Go Outside and Play

When I was growing up on the farm Mom suggested more than once that we “Go outside and Play.” We were bugging her and she wanted us out of her hair. Most of the time we wanted to go play outside, inventing games and running in the green grass and hiding out in the trees.  My Mother never told us to make sure to put our masks on, stay six feet apart and wash our hands when we came inside. This is where we are today. I don’t understand how we got here, but we are here. Do you remember those posters showing germs as ugly little creatures to teach children to wash their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes? We need this poster plastered on billboards, Facebook and Instagram for visual learners like me and most of us. It is tempting to say if we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist, but then the body bags should be a clue. Can we really “protect” our children from the catastrophes of the real world.

Baby Boomers, remember the Atomic Bomb drills from elementary school? We were taught to crawl under our desks and cover our heads.  This later came to be known as the “…bend over and kiss your ass goodbye” drill. I worried about the atomic bomb and wondered if the cement walls in our basement would be a good bomb shelter. I believed adults when they told me this would protect me. The nuclear arms race was really a children’s game with deadly consequences. Are you out of snowballs or not? We agree the game is over, we have no more snowballs and won’t make anymore. It was trust, but verify, then, as it is now. Snowballs are not nuclear war heads, children may understand this better that adults.

Vietnam and “….our boys come home in a box.” Still not men, 17 and 18 year old boys died in the jungle. They were our sons, brothers and friends and we were in shock that death came to claim our young. Young bodies and minds were permanently disfigured, the trauma of war still claiming victims even today. Children saw their Mommas cry when their older brother returned home a double amputee. And the anger that tore this country apart left children with questions that couldn’t be answered. 

We had fire drills but we never had active shooter drills in elementary and high school. Certainly worrying about getting gunned down in the halls of my school was not a fear I had. Talking about who was dating who and how much fun  the weekend party was were my concerns. Sandy Hook happened when I was in my forties and everything changed. How do you protect first graders from bullets? How do you protect students with no where to run, maybe hiding under their desks? Children are afraid to go to school and must practice what to do if someone is shooting at them. We hope active shooter drills will at least help children feel they have actions to take in the face of fear—a tiny sliver of control.

Childhood innocence never lasts very long. Reality comes in and steals it away. Is there hope in the face of catastrophes that define our lives? Read the sidewalk chalk for notes of solidarity during the Covid 19 crisis and count the Teddy bears in the windows. Neighbors checking on each other, feeding each other and comforting each other. After this virus passes, when we are able to put our lives and hearts back together, my hope is we will have learned to stand together and love thy neighbor. Then let’s all go outside and play!

If we are paying attention, (and often we are not), life gets our attention with a gentle movement of air, like a feather.  Sitting still, our mind is quiet and we become aware that we have discovered a solution to a problem.  Figuring it out has seldom worked for me. Life really isn’t a math problem to be solved. This is good news for me as math has never been my best subject. 

It turns out sitting and being still is  productive, or at least a gateway to getting out of our own way.  “Be still and know that I am God.” has always been so comforting to me. If only I made it my first choice. 

“Excuse me.”  Someone around us wants our attention, often times to get us to move out of the way or listen to what they have to say. Excuse me is a polite way to ask permission to enter someone’s personal space. Usually “Excuse me” is said a couple of times and louder if need be. If I am not aware of my surroundings and the people near me, I become deaf to their words and presence. I may not hear them or even see them. My personal space can be a lonely space without contact from the outside. One is a lonely number, and ours is the only opinion

“Mom watch me!” As a child, whatever move Tyler had mastered he wanted to show me. Such innocence in his request, and I didn’t always watch. If I had to do it over again I would watch every time and tell him how great he was. Sometimes he would catch me not listening to him, (other things were so important) , and he would demand “Mom, listen to me. You’re not listening.” And later I would demand the teenager, Tyler, to listen to me.  “Stop texting and look at me, pay attention to me!” Sooner or later we will be “called out” by loved ones if we are not paying attention. We all need to feel like we matter and are worthy of others attention. The voices in my head can be pretty demanding too. “Why are you doing this? You know better than this.” Even if I know how things will turn out I may fool myself into thinking that this time will be different. The voices in my head can direct me to positive and negative actions. Do I always have to listen to those voices? Can I trust myself? 

