Gratitude–

I got up this morning

In a warm and cozy house

While the breeze outside

Still chilled the morning air

I had a warm shower,

And took time to wash my hair

Day-to-day I take things for granted,

And it probably seems that I don’t care.

But I haven’t forgotten, that,

Although I am here,

You are there.

You serve somewhere for our country

Or you served there in the past.

And though you give so freely

I know you wish

Each war would be our last.

Today I am reminded

That peace is not at hand

And that at some point

You sacrificed

For this, our precious land.

You have my thanks and gratitude

Please let me shake your hand.

I’ll pray for peace and healing

Peace! Now wouldn’t that be grand!

I don’t usually write  poetry, but this is what was going through my head this morning, so I hope you’ll accept this for its sentiment.  There are many veterans and servicemen in our family and I am so proud to be related to each one of them that I decided to post it to express my gratitude to them as well as to all the servicemen that protect us.

 

 

 

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The Mackinaw

I remember the first day I met him, only because it was my first day in the office and I didn’t know what was expected of me.  The day I met him however, is very different from the day I noticed him. The day I noticed him came later.  He had just come from Hurricane Ridge where he had been preparing the slopes for the weekend skiers.  He wore a red plaid mackinaw wool coat and his prematurely silver hair was still damp from the mountain’s exposure.

He stood at the reception desk just outside my office so it was easy for me to scrutinize him without his knowledge.   He wiped the moisture from his glasses before the receptionist sent him in. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to work up on the mountain all alone isolated from everyone else.

I grew up in a warmer climate and I never learned to ski.  Knowing that he often spent hours up there grooming slopes and maintaining equipment made him seem a bit mysterious to me.  I could tell that he loved the job, even if he never admitted it.  He was so faithful to it.  It wasn’t unusual for him to slip into the office late in the afternoon,  to pick up payroll or payroll reports, just before we locked the door.  I’d quickly instruct him about deadlines for mailing whatever report was due and he would be on his way–at least in the beginning.

I’m not sure when I realized there was something important happening between us.  I should have been aware sooner than I was.  He’s a very observant sort of guy.  One day he came in to the office and I had my hands wrapped around my coffee cup to keep them warm.  That year at Christmas he gave me gloves.  I’m guess I am a little dense, because it wasn’t until many years later that I realized that was really a very personal gift.   Even the first bottle of perfume didn’t send up my sensors.

Had I noticed him?  You bet I had, but he was nice to everyone.   I figured I was just another bookkeeper to him.  And there’s a bit of an age difference so I didn’t expect him to pay any attention to me.

Then one day he took me out to lunch.  Of course he was wearing that red plaid coat.  I, in my isolated little world, thought of it as a business lunch.  And it wasn’t until several lunches later that I realized –oh, this is more than just a business lunch.

I hadn’t planned to ever marry again.  And for a long time, although I was attracted to him, I saw him more as an escort than anything else.  My job included membership in a number of professional organizations.  That meant there were often social functions to attend.  Social functions can feel pretty awkward if you always have to go alone.  At those times he traded the red wool coat for a sports jacket and he became a great escort.  Not only is he interesting and charming, but in the early days, nearly everyone in town either knew him from his work on the ski lifts or from his construction business. He often knew more of the people at the event than I did.   He is such a social person that I never had to wonder if he was having a good time.  He could and still can start a conversation with anyone, anywhere.

I can’t pinpoint when I realized I wanted more than an escort.  But I have to admit there is nothing like new love.  I will always cherish those early days.  Days when he would show up at the office at noon or at closing time with a couple of sandwiches from a deli or fast food restaurant and we would drive out to Ediz Hook and watch the waves bounce off of the rocks or watch the sea gulls fight for crumbs.  During the colder months he always wore that red plaid coat as we walked along the beach and talked.

There was a time when, in the mornings before work, we would meet for coffee at Birney’s.  In the winter it always made me smile when he came in wearing his red plaid coat.  We’d hold hands across the table while we read the newspaper and the time to go to work always came too soon.

For years winter months brought out that red plaid coat.  Our lives together have grown, but when he retired it was as if that coat retired too.  It seldom comes off the hanger now.  Every time I clean out the coat closet, I think, it takes up a lot of room, but it makes me smile.  And I can’t imagine not seeing it there when I open that closet door.

Three word Wednesday:  Faithful, isolate, scrutinize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I’ve Discovered

Three words for three word Wednesday:  Amplify. Criticize. Moan

I haven’t deserted you my friends.  I’ve had a problem with my arm that has limited some of my activities; writing was one of them.  I chose to use my writing energy to work on my novel.  I don’t plan to amplify my story of woe, or moan about the injustice of it all.  And I hope you won’t criticize me for my choice.  Now, my discoveries–

I have learned some interesting things these past three months.  One of them I found most interesting.  There seems to be a belief that a story with a woman protagonist is a story of interest only to women.

My novel has a female protagonist.  She is a forensic accountant.  In other words she investigates events such as embezzlement.  The accused is male.  I have been told that this will attract only female readers.  Personally I have more faith in men than that.  I believe that if it is well written, a story of ethical choices shrouded in a bit of mystery, will entertain men as well as women.

The second thing I have discovered is that women, of a certain age at least, are less likely to share their passions. They will tell you about their children’s and grandchildren’s lives, but not what their personal dreams are.  Why is that?

I have also discovered that if you share your passion with some of these women, they will find some way to scorn your dream as unattainable.  In the past I have let these things stifle my progress.  But for today I vow to ignore all of the naysayers and all of the critics.  Instead I plan to enjoy the writing process wherever it takes me.

