WHAT COULD BE BETTER?

I’m a country girl through and through. I like open spaces, trees, rivers and lakes, a clear view of the stars, fresh clean air, and the enchantment of watching wild life. I’ve never liked being in a city where everyone’s scrunched together; the bustle of so many people in one place makes me uneasy as if I have an itch that I can’t quite tell the location of.

Dallas is no exception to my dislike for cities but some of the suburbs are still liveable…barely. The town I live in is one of a string of towns that run together, separated only by a street. On one side of the street is one town and on the other side is a completely different one. My bank is located in the town in which I live, but across the street my pharmacy is in another town. When I move to my apartment I’ll be in yet another town. Somewhat confusing to me at first but I’m beginning to make a little sense of it.

The thing which makes living in this area tolerable is that there are large swathes of farm land interspersed with highly developed properties. One can be driving through town and suddenly see acres of corn adjacent to a large shopping mall; or a new apartment complex flanked on either side by wheat and maize fields. The novelty of  this never ceases to amaze and charm me. It’s not solely country or solely city, it’s both…casually intermingled.

There are also large green belts throughout the area where no construction is permitted. Another unique thing is that wild flowers are protected here. There are some places where they grow prolifically and in these spots the grass may not even be cut until the flowers cease blooming. The apartment I’ve rented and will soon be moving into is right across the street from a large open field where wild flowers are continually blooming. I look forward to sitting on my patio and enjoying this lovely view while pretending I’m actually in the country; the beautiful Country Club just down the street from my apartment adds to this illusion. The golf course has a five-mile walking trail along the perimeter which, I’m told, is available to the apartment residents so I’ll be able to take nature walks whenever I desire. Since I no longer have my sweetie to hold my hand when I walk I’m investing in a hiking stick to help with my balance.

The bottom line here is that even though I’m in an urban area, I can still enjoy a small slice of nature, maybe even enough to satisfy this country girl. There are plenty of rabbit, squirrel, duck, racoon, birds of all kinds, and even coyote and fox to observe. There may even be a few deer, although I haven’t yet seen any myself. The stars may not be as bright as I’m accustomed to, but having the empty field directly across the street from me will eliminate a lot of the light pollution, making for better star-gazing.

I guess I can’t really complain about my circumstances or location since I seem to be in the enviable position of  having all the conveniences of the city, while enjoying the illusion of living in the country. As an added bonus I have several children and grandchild near by. So my question is, what could be better at this stage of my life?  Oh yes indeed, I must remember daily to count my blessings.

THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY

I’ve heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome. I wonder if this applies to birds as well?

At my son Chris’ house here in Texas a Cardinal bird repeatedly flies into windows all day long. This particular bird starts about six a.m. attacking one of two bedroom windows; either the one where I sleep or the one where my grandson sleeps. He does this for an hour or two then changes to the other bedroom window for a while before coming back to the first one, striking it with his beak every second or two. Sometimes in the afternoon he changes to the dining room window…but not always, sometimes he just does battle with the two bedroom windows.

They’ve put long swirly things in the tree next to the windows to scare him away to no avail.  He’s very determined, and I’d think after doing this same thing for months, he’d be very tired. It seems to me his beak would crack, or his neck would be injured…or he would just get tired of his silly game. Obviously he has nothing better to do, not even eat…it’s almost as if he’s possessed.

In my research on this subject I’ve discovered that Cardinal birds are very territorial so perhaps this started because he saw his reflection and was protecting his territory from a perceived intruder and then it just became a habit. Strange to think of birds developing habits, especially bad habits. From all I’ve read on the subject if he can be deflected from doing this for a few days, the habit will be broken. It’s suggested that placing a black image of a hawk on the inside of the window or a hanging a basket of flowers on the outside of the window [not feasible in this case since it's a high unreachable window] might be enough to stop this unsettling behavior. Perhaps my grandson can be persuaded to climb a ladder and attach a hawk image to the inside of the glass. It would certainly be to his benefit….and mine.

