play it again: a season of sowing

Originally published October 14, 2012

Fall has finally arrived here in the Central Valley. Last week the temps were in the 90’s or more but over the weekend, slowly but surely, there was a cooling trend until finally there was but a trickle of rain by the end of the week.

It was about time! That’s all I can say!

But Fall here in the Central Valley often finds me feeling a little down and a little homesick. Sure there are pumpkins galore and a fabulous corn maze. The vineyards and orchards are being harvested and the grapes are being crushed. It all creates the most amazing, fruity, almost syrupy smell as I drive around. But the colors are so pale, so anemic compared to back home. I was reminded of that seeing friends posts of Fall color on their Facebook walls.

I wish I took this shot! I wish I was there to take in this incredible view! Alas, but no. This image is from my dear friend, Sue’s Facebook wall. Like me, she longs for the vibrant colors like these that can only be seen back East. Nothing out here in Cali compares. Sorry.

So instead of trying to find Autumn color in an area where everything pretty much is brown, I decided to sow a little with a nod to Edwin Teale.

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

Next to the glorious colors of Fall that I miss so much from back home, I love the colors of Spring, especially when the daffodils and tulips break through the frozen ground amongst the melting snow with their blooms. I can’t wait to see the colors that these will bring come next Spring here around the Big Top.

This week’s Focus 52 prompt is Autumn Color.

surviving outside adventures

Because it is Throwback Thursday I had to dig up an old photo to share…preferably one that won’t embarrass my four adult children. I just love this picture of my brothers and me for so many reasons.

The awesome that was 1970 fashion.

That pose.

Dear gawd, those damn pale, blue, cat’s eye glasses! I know my friend Kale praises me for being a hipster when hipster wasn’t cool by wearing those sweet frames; but trust me, they might have been ultra cool in the early 60s but  in 1970 definitely not. I cringe today every time I see someone wearing such frames…and yes, I’m kind of jealous that someone else pulls that look off and makes it look good.

Those tore up shoes of ours.

My brothers.

Randy.

Billy and his golden curls.

What lies behind that dead end sign on the street we lived on in Ben Avon during the summer of 1970.

Adventure! Grand, dirty adventures! A creek to wade in and swim in and even drink from. We had no clue what flowed from the giant drain pipe a little ways up the creek. We were kids. Kids who, if the sun was shining, were outside until the street lights came on because that was the way that it was.I seriously doubt Mom ever knew what we were doing and we rarely told her.

Who’s going to tell Mom about getting scratched by the raccoon she was playing with in the creek? Certainly not me. I could only imagine the trouble I would get into for that.

Are you going to admit that you literally rolled in poison ivy because your best friend and sister yelled and screamed at you to “STAY AWAY FROM THE POISON IVY!!” and you HAD to prove that you were immune. Randy never did even while scratching at literally his entire inflamed, itchy body.

Adventures behind the dead end sign, down the hill and in the creek were soon replaced with multiple other adventures because we moved…we moved a lot. A LOT…and because if the sun was shining (and sometimes not) outside was where we were until the street lights came on.

There were late night games in a local cemetery running from grave marker to grave marker, hiding and tagging one another.

Nobody tell that we snuck out after dark.

Oh those endless hikes up and down Robinson Road, which as children seemed huge as a child but not so much when I drove there the last time I visited back home. We chased cows in a nearby cow pasture and played in yet another creek…that also had a giant drain pipe emptying into it. Closer to home there was the trash barrel where the trash was burned and where we often played the Will It Burn? game because we had to try and discover what will burn and what will not.

Trees to climb.

Electrified fences to touch.

Circuses to perform complete with a high wire act on the clothes line in the backyard.

Open fields to run through as thunderstorms rolled in.

And so much more.

As children it was all so much fun…but sometimes not. I used to hide my books outside because sometimes I just wanted to sit and read…even if the sun was still shining and it wasn’t time to come in and make dinner or go to the store a mile away walking alone along Route 22 to pick up cigs and milk and tampons for Mom.

Boy was I shocked when I found out what those tampons were for a few years later!

As an adult and a parent I can’t help but sometimes cringe just a little. Okay, cringe a lot…especially about what the hell was likely draining in those creeks we always ended up in and that raccoon.

Still we survived…no rabies for me!

Different times back then we say. Still I often channeled Mom myself chasing the kids outside to play and make happy adventures. My favorite visual is Abby sitting on the curb loudly boo-hooing because “Mommy MADE me go outside and play!”. Still my clowns made their own adventures because it was their childhood and their time, their neighborhood. No creeks or raccoons or cow pastures or highways to walk along to go spend their 50¢ allowance on a small bag filled with penny candy. They were different kids, with different parents, growing up in a different place in a different time.

