July 13, 2024 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: , ,

My windows are scheduled to be replaced at the end of the month. I’ve been cleaning up neglected shrubs to make sure the installers can easily reach everything. In particular, some junipers under my dining room window got overgrown by a large yew that I didn’t cut back for several years because, like most people, I was feeling blah during the pandemic and wasn’t motivated to do much in the yard. The junipers died, and now I’ve removed them, leaving a bare window and mossy bricks that need a good scrubbing.

Photo of a window in a brick wall with bare ground under it.

After the new windows have been installed, I plan to have a landscaper put in more junipers this fall, and hopefully I’ll take better care of them going forward. For now, though, the area in front of my dining room is nothing but clear ground, open to possibilities, which leaves me feeling happier—as if I’ve made space to welcome unexpected blessings.

During my workday, I watched a video about creating prompts for artificial intelligence. I wore headphones so as not to disturb my husband, who shares the home office with me. The video had some amusing moments, and at one point I laughed out loud. My husband looked over and smiled.

Later in the day, I noticed that my Garmin tracker showed two long restful periods while I was working. I mentioned that to my husband because it was unusual. He said that watching a good presentation must have left me feeling more relaxed than usual. The first restful period was indeed the time when I watched the video, so he was right about that. I hadn’t realized it made so much difference!

Word-art that says, "Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing." -Jarod Kintz

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

My husband and I went for a good easy row yesterday afternoon before grilling hamburgers at the rowing club’s annual picnic. The boathouse is located close to downtown Dayton, so we have a great view of the City of Dayton fireworks, which were on July 3rd this year. Volunteers had put down fresh gravel between the boathouse and the dock just last month, which made a good surface to put down our sports chairs and watch the show. Fun for everyone!

Word-art with fireworks that says, "Wishing you a sparkling 4th of July filled with pride, honor and lots of fun!"

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

All parts of this story are consolidated on one page here.

Nellie stopped in mid-screech when she got close enough to see her daughter’s slack, unconscious face and the bloodstains on the child’s torn skirt. The rolling pin that she had been brandishing fell from her hand, landing with a dull thud on the wet ground. Next to it, a cobweb quivered atop the grass, catching the light in spiraling reflections.

Photo of a spiderweb in wet grass.

(Photo credit: Liz West)

Going down to her knees, Nellie raised Mabel’s skirt just enough to see the large scar that had not been there earlier, from an injury that could have been healed only by magic. She shook her head twice slowly, as if dazed, and then lifted her head and met Ina’s eyes.

“Did you…”

Nellie’s speech trailed off raggedly, as she mustered the courage to go on. She bit her lip and tried again, her voice so faint that Ina, standing a few paces away, could barely hear her words.

“Did you bring her back from the dead?”

Ina took a step closer and replied just as quietly. Although Mabel did not yet appear to be regaining consciousness, it was possible she might hear, and Ina did not want to frighten her.

“No. But it was close.”

Biting her lip even harder, until a drop of blood could be seen, Nellie lowered her gaze again. Her face had gone paler than the child’s as she watched the slow rise and fall of Mabel’s chest. She gathered the little girl into her arms and rose to stand.

Only then, glancing warily back and forth from Ina to her house like a frightened animal getting ready to bolt to its den, did Nellie appear to take in the details of Ina’s bare, scratched feet and sopping wet dress.

“If you, uh, want,” Nellie stammered, her bitten lip twitching as she looked into Ina’s eyes again, “there’s hot tea in the house—I was brewing it just now—and fresh scones. I have a clean dress that you can put on until yours is dry, and ointment and bandages for your feet.”

While that wasn’t an apology or even a wholehearted invitation, Ina supposed it was the best she could expect, given Nellie’s fear of witches. Even if begrudging, it was an offer of hospitality, and it felt like one that should be accepted. Although she couldn’t have explained why, Ina had a sense that there was something more she needed to do here.

This morning, I got stressed because I felt that I had been unfairly criticized. After having some time to reflect on what happened, I decided it would be useful to give myself a friendly reminder not to get overly upset by other people’s reactions, which often aren’t really about me at all.