At times, life seems like a whack-a-mole arcade game and I am not wielding the mallet. Is it all random? I’m just going along, minding my own business and bam I get hit on the head. I could be left with a mild headache or a severe head injury. Life has my attention now, and I better be listening and learning. Denial can be a first response but it better not be the only and the last response. I could get back to this silly whack-a-mole game and not even realize that there are different games that don’t require a sledgehammer to get my attention. And still it’s the sledgehammers of Rogers dementia and death that have fundamentally changed me. I had to pay attention, even when I thought I would be unable to live with the truth. Today in the still, quiet moments or in the hectic beat of daily life I never forget what the sledgehammers have taught me and I am a better person because of this.

All inclusive cruise. comes with free coronavirus and quarantine. 

P.S. Postscript

Postscript: a note or series of notes that are added at the end of a letter, article or book

What follows are postscripts that were NOT added.

Hamlet: To be or not to be that is the question:Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles And by opposing end them.
P.S. What’s a guy gotta do to get a drink around here?

Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake                                      P.S. Save a slice for me.

Robert Frost:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.                                                                                   P.S. Damn!  Phone was dead and I couldn’t use google maps

Henry David Thoreau:

 I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when it came to die, discover that I had not lived.

P.S. I’m sad. My neighbors were awful but I can’t get pizza delivered in the woods.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.                                                  P.S. I hope that makes sense.

Friedrich Nietzsche: He who has a why, can bear almost any how.                                                                                      P.S. So what do you think?

George Bernard Shaw: A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.                                                                           P.S. I never make mistakes. Now What?

Lou Holtz: Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it.                                   P..S. I have the polls to support this.

Donald J. Trump: Article 2 says I can do anything I want.       P.S. I did check and Vlad agrees with me.

Yogi Berra: it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.                    P.S. I need a fat lady now!

Thanks to my best friend Susan who suggested I write on P.S. Good Idea❤️❤️❤️




Running Away

I am now jogging 3 miles a day 6 days a week! Yes, that deserves at least one exclamation point. After aborting several times due to knee pain, I followed my doctors suggestion : start slow and build up slowly. As you all know going slowly and patience are not what I am known for. And yes I am too old, but I am doing it anyway. I am thrilled that I am able to run again and even have those moments when running is easy and it feels good. Seeing different areas around my home makes me feel like an explorer who is seeing the old with new eyes. The view from 67 is hopeful, realistic and makes me laugh. I laugh because it really is funny how life has slapped me around, but I’m still standing, running and content.

What runs through my head as my feet move and I breathe hard, is not likely to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. It goes something like this: “ It is 8:20, 8:50 will be a half hour so lock it in and stop looking at your watch. Pay attention to what’s in front of you— no falls. Which way to go? This way. Not too cold this morning. I have to go to work so better move fast when I get home. I wonder how Tyler is doing today. What the hell should I write about this week. I can’t think of anything. How about this..no..how about this? What am I going to wear today? God I’m so glad I can run! This feels good. I am so grateful I CAN do this and I AM doing this. Keep going….” My musings will not bring world peace or cure cancer, but I take comfort in the mundane. Many years ago when I ran I often tested out the “perfect” comeback to whichever battle I was in. Why didn’t I say that? That beeach, how dare she? Or I imagined how my current boyfriend would fall in love with me. So yes, the mundane is comforting.

Why on earth would I freely choose to go through the painful ordeal of beginning to run again and working up to 3 miles? The short answer is I didn’t start out to do this. I simply wanted to see if I could jog to the end of the block. Maybe I could do 2 blocks? I felt ok, so let’s see if I can go a little further. Work up slowly the doctor said.  So I began and kept promises to myself, slow and steady. 40 years ago I used to chant “ A for effort, no A for pretty.” Nike and I chanted “Just do it!” I write, play banjo, crochet and run with a “Just do it!” mantra. I explore new things without expecting that I will be an expert, again starting out slowly and keep going.

I run from my home back to my home, I end where I started. So I am running away from home at the same time as I running back to my home! Now that’s a conundrum for sure….  The thing is I don’t care, coming or going, I am still running. 


I am thrilled to introduce Molly, the newest member of my family and Roscoe’s baby sister. Molly is a dear, and reaches out with her paw to get her pets. Molly G. is very tiny, only about 7 pounds. She of course has a pink harness and leash. Roscoe has a lime green leash with at least 5 knots tied in it to shorten how far he can roam. I can’t let Roscoe get too far over his skis! If I keep him close to me I can pull him back quickly and scoop him up if I need to. Too much freedom could be a dangerous situation for him. He has poor impulse control, especially where big dogs and squirrels are concerned. I have never used a leash where he can go out quite aways from me because I have control issues too.

