Fall, Falling, Fallen

I guess with fall comes the end of a season.  For me, this fall is the end of several seasons.  And the beginning of a new one.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe long, wet, hot, humid, heavy summer will, eventually (I hope) give way to crisp, light, breathable air, beautiful colors and a transformation of all that is green and weighty into something colorful and pretty.  Life is like that.

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My fall has been long-suffering.  It has grown and flourished and then withered and died on the vine.  Right before my very eyes.  Gone.  While it is not what I anticipated or wanted.  It is what it is.  It is dark and overgrown and tired.  Weary actually.  I look forward to the days of fall.  Perhaps my falling will be over by then.  Once you hit the ground, you can stand on your own two feet again and set out on a new path.  Two roads diverged in a wood.  I’m taking a new one.

It’s hard to see where it might go.  It’s scary to go there.  It’s exciting too!  Fall is my favorite season.  It has my favorite things and holidays all mixed together.  I love the smells of fall- the leaves, the cinnamon, the candy.  I love the crisp feel to the air.  I love football and stadium blankets.  I love hot chocolate and marshmallows.  Maybe in the fall, I will find me again.  I thought I knew who I was.  I thought I had me all figured out.  It’s spooky to wake up, look at yourself in the mirror and wonder where you went.  Maybe I will spend my winter in a cocoon.  It seems a good safe idea at the moment.   Then who knows?

After the fall comes spring.

summer 3

Random Thoughts

1.) Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?  Open, you can see the monsters that way.

2.) Do you take shampoo and conditioner bottles from hotels?  Well, of course!

3.) Do you sleep with your sheets tucked in or out? Oh, MY goodness!  Sheets MUST be tucked in to keep out the monsters who could come out of the closet at any moment!  Everyone knows that a nice cotton sheet will repel all unwanted guests.  And, really?!? UN-tucked sheets are just wrong on way too many levels to delve into here.

4.) Have you ever stolen a street sign? Umm, hmmm.  Well, that depends on your definition of “stolen”.

5.) Do you cut out coupons and then never use them? I am the Coupon Queen.  There are simply things you should NEVER pay for, like toothpaste and shampoo.

6.) Would you rather be attacked by a big bear or a swarm of bees? I am allergic to bees, so I’ll be taking my chances with the bear.

7.)Do you always smile for pictures?  Yes

8.) Do you ever count your steps when you walk?  Uh, No.  I am not that OCD.

9.) Have you ever peed in the woods?  Yes, in a national park, on a hike.

10.) Do you still watch cartoons?  Do The Simpson’s count?

11.) Where would you bury hidden treasure if you had some? Well, if I told you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore!

12.) What do you drink with dinner?  Depends- Lemonade, beer, wine, Kool-Aid.

13.) What do you dip a chicken nugget in?  Mustard or Honey or that amazing Polynesian Sauce from Chick-Fil-A!

14.) What movies could you watch over and over and still love?  The Women, To Kill A Mockingbird, Independence Day, My Fair Lady, The Princess Bride, The Notebook, Under the Tuscan Sun, …

15.) Were you ever a girl scout?  Yes

16.) Would you ever strip or pose nude in a magazine?   Not in a million years!

17.) Can you change the oil on your car?  Yep!

18.) Have you ever gotten a speeding ticket?  Nope.  I can cry on cue and by quite hysterically “Sorry officer”.

19.) Afraid of heights?  Not really.

20.) Do you sing in the car?  All. The. Time.

21.) Is Christmas stressful?  Of Course!

22.) Occupations you wanted to be when you were a kid.  A Nurse (thank God I got over that!), A Teacher, A photographer

23.) Do you believe in ghosts?  No

24.) The first concert you ever went to.   Sandi Patty- Don’t judge.

25.) Walmart, Target, or Kmart?  Target!

26.) Nike or Adidas?  Nikes

27.) Can you curl your tongue?  Nope

28.) Have you ever cried because you were so happy?   Yes- a lot of times!

29.) The last concert you saw?   Not sure.

30.) Can you swim well?   Not particularly

31.) Can you knit of crochet?  I’m not that old yet!

32.) Are you a dog person or a cat person?  Yes.  Mostly cat because they are independent and self-cleaning.

Dear Abby

Dear Abby,

Well, I’ve gone and done it now. I hit “send” and made it official. I have, indeed, run right off the edge of the cliff. I am in a free-fall, but I am also so very relieved! You see many, many things in my life need to change and this is a step in the right direction. I have been on the sidelines of my own career, looking at it pass by for far too long. And, so, today, I went and did it! I really did.