Word-art that says, "Friendly reminder that you have zero control over how other people perceive you, so you might as well just be the person you want to be."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

June 27, 2024 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

My husband’s new toy is a mini trailer for our rowing boats, and we used it traveling to a regatta in Oklahoma City last weekend, which was a lot of fun. We parked it at the venue when we arrived on Friday, taking our boats down for a practice row. On Saturday, we rowed the standard Masters sprints 1K distance in the morning, and then we did a 500-meter dash in the evening. It was nearly sunset, and we decorated the boat with glow sticks matching our colorful unisuits, in addition to the usual safety lights. Then we put the glow sticks around our necks when we stepped up on the awards podium.

Our dash was the last event, and fireworks were going off as we derigged our double and put it back on the trailer. My husband had planned the trip well, finding an Airbnb with a long driveway where the trailer could be kept overnight. I took a photo Sunday morning as we were getting ready to leave.

Photo of a small boat trailer hooked up to an SUV.

I don’t have a “Travel” tag on this blog because the vast majority of our travels are to rowing regattas, so I thought it would be duplicative of the “Rowing” tag. For this post, though, I decided a “Places” tag would be appropriate because I’ve been thinking about the imprints left on us by the places we visit. After returning home from a trip, sometimes I wake up and still have the spatial map of the hotel or Airbnb in my head, and it takes me a minute to reorient myself to being in my own house.

Earlier this year I read the classic novel “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier. The narrator carefully observes the small details of her surroundings, while feeling haunted by thoughts that each moment is soon lost forever. I vaguely remember starting to read it when I was in high school, but I never got through it because I didn’t have enough life experience to make sense of what the author was saying. The past didn’t feel lost to me; it was just a little farther away than the present. Now, I have more understanding of how fleeting the moment is. But, even so, I still don’t look upon the past as having been lost. There’s always space for something new and fun to replace each moment.

I’m traveling on a road trip with my husband, leaving Wednesday evening, so I’ve scheduled this post in advance. I like the quote, and although (being honest) there isn’t much chance I’ll wake at dawn, it should be good enough to schedule the post for dawn, anyway.

Word-art that says, "Wake at dawn with a joyful heart and give thanks for another day of loving." -Kahlil Gibran

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

My next-door neighbor has been putting down mulch this week, and she offered to give me whatever was left over from the pile in her driveway. That might have been a roundabout comment on the less-than-perfect condition of my front yard. Although I took good care of the roses behind the house this year, and they look great, I can’t say the same of the neglected shrubs in front.

I spent some time cutting them back this evening, however, and they’re starting to look better—not perfect, but that is okay. It’s just what happens in real life.

Word-art that says, "You were born to be real, not to be perfect."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”

My daughter sent me a text message on Monday with a photo of an incomplete Sudoku puzzle. She told me she’d gotten stumped, and she asked if I could see anything more to put in.

Photo of a Sudoku puzzle in progress.

I looked at it for a few minutes and replied that the fourth number in the first column had to be a 7 because the other open spaces in the fourth row couldn’t be.

Although this was a very simple conversation, it left me feeling much more cheerful. At first, I wasn’t sure why. She lives close enough to visit often, and she had sent several other texts over the past week, so it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary.

Then I started thinking about conversations I’d had with my parents. I generally didn’t ask for help with simple things because I felt they might judge me for not being self-reliant enough. Perhaps they weren’t overly critical by the standards of their time; but I got the distinct message that I was expected to do for myself, muddling through as best I could. Asking for a hint with a puzzle, however stumped I might have been, wouldn’t even have occurred to me.

By contrast, my daughter was perfectly comfortable about sharing her Sudoku and saying she hadn’t been able to solve it, without feeling at all self-conscious—and that was what made me smile.

Instead of writing this post early in the day, I went out to get my hair done and left it for later. When I came home, I just sat down at my desk and got back to my work. Then I started chatting with my husband, and we went down to the river to do our rowing workout. By the time we got back to the house, it was past sunset, and I still had to take a shower and cook dinner, so this post didn’t get written until the end of the day.

When I thought about what to write, leaving things for later seemed like just the right topic!

Word-art that says, "Don't leave anything for later. Later, the coffee gets cold. Later, you lose interest. Later, the day turns into night. Later, people grow up. Later, people grow old. Later, life goes by. Later, you regret not doing something when you had the chance."

Nurturing Thursday was started by Becca Givens and seeks to encourage self-nurturing and to “give the planet a much needed shot of fun, support and positive energy.”