Farwell 2007

I can honestly say that this is one year I’m ready to scratch off the books.

2007 brought many events to my life. A few of them I didn’t think I’d get through. While I won’t discuss them here, I will just say that 2007 made me stronger. I came through. And I believe I came through on top.

It’s easy for me to make a laundry list of all the things that went wrong in 2007. And tonight I plan on doing just that. I’m going to make a laundry list. Write it all down. And then I’m going to burn that list. I’m planning on making a separate list with the same events and listing what I learned from those experiences. How I’m stronger for them. That list I will keep and place it in my journal.

Out of every tragedy, trauma or unpleasant event, there is something to be learned. I’ve been incredibly blessed with a few friends and family members that have helped me to see this. I have learned a lot from 2007. And what an incredible gift it is to know that I have learned from this year. That wisdom is priceless. A friend told me the other day that some people never get that gift. They never see beyond the pain, the trauma and the hurt. I have that gift. And I”m so grateful for it.

Here’s to 2008! May it be happy, healthy and bright. And if it isn’t, well, I guess I get to make another laundry list and watch it burn!

Love to all today.

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Beauty in snow

Last night on a ride Mother Nature once again came through with a gift — this time I found it in the snow.

It snowed a few inches the night before. Not really sure the exact inch count. That’s not the point really anyway (forgive me, I’m running on little sleep this morning!!)

We were driving around on a dirt road. Just driving. Listening to music. I looked out the window and gazed at the snow. And I saw it — all the sparkles. It hasn’t warmed up enough to melt any of the snow and the fresh powder look glistened everywhere the headlight beams touched.

It was truly beautiful. I can’t even find the right words to describe the snow. It just sparkled. And words truly can’t do the beauty of that justice, you know?

It’s moments like this that brings life to a stand-still and provides an opportunity for reflection. Life isn’t about all the hustle and bustle. Life isn’t about the daily problems. Life isn’t about cell phone bills and problems at work. These are a part of life, but it’s not life. Last night I chose to stop. I chose to just emerse myself in the beauty of something simple like the snow. Two ordinary things came together to create a beautiful scene. If I had been caught up in myself or my problems, I would have missed it and dissapointed Mother Nature. Mother Nature provides us with these little moments. No matter what life is like. No matter what is on our minds. We are free anytime to gaze around us and locate something beautiful. It doesn’t cost anything to do that. Mother Nature gives it for free.

Thank you Mother Nature! You’ve done it again!

Christmas at the mat!

‘Tis the season….

To do laundry!

Fa la la la la….

Yes, you read that right! It’s the season to do laundry!

On the morning of Christmas for various reasons, my mom and I found ourselves at the laundry mat…compliments of my shih tzu PJ who threw up all over the place I was there washing quilts. And since mom needed to go also to save herself time, we gathered up our stuff and made a mother/daughter outing to the mat. We threw the turkey in the roaster and headed for the mat.

And we weren’t alone. There wasn’t a ton of people at the mat this morning, but there were several. There were kids. Families. Babies. And even a few older folks made their way in with laundry. Many had several loads.

This is no ordinary laundry mat either! I’m used to the small piddly mats in the town I live in with the rusty washers, dirty floor, full ash trays and run down dryers with melted crayons in them. But this one, only about a block or so from my mom’s is brand spanking new. The washers work. The dryers are clean. There are pop machines. Change machines that actually give quarters. And a place for kids to play in the middle. Oh, and not to mention the fish that live in a fish tank…a very arge fish tank recessed into the wall. Oh my gosh!!! I was in heaven! I’ll truly be ruined forever when I get back to my town and have to put up with run-down equipment!

While it may seem funny, consider our situation. No little kids at home. And my brother and his family weren’t coming until afternoon. What better way to spend Christmas morning, right?! Well, at least we have clean laundry!

