Tag Archives: family

Tumbleweeks

jumbled calendar days

Sometimes I feel that life is passing me by, not slowly either, but with ropes of steam and spark-spattered wheels and a hoarse roar of power or terror. It’s passing, yet I’m the one who’s doing all the moving. ~ Martin Amis

I remember my parents commenting on occasion about how fast time traveled. Kids growing up, passages marked by a driver’s license or graduation, always drew the somewhat misty recollection of “It seems just yesterday….” Trips to see grandparents or getting cornered by older relatives at the family gatherings often involved the words “Back in my day…..” and “I remember when…..” As a child, my sense of time was impatient, wanting to get on with the growing up part, to be old enough to do all the things I wanted and when I wanted. I never expected to be the one looking backwards.

Today marks the end of the twelfth week of our ongoing hospital adventures. In many ways, it feels as though it has been forever since my husband and I slept in the same room, lived in the same place. Our abode is full of my mess, with no one else to blame but the cat for the lopsided piles of accumulated mail and remains of the various days. With school back in session, my calendar is backed up with meetings and appointments, the daily business of work. My days begin and end at the hospital with my husband, his new location thankfully on the bus line just a short trip to my job. Laundry and groceries are done when possible, food and sleep happen on an as-needed basis. I’m grateful to the folks who excuse my weary eyes and the hopefully-only-occasional lack of attention span or impatient sigh.

One of my recent hospital-weekend reads was The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. In addition to being a fascinating story, it appealed to me primarily for its discussions about time and its passages, time keeping and time spending. It spoke to my current sense of time’s duality, of feeling like time has sped by us while we’ve been waiting, healing, yet simultaneously crept along as we wait and heal moment by moment, celebrating the moments of movement and progress of whatever size.

Consider the word “time.” We use so many phrases with it. Pass time. Waste time. Kill time. Lose time. In good time. About time. Take your time. Save time. A long time. Right on time. Out of time. Mind the time. Be on time. Spare time. Keep time. Stall for time. There are as many expressions with “time” as there are minutes in a day. But once, there was no word for it at all. Because no one was counting. Then Dor began. And everything changed.
― Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

There was a crisp in the early morning fog this morning, and Halloween items lined the aisles at the grocery store. Smells of apple crisp and woodsmoke mark the return of autumn. The family’s Thanksgiving turkey, straight from the county fair, is waiting in the freezer.

I’m almost ready for summer.

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Monday Moments: Sliced Bread

sliced bread

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. ~ John Muir

“Better than sliced bread……”

Now that’s a phrase I hadn’t heard in a while. Walking across campus this past week, I passed a group taking a tour, that phrase left hanging in the floating air behind their push onward to see more buildings. It’s a funny little phrase, so deceptively simple, conjuring up some strange historical moment when people were in awe of that newfangled item of pre-sliced bread.

In the weeks since the new year, my husband was back in the hospital again, bent on discovering our new town via the medical community it seems. He’s home and doing better, on the mend again. But after sitting through another round of late dark nights in a hospital room, listening to the sounds of breathing in the middle of the night, to cries of “Help me” from faceless voices down the hall, to the opening chorus of a Bach minuet that the hospital plays each time a baby is born, I was intimately reminded of the fragility of moments.

In the rush of each day, each meeting, hour, minute, breath, I often forget that they are once in a lifetime moments. No matter how many meetings, or breaths, or days I have, each is unique, each is history the moment after it happens. And when I forget that, when I lose myself into the hustle and bustle instead of being aware of it, I lose a connection to myself, one that I crave and need and rely on to get me through every other part of what I do.

So this weekend, I took time to reconnect, to settle internally, in the best way I know how for me — cooking. More specifically this time, to bake bread. There’s just something magic in working dough, end over end, knead after knead, watching the rise of it, a living thing as the yeast works its magic. Nothing more healing that sitting down, arms slightly tired, and smelling freshly baking bread perfume the air. Nothing more satisfying than a newly-cut slice of warm from the oven bread, a dab of melting butter oozing into the crevices.

