The Closet 

My grandfather sits

In the closet

Of the back room 

In my grandmother’s basement 

He cannot see

Or hear

Or move

He just sits there 

Quietly 

Alone

Waiting

As he has done 

For the past seven years

Sometime I want 

To be a thief

In the night

And steal

My grandfather

And spread his ashes

Upon the Canadian lakes

That reflect the bluest sky

So he can feel the sun

And be caught up in 

The northern breeze

Where he once

Felt alive 

Farm Memories

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I had returned to my parents home on a warm July evening and was immediately greeted with a smell that brought me back to my childhood. The smell of freshly cut alfalfa is one that always causes me to have a sense of nostalgia. If I close my eyes I can go back to waking on those lazy, dewy mornings, a breeze coming through my upstairs window and breathing in that grassy freshness. Most of the time I was praying I could drift back to sleep without hearing dad’s voice echoing up the stairs to get up because there was work to do. Summer on the farm in Nebraska meant laying out irrigation pipe, walking beans and picking up hay bales back in my day. Today it’s been replaced with automated pivots, herbicides and big round bales picked up by tractors. No more loading square bales onto the pickup bed as high as you could and then throwing them up into the hayloft to stack. What fun we would have walking through those piles and making forts in the haymow. The old calico farm cats almost certainly would choose to have their litters of kittens somewhere among the bales of straw or hay. When we saw the mama cats had lost their big bellies we were on the hunt to find those babies. We knew not to get too close or sure enough she would move them so we would keep a watchful eye from afar. Summers meant gardens and beans to snap, sweet corn to freeze, 4-H meetings and livestock to take care of and it also meant a lot of time outdoors. To some the smells of the farm may be offensive and some certainly are. I can’t say I want to relive my scooping manure days anytime soon! However the smell of fresh turned soil in the spring and the rows of ripe cut alfalfa will always bring back fond memories. Life seemed simple then when as a child our biggest worry was finding the newest litter of kittens.

Divorce Party – Come on Over!

The great thing about blogs is the ability to express your opinion. Sometimes reading one that differs from your own opinion really gets you thinking. I read one just the other day about a man who was offended by people throwing “divorce” parties. His points were well taken. To paraphrase he mentioned “We don’t just divorce someone because they change, and we don’t celebrate that we quit on each other” He knows he will be with his wife until one of them dies. Good for him. I agree and I felt the same way at one time but guess what?  I got a divorce and I had a divorce party. But here’s the deal. I didn’t quit on anyone and I didn’t celebrate the end of something but the beginning of a new life for myself. The author said he will “ignore the ingrates that throw divorce parties” That’s fine because I am happy to be ignored by people who judge me. I have had a lifetime of judgment since my divorce – I honestly need no more, thank you very much.  I didn’t leave my husband because he changed. I left him because he would not. He refused to grow as a person or as a couple. I don’t have to explain to anyone why – only to know in my heart I did everything I could to keep my marriage alive. It takes two people to do that. It’s not as simple as “someone quit” and placing blame doesn’t suddenly make it heal. Anyone that has been through a divorce knows it’s not easy. It’s a sad, difficult journey that no one ever wants to go through. Everyone has hopes and dreams on their wedding day of “until death do us part”. It is so easy to judge someone if you have not been there. It is a heartbreaking experience. Does that mean you should be ashamed? We try at many things in life and fail. Why is marriage one that we are not allowed to forgive ourselves or each other for failing? Why are we not allowed to come out of it with our head held up and courage to move forward? I think if we can use maturity, forgive what we have done wrong, put our children first and wish each other well in life we can quit calling divorce ugly. No it’s not a happy time initially but as all things come to an end we have a choice – we can deal with it and move on or we can mope and live in the past.

I don’t wish for anyone to get divorced but I don’t wish for anyone to be judged for doing so. I still believe in love. I still cry at weddings. I still am a romantic at heart and want love in my life. I’m not a bad person for wanting happiness and love for myself and neither is anyone else for getting a divorce. Bottom line? Life is short. Whether love lasts 2 years, 50 years or a lifetime it’s not up to anyone else to determine.  My wish is for every marriage to last forever but if it doesn’t and you end up going through a grueling, 2 yearlong battle like I did. Throw a damn party if you want! Invite your friends to thank them for their support and love that helped you get through one of the most difficult times in your life. Have a beer, glass of wine or cake and say “Here is to me and my new life!” and don’t let anyone tell you it is wrong. Realize that you are human, learn from your mistakes, take time to figure out who you are and vow that the next love of your life will be “until death do us part”.

You dance inside my chest

It’s one of my favorite things to do on a lazy Saturday morning, peruse the poetry section of the used bookstore. My fingers lovingly graze past the worn edges until a new volume catches my interest and I flip through the pages lost, lingering as I lean against the dusty shelf. Yesterday the volume that fell into my path left me feeling as if I were a Peeping Tom and yet…it found its way into my stack of purchases as I could not leave it behind for another. We discard that which no longer serves us but somewhere, somehow perhaps it always lives on.

