Orange ya glad we met?

What happens when old people buy an old house? Lets just say that when we decided to downsize for the last and final time, we were seeking to put off any thought of Independent Living places. We just don’t feel the need for anything like that yet. We had many thoughts about how we would go about things! We knew that we were way past the stage of wanting to do a full renovation on a house, for as history has taught us, the latest and greatest is only new for a while! We have built two new homes and it was so much fun picking out tile, carpeting, cabinets, floor plans etc. We did it twice and of course the second house took on a distinctly different flair from the first house. Everything was brand spanking new! But, as we discovered, all things get old in time!

This time we moved to a retirement community and we looked at the new homes which were nice, but the lots were tiny and so were the houses. Through the years, retirement communities have cut back on a lot of things in the new build category. At the top of our wish list was the desire to have a sense of privacy from the neighbors, which one does not get very often in the newer sections of these retirement communities. We really liked this place because our house sits a respectable distance from the neighbors, and because our back porch looks over a greenbelt. This was the main reason we decided to buy this house.

Right out of the gate, fresh from signing the purchase agreement, we hired painters to paint all the walls and ceilings throughout because 20 year old paint just looked tired. We replaced the old carpeting in the Master Bedroom with wood flooring, and we hired an electrician to move a couple of fans and add some overhead lighting. So we were making progress! Al decided to have the exterior painted as well, as there were some cracks in the stucco. Essentially, a lot of the signs of aging have been corrected.

We love the house! This house feels “just right” for this time of our lives. It is comfortable and easy to maintain. Al wanted a “lock and leave” place so we could travel and he has no interest in living in “House Beautiful”. What I mean by this is that other than the painting, bedroom flooring, a little electrical work, and interior shutters, we are done! We can age in place here very well!

Which brings me to orange! The Top kitchen cabinets are shorter than most cabinets are these days but seem to be of solid good quality. They had no hardware when we moved in and now they sport warm oil rubbed bronze handles. Unfortunately, in the 20 years since the cabinet installation, the finish has oxidized. The finish which was once a soft natural finish has turned to an orange! ORANGE! The handles helped a lot in how they look…but, oh dear! Orange!! My first instinct was to paint them or have them painted a neutral color. But in the two months since we have moved in, I realize that I kind of like them. They blend very well with the wood floor (another story). Besides, even if I did not like them, I really have NO interest in going through a painting process at this age, whether by our own hands or the hands of a professional. The cabinets have a vintage feel to them, and what better pairing of homeowners and their cabinets than when BOTH are vintage! Haha!

Frankly, I have tired of chasing after the latest and greatest! I am weary of the ongoing TV shows that teach us how to be unsatisfied with the way our house looks! All we ever see is a gutting and stripping of the family home, with no thought given to the people who lived and loved there within those well worn walls. I am impatient with this materialistic world where we are forever running to keep up. Whether we know it or not, we are negatively affected by the hyper focusing and comparisons of externals. The only thing that ever gives us happiness and joy is love of family and friends and a connectedness between all and this can be as easily felt within the confines of a tent! Love is love no matter where one expresses it and feels it.

I remember the days when we were young and we went along with our Mothers on a visit to a neighbors, friends or relatives house. Nothing about anyones decor was ever scripted or “exquisitely appointed”. (At least not in the region I lived in.) Houses in those days were as individual as the people who lived there. Those women did not hire people to come in and plan out their decor. I don’t think that was something even available to these country women in those times. Their budgets would not have allowed for it in any case. So for us as children, these visits were fun as we let our eyes roam around the hostess home which was so very different from our own home. We sat quietly entertaining ourselves in fun visual adventure, while our Mothers visited. Every single home was different and unique. House plants were a thing in those days, often sitting on the window sills leaning into the light coming through the glass. I specifically remember a plant called “baby tears” which was a small green plant with multitude of tiny tear shaped leaves. I remember many of the women in the area often had baked goods on their counters and it smelled heavenly as we waited in anticipation of being offered a piece of a hot, sweet something or another. As a matter of fact, I am still enthralled with plants and baked goods! Lol!

I digress….I found myself a long way down memory lane as I sat with my tea contemplating my orange cabinets. I had to bring myself back around to the present moment. I look again at the shiny, orange glow and smile. Yup! I think I will keep them as they are right now. Haha! Maybe I will get a vibrant rug, paint a wall in the kitchen, buy a plant for my table by the front window! These are easy things to do and relatively cheap! I already feel as if I am “back home” (waaaaay back) and I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside as I do the comparisons.

NEED to have is more important than WANT to have.

FUNCTIONAL is preferable to WASTE.

I remember my Grandpa stating when talking about something quite old. “It is perfectly good as it is.” “Waste not is want not!“

Yes, this could be fun!

I hear something speaking to me in a soft low voice. Actually, almost telepathic, I would say….“What’s that you say?”

My cabinets send out waves of loving telcommunication…

“Orange you glad we found each other?” They ask!

“I absolutely am! Nice to meet you and I am so glad to make your acquaintance! ..I think we shall become great friends!”

ORANGE! For me it is the new beige! Lol!

Good Morning Sunshine!

Every morning, I usually walk from our bedroom to the kitchen to prepare my french press coffee and then carry it to my chair in the great room. This is a daily ritual. On clear days with blue skies, I am greeted by long, bright shafts of light pouring through the triple patio doors which graces the interior of our new (old) cottage.

We are experiencing many new things in our recent move and this is one of our favorite changes. In all of our married life, I don’t think we have ever had a large window with a southern exposure. It is pure pleasure. The perks that we are discovering in our 20 year old house are often unexpected because we had our last two homes built, so they had all new features. This house is such a source of pleasure to me with its slightly aged feel and and I especially like the smaller footprint it leaves on Gods green earth.

Good morning sunshine! You are my favorite friend to run into on a sunny southern day! Hello God! I know it is You! Thanks for stopping by!

jjb/1/5/2022

Itty Bitty

Side yard to our new itty bitty life. I thought about the lyrics to Alan Jacksons song and it actually fits our life quite well. We started out itty bitty and now at some point we will be making the final exit from another version of itty bitty. Alan Jackson is right when he sang, “it’s alright to be itty bitty!”. Its not only alright, at this age it suits us perfectly well. I always felt that a little cottage life would be the best kind of life.

