"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Monday, January 28, 2013


Woke up Sunday morning as I do most mornings of late: my two cats (Smokers, and her daughter, Flower) purring and "kneading" my stomach with their soft, claw-free paws.

"We love you! Wake up! We're hungry!" they announced loud and clear without (obviously)saying a word.

I am thankful my cats remember me after my three-month stay in Myrtle Beach. I missed them, though I did not realize how much until I came back.

On my way to the kitchen to fetch them some kibbles for my kitties, I caught a whiff of coffee brewing and bacon frying...yay!  John was already up and fixing breakfast!

I am, of course, even more thankful John remembers me after my South Carolina sojourn. :)

In fact, with each day that passes since my return, it becomes more apparent that we missed each other more than we originally thought.
I'll Never Find Another You by The Seekers on Grooveshark
At any rate, we've been doing some "re-nesting" every weekend, as our house became a bit of a man cave while I was away.

I've been busy re-arranging furniture, curtains, rugs and lamps, and John has been hanging pictures at my request. Did I mention John hates hanging pictures? Yes, that seemingly small "honey do" speaks volumes about John and his continuing love for me, without him saying a word.

During today's re-nesting, by the way, I unearthed three rather dusty books and a magazine I had, at some point prior to my Myrtle Beach departure, stashed under my side of the bed:

The Ten Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart (An Emotional And Spiritual Handbook), by Daphne Rose Kingma; Ten Poems To Set You Free by Roger Housden; The Hormone Diet (A 3-Step Program to Help You Lose Weight, Gain Strength and Live Younger Longer, by Natasha Turner; and a copy of Shambhala Sun Magazine's Second Annual Guide to Mindful Living (July 2011).

Speaking of speaking volumes!

What a jog down Sad Memory Lane...I remember speed-reading each chapter, each magazine article, desperate for answers, a solution, to all that seemed to be careening out of control in my life. Was that unhappy, hopeless woman really me?


Stuck between the dog-eared pages of The Hormone Diet, I discovered a slip of paper sporting a quote by the late, great Gilda Radner.

"While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die -- whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness."

Wow. I really had been struggling.

"In the midst of chaos, give your soul a place to rest," advised one of the other book's back covers.

Months later, as it turned out, I did just that. I left my life in landlocked Iowa and spent a quarter of the year living and working by the ocean, awash in the ancient healing wisdom of the crashing waves.

What a difference three months by the beach can make! Regularly standing at the shore's edge, staring out at the forever-and-ever vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, tends to put one's personal issues into a more realistic, more manageable perspective.

Clearly, thankfully, I am no longer who I was before my salt water sabbatical.

Closer I Am To Fine by Indigo Girls on GroovesharkOnce again, hope springs! 

Still need some work on the weight/strength/living younger longer issue, but that is fodder for another post.

Awesome Iowa Sunrise
Point is (despite my whining about missing the ocean and going through beach withdrawal), it really hit me today when I woke up how happy I am to be home...grateful for my husband, my cats, my re-nested house, my fun job at our small-town grocery store, and the stark, awesome beauty of a wintry Iowa sunrise.

Living more mindfully by the minute, the transformation continues...

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Hey, it was his idea...
"Let's get up early, take a thermos of coffee, my  homemade cinnamon rolls, and head east to capture the sunrise," my husband offered energetically.
My jaw dropped and I looked at him in sheer disbelief.
"Are you feeling OK?" I inquired. "Are you feverish?"
Color me skeptical, but we had just returned home from hunting Saturday evening's glorious sunset west of town when he made the surprisingly spontaneous suggestion. It had been a blazing 48 degrees when the sun was disappearing. An Iowa winter heatwave. Obviously, the man was suffering from heat stroke.

I mean, for John to offer to get up early on a Sunday to do anything, let alone want to venture out onto the frozen Iowa tundra at literally the crack of dawn to take pictures of the sunrise, was so unlike him. (I probably should mention here that the guy has to get up at 4 a.m., five days week, and at 6 a.m. on Saturdays, for work. Hence, his Sunday mornings -- and Sundays, in general --  are mostly off limits when it comes to spontaneity.)
I suspect John was just trying to humor me since I had spent most of Saturday sobbing after our son, Daniel, left to go back to college after having him home for his month-long winter break. (See yesterday's blog post for the low down on that.)

