that the exterior concealed something entirely different inside. I might have, like the kiwi-experienced, known what to expect. 

But this was something entirely different.  This was the orange outside, with a surprising kiwi inside. And it was wonderful because it snapped me out of my complaisance. 

So now I'm wondering... how often do we act on the basis of our orange or kiwi experiences -- believing we know what's inside. And how often are we wrong, but don't stick around long enough to find out? 

I'm not sure it's even possible, but wouldn't it be wonderful if we could approach each exterior, whether it's a person or an experience or a challenge without being so darn sure we know what's inside?  If we could suspend our judgement, even for just a minute, and wait to see for ourselves with fresh eyes. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bloggers, a weekend and a wonderful lunch

This past weekend I went to a bloggers conference in Miami Beach (for those of you who might think this involved lots of travel, getting there consisted of a 23 mile drive each way.  Yes, I am blessed!)

At the conference I met some amazing people who are leading the way in blogging, online marketing, and community-building.  I have PAGES and PAGES of notes to go through, all filled with great ideas for making blogs, websites and social sites better, more appealing and more useful.  I have a stack of business cards to look at and wonderful women to connect with over the next few weeks.

One of the most inspiring speakers was Guy Kawasaki, who used his new book "Enchantment" to offer ideas on making a business truly speak to its customers.  He even gave out copies of his book (thank you Citrix for sponsoring that bonus!), so we could continue the conversation after the conference ended.

 It's amazing what a difference it makes to spend time with other people who are sharing a part of your path.  Talking with these women (it was a women's blogging conference, by the way, although there were a few brave men who defied the label and shared the event.  Bravo to them!) reminded me of goals I'd pushed aside or forgotten, opened my eyes to new possibilities for both my personal and company blogs and social sites, and inspired me to step outside the box and try some new tools and techniques.

It's that way in so much of life, I think.  We sometimes get so caught up in our own view of a project or a life event or even a spiritual practice that we forget that there are others out there traveling that same road.  A few days -- or even just a few hours -- with our fellow travelers can do wonders for opening up new possibilities.  Sometimes it even reminds you why you started on that path to begin with...a fact that can be easy to forget amid the details and struggles of any journey.

One more thing....I have seldom (maybe never?) endorsed a business on this blog, but I have to make an exception for the restaurant where I had lunch on Saturday.  Pasha, a delicious healthy Mediterranean cafe on Lincoln Road was one of the most delicious places I have ever tried.  I ordered a lentil yani (stew), and was presented with a bowl of fragrant, delicately seasoned vegetable and lentil stew, accompanied with perfectly cooked basmati rice.  I also ordered a side of hummus, and was delighted with the hot, puffy fresh pita bread that came with it. The only negative was when I asked for a refill on my iced tea, and then discovered that I had been changed another $2.00 for it -- and it was 90% ice.  Uncool, especially on a hot Florida afternoon!

But iced tea issue aside, I sat there, at a shady table under the palm trees, and ate incredible food, browsed through a magazine, and thanked my lucky stars for all of it.  The conference, the food, the weather, the just doesn't get any better than this.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

The dance of every day life

I was leaving Panera this morning, my glass of half-iced-tea-and-half-seltzer in hand (yes, it is strange, I know!), when someone in front of me held the door for just an instant until I could reach out at hold it myself.  A common gesture.  One we do, or experience every day.

But today, the movement and the grace of that single act caught my eye.  Un -choreographed, unplanned.  It was a pas de deux between two strangers, but in its own way, as elegant and graceful as a moment in any ballet.

That instant, I realized that there is a dance of every day life.

I started to think about other examples....the cars moving among one another on the highway.  The way a family works together in the kitchen moving around one another, as they prepare dinner or do the washing up.  We move in and out, step around, turn and reach.  There is a beauty in that interaction, that interweaving of motion that we (or at least I) have missed until now.

When you go about your day tomorrow, pay attention to the dance.  It's there.  Notice the effortless way in which we move around one another, the ways our movements connect and separate.