I’ve seen birds in the past fly unknowingly into a window and become stunned or kill themselves. But this continual calculated pecking on the window makes one think of the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds” which gave people nightmares and brought about Ornithophobia [fear of birds] in susceptible persons. Birds have long held a place in folk-lore for good or evil; take for instance the phoenix, rising from its own ashes, the blue bird bringing happiness, or the albatross as an unlucky symbol. Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Raven” depicting mans decent into madness. Old wives tales often ascribe common birds, such as the turtle-dove, as harbingers of death. A kernel of truth maybe? Where there’s smoke there’s fire?

I’m certainly not afraid but I’ve moved from the bedroom to the living room and this insane Cardinal is now pecking the dining room window with renewed energy. It’s almost as if he’s tracking where I am to bring me as much unease as possible. I’m really not afraid but….dare I go outside?

RAINBOWS AND RACCOONS

Thanks to one son and his wife, my family spent the week on Petit Jean Mountain in a house with floor to ceiling windows that overlooked the bluffs and the Arkansas River; I think it needless to say the view was sublime.

We had mostly good weather while we were there; warm days, cool nights and even two afternoons and evenings of thunder storms. The lightning was awesome seen from the mountain top and through such large windows. This wonderful ‘fireworks’ display continued long after we retired and I viewed it from the comfort of my bed until my eyes refused to stay open a second longer. The only downside to the lightning [if one can even call it a downside] is that it knocked the internet out. With no internet and very spotty cell service we were truly isolated unless we made the treck down the mountain and into town.

One afternoon when it rained, the sun came out briefly resulting in a large rainbow over the valley. We felt it was so close we could reach out and touch it; surely if a pot of gold can be found at the end of a rainbow, that rainbow was the magic one to follow. After the rain passed the moon was high and completely full, shedding a silvery light on the surrounding countryside. One son and his family took advantage of the bright night and bravely hiked to the falls in the moonlight.

Members of our family climbed and rapelled the surrounding bluffs, went on hikes, boated, and played in the water under the waterfall. Good times were had by all, reminiscent of earlier years when our family patriarch was alive to enjoy those things with them. It ‘rained’ several times in my personal space as I tried to reconcile myself to the fact of that never happening again in this life.

My newly married daughter and her husband had a sweet ring ceremony on the bluff along with pictures taken by a friend who is a photographer. I know I’m slightly biased but she was the most beautiful bride anyone has ever been privileged to see; her wedding pictures will attest to that fact.

One evening a large raccoon paid us a visit and stayed close to the hot tub [I wonder if he was planning on taking a swim?] He was too friendly for our liking since rabies is prevalent in wild animals and we had small children running around, so one of the older grandsons ran him off…several times in fact, before he took the hint that he wasn’t wanted and wouldn’t get a turn in the hot tub.

My eagle-eyed six-year-old grandson spotted a scorpion inside the house which could have proved disastrous had he not seen it since we were all walking around barefoot and also had a crawling baby on the floor. Scorpions like rocky places such as the one we were in and some of them invariably find their way indoors. I was stung once on the toe as I was walking across our lawn wearing sandals. My toe was swollen and hurt for days. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, especially a small child or baby….I wouldn’t wish it on myself again either.

Our family meals were monumental; many people, lots of food and countless willing hands to prepare and clean up afterwards. A big thank you goes to two special daughter in-laws for planning the menus and buying most of the food as well as spear-heading the preparation….I salute you, well done!

We ended our stay on the mountain with a wedding reception for my daughter in the recreation hall, complete with a live band and dancing. It was nice to see old friends and it was especially nice to have all my children [and their spouses] there helping put the reception together. They all contributed heavily and were invaluable in their efforts; I can’t thank them enough for the food, for the decorations, for the air coolers and ice, for the music, and for all the small [and large] things that went into making it a success for their only sister. Things are not so easy for me to accomplish anymore and this particular task would have been unbelievably sad for me at this time without my wonderful sons standing by my side….how I love them and how I love my whole family. Putting aside the moonlight and lightning, the rainbows and raccoons, life is after all totally about family.

