The Deep Dive…

Here we are. August. The dog days of drenching sweat, humidity that makes us long for a fan or the ocean. The month with the best meteor shower, the Perseids that arrive in our skies about now. And I’ve seen them from a backyard in Milwaukee, so they are bright and enchanting and best of all, visible. Stay up one night this next week, and grab a blanket even if the night is scalding hot, because the dew on the grass will make you feel clammy. After midnight face Northeast and look up. You’ll see the shooting stars if you keep your eyes wide open. A friend or husband can keep you company, but so far I have only been able to lure my children outdoors at midnight for two hours of magic.

There have been years when I saw only two shooting stars, but in this world that seems so troubled, I wonder if a night spent looking at the universe might do us some good. If you live right in the middle of a brightly lit city, try to get out where it’s a bit darker. But this month brings us many delights. It’s not only outdoors that brings us happiness and a taste of contentment, but being inside and simply seeing vibrant green out the windows is sheer happiness. I like going barefoot as much as possible, but there are days when my deck scalds my feet and I have to run across the wood quickly. I don’t mind too much, since it reminds me of days spent lolling at the ocean, but to reach the best spot on the beach, we had to hop across the burning white sand.

Right now I’m home in Ohio, but the day is coming when I will be perched underneath an umbrella, gazing at the Atlantic, while slowly sipping white wine most likely out of a small bottle. I don’t drink beer, and dealing with wine glasses and an actual bottle seems to be too much effort when the day is about the ocean. The sound of the waves slapping the sand lulls me into a soporific state that even the best massage in the world cannot match. The wine in tiny bottles doesn’t matter, the crackers and grapes that wind up having an extra sandy crunch to them doesn’t matter. What counts is sitting in short beach chairs facing the ocean with my family, where we all sit in a line underneath a cabana or umbrella, and we talk about everything and nothing. Sometimes we’re silent, where the endless waves and the blistering sun is enough.

Until I make it back to my beach in South Carolina, which seems to be one of two places we Ohioans go, the other being Michigan, I content myself with sneakily opening windows when possible. I’ve aways been a window renegade, opening one up in my bedroom just for the smell of freshness; even in winter (not a Wisconsin winter though!) when my mother could sniff out any tiny breeze defying her efforts to heat our house, if it could even be called that. We wore a shirt with a sweater all winter since the house had to stay at 68 degrees by mother’s decree. But summers in Upstate New York were filled with highs in the 70’s. Unaccustomed to heat, I happily embraced neighborhood nights spent near a warming fire. I was barefoot even back then, and some sweltering days I miss the coolness of the hills farther north.

Summer must mean different things to us depending upon where we’re from and where we chose to live. Escaping long winters had long been my goal, and I know even our farm in Northern Kentucky isn’t as far south as I would have gone, but we’re here for good now. I think Nashville or Charleston SC would have been home for me, but Cincinnati has my friends and children; and so it claims me now also. I can handle the string of hot weather, knowing a cold Canadian front will likely blow in at some point. But August starts the season of dry weather. Crinkling leaves, hard-packed earth, with scorched gardens is part of being here. Even at midnight my sprinkler waters the garden and the two bullfrogs who have made it to this dry month.

The creek that I watch every day is down to a tiny trickle, and since my husband cut away the trees so we could see the creek in any season, I’m learning how small and shrunken Horner’s Run really is at this time. I know much of the country is stuck in an awful drought, and so many of us look skyward in hopes of finding clouds thick with thunder and rain. A soothing gentle all-day rain is a comfort in summer, but it doesn’t look like the forecast calls for anything but bright sunshine; so I might as well embrace these days. Summer is one of the best seasons, isn’t it? But I’m turning into an autumn lover, but that’s for another time.

I’m relegated to enjoying the outdoors in the evenings, though nothing prevents me from lounging on the screened-in porch; and I silently thank the benefactors of this home who built such a lovely room. My cat lives out there from dawn to long past dusk, and I have a menagerie of plants living there this summer. I pulled in my rosemary and lavender along with some catnip to entice my Willie Nelson (the cat), and they are happy next to all the Boston ferns I could grab the second they hit the stores. Here, people covet Boston ferns, and as soon as they’re placed outside Kroger, people grab two carts and load up. I’ve learned to scoop up at least five if not more. I don’t want to be too greedy with those lovely plants, but they fill a space beautifully, and my cat enjoys hiding underneath the fronds.