See the dance.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Pink Saturday and Sunny Sunday

This weekend, I'll be away for Pink Saturday. But I wanted to play, so here's my early post....

In a few hours, I'm heading off to spend the weekend camping with my husband, son, our dog, a bunch of friends and their dogs.

I am a recent convert to the the world of camping.  For years, my version of "roughing it" was a hotel without room service.  Yes, it's a cliche, but for me it was true.

Now I have a different view.  I am not looking for "Glamping", the new trendy travel option where you sleep in a tent, but have priceless rugs on the floor, or are served meals by a butler!

I love our ocassional, simple get-aways into nature. But with a few additions that most hardcore campers wouldn't include, like:

From the album of Vintage Chic Decor
Pillows.  Not just a sleeping pillow.  A pile of collected-at-thrift stores and estate sales pretty pillows, just perfect to pile up in the tent for an early morning read or a midday rest.

Image from Bliss'd

Candles. Pretty white candles, unscented, to cluster in glass jars in the center of the table.  They look lovely, the jars keep them from falling over, and the unscented-ness means they don't mask the smells of the trees, campfire or yummy food.

A lovely quilt top from the Pink House blog
Quilts. Yes, our air mattresses keep us off the chilly ground which I appreciate, and a sleeping bag is warm, but the fake, nylon-y texture of sleeping bags makes it uncomfortable to me.  And if you have them unzipped to use as a cover, they slip off and slide away.  Old quilts and my soft washed-a-zillion-times cotton comforters, on the other hand are warm and soft and wonderful to cuddle under when the evening temps fall.

Photo by E Gallagher
Art supplies:  Not everything, not even a lot.  But I do have to have my little box of watercolors, some brushes, a pad of watercolor paper and some pens.  I've gone a few times without these, and the unmet need to create something was so strong, that not having the right supplies with me took something away from my enjoyment.  So now these supplies are must-packs.

Good tea:  I've already packed my selection of herbal teas (tissanes, really, since there is no real "tea" in them).  A wonderful chai, a tangy lemongrass and sage, a refreshing mint with bergamot, and Good Earth original (my all time fave!)

I'll also pack my hiking boots, some ancient jeans that are perfect for getting dirty, and a good trail map, because I like that part of the weekend, too.  But when it's time to be around the campfire, or in the tent for the night, I'll be ready with the little things that make it all a little more special.

Tea, anyone??

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Oh no, a Nook is NOT the same as a REAL book!

Call me a ludite.  Say I'm hanging on to the past.  But I will not give up my old-fashioned, paper and print books.

I looked at the Nook with my 13 year old the other day... 

She went on and on about how wonderful it would be.  I thought about how I couldn't risk tossing it in the beach bag along with my sunscreen, a still -slightly sandy towel and a cold water bottle.

She talked about how great it would be to be able to put so many books on one reader.  I thought about how it would be impossible for those "books" to ever acquire that wonderful "old book smell" that makes used bookstores so enticing.

She showed me how she could change the font and the amount of back light.  I thought about how it would mean the end of stumbling upon that old once-upon-a-time favourite book that got wedged in the back of the bookshelf, and just begs you to put your feet up and re-read a book that feels like an old friend...again.

She showed me how she can even go on Facebook, right from the Nook.  But all I could think about was how a good book, a glass of lemonade and a long summer afternoon alone under a tree would never be the same if you had to worry about the charge on your "book's" battery running out.

I am not a computer novice, nor an Internet neophyte. My career is online.  I use every social network there is, and some that are still in Beta releases.  I write, code and link for hours every day.

But when it comes time to read the latest mystery by my favourite author, give me a paperback, a patch of grass on which to stretch out, and a cool drink close at hand.

In the end, we left the bookstore without a Nook.  Our family will have to remain Nook-less for awhile longer.  But we did have 3 new, REAL paper and print books. I have held off the electron tide for another day...happily.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The end of year one. The start of something deeper.

My husband and I are coming to the end of our first year of marriage (although we've decided to continue to calling ourselves newlyweds indefinitely!  It's just too much fun to give up!)