Little Bitty
Alan Jackson
Have a little love on a little honeymoon
You got a little dish and you got a little spoon
A little bitty house and a little bitty yard
A little bitty dog and a little bitty car

Well, it’s alright to be little bitty
A little hometown or a big old city
Might as well share, might as well smile
Life goes on for a little bitty while

A little bitty baby in a little bitty gown
It’ll grow up in a little bitty town
Big yellow bus and little bitty books
It all started with a little bitty look

Well, it’s alright to be little bitty
A little hometown or a big old city
Might as well share, might as well smile
Life goes on for a little bitty while

You know you got a job and a little bitty check
A six pack of beer and a television set
Little bitty world goes around and around
Little bit of silence and a little bit of sound

A good ol’ boy and a pretty little girl
Start all over in a little bitty world
Little bitty plan and a little bitty dream
It’s all part of a little bitty scheme

It’s alright to be little bitty
A little hometown or a big old city
Might as well share, might as well smile
Life goes on for a little bitty while
It’s alright to be little bitty
A little hometown or a big old city
Might as well share, might as well smile
Life goes on for a little bitty while

jjb/1/2/2023

What we make of it!

26 years ago when we made the decision to move to Texas we had no idea how much it would impact our life, in both good ways and bad. The decision was well thought out and we knew it was really the only wise choice at the time. The “why” of it is for another story. The important thing at the time was that this was the right decision for all the right reasons. We were empty nesters by then and we had no worries about upsetting the kids with yet another move, and Lord knows, we moved them enough!

Somehow, I thought that since all the kids were still single, they would all follow us to Texas, but to my surprise our older son chose to stay in the Midwest saying “I am sorry Mom, but I am a 4 seasons kind of guy!”. He remained there to continue in his teaching career and 4 of us moved to Texas. He was there that last day after the moving van left stuffed full of our belongings, and it broke my heart when 4 cars went one direction to the south and one went another path.

Other than that sad separation, it was an exciting time as Al and I were middle aged and we felt like we had a whole lot of life ahead of us… The future looked bright and promising and for the most part we are still happy with that long ago decision. We have made friends with some remarkable and wonderful people. We really developed our roots in the area where we built our home and many friends became like family…a chosen family who chose us back!

When we first began settling in, there were holidays that were vastly changed because of the move. Well, in truth , they have ALL been drastically changed forever. The first Mothers Day we spent in Austin, we were dressed and ready for church and my heart was heavy as we got into the car for our drive to church. The kids were all off in distant towns or working. As Al pulled up into the church parking lot, a lump formed in my throat as the thought of a lone Mother going into church without her children on Mothers Day bloomed in my mind. Before I even understood what I was feeling, I burst into tears and Al held my hand making soothing sounds. I finally collected my emotions, wiped my eyes and nose and stepped out of the car. As I did, I heard “Happy Mothers Day Mom!” I whipped around and there was our younger son, all decked out for church with flowers in his hands. I had NO idea he would be there because Al had told me earlier he had to work! My heart burst with joy at this huge blessing to this very bereft woman. Into church we went and I think I kept pointing at him, introducing “our son” to total strangers! Haha! Not exactly his favorite thing since he is such a private person. But he tolerated it with grace. We had lunch following and then he had to head back into work and we went home…a placated Mom and a much relieved Dad. ❤️❤️❤️

The past 25 years have been just like that…ups and downs coming in equal amounts. In the beginning years I could not watch a Hallmark movie without having to wring out my hanky throughout.

It was exciting to build our “empty nest” house with emphasis on the things WE liked. Al wanted to go smaller, but I wanted more space for “the kids” to feel “welcome and wanted” in our “family” home. I was deluding myself to some degree because though they did come often to visit and spent time with us, this house was never something they considered their home. It was “Ma and Pa’s” place…. a place that they grew attached to, but they were launched into their own lives and were happy to have a place to gather with their sibs and folks, but afterwards they would go back to their own homes.

I have often wondered how life would have been had we never left our Minnesota home. Would the kids have settled in around us or gone off to far away places? I guess I will never know the answer to that. As things go, we are blessed to have at least one of our children close by in the same city. The others live in other cities but we are never forgotten as the phone rings frequently with a cheerful voice on the other end saying “Hello Mom….Hi Dad!” I imagine that we are not so different from millions of other families that are separated by geographical expanses.

Through the years , we have given up more and more of our expectations. It took a while to get the hang of it, but the more of these we released, the happier we became. I began to understand in a very real way that our children are only on loan to us…we don’t get to keep them. Well, we do keep our children close to our hearts, of course we do, but not in the day to day, 24-7 kind of way, which is actually good. I would have a hard time giving up my Mothering instinct that kicks into high gear each time I spend time with them. I am able to control these instincts for short periods of times, but if they lived here with me, I am afraid we would all digress and that could become an unhappy event. haha!

I do love our children…but I am happy to also say that I LIKE our adult “kids” very much! They have become our friends and they are such nice human beings. Do we sometimes spend holidays alone? Yes, on occasion. Do we get to gather with ALL of them each time we are with family? No, but the gatherings where they are all there, tells me that they all like each other. (Now there is the gift!) ❤️

It was after our move to Texas where I began to write down my thoughts on things. I did so when I was troubled, sad, hurt, happy….it was a way of releasing these feelings out into the universe and afterwards I usually felt so much better. Writing is a form of company too. Essentially, I am having a written conversation with myself. I have always been an avid reader which then compounded my tendency to be a day dreamer. Writing helps clear the debris field of words laying about on the floor of my mind. Writing helps to sweep out the clutter in my brain and move forward clear headed and ready to take on the world…until it fills up all over again.

Today is very quiet and tomorrow is Christmas Eve. We will be just the two of us, but we have made plans for tomorrow to attend two Christmas services in two churches. One is an early afternoon service in our new town and one is an evening service in our previous church. We have reservations at a very cool looking restaurant via a gift card from our older son who will be celebrating Christmas with his family in the north country. He is still a “4 Seasons kind of guy”, God bless him! We would have loved to join him but our move got in the way of that this year.