In that moment, all is good.

And I find it hard to discover much of anything better than sliced bread.

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News to Share

“Life is like riding a bicycle – in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
― Albert Einstein

Hi all!

My apologies for being absent lately – but I have news to share! In early June, I accepted a new position, which means my husband, cat, and I will be moving at the end of July! Although not far compared to other folks who move cross-country or around the world, the shift several states to the east will pull us farther from family and friends than either of us have been before. So, as you might guess, June was a month of excited flurry as we both submitted resignations at our current positions, made a road-trip to find a new place to live, and began the process of saying good-bye to family and friends and favorite places.

So please forgive if I’m not around much this summer – just picture mounds of boxes and the sound of packing tape closing them up and you’ll be right here with me!

Hope you all are enjoying the summer and made it through the heat wave if your area has been hit. Our’s has, with days in the 100s, and I’m hoping it will be back to just regular summer heat soon.

Take care, and thanks for hanging in here! I’ll pop in with updates and be back in full swing in August……

Stay cool!

Polar Bear Cleveland Zoo

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Time Heals

me in the ER

In the ER, 23 April 2011

“Mishaps are like knives,
that either serve us or cut us,
as we grasp them by the blade or the handle.”
~ James Russell Lowell

I have grown to appreciate that quote during the past twelve months. I can hardly believe it has been a year since my “mishap”.

The photo over there was me, one year ago today — long around 10pm or so — in the emergency room. It was a Saturday night, the night before Easter as a matter of fact. I was baking a variety of things to take to the family dinner the next day. A double-chocolate bundt cake was in the oven; my wheat bread was completing its second rise. While I was waiting for the cake to finish the last few minutes of baking, I hopped on Facebook and updated my status about what a perfect day it all was.

You can read the details in my post from a few days after the accident. But in the course of just a few minutes, chaos erupted like the Pyrex glass pan that I shattered.

So here I am, exactly one year later. Two hand surgeries, three months (plus) off work to heal, eight months of physical therapy, a stunning total in medical bills, and a new appreciation for excellent health care and insurance.

It could have been far worse than simply slicing through both tendons in my right-hand ring finger. I could have lost the finger, or even just the use of it. I could have hit and damaged the nerves, which my hand surgeon still calls a miracle that I didn’t damage any permanently.

I had excellent care from a phenomenal surgical team and hand tendon specialists managing my physical therapy. They quickly became a part of my daily life, and I owe my recovery to their care.

I had incredible support from family and friends. For all those that drove me and my husband to and fro, made dinners and brought food and entertainment, who sat with us, laughed and cried with us, and were simply there whenever we needed something, and even when we didn’t, there are no words to capture the depth of my thanks. There is, literally, no way we could have survived without each of you.

One year later, time has healed. Not perfectly, not as much as I would like, but more than I thought during those frenetic minutes and long hours sitting in the ER wondering what was coming.

And to those who shared the journey with me, whether near or far, in word, deed, or prayer, I once again say “Thank you!”

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. ~ Jean Baptiste Massieu

[Note: This post is #20 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button at the right of the page for more information.]

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Summer Road Trips (redux)

[Lynda’s note: Since I’m heading out on a road trip for a few days away, I thought I’d have my “S” post bring back what is far and away the most popular post here on Second Memory — Summer Road Trips. I was fortunate enough to have this post selected as a “Freshly Pressed” post after it originally appeared on July 21, 2011. So, as I am hitting the road, here’s a little of what’s coming along with me……. Enjoy! Have a great weekend! ~ Lynda]