THIS GAME OF LIFE

This year has already been so full of changes that it boggles the mind that six months still remain before the year is over. Given what’s transpired the first half of the year, I’m a little trepidatious of what the next few months will bring.

The first clatter out of the box in 2014 my daughter became engaged, then just a couple of nights ago she got married. Next my husband had leg surgery that he never recovered from; he passed on to his eternal reward making me single again after a partnership of 53 years…strange that all my children are married now and I’m the one who’s single, seems a little upside down. As a consequence of my new single status I moved to Texas [where my parents lived when I was born and where three of my children currently reside] and sold my home in Arkansas. I’m going back there next week to get the remainder of my things as well as to attend a wedding reception for my daughter. My husband and I have been going back and forth between Arkansas and Texas for several years but it still seems strange to visit Arkansas instead of live there.

I’ve been living with two of my sons, one through the week and the other on the weekends, but I just rented my very own apartment and will be moving into it the middle of next month. It’s a little sooner than I’d planned but I was at the right place at the right time and it just felt right so I took the plunge. I like the apartment and the location of it so I hope I’ll be happy there; it will be different living by myself but I hope it will soon feel normal and even pleasant. I’m excited at the prospect of my own place again so I must be beginning to heal and accept the turn my life has taken even though it has changed so completely, and in such a short time, that I wouldn’t believe it had I not been actually living it. It’s been a full week since I rented it and I don’t feel any regret or remorse yet, so I believe it was the right move for me to make…ask me again in a few months and I’ll let you know if I still feel that way. In any case, I can visit my children as often as I wish and spend as much time with them as I desire.

They say that nothing is certain but death and taxes, and I suppose that’s true. Anyway after all these changes I find that I’m not exempt from taxes and I don’t think I can hide from death, it will find me sooner or later. I’d rather it be later but I’m not the one calling the shots and I don’t have a crystal ball so I’ll just have to play this game of life as everyone else does, never knowing when I’ll be called home but trying to be prepared for that event whenever it happens. Until then,  [ much to my surprise] I’m going to have fun decorating my new apartment…so let the shopping begin!

 

 

THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION

I’ve been thinking [yes I know sometimes that's dangerous] nevertheless, I’ve been thinking that I need a new focus  in my life. I haven’t decided yet just what it will be. Maybe a new hobby, or an exercise class [water aarobics again?], or volunteer work, or line dancing…well I mean line dancing is what seniors do, right? Maybe I’ll start painting again, at least until the ‘ritis‘ brothers come back from vacation. Or perhaps I’ll become a genealogy buff; I have the distinct feeling that’s what I should do. If only I can figure out how to go about it…I’ve never really understood the ins and outs of searching for ones ancestors.

I used to have visions of being a scriptorian but that went out the window with my memory. Now days I’m lucky to remember what I read, never mind the exact quote or where it’s located. I can only hope that all the information I gained over the years through diligent study is locked somewhere in my brain and will be forth-coming in the eternities when it’s needed. If not, I’m in big trouble.

One of my sons tells me he thinks I’ll get a dog; can anyone one see me as a dog owner? A dog would be company, and I would have to spend time taking care of it…feeding it, walking it, talking to it. That might be just the thing; at least then I’d have an excuse for talking out loud when no one else was around, and it would force me to get a little exercise. You know what they say about ‘killing two birds with one stone’. However, I’m not yet convinced that’s the route to go.

As far as dancing goes, that might actually be fun. I used to like to dance…alot! When I was young I went to dances every weekend and after I married, my husband and I went at every opportunity. I’d make myself a dress and my husband a shirt to match and we’d dance the night away. That’s one of the saddest and loneliest things about losing a spouse; there’s no one else around that knew me as a girl and young woman so those days of youth are simply gone with no one to remember them with me…no one else to remember how I used to like to dance.

In his last few years my husband renewed his passion for playing music and singing. How he loved doing that and how comforting it was to him to be able to do something he loved so much. The thought occurs to me that sadly, there’s nothing that I’m that passionate about. Maybe because I’m not really very good at anything.

