Of sunshine and laughter…

Summer still lingers, even though I spied the first mums at the grocery store yesterday, and some faux pumpkins too. I enjoy summer’s long days, where the angle of sunshine reaches out to places usually hidden in shadows, but I have to admit I fully embrace autumn. It wasn’t always this way. I lived life loving half the year, and spent the next six months is a purgatory of sorts, where I waited for spring. Everyday brought an extra minute or two of sunlight, and a return to living my best life, though I loved the occasional March thaw.

Most of my life I lived in the North, as in Upstate NY, land of snowy days starting in October and running until March. Did I mention the grey days that accompanied those snows? Then I lived in Wisconsin for twenty-two years, and yes I counted. Cold. Bitter, freezing cold to the point where I watched in shock as frost climbed the walls in my bedroom, and later in my own home, spreading across the back door and hallway. That’s cold. I counted the days until spring, and then I opened windows and slipped on my shorts when it hit sixty degrees. But then we moved. Seven hours south of north.

Cows at the farm next door…

That made all the difference. We still have all four seasons, but summer lingers until the end of September, when I’m ready for evenings where the chill curls around my legs, and adding a blanket on the bed feels good, even if I do keep the windows open. Then bring it on! Mums, pumpkins, and nights spent on the back porch listening to the creek talk to itself. The owls hoot in the evening, and I start to bring out throws for nights spent on the deck, watching the Harvest Moon sail high in the sky. Did you know the Harvest Moon is in September? October’s full moon is called the Hunter’s Moon. Interesting….

My copper comes out in autumn. It pairs with autumn colors so well…

I fell in love with autumn one day when dusting my parents’ room. I looked out the back window and saw the forest bordering our yard drenched in crimson, yellow, bright orange and burnt umber punctuated by the evergreens. I don’t know how long I watched the sunlight spotlighting the trees, and as soon as my Saturday chores were over, I ran outside and marveled at the lightening blues in the sky. Who knew the sky changed colors with the seasons? I had no idea until I turned nine. When did the world around you become noticeable, a presence who showed herself on some days, when others were shrouded in weeping, sodden clouds. Did you notice? Do you? Now?

The tombstones from over 100 years ago, on our land…

Yes, I’m lucky. I moved to a more temperate home. But I learned so much from being in the north. Things that might warm you through even if you’re basking in oceanside breezes come January. The people in the north are friendly, once you get to know them. You’ll be invited to soak in their hot tub, as I was, drinking wine on a frigid night, with the only issue trying to get home soaking wet and hoping to not turn into an icicle. Yeah, I didn’t properly think that one through, and she lived 400 yards away from me. Northerners get things done. It doesn’t matter the temp or if the sun sets close to 4:00, so you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, and then if you’re lucky, you take a chilling 5K run…in the dark. We just do it.

the house last year….

They embrace cold, snow and laugh easily. I once attended a Green Bay Packers playoff game in January at Lambeau and froze. The people all around us laughed and cracked jokes, even though out team was losing to the Giants! They offered me hand warmers, but even I had to laugh when I told them I had hand warmers in my boot, mittens, and across my back. I still shivered. But I loved that even through a disappointing loss, the fans weren’t cussing, throwing beer or yelling awful things about the referee’s parentage. Being kind is a whole thing in the frozen tundra. I do miss the warmth of friendship carrying us through the cold and dark.

an impromptu country bouquet gathered in late summer….

Finding happiness where we are is essential. We have to make out peace with our place. I am thrilled to be where we are now, and yes, people are friendly here, but the summer days can be so hot that it seems like people spend their summer hidden inside. We learn how to enjoy the water, take walks in the cooler shade and these days we don’t have as much to distract us, so I think a whole world is rediscovering the pleasures of home. We can garden, even in a city. We can step outside and drink to the end of the day and a beautiful evening. We have the power over how we think.

Mostly. Sometimes medicine is needed. But if we’re doing fairly well, we can enjoy every drop of summer fun, listening to the cicadas and crickets. I love to light candles any night of the year, and I’m loving the fresh and citrus scents. Have you had a fish taco yet? Drank scotch neat? Binge watched a show with a lover, friend or cat? Had popcorn for dinner, heavy on the butter? Dipped your toes into a pond, ocean or creek? You know we have a creek here! Swoon. That’s my waterfront property. And I laugh with my husband, because the life by an ocean is out of reach now. And that’s a good thing.

the woods are lovely any time of year…

I loved, loved the ocean so much. I could go out in the waves and play in the turbulent waters of the Outer Banks, riptides and all. I took my kids to the pool every day each summer, and then I found out I had lupus. No big deal, right? Well, I wound up being severely affected by the sun. Sunlight makes me sick. So I’m enjoying autumn a lot more. Summer isn’t the best season for me, so I read a lot and emerge in the evenings. And nights! I’m all about loving the night. I could stay up until dawn. Seriously.

taken from high up in a tree on our farm….

That joke about having a creek as mine is funny and perfect! I made my peace with my new reality. Now I love the ponds at the farm and we have a creek there too. One that the neighbor’s cows love to cross to get to our fields. My doctor told me to embrace vacationing up north in the lands of my youth. Maine, Vermont, and the Adirondacks. And Scotland! My dream come true. Oh pandemic go away! We all want to move about the globe freely.

An August sunset is savored….

I want you to feel happy. I’m not thrilled about being stuck inside over summer, but that’s my reality. I’ve made my peace with it, and the north would be a good place for me, but my family is here now. It’s okay. Can you make peace with your reality? Can we find a way to enjoy where we are, whatever season it is, city or country, a pandemic or not, rich or poor, sick or well (you know where I land on this one), alone or with family, moving forward or staying still? I think we can. Quick! Make your list of things to do before summer slips silently away.