I smiled when I saw the small golden book of “Love Poems of Rumi” Only slightly worn I eagerly opened the cover and there I saw the flowing inscription. “To my dearest love, Merry Christmas. You dance inside my chest. Where no one sees you, but sometimes I do and that sight becomes this. I love you. I love you. I love you.” Emily

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Off the beaten path in Pennsylvania

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My first trip to Pennsylvania has been awe inspiring. We are staying in a Bucks county – north of Philadelphia and spring here is gorgeous. The trees are flowering and tulips are in bloom. We spent a day in search of the 12 covered bridges of Bucks county armed with a map and our cell phones. The county visitor guide on the web has turn by turn directions to get from bridge to bridge but we decided to start in a different order – I would only suggest this to those who don’t mind getting lost and taking a few wrong turns. We did so and happened along some really cool spots we may have not seen otherwise so our “off the beaten path” self tour worked for us! This included a very cool bar and grill called The Raven’s Nest where we stopped to eat a home cooked roast beef sandwich and have a beer. We got some great directions from some locals on how to head to our next bridge. Friendly people in Pennsylvania. We hit 6 bridges the first day, each were unique and beautiful. Their settings were all different and we spent some time appreciating the beauty of their surroundings – the woods, the creeks, the old Levi Sheard grist mill by one was a site to see, the stone used to make the walls is incredible. The drive itself is beautiful through the forests and taking in some very old homes and a bit of countryside. A very relaxing way to spend an afternoon. We plan to hit the other 6 in a couple of days. Possibly hitting the wineries staggered in between.
Check out the website here covered bridges

May Flowers

What a relief that spring has finally arrived in the Midwest. My backyard is alive with Snow Flowering Crabapple Trees in full bloom. Their branches so heavy they slightly droop under the lovely weight. Today the pale petals are starting to drift to the sidewalk and greening grass below. I wish they would stay longer. Much like the lilacs I knew growing up – their sweet time ends too soon. I long all year for that first tiny bud, that fragrant token for winter’s penance. I feel it should linger just a bit longer. After all, the cold, dark Winter seemed to last forever. It would only be fair to enjoy the delights of spring a little longer, wouldn’t it?

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If I had a Hammer/Daily Prompt 4-25

Daily Prompt April 25th, 2014

If you could learn a trade — say carpentry, electrical work, roofing, landscaping, plumbing, flooring, drywall — you name it — what skill(s) would you love to have in your back pocket?

These days I would like to have the phone number in my back pocket of someone to do is willing to do all of these for me! I have done my share of many of these trades and I can’t say that I enjoyed them all that much with the exception of landscaping. I grew up on a farm and I know my way around a tool belt and I’m grateful for the knowledge. As a woman it gives me a great deal of independence not having to call a man to fix my leaky toilet or jump start my dead battery on my car. I have hammered, sawed, refinished, re-purposed and repaired. At one point in my life I was all about home fix-it projects and found a certain pride in the finished products. When I wanted something done I figured out how to do it myself, made a trip to Menards and went to work. I’m no where close to being a master at any of these skills but I know enough. I will leave the learning to those with a passion for it – they will be the ones who will do the best work and I greatly admire their patience and skill. These days when I want to learn something new I’ll gladly put down the hammer and pick up my camera, a paintbrush or a musical instrument. My creativity has taken a different path and I’ll embrace it with passion. Who knows maybe I’ll rap a little MC Hammer 😉

 

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Great Expectations…or not?

How do we live a life without expectation? Sylvia Plath in “The Bell Jar” wrote “If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed” Is it possible to go through life without expectations? Or more importantly – should we? Are we better off expecting nothing from others in order to avoid having our hearts broken, our souls crushed because of a certain standard in our mind that was not met? I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately and for a while I tried to achieve a “life without expectation”. I miserably fell short. Not because I expected too much of others but because I expected too little from myself. While Sylvia Plath understood that expectations certainly lead to disappointment (and in her life she had her share of them) her downfall was in putting the expectation solely onto the other person. We are only in control of ourselves and our own reactions therefore any expectation we have of someone else is never guaranteed. If we can understand that and acknowledge our expectations, evaluate them and use them as a guide in our lives I believe expectations can be a positive tool.

What is an expectation? Merriam-Webster defines it as “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen”  Our daily lives are filled with expectations with work, family, school, friends, society, government etc… the list goes on and on. We strive to meet others expectations and often just the daily grind finds us weary. In relationships it is even more stressful because we attach emotion to our expectations. Our personal relationships are where we feel loved, cherished and needed. Our whole sense of being is often tied to our emotional attachments and these are the expectations that often are the hardest to define, let go of or meet depending on which side of the relationship you are on. They are the ones that lead to the disappointments, the regret and often demise as in the case of Sylvia Plath.