It’s the small things that usually bring me moments of pure happiness and pleasure. My whole family came out recently to celebrate my getting older, and I played with the two babies and the toddler who leads the way. We ate BBQ as usual, followed by the most decadent chocolate cake my daughter has ever baked. Since we watch sports in this house, the Olympics were on, and we all wanted to see Simone Biles return to gymnastics; but that day was full of track and beach volleyball. We wanted to venture out to play some bocce (lawn bowling, really), but we lingered at the table for far too long; immersed in catching up with one another and planning the beach trip that’s coming up soonish.

After they all left, plied with slices of cake, I read as the sun set and waited for my husband to sit down next to me, so we could watch the newest show we’re binge-watching. I’d like to say I knit as I watch the show, but that would require too much of my attention. I’ll learn to knit on another day. Besides, knitting seems fit for winter, while wandering outdoors even in the dark is for now. I open that back door as much as possible, hoping for puffs of cool air; and I marvel at the scent of a fire on a hot night. I light my candles and dive back into the pile of books I have stashed all over this house. I’m trying to drink more water these days, and I carry my large glass of very cold water with me along with a book. Reading at least three at a time seems reasonable, and now that I’ve joined a bona fide book club, I feel like a schoolgirl trying to cram my reading in before the big test. I’m waiting to the book to arrive tomorrow, and I have to read it all before Wednesday; so I think I’m alright.

I am happiest with new books around me, and maybe a few magazines for good measure, and a favorite drink from Starbucks is the cherry on top. And those delectable candles are scented happiness. I want to be the one who names these glorious scents, and I’m learning how to make candles. I have an idea that I’ve not seen anywhere, and my daughter and I are going to give it a try; plus I have to have a rosemary and lavender candle. That would be my signature scent, of course; and it’s all meant to be fun. Right now I have an insanely pricey candle that was a gift, and I know I have to burn it; but I like looking at it. Tomorrow. I’ll light that one tomorrow. But who names them Stormy Night or Rainy Day Sweater? I don’t know what that would smell like, but doesn’t it sound like happiness?

I have a small story to tell. It’s about those beautiful Perseid meteor showers that fall in the beginning of August. As a girl I’d go camping with my family for a week or sometimes two in the mountains. I remember being in the Smoky Mountains, hiking every day, swimming in a fast moving creek and sitting by the fire on semi-cool evenings each August. My mother called to me one night long after my father and siblings had wandered to their sleeping bags. She was on the hood of the car, leaning on the windshield. I could see by the starlight that mom was looking up at the expanse of sky above, though trees squeezed in from almost every side. She patted the hood, and I climbed up next to her and looked up. She told me to keep looking, and I would see meteorites flying through the sky; and I did! I could hear one sizzling as it entered earth’s atmosphere.

I don’t know how late the two of us stayed up that night. Probably until two in the morning, but it was worth it, because my mom opened up in the dark. She spun webs of stories about her childhood, before her father died so suddenly. I learned about my mother that night, just as I learned that shooting stars weren’t magical; even though I still cling to the romance and magic of wishing on stars, looking for Polaris, the North Star, and wishing on the first star to prick the evening sky. My mom even spoke of the awful night her father died when she was just ten, and I felt a sympathy for this person who usually didn’t talk about herself. In the dark, at night, while searching the heavens for magical shooting stars, it was easy to talk. The words spill out more easily, as one might do after too much champagne or Scotch.

Maybe I’ll drag my daughters onto the beach one night to stargaze. Maybe we need to listen when one of us speaks. It might be me, but if I wait long enough I think one of them will crack out of their role as my daughter and accept the friendship that comes with age. Then it’s safer to say words that beg to spill out into the evening air. I’ll hope for a cooling breeze to blow us about, much as I love the way the world feels right before a storm breaks overhead, and we’ll talk about everything at the same time. They’ve been out on the damp blankets with me in August since they were five years old, because searching for those mysterious shooting stars is more fun with them.

