Another woman's blog

One of my favorite blogs to read belongs to a relative. I'm not exactly sure what the term for the relationship is? She is my cousin's stepdaughter. So I just call her my cousin. (Yes, you know who you are........) I read her post tonight and she is currently using a format called "The Simple Woman's Daybook". It's pretty cool; if you're looking for ideas, check it out. The format gives you springboards from which to jump: "I am thinking..." "I am thankful for..." and so on. One of them is "I am creating..." to which my cousin, in her humility, said "nothing".

That made me think. What is she creating? What am I creating? For that matter, what are YOU creating? Are we all waiting to have accomplished something grandiose before it counts in our eyes?

I think of women like my cousin, young mothers with young children. She is creating very much, in my estimation. For her children she is creating an environment of faith, love, discipline and security. What she creates for her husband is probably all of that and more, plus a few fringe benefits. She is also giving something to the world: three future adults who will be well-balanced, honorable people with a good work ethic. We could use a lot more of those.

We seem to discount what we create for the people around us. Who we are, the example we provide to our children, our compassion, love and charity we demonstrate...these are all what we create every day. What do we create when we are the kind of friend upon whom others rely? What do we create when we are the only person our spouse confides in? What do we create when we are the dedicated employee whom the boss trusts? What do we create when we are the customer whom the grocery clerk knows will be smiling and patient?

So, dear Cousin, (and note to self, as well) we are creating very much, even when it feels like we are accomplishing nothing. The tiny moments count a lot. It is my opinion that a marriage is made up of minutes in the same way a mile is made up of inches. The same is true of the whole of our lives. The little stuff matters. When I look back on the people who were the most influential in my life, it wasn't the big stuff that I think of most. I think of the moments, brief though they might be, which let me peek into their souls.


The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
This is my favorite poem--me and a lot of other people, I am sure. The premise is so simple, and yet so profoundly true: the road you choose makes all the difference.
I love those little quiet places, seldom traveled and out-of-the-way. There is something very exciting and yet soothing about being somewhere that hasn't seen very many human footprints. It's even more fun if those occasional footprints belonged to people of long ago.
There's a place just off of Aravaipa Canyon in south-central Arizona that reeks of history and is definitely a less-traveled road. It's a gash in the desert, shaded from the harsh reality of the desert above. The sheer rock walls angle over the canyon floor. Cottonwood and Sycamore filter the sunlight. In the autumn, those trees drop colorful, oval leaves and turn the blue granite boulders into mosaics of color.
A lazy creek wanders from one side of the canyon wall to the other, ambling back and forth like a child chasing a butterfly. Coatis run amok in the canyon, a gang of noisy delinquents. I don't speak Coati, but if I did, I bet I'd be shocked at the names they call eachother. Canyon Wrens stay above the fray to make their liquid songs fill the canyon. Whitetail deer and black bear visit, but don't stay.
It's a quiet place, ancient and delicate. If you listen carefully, you can hear the echoes of the ones who walked here before: Hohokams, Mogollons, Saladoans, settlers and ranchers and Basque sheep herders. The sounds of the bawling cattle, bleating sheep and even the sounds of the massacre have faded away to a whisper....a whisper of a road less traveled.


My Own Epiphany

Epiphany /ɪˈpɪfəni/ [i-pif-uh-nee]
1. a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
2. an appearance or manifestation, esp. of a deity.
3. a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
4. a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.

Like happiness, maybe an epiphany is something you choose, rather than wait for. So today, I am going to have an epiphany. I have all the ingredients lying about; all I have to do is toss them together and bake until transformed.

It's a beautiful day. Cold and wintry and perfect for soup and bread and hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps in it. I love this kind of weather. If spring is the season of rebirth, then winter days like this are those quiet days of late pregnancy. Those gentle days, when the baby is warm and safe and growing. Momma needs to rest a lot, for life is about to get exciting. That's what Mother Earth is doing: biding her time, conserving her strength for the coming spring, and it is beautiful.

Vince Gill is singing to me while I type here. Imagine that! And let me tell you, that boy can SING. It is inspiring to me. Partly because I can't sing, so I admire that talent in others. And partly because he is singing "The Key to Life". He reminds me that practice, passion and patience make all the difference. Indirectly, his music also reminds me that there is a creative force in each of us. Does it matter if what we create is a meaningful song, a beautiful painting or a finely crafted loaf of potato bread? Nope. All that matters is that we take the efforts of our hearts and hands and move life forward, one day at a time.

