21 Aug 2015 4 Comments
For all my new friends here, delving into the archives a bit … this one from May 2014.
There are times when I love people beyond words. A tiny girl in our neighborhood is learning to walk. Every day now we see her with her dad or mom, pushing a little Fisher-Price cart, slowly making her way down the sidewalk. This morning I was on the balcony dead-heading flowers and here she came with her mama. They waited until the coast was clear, then headed across the street in our direction. About the time they reached the mid-point, a police car approached from the east and stopped well short of the intersection … and waited … and waited … and then when Little Miss had safely reached the curb the car rolled ever so slowly up the street. Nobody hurried her, not a hint of impatience was displayed down there on that ordinarily busy street. Something very important was taking place and everything else could wait. You rock, Lawrence, Kansas, yes you do.
25 Jul 2015 4 Comments
First post on my Facebook feed this morning was a Happy Anniversary wish from our son John. It’s our 11th … and both of us spaced it off completely, a first in that number of years. We are, joyfully and officially, The Old Married Couple. We’ve been cutting Hallmark short since about year five, our favorite flowers ever were the ones at our wedding, and neither of us needs chocolates, so nothing lost — it rained a bit ago and cooled off the oven that’s been raging outside our door, so we’ll probably walk the half-block to Cielito’s, our home away from home, and celebrate on their big patio with the best margaritas in town.
Eleven years ago today, we got married after the close of the morning church service, and then our pastor and friends served lunch to about 300 people. Simple, beautiful, memorable, sweet, and fun.
Happy. So happy.
Our glamour photo shoot — a gift from Kim for my birthday not long after our wedding.
Yeah. This guy.
The newlyweds today. A lot of changes can happen in eleven years’ time, but the basics stay the same, and that’s so cool.
21 Jul 2015 8 Comments
It began with a fifteen-year-old, working at the local Mercantile, and a young soldier home from the WWI battle front.
My mom is at the far right.
The siblings in reverse order of birth, starting in the lower left-hand corner: Roger, Barbara, Jerry, Ron. Back row: Sterling, Victor, Virginia (my mother), Bette, Bob, and their mama, Jennie Marie.
With Grandpa now gone, my grandmother got to see all of her children together in one place for the last time. Several would precede her in dying, which should never happen. But no dynasty knows when the end begins, so they go right on …
A fraction of the progeny brought forth upon the earth by the Reese Siblings. We’re as fun, entertaining, intelligent, smart-mouthed, certifiable, damaged, and independent as any group you want to assemble. Seriously … don’t mess with us, especially in light of the fact that I didn’t even try to list all of our stellar qualities. Except for the old codger front row third from right, I’m the eldest of all the cousins, middle of the middle row. And I’m clinging to that status for as long as possible while we watch the never-ending arrival of new babies. Every once in a while, you start something you can’t finish …
12 Jul 2015 Leave a comment
Playing with old pictures while learning the basics of a new collage maker. One of the perks of qualifying for Medicare is enjoying your own baby pics again and it makes me happy to see how happy this little girl was, whether reading, sitting in the chiggers, saying “Huh?” or plotting her escape from the farm, baby in tow. Also my mom dressed me in a mini-skirt, a cool sweater, and a beret?? She clearly thought there was a future for me at one point.
10 Jul 2015 Leave a comment
In my grandmother’s handwriting: “Aunt Mary & Aunt Kate Miller, maybe 1883 or so, Atchison, KS.”
Okay, NOW what? What does this mean for our Celia? What was her relationship to Mary and Kate, and how will this change her story? Answers must be found! Stay TUNED!
14 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
Miss Snarky always nails it in hilarious form.
23 May 2015 2 Comments
A comment today reminded me of this … I imported it two years ago from my original blog, and I don’t know its age at the time. Suffice it to say that it was written in another time frame and mindset, but I’ve chosen not to edit it … leaving it as is.
