Rites of Passage

This past weekend I jetted my way to San Diego to witness a rite of passage for my youngest granddaughter…high school graduation. Last week I enjoyed a similar experience with my oldest grandson as he too began a new journey into college. Rites of passage are launching pads for young people. Whether they are being pitched into the work environment, academic advancement through college studies, entering the military or taking a gap year to explore the world and all its wonders, it is a new beginning.

New beginnings give us second chances. A second chance to be better, to change attitudes, to become acquainted with the “real” world and all of its problems, speed bumps, rewards and excesses requiring the use of judgement and intelligent thinking to navigate the pitfalls along the way. In their journey, they will have successes and failures and the best we can hope for is that each of these will be learning experiences that will benefit them when they arrive at the next “new beginning”.

Some of us take the long road to reach an ultimate goal and some of us are more goal oriented and driven to pursue those dreams in the shortest period of time. And then some of us make mistakes that slow our journey. Whatever our path, reaching the end of each journey is a joyous occasion and cause for celebration. Balloons, flowers, leis, graduation cards stuffed with cash and filled with encouraging expressions for the future, celebratory food and drink, elaborately decorated sugary cakes, the clicking of many cameras recording the momentous occasion are planned and implemented as a reward for a job well done and an enticement to forge onward to the next life goal.

Goals may change for that is the fluidity of life. A child’s dreams build castles in the air only to become more focused when life itself may force the adjustment of life’s dreams. Most of my dreams have passed now. Many have been realized but a host of others remain unfulfilled. I am learning to accept that many of my dreams, wants, gotta haves may never be, but that really doesn’t matter anymore. I have sweet memories of the many rites of passages of my life and feel blessed to have had the plethora of my dreams reach fruition.

Dream on !!!!

 

 

Precious Cargo

Children are precious cargo. From conception to birth through years of learning and life shaping experiences, they are a great responsibility as well as the source of much joy. A poignant memory for me was my arrival home from the hospital with my first-born daughter. Everyone has Kodak moments in their lives. I vividly remember laying her gently on my bed to change her diaper and being overwhelmed with the enormity of the responsibility of it all. At that moment the thought that raced through my mind was …what I did would determine whether she lived or died. That was a heart stopping, brain exploding moment. I was young, barely eighteen, and the weight of that thought catapulted me into dedicating my every waking moment to giving her everything she would need to grow into the beautiful person she has become.  She was my world, my everything and from the moment she was born I could not envision my life without her, separated from her in any way.

So I find myself quite distraught, heartbroken and tearful imagining the suffering and pain that the parents must feel when they are separated from their children not knowing where they are, who might be comforting them or even if their basic needs are being met. What has America become when we are engaging in practices such as this, practices employed by Nazi Germany when families were torn apart and endured unspeakable atrocities and millions were gassed and burned in ovens, disposed of as trash. This didn’t happen over night. The steps to death, destruction, loss of freedoms are small ones. But cumulatively, they are earth shattering, life altering cataclysmic events.

Germany to give Holocaust victims pensions

Photographs taken by British troops on their arrival at Belsen concentration camp Photo: The Holocaust Centre
History will not be kind to the people who support this diabolical plan. Just as there were no excuses for following orders in Nazi Germany, if one doesn’t protest this inhumane practice, then you are part of the problem and as such will bear the same guilt when history comes calling. Silence is complicity! And there is a special place in Hell for the creators and enforcers of this horrible tRump policy.

What is Faith?

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Science or God’s palette?

Faith is a difficult entity to define. According to Webster, faith is “a belief and trust in and loyalty to God” or “a firm belief even in the absence of proof” or “complete confidence”. But how do we believe in something we can’t see? I have heard and thought that we can’t see the wind yet it exists as evidenced by the trees that sway as it passes or the feel of it on my face or skin. There are many things that I can’t see yet accept their existence. I have faith that the bridges I cross with my automobile will stand firm and erect without collapsing. I have faith when I board an airplane that it will get me to my destination. I had faith with every seed I ever sowed that it would spring forth from the earth and grow into a beautiful larkspur, zinnia or poppy.

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I want to have faith that the political nightmare America has been enduring will eventually come to an end. I want to have faith that laws apply equally to everyone and that the guilty will be punished for their transgressions. I want to have faith that America will survive this assault on our democracy, our Constitution and the Rule of Law. But as each day passes I find it more difficult. Perhaps I am just weary from worry.