Still it’s a wonder they survived some of their bigger misadventures…that I know about and DON’T know about. Blame it on the bad parenting. It’s a wonder the four of them have reached adulthood.

I wonder if Hollie thinks that as she watches her children embark on their own great outdoor adventures in a different time and a different place?

Or perhaps she might better understand why mom would make them all go outside and play.

my plus 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5

Do you remember your first?

Seriously, get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about politics. Do you remember your first political experience? How about the first time you voted? And the best personal political experience in your lifetime ever? This weekend I had the opportunity to hear some pretty amazing, smart women, women who when they speak politicians listen, share some of their first and best experiences as we gathered together to talk politics…naturally…and women…and women in politics…and healthcare and politics…and elections…and the upcoming midterm elections…and why a dear friend sitting next to me needs to someday soon put herself out there to run.

I remember my first political experience. I was 13 years old. Mommy Dearest dragged me to a political protest against then Presidential candidate Jimmy Carter because of his non-stance on abortion at that point in his campaign; which was kind of awkward and strange all around since Mom was a life-long Democrat and a self-proclaimed feminist because it was the 70s and because she scarcely could talk to me about periods at that time much less the mechanics of where babies came from. Yet there I was, standing next to her holding a sign declaring that God was at war against abortion. I was thirteen years old. My picture appeared on the front page of the Pittsburgh Press holding that damn sign as Mr. Carter walked by smiling and waving. Mom was standing next to me smiling and waving too. Oh gawd, I was mortified!!! I was thirteen.

My best political experience was the 1988 General Elections. I was in college working towards my nursing degree and taking care of prereqs like Political Science. Since we were just four months away from the General Election, our professor deigned to focus on taking us through the California ballot for that year studying each and every candidate and initiative on the ballot that year so that each of us would be able to go to the polls truly informed and voting as such. I aced the course and yes, I entered the voting booth for the very first time as a truly informed, confident voter. I brought my +1 too before it was even cool to bring a +1. Of course we wore our matchy-matchy acid wash jeans and big 80’s hair because 80’s.

I am so sorry Hollie! Truly.

But I will never apologize for taking you and Zoë and Abby and Jodie and Daniel to the polls.

Then again, perhaps my best political experience were the days Hollie, Zoë, Abby and Jodie all voted for the first time. When our government mucks up things that affect these ladies I love to remind them that my kids care and my kids vote. Yeah, my greatest political accomplishment is my kids vote…my kids think and my kids vote. Okay, fine. Four out of five of my kids vote…for now. Then again, 2020 will come soon enough.

Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to meet and talk to, laugh with and share with some extraordinary women who are committed to encouraging and training women to be leaders in their communities. Breaking bread with some of them we discussed healthcare and politics and what I believe to be a poorly written, tugging at your aching-breaking heart proposition that will appear on the California November ballot.

The biggest takeaways from political suite talks I engaged in this weekend? Politics is indeed personal because politics affects us all… we women…our access to healthcare…our children…our community. We can indeed be part of the change and we can make a difference with our words and our actions. We must. Anything we say or do, no matter how big or how small.we might imagine it to be can and will and does make a difference. Discussing what I learned this weekend with my +1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 I know I am because 4 of them vote.

In 100 days is our U.S. General Election. Regardless of which side of the debate you find yourself arguing, it’s imperative you are part of the process — along with your +1. In fact, your +1 may vote entirely opposite from you but what matters is you are both at the polls on election day.

 

when the bee stings

As far as I can recall, I have only been stung by a bee twice in my lifetime. Am I lucky? I don’t know. I don’t really care. The first time was enough for me. I was 7 years old. That little fucker came out of nowhere and stung me for no reason other than to sting me. Really. I was minding my own business walking home from school with my little brother and my 1st grade best friend, Kerry Klower when that bee flew out of a bush as I walked past right into my arm which it stung. Stupid suicidal bee! It hurt. It hurt so bad. I’m sure some of the pain was also because my little brother was screaming then laughing hysterically along with my friend as I stood there frozen letting that stupid bee end it’s life causing me such extreme pain. Kerry’s mother digging the stinger out only added to the pain. Remember I was 7. But I was a smart 7 year old because I resolved to avoid bees at all costs. And I did until I was in my 40s and again literally ran into a bee while I was running. That one hurt too. Stupid suicidal bee!