When I was a little girl all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mommy. I fussed over my dolls, cuddled them, sang to them and spent hours daydreaming of the day when I would have babies of my own. My expectations where much like that of every little girl – I would marry the Prince Charming, he would sweep me off to the castle where we would have lots of babies and life would be happy ever after. My own childhood was a happy one and I didn’t know any differently. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how our expectations are deeply rooted in our own upbringing. Often what we know growing up is how we assume things “should be” or “will be”. I was young and naive when I married. I expected things from Prince Charming that he didn’t even have a clue at understanding because the castle he grew up in spoke a completely different language. (I think he was living in a gloomy old fortress) After the honeymoon wore off I started to see I wasn’t living in my dream castle but I still had the expectation that “marriage is forever” and I stuck it out for a very long time.To me my expectations were not unrealistic. I expected things that he didn’t think were a big deal such as for him to not be drunk on Christmas Eve with our children. I expected him to not throw things at me or call me every name in the book when he was angry about something. I expected him to put family first but work, his drinking, something else always came before the kids and I. I expected a gift on my birthday or Christmas but while I showered him with gifts it was often not reciprocated. I expected to not have to protect our own children from his rants and rages. I expected him to be a dad like my father was or at least to not be an angry one all the time. I expected the damn fairy-tale and I didn’t get it. Whatever the reason – my unrealistic expectations, the alcoholism laced with abuse or his own failed expectations from his tyrannical father – it led to years of disappointment. It’s not to say that all the years were terrible – I made the best of what I could for myself and my boys. While my expectations lowered each year we were together I clung to hope for a very long time that he would change, that love conquered all and one day he would turn around and realize that his way of living was not making him or any of us happy. Then one day it just got to be too much and I realized I expected more for myself. It was no longer about him and what I expected from him to fulfill my happiness. It was about me and my expectations for myself.

As I was writing this I started to think about the expectations I have formed for myself over the last couple of years and I realized that they are expectations I am looking for in my relationships also. These expectations are ones my close friends unknowingly adhere to – unwritten rules that have characteristics I admire and respect. They are guidelines for me based on my beliefs and are what I want in people who I become emotionally attached to. I realize that not all people will meet these expectations and I know that on days I will falter but at the end of the day these are the expectations I have for my life and those who are in it. They aren’t earth shattering or unheard of however they are things I was missing in my life while I was married. Whenever I am in a relationship and I am not realizing these ten truths I know it is time to re-evaluate my situation.

My Great Expectations

1. Respect – I will have respect for myself. my body and my mind, my family, friends and mankind. I expect others to show the same respect for themselves and others.

2. Tolerance – I will be tolerant of myself, my faults and my mistakes. I will be tolerant of those who are different from me and embrace their differences so I can learn more about them.  I expect others to be tolerant when faced with someone who is different in their beliefs or way of life. You do not have to agree only accept.

3. Communication – I will communicate my wants, needs and feelings in a calm, intelligent, respectful manner. I expect others to communicate openly with me. This does not always mean sharing everything but it means keeping the lines of communication open. It’s okay to not want to talk about something.  I am a talker and I need to express myself. I expect those who are close to me to understand that.

4. Generosity – I will be generous with my time and money. Giving is important to me and I expect others to pay it forward or help those who are less fortunate.

5. Kindness – I will be kind, gentle and compassionate. I will not be angry or hateful to others. I expect others to show kindness in ways that reflect them the best. There is no room in my life for angry, hateful or mean people.

6. Ownership of choices. – I will own my choices. I do not blame anyone for the past. Everything I have done was a choice I made on my own accord. I will look on the past as a learning experience and move on. I expect others to own their choices and not blame others or dwell on the past. Life is meant to be lived in the here and now.

7. Forgiveness – I will forgive those who have wronged me. There is no room for bitterness or anger. It doesn’t mean forgetting but moving on. I expect others to forgive and  not to keep score or hold grudges. I will not be angry or upset if I or someone else does not meet an expectation but will forgive them and move on.

8. Passion – I will have a passion for the things I do in life. I will seek out adventure and will learn as much as I can on my time on earth. I will be spontaneous. I expect others to find their passion and to respect mine. I will not sit by and watch life pass me by.

9. Honesty – I will be truthful and honest even if it hurts someone I love. I expect to not be lied to or cheated on.

10. Happiness – I will seek happiness in my life at every turn. I will look for the positive side and try to bring happiness to others. I expect others to pursue happiness. Life is too short to be unhappy.

I no longer expect the Fairy-tale but I do believe in happy endings. I believe that we make our own happiness and I don’t need a Prince Charming to achieve that. I hope someday I find a man who believes the same things I do and wants to set out on the same adventures. I feel that because I have set some Great Expectations for myself that someday that person may wander into my life and decide to stick around. I expect it will be a pretty amazing journey when it happens!

 

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