I can’t continue to float along like a feather on the wind so I must put my mind to it and come up with something worthwhile to occupy my time. My life up till now has been totally immersed in my children and my husband. My husband is gone now and my children don’t need me anymore, not really, so what to do, oh how to spend my time? That then, is the million dollar question…and one I don’t have an answer for. Until I do I guess I’ll just have to keep my trusty kindle handy so I can help Sadie Hoffmiller solve  those murders she’s always stumbling across; who knows, I might even be able to help Miss Marple.

I WISH, I WISH, I WISH

The time is drawing close now; I’d begun to think it would never happen but as is the way with love, it strikes when you least expect it. I am of course, speaking of my daughter’s upcoming marriage. It’s exciting, fun and stressful all at the same time. I’m sure it’s a good thing I’ve only one daughter, I wouldn’t have survived this multiple times.

The only regret is that her father won’t be present…at least not physically. He will be there in spirit, and in the faces and countenances of his children, especially my daughter who looks so like her father with her dark hair and beautiful olive toned skin. He will be there in my memory too as I recall our own wedding day and his mischievous smile and teasing manner that set me at ease on that momentous day.

I wish for my daughter to be as happy in her marriage as I was in mine; I wish for her to grow in the ways of sharing and nurturing that only happily married persons can; I wish for her to feel as loved and cherished by her husband as mine always made me feel; I wish for her to have good in-laws; and I wish for her all the good, happy things that life can bring.

I think of her as a little girl, heartbreakingly beautiful with a head full of blond curls, singing, always singing  just like a song bird. I wish for her to remain happy with a continual song in her heart and on her lips, sharing the songs that spring to her mind.

I wish for her to be a strong, self-sufficient woman, cultivating her talents and discovering new ones; I wish for her to remain kind and caring, thinking of others; I wish for her to stay as sweet and lovely as she is now; I wish for her to remember her self-worth and to stay true to herself and her heritage; but most of all I wish for her to remember who she is, a daughter of God. As she approches this new stage in her life I wonder…does she guess how much I love her and my wishes for her?

CUTTING THE FINAL STRING

I’m cutting the final string of my former life…I’ve sold my home, now there’s no turning back. I’m amazed at how quickly and thoroughly everything we’ve had to do has come together, as if it were meant to be or as if Bruce played some hand in the outcome….not impossible is it? It comforts me to think that’s so.

I almost have my financial house in order now and it’s much stronger than I thought it would be or had hoped for. So from now on I can focus on simply enjoying my children and grandchildren and finding  joy in my surroundings. I’m very blessed to have children who love me and seek  my best interests.

When I gather my wits about me and work up the nerve I’ll even fly to visit my children in other states. I’ve flown by myself before but I didn’t enjoy it, however being single causes one do things one wouldn’t ordinarily consider. Perhaps this timid little mouse which I know myself to be will morph into a feisty lion before all is said and done…improbable but not impossible.

Selling my house was less traumatic than I’d thought because one of my sons bought it. How cool is that!? Now all the specialty stuff we dreamed up and installed, and so thoroughly enjoyed, will still be in the family. I know Bruce is happy, as I am, that his handiwork will still be appreciated by family on a daily basis. I really couldn’t ask for a better resolution to a sensitive situation. How fortunate that one of my children wants our home and has the means to buy it. The house comes complete with a cat; my husband’s cat has adopted my son in Bruce’s stead; he feeds her and she jumps in his lap and allows him to pet her. She’s quite a skittish girl so he should feel privileged at her attention and acceptance.

I still have a few of my belongings to get out of the house but I can rest easy knowing they will be safe from strangers’ probing fingers and prying eyes until I can go back and get them. Through these hard decisions I’ve had to make I’ve reason to feel that Bruce is with me constantly, helping me make the right ones. I’ve lost my life long companion but I still feel his comforting presence at my side and I know he’s just a blink of an eye away. Someday I’ll go to sleep and wake up in his arms again…someday, but not today. I still have some living of my own to do and in the meantime I’m putting my scissors away, I’m done with them for a while.

 

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