I don’t know what brought all the other people at the laundry mat, but for me, it was an opportunity to sit with my mom with the whir of the washers and dryers in the background. A time to just talk. A time to just be. So, while we were at the laundry mat, I realized something…I got a bonus Christmas gift. The bonus of time…time with my mom. And that is more precious than anything material.

Have a great Christmas!!

Road Rage!!!!


Smiley Face

Usually I try to keep this blog light. But sometimes, we all lose our tempers. Sometimes we just have to bitch. And boy do I need to bitch!!!

I was driving onto the freeway today on a fairly short entrance ramp. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw two semi-trucks taking up both lanes. I was well ahead of them so I figured I could slip in front of the one in the lane next to me.

As I stepped on the gas, the truck driver in the lane immediately next to me decided to also. And he must have really stepped on it because not only did I quickly run out of ramp, I had to swerve onto the shoulder and nearly had to head OFF the freeway to avoid him sideswiping me. He never made an attempt to slow down. He just kept flying by. He might as well have flipped me off as he sped by.

By this time I was angry. All the frustrations from my day (having five stories to get done today, most of the day in meetings tying me up from writing those five stories and dealing with cranky people) came out and shot right out my windshield at the back of that truck. If looks could kill, yeah, that truck driver wouldn’t be among the land of the living anymore.

I tried to catch up with the truck to see if there was an 800 number to call and report this jack asses’ bad driving. I mean seriously, who the hell did he think he was?! He had to speed up and get right next to the other truck. Was it really necessary?! What happened to courteous driving? I drive an SUV. Had I hit the actual ground and left the road, it would have rolled.

So yeah, all these angry thoughts bled all over my car. I have high blood pressure anyway lately, so this wasn’t a good thing for me probably. Ok, so I could have slowed down too. OK, there’s lots of things I could have done. In the end I decided not to try to follow the truck pass my exit. The jerk wasn’t worth me being late for my next meeting.

Quite frankly, I still want to throttle the driver of that truck. When you drive something that big you need to realize that you’re a lot bigger than the other vehicles on the road and your actions could potentially kill.

I can totally see how road rage happens. You’re in your car — space you consider personal. Some of us even find driving relaxing. I know I do. When somebody invades your space, it makes you angry. Tempers flare and get out of control. Road rage is evil. But, after today, I can see how it happens. If we all would pay more attention and respect each other on the road, you know, this kind of crap wouldn’t happen.

Thank you Mister truck driver jerk. Next time share your damn lane.

Sorry Mr. Sparrow!!!

I likely ruined a bird’s day this morning — but I didn’t mean to!

Let me explain. I was getting out of my car in front of the courthouse to head to my weekly commission meeting. A bird apparently didn’t see me or something. As I was standing on the passenger side of my vehicle, I noticed the little sparrow hopping around near my car. I stood there and watched him for a bit. He apparently did not notice me because he hopped right on my shoe!

Now I have never had this happen before and it was quite amusing. He sat there for a second or two before figuring it out. He was looking around and all the sudden he looked up. And I think he about had a heart attack.

He started sputtering and chirping and jumped back off my foot. He chattered all the way back under my car. But before he disappeared under my car he kinda strutted. I’m not sure if this means that he was mad or just wanted to save “bird face” by getting his last word in as he strutted off.

The bird totally cracked me up and as an added bonus, he sent me to my meeting with a smile on my face. I chuckled all the way into the courthouse and was still chuckling when I was placing all my things on the conveyor belt to pass through the metal detector.

Once again, it’s the small things that put a smile on my face. Had I not stopped to look down at the bird and notice my surroundings, I would have missed the whole moment. And missed another chance to send Mother Nature a thank-you for giving me the gift of a mad sparrow this morning!

So, Mr. Sparrow…I’m sorry if I ruined your morning! But it may just give you something to tell your grandchildren back in Wington!

Have a great Wednesday! :0)

I miss him…so much

My grandpa would have been 80 yesterday.