A nostalgia piece in honor of Memorial Day …
During a recent nursery visit to replace trees and plants lost to our western Kansas drought and heat, the greenhouse owner snapped off a king-sized rose bloom and handed it to me. Magically, as soon as I caught its scent, my grandma was there beside me and an entire era presented itself for review.
We grew up across a gravel driveway from my paternal grandparents, on a sweet little farm in the middle of a great expanse of wheat fields and pastures. There were cows and chickens and a big barn populated by sleepy cats, but the best part of the farm was Grandma and Grandpa’s garden. It spanned acres, and included nearly anything organic you could name — potatoes, carrots, onions, radishes, rhubarb, asparagus, sweet corn, peas, green beans, turnips (yucky), strawberries and tomatoes (both of which we were allowed to eat straight off the vine and warm from the sun, taking advantage of the salt shaker Grandma thoughtfully tucked under the leaves); fruit trees including apple, cherry, and peach — and every kind of flowering thing. Peonies, mock orange, baby’s breath, tulips, daisies, columbine, cosmos, daffodils, lilies, phlox, snapdragons … and roses. That list is by no means complete.
All of this was surrounded by hedges that my grandpa kept trimmed and orderly — a tall one across the back, with openings into the orchard beyond, and shorter hedges along the front and sides, with shaped entryways into the three main sections of the garden. Back in a corner, close to the cattle pens, grew watermelons and cantaloupe, sweet and succulent. And a half-mile away, next to an irrigation engine, was a colossal watermelon patch (which became infamous in its own right — a story for another day) that produced enough for all summer and into the fall, including a rollicking annual community watermelon feed.
Outside the confines of the hedges sat my grandparents’ imposing two-story farmhouse, filled with antiques and decades of living, surrounded by a cool green yard with a hammock stretched between two huge cottonwood trees and a rope swing hung from a sturdy branch. The clotheslines where we helped Grandma “hang out a nice wash,” as she invariably declared it to be, stretched across the lush grass.
There was a cement and brick milk house where our dad and grandpa filtered the milk from the cows, skimmed off the heavy cream, and left it all in glass jars to cool in troughs of fresh running water brought up by the windmill anchored next to the building. A battered tin cup hung on a pipe so anyone needing a quick pick-me-up could pump a fresh drink of water any time. That water was life-giving to the farmer coming in off the tractor, the farm wife with an apron full of freshly-picked veggies, or the farm kid tired and sweaty from a hot game of hide-and-seek in the yard. We (my sisters and brother and I, along with cousins and neighbor kids) spent long hours in that yard and garden, held countless tea parties under the towering twin conifers set in the middle of the garden proper, and built more than one fort among the acres of fruit trees and evergreens out back. And on occasion, we worked.
When I think of my grandparents, he shows up in overalls and she’s wearing a homemade housedress and apron, tied at the waist and pinned to the flowery cotton of her dress at the shoulders. And she never went out, hoe in hand, without a handmade sunbonnet. A real lady had creamy white skin, and although Grandma never managed to achieve that standard of beauty, having been born with distinctly olive coloring, she tried. Grandpa, too, protected his head with a well-worn felt cowboy hat that he sweated through in nothing flat.
Thus they went forth every day equipped for work, intent upon it, dedicated to it. Those luscious fruits and vegetables out there in the hot sun were life, and life doesn’t wait. They did their best to corral us, to slow our head-long summer romp through the garden, to foist sunbonnets upon us and thrust hoes and rakes into our grubby little hands. I remember thinking I really should help out more, take more of an interest, learn something while I was at it. But the fork in the big tree behind the milk house was calling my name, my book was still stashed there from the day before, and I was hot and tired and needed a drink of ice cold water from the well …. and I never quite found time to own responsibility and discipline in any discernible way.
There was one time of year, however, when we all pitched in and did our part. I’m ashamed to say, it had a lot to do with the fact that we got paid for our efforts, but, well ….
