author moments

Symbols

Meaning is hidden everywhere. Places. Signs. Memories. That little park you pass on the way to work every day is the place where someone proposed. It is also the place where some friends had a huge fight. It’s the place where a kid broke her arm and ended up in a cast. Maybe it’s even the place someone first learned to drive, smoke pot, who knows. Countless scenes in countless stories have taken place there. All in the little park you pass each day without thinking.

Meaning, symbols, roadblocks are everywhere. We stumble over the hearts and sometimes heartaches of others without even knowing it.

Music is potent for memories with me. I grew up singing and listening to tunes all the time. Paul Simon, the Statler Brothers, and Dolly Parton on my parents’ 8-track tape deck in our conversion van. Show tunes and standards I belted out with our player piano in the basement. And then the love songs I would pine over each night, wishing in vain someone would dedicate something to me. It took decades for me to listen to the music of Chicago without bristling or quickly switching it off. Even today, there are songs I may never listen to again. Places I may never go. Overly sensitive? Perhaps. After all, it is just a place, a song, who cares?

Maybe I’m just too much. I willingly embrace being labeled sentimental. Someone watching closely may see the quick shadow roll across my face when that potent memory pops up. Most will miss it.

Just part of what makes me me.

For some people, cardinals are a special symbol. A reminder or even a visit from someone departed and dear. A symbol more purposeful than just happenstance…a place you used to go, a song you used to sing to. This is more of a sign. For me, it’s ladybugs. They always pop up at the most unlikely times. They bring me back to myself. A reassurance. A reminder.

Recently, someone new in my life called me ladybug as a nickname. And it stuck. Sometimes when she says it, it makes me smile, sometimes tear up, sometimes just makes me hold my breath an extra beat. She could never have known that ladybugs are so special for me. Just a sign that she has some role to play, a scene to share. A hand reaching out of the day-to-day doldrums to remind me of the bigger picture.

What it all means.

perspective

A Shot in the Arm

To vaccine or not to vaccine? That was the question.

This won’t be a political post. I’m not here to convince you either way. I won’t judge you whether you get it or not. I’m just sharing my experience here as part of our coronavirus time capsule.

I was scheduled for 2:30 pm on a Friday. My spot in line was ensured by my work in a public school. By the time my turn rolled around, many co-workers had already had shot #1 and remarked on how organized and efficient it was.

The scene: an old Sears in an abandoned mall. Actually, it’s the mall featured in the show Stranger Things which kind of made me both giggle and pause. It was also the mall where I happened to be shopping when the first tower fell on 9/11. A setting with a history.

I parked and walked up to the well-signed venue. Workers with vests and clipboards awaited. Mask on, I had my two copies of paperwork and ID. Had I been diagnosed recently? Feverish? Quarantined? All these questions are routine now. No. No. No. Then position my face in the outline on the tablet screen for my infrared temp check. New version of another daily routine.

Line after line after windy, mazy line. Socially distanced. No photos allowed. Moving through the queue. It was a Friday and many had come from their respective schools, so it was a parade of school spirit shirts. Others were older, some returning for their second dose.

I made it to a table with a worker and two piles of papers. One said Pfizer, the other Moderna. Which would I be given? Does it matter? Will one be more effective than the other? Side effects worse or better? Most I know had received Pfizer. I answered all the questions as she handed me all my info and my Moderna paper. Off to another line.

Sitting down, asked “why are you here today?” I guess they have to ensure that I know why I’m here. No one is coercing me. Which arm, right or left? Are you allergic to anything? Finally, the needle comes out. Imagine you are on a beach, the nurse said. The more relaxed you are the easier it will be. Practice poor posture, she said. Sigh and ok. Hardly felt a thing then it was done and up again.

Socially distanced chairs in another waiting area. 15 minutes just to be sure you’re ok. I wait, scanning social media. Workers circulate. My time is up, 3:13 pm. Another worker, are you feeling ok? Everyone careful to look you in the eye. And another set of questions at the table. Are you nauseous? Rashy? Itchy? More no. And off I go.

On the way out, a sign that said to go ahead and tweet, insta, facebook, and snap my vaccine. I paused for a pic then just went to the car. A goose was circling, hissing. He had been there on the way in, too. Honestly, that was the scariest part of the day, that stupid goose. Must be a nest nearby, I think. Life does go on.

I’ll return for dose 2 in 28 days. We’ve already gotten the lecture at work…be prepared to feel yucky for a couple of days. That could make for a crappy weekend. But, life will go on and I’ll hopefully have less reason to worry about some of the long term effects of this illness. I hope getting this vaccine will somehow help protect the many in society who can’t.

Thank you, health care workers. Thank you, scientists. A profound and reflective moment.

adventure, fitness and nutrition

Stranded

When I started this post I thought I was going to be stranded in a hotel for days due to a snow and ice storm. One bad idea turned into another and chaos followed. All in a matter of 14 hours.

Plane ride 2 hours. Drive time 11 hours. “Let’s beat the storm” I said “and drive.” Much consideration for the party of 5. We go for it. Rent the car. Two back out on the way to the car rental place. No biggie, three will forge ahead.

Or not! Car rental place is sold out of cars despite having a reservation. All other rental places are the same. Guess it’s back to the hotel we go. Good night’s sleep but hotel is booked solid thanks to the weather front fast approaching. One room available but one is not. Maybe there is an option to fly from another airport? Guess we will just figure it out.

Flights cancelled for days on one airline yet another is still functioning. Weird but true. Rebook on another airline at a neighboring airport. 3 go one way. 2 go another way. The race to the finish line is on. 