My grandmother posted on our family Web site that she got up on his 80th birthday and wondered what he would look like. Would he have wrinkles? An answer that none of us can know.

My grandfather passed away when I was a freshman in high school. It hurt when he died. It hurt a lot. I miss him so much. I remember the day my mom told us. We came home from school and she said he had died. In that instant, my world had a giant crack in it and over the years it’s become a giant hole.

My grandpa taught me many life’s lessons. He taught me that all men aren’t bad. He taught me to ride his horse Leo. I used to spend hours at his farm riding that horse pretending that I was in the wild west riding up to a town kicking up dust with guns strapped to my waist. I was the female outlaw! Man, I remember that like it was yesterday. Those times when I’d slip into my own child world.

My grandpa got me to read the book “Where the Red Fern Grows.” A book I cherish today. One of the first books I remember reading. He was so proud when I read that book. And we had something to talk about for a long time. It was a beloved book of his. And he shared it with me.

I used to write grandma and grandpa all the time when I was a child. And grandma always signed the bottom of the letter “grandpa says hi.” I still have all those letters! And they are one of my most precious treasures. Letters from two of the most influential people in my childhood.

Reading my grandma’s post about grandpa’s 80th birthday made me realize I still miss him so much. I miss him all the time. If I could only turn back time for just five minutes. I’d go back and tell him how much impact he had on my life. How much his smile meant to me. How much his love meant to me. How much sharing that book meant to me. And how he helped shape my life today. Oh yes, I’d tell him all those things.

But I can’t go back. None of us can. But what I can do is tell those that are still here how much I love them. How much they mean to me and how much influence they have on my life today. That’s what I can do. We can all do that.

So, with all that said, happy birthday grandpa. I love you very much….

Love,
your granddaughter

I don’t always think….

I’ve once again decided to visit my memory for a blog. All this ice, sleet and just plain cold reminded me of something I did several years ago.

So, here goes…a word of wisdom here. When you go to sled down a hill — remove or clear trees and brush.

Oh yes. Anybody who knows me is laughing their head off before I even tell the story. Let me just say this. I’m a klutz. And a lot of times I don’t think. I think I have a good idea…like sledding down the bank…and don’t think that maybe I won’t be able to steer the sled away from trees all the way down.

So yeah. I don’t know what year this was, but I suspect it was probably shortly after I moved to Emporia in 2000. I declared myself officially a “country girl.” In the backyard is a bank that leads to a lake. It was frozen at this particular time and a fresh blanket of snow coated the bank.

Let me clarify what my sled actually was. It was one of those large red discs that you sit in and slide down in. So, with this in mind…I thought it would be a good idea and a fun one to go sliding down the bank. Big mistake. Huge.

I picked what I thought was the most clear area to slide down. Sure, it wasn’t a straight shot, but I figured I could push off of the trees around me and avoid them. And it might be fun to weave in and out of the trees. Just like skiing right?! WRONG!!

It went well at first…until I met those trees. Rather than pushing myself away from them, I crashed into them and BOUNCED off of them. The sled carried me a lot faster than I thought it would and I hit the trees a lot harder than I anticipated. Not to mention the brushy stuff that I was running over and scraping my legs on as I was flailing around trying to prevent myself from running into the next tree trunk.

Eventually I landed at the bottom of the bank. I ended up going onto the ice stunned and thinking that was one of the dumbest ideas I had in a long time. I haven’t gone sledding down the bank since. Too lazy to clear myself a path. Plus, I prefer the warmth of the house now. Not really appealing to go out into the cold and run into trees. Plus I don’t want to nurse scratches again. I was lucky I only got scratches.

So, yeah…if you sled, make sure you clear a spot in the forest!! Those trees are harder than they look.

Thanks for making my day…

TRIGGER: Talks about a toddler.

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally had enough coffee. Or that I had finally drug myself out of my bad mood…but earlier today I finally started to smile. And after the mood I got up in today, trust me, that’s a good thing!

