Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Isn't it crazy how something as simple as a picture can take you back in time?   That's what happened for me this week.  I was skimming through posts on Facebook.  A friend had posted a picture of the snake that had taken shelter under the top of their grill.  It was by all accounts not a big snake.  The colors were pretty.  And in that exact second that I looked at that picture, I shuddered.

I shuddered because I was transported from my current age of 46 back to a time when I was six.  My grandparents had taken me to the zoo in Des Moines.  I loved this place.  There was a water fountain that was shaped like the head of a rhino.  There were big and small animals.  And best of all there were opportunities to interact with some of the smaller animals.  One particular day I had the chance to get to know snakes.  I was excited.  This I remember clearly.  There were probably twenty of us taking part in this hands on experience.

The zoo people told us what to expect.  They asked us to leave some distance between us.  And one by one we all got our very own small snake to hold.  We were instructed as to the best and most respectful way to hold the snakes.  They were smooth and wiggly.  We were having a great time.  And that's when it happened.  A little girl in the row behind me was startled by the snake flicking it's tongue at her.  She dropped her snake and screamed.  And from then on it was like a nasty chain reaction.  Her snake started skimming across the floor.  Up over the sandaled feet of the kid next to her.  Yep, he dropped his snake and screamed, too.

And it went from bad to worse.  In seconds there was pandemonium.  Lots of kids screaming.  Lots of parents and grandparents yanking their kids to safety.  Many little snakes probably looking for a safe place to hide.  The zoo workers were frantically using these grabber devices to catch the terrified snakes.  I was saved by my grandparents and the fear of snakes was instilled in me.

Fast forward to the library when Gracie was about five.  This wonderful veterinarian who rescues injured animals gave a presentation.  He brought with him several of these hurt and healed animals.  One of the animals was a 14 foot python.  Maybe longer.  The vet slowly would weave his way through the aisles of children and parents to let them touch and love these animals.  And here came my chance to show my fearless little woman child that her mama was strong.   I thought about leaving to use the restroom.  Or maybe he would just pass me by.  And then Gracie reached out and touched this enormous snake.  Mama, it's beautiful.  Smooth, too.  As this point I'm hyperventilating inside for sure.  And at the same time trying to appear calm on the outside.  Nodding my head like a fool.  Trying not to open my mouth because we have been told to keep quiet out of respect for the animals.  And if I open my mouth a scream will for sure escape.

And then the vet says in a calm and soothing voice, mom, she did it and so can you.  He continues, I see you are afraid.  The snake is more afraid of you than you are of it.  Not possible, is what I say.  And then he encourages me once again and I touch the snake.  I'm not sure what happened after that.  I think I blacked out.  No I didn't.  It was smooth.  The vet said good job, mom.  You made a good impression on your daughter today.  I said, actually, she made a great impression on me.

Am I over this snake business?  No.  As evidenced by my reaction to the post this week.  But this experience reminded me to take risks and face fears.  As the saying goes, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ya Big Tease

Really?  One day it's sunny and smells like spring and the next it's snowing and ten below.  I'm no stranger to weather changes.  It's everywhere.  I am in it every day.  I can't help it.  I have to get from point A to point B.  There's no way around it.  I do not live in some eco-dome that would let me enjoy the 60-70 degree temperatures every day.  Nope.  Not me.

I live right here in the midwest.  The place that has season changes four times a year.  The place where the weather predictors have a lot of wiggle room if you ask me.  I once heard a prediction that went something like this, "today we will have highs in the 50s and lows in the teens.  With winds from the southwest to the northeast ranging from ten to fifty miles an hour.  Seriously?  What a nice job.  Pretty much guaranteed to hit and not miss on that one.

And yet I'll hang on every word spoken by these weather channelers when I wish the weather they are predicting to be true.  Like right now.  When I am so desperately wishing to throw open my windows and smell fresh air.  I cannot wait to sleep with the windows open.  Time to get that winter dust out of my lungs.  Tomorrow is the first day of spring.  Ha.  With highs predicted to be in the upper teens to low twenties.  Yuck.  Spring?  Ya big tease.