And then? Decide to make the most of the autumn. You might find it’s your new favorite season. It’s mine. And I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve been yearning to burn a raked pile of fallen leaves for decades. I know, it’s bad, so I won’t. Plus I have images of starting a huge fire, so I found a new….candle, yes, you know me by now, I love candles, and this promises to smell like a leaf pile burning. Enjoy the rest of August. Wherever you are.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time,

Deanna

Letting go of the safe…

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After midnight, with the back door slightly ajar, just enough to hear crickets and cicadas enjoying the summer night, I feel content. My cat is out there on the porch, enjoying himself, and I’m ready to write. Properly. I’ve been thinking about school. August is when most of my schools started, though as a girl in New York, we began around September 10th. Not sure why, but when I moved to Dayton, the school year began toward the end of August, and I learned how hot a classroom could be, and wished they had waited until September to begin. All of my schools after that began in August after that. No matter where we lived.

My last kid is starting his fourth college in a week, so I’ve been thinking about college days.

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I have a story for you that I think you’ll like. In my sophomore year, I left one college to get away from a boyfriend, who I felt defined me. Too much. At my new university, I navigated my classes, made good friends, lived 800 miles from home (still), and I worked making pizzas and serving wine (sometimes a little bit too much for myself), but it was a ten hour shift, so Lambrusco made it enjoyable. I learned to live without the boyfriend, but I missed my girlfriends, and so I went back to the other university for the second semester.

I gave in to my dad. Accounting instead of theater or music. He was paying, so I obliged. The man has two Master’s degrees, so I finally listened to him. On the first day of classes in snowy, cold Wisconsin, I stood at the door of Accounting 101, and being on time meant the only row available was the front. I scooted to the far side, and yes, the boyfriend decided to take his accounting class with me. We sat together, smushed right up against the professor’s desk. Not fun, but all business majors had to take this class. Had.

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Two minutes after the start of class, two guys showed up and hovered at the door, looking, searching for a seat. The only two left were next to me. I saw the boy with bedroom eyes, green maybe, but he just glanced at me as his friend took the seat right next to me. I liked how he looked, but the professor had begun. It was a tough class. I studied a lot that semester, well I had to, and I discovered Mr. Green Eyes liked studying in the library too.

My roommates were Marketing majors which I believe means they majored in going out drinking every night of the week. I never once made it to Dime Taps at Mitchell’s. I had to study in a quiet space, and the library became my new spot. Green Eyes was there as much as I was, so I finally sauntered (well, I probably loped over, but the beauty of memories is changing them to suit us) over to his table. Green Eyes smiled up at me, but those eyes, with laughter hiding behind them, were blue. I asked for help with some obscure problem, but I spent the whole time wondering if he had a girlfriend.

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Turned out Blue Eyes was free. I still had the boyfriend from high school, though due to his cheating on me at least a dozen times when my parents (and I) moved from Milwaukee to Syracuse. He cheated while I waitressed and took a run each night, because I knew no one there. I thought the boyfriend and I would marry, but in my sophomore year, I told him I was now taking time to survey the scenery. Meaning other guys. He didn’t like it, but those were my rules at that time.

I flirted shamelessly with Blue Eyes, and I knew his name now too. He said he had seen my name on the homework I had to pass down to the end of my row in class. He noticed I had a boyfriend, so I explained about New York, my high school love and cheating, and somehow we began to easily converse. I liked his name. I liked him so very much, too. I knew since the boyfriend had decided I was his, after sampling others for two straight summers, that I would have to initiate any meeting with Blue Eyes. I kept the boyfriend, because it had been three years, and he was my security blanket, and I still liked him. Yet…

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I set it up so well. I told Blue Eye’s roommate that he should meet me at a certain bar where they had dancing on Fridays, and to look for the blonde from his class, if he was interested in me at all. I didn’t set it up with Blue Eyes directly, because what if he gave me a flat out no? When I turned up at the bar with my friend for support, he was dancing with his old girlfriend from high school. What is it about our high school romances, that they follow us out of the corridors of lockers, and stay with us long after graduation?

I turned away to leave, because clearly Blue Eyes wasn’t there to meet me. Suddenly I heard him say, “You can’t leave. You haven’t met me yet.” My roommate smiled and gave me space. Gave us space. We still don’t know what happened to his ex that he was dancing with.

We chatted and danced, and later, after a slice of pizza at two a.m., we walked to his dorm and talked. All night. Nothing else. But we had so much in common. It felt uncanny, how similar we were, about our days in high school, and what we did, who we were then, and where we were trying to go now.

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Do you believe in destiny? I have to, because no other explanation exists. I should have gone home to Syracuse to finish my schooling at that prestigious university. But I was angry and tired of moving, so I stayed behind. And our last names are such that I usually sat next to him in our classes. Accounting is not a popular major for a reason. I was Engle. He was right next to me. Eppers.

When I graduated university, I took my number and climbed the hill searching for my place among the E’s. I finally found it, and who should pop up but Blue Eyes. Eppers. I graduated five seconds before he did, though he is in my formal graduation photo, due to him being next. Yes. We sat side by side, and I guess our parents thought that was cute. Eppers had become my boyfriend, and I had left behind the security of a boyfriend who wanted to marry me, but only after two summers of cheating that hurt my soul. I gave him up. And went forward with Blue Eyes. With destiny. With hope.

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I chose Blue Eyes. My heart chose first, and then my head followed. And do you know, I had to take the CPA exam next to my very serious boyfriend? Engle. Eppers. Fate? Yes. But making the leap from the blanket security of high school, which reminded me of when my family still lived close by, to taking a chance on a man I met in class? That took courage. For me. I fell in love with his eyes first. Sexy. Kind. Bemused. Flirty. Funny. And then I decided to live in Wisconsin after graduation, because I loved him.

I jumped. Into the unknown. I had no idea that we would marry. Blue Eyes was smart and handsome and had so many opportunities to cheat or to change to another woman. I took a chance on a forever with him.

My point in your happiness comes down to this: Do you stay with the familiar, the comfortable just to feel safe? What if your happiness means you have to take a jump into the unknown, not having any idea how it will turn out? I learned to jump. To trust myself first, which I did by going to a different college to “find” my true self all on my own. And once found, I did hang onto the safe, for a time. But oh! the happiness that lies at the end of possibilities is worth a jump.