Sometimes I think I should have a leash that would hold me back from my verbal diarrhea that has, and most assuredly will get away from me again. So yes, I have some poor impulse control too. Still I can’t shake the feeling that my “knots” have also held me back from saying what needed to be said and telling my truth. If I let the truth be tied up in knots and remain silent, than I am lying. Don’t go too far, don’t say that, don’t be angry, just DON’T. So how many knots should I untie today? It is my birthday so this seems a good question for today. 

I think I can let people-pleasing off my leash. No use trying to control what other people think of me, it is totally a waste of time. I don’t have to laugh at jokes I find offensive, or bite my tongue when others are being mis- treated. The only “people” I need to please is myself, and I trust myself to know that I am very pleased to be loving and caring. No one can punch right through me because I am both solid and transparent. I can’t be pushed around by others opinions, and I can be transparent with who I am. I don’t have to adjust myself to other people. It is simple to be myself, but very difficult too. It will take me a bit of time to get this “knot” untied, but I am starting today, now.

This feels good!  How about I let go of the “I’m too old.” excuse. I know I can’t do everything my younger self could do, but I can do lots more than I think I can. I can’t be an elite runner,  but I can run 3 miles a day. It’s very unlikely that I will win a Grammy, but I can play banjo and even sing. My writing won’t show up on the New York Times bestsellers and I will continue to write anyway. I can learn how to do many things that are not age limited.  Untying the ”I’m too old” knot may take a bit longer due to my mild arthritis, but damn, it will get done.

When I get to the end of my life, I hope I will not be tied up in knots. Maybe a bow!

I’ll try anything once.  Alice Roosevelt

Freeze Warning

Fall is here and the first sign of winter around the corner is a Freeze Warning. Cover your plants, unhook your hoses and get out your sweaters. I have just returned from a Mediterranean cruise with warm, almost hot weather for the entire sail. ( Incredible experience!) And now home again I get this “freeze warning”. Tired beyond tired, jet lagged and trying to fit myself back into my Fort Collins world, I don’t need to hear about minus 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A first freeze seems to be the fulcrum on a teeter totter between summer and fall-and the weight has shifted. My best friend and traveling companion, Susan, and I had some aha moments on our trip. Something has shifted, we are experiencing a change in our balance point.

Frost: a covering of minute ice crystals on a cold surface; also : ice particles formed from gas .

Stop. Reconsider, refigure, reboot, re-think, re-examine and renew. Change is in the crisp Fall air.  Who am I and how do I want my life to be? My birthday is the end of this month and Tyler’s birthday is this week. I am Tyler’s Mom today, but I am certainly not the Mom who gave birth to Tyler. Judith Viorst wrote a book called Necessary Losses in which she talks about the losses we all face in the course of our lives. Loss of dreams, loss of roles, and loss of youth are necessary losses as we age. Denying that we have experienced a loss means we also deny ourselves the opportunity to grow into a new reality. 

So back to “The Old Women and the Sea” —apologies to Mr Hemingway! We took many shore excursions in Greece and Italy and I saw many places and sites and monuments that I have dreamed about seeing my whole life. Pompeii, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Rome, Athens and the Acropolis were just some of the places we visited. We came, we saw and were almost conquered by crowds, lines and whispers (malfunctioning listening devices). Our days were full and our nights were filled with wonderful shows in the ship theater. I felt very frustrated trying to order coffee in Greece and Italy and finally figured out that the problem was mine—Starbucks be damned!  When in Rome….  Resistance is futile.  I became very aware of my lost youth as I was physically challenged by fatigue and lack of stamina. Living the dream of this once in a lifetime trip meant that new dreams would need to be dreamed.

Facing losses is all about letting go of what we have so that we may be open to receiving what is new. Holding on to old roles and beliefs about ourselves is like dragging a bag full of stinky trash behind us. Being between what was and what will be requires patience and guts. I don’t want to do anymore vacations that are more hectic than my daily life and I am coming to accept I am “older” and have less stamina. What I can’t do or what I don’t want to do is not my focus going forward. Possibilities are not endless, but there are possibilities waiting for me. 


Alphabetical Order

There are 26 letters in our alphabet. How many combinations can be made with these 26 letters. 403,291,461,100,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations. That’s way past Billions into the Quadrillion range.  To write out each combination would take far longer than the age of the universe. Overwhelming if you think of all the possibilities, luckily we only need a few.

Sing along with me abcd-efg-hijk-lmnop-qrs-tuv-wxy and z.

