Respite

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“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
― John Muir

Being from Alaska I have a soft spot for John Muir and the great outdoors. As such it should come as no surprise to find out that I love to go camping. I don’t get to go very often, but when I do I like to unplug from the digital world.

In a few short days we’re packing up our camping gear and hitting the road for a while. I intend to fully enjoy the time I have been given to commune with nature, marvel at God’s creation and spend time with my two favorite guys. I’m planning to use this time to relax and refresh – free from my daily responsibilities, including my self-imposed blogging schedule. I’ll be back at the laptop when we get home. Hopefully inspired and full of new things to share.

In the meantime, I’d like to leave with you some more words of wisdom from Mr. Muir.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

I’ll catch up with y’all when I return from our adventure. With dirty feet, of course.
 

 

 

 

The Lighthouse – A Short Story

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In the early hours of a warm August Wednesday, Jane, Joe and Katie merged onto the freeway in their laden down minivan.

“Are you sure you really need ALL this stuff? You’re going to be living in a postage stamp.” Joe inquired of his only daughter, Katie.

“Daaaad, do we really have to go through this again? I promise I packed as light as I could, but I need everything I brought with me.” Katie answered.

“I understand the bedding, computer, a few clothes, and even the fridge, but a microwave? We’re paying an arm and a leg for you to eat in those cafeterias.”

“How else am I supposed to have popcorn for late night study session?” Katie exasperatedly replied.

Joe waved conciliatorily at his daughter and resumed scanning the traffic on the highway as Jane quietly stared out the van window.

Lost in her own thoughts, Jane couldn’t help but feel like the last eighteen years had passed just as quickly as the corn fields were flying by her window now. Wasn’t it just last week that I laid eyes on her for the first time? Or yesterday that I held her hand as we walked across the street for her first day of Kindergarten? I can’t believe I’m about to drop her off at college…

“You’re awfully quiet over there. You okay?” Joe quietly asked Jane.

Wiping away the lone tear that had escaped her eyes, Jane turned to her husband, “I’m fine. Just going through the list of everything we brought, making sure we didn’t miss anything.”

With a smile in his eyes Joe chided, “Well, I think you left the kitchen sink at home, but it may be back there.” Jane playfully slapped his shoulder as they looked at each other and laughed.

“Hey! What’s so funny up there?”

“Nothing you need to worry about. We’re just old and prone to unexpected bouts of lunacy,” said Joe.

With a loud sigh and a shake of her head Katie went back to managing her social media empire.

“Why don’t you put on some music dear? It’s too quiet in here for my taste.”

“Sure Joe, just don’t expect it to be country.”

“What’s wrong with country? You know I love singing along.”
“Exactly. I’d like our daughter to be able to hear her professors.”

Joe shot Jane a reproachful glance, then winked at her as she began to troll through her Spotify playlist finally landing on a road trip classic, Bon Jovi.

“This is even better than country! You give love a bad name…” Joe warbled as his wife covered her ears.

The hours passed by as the music played. Jane even managed to drift off to sleep for a short while. As she slowly regained consciousness at the opening refrains of the Eagles’ Hotel California, Jane found herself suddenly panicked. Nearly jumping out of her seat, Jane began to rummage frantically through her purse. Oh no! I can’t have forgotten it!

Concerned by his wife’s sudden alarm, Joe asked, “What’s wrong? Are you okay? Do I need to pull over?”

Jane continued her search and just as Joe was about to ask again, she found the wrapped package she was looking for. Stopping to take a deep breath as the concern on Joe’s face continued to grow she finally turned to her husband with a smile of relief on her face. “I’m okay. Just thought I had left something important at home, but I found it.”

“And here I thought there was nothing left at our house!”

Ignoring her husband, Jane picked up her book and lost herself in 18th century Scotland for the rest of the drive.

An or so hour later the family found themselves in front of Katie’s new home. After checking in with the RA and meeting her roommate, Joe, Jane and Katie began the arduous task of unloading the van.

The three of them got everything unloaded and put in its place. Jane even made Katie’s bed for her.

“You know this may the only time my bed looks that nice, right?”

“Yes, but I wanted to make sure it got made at least once!” Jane said as the pair fell into a fit of laughter, to which Joe just shook his head. “I don’t know what either of you are going to do without the other one!”

Joe regretted his outburst immediately as the joviality quickly died and the sadness over the impending goodbye descended upon the trio.

“Well, I guess it’s time for us to head back home. Katie, you know I’ll miss you, but I’m proud of you and I love you. You’ve got this!”