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To be happy, I think we need to know ourselves. And when we do, we know which way to go. When to jump, and when to pause. When to move forward with confidence, even if we don’t feel it yet, or when to wait. Happiness arrives at the least expected moments. I willingly gave up living by my family to spend a life with Blue Eyes in Wisconsin. I made the right choice. I’m happy with him. More than happy. Blissed out. Overwhelmed that God set me on a path to meet a remarkably gifted, intelligent, funny, sarcastic, sexy man who would be the father of my children.

Happiness. How do we capture it? How do you find your happiness? Is it fate? Destiny? Maybe not, but I know you have to sometimes choose the less traveled path. A path that might not make sense. Blue Eyes made me so happy that even though I lived sixteen hours away from home, I made a home with him. My soul found a home in him. With Blue Eyes.

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Trust me. It was hard to explain to the old boyfriend that all his cheating had hurt my soul and nibbled away at my confidence. How could I even imagine walking down an aisle to that? Our hearts need safe havens where we can rest. Mine is with him. Blue eyes. I handed him my heart on a January night at his place. He knows when. I chose to make my shelter with him on a late March day before spring break. And I waited for him to propose.

When the day arrived and I walked down the aisle, feeling awkward as I made my way to the front of the church, suddenly I saw him. I could walk confidently now. To him. He had my heart, and now I was simply handing it to him in a public manner, in front of all the people we loved.

Friends, happiness is real and out there. You have to let go sometimes to find what you want. And need. Let your heart find rest, and may we enjoy this summer, grabbing at moments that bring us bliss. Maybe it’s your turn to jump. Time to take that chance.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold….

Until next time,

Deanna

Looking back with eyes wide open…

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I’m just going to post some of my latest pics, but they don’t follow the narrative today. I just like the pics because they lighten the mood. Today is about our past. Where we’ve been, understanding it, and using it to move forward.

My best summer was in 1978. My family moved frequently, but this summer was my second in Northern Virginia, and I had friends. A best friend, who would be the closest friend of my life. I loved waking up, knowing another day at the pool beckoned, and being thirteen, and waiting to be fourteen before school started back up, meant I was into boys. Crushing on them pretty much.

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I fell for my best friend’s older brother. One year above me in school, he had black tousled hair, tall in the way freshman boys tend to be, and he played electric guitar. My heart hummed around him, and since I was learning how to properly smoke cigarettes at her house, he was there too laughing at my coughing fits! I think my mother let me run free that summer, to make up for all the moves and summers of complete boredom.

So I spent all day at the pool. Starting at noon, swimming and playing four square, I listened to the songs playing loudly overhead, and they are imprinted on my soul. I instantly know where I lived when I hear a song, and any music from the summer of ’78 is on my phone. I loved that time so much. I learned about love. I cut my teeth on “Blake”. I think I was his first crush also, and my bestie wasn’t thrilled, but….

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We would all head home for dinner, when all our fathers who worked for the government came home, late, again. Around six thirty. None of us knew what our dads did, because it was all “classified”. That’s DC for you. I’d swallow dinner in ten minutes and head back to the pool until closing at nine. And we’d linger afterward, some of us talking, not wanting to go home to parents who asked too many questions.

On a night thick with stars hanging down on us, Blake brushed his hand down my bare, tanned arm. He said quietly to me, so no on else could hear, “Your skin…. It’s so soft.” I wanted him to run his hands all over my arms, legs, face… But my best friend was still there, so he smiled at me, and I floated home. Turns out, boys like soft skin, but I wasn’t sure of anything at that time. Only that I wished we could date.

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Blake and I would run into each other often, but my best friend had told me I had to choose either her or her brother. They were so close that she couldn’t handle me dating him and hanging with her at the same time. I chose her. I needed a best friend, and we had so much fun that summer. I might sound like a delinquent, but I got good grades and preformed in community theatre and sang. I always sang.

And I would actually sit on the swing at the far end of our backyard, thick with the overgrowth of bushes and trees so close to the creek, and I hoped no one would hear me, as I swung and sang love songs. I loved Blake, and we talked so much at his house. It was difficult to set aside my feelings for him. But I tried. For friendships’s sake. I kissed a different boy for my first kiss ever,  and I don’t even know his name. It wasn’t Blake.

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I moved the following summer. To Wisconsin. I hated that first summer so much that my mom sent me on a trip to meet my old best friend at summer’s end and stay with her family at Rehoboth Beach. I hugged my friend, and we caught up on life. She had fallen for a boy back home. And one night, Blake asked me to meet him on the beach. I had grown a bit taller, and I had the lithe body of a teen who ran three miles every day for fun, and I was just realizing how to navigate the world of boys.

We met at the beach, and I finally tasted my first real kiss. A kiss from a boy who held my heart in his. He knew that too. Blake used to stop by my house to drop off something my bestie wanted me to have, and he’d find me playing piano and singing alone. He’s pause and listen for while. We had shared music. At the beach, we talked and kissed more. Looking out at the dark ocean, I knew Blake would fall out of my life, so I decided to find my friend, shook out all the sand clinging to him and me, and I never looked back with any regret. Well, not much.

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We learn to love at our own pace, but the teen years are fraught with falling in love so easily, at least for me, and then hurting so much when my love was rejected and tossed aside. I went on to love others before I found my husband sitting two seats away from me in a class. Isn’t life about love? Aren’t we who give our hearts to another blessed? I look back on that best summer ever and realize I had great summers with every boy who had my heart. Four. And I married number four.

While our lives are in a state of suspension, it might be sweet to look back at our lives, picking out the good parts, and trying to feel a slice of what we felt then. Music does it for me. Always will. It’s difficult to look forward with certainty, but the past is there, and maybe there are lessons we learned, and we can remember the people who strolled into our lives for a time, making us who we are today.

Can you do that, for fun? Play songs from your high school years. Go back and laugh at your first forays into having a crush and acting silly. We were learning. We had to start small, because by the time we hit twenty or so, those people we loved might be our forever love. Mine was. I met him at nineteen. The man I’ve been with for thirty-six years now. Go back. Re-read letters. Love yourself. Love the paths you took to get you to who you are now. And then look forward, facing uncertainty, knowing you made it through high school, so you can do this.