I can still see the letters of the alphabet presented in capital letters and lower case running along the top of the blackboards and bulletin boards. The teacher using a pointer to draw our attention to each letter. We learned our alphabet song and then moved on to two letter words: i.e. at, in. Eventually most of us learned to read and write. It was all very orderly, step by step and building on what came before. We learned our vowels and letter sounds and off we went to literacy.

Why don’t life’s lessons come in alphabetical order? Wouldn’t it be nice to know the order of each lesson, and know there were no surprises?  Many times I  haven’t been ready for the lesson/painful experience facing me. I had the “abc” covered only to be confronted with “hijk”. There are some life events which have to be faced on their own timeline. There is no order, no reason why, no escaping the timing of things. Life gave me the death of my husband before I had fully grasped how to live my own life. I was at “z” and had skipped over lots of letters in the middle of life. I had to go back and learn who I was and how I wanted to live. Being loved by Roger gave me the courage to return to the lesson plans written by my higher power. It was the”lmnop I needed to learn. My sister’s death this summer has again scrambled my alphabet. I’m not sure where I am at.

I use alphabetical order to organize my files at work. Without this kind of order, I wouldn’t be able to locate the information I need. “ Line up alphabetically for lunch.” was a frequent directive from my elementary teachers. Those poor souls with last names that began with w,x,y or z were always at the end of the line. Probably this caused some inferiority complexes, but there is no flexibility in alphabetical order.

I will end here because I am starting to worry I may be too wordy!

Sounds Like It…

What does it sound like? We can hum our favorite songs, and if we are not deaf we all know what thunder sounds like. But wait…does it thunder at the North Pole? The Google says it does occasionally thunder at the North and South Pole. New information. What is on the soundtrack of our lives? What are the Sounds of Silence? 

Yesterday I had a reason to use the word percolate and this prompted a childhood memory of the sound the plug- in percolator made . Kind of like a whoosh and a pop. I’m pretty sure that those of you who have never heard this sound are having a hard time imagining it. I am also sure that there are sounds we have heard that are unforgettable. Our babies first cry, the chorus to our favorite song, water running over the rocks on our favorite hiking trail- these are sounds that happily reside in our memories. There are very loud songs like a jet engine, or a thunder that shakes the windows, and there are very soft sounds like the sweeps of a broom, a whisper or the quiet hum of the refrigeration. The sound of police, ambulance and fire truck sirens grabs our attention and that is their purpose. Brahms Lullaby plays every time a baby is born at Poudre Valley hospital and this gets my attention too.

I remember sounds from my years in elementary school. The quiet swoosh of the eraser on the chalkboard and the muted slap of two erasers together to clean them. The sound of chalk writing on the chalkboard. Some teachers wrote crisply and others wrote more cautiously. I am almost certain that there are no chalkboards in schools built after 2000. Now it’s the click of computer keys that fill classrooms. A few pings thrown in for those who have snuck their cell phones in. Phones set on vibrate still make a muted buzz sound and this sound can be felt too! So new sounds are created and some are lost. Who remembers the “whir”sound of rotary dial telephones?

Bubble gum pops!  Balloons pop!  A loud pop is also the sound of gunfire. How will victims of mass shootings ever forget that sound? Some sounds can traumatize a person for a lifetime. Screams of anguish can never be forgotten. We need to be careful of very loud sounds which can harm our hearing. That is why the extremely loud music of rock concerts may have impacted our hearing. Sound is measured in decibels. High decibels can actually hurt us. I hate  movie theaters that crank up the sound so high that I squirm in my seat. And then we have “Stop mumbling”!! Or “Speak up” I can’t hear you.

How many of us say “ I just want peace and quiet.” So many sounds are assaulting us all day long: horns honking, heavy equipment breaking up concrete, the neighbors music, engines revved up, the sounds of T.V.s droning on, phones ringing and notifying us of texts…and on and on. Ne quiet! But I am uncomfortable with complete silence, I think sounds are important to ground us to reality.

The best sounds are made by the human voice, and the best of all is the sound of “I love you.”

Listen up.

Beauty for All

She sets her easel up as the sun hits the mountains and begins to paint. Watercolor, acrylics and oil paints at her elbow, with brushes for every kind of paint stroke. She imagines bold strokes of color or points of color dotted here and there. It is always a bit of a surprise, even to this painter, what masterpiece will reveal itself. Humble tears come with awe at her vast  powers to create and destroy. Mother Nature pauses for a sip of coffee and then begins to paint wildflowers on the mountain sides and in the meadows. The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival is coming and she will be ready for her yearly show. 