Standing on my desk I have a picture of my parents, when they were still dating. My Mom is wearing one of those lovely dresses women wore in the mid-fifties, with a full skirt and tiny waist. Her arms are bare and she looks beautiful. My dad stands next to her, sleeves rolled up, looking trim and handsome as he always did. All that I am, all that I ever was or will be, started there. That's pretty profound, isn't it?

It has been terribly difficult for me to resign myself to "put it in God's hands" when it comes to our son in Iraq. I'm more of a hands-on kind of girl. Now with the troubles in Gaza, I have no choice. Things could be worse, and might get there yet, so I surrender my own wish for control. Heavenly Father, hold my son safe in your hands and bring him home to us again, well and whole. Protect them all.

I am not the most patient person in the world. I could be more understanding. My math skills suck. I'm pretty messy, too. But I'm not so bad. The ones I love, I love with a depth they might never guess at. My love isn't the blind sort: I am fully aware of the flaws, but I love them anyway. I never figured love for a salad bar. You don't get to choose some things and leave others behind. Take the whole dinner or leave it alone.

I have a great passion for small things. I love all the little every day stuff. There is humor, and joy, and wisdom, and passion in all those overlooked bits. It's everywhere, if I look around. I'm not stupid: I know there are troubles, trials and pains innumerable in the world, and those, too, are everywhere if I look around. So I'll do what I can to face those with a realistic view to how I can change them. But they don't cancel out all the good. The joy is still there, waiting to be noticed, an angelic child who is too polite to clamor for the candy falling from life's pinata. You have to notice the joy that waits for you. And you will find it. What greater epiphany can there be?


No Resolutions

It isn't that I want to be different, or revolutionary, but I don't DO New Year's Resolutions. I don't. I really do try to just solve things as they show up, January or June. Who needs to wait until a new year starts to try harder? I try to be better, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so much, all year long.

There is value in a new year and a new start, of course. It works for a lot of people to make resolutions. It just so happens that I don't have that kind of willpower. I have to eat my elephants one bite at a time, instead of trying to wolf down the whole thing in January. I admire people who can make a New Year's Resolution and keep it. I'm not one of them.

I'm trying to wean myself off of sugar in my coffee and tea. I've been trying for a long time. It might be significant to my difficulty that I don't personally want to do this, but sugar in my coffee drives my husband crazy. I guess sweet coffee is a weakness? So I'm trying. I might just give up coffee, instead. I can use honey in my tea, but honey in coffee is just wrong. The hubs is fine with honey. I wonder if he could handle it if I drank coffee with molasses? That's an improvement, right?

We have quite a bit of game meat in the freezer. I've been eating game meat for close to 23 years and I'm tired of the stuff. (side note: it's no treat, dear friends, to go to a restaurant that serves venison and buffalo! That's like going to a restaurant and having ramen soup or something.) But we have the meat in the freezer. I figured it out and we've been eating game meat, on average, 5 nights a week for just over 22 years. That's over 5720 game meat meals. And I cooked almost every one of them. Folks, I'm out of ideas. No matter how hard I try, I can't turn a pound of elk burger into a salmon filet or a chicken.

So, I'm trying to look at that freezer full with new eyes. I'm trying to will myself to not be bored with game meat. Wish me luck. I am grateful to have it, I really am. I know I am blessed. Is it a sin to be bored with a blessing? Probably. I'll have to work on that.

My biggest flaws, as I see it, are my opinionated nature and my tendency to speak my mind too much. I am trying to force myself to not judge another for doing something different than what I think I would have done. This is dreadfully difficult for me, I have to tell you. I have fought against it all my life. I don't intend to do it, but I do. It's simple math, I suppose. I expect n + You do y = I think you're an idiot. OK, maybe not always an idiot....

Worse, once I conclude that someone is an idiot, I say it. Shame on me. I have GOT to stop doing that. No one wants to hear that I think someone is an idiot. So I am working on that one, too.

Again, wish me luck.

What I See--Alita

Oh, Alita! What can I say? We've known eachother for so many years! Alita and I became acquainted first because our husbands worked to...