a different perspective – solsc#11

It was time to unload the dishwasher this morning. Fun! I always stand at the sink, to the left of the dishwasher, and load and unload from there.

But our dog Maggie was outside and I was standing in front of the door to the porch which is to the right of the dishwasher. Determined to multi-task, I opened the dishwasher and looked down and the sparkling dishes, glasses, and silverware. From the other side.

It all looked so different! It was amazing to me how a different point of view changed everything. I was seeing the back of the dishes. I would have to grab the flatware with my left hand. The cup handles were on the wrong side.

I couldn’t do it. I waited for Maggie to return, went back to my usual spot, and unloaded (easily!) from there.

Yikes! Now I am wondering what this says about me…

attention to detail – solsc#10

Last weekend two friends hosted a marvelous brunch for our future daughter-in-law. Everything was absolutely perfect! I was in awe of all the special touches they included to make it such a memorable occasion. It seemed as though nothing was too much trouble for them to find a way to make it happen. It was, simply, lovely.

I left feeling a bit convicted for my own lack of attention to detail. This has happened slowly over the years. Some of it has come from being busy, some from lack of motivation, and some from thinking no one would notice. But I have noticed. And I don’t like it one bit.

As I described the party to my husband I mentioned this observation. I told him I was going to be more careful with doing things completely from now on. His eyes got big, he shook his head slowly from side to side, and said, “Well, now, sometimes being too detail-oriented can annoy people. Sometimes people just like to take it easy.”

Yes, nowadays it seems that most folks are more likely to be bothered when something is “too perfect” rather than somewhat sloppy. Maybe they don’t want to put in that extra effort, or perhaps they don’t know how, and it doesn’t make them look good when someone else goes all out. But my husband needn’t worry. My projects and expectations will be for me, not for him to carry out. And I can’t make the change overnight. But I do want to try.

And I wonder if this is something that can be taught, or learned? Can we instill this in our children, or are they just born that way (or not)? I tend to think it is something that we can all improve on. I hope so. Paying attention to details is a way of showing respect, and recognizing value, and sharing love. And we all need more of that.

retaining its value – solsc#9

Our dog, Maggie, is losing her hearing. The vet couldn’t find any reason for this other than aging. It is sad to notice the things she doesn’t notice any more. Yet her sleep is deep and peaceful, no longer rousing at the slightest snippet of noise.

And this just makes us love her even more. We watch out for her a bit more carefully since she might miss a warning sound, we reach down to pet her more gently so as not to startle her, we take more time to snuggle with her after realizing she is getting older, just as we are.

IMG_2139

There have been times in history and there are currently places in the world where older people (and animals) are cast aside in favor of someone younger, stronger, faster, more productive. We see it frequently in today’s work world and yes, from time to time, I saw it as an older teacher.

Shouldn’t we recognize the value of experience and appreciate the understanding that comes with time? Even in today’s fast changing world, couldn’t we find wisdom in those who have forged a path before we came along, and left a trail for the steps we are currently taking?

Well, Maggie, don’t you worry. We cherish you more now than we did six years ago when we adopted you as a five year old dog. And even though you can’t jump on the bed or run down the stairs anymore, we love you dearly. And we are sure we can help you understand how much we love you in other ways, whether you can hear us tell you or not.

 

jamocha love – solsc #8

Do you like milkshakes? I love the creamy goodness, the refreshment, the soothing feel in my mouth and my tummy. A jamocha milkshake from Arby’s is so delicious! What does it taste like? Chocolatey and Mocha-ey all mixed together. A summer day, a soft blanket, a fluffy marshmallow. It is the absolute best!

This has always been one of my favorite treats. I could make a meal out of one – forget the roast beef sandwich that I also love. Ummm-ummm good!

Back in December I had outpatient surgery. All went well with a great report afterwards. Before I knew it it was afternoon and I was back home, more sore than I had anticipated, but not too much worse for the wear.

My husband and son and daughter and granddaughter were all there at home with me that afternoon, just basking in the knowledge that all was good. On her way to the house my daughter had called and asked if we needed anything. Nope, nothing. We were all fine and so happy to have this behind us.

But she brought me a jamocha shake anyway. It was the best thing ever. Cool and refreshing, just enough nourishment. What did it taste like? Chocolate and mocha and lots of love. A thoughtful gift, a happy ending, a promise of tomorrow. How sweet it was. How precious of my daughter to know just what I like.

Now it is – even more – one of my favorite things!

sky lights – solsc #7

we find ourselves recovering

from weeks of wicked winter weather

punctuated with sifting snow and treacherous ice

wave after wave of watches, warnings, and storms

cold fronts that answered schoolchildren’s prayers

for days away from class

cloudy dreary blanketed skies

 

and then…

 

we dance to celebrate the sun’s return.

so far away and yet so strong

lending light and heat

to the frozen terrains of hills and valleys

changing the states of matter

from solid to liquid to gas

uncovering potholed streets and shoots of greening grass

 

and then..