We have discovered the value of the quiet holidays over the years. It gives a person time to savor that homemade Christmas cookie with a hot cup of tea while listening to Christmas music playing in the background. It gives us time to read…and write…and read Christmas cards from a lifetime of friendships! Of course, as parents we want it all, but just like stuffing ourselves with too many sweets, we have come to know that a very full Christmas can have its own set of drawbacks. We know that parceling out the holidays bit by bit has its own kind of enjoyment.

Besides…none of us is ever alone…ever! Jesus birthday is about the greatest gift ever given, so the Christmas story is always a welcomed read. Life is usually what we decide to make of it, so make it a great holiday event! I love lemonade if you catch my drift. I also love lemon bars, lemon cookies, lemon drops…The list is long of how to sweeten things up a bit when lemons are handed out! In our new house we have no fireplace! (lemons). I am listening to Christmas music with a fireplace burning heartily on the screen in front of mr. (Lemonade) 😁.

Merry Christmas everyone! It is great to be alive! Blessings from Georgetown, Texas!

jjb/12/23/2022

This Side of Heaven!

Yesterday was a very good day. I stepped outside into the backyard of our cottage style home right into a warm sunny day. I walked over to check on a new small tree we had planted because it was going through some major stress due to its relocation. (These moves are hard on both humans and trees alike.) I thought to myself as I stroked its tender branches with a myriad of browning leaves, “welcome to the club buddy, I can relate to your stress but frankly, YOU are not even close to being as old as I am!”. Lol!

I have to say, My husband and I are feeling pretty proud of ourselves, having managed a move at this point in our life. Spending time going through a lifetime of memories….sorting, discarding, deciding to keep some things for sentimental reasons, it all takes its toll because essentially, one relives everything one touches as one go through the process. It was almost akin to a life review.

This is our second downsize. The first time we chose to go smaller, I wasn’t quite ready to face the fact that the kids had, indeed, been launched. Our last home was our empty nest house, and while we did downsize from the previous home, it still ended up being way more than we needed or ended up using fully. But, we enjoyed it for almost 25 years and it was time to consider something smaller yet, and easier to manage.

When we searched for a home, we knew that we wanted a place where we could lock and leave to go on trips anytime we wanted. This meant a yard that had almost zero maintenance. This one is xeriscaped! We feel as if we are in the country with no neighbors. We have neighbors to each side of us, but not the back. We especially wanted a home that would not be too large to manage for one when the other of us eventually takes our leave of earth.

I smile to myself as I send up thanks yet again to God for granting our wishes to be unencumbered in our older age. Funny how all the things that at one time I thought I just had to have now mean very little to me. It is true you know….the less you have the less you have to worry about.

In our new smaller surroundings I get to enjoy my morning cup of coffee in front of a window where I can watch walkers go by. We have a tiny table for two sitting there and at each meal it feels like we snagged a good table at a local bistro.

There is very little traffic on our street and we love this fact. It is a very quiet street! The kitchen sits on the front of the house and the living room sits at the back with triple patio doors that look through a porch onto a greenbelt.

This house came with a dining room space at the kitchen side of the living room, but I scratched that because we rarely do formal sit down dinners anymore, so I added that space to the living room which makes it feel more like a great room than a small living room. I did buy a flip top table, a very cool invention, which looks like a thin console table but if you want to set it up for dining, there are two long leaves resting on top of each other that flip outward and form a dining table. It will be interesting to see how often I make use of this table in the years to come.

This house is an older home, so we had the interior repainted a neutral color throughout and added a wood floor to the Master Bedroom which then gave us a house with no carpet. My allergies are happy about this. We chose an older home because the older homes do not sit on top of each other as the new builds so often do these days.

Yesterday, after I communed with our new tree, I began to tackle a very tired looking garden path that leads to nowhere. I pulled up bricks for use elsewhere in our yard and proceeded to disperse the crushed granite as well. I was thinking of a sign I had at our other home that was etched with a cute phrase. “Old gardeners never die…they just spade away”.. Lol! So true. I will never again garden to the degree I did previously, but until my dying day, I just have to have a little patch of dirt in which to plunge my gloveless hands, turning it and readying it for some little plant wanting a new home out in the yard under sunny skies. I like to walk barefoot on the grass as well and am grateful the neighbors can’t see that country girl aspect of my personality, I actually read recently that the earth gives off healing energy to those who walk barefoot and I am hoping this is the case as I enjoy feeling the soft green grass tickling my toes.

Well, this musing has gone on long enough! I have also read that we create our own reality with our thoughts and I tend to think this is true. I was born an optimist and have always been open to any possibility. Prayer is powerful and the key to prayer is the belief that God will provide. He has indeed provided for us. We basically have everything we need in this last stop before our journey to heaven and while it is modest in scope, it is grand in the freedom we now feel!

God is good!

jjb/12/16/2022

Welcome home!

Let the next chapter begin!

Downtown Georgetown on a Saturday night! Our first social outing after months of packing boxes and moving. For those of you who do not know, we have sold our home and moved to Georgetown, Texas. (I think there should be an age limit on moving because this one about did us in! ) 😩. Lol!

We made the decision sometime ago to really simplify our life and that included downsizing a second time to a smaller house that could almost qualify as a cottage. We have just what we need, no more and no less and like Goldilocks said in the fairytale “This is just right”.

We did this to save our children a lot of grief down the road by reducing the amount of goods they would have to plow through upon our demise. I have easily given away 50% or more of our “stuff” and I do not miss it at all. We have unboxed most of it on this end and now we will do the final thinning out. If I cannot find a spot for it, then off it goes to the local thrift shop!

We have been enormously blessed throughout our life in a multitude of ways and we have discovered, like so many others have, that happiness is never about the things we own. Happiness only comes to us by way of relationships and love from others. We are loved, therefore we are deeply grateful!

Our next chapter will be one full of books, road trips, sand and sea between our toes, and enjoying Gods creation wherever that takes us.

Our peer group is suffering heavy casualties and we take that as a reminder to not get bogged down by man made things. Rather we will soar to places we haven’t been to before and it is likely to be found right here in the U.S.