“On the old highway maps of America, the main routes were red and the back roads blue. Now even the colors are changing. But in those brevities just before dawn and a little after dusk—times neither day nor night—the old roads return to the sky some of its color. Then, in truth, they carry a mysterious cast of blue, and it’s that time when the pull of the blue highway is strongest, when the open road is beckoning, a strangeness, a place where a man can lose himself.”—William Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways: A Journey Into America (1982)

Summer vacation in our household always meant one thing — ROAD TRIP! Once the crops were in the field and growing strong, our family loaded up the station wagon and set out on adventures far and wide. Like other things in our household, these trips were a combination of exceptional planning and whimsical free-wheeling. Each year, the vacation had a specific theme or destination in mind, carefully chosen to balance fun and education, new experiences and landscapes with manageable adventure. But if we saw someplace fun to stop or a roadside attraction worth a look, we took the time to stop and enjoy the moments the road trip provided for us.

Take, for example, the summer we decided to tackle Civil War battlefields. Not content to sample just one or two, summertime that year was an in-depth historical journey across the eastern and gulf coast map of the major Civil War events.

Civil War Battlefields

Gettysburg, Bull Run and Fort Sumter rolled into Andersonville as we headed to our southernmost destination of New Orleans. It was there that I rode in my first taxi, forever remembered because I left a treasured shirt, hand-painted by my mother, in the back of it, only to find it returned to the hotel later by a very kind taxi driver. New Orleans also marked the first time I ever tried to eat a lobster served whole instead of just by the tail. The kindness of strangers came through again as a very patient waiter took extraordinary amounts of time to teach me how to break apart the thing, as well as the parts to avoid!

On our way back north to home, we stopped for one night at a hotel in Vicksburg. As we were loading up the car the next morning, I went exploring in the parking lot and stopped when I saw a familiar license plate. In our small town, cars changed quicker than license plates, so I grew up learning to remember plates not vehicles. My parents were unconvinced that life could be so random as to have two families from the same small town happen to stay in the same place hundreds of miles from home. I stuck to my guns, insisting that my parents ask at the desk, and I was right! We had a quick breakfast together and caught up on local news we had missed while on the road, then headed out onto separate ways, the start of their vacation and the winding down of our trip.

Some of our other memorable excursions included a long journey to the southwest, complete with my brothers scaring my mother at the rim of the Grand Canyon, a dust storm in New Mexico, and visiting Carlsbad Caverns. One year we headed northeast to New England, another west to California, and yet others to the vast open spaces of the Dakotas or across Canada.

With four kids across a thirteen-year age span, my mother was a genius at making sure our vacations went as smooth as possible. Each child started the vacation with a large paper grocery sack full of wrapped packages, one for each day on the road. At some point each day, at a time of our own choosing, we could open a new present, something she had picked especially for each of us, to entertain us. Silly and small, these daily surprises kept us entertained and engaged, whether it was an egg full of Silly Putty, a new coloring book, or a book to lose ourselves in as we covered the long miles each day.

In order to prevent arguments over money, food, and souvenirs, each child also got their own daily allowance of money to spend. Mom’s rule was pretty easy – each child had a set amount to spend, we could spend it however we wanted, but when it was gone, that was it, we were done. If I wanted that “I-have-to-have-it-or-I-will-die-right-now” item, it was mine as long as I was willing to sacrifice that amount of my budget. I still remember one of my brothers carefully guarding his daily expenditures to indulge in a very large steak for dinner one night on a trip through Texas. And if my sister wanted a hamburger for breakfast and eggs for dinner, so be it. It was her money to spend.

I learned a lot across the miles on those summer road trips — patience, cooperation, budgeting, the sheer pleasure of the open road– hanging over the back of the front seat, map in hand, navigating the blue highways over and around the miles, and finding adventure where we could.

Thinking back on those great summer road trips makes me want to head out on a summer road trip adventure.

Any suggestions?

[Note: This post is #19 of 26 of the April A-to-Z Challenge. Please see the button on the right of the page for more information.
There was no “S” post for last year’s challenge — more on that on Monday!]

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