On Squirrel Patrol…


Everyone loves my little dog, Hattie, and she loves everyone.  Well, everyone except the squirrels.  To rid our yard of squirrels is her mission, and she takes her mission very, very seriously.   Dogs need a job.  My sister’s Corgi, Penny, has the job of herding chickens. My neighbor’s dog, Leo, has the job of guarding. Hattie’s job is to make me happy…and to keep the squirrels at bay.


Squirrel patrol works like this:  The squirrels gather at the bird feeder and below.  One squirrel shakes the seed down.  The others call all their friends over for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Hattie watches.  When she spots the crowd, she takes off.  Heaven help her if she should ever actually catch a squirrel, although once, she came very close.  It surprised both of us.


My little dog, Hattie, is a rescue dog.  She rescued me from aloneness, which is very different from loneliness. She came to the “Hokey Pokey Clinic, where-I-turned-myself-around” six years ago, and she saved me. The theory is that dogs look like their owners.  If that is true, I am so fortunate to look like Hattie…happy.  She has done her job well.  Actually, she does both of them well.







On Weeding…


Call me crazy, but I like to weed.  On my own terms, but still…

A fine crop of weeds had grown up thanks to a fair amount of rain while I was in Wisconsin.  So the other evening, I pulled my camp stool out from under the house, and I got my weed digging tool, and I started in on the weeds that I had actually mowed earlier in the day.  They were thriving between the flagstones of my front path.


Okay, so perfect weeding conditions:  clear and sunny, a nice breeze, temps hovering mid-seventies, ground nice and soaked, but not muddy.  I had nearly all of those requirements met, and I got going.

Weeding is a mindless task.  It is quiet, except for the sounds of Mother Nature, and maybe a car or two passing by.  It is a job that demonstrates clearly the worker’s  accomplishment. 


It is an accomplishment that lasts, unlike dusting or making a meal.  The dust reappears almost within minutes.   The meal that took an hour or more to make is gone in twenty minutes, with a pile of dishes, pots and pans, and utensils left to be dealt with.  Weeding lasts, well, at least a week.

I like to think when I weed.  I think of all kinds of things…what materials to use with my tutoring kid, what my folks at the farm might be doing at that moment, upcoming visits from friends, what to wear tomorrow, what to eat for supper.

I weeded my front flagstone path.  I had most of my perfect conditions.  I could see clear results.  Call me crazy, but I like to weed.


(The green that remains is actually sedum, which I WANT to grow between the flags.)

Walking the track…


The sky was that crisp blue, Carolina blue, only it hovers in Wisconsin, too.  The air temp was 60 degrees (feels like 58), a nice breeze, a lovely summer morning.  I was walking the track. 


The track is a half mile oval race track on the folks’ farm, used for training horses for harness racing.  There are three race horses…Kenny, Nurse Jackie, and Vickie.  They are jogged everyday, with few exceptions.  Harness racing has been part of this family for at least three generations, maybe more.  Walkers shouldn’t be on the track when the horses are working, and they were already in the barn when I hit the gravel.  I try to walk every day, at least three laps, when I am here. 

That’s not what I was thinking about when I walked the track this morning, though.  I love this time and routine that I have developed on my visits.  Often, I say a rosary, and that is done in two laps…one rosary = one mile.  Good to know.  Often, I write this blog in my head.  Often, I plan for future projects, or just think.  Sometimes I make a phone call home.  Mostly, I just BE.

Track-walking time is pretty sacred.  I’m close to the soil, crops, the birds, and yet, I can look across the fields and see many changes.  When I arrived three weeks ago, the corn was just a few inches tall, and the beans had barely poked through the soil.  Now, the corn is knee high, and the beans’ rows are filled in.  The hay has been cut, baled, and is well on the way to the second cutting not too many weeks from now.  We’ve had heat, and good rains, and it’s cooled down to a couple of perfect weeks, too.


Next time I get to walk the track, it will be winter, and an entirely different experience.  I will still be close to the soil, though it will be frozen ground.  I’ll still be able to look across the fields and see the changes, probably snow-covered.  And I still will just BE.  I have to pinch myself sometimes to know this chance I have to experience this part of family and life is real for me.  And so, Amen.

Nobody Cares About my Spanx…


Horton Hears Herself

It was my 50th high school class reunion.  I know.  I can hardly believe it myself.  When I look in the mirror, I see someone much younger, someone more around the age of 35-ish, rather than someone eighteen…plus 50 years since graduation.  We were “the girls of the 50’s, stoned rock and rollers of the 60’s, and more than our names got changed as the 70’s slipped away,”  giving a nod to K.T. Oslin.  Of course her song is the essence of our youthful times, and not the reality for most of us.

I only went to my graduating high school one-and-a-half years.  That’s not long enough to form lifelong bonds, and yet I did…with a couple of friends with whom I roomed in college.  They are the kind of friends a person can be away from for years, and then meet up, and it be like two class…

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Summer Days…


One of my greatest joys of teaching was to read aloud to my students, and one of my favorite books to read aloud was Charlotte’s Web by E.B.White.  I must’ve read this book nearly thirty times in thirty-eight years, but my introduction to this story was hearing it read aloud myself.