We have not had the typical first year of marriage.  Instead of just two of us, my new husband went from a lifetime of being single to suddenly having a wife...and kids...and a dog...and two cats. And then there are the scrapbook supplies and the books...Especially the books (Hi, I'm Lindsay, and I'm a biblioholic...) I know he didn't count on the books! (Although to be fair, if he had just counted the bookcases in my old place before we got married....)

The economy and jobs meant that we didn't go from the wedding to a honeymoon.  In fact, we are still waiting for that...maybe later this year.   And then in January, my husband had to move to another state to take a job so we are temporarily living in separate states and only see each other for about one weekend a month.  THAT sucks...seriously.

In other ways, we are typical.  We've spent time this year getting to know what it's like to live with each other.  We've started learning how to meet each other needs, and balance that with our own wants and needs.

We've negotiated the important issues like how to load glasses in the dishwasher, and exactly how long it really takes to get everyone out the door and into the van.  We've talked about the house we want, the trips we hope to take, and the things we want to do together in the years ahead. And it has been getting better and better all year.

But the other day, something big happened.  

My husband is home for one of our all-too-brief visits, and we were talking.  The subject doesn't matter.  But I was so certain I was just plain correct about something.  You know that feeling, right?  You are just absolutely sure that you have all the facts lined up, and that there is NO WAY you could be wrong.  Yeah.

And then he started to talk about the subject from his point of view  And I was stunned into silence.  I heard the words, but I heard something else that meant so much more....I HEARD his love.  The subject wasn't love.  But the words were.  The ideas he was sharing came from a place of love.  His ideas were different than mine to start.  And then he brought in what I had been saying, and pointed out how we were BOTH right.  And BOTH wrong.  Suddenly, being right didn't matter at all.

At that moment, when I sat there listening to his words, and the meaning behind them, the love I felt grew infinitely deeper. I actually felt the the connection between us strengthen.

In that moment, my love for him went from what I THOUGHT was a lot to something I never even imagined.  

Something so small...the discussion wasn't about anything life-shattering.  Something so big...the words my husband lovingly chose shifted everything so dramatically.

Monday will be our First Wedding Anniversary.  But you know what?  I already got the very best gift.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Texture...close up

Barbed wire, Odessa , Texas 

I LOVE texture...I love surfaces that show something about their age, or their experience with the elements.

Fishing net and sea shells, Fort Lauderdale, FL

I love things that have different textures, the smooth, with the rough, the natural with the man-made, like the net and the sea shells...

....or when it's unexpected like this flower I spotted on the 200+ year old porch of an old Pennsylvania house.

Flower on the wooden porch of Rockford Plantation, Lancaster, PA

The cool, fluid contrast of rain drops on a metal chair was enough to make me reach for my camera, even if it means getting soaked and having to go back to work looking like a drowned I did when I took this shot.

Rain-adorned chair, Sunrise, FL

I know, there are some who appreciate the pristine smoothness of a modern table top, or a Scandinavian dresser.  But for me, it's the surface that begs to be touched, to be experienced with my fingertips...or my camera...that gets me to stop and look.

How about you?  Textured or smooth?  New or old?  Freshly minted, or well-aged?

Friday, 4 March 2011

Pink memories of a baby doll -- and a lesson

I am camera-less for now, so my Pink Saturday post has to rely on words and other people's images.  But the memories are all mine.

I was thinking the other day about a doll I used to carry around with me, a pretty little doll with a pink outfit I loved...Baby Cuddles.  (I'm amazed that I actually found a picture of her online!)

Lots of little girls have memories of a special doll that they loved.  But this was different.

Cuddles taught me a lesson I've never see, I really wanted that doll.

I REALLY wanted that doll.

And then a few days before my third birthday, I saw a box on the dining room table that looked like the doll box (At almost 3, I couldn't yet read the cursive writing on the box, but I remember it looked as pink and pretty as the doll box in the store) ... and so I peeked.  I lifted up the bottom corner of the box, and looked inside. It was the doll!