Sitting in my car in the school pickup queue yesterday afternoon the last thing I planned on was running into a bee. No. I was re-reading Nicholas and Alexandra, which I read years ago when I was in junior high, while enjoying some iced green tea, a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis playlist, and the hot, 90° breezes blowing through the open windows of the mom-car. Suddenly…bzzzzz…

OH DEAR GAWD!!!

This huge bee flew right into the car and was buzzing like crazy around my head…my face.

OMG!!!

Screaming, I swatted it hard back out of the car and proceeded to roll all the windows up at once. Of course that only served to piss off the suicidal little buzzer as it began to hurtle itself against the closed window of my car. I’m sure no one else in the pickup line saw the bee when I consider the way that people were staring at me like I was off my meds or something. I wanted to roll down the window and yell out, “OMG! Did you see that crazy, giant bee! He came right at me!!” But that would have meant that I would have to roll down the window and that crazy, buzzing fucker was still trying to somehow get into the car banging up against the window of my car. Let the other parents continue to think I’m crazy. I am not getting stung again…not today!

Did I tell you that it was 90° outside? It got a helluva lot hotter in the closed up mom car that was protecting me from the suicidal, crazed bee. So I start up the car and turn on the AC because I wasn’t about to die from heat exposure waiting for Daniel. He still is one of the last kids to come out to the pickup because he must say goodbye to each and every one of his teachers, present and former and all the yard duty workers before he leaves school. God only knows how long I would be waiting and it seemed that that crazy bee wasn’t going anywhere as it still was repeatedly flying up against my window. Eventually the crazy bee left as kids began to come running out of the school…possibly to look for another victim…who knows. He was gone; that’s all I cared about, I thought to myself as Daniel climbed into the now cool car.

Ahhh! Air conditioning! Thanks Mom!! It’s so hot outside. This is perfect.

Lucky for you a bee was trying to get into the car otherwise I wouldn’t have had the AC on.“, I tell Daniel as I start to drive down the street.

You mean this one?

WHAAATTT!!!

:::hysterical laughing:::

I got you, Mom.

Oh my god, Son!

:::more hysterical laughter:::

using the semicolon

When one becomes a person of a certain age, one sees their doctor more regularly…unless one is my darling husband who would rather hide from what the good doctor is recommending for him these days. He’ll wait until he’s bothered by his daily hacking-up-a-lung cough that becomes even worse than it already is or until his wife’s nagging becomes unbearable. Me, on the other hand, I do try to see my doctor annually and not just when I am sick. Just trying to walk the nurse talk of the importance of maintaining one’s good health, building trust with a good doctor-patient relationship and stuff like that there. So today was the day. The good doctor sits down with me going over the results of the physical exam and ordered tests. The physical exam…perfect. Cardiac function…perfect. Lab work…in his words his 30-something patients should have labs like these.

“You’re a perfect patient!”, he concludes.

“Yes, except for the depression, anxiety and panic attacks.”, I answer back.

“Yes, there’s that.”

And that is why I use a semicolon all the time.

A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. Every single day of my life I choose to use a semicolon.

No, not usually with my writing. I know my use of punctuation could easily be criticized…and sometimes is. Have you seen how often I over-use an ellipsis?

No, the semicolon here represents the fact that my story isn’t over yet. Far from it. I am my author and the sentence is my life and as long as I choose to live this life I will choose to use the semicolon…every day.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Some days it is a struggle. Some days it can be almost a knock down, drag out fight. The fight to choose the semicolon, to keep myself grounded in the love others have for me instead of the hate I feel for myself, remains a struggle…and one I don’t always share for so many reasons. I hate being viewed as weak or less than or even just as someone who struggles. I hate being compared to the parent who far too many times in my lifetime tried to put a period at the end of her sentence. I can imagine her pain and her struggle. I lived survived a lot of it with her. It was so hard for her. So very hard. Still, no child should ever be the one to call for help because mommy won’t wake up…again. No child should ever have to try and get her younger siblings out of the house before the ambulance comes to protect them from seeing mommy this way. No child should have to run down the hill that was Davis Lane to flag down the ambulance because you can’t see that gravel road very well in the dark of night. Add that to the many reasons why I, every day, consciously choose to use a semicolon.

I should be stronger than this.

I should be braver than this.

I will always have anxiety. I will struggle from time to time with debilitating depression. I will sometimes become frozen in panic for no rational reason whatsoever. I will, at times, choose poor coping mechanisms. But I will always choose the semicolon.

My story isn’t over yet.

The Semicolon Project 416