Merry Christmas everyone! Jesus is the reason for the season, and I for one, am glad I know Him!

The great welcome home!

In my dream, I am standing at the entrance door to a huge auditorium filled with people I have known throughout my life. My heart stirs as my eyes take in their various ages and faces. How beautiful the memories are that flood through my mind as I take in the view. The bleachers are just packed with people.

Off to one side, high up in the bleacher section is a very cute lanky teenager by the name of Huey! I remember how much everyone liked him in high school and of course there was a good reason for this because he was an affable kind of guy with reddish hair and freckles sprinkled across his smiling face. He was a much loved only child.

Not far away from where he sits is my best friend from high school. Marci is as tiny as ever and I recall how she and I got the nickname of Mutt & Jeff (from an old cartoon strip of two friends tall and short) she being the short one, and me…tall and lanky. She may have been small but she was a strong person in her own right. When she laughed, her shoulders always moved with her laughter! Her shoulders are moving now as I see her laughing at something someone just said. She is sitting next to her Mom and Dad and daughter and as I glance their way, they do a little wave of their hands and smile in my direction.

I see a small petite woman with dark hair and a smile on her face. She is looking around like the new kid in the class. She IS the new kid in the class. She is orienting herself to her new surroundings and chattering with the groups of women she is sitting with! Terri! What are you doing there?

I see someone else waving wildly at me from the middle of the crowd, his wide toothy smile cutting across his face under shining dark eyes and a head of dark Italian hair! My goodness that is Larry! It has been SO many years now since I last saw him. He looks wonderful and SO happy! He was an amazing caring human being! A heart of pure gold. My very first boyfriend who taught me so much about loving myself.

As my eyes continue to scan the room, I see more and more people who have contributed to my life in one way or another and as I see each face, names begin to pop into my head…Paul, Robbie, Alden, Gordy, Jenice, Donnie, Sue, Dan, Chuck, Kevin, Barb, Al….so many, oh, so many! They are having way too much fun! Paul is holding his latest fishing lure and waving it in the air so I would notice.

Oh, and there is Uncle Dale and he looks just fantastic, much like he did when he was a young man. A tall, slender, young version of Pat Boone, who was a singer from back in the 60’s. He is so handsome. He is sitting next to my Mother (his sister) and his brother. His parents (my Grandparents) are there too (Art and Esther) and they are busy talking to my other paternal Grandparents (Annie and Eddie).

Next to Annie and Eddie are many of their 12 children. I can see Chet, Bud, Roy, Vivian, Bonnie, Eleanor, Janet, Ruthie, Doris and Jackie. Looks like Don and Herbie couldn’t make it. Julie is there too, along with Kim and Shane. I think I see Jennifer but not sure because her head is turned as she talks to the person behind her.

Just then I felt a tap on the shoulder and a guy and his wife who seem to be running late are hurrying into the room to grab their seats before the music starts. Art and Verona! Oh my goodness, my Mother and Father in law! Verona gave me a quick hug as she scurried by and her sister Ruth was right behind her with her husband Ruban and gave me a sweet smile.

I can see Edith, my favorite childhood music teacher there and she is standing on the floor in front of the crowd sorting her pages of music, getting the crowd ready for the upcoming musical event.

The mood in the room is festive and I can hear many hushed excited voices and I am wondering what it is they are all anticipating? What are they waiting for?

I step inside the doorway to enter the room so I can find my seat, but a man steps forward and asks for my pass. “My pass? What pass?”

“You must have a pass to come in here. Do you have one?”

Confused, I said “Well, no, sir I do not…but there are many here who will vouch for the fact that I have been invited”

“That may be” he said, “but no pass, no admittance”

Incredulous I ask that he check the list. He goes down the list and then begins flipping over many, many pages as he scans top to bottom of each one. Finally, he says, “Here it is…I found your name”

Relieved, I say, “Oh good! I was getting worried there for a minute. I want to go in there now and see my friends and family”

He said, “Sorry, Ms. J…..today is not the day of your reservations. You must have written down the wrong date. I have a different day listed for your pass!””

“What? What do you mean? I am going to miss the concert and I want to see them so badly!”

He said softly “Oh you will see them in due course and there will be a beautiful concert in your honor too when it is your time. It just isn’t going to be today. Everyone is excited for that moment but they know you have more things to do on earth to fulfill your purpose. Now, if you don’t mind, please step aside because the guest of honor has arrived.”. As I did so, a small petite blonde woman passed by, giving me a sweet smile as she did, and the room full of people broke forth in shouts of welcome and songs of praise. Then the door closed.

Blinking….I woke up!

Slightly disoriented and staring at the ceiling, I wondered if somehow I had been gifted with a peek into my future home. Maybe a foretaste of the feast (or concert) to come? I continued to lay there basking in all the old memories of a life gone by. It was wonderful seeing all of them again and I have to say, I was shocked to see just how many people I have known who have left this world for the next one ahead of me.

I am not afraid of dying because there really is no death. Life to life is how I see it. Eternal life is there for the taking. All you have to do is accept His Grace. I have many loved ones who have gone ahead who have reached their eternal reward. My time is written in the book of life and I don’t know the exact date, but it is GOOD to know it IS there.

I throw the covers back, stretch my arms to the sky and hop out of bed. Today is the day the Lord has made and I am going to rejoice and be glad in it! I am also going to work on fulfilling my purpose, whatever form that takes. Now…a cup of coffee is sounding very good right now to this earth bound human.

Amen!

jjb/10/8/2022

Defining love

How does one define love? It depends on who you are talking about. There are so many different kinds of love…Mother love, child love, grandchild love, sibling love, friend love, love thy neighbor…Lots of different ways to love and so many people to care about.

But, I am talking about the love of a significant other….that person that makes your heart explode when they walk into the same room you are in.

It is interesting, this thing called chemistry. How is it that a girl can be in a room with many boys milling around, but only ONE catches her attention as the quick glance exchange makes her heart skip a beat, or two or three?