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You’ve got this. Crazy times are here, but we can face it with love for others, unafraid, because we know we’re tough enough to deal with it and still feel happy. We’re learning that the little, small moments in life are the ones that count. Find them. And hold onto them.

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold….

Until next time,

Deanna

Of owls and other things…

Almost every day, while I’m out on the back porch, I hear a diurnal owl hooting, and I feel a kinship of sorts with this daytime owl. He also calls out in the early hours of night and I’m relieved to hear another call back, but most of the time the poor, mixed up animal makes a ruckus calling out in the daytime, all alone, with no answer.

I’m a night owl, but the world operates on early birds, and I envy those admirable souls who happily rise at dawn and power through their mornings with one cup of tea or a protein bar.

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At the farm, I’ll sit out on the front porch, carrying a large mug of coffee, blinking at the bright sun. Somedays it might be ten o’clock, while other days noon approaches. I’m embarrassed to tell you that. I need lots of sleep, but I adore the night. I did the whole rise at dawn for twenty years. My children had to wake up at six, and I would go out for a quick three mile run while they showered. Later in the day, once I had gathered my wits about me, I’d think about taking a quick run because I hadn’t yet worked out.

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I completely forgot the morning run! Essentially, I was running while asleep. I’d go to bed by eleven, and volunteer at the school, helping children learn to read, and at nine in the morning, I was falling asleep to the drone of a lone voice making sense of the letters on a page. Madness! I don’t fit into this world. I tried for thirty years, and finally have succumbed to my natural clock. Just like that owl who loves the daytime.

I wonder if he/she feels out of step and somewhat lonely. I know, these pics don’t fully explain my life. I love being at the farm, only I’m the last one to join it. And the flowers? Well, whenever I create a new bouquet, I like to gaze at the colors and profusion of colors as I wash the dishes. It’s a bit jumbled and wild, but it suits me.

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When I was ten years old, I’d go to bed rather late. I think my nocturnal mother sent me up by ten o’clock, but sleep didn’t find me easily. I’d gaze down through my window at the neighbors next door, still in their kitchen, talking to kids who hadn’t been sent to sleep. And at eleven I’d turn on my radio to listen to an hour of mystery stories. After that, I’d often wait well past midnight passed until I succumbed to sleep.

Trust me. I wished I could drop off into dreams when my head touched the soft pillow, but it didn’t. When the genetic testing indicated I had a gene for insomnia, I laughed at the doctor. I figured that one out years ago. I could try to be an early bird, but I never caught the worm. I was too busy swilling down shots of espresso.

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There. See that? A beautiful sunrise? No. the gloaming. The time when the sun has set but the light hangs in the sky, suspended for an hour in the summer. Almost daily I try to say good night to the sun. I’m trying to accept my place in the world. And what can this possibly have to do with happiness? Well, accepting who we are is essential. We must come to terms with ourselves, embracing the good parts and trying to do away with the bad. That’s responsible and noteworthy, right?

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If we embrace who we are at the core, but try to change the bad, I think that’s a good thing. It leads to happiness. I fought my night owl ways for most of my life, thinking I was bad and sloppy and lazy. But that wasn’t bad. I write best at night. Fact. Words flow through my hands and I don’t even think much about what is coming out of me. So, yes, I welcome the sun as it lowers and evening hovers nearby. My time is coming. I sit on the back porch and drink in the light, knowing I haven’t yet done a full day’s work. No shame. No blame.

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See the lights that turn on at dusk? I accept who I am. Finally. I’ll bet there are aspects of you that you wish you could change, but it’s such a part of you that it feels impossible. Can’t you finally accept yourself? I know women who have starved themselves, working out twice a day to slim down, and all that work doesn’t make them happy. When my friends start eating again and actually drink a latte when we sit and visit, I can see their joie de vivre has returned!

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Yes. me, drinking a wee dram of whisky at night. I perch on the bed, reading or writing and sip some good whisky, though really I’m a scotch, neat please, kind of woman. And my husband sits outside in the humid night, smoking a cigar, listening to country music and we’re both content. We’ve spent all our words on the car ride down, and dined together. I’ll visit him and listen to the whip-o-wills calling and then I make my way inside to enjoy the rest of my evening.

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The point is this: accept yourself. Love your eccentricities that make you who you are. I know an older man who works at engraving from midnight to five a.m. He’s fabulously talented and turns out the most minute yet beautiful creations. He owns who he is. Can’t we all do that? In the U.S., I think many of us suffer from FOMO, and we also want to belong, to be doing what others are doing. Sticking out, or being slightly eccentric is frowned upon. That bothers me. A lot. (See my coffee? Nothing makes sense without it!)

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That photo? Yes, it’s Harry Potter. I love watching Harry Potter on the television, even though I’ve seen the films twenty times. Who cares? I’m delighted by hearing a network is having a “Harry Potter weekend” and I mix up cookie dough, and have my Starbucks at hand and a warm cookie in the other while watching parts of every movie…again. I feel cozy, happy and content. I’m learning to embrace the introspective parts of me too. What do you want to embrace that makes you unique?

That’s the road to happiness, I believe. Understanding yourself, how you fit into the world and making it work. For you. Your family. Your world. If we’re fundamentally kind and nice, then the rest is fluff. If we work hard and are trying to be decent people, the rest can fall into place. Those parts that make you who you are. Acceptance. I believe faith in God is essential, but many don’t choose that path. Okay, then. You can still love who you are. What you do, how much you weigh, how old you are, where you live, and how to make it through this pandemic nicely. Let’s be true to ourselves and yet, be kind.

I’m wishing you all the happiness you can hold….

Until next time….

Deanna

 

 

 

Dark eyes of the soul…

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What’s this? A window with wooden slats open to the night. Big deal? Yes, to me it is a big deal, and I have to stop writing to close out the dark. I’ve always hated seeing the windows open at night, unless it is warm out, because I feel the dark pressing against me. The dark has no soul, and I don’t like the bottomless pit of these soulless eyes peering at me. Watching me. Silly, huh?