“Thanks dad.” Katie gave her dad a huge hug as her tears fell onto his shoulder.

“My turn,” said Jane. “I love you to the moon and back. I’ll see you in a few weeks. Call me anytime,” Jane managed to get out before she lost her voice to the tears she was attempting to hold back.

Joe and Jane headed out the door, but just before Katie could shut it behind them, Jane reached into her purse and gave her daughter the wrapped package and a card. “Open this after we’re gone. Love you!”

Katie hugged her mom one last time and then waved a final goodbye.

As Joe and Jane reached their vehicle, Jane began to quietly weep. Joe embraced her and then ushered her into the van.

“She’ll be alright. I promise.”

“I know she will Joe. I’m just going to miss her. Life at home will never be the same again.

“That’s right! I finally get to have naked time in the living room!” Joe exclaimed as his wife rolled her eyes at him and then chuckled.

Jane wiped her eyes as the pair started their journey home to a new reality.

Katie, still holding the package her mom had given her, wiped away a few tears as she watched her parents pull away. I guess it’s time to find out what this is, Katie thought to herself. Setting down the card that came with it, she carefully unwrapped the package to reveal a ceramic lighthouse. Why would she give me this? She must have finally lost it for good!

Still puzzled, she set the lighthouse down and picked up the card.

To My Mini Me,

I’m sure that you’re wondering why I have given you a lighthouse. I promise I haven’t gone completely mad! 😉 I remember when I left home I was so excited to gain my freedom and live under my own roof that it never occurred to me it might actually be a difficult adjustment. Don’t get me wrong – I relished the freedom (and the lack of chore list), but it wasn’t all I had thought it would be. Without anyone to provide me structure and accountability I sometimes felt like I was a boat adrift at sea on a foggy day. In the especially difficult times my little boat was in danger of grounding itself on a sandbar or being battered to pieces as the waves threw me onto a rocky shoreline. What I needed was a lighthouse to guide me safely back to port. Unfortunately, I never realized that I had one. My mom was waiting at the top of her lighthouse – waiting for me to reach out. Sadly, she waited in vain. I wish I had realized she was there and how much easier she could have made things. I also wish I hadn’t been so determined to succeed on my own that I refused to allow myself to reach out to my mom. In the long run we both suffered.

I didn’t want the same thing to happen to you. I wanted you to know that when, not if, (because the feeling is inevitable) you feel lost at sea, there is help. I will tend my lighthouse and be sure the light is burning bright and the foghorn is blaring. You just have to look up from your troubles long enough to see it. Hopefully this little lighthouse will serve as a reminder that you don’t have to stay adrift. Just look for my light. It will be there.

All my love,

Mom

As Katie set the card back down she could hardly see through the tears in her eyes. Overwhelmed with the emotions of the day she had a good cry. Once she had been through nearly an entire box of tissue, Katie realized it was supper time and that she needed to get down to the dining hall before it was too late. Before she left she cleared a space above her desk that she could see from anywhere in the room and set the lighthouse down in it. Realizing that she already felt a little lost, Katie picked up her phone and dialed Jane’s number.

Ten miles away from the dorm Jane’s phone rang. “Why’s your phone making a foghorn sound?” Joe asked.

“It’s Katie’s new ringtone.”

Graduation Speaker Cheat Sheet

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I’ve been to a couple of graduations lately. The fact that we let 18 year olds give speeches full of advice to their fellow graduates never ceases to entertain me. I have often wondered if they look back on those speeches 20 years later and ask themselves, “What was I thinking?” I know I would.

In a bid to aid future graduation speakers, I’ve complied a list of helpful advice based on my years of experience in the real world.

  • The real world doesn’t care that you’re mommy’s special child.
  • Sunscreen is your best friend at the beach.
  • Don’t smoke meth. It ruins your teeth.
  • Always wear your retainer. Parents don’t pay for adult braces.
  • Uber/Lyft is the drunk’s best friend.
  • Student loans aren’t free. The government always gets its money back.
  • If you want pink underwear, just wash your whites with a couple of red shirts.
  • “I’m offended,” is not a valid argument.
  • Used gum belongs in the garbage can, not on the sidewalk. Please be kind to the bottom of your fellow citizens’ shoes.
  • Man buns should not be a thing. Unless you’re a samurai.
  • Tattoos are great, just think long and hard about placement. When you’re eighty that boob tattoo may become a stomach stamp.
  • Never let someone tell you coffee isn’t a health drink.
  • Don’t take candy, drinks, or drugs from strangers.
  • Never meet your Tinder or Bumble dates at your house. The crazies love those apps.
  • Piña coladas are good for you because coconut and pineapple are good for you.
  • Not every meal needs to meet your social media accounts.
  • Tip generously and treat servers well. You’re just one rude remark away from a spit-covered meal.
  • Few legitimate jobs pay cash. That pizza you’re delivering may have an extra jail-sentence-risking topping
  • Professors, not just moms, employ the “Because I said so,” explanation.
  • You can never truly get away from your parents. You have their DNA.
  • And finally, one of my favorite tips – Never kiss your honey when your nose if runny. You may think it’s funny, but it’snot.