I remember the night I met my husband. I had gone out for the evening with two of my roommates after they spent quite a lot of time convincing me to do so. I wasn’t really in the mood to go anywhere but they did not want to go out with only the two of them. Those were the days when there was a sense of propriety about how women were seen in public. They thought it would look better if there were three of us. They wanted to go to a “ladies night out” that was advertised and hosted by a local bowling alley on the ballroom side of the building. I reluctantly agreed and off we went.

The evening did not start off very well as a couple of different guys came up to ask me to dance. Nope, nope and nope! Just NOT in the mood, they were NOT my type, and thank you anyway! Then I felt a hand tap me on the shoulder and I turned around to tell them again “NO THANK YOU!and there he stood. Little did I know it at the time, but my future was standing there in front of me with a head full of sandy blonde hair, an earnest grin, bashfully asking me to dance. He was very good looking but what attracted me most was his shy nature. I agreed to dance and that was the beginning of Chapter One of the book of our life together. We eventually got married and will be celebrating 50 years of marriage this coming February.

Chemistry….we still have it going! We were both very lucky to find someone where the love endured! It did not just endure, it grew and thrived! My heart still goes pitter pat when he enters a room I am in! He claims the same is true for him.

There are a number of things that did not work out as we originally intended. We have had our own fair share of disappointments and failures and do-overs! We have had some dreams go “poof disappearing into thin air. But, we have had a lot of blessings too along the way. It seems that life brings to us a series of contrasting experiences so we understand the blessings when we see them, similar to how comforting the warmth of a fire feels after being chilled, or how good a soft bed feels when one is exhausted. I think life is full of contrasts for the purpose of making us grow and learn gratitude.

Like many people, we got married, bought a house, and had kids. In the early years, we both worked to make ends meet. Then his career took off which meant we moved many times. Those years were exciting as the future seemed endlessly bright. We became financially comfortable, and I was free to be the Mom and wife I always aspired to be. Yes, I was that antiquated in my thinking. I was rewarded with the life I desired. We had more of life’s challenges along the way, but weathered them as best we could.

As I write this, many years have passed by and we are now old! I remember when our parents were our age and we definitely thought of them as old. But despite what others see when they look at us, we don’t see each other in the same way the world does. We do recognize that we are no longer that lively, fun loving couple who danced their hearts out the first night we met. Well, ACTUALLY, we are still lively and fun loving but we don’t have the same amount of energy that we once had. Instead of dancing the jitterbug, we are now waltzing through life.

We LOVE our life together. Retirement has brought us the gift of time. We have our devotions and prayer in the mornings after a walk. We plan our meals and work in the garden. We read books and enjoy researching various topics on the internet. We have quiet conversation on many topics just before dinner. Then, every Friday and Saturday night, we listen to a radio station called Heartland radio that plays the most beautiful soul stirring music and we let our spirits dance with the rhythm of the music. Sundays we go to church and enjoy visiting the Lord and seeing our various friends while in attendance.

We see each other at a heart level these days. We would not impress any other human being at all with our appearance on any given day. What is so beautiful about this is we are each living an existence with someone who sees our beauty through the wrinkles, the white hair and our misshapen older bodies. It is the purest of loves, really. It is a love that has no expectations but rather a love that wants to be of service to one another. Love is the way my heart swells when he walks by and pats me on the head as I am reading in my chair. Love is that passing hug we give each other on a whim. Love is the way a heart feels when watching the other sleep deeply during a daytime nap. We can see that we are not what we used to be, but God willing, theres a lot of life left to live. We know we are in it for the long haul now, and we are happy to do it!

We can see the “Exit” sign clearly these days, knowing that the time is coming when one or the other of us will go through that door, but we do not dwell on it. Our awareness that this probability exists and is getting closer every year makes living in the NOW so very important. Our past is used up and our future is unknown. There is no point looking in either direction because it just steals from the moment of now. These days, I spend a lot of time in the NOW reflecting on my good fortune. I observe my husband going about his day and take joy just watching him and offer up many thanks to God for that very fortuitous moment so long ago when he tapped me on the shoulder and I turned around to see a very beautiful soul standing there with a smile on his face and hope shining in his eyes that I would say yes!

Yes! Yes! and Yes! A hundred times over through the years I have said yes to this person who makes my soul take flight. I cannot imagine my life without him which is my biggest incentive for living in the now! How do I define love? Loving another more than one loves oneself! That is the definition of love in our home!

Once upon a time when we were young!

jjb/9/29/2022

Math

I was sitting at my roll top desk today, sorting, discarding and sometimes pausing to read someones note or card on my desk. I enjoyed a ”visit” from my Mother who’s letter was written back when she was about the age I am now. She was commenting on how much there is to do in old age to prepare for the inevitable. I imagined her writing the note as I nodded my head in agreement and smiled as I read it.

Then I looked at a note that was written to me about 40 years ago from a friend who had just sold our home for us. She had placed the ads from the paper in the note card along with a contract on the house. We had unknowingly used a realtor who was not happy in his career and when the contract ended he quit and went off to be a traveling gospel singer. 😐 We had already moved to another state and the story is too long to share here, but her husband built a “for sale” sign (for sale by owner) painted it and placed it in the front yard. Before the paint was dry a couple asked to see the house and bought it. I wasn’t even middle aged yet at that point. We were thrilled but did not see it for the miracle it was.

I picked up an envelope of pictures a good friend had sent to me from her sons wedding back in 2004. My intent was to mail them to her for the fun of invoking old memories but for one reason or another, never got it mailed. She recently passed away and now I have missed my opportunity to put a smile on her face with that package.

Mom passed away long ago, and so did my friends husband who painted the sign. As I sat there riffing through my address book I saw many lines drawn through names. I cannot bring myself to erase them, because every time I see a crossed off name I see them in my minds eye and I find myself saying “hello…I miss you”.

I can see now that growing old, should God decide this is my journey, will be one full of a long line of subtractions and it makes me so sad. For the average person, beginning on the day we are born, we are surrounded by a big welcome and a lot of love. From that point forward we keep adding people to our life from our neighborhood, our extended family, our school, and our church. Then we fall in love…and if we are blessed we add more people to our life!