Group 1 starts out first. Dodging snow and ice via a crazy Uber driver. Group 2 heads to the airport a smidge further away to get on a flight 2 hours later. Delayed. Delayed. Delayed is what’s on the screen for group 1. Group 2 moves on without a hiccup. Both groups used technology to keep up on progress. Both end up eating Whattaburger at their respective gates. The spicy ketchup was cool but everything else was meh.

Snow. Ice. De-ice. Wait. Shuffle seats. Off we go. The wait continues at the gate but this time packed in like sardines. The irony of this is it seemed better than being in the hotel with nothing to do or the unknown of when you could leave.

Being stranded brings up many emotions. Should I stay? Should I attempt to go? Which is right which is wrong? I follow my gut always. Sometimes the path is bumpy but normally I find solid ground at some point.

Part of me was curious about the adventures with friends of doing this that or nothing in the hotel but then I thought for reason xyz it was time to mosey on along. Such a crazy storm passing through at the same time I was passing through town. 

I didn’t get to explore the town like I wanted to due to the weather but I met some interesting people and had a great time with my travel mates even if we were at separate airports on the way back. People watching was extra fun at the airport as some individuals struggled a bit with emotions when delays kept escalating.  

My last 24 hours was a whirlwind to say the least. I enjoyed every last minute of the ups downs and everything in between. Find you some crazy friends to do whimsical things with and just go with the flow.  Plane is about to land so this blog post is going end right here.

celebrations

Whirly Adventures

It was that time of year again, where you age another year. How do you want to celebrate such a day? For me it’s about smiling with friends and doing something that will create memories. The planning was put in motion and a date was on the calendar.

This year Whirlyball was the venue. A group celebrated in grand style dressing up as vintage gym class heroes or zeroes. The theme in itself was so fun with the outfits. Then came fun games, cute name tags, awards and so much more. No detail was left out! The digital invite, the themed cookies, homemade cupcakes, and special people.

Whirlyball was of course the main attraction. A bumper-car-type mode of transportation with a manual steering crank of sorts. Using one hand to navigate, another hand to scoop n’ throw and then a gas pedal to put you in motion is definitely a challenge but it’s so much fun. You will have to Google Whirlyball to watch the videos but it’s so much fun. It takes skill to make a score. But failed attempts are just as fun as the score itself.

Boom, zap, bang, giggle, snort, scream are the words you hear over and over. Some bumps were intentional some not so much. The smiles and laughter of all attendees was just right for me. Many experienced Whirlyball for the first time. For me it was a repeat but the company made for an event to remember.

Celebration of another year is one thing but adventures with like-minded people is really the best medicine for anyone. Community was a big part of this year’s festivities. Seems like so much had been missed in the past year since my last party. 

5-0 is the next birthday bash for me. Wonder what adventures will follow? I guess you will have to wait and see. I will leave you for now with some of my photos as I chronicle my active lifestyle online.

Don’t forget to see if Whirlyball is near you. Everyone should try it at least once.

3Splitz Farm

Rain

5:00 am wakeup call. The faint sound…you hear it on the rooftop. Pit pat pit pat or maybe its thrummmmm. Rain. Do I drift back to sleep?

Some may say they hate the rain. For a long time, I was one of them. Rain on marching band performances made our heavy wool uniforms stink. Rain on Disney days had us dragging out the dreaded ponchos. Rain on Halloween meant a raincoat over my costume. Rain is taking things away.

Then the rain took on new meaning.

During my mother’s funeral luncheon an enormous storm came out of nowhere. We were at the Stone Mountain Women’s Club. Picture a series of long foldup tables with every variety of salad: chicken salad with grapes and almonds, macaroni salad with bits of ham and roasted peppers, bean salad with vinegar dressing. Allllllll the mayonnaise. Then the hot dishes…chicken rice casserole with peas and melted cheese, macaroni and cheese with toasty breadcrumbs, pineapple casserole under a blanket of buttery Ritz crackers. And the desserts, oh the desserts. Cookies, bars, bundt cakes, and light green pistachio fluff. A meal fitting for one of the members of the cookbook committee.

We sat at the long tables, all gathered to honor my mother. The old wooden A-frame with the floor-to-two-story-ceiling windows. I looked over with my full plate and plastic silverware.

The trees twisted, branches ready to slip off their bending trunks. Leaves and pinestraw flying. Back and forth with abandon. If we had phones back then I’m sure they’d have all been buzzing with warnings. Summer storms come quickly in the South. We all just watched the sky turn green and the rain pour down on that summer afternoon. Wondering if the windows would shatter. Eventually it calmed down, but the storm stayed with me.

Ever since that time, rain is a comfort. But still an inconvenience. My mother is gone, why shouldn’t the sky cry?

And now today. Rain…

makes traffic worse

is a hazard on the trail

keeps me from having fun outside

makes the dogs antsy

messes up my hair

creates an endless need to sweep and mop the floor

matches the sadness inside

and and and. So while the rain seems appropriate, it still brings its challenges.

Then, a life change brings yet another shift in thinking.

This time it’s…

tulips,

daffodils,

crocus,

ranunculus,

anemones.

We’re on our way to flower farming. We just finished our first bed of spring flowers. Row after row of plump bulbs, tucked into the soil with fertilizer, peat moss, and hope. I don’t see them every day so I find myself wondering about them…are they happy in their new bed? Now my peeks at the weather forecast aren’t so much about what I should wear but about the bulbs. Like babies away at boarding school. Do they have what they need? A bit of sunshine and enough to drink?

Rain is their friend. I think of how thankful they must be for the nourishment. The refreshment. I smile when I look through my windows at work and see the rain coming down. It takes some storms and inconvenience in order to grow. Storms may bend us but not break. Welcome every season and the nourishment it brings. A change in my mind. One of many lessons from the blossoms.