“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.” ~ Unknown
This is not today. This was early January, the 5th maybe, when we got the only appreciable snow we’ve had this winter. The neighbors with little kids still had their Christmas lights up. Dad had just been released from the hospital after his stroke, and they were staying with me. It was down in the 20’s. I looked outside after dinner and suddenly the flakes were huge. By the time I got outside with a tripod they’d tapered off. Still, snow is beautiful and we can always do with a little more beauty. So, here’s some for us to enjoy during this rainy, warm winter.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
These tire tracks are a lot like a person’s life. You cross paths with a variety of people over the years. Some leave faint impressions, others deep, some messy, some nearly disappear as if they were never there. All of us make these connections every day. Together, we create a beautiful cross stitch pattern that sustains us throughout our lives. It’s very rare that I make the acquaintance of someone with whom I’m sorry I did so. In fact, off hand, I can’t think of anyone. Mind you, I’ve met a few I didn’t like, but they had plenty to teach me just the same. Rarer still, crossing paths with someone that imprints your heart from the very moment you meet them. One of those people was my friend Opal. You met Opal in the outhouse the first year, and she popped up again last year just before she turned 107. She has lived an exquisite life, the stuff of dreams, really; traveled everywhere, done everything. She was a maverick; a shero to many a crossing tread. So, it is not with sadness, but incredible gratitude that I bid Opal so long for now. Yesterday, she went on to her next great adventure. Now, we both have birthdays on January 8. Yet another thing we have in common. Thank you, Opal, for teaching me how cool behaves. May I live to be half as awesome as you.
“If somebody is a problem for you, it’s not that they should change, it’s that you need to change. If they’re a problem for themselves that’s their karma, if they’re causing you trouble that’s your problem.”
~ Ram Dass
I turned 52 today. Every year past 50 feels like a milestone. Maybe because so many people I loved didn’t get this far. Or maybe because I have my health so, unless an accident takes me out, I’m still firing all cylinders for a while. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I like it. This was one of the best birthdays I’ve had because I had only one thing planned; breakfast with Stacy at Winchell’s. It was, of course, excellent, and the perfect way to start a day that was sunny, albeit cold as a well digger’s s$$. I’m told it was cold like this when I was born. I also learned recently that I was late by four days. That pretty much set the tone for my life, because if you know me at all, then you know I am always, always, always late. I digress. Then there’s Wally. My, sweet, compassionate, faithful, smart boy. Late this afternoon I went to the Lexington Zen Center for the first time with Marlon as my guide. The reading talked about how we are all connected; to each other, everything around us, in us, on this planet, you get the picture. To truly understand connection, to my way of thinking anyway, requires a high degree of compassion. For instance, Wally loved dad’s dog, Crackerjack. We didn’t know how he’d take up with mom’s dog, Scrappy. Scrappy is fed in the morning. Wally gets supper. One night I fed Wally but he wouldn’t eat until I also gave food to Scrappy. Once the visiting dog had food in his bowl, only then would Wally eat. It was remarkable to see actually. Scrappy likes to mark his territory, so when there are no humans in the house he has to go in the kennel. One day last week I tried to leave Wally out of the kennel because he doesn’t need to be crated, but he wouldn’t have it. Scrappy was in the kennel, so he, too, must be in the kennel. It’s not that the dogs are close like Wally and Crackerjack were, they’re not. It’s that Wally has a sense of justice, compassion, loyalty; all the things we humans aspire to have and yet so often fall short of. I look at that little dog and I see God, plain and simple. He is a great teacher. I am grateful to still be on this plane connected with every little atom that comes my way, and I’m forever grateful for this little Buddha Jesus dog who teaches me the meaning of compassion every day.
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” ~ Doris Lessing
This crucifix hangs outside the Catholic Newman Center on campus. After Matt’s fall last night I went on to my car, but when I pulled out of the parking lot, this crucifix caught my eye. It was stunning in the spotlight set against lightly drifting snow. Plus, parishioners were inside, so the stained glass windows were aglow. Naturally, I pulled over. Heavier snow would have made a better picture, but all in all, it’s still interesting. Plus, I found it a comfort after Matt’s spill in the road.