The Farm

I know I have not posted much lately…more on that later.

I thought I would share with you the short memoir that I wrote and that J T Weaver generously posted on his site last month…here goes.

The Farm

There is a large two-story farmhouse that sits across State Route 50 from the little town of Avon, South Dakota.  Over the years it has been substantially remodeled and although it sits on its original foundation there is little about the house or property to remind me of the farm I remember from the 1950’s. My grandparents lived and farmed at this location for many years.

 “Working from sunrise to sunset” was not a cliché for them it was their way of life, their livelihood.  I was raised in the city so as a child I did not realize how hard they worked.  There were no three-week vacations for them; no nights in fancy hotels, just days of chores repeated over and over.  Electric lights and running water were their luxuries.

Early in the morning, sometimes before the sun was up, and again each evening, Grandpa lead his cows into the barn, lined them up in a row and secured their heads in stanchions.  The cows were content to eat the hay or chew their cud while Grandpa went about the milking. If we entered the barn before the milking started the smell of freshly tossed hay would tickle our noses and make us sneeze.  The cows however never seemed to mind.  They just stood there, swishing their tails back and forth like a row of metronomes, and started their daily chorus with a low rumble increasing volume until they reached their peak.  Then the volume would decrease before their mooing surged again.

Grandpa would grab a bucket and balance himself on his three-legged stool.  Then with hands made strong by daily labor he would manually extract the milk.  After emptying the pail into the separator he would move down the line until all of the cows were milked. Sometimes he let us try.  He would wrap his weathered hands around ours and gently squeeze until the milk flowed freely into the bucket.  When the milking was done Grandpa ran the milk through the separator and filled freshly washed quart jars, readying the milk for the daily customers.

Normally Grandma gathered the eggs, but occasionally she would hand us the big brown basket, the one filled with straw to cradle the eggs, and send us to the hen-house.  There was no harmony in the hen-house.  When we opened the door there was a flurry of squeaking and squawking and of wings beating.  Straw and feathers filled the air.  It was a good thing Mother always went with us because there was sure to be one old hen not willing to relinquish her eggs.  Mother would prod her gently until she flapped her wings in defeat.

Late in the afternoon, when the summer sun still baked the fields, Grandma might hand us the bucket from the counter in the kitchen and send us out to the pump.  Although pipes for City water had been extended under the highway and connected to the house and then to the faucet in the kitchen, my Grandparents still pumped their drinking water from the cistern on their east porch.  We would stand outside and pump and pump.  Then we’d say, “But Grandma it doesn’t work.”

Grandma would say, “Keep pumping.”

And suddenly “Splat,” the first splash of water would hit the pail.  We’d stop pumping and the water would stop running, so we’d pump some more.  When the water started to fill the pail we would pump and squeal with excitement not realizing we needed to stop before the water reached the top.  When the water reached the rim it gushed over the sides and slithered along the wooden porch until it found the openings between the slats.  Then it ran freely on to the ground below.  It always took at least two of us to transfer the pail from the porch back to its spot in the house.  Nothing ever tasted as good as a long cold drink of water drawn from a pail we had filled ourselves.

By the end of the day my Grandparents fell asleep early, worn out by their daily chores.  We, too, fell asleep early, worn out by our daily adventures.  But early the next morning when the light came through the window we crawled out of bed and tiptoed to the window.  We listened for the melody from the birds that lived in the big old tree that sat in the corner of the yard.

It is different now.  The hen-house was dismantled years ago.  The barn too, has been torn down.  There is no longer a faded red porch or water pump on the east side of the house.  Even the tree where birds used to sing has been removed from the yard.  It saddens me when I look at that spot, where once was a farm, an adventurous plot, for today there stands only–a house on a lot.

I Won’t beFirst in Line

During my childhood Thanksgiving Day was traditionally “Food, Family and Friends.”  On the News this morning they described it as traditionally “Food, Family and Football.”  Things change.  However, the report immediately following that comment disturbs me.  Retail outlets are moving their opening time and Black Friday (Pre Christmas) Sales even earlier on Thanksgiving Day than they did a year ago.  That makes me sad.  And it makes me angry.

It makes me sad that shoppers must abandon their families and friends to get what they hope will be the best deals.  They’ll  give up the opportunity to make precious Thanksgiving memories with their children and grandchildren to pursue their vision of finding the perfect Christmas gift on sale.  Shoppers will rush through meals, cut family visits short, and even forgo the traditional football game to be first in line at one retail outlet or another.  I guess “First” now replaces “Family, Friends and Food” as the Thanksgiving tradition.  I’m not angry with the shoppers.  I understand why they rush around and join the mobs.  But I am sad for them.

I am however, angry with the retailers.  How dare they intrude on a day that should be reserved for counting our blessings?  How dare they interrupt our family traditions?  How dare they add stress to our already busy holiday season?  How dare they encroach on the last few moments of our Thanksgiving holiday—perhaps the only peaceful moments of the day–when we might have a few moments to reflect on our blessings?

I’ll be fixing Thanksgiving Dinner for only two this holiday because we chose to avoid the chaos of being in motion this year.   I am sad that we will miss the interaction of our families, but I won’t miss the crowded airports or snow-covered mountain passes.  And although there are just the two of us, I can’t imagine spending any part of the day shopping.  Instead I’ll spend the day looking through photo albums and reliving the memories of Thanksgivings past and being grateful that I was blessed to grow up and to raise my children at a time when Black Friday sales didn’t start until Friday.

Happy Thanksgiving…and celebrate it however means the most to you.

Three word Wednesday:  vision, motion, peaceful.