One would whisper, “I saw that! Did you?” And the answer was usually ‘no’, since we were all looking in a different direction. But sometimes the streak of light across the midnight sky is unavoidable, and we all sigh in amazement. Happiness can be held in those moments. Lying in that small backyard, at one in the morning with my children, brought me such overwhelming contentment. School was weeks away, so I didn’t mind them staying awake for the sky show. We’d even make popcorn and drink fresh lemonade as a treat before heading outside. It was on such a night that I discovered my son was night blind. I had suspected for a while but didn’t want to really know, since nothing could be done for it. When he couldn’t see even the brightest “star” in that soft, black sky (it was Venus), we all knew his diagnosis. I wonder what his world is like; not seeing any stars or planets that wheel through the night. I’ll never really know.

He’s made his peace with it, and he’ll still sit out with us on a dark night with a new moon. He’s even seen few meteorites with us. Only the brightest, but he’s seen at least a little magic. I’d willingly trade eyes with him, but life doesn’t work that way. We must carry out own burdens, and at the beach with waves crashing or in the stillness of night while looking skyward we find a pocket of happiness. August brings many gifts. We can walk barefoot, listen to the tree frogs, drink wine on the sandy beach, dive for starfish, and search the heavens. Dining on fresh tomatoes and the basil I’m growing, since the deer don’t nosh on it, is a pleasure. The days are still long, so we enjoy every single minute of sunshine. We’ll store it up for those days when winter presses in against us.

Grab onto your summer happiness. Find a shooting star. Maybe make a wish on one.

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

Until next time,
Deanna

Thunderstorm delight…

Today started out a bit slow. The rain sluiced down the windowpanes, and I finally made two cups of coffee and pulled out my book for a little Friday inspiration. Outside my favorite colors played with one another, with the green in the trees, the grass and the bushes swaying in the stormy wind. As the rain lashed the screened windows from the west, I nestled into the sofa farthest away from the wet and smiled. Greens and blues mixed together, and I wanted to inhale it all and save it for a dull winter day.

If only it worked that way. June is a time when we luxuriate in the long summer sun, and some of the nights are still cool enough to justify lingering on a porch, deck or lawn in the twilight. Here the sun manages to stay out until 9:15, and even then the sky remains imbued with orange, blue and violet until an hour or so later. It fools me, and I watch the deer enjoying the clover or my roses for too long. Then when I realize I should water the plants on the porch it’s almost ten o’clock! So I mentally decide to stay up an hour later to compensate.

One of my goals is to become a semi-morning person again. I did it for years, and now I’m kicking up my heels way past midnight and loving it. But it feels like I should be able to slip out into the backyard before the sun swings above the trees. Eh, someday. The nights here are raucous with the bullfrogs in the pond, an errant cricket born too early, and the owls who love to call to one another. Over all of that I hear the rumble of the train and settle deep into my couch, and I turn another page in my book. Summer has treats tucked into it for all of us, and we are so beguiled by her winsome ways.

When I talked to the barista this afternoon, we mutually lamented the sad lack of thunderstorms this past spring. I told her a storm was on the way and to watch for it, then I drove home hoping for the storm to wander our way, rather than passing to the north. I had prayed for thunder only that morning. Thinking that the storm was moving slowly, I made a last minute decision to head down to the creek. With the morning rain we had, I could hear the waterfalls announcing their presence; and I had to see one of them.

Last minute treks down a steep hill are seldom wise, but I had a storm blowing in and had to make it down and back in time. I forgot about the uphill return trip in my eagerness to see the creek. After walking sideways down the path to avoid falling down in the mud, I picked up the trail that leads to a place where the creek runs over beautifully round stones. The gurgling is enough to make me want to sit on the creek bank for hours, except it was damp; so I soldiered on and sought out the falls.

The creek had subsided considerably by the time I went down there in the late afternoon, but I still enjoyed the bright green of early summer or very late spring. I could hear the thunder, faintly; but since the creek lies between two very high ridges; I didn’t notice how difficult it was to hear much of anything other than the unceasing rush of water. I decided to tackle a branch jam, which had formed in two places. I noticed the other subdivision had cleared out their side, but somehow our side of the creek was full of fallen (or thrown) branches and tree limbs.