Evidence of faith may be in the birth of a baby which in my entire nursing career never failed to move me to tears. Every single nanosecond of cell development has to go exactly right for a baby to be born with all working parts.  I have seen the miraculous disappearance of a cancerous tumor accepted as a result of fervent prayer when the actual scientific explanation may be misdiagnosis or an immune system that simply won a territorial battle.

A newborn baby wrapped in a hospital blanket crying in MiddletownPhoto by Tim Bish on Unsplash

Each of us may have experienced diminished faith at some point in our lives. I know I have had moments when I have questioned the presence of a higher power yet revert to prayer when I am seeking solace or help from an entity that many times seems capricious in his or her governance of our lives. I call these times a “crisis in faith”. I don’t want to think it, feel it, and I truly want to believe, but the pragmatist in me jumps up and down screaming the impossibility of a higher power. Yet I still cling to a hope that there is more than this.

But my brain will not comprehend nor accept a world where there are people who would deny healthcare or food to the poor, the elderly or children. A world where the color of your skin defines you. A world where men and women who give their all to protect and defend our country end up living homeless on the streets of what is supposed to be the greatest nation on our planet. A world where the top one percent own ninety-nine percent of the wealth and through that wealth, lobby elected officials to do their bidding rather than the will of the people they have sworn to protect, defend and serve. A world where bigotry and racism are allowed to flourish. A world where our children are no longer safe in their schools. A world where owning an assault rifle has more value than a human life. A world where children are ripped from their parents and placed in warehouses or in cages in processing centers.

But faith  leaps up in the form of high school students who refuse to accept that things can’t change and be better. With a small voice that has become a shout that will not be silenced, they have begun a movement that makes me believe that there may be hope for the return of sanity and decency to our world. And only history and time will tell us if America survives. Their road to change begins with one small step.

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Believe or not. The choice is yours.

 

 

 

Shorebird Etiquette

 

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Marbled Godwit

Shore birds are a delight and provide entertainment for beach wanderers just wanting to lounge in a beach chair listening to the surf, sipping a cold beverage and feeling the wind playfully dance across suntan oiled skin. Shorebirds were easy targets for me and my BFF when we first started birding…easy because they stayed relatively still or in sight allowing us to study and identify them.

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Least Tern

But shorebirds are usually out foraging for food and we would do well to remember that we are the visitors to their home territory and there are some rules that can make us good guests as well as protect the large variety of birds that make their home along the coast.

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American Oystercatcher

At the following link there are helpful hints to assure the bird’s safety as well as enhance enjoyment of their beauty and antics.

https://www.audubon.org/news/how-become-bird-friendly-beachgoer?ms=digital-eng-email-ea-x-20180523_shorebirds_medium&utm_source=ea&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20180523_shorebirds&utm_content=medium

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Black-bellied Plover

Enjoy!! And don’t forget the fried chicken!!!

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Long-billed Curlew

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Finding Peace and Comfort in What We Have

I recently visited Half-Price Books in search of some tomes on silk screening. In my younger years, one of my projects with the young girls in my girl scout troop, was silk screening and/or printmaking. Nearing my nursing retirement, I have turned to exploring ways to supplement my income doing some of the things I have loved and pursued my entire life…art is one of those many things. In my search for books on silk screening, I ran across a delightful, gotta-have-it book written by Australian Sibella Court and entitled “Etcetera etc, creating beautiful interiors with the things you love.” Her book was a reinforcement that it is time for me to let go of 40 years of a nursing career and reinvent myself in a different persona.

This book filled every one of my bibliomania quirks…earthy tones, crinkly paper, different types and weights of papers and packed full of beautiful photographs depicting the author’s design style using the many things she has loved and collected from childhood to adulthood. Things like shells, beads, paper, ribbons…using objects in new and different ways so when a new friend walks into her abode, they instantly have a sense of who she is, what she loves, interests she has pursued.

I have no “need” for additional things in the winter of my life. I have been drawn to certain objects throughout my entire existence and arranging and rearranging those things in new and different ways throughout my home, gives me a fresh perspective and renewed love of all of my treasures. Bird feathers, an abandoned bird nest, sand dollars, shells, carved birds, books galore, various papers, paint tubes, palettes, brushes, plants, walls covered with paintings, a mermaid vase, candles, empty clay pots, easels. A stroll throughout my living space gives insight into who I am as a person.