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Except it works the other way by day for me. I felt all warm and happy inside. Just lit up by my screened in porch, with the pillows set for summer (oh cold weather, please leave for the upper North), my Boston ferns happily perched on the floor, and I look outside. All is bright, lit, the sun shines with a wisp of cloud scurrying by to join the rest of his friends. Must be a wayward cloud. Happily enjoying the gifts of this day.

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I shutter out the night, except the whole set of front windows have no curtains, no sheers, because those beautiful windows rise from the floor to the ceiling. I cannot bear to cover them up, but at night, when I’m alone, I feel like dark’s eyes are on me, watching my movements. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but it goes back to childhood. I had two windows that “screamed”. They made a high pitched whistling sound, and at five, I imaged all the monsters screaming for me.

My mother told me they were angels singing me to sleep. If that’s what angels sound like, I thought back then, who wants to spend any time in heaven? I’ve since changed my mind and made an easy pace with whistling, not properly sealed windows. I’m good with the angels. All is well.

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So I shutter out the dark, embracing the lights and the warmth within. Which brings me to you. How are you holding up these many, many weeks that droll on? An end is in sight, though cautiously. I went to the market and picked up tulips. Yellow is a happy color, don’t you think? Plus, I asked for just flowers for Mother’s Day, no chocolate, so I couldn’t very well buy a massive arrangement to brighten up my springtime home, could I?

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Are you looking forward to getting out more, being able to go more places, even with all the rules laid in place? Are you cool with isolation and hoping it goes on for a while longer? For the first time, tonight, I felt the strings of regular life pulling on me. I’m ready for full on summer. Are you? And I just cancelled our beach home for June! We will go next year. In the meantime, Im enjoying every sunbeam that floats my way, just like Willie is on the porch.

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Aren’t we told to soak up the sun? I think it’s time you decided what you’re comfortable with and do it! One thing. I’m going to get a pedicure and relax. Not say a word. And I might putter in the garden and pick some fresh lavender. Do you see it growing, in spite of the cold we’ve had? I think gardening is a blessing; you get so much in return. Hand sunk deep in cool soil while placing the plants in their dirt for the season feels right.

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The pics with sunlight make me smile. Even if Willie snuck into yet another photo. I love this light, so full of soul. The energy coming from the windows is bright, effusive, welcoming and happy. Ah happy! You knew that was coming. I love seeing the slant of the sun as it makes its pass in the sky, sailing high above our heads. I feel brightened. No dark, soulless black pressing against me.

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Wherever you are, enjoy the gifts of spring. It costs nothing to wake up and listen to birdsong. Though when I was in LaConner last summer, the birds began their racket at five a.m. Yay for morning birds. I learned to drink more coffee on that trip.

Flowers picked from your yard are free and smell heavenly. You can rearrange your rooms to make it feel happy and friendly. These extra days at home can bring simple little bursts of happiness. I’m not talking about that pint of Half-Baked by Ben & Jerry’s, though it is yummy. I was thinking of how we can enjoy the length of each new day. The days are still growing longer, and I heard tree frogs making a racket when I was at the farm in KY last week. Simply happiness is in the small things. We just have to find them.

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As the sun sets and I bid you a good night, think about your little bits of happiness. In isolation. Wearing masks. Being socially distant. The whole world is together for once. It might not be fun living through a major historical event, but there are small moments of happiness such as mac & cheese for dinner. The cheap box kind. Or a warm strawberry just picked. Hearing the owl hoot in the woods behind you. Buying a Boston fern for all summer and autumn. Maybe some lavender for by the kitchen window? Why don’t you fill your home with soul? A happy soul. Find it, and when the night creeps in so stealthily upon us, we won’t care. Choose happiness.

We’ll have so much light and happiness in our own souls, we won’t worry what is outside our windows. I think I’m going to try that tomorrow. Tonight? I’m still going to close the blinds. Old habits and all that.

Wherever you are, I’m wishing you all the happiness in your world…

Until next time,

Deanna

Billow and blow…

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Tonight, I listen to the rushing sound of the creek just down the path from my back door. Soothing, I love the way the night winds stir up the curtains, making them billow and pucker in the breezes. Those breezes touch my hands, anoint my feet and I reflexively grab my throw blanket. Even with the world falling to pieces, in a way, spring arrives and reminds us to hope. Do not give up. Hope.

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Even while waiting in exile away from others, here in the middle, waiting, knowing it’s coming and will touch us all, we can enjoy beauty. The sighing of the evening wind that swoops and dips around our house, apartment, farm or condo. Open a window. Let in the freshness, even if the day is a mite chilly or cold. We can celebrate spring and dare to hope as the leaves thrust out their new shoots.

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We have the sweetest creek running down a huge hill from our backyard, and I’ve never had the pleasure of going down to see her. Today, I decided was the day. My husband said I would slip and fall, and what does he know? So I picked my way past honeysuckle bushes turned green, buttercups all yellow and waiting to be picked, down to the little tiny creek, and oh! was it steep. I did slip on moss and my foot fell into the creek, but I laughed in spite of myself and went as far as I dared.

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Isn’t that little waterfall gorgeous? I knew if I didn’t get down there and quick, the bushes would prevent my passage, and so I did. The creek talks to herself and I stood on old stones listening. Peace. No thoughts of how I have to stay in the house now. No thoughts of my loved ones so far from me. Will we be okay? Are we as ready as we can be here? And still the world goes on. The creek babbled along, talking about promises and of a new spring and then someday summer. It will still happen.

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I think of not seeing my parents. My grandson. And of my son, in his junior year of university, holed up here, studying until his brain feels like it cannot take another single fact, and not being able to blow off the steam in a bar full of friends and pretty girls and dancing. We all are sacrificing, but I think it’s for good. I choose to believe that. Can we try to find the good in the people out there? Some are rotten as a dying tree. But most are like us, waiting, hoping, praying. We want peace. Happiness. Is that too much?

