Birthday thoughts


Old tree sways in wind

Surviving by adapting

Just goes with the flow


I took a walk on the bike path today, when a hint of autumn was in the air. Stopping to admire the view of the ravine, I followed the trunk of one tree up, up, up and watched the top of this obviously old tree sway in the breeze. The whole tree, actually, moved with the wind, adapting to its direction.

And I thought of how this old tree could still adjust to changes. Indeed, had to, in order to survive. there’s a lesson there for me, as another birthday draws near.

Adjust, adapt, survive.




Family portrait

With churning waves as backdrop

Quite a memory!



Over a ways from where I am sitting on the beach, a man is posing his family for a portrait. His camera’s on a tripod in the sand and they all stand with their backs to the sea. The waves are raging today, white caps crashing onto shore, the churned-up sediment turning the water as brown as the sand.

What a memory that photo will be!  Years from now, when it’s posted on the wall of one of the children’s homes, they’ll point at it, remembering this day, when they were all so young and summer was at an end.

Daddy, perhaps, was the parent who wanted one more trip to the beach before school began, so even though the temperature was cool and the wind was strong, down they’d come. Of course, as kids, they’d been impervious to cold and had spent hours running along at the edge of the water, their high, thin voices lost in the deafening roar of the waves.

And then, Daddy had made them all stand still, their ceaseless motion on pause, for just the time it took to gather, to smile, to sprint away again, back down the sand.

Silly Daddy and his pictures, they may have thought. But one day, they will thank God for Daddy and his pictures. Thank God for the memory of that lovely–this lovely–September day.



The Big Eclipse

Where will sun be

On Monday, for the eclipse?

I’ll watch from the sand.


After all the lead-up and breathless anticipation, all the mad scrambling for solar glasses and the day off, it was finally August 21, 2017 and time for a solar eclipse as hadn’t been seen in nearly 100 years.

My plan was to hit the beach with my husband for the duration. The sun would be nearly directly overhead and we would be ready with glasses, sunscreen, something cold to drink and our wonderful dog to keep us company.

Of course, it didn’t turn out that way. We left our old doggy home, napping, and had a nice lunch al fresco as the eclipse got underway, under clouds!

Holding up my solar glasses, I’d say, “There it is! Oh, now it’s gone. No, wait–” as clouds scudded by. Before we were done eating, though, the clouds had mostly cleared and it seemed we’d be in for a show.

We went to a park close by, where the Frisbee golf course made a big open space. Other families were already there, with picnic lunches on colorful tablecloths and dogs on the Frisbee course. One couple lay side by side on the back of their car, motionless as statues, their solar glasses in place.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the moon moved into position. The breeze picked up and the temperature dropped, not things that would normally bring an exclamation from me, but they did that day. I knew from the program I’d attended at the library a week earlier that here in Milwaukee the eclipse would be blocking 83% of the sun. Even a mere 17% sunshine would keep the day bright and, indeed, the skies only dimmed, as if a storm were approaching. But that didn’t impact the spectacle of the moon’s motion for me.

The last time this event took place, 1918, my grandmother was eight years old. I think that’s the definition of once-in-a-lifetime. And yet they say we’ll have other eclipses in 2024 and 2045, so perhaps not.

I am so glad I took a vacation day for this amazing event. Neal and I had a wonderful afternoon there, under both sun and moon, sharing the phenomenon with everyone everywhere at once, or so it seemed.

Thank you, Universe, for two and a half minutes I’ll remember, forever.

The Clock Ticks

Time with family
Precious and too limited
By our busy lives

I think of it as a hazard of modern life, this overbooking, overlapping, overscheduling, but perhaps it’s always been a challenge to fit in a social life.

Facebook is super for helping me stay up to date with people, one post at a time, but sometimes I want more than that.

“Let’s do lunch”, I write in Christmas cards and a year late I write it again, with no lunch date in between.

That’s no good.

The only thing that works, I’ve found, is to regularly schedule events, i.e. “the last Wednesday of every month”, etc. Or to start scheduling a get-together several months out.

Some cousins and I take at least two months to find a date that will fit us all and that date is usually two more months off! Still, it’s a way to ensure we see each other now and then. (And writing this is reminding me, it’s past time to begin planning our next brunch.)

When I was in 5th grade, our teacher told us, “Every year of your life will go faster” and I remember thinking that couldn’t possibly be true.  But, of course, it is.

So let’s pull up our calendars right this minute, to book some time with someone special. There’s not a moment to lose!

Man on the Moon

Image result


Haiku for you:
Dad called us from play
“Come see this! It’s history!”
When man walked on moon


I was ten years old that summer day. In my  memory, it was Sunday, because Gramma was over and she came every Sunday. On the front lawn, we kids were engaged in a rousing game of Tag or Captain Sneak Up or Statues when the front door opened and Dad stepped quickly onto the porch.

“Kids! Come in here!” he said in an excited voice. “You have to see this. It’s history!”

It had to really be something, judging by his tone, so we hurried on into the living room to the television.

Ant there we saw Neil Armstrong’s first step onto the surface of the moon.  We heard him say that wonderful line, “one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

I’ll always be grateful Dad made sure we didn’t miss such a magical moment in time.

Of course, when you’re a kid, there are lots of magical moments, so why wouldn’t a man be able to walk on the moon? Anything seems possible, when you’re a kid. Pirate, princess, arctic explorer, astronaut. Why not?

When you are ten, the world is full of wonders and, sometimes, like this time, they’re real.

Summer reading

Yesterday, I re-read Phyllis Whitney’s “Feather on the Moon”. She has always been one of my favorite authors and was an inspiration who made me want to try writing on my own. This book, like all of her titles, drew me in from the very first page, taught me something about the setting (Victoria, BC), and an art form (totem pole carving), and told a wonderful, intriguing story–all in under 300 pages. Lucky for me, she was very prolific, so I have dozens of other novels to revisit. This summer I plan to read a vintage mystery then a contemporary, repeat, repeat, repeat!

In the middle of May, Mama Duck constructed a cozy nest just a few feet from the library’s front entrance and even fewer feet from construction . Every day, she laid another egg until there were nine. Then, she settled in to wait.
One month later, nearly every egg hatched into seven tiny, adorable ducklings. We knew it wouldn’t be long before they would be leaving us for water. Wanting to be sure Mama and her family got where they were going, across busy streets, over curbs and around sewer grates, we decided the minute Mama set off with the babies, a few staff members would trail along.
Police responded quickly to our call to stop traffic. It made a delightful scene, seeing the caravan of ducks toddling across the busy road while all the humans waited patiently. Then, it was a slow and meandering path to the park.
A storm was coming and a big gust of wind knocked the babies down like bowling pins, but they soon righted themselves and got back in formation.
It was raining in earnest as Mama made a (relatively) quick beeline across the baseball diamond and over the grass to the edge of the lagoon. She jumped straight into the water, and every little duckling fearlessly jumped in, too. Then they swam away, still in their tidy line, safely arrived at their destination.
If this were a children’s storybook, this last sentence would read, “and they lived happily ever after”.