Finding Beauty on this Fantastic Friday

Finding Beauty on this Fantastic Friday

After a frustrating week, I searched my memories for the days' hidden beauties and found them.The red buds are blooming in our neighbor’s ravine again. They are as achingly beautiful as they were at the end of April last year. Twelve months ago I wrote this post, and though I feel better than when this post appeared in April of 2015, the words written in it are as true on this Fantastic Friday as they were then.

Finding Beauty in a Not Very Easy Week

The week just past was not an easy one. Last Sunday, I was finally home for a good long while after months of speaking engagements and Grammy duties, with no book deadlines looming. Don’t get me wrong, all of the above are good–even great and blessed–events. But they were wearying, too, and I naively thought that the week would be devoted to creative activities that rejuvenate me…like finally getting back to poor, patient Jane and her languishing mystery novel. That didn’t happen.

Because I had forgotten that the first several days after being gone
are devoted to catching up on everything that piled up in your absence.
Laundry.
Mail.
Email.
Bills.
Grocery shopping.
Once those were taken care of,
it was  time to respond to people I’d told,
“Contact me a few days after I get back, and I’d be glad to help.”
All that took until Saturday.

Which left me as frustrated as the crazy, two week allergy elimination diet I began on Sunday has been leaving me hungry after every meal. (More on the diet tomorrow.) And I was tired. Bone tired. A wee bit out of shape. And whiny because the weather’s been rainy and cold for days. Something had to be done. So Sunday afternoon, I sat down and racked my memory for the beauty hidden in my not-too-easy week.

Once I started looking, beauty was everywhere,
in the cherry blossoms in our neighbors’ yard,
blossoms left untouched by a nip of frost.
in finding the exact watch Mom wanted to replace her old one at the first store visited.
on the heavenly red bud trees blooming in the ravine along our road.
in the forgiveness of our church Connection Group
when I totally forgot about the potluck we were hosting.

Most beautiful of all,
most heart-breakingly beautiful of all,
in the kindness of staff members interacting with a resident in Mom’s memory care unit,
as they encouraged him, though his mind is dimmed by disease, to play his trombone,
as they hummed the birthday tune to him until the notes brought back his memory,
and he played the tune straight through,
with vibrato
and rhythm
and perfect pitch.
In his fellow residents giving him a rousing round of applause,
and asking him to play it again…
and again…
and again.

A miracle.
A miracle of grace.
A miracle of beauty.
A miracle of unequaled beauty almost overlooked,
though hidden in plain sight,
and waiting eagerly to be found.

And to think,
I almost missed it.

Finding Beauty in a Not Very Easy Week

Finding Beauty in a Not Very Easy Week

red budsThe week just past was not an easy one. Last Sunday, I was finally home for a good long while after months of speaking engagements and Grammy duties, with no book deadlines looming. Don’t get me wrong, all of the above are good–even great and blessed–events. But they were wearying, too, and I naively thought that the week would be devoted to creative activities that rejuvenate me…like finally getting back to poor, patient Jane and her languishing mystery novel. That didn’t happen.

Because I had forgotten that the first several days after being gone
are devoted to catching up on everything that piled up in your absence.
Laundry.
Mail.
Email.
Bills.
Grocery shopping.
Once those were taken care of,
it was  time to respond to people I’d told,
“Contact me a few days after I get back, and I’d be glad to help.”
All that took until Saturday.

Which left me as frustrated as the crazy, two week allergy elimination diet I began on Sunday has been leaving me hungry after every meal. (More on the diet tomorrow.) And I was tired. Bone tired. A wee bit out of shape. And whiny because the weather’s been rainy and cold for days. Something had to be done. So Sunday afternoon, I sat down and racked my memory for the beauty hidden in my not-too-easy week.

Once I started looking, beauty was everywhere,
in the cherry blossoms in our neighbors’ yard,
blossoms left untouched by a nip of frost.
in finding the exact watch Mom wanted to replace her old one at the first store visited.
on the heavenly red bud trees blooming in the ravine along our road.
in the forgiveness of our church Connection Group
when I totally forgot about the potluck we were hosting.

Most beautiful of all,
most heart-breakingly beautiful of all,
in the kindness of staff members interacting with a resident in Mom’s memory care unit,
as they encouraged him, though his mind is dimmed by disease, to play his trombone,
as they hummed the birthday tune to him until the notes brought back his memory,
and he played the tune straight through,
with vibrato
and rhythm
and perfect pitch.
In his fellow residents giving him a rousing round of applause,
and asking him to play it again…
and again…
and again.

A miracle.
A miracle of grace.
A miracle of beauty.
A miracle of unequaled beauty almost overlooked,
though hidden in plain sight,
and waiting eagerly to be found.

And to think,
I almost missed it.

Top Ten Reasons to Take a Fall Road Trip

Top Ten Reasons to Take a Fall Road Trip

fall colors

10.  Gas prices are hovering around the $3.00 mark.

9.   The weather’s comfortable during the day and not too cool at night, so you can turn off both the AC and heat while you’re gone.

8.   You’ll be gone on those warm fall days when the Asian soy beetles and box elder bugs swarm the south side of the house. That means you won’t be letting critters in whenever you go in and out.

7.   Pumpkin spice lattes are available at every pit stop.

6.   You can sleep with the windows open when you arrive at your night time digs.

5.   Watching farmers bring in the harvest makes for an captivating drive.

4.   So does viewing the fall colors along the way, especially along the Mississippi River valley.

3.   Good weather makes it possible to stop and walk around a prairie lake that’s too windy, too cold, or too hot most of the year.

2.  You might be present when a two-year-old is enthralled by the first fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillar he’s ever seen.

1.   Driving west on your way home, watching a magnificent sunset can move you to tears.

What do you love about fall road trips? Leave a comment.

Top Ten Things About Living in Iowa

Top Ten Things About Living in Iowa

Iowa top ten

10.  Radio ads during sports broadcasts feature seed corn, soybean hybrid, fertilizers, and the like.

9.   During the recession, Iowa’s unemployment rate was 2–4% lower than the national rate.

8.   Unbearable hot, humid summer days and nights are interrupted by cooler, less humid reprieves that make a person appreciate good weather.

7.   Cookie’s Barbeque Sauce.

6.   Drives in the country on summer Sunday afternoons or evenings.

5.   Fresh produce stands from June through September.

4.   Soil so rich your son, whose college major is Soils, takes pictures of garden dirt when he comes for a visit.

3.   After a childhood devoid of raptors, the eagles and falcons are back, soaring on the updrafts.

2.   The green, verdant beauty of our country lane, which brings tears to my eyes each time I drive home.

1.   Sweet corn, sweet corn, and more sweet corn.

The Price of Beauty

The Price of Beauty

fawn

Morning walks have been a parade of beauty
These late spring days.
An indigo bunting perched on the fence,
Baby bunnies hopping around in dizzy circles,
Cardinals, male and female,
Singing from the treetops,
Or flying beside the path.
And then, this morning,
The season’s first glimpse of a shy, spotted fawn
Crossing the road behind her mother.

I do not care that the drivers of the cars coming down the hill
Thought me a crazy woman
For holding up one hand in warning,
While using the other to point to the fawn ahead,
For urging people on their way to work
To slow down,
To stop
Until this small and speckled new life had crossed the road.
Such is the price of beauty,
And I am glad to pay it.