I like to test my balance by walking on slippery stones, and I do mean that quite seriously. If I had thought to wear better shoes, I would have walked into the middle of the creek. I took some photos of the lovely stones and lush greens down there, and suddenly I heard a great crack of thunder! I had to move it and quickly. I started on the path, only to discover it wasn’t a path; so I retraced my steps and picked up the trail; when less than a quarter of the way up I felt drops on my hand. I had to beat the rain, only it beat me. The downpour started, and I had the worst of the climb ahead of me.

As quickly as I could manage, I made my way up the steep hill. At one point I rested under a canopy of trees, but the rain was so merciless that it offered little protection. I continued my jaunt uphill, and right at the top where the path becomes my back yard I stopped. I had so many steps, literally, to take and I had nothing left in me. Then the storm let up, and somehow I scrambled up the wet stones and into the garage and made my way into the cool house. I collapsed onto the floor in the family room and laughed at myself. What was I thinking? Going on a hike when a storm approached from the west?

Which reminds me of the time in college when I was taking my books back to the bookstore to resell them for far less than I had paid. The parking lot was quite long and narrow and was built in the middle of campus where one could see nothing but fields all around. I walked with my hands too full of books stacked one on the other, while my friend helped by holding a few. Lightning was striking closer by the minute, since a spring thunderstorm had popped up. I told my friend I felt tingly all over, and he said my hair was standing straight up all around my head.

My image of the storm on my way to get iced espresso.

Once when I was a very young child with white blonde hair, I had been at a fair or exhibition and a man wanted me to come up and touch some machine of his (I was so young, so details are sketchy); because he would show the crowd how static electricity worked. My hair apparently fanned out all around me into the air, standing straight out. That last day of the semester when my friend told me that, I flashed back to that day; and I knew I had to make a dash for it.

Lightning was going to strike the tallest object in the field, and I was it. The buildup of static in my hair so even the hairs on my arm stood up made me run faster than I thought possible. We both ran, and he held the door open for me while I rushed into the depths of the student bookstore. I asked him to tell me when my hair started to lie flat again. It took less than a minute, and we heard a very loud crack of thunder overhead. Thankfully, it wasn’t my head that was struck.

My cat enjoying the sunshine on the porch.

Now you know what not to do when a storm is approaching: drive to Starbucks, then take a hike down a cliff; or walk across an empty field. I know these things also, and yet I had to laugh at my foolishness. Again! Thunderstorms are a delight, even when I’m caught in the downpour. I enjoy them anytime of day or night, and so I’m going to pray for a wild evening filled with glorious thunder (that isn’t from a severe storm) as soon as the wedding is over.

Wedding? Not only does June bring summer, but in my family it brings out the brides. My grandmother was a June bride, as was I; and now my daughter is to be one in six short days. I’m awash in wedding details, and I’m inching my way closer to the actual day. Tonight is her bachelorette party, and it seems they went to a karaoke bar where my married daughter just picked out a song and started the singing. We all received a text of the sisters smiling together, captioned that “they were brought up right”. Yes, no one in our family is immune to the lure of a karaoke bar.

Wherever you are this week in June, find a way to stare up at the sky or into a green woods; or walk outside reveling in the heat. Realize the world is quickly opening up, and greet her like an old friend. I went to the movies last night, and we had almost the whole theater to ourselves. I didn’t mind one bit, plus movie admission costs much less than it did a year ago. Enjoy summertime in June!

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

Until next time,
Deanna

Embraced…

The biggest snowfall of the year was headed our way, and for days we have been anticipating this gift. Where I live two inches of snow is a problem, so the whole city went to the grocery stores and gas stations, because we were going to get hit with twelve inches of fluffy, white snow on top of last week’s surprise ten inch snow! I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning, woke up to no snow, waited only to hear sleet hitting the windows for hours. No big snow today. Just two inches tonight landing in the dark on top of the sleet.

Snow fell softly a few days ago while I walked to the creek.

Disappointment happens to all of us. This lack of snow isn’t a big deal, though I feel sad for our meteorologist who is on twitter saying he is so sorry. Hey, it happens. I wanted to sit by the cozy fire, light some fragrant candles, called Winter, no less, and watch the snow pile up outside. While I remained cocooned inside. I wanted to have an adult snow day. I was going to blissfully read without a care, skipping the bills and emails piling up. I might have watched a movie too. Baked some pumpkin bread.

