Round and round the seasons. The blessings of a long life with my parents.

Round and round the seasons. The blessings of a long life with my parents.

I have always loved to sing. It’s an appreciation and a gift I received from my parents. I sang along with them at home, I sang in the church youth group, in my high school choirs, at the coffee house on my college campus. I sang to my sons until the pre-teen years abducted their appreciation of it.

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When I became a Pied Piper.

When I became a Pied Piper.

I’m the crotchety old lady who lives at the end of my street, peeking though her curtains and complaining when people disturb her.

Hmmm. Not quite right.

I’m the reclusive older neighbor who stays in for days at a time and only sneaks away for brief errands when no one is watching.

Nope. Not that either.

I’m the introverted 58 year old gardener in the brick house who relishes her solitude. 

OK. That’s better.

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I’m open to the possibility. Are you?

I’m open to the possibility. Are you?

When I looked out of the living room window the other day, I saw that my climbing hydrangea had buds. “Michael!” I yelled to my husband who was in the yard. I ran outside and dragged him over to look. Upon closer inspection, we saw five clusters of buds about to explode into starbursts of tiny white flowers. I had waited five years for this.

The next day, I was strolling around the back yard and again yelled to Michael to “come look!”  This time it was my yucca, a name that belies its stately spires of white flowers. In seven years, my yucca has graced me with this vision just once. As I pointed out to Michael the tall stalk rising up out of the scratchy foliage, I noticed two more blooms-to-be.

There’s more. If you’re not a gardener, stay with me here. There’s a deeper meaning to my garden eureka moments. At least that’s what I choose to believe.

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Glazing out the window.

Glazing out the window.

When we bought our second old house 11 years ago, it needed some serious TLC. The least of our problems was the broken window glass in the basement stairwell door, which I “temporarily” fixed with blue painters tape. Last week, I decided to do the job right.

I’d done a lot of old-house renovations over 30+ years. Replacing a window would be no biggie, I thought. 

Hah!

Here’s how it went:

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Parking lot prophecies.

Parking lot prophecies.

It was almost a year ago that I took a medical leave from my job. I expected to return to work in a month. Then the month became two months. Then three.

At that point, I didn’t know if I was physically capable of returning to work. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine not working. Age 57 is not exactly an ideal time to drop out of the workforce. And retirement wasn’t on my horizon yet.

Yet a nagging question bubbled at the edge of my consciousness: Do I really have the drive or the desire to go back to the rat race?

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How many selfies does it take?

How many selfies does it take?

A while ago, I blogged about my dislike for listicles and their prevalence on the internet. I wanted to include a photo of the face that I’m pretty sure I make when my news and social media feeds are overrun with listicle click-bait. 

The face is a kind of WTF look. 

I set out to capture that exact expression. In my mind’s eye, I could picture it. My facial muscle- memory could recreate it. I practiced in front of a mirror to be sure I had it right. Yup. Nailed it. 

Then I got my cell phone and snapped away. 

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My husband will hate this. But I'm doing it anyway.

My husband will hate this. But I'm doing it anyway.

My husband is not the attention-seeking kind of guy. In fact, when I mention him in my blog, he prefers to remain unnamed. 

When we first met in college, about 37 years ago, (when I was around 5, if my math is correct,) I called him Mike, as he was known by his friends.  After dating for about a year, he asked me to call him Michael, as he is known by his family. That’s when I knew we were getting serious.  

So the first thing he’ll hate about this is that you know his name - both of them.

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When earthworms saved my life. A true story.

When earthworms saved my life. A true story.

Last week, as I was taking a walk on a drizzly spring morning, I was attacked by earthworms.  No, they didn’t mug me.  And it wasn’t like a swarm of bees - they didn’t actually touch me.  Well, maybe the soles of my sneakers, but I gingerly tried to avoid that.  

No, I’m referring to the assault on my nose. The sidewalk was like opening day for earthworm little league and it stunk worse than a sweaty kid-crammed locker room.  Eau de Earthworm. You won’t find it at Macy’s. 