Every year in the days preceding Memorial Day, my grandparents would cut huge armloads of tightly-budded peonies, wrap them in wet burlap, and store them in crocks of well water in the cool and spacious cement-lined root cellar. Other flowers, too, found their way into crocks, awaiting that early-morning observance at cemeteries around the countryside. Our job as grandchildren was to take old paring knives and snip daisy bouquets in counts of twenty-five, band them and put them into jars in the cellar. It was always a treat to go from the sunny garden to the damp coolness of “the pit,” and Grandma and Grandpa paid us a nickel a bouquet. We were suddenly rich, and Woolworth’s, McClellan’s, and Duckwall’s were a mere twelve miles away.
We somehow gained a sense of having contributed to something very special. The day before Memorial Day, which was known as Decoration Day then, and very early the morning of, neighbors and strangers from surrounding areas started pulling into the drive to collect the big flower baskets and smaller bundles they’d pre-ordered. And many, knowing there was always plenty, stopped by to see what they might pick up. The air had a special freshness about it and people invariably seemed happy and intent on their mission.
I remember feeling proud of my grandma for her ability to grow and arrange flowers into spectacular gifts, and a connectedness to all those people coming to embrace her talents. I felt firmly tied to all the generations being honored on those Memorial weekends, and I still remember snippets of stories from the conversations I overheard.
After all the paying customers had retrieved their floral offerings, Grandma let us kids have the leftover daisy bundles to place on the graves of the nearly-forgotten babies from the 1800s in our small community cemetery a mile from the farm. It always felt like we’d done something amazing by honoring those brief little lives, and the yearly military ceremony conducted by aging war heroes in a sometimes haphazard and ill-fitting assortment of service garb lent added poignancy.
If my grandparents were here now and could somehow read my heart (which I always felt they could), they would be gratified to know how much I actually did learn through their example and the privilege of living in their shadow. Things like hard work, respect for the living and the dead, a certain acceptance that no matter what happens life goes on … these things have stood me in good stead over all the years since Grandma and Grandpa left us.
As with most farmers of that generation they never became wealthy. But the things they passed along to us are beyond price … and well worth consciously appreciating as another Memorial Day rolls around.
03 Dec 2014 6 Comments
My grandma, who had to tolerate me a lot since I lived within rock-throwing distance and never knew when to go home, used to tell me that I was as happy as if I had good sense. That is, when she wasn’t accusing me of lacking the sense God gave a goose. Clearly she noticed a certain deficit in the reasoning department. Time and experience have predictably sharpened my perceptions, but if I have to base my mood on whatever life’s currently dishing out, I’m done. Hey, I KNOW things suck, generally speaking. I’m perfectly aware we’re all headed to hell in a disintegrating hand basket at warp speed. You know the drill: our atmosphere is imploding, our ground water’s drying up, our oceans are gunked up with plastic and sewage and a sick radioactive glow, the whole planet’s at war in one way or another, and disease and pestilence stalk the land. But I can’t shake the feeling that life is good, gosh darn it, all indications to the contrary. What can I say, things just have a way of working out, and it’s always too early to give up. To quote the great Lucimar Santos de Lima (it’s okay, even Wikipedia can’t find him), “It doesn’t hurt to be optimistic, you can always cry later.”
20 Oct 2014 Leave a comment
Atypical deep thoughts from my friend Ned Hickson. Imminently readable.
Anyone who reads my weekly newspaper column or blog posts knows I try to keep life in perspective through humor. In fact, I’d say it’s one of the reasons my children are still alive today. While I joke about that, for many years humor was also part of a coping mechanism from a childhood witnessing both verbal and physical abuse by the men in my family — specifically, my father and older brothers.
The good news is that each of them eventually turned themselves, their lives and the lives of the people they loved, around. It wasn’t until I became a father that I realized the impact that a childhood witnessing abuse had on me, and how some of those wounds — as both a witness and recipient — had never truly healed.