I felt rather sad that my plans had not played out right, and I took a shower, put on clothes, opened the front door, felt the sleet, and started paying bills. When I needed to call insurance, they were gone for the day due to the terrible weather. Only we didn’t have any, and they are based right here. Sigh. Disappointment finds us all. It’s how we choose to look at it that determines if we can change into finding happiness amid our personal grey sky days.

Starting down our path to the creek…

We can usually try to focus on the positive, even while we’re feeling out of sorts. A friend cancels and we can have time to talk on the phone (call a different friend though), watch something inspiring or funny, play online, paint, write and create. When we find out we didn’t get the job, we aren’t pregnant after all (and we wanted to be), when family moves away, or when a string of blah days just won’t end, we need to lose ourselves in something. Not alcohol. No drugs. Create something or marvel at a creation made by someone else. Ever go to an art museum and want to crawl into a painting? Degas’ ballerinas at the MMoA amaze me every single time.

Put on a happy face…

Someone once told me it’s where you lose time that means you’ve hit your element. Not as in multiple personalities, but where you find yourself doing something, looking up and realizing hours have passed and you didn’t notice it. Mine is playing piano, singing (though I do it alone or with the husband now), writing and walking. What’s yours? Cooking? Tinkering on an old car for fun? Crosswords? Painting or sketching? We all have abilities to create, and we can lose our disappointment in finding out what we do that is enthralling to us, and then going for it. Do your thing. You have at least two. I believe we all do.

From a night out after seeing a play last year, before the sky fell down.

This pandemic has us all disappointed, and if I shared mine with you, maybe it might help you realize I’m not always happy. Six of us were scheduled to spend twelve days in Scotland this spring, but it’s not looking good for us. But my friend was diagnosed with a terrible form of cancer at a bad stage. She told me she might have months to a year or two left. I’m sad that we can’t go to Scotland together this year. There might not be a next year, and I’m disappointed and frightened at perhaps losing my friend. Yet, I’ll still watch Scottish shows and read up on Scotland, so when I go, with my friend or without, I’ll still find it beautiful.

When I gaze at the River Dee or see the Highlands, I will think of her, if she isn’t by my side. I won’t have to explain that I’ve acquired a taste for scotch, just a wee finger or two, neat if you please, though I hope I still get that chance. We all have problems and issues that affect us, but creating something or gazing at a creation, whether it be a mountain or garden, takes us out of ourselves. It can make us happy. We want to grab at happiness and lose our disappointments. Once you find your “thing” you can while away the hours in making your world better, happier and more beautiful.

The waterfall just might freeze before it warms up. Notice the light snow?

We make this world happier by bringing a handful of happiness with us, amid life’s disappointments, and what’s more beautiful than seeing someone smile as you pass them. We can have snow days without any snow falling. We can turn any mundane day filled with endless tasks blissful by thinking about when we’ll make time to lose ourselves as soon as we can steal away. When we’re creating paths through the woods so others can enjoy the views we so enjoy, when we listen in wonder to a love song and time melts away and we’re sixteen again, or if we just sketch out our dream home we are creating pockets of happiness. We begin to be happier, and soon we are quite content. Happiness just might be habit-forming.

More flowers.

Happiness arrives amid disappointment. How would I ever have found my true love if I hadn’t been so sad with the guy who decided to ignore Valentine’s Day? When I saw the bouquet of flowers that evening I knew he was the guy for me, and I had suddenly found more than simply happiness, but the person who would be my best friend, my only lover, my confidant and my arm candy. I hope he blushes when he reads this. You deserve to have happiness wend its way into your heart. Try losing yourself in the moment. Not just fifteen seconds of quiet on a tv commercial, but that yoga class where you find your calm. Find your happiness. Make it. Create it. Dwell in it.