Actually, I think it’s because of my meeting that I was in at the time. I was covering a county commission meeting, which is usually pretty dry. But today, a ray of sunshine walked in that door.

One of the speakers brought in his toddler son (chief binky man). He came in beaming and waving just full of life. I’m sure he’s not more than two years old. And he truly brought a smile to everybody’s face in the meeting — even on the faces of people who generally don’t smile this time of the morning.

Funny how a kid can turn the mood around. After exchanging several smiles and waves with the toddler, I realized he made my morning with his blonde hair, blue eyes and smile.

The point I’m trying to make is it doesn’t matter that I had to be at work early today. It doesn’t matter that it’s cold outside. It doesn’t matter what I have to get done. There’s beauty no matter where you go. It took the smile of this little boy that boy to remind me of that.

Lucky

Last night while walking my dog I was reminded of the power of nature. After two days of ice and rain, although our county was lucky, ice coated everything from trees, to grass to the power lines turning the world into a glistening icy wonderland.

It’s truly an eerie sound when you stand in your yard and you can hear the branches crackling. The crackle sound comes from the ice as the wind shifts the branches, cracking the ice. The sounds echo from tree to tree and you never know when or where a tree might snap. It’s not a fun sound as I look at my 3-pound poodle and realize I should avoid any area that has trees. Even a small branch would end in tragedy if they landed on her.

Once I got Mayiah safely inside I went back out to just stand, look and listen. The trees glistened in what remained of the day’s light. Even the bird feeders had icicles hanging from them. It was pretty and I made sure I snapped a few photos of the feeders. It was already too dark to photograph the trees.

Even today when the brunt of the storm is over, there is still a risk of power outages here. The ice is still on the trees and lines. If the wind comes up, branches will be snapped. It won’t be a pretty picture.

So, yeah, we were lucky. Other Kansans weren’t so lucky. Tens of thousands of people are without power and with temperatures in the 20s, it’s not pleasant to be out of power.

I have to commend our highway crews and city and county officials as I write this. They did a wonderful job keeping the roads passable and keeping the public informed. And they let me call them at 6 a.m. to ask about the weather. I am very appreciative of all their help.

Well, time to head to work now. The day started early and likely will end late. Another day. Another dollar. And hopefully no more ice.

Love for cemetaries

For my blog today I decided to visit the archives of my mind and step back into childhood…where my love for cemetaries began.

Yes, one may think this is a strange love. But there is a story behind it. Cemetaries to me have two sides: they are a place full of pain, loss and grief. But, they also are a place of peace, quiet and above all, a place of rest.

My love for cemeteries started with my mom. My mom, Pat, my brother, Dalton, and I used to visit cemeteries alot. Not necessarily because we were visiting anybody in particular, but because of the beauty they can hold.

There’s a cemetery in Wichita, Hillside Cemetery, that we spent a lot of time at. It’s a very old, well-developed cemetery. Our favorite places were the mausoleums and the old, very tall cedar trees that towered above them. The buildings were beautiful.

We used to go out to the older stones — the ones where you could no longer see who was represented by the lichen that was growing on the stones. This is where we would go with white paper and crayons and do rubbings. And all the sudden, most of the time, the person’s name and the date of their existence on this Earth appeared. They were given back their name. And for that moment a forgotten person was no longer forgotten. Of course, I didn’t think that deep about it as a child. But I sure do appreciate the memory now.

I don’t remember ever being afraid or “creeped” out about being in a cemetery…because mom taught us the other side of it. We did, however, learn how to respect cemeteries. To this day, I still have a hart time standing on the “wrong” side of the headstone. It’s just improper to me. I tread along headstones quietly, with reverence and with respect.

In some of my most stressful or painful times of life, I have retreated to a cemetery. I go there for the quiet. I go there peace. I go there to gain perspective.