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I have hope in us. We will emerge wanting to get away from computers and tv.s. We will put down our phones and we will connect. Today, when I ambled and partly tumbled down the hill, I heard the birds chattering, going about building their nests, preparing for life. I could hear the children farther up the creek laughing and playing. When I made my way carefully back uphill, the water gurgled and spoke. The breeze blew my hair about, and I listened. Just stopped and stayed. I had no where else to be. Why not linger and look at the trees, the beguiling sky that always mesmerizes me? Why not just be?

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I cannot make a great offering for the world. I only have my words. And tonight I hear my son laughing with friends, online upstairs. Harry Potter is on the tv, on mute though, which is my go-to default for coziness. And the back door opens to the most delightful porch, so I hear the wind and even the creek. When I sleep, I leave a window open, to hear, to not miss the thunder that arrives at night, to hear birds chattering long before a decent time, but sweet to hear nonetheless. No matter the cost, no matter our price, the world goes on. We can pause for now. And then move forward.

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Tonight or today, whoever you are, you can still feel the wind on your cheek. The breeze carries the freshness of a new night, or at daybreak we are offered the sun along with our coffee. Drink it in. Staying at home and learning to be by ourselves is maybe a thing we needed to learn all over again. I read and write. Yes, we binge watch some shows, but the true magic is in seeing my family on Zoom, watching the leaves unfurl, unafraid of tomorrow, and learning obscure Scrabble words. Wish. Hope. Learn. Cry. Then laugh.

I’m wishing you all the happiness you can find….

Thank you to all who are helping the sick. I pray for your strength. Your health. Thank you. We all will never be able to repay you. But I offer my silent thanks every day, in spite of the tears.

Until next time.

Deanna

Breezing through…

Every February it happens to me. I hit the winter slump. I’m fine coasting through autumn, where every day brings a new delight from maple trees lit up in orange to apples ready to pick, and after Thanksgiving we sail into Christmas. As fun as that is, the January respite is welcome, even if she blows chilly. But I have a bone to pick with cold and indecisive February, who has decided to grant us one more day this month. Thanks.

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By the time I pass Valentine’s Day and the beautiful flowers and chocolates, I feel ready for spring. Even small tastes will do. To open a window and hear the creek rushing from recent rains is a joy I’m looking forward to, but in the meantime, for those of us still stuck with both feet in winter, what can we do? How do we find the beauty in today and tonight? By getting out and making ourselves do something. Beyond our comfort zones.

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You’re seeing pics from my latest walk on our Kentucky farm. The day had warmed up and I decided to make the most of it. And as much as I’d like to say it’s out of my comfort zone, walking our land isn’t. I love seeing new things like this pond, above. The farmer made this pond about 100 years ago, using the clay soil to keep the water in so his cows could drink. This pond is inaccessible by spring due to all the bushes and insects, but this day? I braved the briars and felt rewarded to finally glimpse the hidden pond.

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We have no name for this pond, but the frogs make a racket each spring.

As much as I’d like to say this nature walk brought me out of the doldrums, it was joining a bowling league. Wait? Isn’t that something people did years ago? Is that for men? Who bowls? Well, my neighborhood has a bowling league and we joined. All ages were represented. My son’s friends have a team there, and I found out the first game is the best scoring-wise, getting bad and going to worst by the third game. I also learned age has no true boundaries, since an 87 year old man is in the league and he bowls with a hook! Strike after strike in the lane next to me. Impressive.

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Oh, that’s out Kentucky home. It felt so good to get back into the warmth after hours tramping outside. But I was writing about bowling. It was fun, I got to know my two teammates better and I know my husband well, so we all laughed and tried to be bowling champions. All I know is the next day one side of me hurt. Think squats. Yes, that motion over and over for three games did it to me. Come Sunday, I’ll be ready for another fun evening facing off against a new team, so I’m sure to meet more people I don’t know as well. If at all. And that’s the point.

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These pics make me ready to go back to Kentucky. This pond is called “Deanna’s pond”, since I love beach vacations and this is my waterfront view. Yeah, it’s a joke, but I like having a pond of my own. It has fish in it now. We’ve stocked two ponds for fishing fun.

If you’re in need of a reset button or want to get out of old routines, then shake it up! Do something new. Karaoke night? Hiking in winter? Euchre nights? Just grabbing dinner wherever you choose is a break. We just did that two weekends in a row. Wonderful! And then I made sure to see Swan Lake with my daughter. The one who loves the arts and used to dance, so this was a treat. I felt blessed to see such beauty on stage. A little gift from heaven came down and settled on me. It was that wonderful.

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The next night my husband and I snuck out at intermission to go to a Scottish pub and have a late dinner. Just us! We were talking about bowling and how many weeks it goes on and on the actual night, I felt abashed at using a mere 8 pound ball. Sad. But lupus has affected me, so I do my best and hope our team isn’t gunning to be number one or even seventh this year. With me? It’s not happening. But I’ll laugh and chat with everyone.

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One story before I go. On a night long ago in Milwaukee, my husband and I had hired a babysitter so we could drive to the east side and have a wonderful authentic Mexican dinner. You could buy margaritas by the glass or the pitcher, and since the pitcher was more economical, we chose that. We should have known when almost everyone in the whole restaurant looked to see who was getting that glorious pitcher full of lime and tequila. We were! Yay us!

 

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Not so fast! No yay us, because we felt it was out duty, did I mention we were about twenty-eight at this point and still dumb, to finish every last drop? Then we stood up to drive home, and wow, neither one of us was in shape to drive. No ubers back then. Taxis, yes, but we barely had the cash to cover the babysitter. So we found a bowling alley and bowled. Drinking copious amounts of water and letting the evening turn to night, we spent a long time bowling, playing it very safe. And learned a lesson. Margaritas by the glass are better for two people. By far.

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Hopefully, you’ll try bowling at least once in your life. And then find a group activity or a solo endeavor and do it! Shake off the cold remnants of winter. Wait for the winds of March to blow warmer breezes on a beautiful day, and then go out and feel the wind. Open your window and freshen the air in your home. Nothing smells as good as fresh air. Just once dry your sheets outside, no matter what the covenants say in your neighborhood, and that night, climb into the stiff sheets and drift to sleep smelling the freshness of the day.

