Three Thoughts for Thursday

Empire Falls, Paul Newman, spring all around, and another career path dashed in this week's three thoughts.

  1. Baby bunnies in the flowerbed, a flock of twitterpated goldfinches in a grassy ditch, and broken robin egg shells on the road. Spring has sprung!
  2. After serving on the steering committee for an upcoming weekend camp, I have realized that event planning is not my calling.
  3. The HBO adaptation of Richard Russo’s Empire Falls is wonderful in so many ways. A favorite book by a favorite author who wrote the screenplay. Perfect casting of so many top tier actors, including Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Newman, in his final film role, nails his part. And his blue eyes still shine.

10 Reasons I Love Mother’s Day

Allen & AnneMother Day will be here in 5 short days. Here are 10 things I love about the holiday.

10. Mother’s Day is the one day of the year where moms get the pay off for losing their figures, years of sleep deprivation, and total lack of privacy: breakfast in bed that consists of burnt toast, rubbery eggs, and cold coffee served with a side dish of crumbs between the sheets.

9.  Wannabe women actors improve their acting skills when their children ask them if they like the kittie earrings they picked out as a gift.

8.  Mother’s Day and spring flowers appear in tandem. Perfect timing!

7.  My early Mother’s Day present was an espresso maker and my daughter, the barista, who will give me lessons on its operation.

6.  Mother’s Day means going out to eat, and thus avoiding the what-to-make-for-supper decision, not once but twice: once with my mom and once with my kids.

5.  Spending a substantial amount of time selecting the perfect card for Mom. Not an easy task since so many cards don’t describe her style of mothering. At. All. But I enjoy the task and always manage to find one that makes her smile.

4.  I appreciate spending Mother’s Day with Mom more as the opportunities to do so dwindle year by year.

3. May 11, 1929 was both Mother’s Day and Dad’s birthday.

2.  My adorable grandkids: Sam, Molly, and Tad.

1.  My children, Allen and Anne. Could I love you any more?

What do you love about Mother’s Day? Leave a comment.

Cardinal Song for this Fantastic Friday

Spring is slow to come, but the cardinal's song gives hope that it will yet come.Walking outdoors is one of my favorite things. Except when it’s cold and windy. So lately I’ve had to talk myself into walking outside in the morning. This post from 2013 proves this year is just like years gone by. But more that that, today’s Fantastic Friday post explains why walking outdoors is worth the cold, the wind, and the internal battle that get a person’s feet out the door.

The Cardinal Says It’s Spring

These April mornings,
When my walks begin.
I need a pep talk to push my feet
Out the door and down the lane.

The grass is brown.
The tree branches grey,
The wind is cold,
The landscape bare.

Still the cardinal,
bright red with promise,
Sings words to warm my frozen, winter soul.
“It’s spring! It’s spring.”

What says spring to you? Leave a comment.

Three Thoughts for Thursday

Happy noises, megalomaniac for president, and signs of spring in this week's three thoughts.

  1. New favorite sound: Grandson’s belly laugh when his fingers touch my toes and I jump back in mock surprise.
  2. While it’s true that all politicians hold themselves in high regard, I don’t think electing a megalomaniac for president is a wise idea. Wake up, America!
  3. The three robins hopping around our yard yesterday were a hopeful sight indeed. Once the ground thaws, they can dig worms for entertainment instead of chasing dead leaves swirling in the wind.

Top Ten June Blessings

To fight fighting discouragement and a tendency to dwell on what's wrong in my world, I'm counting June blessings this week.Life’s been rough at our house lately. So I’m fighting discouragement and a tendency to dwell on what’s wrong in my world by giving thanks for the small and good blessings that are part of each day.

10. The weather’s been so pleasant, we’ve hardly needed to turn on the AC.

9.  The propane company sent a letter saying our bill will go down over $100 in September.

8.  At this moment, the weeds are pulled and the housework is done.

7.  The herb garden provided fresh parsley, basil, and cilantro for several meals this week.

6.  Our first CSA produce pick up is today.

5.  But the CSA strawberries started early so we feasted our way through 2 delectable quarts…and I took some down to Mom last week, too.

4.  Revisions on my mystery novel are moving along and the escape therapy is just what the doctor ordered.

3.  The Man of Steel and I will take Mom to a family reunion in Minnesota this coming weekend. She will complain during the whole trip and then thoroughly enjoy being queen for a day in the presence of her nieces and nephews.

2.  My daughter held the phone close to our 2-month-old grandson’s mouth so we could hear him coo. Happy tears!

1.  In the last week, God arranged encounters with 2 dear friends and a sister who understand my current struggles and the time spent with them was soothing balm to the soul.

What blessings are you thankful for this week?

No Snake Warning this Fantastic Friday

snake warningThis fantastic Friday, I am pleased to announce that snake sightings are within the normal range where I live and therefore, no snake warnings are being issued by the Gravel Road Snake Warning Bureau for Spring, 2015. This state of affairs is in stark contrast to the spring of 2009, when the proliferation of snakes led to the creation of the Gravel Road Snake Warning Bureau as is explained below.

Rest assured that this SNAKE WARNING is not meant to eclipse the swine flu pandemic. But I’m worried that the media’s narrow focus on all things pig and pork-related may have blinded us to a growing menace right beneath our central Iowa feet.

Since Easter, the number of squashed snakes on my gravel road has increased alarmingly. In one month, I’ve seen more of the flattened critters than in the previous eighteen years combined. In the newsletter put out by the vegetable farmers from whom we purchased our community supported agriculture (CSA) share, mention was made of the large number of snakes crawling around their farm, too. And in a casual conversation with someone who shall remain nameless (not because he or she is an anonymous source, but because I’m having a senior moment), an abnormally large number of snake sightings was reported.