But then the time eventually comes where the additions become subtractions. Our parents die, friends die, other family and acquaintances die. Our children get married and move into their adult life. Now in this case it isn’t a subtraction, rather it is an addition of offspring and a shared role. We slide over and let our adult children become the conductors of our family orchestra, because we are no longer the “Maestro”….the lead conductor!

My point in this piece is that life is Math! There are additions and subtractions and sometimes even some multiplications. That said, more and more subtractions occur as we enter old age. I think there is a whittling down of ego too. By the time it is our turn to pass to the other side of the veil, we are aware that we are merely one tiny piece of a whole, similar to how the grains of sand contribute to the existence of a beach. Every grain of sand is an integral part of the beach but no one grain of sand stands out as more important than the next to the creation of the whole. We come from God and go back to God and somewhere along the way we realize we have been a small part of the whole of creation!

I miss my loved ones so much…and I do recognize the blessing each and every one of them were to my life. Every single person has left their mark on me, a lesson I needed to learn. Someday, we will reunite and that sounds so good to me. They are a beautiful part of my past but it is in the present where I live.

I enjoyed my visits from my past today and when I was done, I responded to a call from my husband saying it was time to make dinner. As we were making dinner I realized that we were making memories right now for future recall. Memories are being made every moment of every day! Cherish these moments because at sometime, somewhere, someone will be picking up one of the notes we sent to them. They will read them imagining our face as they do. They will pause and bask in the memories our words on paper evoke. The words will bring our memory alive and as they remember us they will smile. Then, the phone will ring, we will vanish and back to the present they will return. Just like that!

I miss my loved ones, which makes me cherish those who are still here even more! God bless everyone past and present and future! What a blessing this life is even with all the twists and turns on the road of our journey. Thank you God for the opportunity. If earth is this beautiful, I really look forward to heaven where perfection reigns!

jjb/8/21/2022

Italian Princess

I am feeling very down today as my very good, longtime friend is being honored by her family and friends at her funeral up in Minnesota. She was very loved by most everyone who ever met her and I am sure her funeral is packed. Texas is a bit far to travel to Minnesota on such short notice, so I have told her daughter that my plan is to come up to Minnesota towards fall to take her and her brother out to dinner and have a night of sharing stories in memory of their Mother. I have so many!

She was the rare person who was an open book about her life and feelings. Because of this, people felt a kinship with her fairly quickly. In a world of superficiality and societies obsessive competition with the Jones’s, she had neither of these traits. I always marveled at her ability to be happy for others in whatever they achieved or owned. She never acted jealous or envious of anyone.

When I first met her, I was enchanted with her dark Italian looks. She was tiny and always immaculately dressed. Her hands were beautiful and always well groomed with lovely lacquered nails. She could have been a hand model. Actually, she could have been a model for the petite section of womens clothing with her sleek trim body. No matter what she wore, she enhanced the outfit, rather than the other way around.

She had a fabulous sense of humor and I loved watching her laugh as her face and arms became very animated when something tickled her funny bone. She was rarely without a smile in her face.

We met in our very early 20’s and stayed friends for over 50 years. Even as my husbands career forced us to move hither and yon, it never broke the bond. No matter how much time passed, we could pick up the phone and begin a conversation where we last left off.

She asked me and my husband to be the Godparents for her son and we were honored that she did. She was a good and caring Mother to her children and was very proud of them.

She became a roommate of mine early on. There were 4 of us who shared an apartment, and we all eventually moved to the lower half of a duplex before we got married. We met up one night to introduce each other to our dates and as we walked toward each other, the guys reached out to shake hands and were happy to reacquaint with one another. She and I looked at each other and started to laugh. What are the odds that they already knew each other? Small world!

We got engaged and married within months of each other, had our children in close proximity of birth, and always, always stayed in touch. Through the years we watched each others lives unfold and we shared many happy gatherings. We were always happy to see each other because it meant sharing, caring and laughter.

Now, suddenly, she is gone from my life. I know that she has graduated to a much more beautiful existence, and so to emulate Terri, I choose to be happy for her for where she is right now. But, I am NOT happy to lose her presence in my life.

She was the Ethel to my Lucy. We named each other years ago as we watched old episodes of the “I love Lucy” show in our little apartment. I got the title of Lucy because she saw me as being crazy and zany and as unpredictable as Lucy (in my younger years) Lol. She became Ethel by default. The point of our annointing was that we always found ourselves in crazy innocent predicaments and we always soldiered onward with each other. We were fast friends with an unbreakable bond.

She was never judgmental about people. She LOVED people and always looked for the best in them. She was extremely social as a person, far more social than this mildly social introvert (yours truly). I used to listen to her social schedule and would be amazed at her energy level. She loved having friends and they responded to this trait in her because she had more friends than I could ever hope to have. Yet, she carved out a niche for me in her heart and it was always open to me to step right on in.

Yes, I am sad today, and I have felt an overwhelming sense of loss since I first realized she wasn’t going to make it. I have lost other friends too through the years, each time a painful passage to go through. I realize as these friends leave earth that I am losing a piece of myself with each and every one of them! They take with them our mutual experiences that no one else knows. No one else has knowledge of that little shared part of my life like she did. So, once a person loses a loved one, we are never complete again. It is as if the completed puzzle picture of our life has a piece taken out of it with each exit. When you look at our puzzle picture, you get the general picture of who I am, but with pieces missing. The observer can only guess at what part of my existence was in that now empty spot.

Terri, I will never be the same without you. When you left, you didn’t just take one piece out of my puzzle picture, you took many, because we shared so much of life. If heaven has a reception room, I know that a circle has formed around you of loved ones who have missed you since their own departures. I can hear laughter in the air and can see your head thrown back in mirth as your animated gestures remind all of your Italian heritage. I envy that gathering that I am not a part of.

My wish is this…when it is my time to move on to the next life…I hope you are at the gate to greet me, usher me in and show me around. No doubt, we will not miss a beat as we dive into sharing what we each have been doing in our respective lives.