Who knows, you just might have dreams of the one new thing you’re going to try.

I’m wishing you all the happiness in the world today….

Until next time…

A cup of comfort…

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New Ear’s Eve. We had fabulous plans, my husband and I, to stay downtown in a swanky hotel and walk around the city until dinner at 9:00. A steak dinner with martinis, which is completely proper, followed by kissing and fireworks at midnight. But…I came down with bronchitis so we spent NYE in Kentucky at our farm, with wine and a martini for the man, shrimp, stuffed mushrooms and then the steak. Fabulous!

 

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We watched A Star is Born because everyone needs a tearjerker movie to set the mood. Thankfully, we like to laugh together, so we spent too much time taking silly pics and popping those little confetti things which are plain old fun. The fire felt good and we counted down and toasted a brand new year. I love laughing with that man. Do you have someone in your life who cracks you up even when you’re trying to be stern? That’s my guy!

 

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We need laughter. Can that be our resolution this year? To find happiness in a cup of comfort that is named laughter? How do we get through the tough times without laughter? The joyful days when we feel like the tips of our fingers graze the stars above? We laugh easily, beautifully, and sometimes until we cry. Laugh. I want you to fill your cup, no matter what you’re doing, going through or facing and laugh. Alone, with someone, it doesn’t matter.

 

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I have a story for you. When I started my first real job out of college, all the new associates were expected to pass all four parts of the CPA exam on the first try, so I worked lots of overtime and it made my head spin. I would come home, eat ramen noodles and study. My boyfriend, now husband, was working at another top accounting firm who didn’t pressure their newbies into passing the exam right away. So he went out at night. Bars, drinking, skiing. Fun!

 

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I studied every night and almost every weekend too. I worked Saturdays too. At our national training, two weeks before the dreaded exam, I asked a partner how we could have fun at training and still be ready for the exam. He said to just study. As in no fun. So yeah, I did. Except one night my roomie and I stayed out drinking until 6:00 a.m. We met Richard Petty (I had no idea who the guy with the hat and boots was, but the drinks were free), and we wandered about finding fun. Great night, but training that day felt awful. Tired, half-ill, half-drunk (please don’t judge I was 22 and dumb). Diet Coke saved that day.

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The day of the CPA exam dawned on a Wednesday. It is a two and a half day exam. My boyfriend and I drove down together to the huge, expansive convention hall. He and I separated to locate our seats and prepare and pray. Did I ever mention that alphabetically his name is right after mine, most anywhere? Engle was my name, so I sat at the table and guess who was to my right? Eppers. My boyfriend. Trust me when I say you never want to take that exam next to your boyfriend. Nope. Not good. Not fun.

 

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That’s us. Now. After that dreadful exam.    So proctors stood at every angle to ensure no cheating, and no way in hell was I going to jeopardize my career by cheating on the exam, so I kept my head down. You know how you look at all the test pages and try to figure out how much time to allot for everything? I do that. I also listen to when people start flipping to the next page to judge my progress. The boyfriend flipped his page way before I had finished the problems on page one, and he and I were evenly matched, so we usually flipped at the same time. I was doing horribly! He was on page two and why was I so slow?

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When I finally turned to page two, he was flipping to the third page. How? Why? I couldn’t look at him. Why was he so much faster than I? After four and a half hours of hell, we left the room. Done until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow. So I asked him about being so far ahead of me and how it messed with my brain! I was panicking during the exam! My boyfriend told me he decided to mess with my head and flipped the pages, knowing I’d be in meltdown mode. And since I couldn’t look at him, I never saw him quietly go back to the right page he was still on.

Did it work, he asked? I fumed! Of course I felt flummoxed! And I had studied and he hadn’t, much. He “got me” just because he knew me so well. Knew I was listening for when he turned to the next page, the next problems. And then I just started to laugh. Yeah, the test was important, but for him to take that precious time to mess with me cracked me up! What an interesting sense of humor!  I loved him. Especially then, because we needed some laughs after those problems we faced down. Sheesh!

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The next two days were filled with every problem imaginable. I don’t know how we survived. We passed. I passed first, but retired long ago and now my husband does accounting “stuff” that is way over my head now. But what I love about him is he played me during the most important exam ever, of our whole lives. Our college prepared us with timed tests, too much homework and more. But my husband “got” me, understood me and decided to spend some minutes having some fun. I loved that back then, and am delighted to this day that he thought of that, when all I thought of was the clock and the exam. Laughter. Happiness that warm me even now.

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Shared laughter is beautiful. Comfortable and comforting. That’s why I married him. Well, there are many reasons, but we laughed from the start! We laugh when things go terribly wrong, because what else are you gonna do? Cry all the time? Nope. Fill your cup of comfort with laughter and you’ll feel full. And happy. Warm and loved.

That’s what I wish for you this year. This shiny new year that we haven’t messed up yet. I wish you laughter in good times and bad. In sickness and health. I laughed in Kentucky just as much as I would have downtown on New Year’s Eve. I was sick, but inside I felt warm, with wine, love and laughter. Be happy, my friends. We just get one shot at this, and why not start fresh? Find your cup of comfort. Fill it with hope, love, peace, cosiness, happiness, looking on the bright side, trying to give to others. All that. But don’t forget to laugh!

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.

 

just breathe…

 

 

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Well, the Christmas crazies have hit. I love it. Always have. I think the more celebrations we have in the dead of winter, the better. We need more than one and a half weeks of frivolity! That magical time from December 23rd (I like the build-up) until January 2nd when my tired tree is unadorned, is beautiful, frenzied, silent, exuberant, exciting, hushed, alone, together, and ours to make the way we choose.

 

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Are you wondering what I’m saying? Make your peace with this season and find your happiness. Craft and carve it out so that Christmas Eve is the way you like. And Christmas Day and why not throw in Boxing Day, which is family game day at our home, and then New Year’s Eve Day, the Eve itself culminating in New Year’s Day. Spend some time with family or friends, and the rest of it is yours. Spend some time with you. Doing what you like. And the rest can be given to your family or friends and the people who want you with them. Give them a rested, happy you. That’s the best gift. And for you?