I can still see the twenty-two year-old me in my first classroom, Spring, 1971, Spring Lake, North Carolina.  Most of my students’ daddies were serving in the Air Force or Army, many were Green Berets, in Vietnam. 

At the end of each day, fifth-graders all packed up and ready to leave, glaring overhead lights extinguished, I’d place the needle on the LP vinyl record from the school library, and we’d all be transported by the voice of Mr. E.B. White, his very own self.

My favorite chapter of this beloved book is called “Summer Days,” and this brings me to the point…I love summer days.

I love the early hours lightening up, and being able to sit outside in my jammies with my coffee and book as the day begins.  I love all the birdsongs.  I can’t get over all the different shades of green in the tree canopy.  I like the smell of fresh cut grass, the sturdy stems and vibrant colors of summer flowers.  I’m fascinated by the blue of the sky and the white of the clouds.

At Farmer’s Markets, I’m drawn to the activity, smells, colors of each booth, be it crafts or foods or living plants.  I could spend all day at a Farmer’s Market.


I welcome the warmth of the sun on my old skin, and the rolling breeze that keeps my own personal “air conditioning” system at work.  And counterpoint to that, I appreciate the ground-softening rains that help my weed pulling go more smoothly.  Oh.  I love orange Popsicles.

Yes.  Summer days.  Living them today makes me remember a fine, fine children’s classic.  I gave my copy to one of my grandkids.  I think it’s time for me to replace and re-read.  Maybe I’ll do that outside, my book and glass of wine, on these upcoming summer evenings.  I’ll revisit my old friends, Wilbur and Charlotte, as the day cools and the light sticks around a little longer.

How to Celebrate a Birthday…


Bora Bora is a beautiful place to celebrate a birthday.  I turned thirty on Bora Bora, and I was on my honeymoon.  ‘Nuff said about that one.  Another great place to birthday is the countryside of France in Normandy.  Oh, those hills and sheep pastures!  I was there on my sixtieth birthday.

I have to say, though, that my birthday this past Saturday, and the previous several birthdays have been the most gratifying of my life.  So, on thinking about how joyful and fulfilling a birthday can be, I have compiled some criteria.

First, be with people you love and who love you.  This year, I was with my folks and some of my sisters and brothers in southern Wisconsin.

Do something you love to do.  I went auctioning.  I love an auction.  I love the old stuff, the browsing, the hot dogs, and watching the people bid.  I love to bid, too, but I get nervous, and have a hard time following what’s happening.  Turned out, my sister and I bid against each other for the same item.  Everyone got a laugh out of that, and the auctioneer caught it, and forgave my higher bid.  (By the way, I got an awesome crocheted bedspread for $2.50 and a lovely clock for a dollar.)


Learn something new.  We met the folks at the old one-room schoolhouse in Cooksville, Wisconsin for a talk by a well-known author who told old stories of growing up in a rural community.  Then we had a sack lunch picnic under a tent on the Village Commons.

Celebrate.  All of us who could gathered at the farm in the late afternoon.  We ate pizza and carrot cake, drank wine, and solved the problems of the world, or at least tried to.  It’s a shame none of us are in charge, I tell you.  Assembled, were parents, sisters, a brother, an aunt, nieces, great-nephew, and all the significant others doing what we do best…being together and laughing.  It doesn’t get any better.


If you are an “embrace-the-birthday” kind of person, you probably already know the above formula.  If you are not, try it.  As a matter of fact, it’s a pretty great way to spend most days, birthday or not.

At the Scene of the Crime…


Yes, I was there.  Along with my sister.  Eye witnesses.

We were eating Chinese for lunch.  I was facing the door.  I watched a customer come in.  Here is my description:  Pregnant woman.  Wearing a puckery red, sleeveless top, with a ruffled neckline, and red, white, and blue chevron patterned loose-fitting pants, and also flip-flops.  Her hair was pulled up into a fountain-type style.  She had no chin.  (I know.  It’s a family flaw, to notice physical imperfections.  Sorry.  I’m not proud of it.)

All of a sudden, the pregnant lady was running out the door with the counter girl yelling, and pursuing her, “She took the tip jar! She’s taking the tip jar!”  A chase ensued, and I leaped up, ran to the door, and belatedly and futilely yelled, with great drama and triteness, “Stop her!”  The pregnant lady was fast in those flip-flops.

At that point, the get away car…a white Mustang convertible with a black rag top roared past, and sped out of sight, with loud mufflers and no visible plates.  Very Hollywood-ish, and dramatic, I must say.

Several people were outside, tapping on their phones.  One came into the store, and asked if the perp had a weapon.  (That got my attention.) No weapon.  The po-po arrived. (I got that term from my Madea watching.)  After a confab with the sis on whether we should leave, she approached the counter to  tell the policeman that I had a detailed description.  I gave my testimony, minus the missing chin, and we were outta there.

Point being…hang on to your purse.  The ones who want to get it are accomplished and fast!  Keep your eyes peeled.  And I hope that whole 15 bucks stolen were put to good use. Maybe for that baby coming in the not too distant future.  That might be the real crime.