I love you Terri. You made such an impact in this life…especially to me! If possible, please keep in touch! ❤️

The art of being…

For me, life has been quiet for some time now…..Right now I can hear the clocks ticking as they mark time. No music is playing. No television or radio making a sound. I find it interesting how well my ears pick up every little sound. I can hear the lawn crew mowing grass outside and the occasional car driving by. I can hear birds singing in the distance. I hear the washing machine churning and swishing my clothes in the laundry room down the hall. I like this kind of environment. I like being a part of the daily hum drum of life. I like the quiet of everyday routine that makes up so much of my life.

We are now going into the third year of a Pandemic, though the critical nature of it seems to be waning. What this critical world event brought to me was a self awareness I haven’t had since childhood, because there was now so much time to fill at home away from others. When we were ordered into the lockdown, some people struggled with the restriction of staying home, but I found myself hunkering down and going about the business of reacquainting myself with ME….the “original” me, not the one who has long delivered to people their expectations of who I should be. I discarded the “me” who put so much thought into my speech and behavior for the comfort level of others. It wasn’t that I was being artificial, because that was a facet of me as well, but it was a learned one. That facet of me always felt obligated to step up to fit into society in a way that was considered the norm. So often, after fun filled parties and social gatherings we would come home and I would have a need to ”plug in” to restore all the energy expended while among so many people. “Plugging in” simply meant retreating back into the quiet and comfort of our home to rejuvenate.

Growing up I spent a lot of time reading. It was not unusual for me to go to the bookmobile and come back home with 9 or 10 books in my arms piled so high I could barely see past them. I read them all and brought them back in two weeks to gather some more. I spent many hours exploring the worlds created by the imagination and research of any given author. As I would read their stories, my mind was busy painting a picture of the characters involved and their surroundings, be it nature or architecture. I loved living in my head exploring the worlds laid out before me in the form of words in a book.

I also loved exploring the world around where I lived, whether it be laying on my back on the soft mossy earth beneath a fragrant canopy of tall pine trees, enjoying the view of the long slanted beams of sunlight, or wading barefoot in a lake or stream. I was often solitary in my pursuits because I liked going wherever the spirit moved me. Childhood was an excellent time in my life where we were surrounded by an abundance of relatives who lived nearby. The world was more innocent then and felt much safer. In fact, it never even occurred to our Mothers that harm could come to us as we roamed the woodlands with old logging trails, and swam in the rivers and lakes, not coming back home until our stomachs indicated it was time for supper. This is where I learned to be comfortable in my own company. I did have many cousins and local children with which to do childhood things and I enjoyed that as well. It was a well balanced life. We all ran the country side wild and free, and my favorite activity was swimming in a nearby lake.

Where I lived, it was an economically level playing field, meaning there was no competition or pecking order amongst the community members because we all lived the same kind of life. We had enough of everything but not an over-abundance of anything except for love….there was an abundance of that and plenty to go around.

I DO love people and relationships. I just don’t need a whole lot to fill my cup. One or two good solid friends have always been my preferred way of existence. It is wonderful communing with someone about life, having a special person with whom I can share my thoughts and feelings and have a friendly debate about our differences of opinions even as we stand in solidarity about other things. Yes, this is very nice!

The me that I rediscovered this past couple of years is far more open and fluid in my thoughts and actions and much more free in following my spirit’s desire. I don’t even think about it all that much. I put my spirit in the drivers seat and I go along for the ride. What an adventure it has been, though at times, quiet and pensive. I LIKE the child side of myself..the persona who lives free of expectations to perform in a certain way. I often invite my child to come out and play, to be authentic and real and free to BE who God intended her to be. She is happy to be herself in all her unique, awkward, uninhibited ways. I am far better off being an original than a poor copy of someone else.

My nature is a sensitive one which has been pointed out to me on occasion. People are generally much more impressed by the strong and practical type. “Don’t be so sensitive” they say, but I think to myself “thank you very much, but I like how I am.” I like my sensitivity. I admit being sensitive is sometimes the precursor to a wounded heart, but the good far outweighs the bad in the way I sense other peoples moods and how my heart always leans into the needs of others. This nature of sensitivity was part and parcel of who I was when I entered this world, and I figure if God made me this way, then there was a very good reason for my existence in the world as I am. Perhaps this is why I am happy in my own company.

I remain in a mode of self discovery and this morning I realized I haven’t written in quite a while. I have many home projects that are taking my time and attention these days and a courtyard full of plants and flowers that need a lot of extra watering during this unusually hot summer of skyrocketing temperatures. Summers are generally hot in the south, but this year seems to be a record breaker. When I go out there and spend time with my plants, I step out of the past (or future, depending on where my mind has taken me) and jump right back into the present. To live in the moment is the purest way of communing with God. I see God everywhere when I am outside. He is in the plants and the trees, the butterflies, the birds, the ants, the sunshine and the clouds. He is in the bright blue sky overhead and He is in the rain that helps me water my plant family. God is everywhere, but never so visible as he is in a garden of His creation!

Its a very good day today and I am glad I took a moment to jot down my thoughts. I remember a phrase I once heard quoted which was “me, myself and I” and it is a good one because we make a good team, we three! I think it is why I sometimes find myself thinking out loud. I often laugh when I realize I am talking to myself and then understand “the three that is me” gets a real kick out of these silly moments. By the way, it should be read as me, myself and I(am) because God is within methe great “I AM”

O.k. God…I will meet you outside now in my garden as I usually do. I can hear you calling to me. It is time to put away my musings and make some plants very happy as I hydrate them.

Until another time then….and thank you, “I”, for listening. With love and appreciation,…..”me” ❤️🙏🏼

jjb,7/19/2022

Friendship

Life sometimes gifts us with friends who come along just when you need that particular kind of a person. I have been so blessed in my life by the right people at the right time. While I dearly love having friendships, and I am always open to more, I have never been the kind of person who needs to have a lot of friends in my life to keep me busy.. I am always attracted to the kind souls who find joy in day to day living. I am attracted to those who love to talk and share and emote! Often these friends become my teachers by offering their perspective on things. Perspective! This is the definitive word in all communication. I am drawn to the deep thinkers in this world because they have spent time in wonder and exploration of the world around them. It is fun to exchange thoughts and feelings with this type of person. Oh the paths we go down as we share our viewpoints on all that is.