Sunrise Sunset by Connie Smith on Grooveshark  
Anyway, whatever the reason, I agreed to the sunrise hunt with great exuberance. As my friends all know, I've been just a teensy-weensy bit obsessed with sunrises and sunsets since I returned from a three-month adventure living in Myrtle Beach, SC, with my dear friend, Mary. Taking pictures of the sun's comings and goings from my Iowa front porch via my cell phone, and then posting them on Facebook, has become part of my self-prescribed beach withdrawal therapy. You know, the whole "bloom where you are planted" thing.
To have John offer to accompany me and drive me hither and yon to find the best spot for taking a picture or 10 of Sunday's sunrise made my heart sing! However, based on the past vast experience of  three decades-plus of marriage, I never truly thought John would follow through with the early morning excursion.
"According to Google, the sun is going to rise about 7:15 a.m.," I advised him. "Oh, and honey, I did a little research on sunrise/sunset photography, and it is best to be at your pre-determined location about a half hour before the sun actually rises or sets because that's when the sky can be the the prettiest. So that means we need to be up and at 'em, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by, say, six bells. Or 6:30 at the latest. Are you sure you want to do this?"
 "Yes, dear," John replied, smiling, as he rolled out his cinnamon roll dough. "See you in the morning!"
"I'll believe it when I see it," I muttered under my breath.
Zoom to 6:30 a.m. this morning.
There's John, snoring, all snuggled under the covers, his heated rice pack hugging his sore shoulder (injured when he tripped over a tote in the basement and dislocated said shoulder several weeks months ago).
Poor guy...he looked so peaceful. I hated to wake him to go take pictures of the sunrise.  But like I said, it was his idea...

 He rose, by golly, but he wasn't exactly shining.
"Turn on the coffee, start the car, throw me in the back and make sure the compass says "E" for east," John mumbled.
Long story short, we actually made it out the door  -- sans cinnamon rolls, but with a thermos of hot coffee -- and we were on the road in plenty of time, John at the wheel. He was sporting Daniel's Iowa Hawkeyes trapper's cap, giving him a sort of  Elmer Fudd/ Cousin Eddie (Christmas Vacation) flair.
 "This is exactly what Mary and I did in Myrtle Beach," I reminisced excitedly. "We chased the sunrise. Except, of course, it was 70 degrees outside, not 9. And there was an ocean. And Mary didn't wear a trapper's cap..."
"Uh-huh," John murmured, staring straight ahead as he drove across the dark, bitter cold, landlocked Iowa landscape.
We found the perfect sunrise viewing spot off a desolate gravel road. John threw the van into park, and I hopped out eagerly, cell phone in hand.
"Remember, if you hear panting, it's most likely not a puppy," John said, opening the thermos and pouring himself a hot cuppa joe. "Mind if I wait in the car?"
Hmmm. Never thought of  that aspect of Iowa sunrise hunting...
Undaunted, however, by the possibility of being attacked by a hungry coyote, I fired off a couple of practice shots across the frozen Iowa tundra, catching the sun as it feebly tried to burn its way through the deep blue, icy morn.

A short while later, I bagged some beautiful, warm pastel pinks and blues as they roamed across the sky before blending into a cold, overcast gray.
The hunt ended, my fingers ice cubes (it's all but impossible to take pictures with a cell phone wearing gloves, I've discovered), we headed back to camp, er, the house.
Once home, we each snarfed down two homemade cinnamon rolls. I plugged in my phone to recharge it and I began to blog. John made a beeline for his easy chair.

And then it began to snow.
"Snowflake hunt!" I announced, with a chuckle.
"ZZZZZZZZZ,"  came John's reply. Yes, my mighty hunting assistant was sound asleep.
Indeed, the thrill of the sunrise hunt can be tiring. But in such a good way!
We seized the day! We captured the moment! Yay for us!

Times Of Your Life by Paul Anka on Grooveshark  
And now I do believe I hear the couch calling my name!
You know what they say: Carpe Diem! Carpe Dormio!
(Seize the day!  Seize the nap!)
Thanks, John! Darling, you rock!


Friday, January 18, 2013


Back in the day
"Wow! I can't believe how active you guys used to be."


Out of the mouths of almost-20-year-olds...

Daniel had been browsing through some of our old photo albums, some pictures dating back to when I was but maybe four years older than Daniel is now.

"Yes, your father wasn't always parked in his easy chair in front of the TV watching Swamp People marathons," I replied, dryly. "We actually had friends, and went places and did things. Indeed, there really was a time I didn't doze off on the couch by 8 o'clock, snoring, still donned in my work clothes."

The Way We Were by Barbara Streisand on GroovesharkDaniel just chuckled.

I also, once upon a time, had only one chin, my eyelids didn't droop, and my hair was naturally blonde.  Oh, and I was chock full of estrogen, too. John's hair was dark brown, not gray, and there was plenty of it. We smiled a lot more, and made funny faces, always mugging for somebody's camera.

Daniel was a bit taken aback, I think, struggling to grasp the concept that his now aging/boring parents were once fun-loving, exciting, robust 20-/30-somethings.

Just the night before, we had dragged out some old VHS tapes of Daniel when he was younger -- extremely young actually -- beginning with  my first ultrasound.