Monday, March 11, 2013


With the change of time, which I am none too happy about, I know that spring is around the corner.  I know.  I'll love this when it stays lighter out later.  I already did today.  But the loss of one hour hurts.  I woke up so tired on Sunday morning my body really hurt.  I'll adjust.  The spring in my step will return.

It's also a reminder that spring cleaning should take place.  So I started.  With the pantry.  Yep.  An overzealous task for sure.  There were some things in there that shouldn't have been.  Like school supplies and some junk mail.  I have a theory.  We probably had some company drop in.  In a moment of panic I threw what was on the counter into the pantry.  And over time this stuff got shoved further in.
Thank goodness there were no bills in this stack.  This isn't normally how I roll.  But I will stuff and shove when I need to clean fast.

And herein lies the problem.  You see I still love a simplified house.  I'm usually pretty good at keeping it this way.  But there are the times when it is impossible.  Those times when we are so busy that our house feels like a hotel.  Mostly because all we do is sleep here.  Thankfully in the last couple of months we've fallen into a routine.  And now it's time to dig out.

So I started with the pantry.  And my goal is to accomplish a small task each day.  I'd like to do this before spring break.  That way my break time will truly be that.  A time to relax.  I think I have my family on board.  We've purged closets.  If it hasn't been worn in a year, it's gone.  Extra holiday stuff has been sent away.  We still have the basement and garage to do.  And the rest of the kitchen.  So goes my motto.  If you don't love it and you don't use it, it's time to lose it.  Happily springing into action and wishing you the same.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

March Came In With A Break

I flipped the calendar over on Friday.  I love a new month.  A fresh start.  And on a Friday. Bonus.  I knew that I would have a nice Friday night with Scott.  And I'd sleep in on Saturday.  I could hardly wait.  Around 10:00 p.m. the text came.  Call me ASAP.  It was from Amy.  I sort of smiled.  I thought that she would be reminding me that her birthday was only two hours away.  She would probably be saying that I only had a couple of hours to talk to her before she turns another year older.  We are sisters.  And yes we're goofy.  Most of the time.

This wasn't one of those times.  I called and she had news for me.  Mom and Dad had been at a dinner party.  Dad went to get the car for mom.  He does that.  It's one of the things I love about him.  While walking to the car he fell and broke his arm.  Some fellow partygoers helped him get to his feet.  He got into the car and sat in the passenger's seat and mom drove him to the emergency room.  It was there that they ruled out any injury to his head, ribs or hip.  Thank goodness.  But he had broken his arm in two places and it was a compound fracture.  That's right.  Bone poking out of skin.  Oh man.  This is bad.

A terrific surgeon was called in.  From 12:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. he was in surgery.  A plate and several screws are now a permanent part of my dad.  There was a lot of clean up that needed to be done on dad's arm.  Lots of fragments that needed to be removed.  And of course there is the worry about infection.

So instead of getting together for brunch on Saturday to celebrate my sister's birthday, we gathered at the hospital to be with dad.  Not exactly the venue we had planned on.  But that was about all that was different.  Dad was still chatting it up with hospital staff.  He was talking with the nurses and hamming it up.  We were laughing and joking.  There he was, in bed with stitches from his shoulder to his elbow, and he's asking other people about where they are from.

He's always done that.  Both my mom and dad have always been equally as kind to people they know and love, as they are to people they are just getting to know.  It's who they are.  They are truly interested in others.  They are smart and great listeners.  They are compassionate.  They are funny.   Even in difficult times.  They are authentic, beautiful people.  I couldn't have asked for better role models in life.

So the next six to eight weeks will be different for my mom and dad.  Dad won't be able to dash off for coffee or lunch like he's used to doing.  And mom will be full time nurse.  This will not be easy for either of them.  But I also know that those who love them will be stopping by and calling often.  I know that I'll do what I can.  I know that my sister will be fantastic at helping wherever she is able.  And I know that their grace and humor will ease the pain a little.

This wasn't the fresh start I was anticipating in March.  I'm pretty sure it wasn't the birthday party Amy had planned on either.  But we made the best of it.  And right now I can almost hear it in my head---my dad saying,  them's the breaks!