 

we notice the bright full moon

highlighting the landscape’s quiet beauty

and lending its glow to light the way

across the refrozen slush and crusty lawns

alerting travelers to icy patches

forecasting the next day’s clear skies

and reinforcing the promise of spring

still tasty after all these years – solsc #6

In giving reasons for not writing as much lately, I should have included the fact that I have been sending a lot of emails (still – merely an excuse). Today’s slice is composed of two recent emails sharing recipes. These treats have been around a long time but both resurfaced lately, so I thought I would also share them with SOLSC writers, too.

First is an email to my daughter’s mother-in-law. We were discussing the punch served at a party for my son and his fiancé last weekend. She also lives in Mississippi so we visited her after attending the bridal coffee/shower:

Hi there,

Thought I would pass along this recipe since I mentioned it last weekend.

Coffee Punch

4 c sugar

4 c hot coffee 

3 qts chocolate ice cream

3 qts vanilla ice cream

3 gallons milk

Add sugar to hot coffee, stir and let cool. Add last 3 ingredients, mix and serve. Serves 50.

Hope the weather has been kind to you all. We are melting out of this last attack – hopefully the final one for the year.

Looking forward to seeing you again in a few weeks!

Love,   JeNan

 

My 91-year-old aunt recently had a knee replacement, and a friend brought her a meal as she is recuperating at home She described this pie to me, wondering if it were an ice cream filling, and I said, “I used to make that!”

Hey there,

I found my old recipe for the pie you mentioned. I guess I DID add coconut even though I didn’t remember it. Are you still enjoying it, one little bit at a time? It sure is rich.

Frozen Caramel Pie

2 graham cracker crusts

1 – 8 oz. cream cheese

1 medium Cool Whip

1 can coconut

1 pkg. sliced almonds

4 T. butter

1 can Eagle Brand

1 jar butterscotch (or caramel) ice cream topping

1 jar fudge ice cream topping

Melt butter, toast almonds and coconut till golden brown – 350 for 10 minutes

Mix softened cream cheese, Eagle Brand and Cool Whip. In pie shells, layer cheese mixture and almonds, and then repeat. Drizzle both toppings over pies. Keeps in freezer 2-3 weeks.

I never used the whole jar of either toping. It was nice of Carolyn to use only the caramel as she remembered you didn’t eat chocolate. I hope you are feeling better today! It sure is cold! How much snow did you all get? I’ll talk to you soon.

Love, JeNan

Both of these are delicious. Funny how we were talking about – and eating – such cold things during this winter blast!

unexpected but not surprising – solsc#5

Yesterday’s list poem about our dog Maggie was so much of a spark to my thinking that I am offering two more list poems today. Even though they are short on words, they require a bigger thought process, narrowing down ideas to find just the right words.

 

clothes dryer

unexpected:

quitting in the middle of a cycle

remaining reliable for many years

leaving wet clothes to air dry

altering my schedule for the day

not surprising:

lasting for 15+ years

making squeaky, squealing noises of late

resisting all repair attempts

hastening the contemplated purchase of a new one

 

snowstorm

unexpected:

warmer weather the first of the week

yesterday’s rain continued unfrozen

nothing noticeable at midnight last night

weather predictions often wrong

not surprising:

snow changes activities that seemed set in stone

plans had been made for a trip to the lake

weekend party ahead for future bride and groom(?)

winter of 2015

maggs – solsc #4

I like the way Donna at Mainely Write offers some background for a lot of her poems, so I decided to follow her example and explain my thinking that led to this post. The idea for a list poem came from “Elsie” as she shared one on her blog.

I love this picture of our dog Maggie. It is a photo that was altered with the Waterlogue app. Looking into those deep brown eyes, you can see her trusting, sweet soul.

maggs waterlogue

What Maggie is NOT:

young pup

lap dog

brave soul

messy eater

vicious attacker

 

Who Maggie IS:

blanket of fur with feathery-haired legs

nervous pacer when ill at ease

barking announcer when visitors come

tidy roommate with good cleaning habits

gentle licker of grandbaby’s head

enthusiastic traveler on short or long trips

quiet beggar at the dinner table

faithful companion who follows from room to room

compassionate listener in good times and bad

trusting dependent with boundless love

best dog ever, just right for us

what’s in a name? – solsc #3

I have an unusual name. I was probably eight years old before I realized that not everyone had to spell their name when they said it. My mother’s name was also unique. I often asked her why she chose to pass along to me the challenge of an odd name, after living all of her life with hers. But Mama liked to stand out in the crowd.

And so my mother named me JeNan. Most people pronounce it poorly (and many don’t even try) so I try to tell those I meet that it rhymes with Japan. That seems to help. And I don’t have a middle name so I had no choice but to go with it. I could have changed it to Jan or something easier when I went to college, or when I get married, or when we moved to a new town. But by then I had gotten used to it. It was me.