Just by adding a few empty two dollar Goodwill wooden frames to the three paintings already hanging on my living room wall, had me falling in love again with a portion of my living space. Walking through my front door became a fresh exciting experience. Using what I have in new and different ways is pleasurable and gives new appreciation for why those found objects were cherished in the first place.

I ponder the emotions that drive me to surround myself with things that appeal to me both visually and emotionally. I derive peace and feelings of well-being from having loved objects around me. My bed is often piled high with several books or other reading materials. Books close by, permitting me to reach for one, open it and enjoy reading excerpts as day by day I weave my way through their contents. Each cherished object brings with it a flood of memories…the bird nest discovered on a sidewalk outside Alamo Drafthouse when a girlfriend and I were going in for a movie; the giant brain coral I literally stumbled across when walking the rack line on a Matagorda beach; a funky vase purchased at a restaurant in Fredericksburg  where my daughter and I shared a sumptuous lunch; a giant pair of scissors that belonged to my Mother and each and every time I use them my memory takes me to the beauty of her hands; a baking stone thrust upon me by a sister so every loaf of bread that bakes itself on its hot surface carries a thought of her; a beautiful shell encased memory box filled with sweet memories from another sister and another wooden box filled with loving thoughts from a daughter; a Barack Obama coffee mug, a gift from a daughter who shared my passion for #44; postcards lounging in a woven basket on a coffee table, and birding and junk journals that sweep me into the past when I flip through their pages, overwhelming me with emotional memories of exciting times shared with people I dearly love.

Life is short. What a oxymoranic statement that is. I recently completed my 72nd trip around the sun and it has been a great ride! A long ride. I find myself being more nostalgic with each trip now. My memories of a life well spent are important. There is little doubt that my children will wonder why “Mom kept that silly fossil” or why some of my journals have pages missing leaving blanks in my story that they will never know which brings to mind one of my favorite movies of all time…The Bridges of Madison County… A story of a full life, unrequited love, regrets, successes and a myriad of moments turned into memories of a beautiful existence.

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Rent the movie, watch it if you haven’t, and live your life to the fullest!!!

 

Betty

Poolish

Last night I took the sour dough starter given to me by a friend and made my poolish in anticipation of making bread this morning. Each sour dough starter has a character all its own and today’s baking will determine if Betty is as good as Boris. Boris resides in my fridge with occasional feedings and regular use in the appearance of delicious loaves of bread. I imagine he is anxiously awaiting the verdict to know if he needs to worry about the competition.

My bread baking adventure continues and I have fallen into a routine of making bread most weekends for my own consumption or to share with friends and neighbors. So this morning I took the poolish from Betty and was pleased to see that overnight she had bubbled and foamed into a nice sourdough base. I added oil, salt and more flour to the poolish and after some vigorous kneading placed it in a bowl to rise while I went for a morning walk along Lady Bird Lake.

Mr. White-wing Dove
Cormorant and Mr. Turtle catching some rays
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Al Weiwei sculpture “Forever Bicycles” is made from 1200 bicycles.

When I returned, I popped Betty’s baby into the oven and an hour later had a beautiful loaf of sourdough bread. Taste delicious but not quite as sour as Boris. This loaf had a nice chewy crumb, but the outer crust was not hard and crackly.

Betty’s newborn

All in all a lovely Saturday morning filled with birds, art and bread baking!

 

Revisiting the Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk – Tests and Rewards

Boardwalk access off I35

A beautiful day in the neighborhood. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds, cool breezes so I was drawn to try out a new pair of walking shoes and test their mettle and my feet’s tolerance for their new boundaries. This walk would also be a test to see if the adjustments made to “Thumper” AKA my pacemaker would allow me to walk without jumping up to tachycardia rates.

The boardwalks around Lady Bird Lake are great for getting a walker up close and personal with nature. Lots of peeps out and about today jogging, walking, biking or just sauntering along like me and my friend.

My rewards for this day were shoes that worked well and feet that didn’t hurt in the least bit by the end of my adventure. My heart rate never went above 95 so booyah…success. And just as I was leaving the boardwalk and proceeding to the I35 walkway to head home, I spied a beautiful green heron stalking his lunch.

In the midst of concrete, tall buildings and heavy traffic, there exists a world of nature if we but only “see” what is around us.

Happy walking!!!