I’m wishing you a snow day this week. One day where you do exactly what you choose. Maybe you’ll really find some snow outside, too. And…

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

Until next week,

Deanna

Winter’s gifts…

This is a place to come and find a way of looking at the world in all its craziness and still find happiness and contentment. Find the beauty in this world. So why would I even start with winter? Well, this is a tough season because many of us are stuck inside with few places to go to and escape this cold, dark time of year. I’m thrilled to see the sun setting later each evening, when I do catch a glimpse of that orange orb, because winter here is often filled with low, grey clouds that do nothing to lift one’s spirits.

The beauty of evergreens is the instant pop of green I see, especially now.

I try as much as any of us to find little snippets of contentment, and some days I find it by enjoying a sunny day or going on the back porch to listen to the rush of water as the creek runs past me, or by hoping for a foot of snow. Yes, snow! I am from the Northeast where it snowed almost everyday, and large snowfalls were common. I like the muffled sound that occurs when the world is being covered rather quickly in white, and then the feeling of unity or camaraderie that arrives when the neighborhood comes alive with the sound of shovels scraping or the occasional whir of the snow blowers.

A bit of snow transforms the browns of autumn to a winter wonderland.

I enjoy going out to shovel the snow (sometimes), and last winter brought us only rain, so I’m hoping for a lovely, large snowfall. A sunny day will usually follow, and after shoveling the sidewalks and paths, it’s great to come inside to wrap my cold fingers around a steaming cup of coffee or tea and feel a great sense of accomplishment. It’s been years since I made a snowman or a snow angel or went sledding, but I remember those days fondly. When I lived up North, I liked the feeling of being snowed in for the day. Nowhere to go, except home, where beef stew and fresh bread waited since the grocery stores were ransacked the day before a storm hit. Reading a book, and then tucking into some made-from-scratch brownies using the Toll House recipe makes me happy in winter.

Just a sprinkling of snow, but isn’t it beautiful?

Another way I’ve found to bring a bit of happiness to my winter world is traveling to see my family, as in mom and dad and brother or sister. It’s winter where they live too, but a visit every February lightens my heart, as I have a spa day with mom, while dad and I watch movies every evening together. He lights the candles I send him almost every month, and we settle in for a good visit. I’m just about ready to plan my trip, and this time I’m going to look through old albums to remind me of fun days spent with people who love me. Instant happiness.

Wood ready for the fireplace, while the snow flies at our cabin.

Can you tap into ways to find happiness as we still deal with the virus? Do you have a real fireplace to sit close to in the evening or even the day? Stringing up lights inside your space will bring a cozy feeling at night. Do you have a fire pit outside? Sit close to the fire, though be sure not to burn your shoes and bring out a warming drink. Whisky or hot cocoa? You can be by yourself and surround yourself with dreams of days past or the things yet to come, or invite a hardy soul to brave the elements with you next to that roaring fire.

The flakes just starting to fly.

I do have a little story to share with you about a campfire. My husband and I were camping with some other couples, and the evening was very cool to the point where a fire was necessary. We gathered next to it, shelling peanuts and telling stories and jokes, when one of the guys yelled that his shoe was on fire! We yelled back for him to get his foot far away from its perch across the stones encircling the fire. He stamped out the fire on his smoking shoe, and we laughed at how deformed his rubber sole now looked, and all because he had been so cold he placed his foot quite literally in the fire! That’s one way to get permanently warm.

A frozen pond perfect for ice skating.

If we embrace winter, rather than fighting it all season, we can find a measures of happiness poured out into our hands. I used to downhill ski, and then I tried cross country skiing, which is actually a blast and burns millions of calories. I took ice skating lessons with my young daughter a lifetime ago, or I would run laps while she skated and learned to pirouette on ice. Hockey games are fun, and if you’ve tried to enjoy winter’s gifts and are longing for escape, I have so many ideas for you.

Baking is my kind of fun, but maybe cooking brings you pleasure, reading while candles (real or faux) burn next to you conjures up warmth. What about staying in your sweats and watching a series of movies while you use your French press to make a delectable cup of coffee, and while you’re at it, add some Bailey’s Irish whisky to that cup. Call up a friend and chat. You’ll feel like you’re sitting across a table catching up on life. Take a drive and stop and take photos of something that catches your eye and captivates your imagination. Go to a small downtown area and shop their stores. Do a zoom while watching the football playoffs. Imagine all you’re going to do when this world opens back up. Save some money to take a trip, even a small one nearby, when it’s safe to do so.

