“Two Years In”

Cupcake with Two Candles

I started this blog two years ago without any idea of what would happen with it. From the beginning, I disregarded the advice that I focus on one theme, promote myself through other social media, and aim for a large number of followers. Instead, I began to use my blog to share my thoughts, my recollections and my observations on a wide variety of topics. Over the two years my posts have included dogs, children, politics, religion, loss, childhood and the “olden days.”

Much to my amazement, many people from all over the world have read my posts over the last two years. In fact, at one time or another, I have been read by people in ninety nine countries, including a couple I have had to locate on a map. I had no idea that my words could ever travel much farther than I ever will. As a result, I began to follow writers from around the world. This expanded my view of life as I discovered common concerns and interests shared around the world. My country’s politics receded in importance, and I began to follow other news from new places.

Most gratifying, I have found a level of kindness and civility wherever I connect through my blog. Unlike the scathing, nasty comments so prevalent on many web sites, mine are thoughtful. Perhaps this is because I moderate my comments, but I also find this level of civility on other blogs that allow comments to be freely posted. Yes, I have had a few scammers, but not so many that I have despaired.

So I take a minute to thank all of you who have read any of my thoughts. And thank you to everyone who writes. My life has been abundantly blessed by you all.

“Dog Days of Summer”

C9D5CDEF-5410-4E8C-8F30-FB95CEABF9FE

I realize that this picture makes our dog look weird, but she is fine, just chewing on an ice cube, part of which is next to her head. At the moment she is obsessed with ice cubes. She recognizes when I get a glass out of the cupboard and runs for the ice she is sure to follow. She can be upstairs and hear me in the downstairs kitchen and she comes running. I am unclear why ice satisfies her so much, but it is certainly cheaper and less waistline expanding than dog treats.

I am not sure why these are called “dog days.” Around here, every day is a dog day. As far as our dog is concerned, we are her little flock of two and it is her job to keep track of us. I talked about getting a puppy several months ago, and ever since she has followed one or both of us from room to room. I think she is not too subtly suggesting that she is more than enough. Who needs another dog?

My husband works four days a week and likes to sleep in on his day off. This causes our dog some concern and she will poke and lick him hoping he will get up at his usual time. I have to remember to shut the door to the bedroom so he can sleep. Then our dog lies down outside the bedroom door awaiting his appearance. She stays there until he gets up.

Unless she hears the freezer door open!

“Whimsy”

C222CB0B-BD58-41CA-8A50-F1529F500C4C

This little Maine fisherman spins his oars and turns around in his little boat whenever the wind blows. He adds a touch of amusement to our yard. You may also be able to see a little yellow cottage with green shutters in the far background of the yard. This playhouse served to entertain our grandkids when they were little, but I had bought it before their births because I had always wanted a playhouse. On top of our garage is a weather vane of a cow. Why? Because my husband loves cows.

Our yard will never be part of one of those pay to look at other peoples’ gardens tours. It wasn’t designed by a landscape architect, nor will in be featured in Better Homes and Gardens. Instead it displays both my husband’s love of perennials and berries, my love of annuals and both of our affection for the whimsical.

The little fisherman makes me laugh as he reminds me of myself on many days, rowing and rowing and going nowhere but in circles. The playhouse healed a long ago childhood wound and we call it a “garden shed” for those who would never understand. The cow spins around looking for the barn so he can come in out of the rain. We simply love our yard!

“In the Good Old Summertime”

ba4b7ebb-1f1e-49f3-8769-94bdaa53e8ac.jpeg

My grandparents had a porch swing in their backyard in the country. I always wanted one for our home. Finally I was able two years ago to find one study enough to last more than a season. Our neighborhood is littered with falling apart porch swings, casualties of New England winters. This one lost it first canopy to an unusually early heavy snowfall before we had brought the canvas inside. I found this replacement one and remember to take it and the cushions in before bad weather.