I know this because I occasionally saw reflections of my father and brothers in myself as I…
View original post 588 more words
24 Aug 2014 4 Comments
in My Thoughts, Quotations, Uncategorized Tags: be real, brave, challenges, comfort zone, family, gray days, impact, life, loneliness, memories, opinions, pain, people, polls, purpose, relationships, risk, self-care
So have you done the ALS Ice Bucket challenge? The videos I’ve watched are entertaining and attention-grabbing, which of course was the aim, and suddenly a little-talked-about disease is receiving the big focus and funding necessary for ramping up the research. A diagnosis of ALS is a death sentence, regardless of age or station in life, so a cure would be a godsend. The conversation is in full bloom around the country, as intended. We can’t really address things we have never faced, don’t know about, or are afraid to discuss.
Concurrent with the ALS wave, the death of a much-loved entertainer has sparked a dialogue on the realities of clinical depression and suicide, with far different results. The ugly, willfully ignorant comments on social media have been crushing. If a friend confided in you that he or she had received a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer and had only a short time to live, would your response be something like “Wow, dude, that sucks. But hey, quit whining. Chin up! Everybody has troubles. Keep a good attitude, get out and enjoy life, it’s bound to turn things around. You’ll feel better before you know it!” If you say yes, I call bullshit.
I’ve seen a few negative comments about the ALS challenge — it wastes water (give me a break — your twenty-minute showers and ice chests full of beer are all totally justified, I suppose); it’s stupid and juvenile (but painting your face and body for a sports event, or wearing a block of cheese on your head isn’t); I don’t see the point (of course you don’t, it’s under your hat). But the response has been predominantly positive and lighthearted, and it’s fun to watch.
The conversation about depression and suicide is an entirely different story. It’s a fact of life that our bodies get sick and die — it happens right in front of us so there’s no denying it. But you could talk and type all you want and way too many people will still never comprehend that our brains and psyches get sick, too. If you wouldn’t shame someone for having cancer or suffering a brain hemorrhage or getting hit by a drunk driver, why would you use shame as a tool against illnesses and injuries of the spirit? And who the hell are YOU to do that in the first place?
Here’s an actual example of the complete nonsense being posted:
“The fact still remains he (Robin Williams) killed himself because he made bad choices in his life … society is only making a big deal out of him because of who he was and his money. Wealth comes with challenges. Depression is one of them. … A person’s stature in society shouldn’t make them any more important than anyone else. … Seek out help. It is out there but you have to lose your pride to find that help. Don’t be a coward and take the easy way out. Listen to the voice inside you that tells you right from wrong. Don’t try to tune it out or you will be in for a rough time.”
What a steaming pile of panther whangy.* If you don’t know what you’re talking about you’d be smart to shut your pie hole. I’ve never been clinically depressed, I’ve just been hit with garden variety blues from time to time, but I’ve watched beloved family members suffer and die from it, so I’m here to tell you:
1) Clinical depression is not caused by “bad choices.”
2) The conversation is not really about Robin Williams, except that his life perfectly illustrates how deadly the disease is. He had it all, but money, wealth, and fame do not in any way make a person immune to a disease of the brain and spirit.
3) I haven’t seen anyone express the view that Mr. Williams was “more important than anyone else.” His high-profile death and the fact that he was loved by so many people have simply generated a national conversation that needed to take place.
4) “Losing your pride” has little bearing on seeking help. A person lost in the dark tunnel of clinically-depressive illness is mostly incapable of reaching out. I’ve been told by people who’ve been there and survived it that it’s hard to even hear other voices or entertain possible options — for them, they’re in the process of dying and it takes everything they’ve got just to hang on. Robin Williams DID seek help, and had been treated for depression for years, but just as with cancer, a “cure” was not easily come by. Complicating matters, anxiety and depression are clinical symptoms of Parkinson’s, which he was also dealing with.