"Can you believe that's you, honey? You were the size of a tiny seahorse!" I gushed.

He admitted it was a little weird to be able to see himself as a small fuzzy dot inside the womb.

Danny Boy
It occurred to me as we viewed tape after tape: It's no wonder the kid grew up wanting to be a film director and has a penchant for making movies...he had a video camera constantly stuck in his face, recording his every facial expression, his every move, for the first seven months of his life.

"I drooled a lot," Daniel observed, sounding somewhat dismayed.

"You were teething, darling," I replied. "Hence, the drooling."

We laughed a lot at his baby antics and my first-time-mom foibles.

It was a lot of fun sharing memories of the way we both were two decades ago.

Gettin' our move on
Admittedly, I got a little teary-eyed as we watched the video of our old house -- our first house --  in Cincinnati, OH, where we lived when Daniel was born and left when he was barely a month old and moved to rural Iowa.

Two of a Kind, Workin' on a Full House by Garth Brooks on Grooveshark

"You won't remember this house, Daniel John," I said solemnly as I walked slowly, room to room, the video camera capturing every stuffed animal, every curtain, every piece of furniture, on tape. "But I want you to see where you first lived, so one day you will know what everything looked like."

Goosebumps.  Fast-forward.

In a nano second, it seems, that "one day" arrived and -- like Christmas morning, family game nights, and our several weeks of working together at the local grocery store over break --  the time for looking at old pictures and laughing and enjoying a little mother-son bonding has passed. For now.

You Are The Love Of My Life by Carly Simon on GroovesharkIt's been a longer Christmas break than usual -- roughly a month and a week -- and Daniel is all packed and chomping at the bit to head back to school tomorrow morning.

John and I, on the other hand, are feeling that old familiar tug at our hearts. We have to let go again. Just when we were getting used to having the kid, er, young man, around.

And so it goes...

See ya, Danny Boy! Have fun! Study hard!

Miss you already.

Mom and Dad

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Fifteen days into the New Year -- at the dawn of which I announced on The Home Stretch I was renouncing living in the past/fearing the future -- I am Googling "beach withdrawal" in hopes of a quick and easy antidote for severe ocean yearning.

Yes, after three short months living and working in warm, sunny Myrtle Beach, SC, adjusting to life back in frigid, frozen Iowa has been a challenge to say the least.

 I've suffered relationship breakups that were less painful.

Sure, it was all fun and games taking 1,800 pictures of the Atlantic Ocean's rolling waves, gorgeous Myrtle Beach sunrises and heart-melting sunsets...and posting what must have seemed like (to my friends back in Iowa) all 1,800 of them on Facebook while I was actually living in Myrtle Beach. But now that I am no longer chillin' at the beach, and I once again live several states away in bone-chilling temps, looking at said pictures is like poring over snapshots of a lover you adore but whom you fear you will never see again.

In a word: agonizing.

Easier Said Than Done by The Essex on GroovesharkYou know that popular saying, "Don't cry that it's over, smile that it happened"?

Easier said than done.

Obviously, whoever penned that doozie of a philosophical bent never had to leave the ocean to return to a landlocked state.

As my good buddy and former seaside resident Christopher Ludy (now living back in Ohio) advised me before I returned to Iowa: "You will claw your face off the minute your plane lands and you step back into the cold, kicking yourself, screaming, 'WHAT THE HELL HAVE I DONE?'"

Well, my return to The Tall Corn State wasn't that dramatic, but I will confess to repeatedly running my fingers through the large Baggie of sand I brought back with me, and carefully caressing each of my gazillion collected seashells before gently arranging said sand and shells in a jar that I now keep in the living room on a shelf. I sneak longing, soulful stares at the sacred jar when the fam isn't looking.


I now know how Cinderella felt after leaving the magical royal ball at the stroke of midnight and morphing back into her less-than-Glamor Shot self...only my glass slippers were pink flip flops, my ballgown a bathing suit (or that comfy pair of faded blue jean capris I constantly borrowed from my dear friend/roomie Mary).

Beach Baby (Original Extended Version) by The First Class on Grooveshark

Seemingly in the blink of an eye, as my plane touched down on the chilly Des Moines International Airport tarmac, my South Carolina tan faded and my hair color changed from vivacious, sun-kissed beachy blonde back to tired, mousy-brown blech. My joints once again began to ache, my elbows simultaneously sprouting dry, itchy scales.

Truth be told, however, I think I may be on the slow road to beach withdrawal recovery.

On my way to work the other day, I actually felt compelled to snap a picture of an Iowa sunrise. It was pretty. And I posted it on Facebook.

Only 1,799 Iowa sunrise photographs to go.

Photograph by Ringo Starr with george harrison on GroovesharkHeavy sigh.

One day at a time, Cinderella, er, Cindy. One day at a time...