Categories
Family Pets

Tiger

“Arise from sleep, old cat,
And with great yawns and stretchings…
Amble out for love.” – Issa, Japanese Haiku

Here’s to Tiger, the gentle presence, the one who grew up alongside our family, our journeys combined. There is sadness in our hearts today. We will miss your sweet meows.

Categories
Good Life People

Reset

In general, I find it easy to focus on the good stuff, the warm, fluffy, happy notes in life. I started this blog as a means of doing so and sharing those moments with others.

I also believe in the value of honest observations. Life isn’t always smiley faces and puppy dogs. Sometimes, life contains disturbing and discouraging news, front and center, ominous and unsettling. In those moments, finding the good and keeping it in focus requires a conscious effort.

Not long ago, I learned of an organization called Alice’s Kids. They have a simple goal: making things better for kids, with the perspective that a little help goes a long way. They provide targeted donations through their partnership with teachers and social workers who make requests on behalf of the children they know. For example, a teacher might be aware that a child wants to join the school band, but the family can’t pay for the required uniform shoes. Alice’s Kids provides the teacher with the means to purchase the shoes, staying in the background and allowing the teacher to take care of the details so that the experience is personalized to the child.

The Alice’s Kids story starts with a woman, Alice Reilly Fitzsimmons, who always did her best to manage through difficult circumstances in her life. Sometimes, she’d scrape a few extra dollars together to buy her children something new, clothing or other items they couldn’t normally afford, thrilled to be able to create a special moment for her family. As she got older, she continued to do what she could for the people around her, small gifts of love and care. Her adult children’s memories of their childhood and their love and respect for their mother’s generous spirit inspired them to create Alice’s Kids.

In 2020, Alice’s Kids spent $265,440 to help 6005 children. This year, thanks to donors and increased awareness of Alice’s Kids mission, they’ve almost doubled their impact. If you’d like to know more about Alice’s story and how you can contribute to the work they do, please visit their website: https://aliceskids.org.

It’s unwise to live in denial, to pretend that troubling and sinister elements don’t exist in this world. We can’t allow ourselves to ignore reality. Organizations like Alice’s Kids, however, remind me that the good exists, always. That is what is most deserving of our time, our energy, and our rewards.

Here’s to the reset, the shift in focus from the painful to the positive, that helps us move forward.

Categories
Pets

Sleep

There’s a school of thought that it’s not a good idea to let your dog or your cat sleep on the bed with you.

There’s also my school of thought. The gentle weight of a loving pup, draped across your knees or over your feet, is Mother Nature’s Heated Blanket. A purring cat, curled up in the crook of your elbow, is Mother Nature’s White Noise Machine.

Here’s to a good night’s sleep.

Categories
Life People

Lobster

The National Today calendar tells me today is National Lobster Day. This reminds me of a video I saw recently about a lobster fisherwoman, Virginia Oliver.

Ms. Oliver lives in Maine. Along with her son, she fishes for lobsters three days a week from May through November. She first began fishing for lobster when she was a child, with her father.

It’s a nice family story, a tale of generations and traditions, the type of story that’s easy to enjoy. There’s more to it, however.

Ms. Oliver is 101 years old. Her son who fishes with her is 78.

If you ask her, Ms. Oliver makes it clear that she does what she does because she wants to, because it’s what makes her happy. Her response to the idea that she should stop? Laughter. Lobster fishing is hard work, sometimes dangerous, but she can’t imagine her life without it.

So yes, the story is about family and generations and traditions. It’s also about tenacity and perspective, with a little bit of good humor thrown in. It’s about not letting age define you, of paying less attention to the number of days behind or in front of you and more attention to the one you’re experiencing right now.

Living that way isn’t always easy and isn’t necessarily the right course of action in every situation. Still, it’s hard to argue with success.

Here’s to Ms. Oliver and her approach to life. May she have many more trips on the boat, out on the water, with her son by her side.


Categories
Life People

Photograph

Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it would be like if I had no photographs. No family pictures, no holiday photos, no moments in time captured forever in a two-second snap.

It wasn’t so long ago that photographs were a rarity. I have a few photos of my great-grandparents; one that is formal and posed, a scene from their wedding day, and a handful of others reflecting daily life with the family. I also have two or three of my great-great grandparents, but none from earlier generations. All together, the photos I have fit into one thin envelope and represent a tiny fraction of the days that my ancestors spent on this earth.

In contrast, my life and my children’s lives are captured in countless pictures. Halloween costumes, first days of school, family pets – chances are, there’s a photo somewhere. Even the ordinary moments -the ones around the breakfast table, or in a car, or on a sidewalk – none of them obviously noteworthy but still, at that time, calling to be captured, are available to me.

I’m glad to have these records. There are some that I truly treasure. I like the visual reminders of happy times and everyday life. I appreciate being able to see the people I love, at all the stages and days, especially those people who are no longer here.

I remind myself, however, that the lack of a photograph doesn’t mean the moments and the people didn’t exist. That, in fact, generations of people have lived full, complete, purposeful lives without photographic evidence of their days. I must be careful not to equate the ease of taking a picture, of grabbing an experience and making it repeatable anytime I want to see it again, with the value of what is contained in the photograph.

The moments that make up our lives – the laughter and tears, celebrations and failures, love and connections – are what is real. It doesn’t matter whether any of them are captured forever in a two-second snap.

Here’s to memories and the people within them. They are all meaningful, even when the proof is only in our hearts.

