20 for 2020

It’s a new year; it’s a new decade.

Can I get a Hallelujah?

A few months ago (actually many months ago) a friend reminded me that I had not written a post since February 13. “Yes, I know,” I replied. “I think about it almost every day.” The true question was, “Am I done blogging?” It seems so out of date and self-serving. Can I just say that this world does not need any more self-absorption?

I wrote at least five drafts that bored even me. Then, every time I would sit down to write, the egomaniac who is the current president would do something so ridiculous, so awful, that I would start to rant. And  I didn’t need to add to the clamor, the din, the tumult… But that might be just a weak excuse.

Like all years, this past one had its ups and downs, goods and bads: I lost 25 pounds; our  beloved Henry the cat died; I planted sweet potatoes and peas for the first time and they did great; the staples of tomatoes and peppers did poorly. We had tons of cherries and pears; we had almost no apples. I retired and had plenty to do; I retired and sometimes felt at loose ends. I read a lot of great books; I stopped writing almost entirely. We finished the beautiful back porch and the lower side of the house; the bathroom is still unfinished and ugly. I read and studied my journaling Bible every day, but truth be told, this year God has often seemed distant. I get depressed reading the New York Times and watching World News Tonight; my faith tells me I must have hope.

So last night just as I was deciding to give it up entirely and not even do a New Year’s post, WordPress sent me a notice that my stats were booming.

An unknown person across the internet somewhere far away was reading my blog posts in order — they had started with all the early posts about the cottage and then read at least forty-five of my 245 posts.  And that one little thing changed my mind. So here is my post for the New Decade. It might be the one and only, the first and the last; I’ve no guarantees. After all, I’m retired…

This morning I was reading an article written by James Hatch, a 52-year old former Navy SEAL who is a freshman at Yale. He wrote: “I challenge any of you hyper-opinionated zealots out there to actually sit down with a group of people who disagree with you and be open to having your mind changed… To me there is no dishonor in being wrong and learning. There is dishonor in willful ignorance and there is dishonor in disrespect.” Amen, brother. Let’s stop disrespecting each other. Starting today.

There are two kinds of people in the world:

1. those who would go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve, and those who couldn’t be paid enough to go…

Sunrise from our bedroom windows

2. those who go out for New Year’s Eve, and those who stay home…

3. those who would rehab an old vacant house, and those who would look for a new one instead…

boards

4. Cat-lovers and Dog-lovers…

Cat in the Christmas tree

5. Savers and Pitchers…
pitchers

6. Dreamers and Doers…

7. those who believe and those who scoff…

Micah 6:*

8. those who stay, and those who go…

9. those who love snow, and those who don’t…

10. those who take naps, and those who feel superior to those who take naps…

Cat nap

11. those who love city streets, and those who love country roads…

12. those who look up and those who look down…

13. those who eat their fruits and vegetables, and those who eat their meat’n potatoes…

green tomato salsa

14. those whose glass is half-empty and those whose glass is half-full…

Stag's Leap winery

15. those who work for pay and those who work for love; and those who are blessed to do both at the same time…

Mr. H.C's truck

16. those who believe santa is a democrat, those who believe santa is a  republican, and those who believe santa should just start a third party for the rest of us — the Dempublicans? The Republicrats? (Surely he would get more than just my vote…)

17. Those who love to go shopping and those who would rather eat worms than go to a Walmart.

18. Flitterers and Plodders…

19. Readers and TV watchers

 

20. Right and Wrong (please God, give us grace for both…)

At different times in our lives, we can be any of these. (Well, probably not too many of us would admit to being that turtle…)
Me? I have been all these — a city lover, a country girl; a scoffer, a believer; an optimist, a pessimist; a cat-lover, a dog-lover; a dreamer, a doer; a shopper and a worm-eater; right and wrong…(Though I would have to be paid a lot of cash to go to Times Square on New Year’s Eve.)
Can we remember this?
Can we remember that our differences make this beautiful world what it is?
Can we let go of our prejudices, our prides, our preconceptions, our disrespect… and just love each other?

May grace, peace, and joy be yours in abundance in 2020.

Christmas angel

The autumn that isn’t…

What’s wrong with this picture?

October 23, 2018

Right. October 23. The middle of autumn. WHERE ARE THE FALL COLORS?

I’m told that in some places it’s Autumn As Usual. The reds are red. The golds are gold.

But here in Southwestern Pennsylvania, the trees either have green leaves or none.

This same picture from our back porch taken October 28, 2013:

SIGH. Not only are the skies gray, and the garden is finished, and the temperatures are in the forties, there are no bright autumn colors to cheer us and make this transition from summer to winter easier.

Some experts have predicted that maybe next week the leaves will turn. That the abundant rain in August and the warm temperatures in early October caused the leaves to keep producing chlorophyll, which keeps them green.

I remember as a kid asking about why the leaves were turning colors when we hadn’t had any cold temperatures yet. I was informed (by a science teacher) that it wasn’t the temperature, but the lesser daylight of fall that made the trees stop producing chlorophyll. Kind of makes me wonder what other misinformation I was given…

So I’ve done some research on this (read Googling why leaves turn color). The SUNY College of Environment and Forestry says, “Rainy and/or overcast days tend to increase the intensity of fall colors.” The website Earthsky.org notes, “Autumn seasons with a lot of sunny days and cold nights will have the brightest colors.” No wonder I was confused…

So with the lack of beautiful autumn photos to show you, I’ll post some pictures of what we’ve been doing for the last three months.

The back porch was mostly finished just in time for Labor Day.

The No-Fun Rule was in effect all summer, so we took a deferred vacation in early October to the Napa Valley. If your kids don’t live nearby, they should at least live in a great place to visit.

 

 

Thankful and blessed. Yes that’s what I’m feeling as I look over these photos. Despite no extravagant fall colors.

Instead I brought the fall colors inside to my living room.

There’s always a way to find joy.

Hanging Out Laundry

There’s something peaceful about hanging out laundry. Standing in the sun attaching damp clothes to a rope with wooden pins is my favorite chore.

It is not drudgery, not like digging an asparagus bed or scrubbing the kitchen floor.


Standing in all the green looking up at the cottony clouds scudding across the sky, touching the white cotton t-shirts smelling fresh as the wind blowing them dry.

Sharing words with the mockingbird who provides the music as the breeze bows to the billowing pillowcase and they all waltz together, the windy pillow clouds.

I lean on the porch railing and long to fly like the mockingbird, the pillowcase, the clouds,

but it is well enough to be here, now, rooted to this spot in the country where I can hang underwear on the line and not worry that the birds might malign the whiteness of my clothes.  Though the mockingbird has tired of waltzing and now composes for my listening pleasure a raucous ditty, a laughing cacophony,

making witty fun of the paint-stained gloves, but I can laugh with him because it is greensummerwarm and there is time to hang the laundry out in the sun.