 

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If you want a cozy fire, with classic Christmas carols playing softly in the background, cuddled in a warm blanket, glass of wine in hand with an engrossing book, plan it. If you go to church like we do, plan for that special time. Meditate on what happened on Christmas Day. I look at our creche and sing the songs long known by heart, and I do feel it. My peace on earth, come down from heaven.

 

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Yours might look different. Santa and cookies left by the tree. Or skiing all day and enjoying eggnog at night. We all Christmas differently. If you want to change something to suit you better, try it. Remember that this is the season of giving, but it’s the little things, the smallest gifts that mean the most. A cup of chai tea latte hand delivered. A candle made by your hands. Finding a new song to love and share. Laughing over funny memes. Sharing a slice of cheesecake. Baking cookies and sending them off to neighbors.

 

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Give? Letting that car merge. Giving up a parking space. Opening the door for another human. Most aren’t aware as they wander in an unknown hypnotic state, trying to finish in time. Let’s make sure we walk through the next three weeks aware, awake and able to give, with the wisdom to stop when we feel out energy depleting. Then it’s time to mindlessly play a video game, watch a Christmas movie, or sleep.

 

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I like to look at my trees and look at the ornaments. The family’s favorite tree is the one I named the “family tree” because it has every ornament ever crafted and cobbled together by my children, by me when I was just five and all the “ugly” ornaments from the 1970’s that my mom gave me. We love that tree, more than the stately one full of glass ornaments. Precious, fresh, fragrant and perfect. We choose the imperfections. That brings up armloads of happiness, much laughter and happy memories.

 

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Make the next three weeks fun and restful, exciting and calm. Give a little and save some for yourself. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. And it will be if we make it that way, but it’s all a choice. Grab it. Your happiness. Peace. Warmth.

 

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time.

Whispers of woodsmoke…

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Well. After a month of waiting, my computer is fixed and my fingers are ready.

October is here in all her winsome ways. Beguiling us with mums, pumpkins and fat full moons with geese flying across her face in search of endless summers. But we know this is a beautiful time to stay behind and linger. Put on your sweater or hoodie and head outside. Look up at the blue skies, growing paler each day. Get ready to bring in your plants. My cats think my plants are their personal play land and litter box (yuk, I know), so I let the rosemary and fragrant lavender die each year.

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See that lovely rosemary? She’s still going strong, but I feel time is against me with so much to do. New house and all. So I’m planting tulips and daffodils together this week. I discovered living with a forest on three side brings deer in, and they think the pumpkins I so jauntily placed against trees and stairways are theirs for snack time. I look out and see so many deer tearing into the pumpkins! I love it. I keep buying more.

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Not a pretty picture, but it shows how they start nibbling on them. You should see the pumpkins ripped open and strewn across the yard. I don’t mind. this is like feeding bird but on a larger scale. Besides, I think the deer like me now.

The other evening, we were sitting outside in the screened in porch (I love this house, I do!) and heard a hoot owl again and again. My husband and I smiled and we knew all the craziness of renovating was worth it. We are blessed. We live in our same neighborhood, but in the back section, by a creek with actual waterfalls right below the house. It’s close but not too. And how it roars after a rain!

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This is part of the porch. But right now, I’m upstairs, window open, listening to the crickets cheerfully filling the night with their music. I’m waiting for the train to sound. It’s almost eleven, and I feel so cozy hearing the sounds of distant traffic and the trains, mixed in with crickets and owls. We still live in an urban area, and I enjoy hearing the announcer at the high school on Friday nights, at the football game.

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Do you look forward to that first fire inside? Outside? I do. We don’t have a place to put a fire pit until we terrace the backyard, but we are lucky to have a real fireplace here and a gas one for when I feel lazy. Oh, this pic above is before I added a bunch more pumpkins to the front door. And all the bushes are coming out next week. Just sharing. So back to autumn, I like cooler weather, even the frosty nights that sting your cheeks and make you draw in closer to the fire.

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We find happiness or peace in moments. Fresh apple cider. Hayrides. Pumpkin picking. Sweaters against bare skin. The scent of woodsmoke. Coming in from the chill to a roaring warm fire. Socks. Stars prickling the sky earlier each evening. Chili and cornbread for dinner. Comfort food. Football games (or insert soccer or lacrosse or autumn baseball). Cuddling under layers of blankets in bed. Listening to the rain lash the windows, knowing you’re safely inside. Holding the hand of a loved one. Sharing a fire with someone. Being alone with good music and a great book.

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Find a way to enjoy this month before November stakes its claim on us. Thanksgiving will come soon enough and then winter. So make a vow right now to find a fall day to get out and gaze at the trees. Drink wine or cider outside one night, even if it is chilly. Then you get the double bonus of a blanket shared with another. Laugh with delight every day. Find something that just makes you stop in wonder. For me it’s the deer who stand next to my winding driveway, acting like they own the place. And in a real way, they do.

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I’m a grandma now. I love it. Truly, as much fun as they say it is. And tomorrow, God willing, I’m going to wake up, make coffee and drink in the view and then go with my daughter and her son (my grandson 🙂 and enjoy a hayride and the goats and pick more pumpkins and yes, finally find some Indian corn for my mantle. And then? Well, I went to Barnes and Noble, because I don’t want real bookstores to become obsolete, and bought way more than I meant to, but I have a stack that my lazy cats are lying on (so much for new magazines), and three new books that I’m starting on tonight. Well, maybe tomorrow…

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But right now? My college kid is home for fall break and we’re going to watch a movie together! He went all on his own and visited his sister and nephew, which makes my mama heart smile. If only we can search for the good, the kind, the sweet, and look for a chance to complement someone or give a hand to the old and the young, this world will be more beautiful in our eyes. Let’s embrace October. Savor sweet moments.

I hope you find all the happiness your heart can hold…

Until next time,

Deanna