The odorous onslaught reminded me of my “earthworm story” that my sister has been begging me to tell, so here goes:

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When life is out of control, get in flow.

When life is out of control, get in flow.

Over the past weekend, I conquered my “Spring Exposure Syndrome” and spent some glorious time in the garden.  I haven’t worn shorts yet, though. They’re in storage in the attic and I’ve been too busy having fun outside to go digging around up there. 

One of my projects was to complete a dry stream-bed at the end of our driveway. Last year, I put this in to help redirect the flow of water downhill.  On Sunday, I bought some inexpensive bags of river stones and dumped them into place. The next day, I found myself on my hands and knees, arranging individual stones in the exact spot I wanted them. This is crazy, I thought.  One good storm or sweep of a rake and they’ll be all over.  But I persisted.

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Why spring makes me feel exposed.

Why spring makes me feel exposed.

How do you feel when you put on shorts for the first time in spring? 

I feel exposed, almost naked when the air hits my pasty white legs. The same when I put on a short sleeve shirt - I want to grab a jacket to cover up.  I can’t say it takes effort to step outside so lightly attired on the first nice day, but it requires conscious deliberation.

Likewise, although I’m an avid gardener, I have trouble getting myself into the thicket of my passion in the early spring.  Something about stepping out into the yard without the wrappings of winter-wear makes me feel vulnerable.  

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Coming unzipped.

Coming unzipped.

Last week, my husband Michael and I were putting fresh sheets on the bed.  He held up his pillowcase liner in one hand, a broken zipper head in the other hand, caught my eye, and we both doubled over in laughter.  I leaned over, supporting my upper body on the bed because I was laughing too hard to stand up.  Michael did the same, breaking out in a coughing fit like he does when he laughs uncontrollably.

I guess you had to be there.

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My inner youth has a thrill at the liquor store.

My inner youth has a thrill at the liquor store.

When I look in the mirror lately, there’s a curious older woman looking back.  She has grey hair at the roots, some wrinkles, and two age spots on her cheek.  Oh yeah that's me, I have to remind myself.  

Years ago, before the older woman showed up, when I was well into my 40s, I got carded at a grocery store.  Among the apples, eggs and a family pack of chicken pieces was beer for my husband. It was a day I didn’t have much makeup on, my hair pulled back in a ponytail. I even remember the red shirt I wore.

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As your child is carted away to be cut into: A scene from my memoir.

As your child is carted away to be cut into:  A scene from my memoir.

“I’ve been in those shoes - watching as your child is carted away to be cut into.”  

I wrote that recently in response to a fellow writer’s blog post about her son’s surgery. 

In my case, the carting and cutting happened when my son Matthew was 11.  It was after three years of increasingly odd behaviors and unsettling personality changes that left him, well, not Matthew.  

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Green milk. Eggs and ham optional.

Green milk.  Eggs and ham optional.

When I was little, my mom gave us kids green milk.  Not all the time, of course, just on St. Patrick’s Day.  

My mom is of Irish and German ancestry and my dad’s got Italian blood.  My mom wanted her children - all six of us - to appreciate our Irish heritage.  So on St. Patrick’s day, she put green food coloring in the milk for our morning cereal.

I don’t know about my siblings, but I loved it.  It made the whole day special.  School was more fun and even math was tolerable.  The morning ritual put excitement in the air like a brewing snow storm gives hope for a snow day.   

When I had my own children, I chose to carry on the tradition.

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The element of surprise bit me in the (fill in the blank).

The element of surprise bit me in the (fill in the blank).

I started about five different blog posts this week, but left each one dangling.  I couldn’t get them to gel.  I started writing about the sun in my office, how my husband always breaks zippers, putting green food coloring in milk, do-overs, and believe it or not, all the different words for “butt.”  

Yes, these are all legitimate blog topics and one day you will see the final version.  Well, maybe not the butt one, for reasons explained below, but it’s real, I swear.

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