“Your mission today, should you choose to accept it: Be nice to someone today for no other reason than to be kind. The world needs your contribution of kindness.” ~ Patsy Crawford Carruthers
Today, was the first snow of 2017. The temp dropped, making road treatments nearly useless. It was the kind of snow that compacts easily then doesn’t melt. I left work, taking my time to photograph my walk when Matt, whom you met yesterday, caught up with me. We were having a lovely talk until we crossed Rose Street. The poor guy was in the middle of saying, “It’s nice to get back to some sense of normalcy….” and then he was on the ground. He was flat on his back in the street. The very nice man in the SUV got out to help. Matt said he wasn’t seeing stars, but he cut his scalp. It’s just not what the poor man needed. You see, his mother died just before Christmas from injuries sustained in a fall. It was a shock, and this week was Matt’s first time back to work in a month. “Welcome back. Here’s a concussion,” the Universe said. He assured me he was ok to drive, and promised to clean his wound when he got home. Snow is beautiful, but it can hurt ya, so be careful. And this picture of Matt acting like a kid catching snowflakes on his tongue? That’s the Matt I know and love. I’m sure glad I caught it.
“You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple…
The choice does not belong to fate. It belongs to you.”
~ Josh Shipp
Wally was very excited to see snow. It was shallow enough to be fun without swallowing him whole. I must say it does my heart good to open the door and have someone greet me with such enthusiasm. Dog: they’re good for the soul.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
~ Marcus Aurelius
After every substantial snow fall, Crystal builds her little dachshund, Bianka, a maze in her backyard, partly so Binks will have a place to do her business, but partly so she’s got room to run and provide entertainment for the humans. Bianka’s legs are shorter than Wally’s, but not by much. I took Crystal’s advice and made Wally a maze of his own. In the end, however, the squirrels proved too much. He threw caution to the wind and made his own path. He liked it. We should all act like Wally every once in a while.
“How you make others feel says a lot about who you are.” ~ Unknown
Poor Wally hated yesterday. Nobody was happier to get outside and clear some snow than this boy. The snow drifts were impressive, and finding an unspoiled-by-the-wind area of snow to get a measurement was tough. Best I can tell we had eight inches of powder on Springridge. A half mile from here, at Crystal’s house, they recorded ten inches, and five miles to the west at the airport, the official measure for Fayette County, they recorded only seven inches. Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky was buried under nearly two feet of snow, and the east coast is currently making its way to three feet! That’s a lot of snow in one storm.
Yesterday, I had some kids come by offering to shovel my drive. I declined. I wanted first to wait until the storm was over, but mostly I wanted the exercise for myself. The teenagers don’t need it. I do! It took two hours to clear my driveway and sidewalks. When I finished I smiled at my cleared drive and gave thanks that I am healthy enough to do it. There are plenty of people my age who aren’t. Tomorrow, I’ll build a snow maze for Wally to run around in. But tonight, I will sleep sound after all that spent energy and hope I’m not too sore to move come morning.
“No matter how hard life gets, remember to go to bed grateful that you have one.”
This is the creek behind Mamaw’s house (now Aunt Janet’s) in West Liberty. It’s called Long Branch, and it empties a mile downstream into the Licking River. I spent half of my life playing in this creek. No trip home is complete without a peek at her. Yesterday, when I was home, I got just a peek before the day unraveled into something unexpected and unpleasant, causing me to miss this original post. Ultimately, the quote for today hits the mark for me.
“At any moment you have a choice that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.”
~ Thich Nhat Hahn
The winter storm out did all the weathermen predictions. We were expected to get between 6-10″ of snow. Lexington got 17.1″. It was a historic snowfall event. It broke a number of records like largest two day snow fall, largest snowfall in March, largest single day snowfall (10+” fell after midnight). Wally and I spent our morning watching the neighbors dig out before the storm was finished. I’m too old to waste that kind of energy. I waited until it was over, as did my next door neighbors, and together we shoveled driveways and sidewalks and helped another neighbor get his stuck car unstuck. It felt good to help.
Wally was extremely displeased at the return of the snow, however. Only yesterday, for the first time in nearly three weeks, was he able to do his business without snow and ice messing with his plans. Pouring rain wasn’t about to upset him. Things were starting to get normal again, for him and for me. Then came this enormous snow. UK has called off work again for tomorrow, what with the temps plummeting overnight to minus 8 or worse. I feel so sorry for Wally. On my snow day I will build him a maze if I can stand the cold. Poor little guy deserves it, and I love him, so I’m happy to do it. Maybe he’ll stop blaming me.