I went to see the show in Crested Butte a couple of weeks ago. It was magnificent. Of course, I had to share the beauty with many other people. I don’t like to share. Growing up I had to share a bedroom, a bathroom, a car and a single fry pan. After church on Sunday we called for our turn with the fry pan so we could make our eggs the way we liked them. Back to Crested Butte….  Susan and I found a perfect trail to view wildflowers, and happily set out. It seemed we had to stop every few feet to take a photo with our phones. I wanted the photo to remember the scene, but also to share with others and get validation about how beautiful the flowers were. After awhile I decided to stop taking photos and enjoy the beauty on my own terms. Selfishly, I didn’t want to share anymore.

But something happened that I had not expected! As I walked along I noticed an elderly couple (I am not that old) naming the flowers and deliberating about those they did not recognize, and finally consulting their wildflower guide.  I recognized the Lupine but they told me that there are many varieties and colors of Lupine and pointed out a silver Lupine. Soon I was following them and asking what this or that flower was and I was focused on their words and the flowers.

We were sharing the flowers! I forgot that I wanted the beauty all to myself and became a member of our group of three. They were enjoying themselves and I was enjoying them enjoying themselves. The flowers became even more beautiful to me because I could name some of them. The bickering between the couple about the names was very sweet, I could see the beauty in their relationship. Susan met up with me later and I was happy to share what was up ahead. 

We are social animals and usually do not live in total isolation from others. We seek solitude to heal and refresh ourselves and then return to our tribe. I have feared being a group member because I would need to perform and try hard to be accepted. As Groucho Marx said “ I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” Being together in the face of great beauty is the glue that holds us together. I suspect that tragedy is also a glue the holds us together. If I focus on what is out there in the world my attention is not on myself and how I am doing. I am present for the sharing and it brings me joy. 

Just remember I get the first turn for the fry pan!


Eau de Wet Canine

Rain. Lots of rain. Dogs and people soaked by big plops of water from the sky. My doggies take time to find the perfect spot for urinating or defecating – rain be damned. They run back in and do the doggie shake boogie, spraying water everywhere and then proceed to their spots on the sofa—evading my attempts to dry their footies. Hence, the wet dog scent permeates my home and nostrils.  Musty, and smelling distinctly stale and a bit moldy. My heart loves the wet canine scent even if my nostrils rebel. Roscoe and Molly are loved wet or dry.

Old Spice. My Dad used Old Spice Aftershave and the scent lingered in the bathroom and on his body. Old Spice meant that Dad was going out—-to church, to visit family or even square dancing. Dad was dressed up if he smelled like Old Spice. My friend says her alcoholic Dad drank Old Spice!  As a teenager in male company I smelled the men’s cologne Brut. The smell was younger than Old Spice and suggested a bit of “the bad boy”.  And we all know how attractive “bad “ boys are! These drugstore scents are part of my olfactory memories. Smells trigger memories.

My Mom got gift bottles of “Evening in Paris”-purchased with hard earned cash by myself and my siblings. When we were children, Mom always said we could get her “Evening in Paris”. Our local variety store had this “perfume” so that’s what we bought.  I put perfume in quotes because calling the scented liquid in the blue bottle “perfume” is a big stretch.  My trained nose says it smelled, and that is the best I can say for it. I was surprised to see that my more sophisticated cousins had perfumes like Chantal No.5.  Perfume can say a lot about someone.

If I pay lots for a bottle of perfume it better improve my image. That whiff of perfume when I get close should say how wonderful, confident and beautiful I am. Nothing has worked so far, so I quit wearing perfume. Never fear, there is always scented soap and body lotion, and the sticky sweet smell of dryer sheets whiffing into the air. No one has marketed perfume that smells like fresh baked bread, freshly brewed coffee or cookies just out of the oven. Why not? I remember arguments with my brothers and sisters about which farm animal shit smelled the worst.  This is a serious subject for farm kids everywhere. If you need to know, I picked pig shit as the excrement with the worst smell. 

So what are we masking with all the scents in our lives?  What do humans smell like? Dogs seem to know what others dogs smell like, but our noses have a much weaker sense of smell. We can smell some dangers, like the scent of gas or fire but mostly we go through our daily lives taking our sense of smell for granted.  Until we smell popcorn being made in the room next to us, or we sniff Play-Doh before we hand it over to our children.

So to make a long smell, short remember that “You stink!” is in the nose of the smeller.