I applied to the Ph.D. program at my local University.

Yep- crazy as a sprayed cockroach I am!

Amidst the chaos of my life, I have determined that forward movement of any kind is a good thing. And, so, here I go- I hope. I hope they accept middle aged women with teens and pre-teens who are slightly crazy – because Lord knows I must be!!

Then again, I’m just crazy enough to think that maybe, just maybe I can do it!

I read this the other day and it stuck:
Never let the time it will take, make you give up on your dream. The time will pass anyway”. Profound, truly profound.

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Organization Junkie

My Name is “Just Me”, and I am an Organization Junkie. 

My Favorite Planner

It’s true. 

I am drawn to all manner of binders, files, cabinets and containers.  I LOVE calendars and journals.  I’m not sure this really qualifies as a vice, per se.  It’s not immoral or unethical, but a secondary definition of “vice”  is “weakness” and, well, let’s just say keeping me away from organizational products would be an exercise in futility.I could run an office supply store. 

Makes Bill Paying Bearable

Who doesn’t need a binder for their bills?  Who could live without that cute dry erase board, or the drawer organizer?  Who would even attempt to maintain a kitchen without drawer dividers?  You see what I mean?  Pencils and Pens?  NOOOO problem!  There’s a container for that too!  When I lived in Texas, there was a retail chain called The Container Store- be still my soul!  You could wander for hours coveting anything from closet organizers to plastic totes to journals, calendars, file folders, etc.  There was no end to the creative genius of some of the products found there.  Color coordinated tabs, dividers, stickers, sticky notes, paperclips, binderclips, . . . .You see what I mean-totally addicted!I guess organizing the “stuff” in my life is easier and way more controllable than organizing the circumstances of  my life, still, not a bad vice to possess.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

This Moment

Here I am. Just me.

I’m tired. It’s a good tired. I did a bunch of yard work earlier. I’m in old jeans, my favorite, or rather, what used to be my favorite shirt. My son wore it and stretched the sleeves by shoving them up to his elbows. Lesson learned- don’t loan your son your team jersey.
I’ve got a chai latte and my blog. The cat is nearby purring and my favorite news show is on the TV. I must be old! Even as I type the words, “my favorite news show?!!”, my fingers catch. What has become of me?
I am on one end of the couch and my daughter is at the other. Our feet intertwine and I sense these days are nearing an end, so I cherish each one.

I am planning my meals for the week- Parmesean Chicken, Gnocchi, hot dogs (Wednesdays are quick meals), Red Beans and Rice, and, ummmmm, well, I’m sure I’ll think of something.

And that’s where I am on this Saturday. Just Me. Just here. Just hanging out.

My Love Affair With Film

My obsession with photography began in college when I enrolled in a photography class as my token “art” credit.  I was no good at drawing and no one trusted me with any other medium- for very good reasons- and, so, by default, Photography it was.

My professor spoke with SUCH a New Jersey accent that hearing and understanding became as much a part of the course as taking and developing the pictures.  We mixed chemicals, learned about f-stops and aperatures and different types of paper.  We completed our assignments, turned in our chemicals and collected our grades.  And that was that. 

Or so I thought. 

Pretty soon, I found myself investing in  my own 35mm (I had borrowed one for the class) and scoping out local photography stores for the coveted Agfa film.  I still LOVE Agfa when I use film.  Film, ah, film, remember those rolls?  Black and White, or Color, ah, yes.  Those were the days were they not?  While I frequently pine for the days of film, I really prefer the immediacy of digital.  The SD card does have its advantages.

I love photography because with it, I can be here:

Or Here:                                                       

  Or Even Here:

I can be looking at these:

Or any of these, no matter what season it is:

 

And I can recall all of my thoughts and emotions surrounding these mementos:

 

 

 

I can escape.  I can be in a happy place from the near or distant past if I have captured the moment in film.  I can rejuvenate and evaluate where I am and where I want to be.  I can appreciate the beauty of each moment and anticipate more to come.  And, that, is how I came to love photography.  A picture, to me, is worth so much more than a mere thousand words.  It is a million feelings.  It’s another of those things that makes me, “Just Me”.  I can look at my photos and know so much about me and who I am as well as who I will be in the years ahead.