Categories
Family Good Life

Potential

My father loved going to garage and estate sales.

Most every weekend during the last few years of his life, he built his weekend schedule around his sale tours. Each time I visited him, he’d have something new to show me. Sometimes, it was a large item, such as a rug, or a painting, or a piece of furniture. Other times, it was less significant, a trinket or bauble that caught his eye.

He especially loved to collect fishing poles. When he died, he left behind two large racks of poles, everything from basic and new to those that were weathered and experienced, full of memories of water and fish and hours at the pier, or on the boat, or in the salty surf.

I don’t remember ever going to these sales with him. He preferred to shop alone; he had a plan and didn’t want to be distracted. Still, I enjoyed the tales of his discoveries. I shared his feelings of eager curiosity and optimism about what could be found. He saw these excursions as a treasure hunt of sorts, a means of discovering something useful and precious, sitting quietly unnoticed in the grass, or behind a door or on a shelf.

Yesterday, I stopped into a local resale shop. While not exactly the same as a garage or estate sale, it had a similar vibe. It was full of items with previous lives, things that once served a specific purpose elsewhere and were now ready and waiting to serve, once again, in new roles and environments. I walked through the aisles, stopping here and there as I noticed something interesting. Sometimes when I paused, I found myself holding my breath, just for a second; a heartbeat of anticipation and hope. I wasn’t standing in the midst of riches and jewels, but it felt like a treasure hunt just the same.

Here’s to the things that once belonged, the pieces with memories and the still-useful items, and the potential of discovery on a Saturday afternoon.

Categories
Food Fun

Cookies

I dreamt of cookies last night.

Some of them were chocolate chip, others were sugar with sprinkles on top. They were being offered to me, on a plate, by somebody. I don’t remember who. As with most dreams, many of the details disappeared as soon as I opened my eyes, leaving me with bits and pieces, fragments of feelings and images.

I do remember that I ate some of the cookies. I also remember saying, “These are delicious.” I don’t actually remember the taste of them, but I rarely meet an un-delicious cookie when I’m awake. So, the odds are good that my dream cookies were, in fact, delicious.

It was a nice dream. Even nicer, when I went to make the coffee this morning, I remembered that we have cookies here, in the kitchen. They’re sitting in a box, on the kitchen counter, waiting for action.

Here’s to making dreams come true.

Categories
Entertainment Family Good

Familiar

Why, yes…yes, I was a bit emotional after watching the video that Steve from Blue’s Clue’s posted yesterday. I’ve tried to find a link to post, but it seems they’re all connected to a news report or a tweet. If you’re curious, a quick internet search will give you viewing options.

When my eldest son was a little bitty boy, we shared the fun of watching Blue and Steve on their adventures. My son adored the show. I admit that I did, as well.

As with most childhood magic, however, he eventually outgrew it. So, it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about the handy dandy notebook and Mailbox and Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper and all the rest of the friends in Blue’s world.

Then yesterday, Steve’s video appeared. It all came back, the songs and the games and my tiny little boy, dancing and singing and playing along.

Here’s to lovely memories and the sweet comfort of the familiar.

Categories
Animals Good People

Butterball

Yesterday, I saw a news story about a woman, Sunflower Ladd, who took care of an abandoned baby squirrel after a storm. She fed it, and cuddled it, and kept it safe and warm. She named it Butterball.

Eventually, Butterball grew up, and Sunflower released it back into the wild. She figured she wouldn’t see much of Butterball ever again; after all, being a squirrel, Butterball had the life of a squirrel to live.

However, Butterball stuck around. The squirrel life is happening, but Butterball routinely comes back to visit Sunflower. Butterball and Sunflower remained friends, and that friendship continues today.

In the news story, Sunflower says, “Anything that you care for, you will develop a love for.” She also notes that, if that type of bond can exist between a human and a squirrel, creatures with worlds of differences between them, it can also exist between people…if we choose to make it happen.

Here’s to Sunflower and Butterball, their sweet (but improbable) friendship, and their simple lesson of love.

https://www.wfaa.com/article/features/the-squirrel-that-keeps-coming-back-unexpected-friendship-brings-hope-for-dallas-woman/287-b320d672-ae04-4976-943c-514c273e4600

Categories
Entertainment Life

Answers

Tonight, all will be revealed. Maybe.

I, like many others, have been watching Mare of Easttown. The finale is tonight, and all signs point toward a riveting episode.

We’ve already gotten some answers; it turns out there are more than a few questions in Mare’s world. The seemingly most complicated one, however, remains unsolved. For now.

Even if we have the answers, I can’t help but wonder whether that will truly be the end of the case. The way things have been set up, and the way things have played out so far, suggests that a nice, neat ending isn’t guaranteed.

But then, that’s one of the reasons I like the show. It’s real. It’s unpredictable. It’s believable.

Sometimes, life gives simple, obvious answers. And sometimes, it leaves as many questions at the end as there were at the beginning. Different ones, perhaps, based on what’s been learned or what has happened. But not fewer.

I do have my theory, suspicions about certain characters and their involvement in the mystery. I hope we get closure on the actual whodunnit tonight.

If we’re left with new questions, however, the kind that require us to look within ourselves to find the answers – or, alternatively, to admit that we don’t have them – that would be okay. That would be in keeping with the story itself.

Here’s to Mare and the people of Easttown. Thank you for giving us an interesting, gritty, suspenseful, emotional ride, along with most (but maybe not all) of the answers.