Through the years many people have been creative with their pronunciations. Some have been way off. Perhaps they never learned phonics. Most folks say JeeNan, and in fact many of my college friends will write GNan in jest when they send me a note or message.

And then last fall our daughter Beth (note the easy name) and her husband Jamie had their first child. Our precious granddaughter is such a delight. We are so thankful and blessed by having her in our lives.

“What is she going to call you?” my friends have asked. The answer is simple (as long as she goes along with it). Nan it is. Simple, easy, sweet.

Since then I have tried to use my new name when I order food or coffee at restaurants. But I have had some trouble with it. No one understands me when I say Nan. Perhaps it is my southern accent (“Nay-un”). So I still have to spell it. One day I had to repeat the spelling three times (??). Another time the server thought I said Diane. At times I think “Nan” may not be meant to be. But I am not ready to give up, not yet.

I hope little Madison catches on better. Something tells me that I think she will.

confession – solsc #2

Three years ago I began fireflytrails when I entered into the 2012 March writing challenge at Two Writing Teachers. I am forever grateful for this opportunity to put my thoughts and dreams of writing into action. Nervous and unsure if I could really be that consistent with this task, somehow I have managed to complete the March SOLC for three years as well as offering many Tuesday postings in between. And I have “met” some fellow travelers in this writing journey whose words I crave because they resonate so fully in my own field of thinking. I have been looking forward to this fourth year and am so excited that it has begun.

I knew that the SOLC could offer what I needed to “get back in shape” with my writing routine, and I have been longing to do just that. I haven’t written as much during the past year. There have been reasons:

  • sorting through files and memories of 34 years in preparation for last May’s retirement;
  • enjoying the privilege of having our daughter Beth and son-in-law Jamie live with us for four months as they remodeled their newly purchased home;
  • celebrating the engagement of our son Mark to his fiancé Landon;
  • the birth of Beth and Jamie’s first child, our precious granddaughter Madison;
  • “working” daily as babysitter and packager for Beth’s stationery and paper business during her busy fall and Christmas season;
  • planning a wedding, easy from the groom’s side, and hosting an engagement party for almost one hundred friends to come and share our enthusiasm;
  • being diagnosed with breast cancer and having surgery and follow-up radiation treatments;
  • serving as the chair of the local Library Foundation board for this year;
  • keeping up with the reading that comes with being a member of two book clubs and a weekly Bible study.

So yes, there have been other things going on in my life these last few months. Plenty of reasons why I had not been writing. But truly, they are only excuses. And more importantly, I realized that I had not processed these occasions and activities fully because I had not written about them. In a magical kind of way, writing about my experiences in the past three years has transformed my lists of life events and milestones into a weightier substance that has been absorbed into the fabric of what makes me, me.

But, I tried to rationalize (more excuses), I have been writing in a different kind of way since the beginning of this year. Writing by hand has always proven frustrating for me – instead, I relish being able to write, correct, and reformat my words on the computer. Yet since January 1, 2015, I have been using a journaling devotional book which provides a scripture, a word from the author, and a space for me to handwrite my response to what God is saying to me within that day’s meditations. And I have kept a journal of days, again by hand; brief thoughts on my insights into each day – not a recounting of events but more of a description of feelings and understandings that have manifested themselves along the way.

So I have been doing some writing. Maybe I haven’t done so badly after all, I tried to tell myself. Yet I have run from the accountability that this outlet provides. I have sorely missed the way that putting my ideas into words and then crafting those thoughts further has helped me discover the true essence of who I really am. Honesty has been draped with busy-ness and excuses along the way.

Yes, this is time-consuming, mind-straining, commitment-seeking work. But I feel better already.

And there are so many things waiting in line to be examined and woven more permanently into the tapestry of my life.

time travel – solsc #1

I feel as though I have traveled through time during the last few days.

Our son is getting married in May, and we are planning to have a slide show of him and his bride at the rehearsal dinner. I have looked through many pictures of him recently to choose which photos to use. It seemed that he grew up right before my eyes.

In preparation for this wonderful March SOLC writing challenge, I have randomly read back through several of my previous postings. Since many of them are about moments in my own past, I was transported to several other times and other places. It seemed that many years passed,  one right after another.

Just this weekend we drove to Mississippi for a gracious party for our son’s future bride. We left a day in Tennessee with a forecasted high of 30 degrees. We drove through 4-6 inches of snow that had fallen two days earlier in northern Alabama. (Fortunately the roads were clear.) We were greeted upon our arrival by sunny skies, warm temperatures, green fields, and buttercups in bloom. It seemed we had driven through seasons, from winter to spring.

Time is such a hard thing to pin down. It can pass like lightning or syrup depending on our circumstances. I am looking forward to spending time with fellow writers in this year’s March writing challenge. Welcome one and all!