 

Out of Office

It’s a gorgeous day and I intend to enjoy it.

Have a great weekend. I’ll be back at this blog thing on Monday. If I feel like it.

Now excuse me, the Wine Walk is calling…

Bad Poem #1

What happens when it’s late in the afternoon and I have writer’s block? I write bad poetry.

 

Bad Poem #1

When the rain falls or the sun shines

When tears well or giggles become guffaws

When success is celebrated or loss is mourned

You are there

 

When days are long and nights are short

When tempers flare and feelings are hurt

When depression builds and darkness encroaches

You are there

 

When I run or stumble

When I fly or crash

When I jump or fall

You are there

 

When I am joyous and unburdened

When I am turning cartwheels and pirouettes

When I am carefree and boisterous

You are there

 

Come what may

You are there

Fahrenheit What the Frak?

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It’s almost summer. While I love the freedom that comes with a break from the school schedule, I am not a fan of the sweltering temperatures that run rampant in Texas this time of year. A direct result of the rising mercury is a shortening of my fuse. I tend to be a little cranky to start with and by the end of the hottest part of the year, I am in full volcanic eruption mode when it comes to my temper. I’ve tried to learn to live with it, but after 25 years of trying I must admit defeat.

In the Northern regions of the continent, many residents suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Those with SAD contend with bouts of depression during the shorter days winter brings. While anti-depressants are sometimes prescribed, one of the most common solutions is to provide the afflicted with a lamp that simulates sunshine. Most patients respond well to the light treatments and require no other intervention. As long as they have access to a power source, they retain their sunny dispositions.

I spent a significant portion of my younger years living in Alaska. At that time SAD was just starting to be recognized and treated. While I knew people that experienced depression triggered by lack of sunlight, I actually really enjoyed the shorter days of winter. After all, it meant that we had long summer nights too. I reveled in the variety. It is one of the things I miss most about Alaska.

So this Alaskan girl followed some boy to Texas after being promised we would only be here a few years. 25 years later, here I sit, still in Texas. And I still hate the hot weather. I have decided that if lack of sunlight can bring on depression, too much sun can cause one to be impatient and irritable. As such, I have come up with my own disorder: Heat Induced Just Can’t Even (HIJCE).

Wondering if you may suffer from HIJCE? Allow me to provide you with a quick list of possible symptoms:

  • You refuse to go outside because it requires three layers of sunscreen be applied first.
  • You avoid the pool because it’s like climbing into a hot tub.
  • You stand in front of the open refrigerator door just to feel the cool breeze.
  • You’ve contemplated sleeping in the garage dwelling chest freezer.
  • You scream like a banshee when anyone takes too long coming into or out of the house.
  • You are willing to sell a kidney to pay for the exorbitant electricity bill that comes with maintaining a 68° ambient temperature in your home.
  • Your front lawn looks like a jungle because you refuse to mow it in the heat.
  • There’s no such thing as a hot meal when the outdoor thermometer reads above 85°.
  • Ice cream becomes your only source of calories.
  • Your friends accuse you of living like a mole person because the blinds and curtains are glued shut.
  • You need an industrial sized ice machine for drinks, baths, etc.
  • Your children run for cover when the weather report comes on the news before they become the outlet for your rage over the never-ending list of 3 digit temps on the TV screen.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the symptoms of HIJCE, just some of the most common. Sadly, beyond moving north, there is no known cure for HIJCE. If you suffer from it, I recommend seclusion in a mountain cabin (preferably in Alaska) from June-September. If you know someone that suffers from it avoid him or her at all costs.

I hope you find this helpful in identifying those that suffer from HIJCE. Please try to understand that people who suffer from it don’t mean to be hurtful; their crankiness is really beyond their control. They Just Can’t Even handle the heat.

Please consider this both a warning and an advance apology for my behavior in the next few months.

**Heat Induced Just Can’t Even should not be confused with other forms of Just Can’t Even. Such as Lack of Coffee J Can’t Even, Dog Hair Induced Just Can’t Even, Teenage Induced Just Can’t Even…

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