To my empath friend….Dianne…..It takes one to know one and I am so glad our paths have crossed! You are such a joyful shining light, and yet, within, you are a deep thinking, ever evolving spirit. What impresses me most about you, is your willingness to search within, looking for ways to love better and BE better. If only more people understood that this journey in life should include an ongoing self modification. It sure would create for all of us a better world!

jjb/6/2/2022

Honoring the past and those who have passed!

I wish I could have one more conversation with loved ones now gone. I wish I could tell them that only now do I understand the swiftness of the passing of time. I know that as we pray for the blessing of living a long life, we don’t really understand the complexity of what it is we are praying for. What age is old age anyway?

I imagine the younger generations may think the 50’s and 60’s are old, 70’s definitely old, and the 80’s well, they are just about ready for their dirt bed.

I have never felt old in the true sense of the word. Even as I type this, my spirit is ageless, of no particular age, and certainly NOT old. This is not a case of denial. It is simply not something I think about unless I read about the passing of a good friend, or a hospitalization of a contemporary, or when I visit a friend in a memory unit. Oh yes, this always gets my attention!

As I glance at my reflection in the mirror, I can see the passage of time. When one is young, we spend a leisurely amount of time in front of the mirror, primping and grooming and enjoying our reflection. These days, at most, the mirror only gets a glance. No point in reminding my youthful spirit of the aging body it resides in. My spirit looks outward into the world and as it does it takes on the energy of those who surround me. What older person does not enjoy being surrounded by young people where we can bask in their presence in all their vibrant energy?

I wonder how life would be if we did not mark time. Every year we celebrate our birthday and people sing and wish us well.

“Wow! You are 5! You get to go to school!”

“Yay! You are 16. You get to drive!”

“You are 21! You are an adult now so you can vote!”

And so it goes….and then we reach that birthday 62 or 65. Retirement! Who ever invented that word anyway? It was Del Webb during a Marketing Campaign back in the 60’s in Arizona. Previously, it was not uncommon for people to die in their 60’s not long after obtaining social security. Del Webb was intent on selling houses to the older generation and they needed a dream to sell along with them. They sold the dream of the “golden years” and golf going hand in hand! They were surprised by how well received their new concept was. People liked the idea of living in the golden years verses the olden years. A new type of community was hatched.

Some of us get to blow out 70 candles! Even in our own minds, we can no longer fool ourselves into thinking that we are still young and we cannot ignore the ticking of the clock.

When we hit 80 people may say, “Isn’t he/she amazing, still so active and ALERT? “ (Oh dear, that word alert!!)

The very few who hit their 90’s and are blessed to have loving family are applauded and fawned over and well tended like a flower in a greenhouse. Sadly, there are others who are among the invisible, left behind by most everyone they once knew due to moves, bad health or death. They are the ones who are called the survivors…the tough bunch who have miraculously survived life’s toughest challenges.

Huge gratitude for lives given up for our country!

Memorial Day is actually a day set aside to honor our military who fought and died to defend our country. Through the years, people began to also honor their other loved ones who have passed as well. Remembering those we have loved and honoring them is a heartwarming experience and a good reminder that life has an ending here on earth and that we should make the most of each and every day.

Our parents graves are in the far north country of the U.S. and we live in the far south, so each year on Memorial Day, we have our own private memorial in our courtyard where we come out and sit and reflect on their lives and what they have meant to us. We miss them but we are happy they got to live long lives and then left the troubles of this world behind. It nice to know that they now live eternally in the most beautiful of places. There are certainly worse things than death in old age.

Our courtyard plantings were eviscerated by the dramatic and destructive 5 day snow and ice storm in February of 2021. Many of these plants behind our angel are replacements for what died. Even plants have an end game, but as I watch the new plants reach to the sky I am reminded that even as WE leave this earth, we too leave behind newly planted offspring who will grow to fill our place in this world. The wheel of life continues, no matter what!

jjb/5/30/2022

Bye Bye Journal

I have been wading through boxes full of my journals. The sheer weight of those boxes told me that a lot of words were inside, so as I began to sift through it all, reading here and there, I realized that these letters and journals no longer serve me.

These are thoughts and feelings from a long ago person about long ago events. Writing has always served me well in allowing me to express and organize my thoughts, but I am a different person now, living in a different time. Just scanning the notes tells me how very different I am from that younger version of myself. I feel as if I have evolved and graduated to the next level.

My Mother used to love to write as well, and I understand why she did. Her later years were spent living far from her roots and at times she lived in other countries. She would feel a need to connect with home and writing provided this connection. Writing is very therapeutic and as one writes it feels as if it connects you to loved ones and to memories of other places and times. It makes us feel less alone on our journey and comforts our souls longing.

Mom is gone now, but I remember one day when she was old and we were having our daily visit on the phone. She shared with me that she had thrown out all of her journaling along with all of her saved letters. I gasped to hear it because I knew how much time she had invested in that particular exercise. I am sure I said something like “Oh NO! Why?”

Today, I know the answer to that question. I have come to the same intersection in life that she likely approached back then. Do I keep storing old journals that I have not looked at in years or should I toss them? I had to ponder it a while because we have moved many, many times and like an old pack mule, I brought them along each and every time. As I sit here and look at the sheer volume of writing, I recognize that to leave these things to our children would be leaving the burden of this choice to them. They will not have the time to read it all and even if they did, would they want to trade their time on earth reading about MY journey? They have their own journey to focus on, so I feel I am releasing them from a future dilemma of what to do with all these journals.

One might say, (as I did to my Mother), “what a waste!” (when imagining the journals getting tossed away to be hauled off to some landfill.) But, it wasn’t a waste at all. Writing served up a purpose in that moment in time when, for whatever reason, Mom or I chose to write. It gave each of us a means to express what was on our hearts and minds and a discovery of our true selves came to light in the process. It was time well spent. I will not spend time on these thoughts and words a second time, because I have new things to see and do and learn! My spirit cannot fly when weighted down by my past and earthly possessions . Someday I will fly away to some celestial shore and I will do this minus the weight I brought onto myself with the things of this world!

Amen? Amen! ❤️

Bye bye Journal….bye bye!

Jjb/5/24/2022