5) Rather than being “cowardly” and “taking the easy way out,” a person in the throes of the illness finally succumbs to the relentless pain and suffering, concludes that the world would be far better off without him, and exercises the only option that seems to be left.
6) “Right from wrong.” What an incredibly judgmental thing to put on someone. If you’ve never been in that long dark tunnel, hating yourself for who you think you are and what you believe you’re doing to your loved ones by simply being you, then you need to SHUT UP.
7) “Don’t try to tune it out or you will be in for a rough time.” If people with clinical depression could “tune it out,” they’d do it in a heartbeat. And as for a “rough time,” it’s clear that you care very little about what they’re going through, so DO.PLEASE.SHUT.UP.
No one is immune to mental illness, so it would be in your best interest to stay off the soapbox. Many people are born with a genetic predisposition to any number of spiritual and mental illnesses, and all the arrogance and condescension in the world won’t change that — that attitude just lets people feel better about themselves because it didn’t happen to them.
If you’ve been spared from the disease of depression, why not adopt the approach of the ALS people and do something to help raise awareness. I just did.
*with appreciation to Philip Grecian
30 Jan 2014 2 Comments
Fun morning here. For starters, I answered the doorbell in my PJs, only to come face to face with the head of our Homeowners Association. I had my FIRST delightful encounter with her the day we moved in. Something about the rule book and timing and blah-blah-blah. Couldn’t say exactly, as she was standing, uninvited, in my space, whacking me over the head with rules she hadn’t bothered to notify us about, so I tuned her out. No biggie. This morning’s surprise visit was about something equally inconsequential which she could have taken care of by looking with her eyes, so it was a non-moment. But you know how things like that set a tone.
No connection with the homeowner person, but there are days when all you do is cry. It doesn’t change anything, but it gets that stuff out there where you can look at it and try to figure out if it’s as scary as it seems, as hurtful as it feels, as huge as it looks. And no matter what, if it feels like your heart is shattering it’s huge. It’s been a long time since I’ve cried for myself, my own hurt feelings, my disappointments. It’s the people I care desperately about who can break me down into little pieces and bring my day to a halt. Family. Friends. The things that rock their world in a bad way shut mine down. When somebody I love is hurting I want to either hole up and not see another human being, or dig my Superman cape out of the laundry and confront the world. If I couldn’t vent on a daily basis to a lucky group of Facebook friends I’d probably be in jail. They help fill up my “give a damn” bucket when it’s empty, and they can’t possibly know how vital a service that is. Most of them I’ve never (yet) met in person, but just by getting it they heal me. What a gift not to have to explain things.
So my husband, who really IS Superman, took me to lunch and we tried a new place and I ended up crying at the table while I was trying to tell him what was going on in my stupid heart. Our waitress looked concerned, but I smiled at her later — “See? I’m fine!” — and she won’t remember me next time we go there so who cares. And Kim gets it, bless him. I try not to tell him ALL the things — he has his own stuff to wrestle with — but he always knows when I’m getting out of sorts so it’s only fair to let him know he didn’t do anything to make that happen. He makes the GOOD things happen and he saves my life all over again every day.
It’s starting to sound like the world will keep on turning, so I might get some music happening and work on the closet for a while. And maybe tomorrow the sun will shine.
06 Nov 2013 Leave a comment
We moved! We got away!! It really happened!!!
I have to hold back a little bit on Facebook so as not to alienate ALL my friends, but we love our new city and we feel like kids again. We haven’t unpacked all the boxes yet, but this is home and we hope we’ll never leave it until they carry us out feet first.
We arrived in time to watch the leaves turn, a show that astounds and delights us in every direction. We’ve explored restaurants and coffee shops, watched theatre performances, happened upon live music more times than I can count. We live one block off of downtown, an area that teems with life nearly around the clock. It feeds our spirits.
We needed this so much. No regrets. No regrets.