I had an idyllic fantasy of sitting on the swing having deep heart to hearts with my grandchildren. One of them prefers to chin himself on one of the support beams.(Good thing it’s sturdy.) The other doesn’t like to sit still having heart to hearts. The one time I suggested it to her, she looked at me quizzically. “Is that what you did with your grandmother?” Well, no. Come to think of it, my grandmother was so tired in the evening after being surrounded by the four of us she just wanted to sit.

It welcomes me when I sit down, gently swing and continue deep heart to hearts. With myself!

“Hand Me Downs”

3499B91D-9090-45A3-886B-BE03A5721CF9.jpeg

A couple of times a year a large cardboard barrel would arrive at our home filled with clothes our cousins had outgrown. The three of them were a little older than the oldest three of us, so the clothing would often fit. When I look at old photos, I often recognize that my outfit was a hand me down. Wearing my cousin’s old clothes probably wasn’t my first choice, but it was how things were and I accepted it.

However, I am increasingly aware of beliefs, ideas, and opinions that I carry around that are similar hand me downs from earlier people in my family. Most recently we took money from our savings account to pay for home repairs. I found that I felt as though I was violating some rule, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out which. We save money specifically to be able to cover unexpected expenses. On a rational level, I shouldn’t have had a problem.

Since this situation had frequently troubled me in the past, I took a little time to explore what was going on apparently at a subconscious level. I had a very clear memory of my father putting the savings account proudly in his dresser drawer. I had learned that saving is a positive activity. However, no matter what, my father never took money out of savings! I had acquired a hand me down notion that savings should never be touched.

It’s obvious when hand me down clothes no longer fit. It is much harder for me to see what hand me down beliefs are no longer useful. I’m retiring the one about savings since it isn’t a good fit for me. I now wonder what other outgrown ideas I am still holding onto without knowing it. I’m open to learning, no matter how long I’ve held them. And since I’m 71, that may have been a long, long time!

“Complementary Colors”

2B80440A-FFB6-40BF-B842-2C83603845E4

Stepping out of my back door this morning, I was stunned by the beauty of the red hollyhocks backed by newly opened sunflowers. This variety of hollyhock has certainly proved to be a winner for us after having tried several other varieties. Now if I could only remember what they were called!

Of course, you can see a bit of the white picket fence and the brick walkway, both built by my husband from salvaged materials. He scrounges derelict buildings for bricks and timber. He built our grape arbor with a rescued chestnut beam from a torn down house.  I have seen old bricks for sale for inflated prices, but he has picked ours up here and there for free. I joke that when I see a building being knocked down, I immediately wonder what he might find there.

Summer has arrived in full force. Kids are walking by our house on their way to the town swimming pool a few blocks away. It’s free, clean and safely tended by a team of patient lifeguards. The ice cream truck drives by at least once a day, still playing “Turkey in The Straw” on its loud speakers. I had hoped that they might substitute another tune this year, but no such luck. Random fire crackers left over from the fourth of July sound in the evening. A few fireflies light up the yard. It’s a fleeting season in New England, but one with many small joys.

 

“Blueberry Bounty”

6819AEBC-40A1-4F69-AAF2-28C903F1E4ED.jpeg

My husband’s blueberry barricade constructed to keep the birds away from the berries has succeeded beyond his best dreams. So far he has only removed three birds from the enclosure. Previously, in his less fortress like structure, he would bird whisper about one a day out of the enclosure.

The weather has supported the abundance by not raining and splitting any of the huge ripe berries. The pine straw he gathers each fall and spreads beneath the plants both amplifies the acidic soil blueberries love and holds in moisture when he waters. Each evening after work he has picked at least one large bowlful of berries. He uses no pesticides or herbicides, so he is able to freeze them without washing. Spreading them out in a layer on a cookie sheet, he sets them in the freezer until hard. Then he packages them in little plastic freezer bags.

His reward extends through the rest of the year. Bringing one little bag of berries up each weekend, he stirs them into his oatmeal or pancakes. I prefer them mixed with unflavored Greek yogurt and am always glad he shares them so generously. Our yard yields another fruit which is at home in New England. I am again grateful.