Even though my level of credibility, manpower, or technological wizardry does not match that of government agencies like the CDC or the Department of Health and Human Services, I am hereby issuing an OFFICIAL SNAKE WARNING for my small town and the surrounding countryside.

The most important thing is that you DO NOT PANIC. DON’T hide in the basement or a windowless closet or interior room in your house until the all clear siren sounds. DON’T wash your hands frequently or stay away from crowds to avoid spread of reptiles. Just AVOID sunbathing on warm rocks. CHECK your shoes for sleeping snakes before you put them on and watch where you step when wandering in the grass. WHISTLE “Dixie” real loud before kneeling in your garden. This is a little trick I learned in South Dakota to scare off rattlesnakes. It works, too. In seven years, I never saw a diamondback.

There. I’ve done my civic duty, and I’m ready to enjoy a SNAKE-FREE weekend. I hope your weekend is, too.

Top Ten Reasons I’m Smiling this Week


10. The frost boil on our little gravel road has healed, and city workers removed the “road closed” barricades.

9. My allergy elimination diet has moved from bark, twigs, and leaves meat, veggies, and nuts to meat, veggies, nuts, rice, and oatmeal.

8. At the library, I scored the audio version of Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes, Please.

7. I also scored The Book Thief movie DVD and watched it with Hiram. Geoffrey Rush’s portrayal of the father? Perfect.

6. The post about Beginnings and Endings led many former Bryant school faculty, staff, and students to share memories on Facebook about the years they spent there.

5. Every Child Welcome, the book Katie Wetherbee and I co-authored was Amazon’s #1 new release in the Children’s Ministry division and #2 of ALL their children’s ministry books, new and old.

4. The lilacs are blooming.

3. Saturday night, the Man of Steel and I went out to supper with Mom, my sis, and my bro. In honor of Dad, we saved our straws.

2. Facetime with my son and grandson on Saturday.

1. Conversation with a writer I was coaching led to the realization that her parents and grandparents knew my dad when he was an extension agent in southwest Iowa. Her grandpa was on the 4-H board and got home very late one night because Dad wouldn’t stop talking. I love hearing those stories about Dad before my memories of him kicked in.

What are you smiling about this week? Leave a comment!

The Daffodils Are Blooming this Fanastic Friday


Friday’s here again, so it’s time for another fantastic post from the past. This one comes from April 2011, a few years after Mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and subsequent move to live with my brother and his family. That chapter of Mom’s life ended this past January, when she moved to an assisted living facility. She is not adjusting particularly well. But as this post points out, she has adjusted before, and I can hope that she will slowly adjust again. And I can also hope that this week, during our Wednesday visit and drive, she will smile to see the daffodils are blooming.

The Daffodils Are Blooming

My daffodils started blooming yesterday, their bright faces raised, impervious to the wind while they soaked in the sunshine. They spoke spring and warmth and light and hope into my winter weary heart. They made me smile.

Then the rain moved in, and everything changed.

These natty soldiers, who had marched beside my house erect and confident short hours ago, were bowed and bedraggled this morning. They shivered in the wind. Tears rolled down their faces and puddled in the dirt at their feet. Their burdens were heavy on their shoulders, so heavy they couldn’t lift their heads to see the clusters of clean, greening grass lining their parade route, cheering their arrival.

They have no idea that sunshine will return.

The daffodils were a gift from my mother the last fall she lived in her house. Before we suspected Alzheimer’s. Before her legendary strength abandoned her. When she still had energy to dig in the dusty, autumn soil for the daffodil bulbs that needed separating. Come spring, the news that I had planted the bulbs didn’t bring her as much pleasure as in previous years.

The first clue, as I look back, that something was wrong in my green thumb mother’s world.

Things moved more swiftly after that. The next fall, Mom moved in with my brother and sister-in-law. The next spring, her house was sold. Her passion for gardening evaporated along with her love of quilting, sewing, jigsaw puzzles, and ordering around her children. When my sister gave Mom an African violet for her bedroom, her response was, “I’m not sure I want that much responsibility.”

Can this be the woman who grew all the roses for our wedding altar arrangements?

“The daffodils are about to bloom, “ I told Mom during our visit two days ago. “The ones you gave me.” On our drive to the library, we saw some blooming beside a small house. “Look, Mom,” I pointed. “Aren’t they pretty?” Her eyes turned warm and bright. For the rest of the trip, and again on the way home, she watched for flowers.

“The daffodils are blooming.” She smiled and lifted her head. Briefly, the sunshine returned.

Top Ten Signs of Spring

Daffodils 201310. One day snowdrifts. The next day daffodils breaking through the dirt.

9.  Cardinal song.

8.  Certain people who will remain nameless go to bed way early to Netflix because the arrival of Daylight Savings Time makes it perfectly okay.

7.  Morning people are smiling because Daylight Savings Time means their favorite time of day come extra early.

6.  The Man of Steel can be found splashing through puddles while running up and down the gravel road.

5.  The Woman of Aluminum can be found picking her way around puddles while walking up and down the gravel road.

4.  After a couple days of exercise overdue, the Man of Steel and Woman of Aluminum walk stiffly around their house along the gravel road.

3.  The park is overflowing with 12-year-old girls wearing short shorts and walking bare-legged even though the temperature is only 48 degrees.

2.  Brackets, brackets, brackets.

1.  Everybody in town wears a goofy grin, and they have no idea why.

What signs of spring are sprouting where you live?