Graduation

My grandma has been in a nursing home for several years now.  The decision to move her there was difficult and painful at best.  She adjusted and we adjusted.  She made new friends and adapted and we felt like she was safe, it was good.  Life reached a new “normal” and we all went about our daily routines. 

About three weeks ago she began a decline.  She has experienced several over the past couple of years and has always bounced back or,  at least, reached a new “normal”.  She’s been a little confused, an elderly mind stuck in a relatively healthy body.   She has had numerous minor strokes over the past two decades.  This last one though, wow!  It changed things. 

The call came from her favorite nurse.  She gently, kindly explained to my mom that perhaps it is time for hospice to be called.  It became apparent that my mom, as her POA, needed to go check on her.  Now, my parents are getting older themselves, and more and more they need me.  I am a newcomer to the Sandwich Generation and not quite established in my role as such. 

 My dad is not in the best of health himself and it was decided that I would go with my mom to check on grandma.  We set out for our 7 hour drive.  I drove all but about a half hour of the trip.  Normally, mom and I would split the time between us.  It seemed odd that she really needed me to drive it all.  As I relived the events of the previous twenty-four hours, in actuality, it was my decision to make the trip in the first place.  She vacillated between going now or next weekend.  I picked now as it appeared time was of the essence.  She seemed strangely relieved that I had just taken charge of the situation.  I felt as if I had stepped into uncharted territory.  It was a new thought process and its apparent discomfort made me dismiss it from consciousness.

We arrived.  We met with hospice.  Mom signed all of the paperwork.  We met with the funeral home where grandma had already made arrangements many years ago.  We received information about the dieing process and we began the difficult task of looking death in the face, of saying good-byes and letting go.  As I sat holding my mom’s hand, she suddenly looked a little old herself; a little less certain, a little more fragile.

Grandma met us with a blank stare.  When she finally accessed her long-term memory and zeroed in on my mom we were relieved.  At least she knew who mom was!  This was progress!  She slept through a lot of the visit.  In between were words spoken sporadically as though they were just randomly picked from the air.  We tried to derive their meaning in much the same way you try to decode a toddler’s one word sentences.  It was sad, just sad, and haunting.  She seemed to be teetering on the brink of one world, all the while, gazing cautiously into the next.

We checked into a local hotel that evening.  The next day we would try again. 

To our surprise, she was more alert the following day.  She was able to use three word sentences and express some complete thoughts.  One exchange went like this:

Grandma:  You have big teeth!

Me:  Yes, I do.  Mom and dad spent a lot of money on my teeth!

Grandma:  Pretty.

Me:  I love you!

Grandma: Yes.

This went on throughout the morning with various states of awareness.  Suddenly, there was a burst of lucidity, a shot of adrenaline from who knows, or cares, where! 

Grandma:  Did you graduate?

Me:  Yes.  I finally made it!  (I actually graduated some 19 years ago, but hey).

Grandma:  I love you!

Me:  I love you too!

We continued to weave in and out of the present with brief stops at various “past’ places along the way:  an old college play, the birth of my children, my marriage, states I have lived in over the years, candy she used to keep in her dish, card games and songs, hymns actually.  We shared some chocolate and the hour got late.  It was almost dinner time and we needed to head for home- another 7 hour drive.  Grandma needed to head to the dining room- the new one they moved her to, the one where they feed you. 

Good-byes are always hard, but this one, knowing it might be the last one, was about more than I could bear.  She kept holding onto me as if she too were afraid of the finality it might hold for us both.  This fiercely independent woman now sat with a grip on me that she was unwilling to loose, much like my children did when they were preschoolers trying to “keep me” from leaving  them.  I lingered a few minutes more.  When I finally sucked up all of my remaining strength and walked out of the room I moved quickly, jaw set, eyes forward.  I found myself almost running to the door, suddenly gasping for air, clean, cold, thin air, free from the odors of old age.  As the sharp wind hit my face, I became aware of the hot, stinging tears running down my cheeks.  I had held them in with great effort, but they were suddenly too large a load to shoulder.   I walked faster and faster, leaving my mom behind in my hurry.  I made it to the car and once again, gained composure, suddenly aware that my mom was also crying and needed my comfort. 

And right then, in that moment of enveloping my mom in my own arms, in this awkward reversal of roles, with the northern Illinois wind whipping my scarf in its wake, I stepped across an invisible stage into another of life’s chapters- uncharted territory indeed.

Yes, Grandma.  I graduated.  Today.