But instead of feeling good, I felt awful!  At 3, I knew I had cheated, and on my birthday morning when I had to pretend to be surprised, I felt even worse. 

I had the exact doll I had wanted, but my peeking had stolen some of the joy.  I loved that doll (I still have her, in our storage for now) -- but I never forgot the lesson.  On that spring day, I learned that some things are better left for the right time and place. And over and over, throughout my life, I've stopped myself from "looking ahead" or trying things that were best left for later...all because of Cuddles.

It's funny how a small event early in life can teach us so much.  I've met so many people who have equally memorable -- and meaningful -- early memories.Events or words that shaped them for years after.

But this was such a little thing.

If it was a major event, I could understand the lasting impact.  But this was small.  And my parents never knew, so there was no punishment or scolding to make worse. So how could that small action have so much impact?

Maybe it's because we are a tabula rasa at that point, and in our uncluttered state, the little things mean more. Or maybe it's because we are still so fresh from G-d, and open to the lessons.

What lessons from childhood have you kept in your heart?

Happy Pink Saturday!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Remembering a letter...

Maybe it's because I'm watching "A Room with a View", where letters fly back and forth across Europe and England.  Or maybe it's because I've just written some Valentines to mail instead of sending electronic hearts and flowers.  But I am thinking about letters...real letters, not e-mails or text messages or IM conversations.

No, I mean a real paper letter in an envelope, that arrives in the mail, amid the ads and bills.  A letter awaited, and checked for day after day, or a letter that arrives unexpectedly.

A letter can be tucked in a purse or pocket, and taken somewhere to read later...or ripped open and read on the spot, and then re-read again and again. Yes, there are a few letters one dreads to open...a note that's sure to be a "Dear John", or a letter that is sure to hold bad news or anger. But most letters, even short ones, are wonderful to find amid the otherwise dull mail.

Upstairs in my bedroom, there's a large binder filled with letters -- letters from friends while I was in high school and college.  They pretty much stop at that point...e-mail took the place of letters.  But there are wonderful treasures there...descriptions of new adventures, new boyfriends (or the dumping of old ones!), letters from two friends who were living in Europe and sent me descriptions so vivid I felt that I was there, exploring old streets and new works of art. Each letter carries the writer's handwriting, many are decorated with little drawings and last-minute added thoughts around the edges, with arrows pointing to where they would have gone. Had those letters been e-mails, they would have been long since deleted, or at very best (and even this is so rare) printed out and stored as impersonal print on a page. 

I miss letters.  I miss writing them, and I miss receiving them. I miss holding them, and re-reading them for details missed the first time around -- or the second. In the movie, at this moment, one of the characters, is reading a letter -- she's tucked in bed, pillows piled up high behind her, the lamp lit. She opens the envelope and with a wonderful sound of paper cracking, smiles and settles back to read.  No Netbook or iPad on the planet can match that moment.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Getting back into the game

I haven't posted on this blog since late December.  Since then, a lot has happened in my life. 

My new husband had to take an out-of-state job, so we are to be apart for several months of this precious first year.

My car developed serious electrical problems, and I am still trying to get them fixed because buying a new car isn't in the cards right now.

My daughter is still struggling with daily health issues, and we still don't know why or what is causing them.

And in mid January, my mom passed away. 

So with all of that, just keeping up with the blogs and other things I write for work took every ounce of energy I had.  I opened this page a dozen times, but no words came out...until now.

I am tired. Stressed.  Sometimes scared.  Bruised. But I can feel that there is life beneath the surface, like a river that is starting to move again beneath its winter skin of ice.  It's hard to see the change -- in fact, some days a cold, hard freeze seems to put me right back where I was. It could be a sleepless night, or a hard day at work, or something like today when I went to get my car, and found that it was not yet fixed...again.

But the freezes aren't lasting as long now.  Even when they hit, I am feeling that trickle of movement underneath the icy surface...that hint of springtime.  Not yet visible, and yet something I can sense in the air.

Spring is coming.  Maybe not today or tomorrow or even next week.  But it is heading this way. And then the words will flow again.