It really is the small things that make our lives beautiful, fun and happy.

Be silly. Camp out in your family room. Turn up the heat for a whole day. Read a book that takes place in summer or play songs that remind you of summers long past. Order takeout as a splurge, and make it from a really fine restaurant. Have a picnic next to the fire. Take silly pics that will warm your soul next winter. Think warm. Look up how warm it is in Key West, Florida and imagine you are there. Go somewhere warm if you’re up to it. Play for a whole day. Workout so you can take a long hike or bike ride on the first lovely spring day.

This year will see the world opening back up at some point. Let’s keep our eyes on the beauty near us now, while keeping an eye on the near future when we’ll be able to go anywhere we wish. That day is coming. This won’t last forever. And now that I’m hungry, I think it’s time to bake some chocolate chip cookies that way I like them: with double the chocolate chips.

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

Until next time,

Deanna

It’s a happy life…

My kitchen table at New Year’s.

Here we sit uon a New Year, with prospects for it to go better than the last, and for once I rang in the new with no celebration other than binge watching a show with my love, toasting with wine and whiskey at midnight and sharing a lovely kiss. No watching the throngs of people mashed into Time’s Square in New York, where I always wonder why they want to be there in the cold, and no party this year, not with even another couple, let alone thirty of my friends.

Because I want to help out my daughter who just had a sweet baby who has days and nights mixed up, all I need to do is show up Covid-free, so we’re being careful, and hold the baby for a while. Graveyard shift, but I will gladly take it. In fact, I revel in telling of my last baby, born at the end of November, and his days and nights were mixed also, and I had to run around with my two older kids besides. When my husband and I wandered over to the neighborhood party on New Year’s Eve, the ladies swooned over my one month old. I just swooned from lack of sleep.

The best view of the creek that has ice on it this year.

I tried to make coherent conversation, but then it struck me. If my friends were sober, they could hold my son for a few hours, and I had brought bottles, so I asked if they would like to hold onto him, and his daddy toted the little guy home much later. I went home well before midnight to…sleep. New Year’s Eve parties do come in handy at times, but tonight the world seems muted, waiting, guarded, yet gathered around the table again. We’re in a state of anticipation and becalmed excitement. And yes, more waiting.

Are you talking more and connecting? I know we played games on our Christmas Day, which we celebrated on Christmas Ever day, because my nurse daughter worked on Christmas Day. The day felt authentic, even though we forgot to read Luke Chapter 2 the way my father always did before opening gifts. I think having an excited toddler, with his new baby sibling along with all my kids being together, with their husband and fiancé too, made for a noisy, happy day filled with more fun and laughter at the joy of being able to spend this precious time together.

Do you see what I see?

Did you feel that way too? As if your holiday meant more, because of all we need to do to be safe, and we don’t have those casual spur-of-the-moment visits, so we find time together to be a gift. No arguing politics (it’s done!), and no arguing about food because we all brought everything we wanted and noshed all day long. And I think as weary as we all are now, it will be so different next year. Well, this year now, because I think we will appreciate the little things that make our lives happier.

Right? From meeting with friends at Starbucks for three hour long chat sessions, to flying out on a crowded plane to see my mom and dad, or greeting people with a hug, seeing smiles again, visiting the theatre finally, going to sporting events, staying in a hotel or that trip to Scotland (fingers crossed, and please God make it so), to seeing my neighbors and standing to talk to them and none of this cursory, “hi” and “cold today” from twenty feet away. And I appreciated the cookies our neighbors brought over and it is something we all look forward to, but I handed out candles to be “safe” when cookies taste better. I should have done cookies, but with the new baby and all. Ah, well, there’s always this year, right?

A wee dram with my Scottish Highland dreams by the fire.

How are you doing? Are you finding bits of happiness peppered through your week? Do you miss your family? Your routines? The sky still looks the same. I look up and realize the stars and moon have no idea what social distancing is. The owls are silent now, but we do hear the neighbor’s dogs and I like that too. The dogs have no idea anything has changed, except we are all home more. I like that cozy feeling of knowing my neighbors are near, my home is warm and we gather nightly in front of the fire.

No, it is not real, we have that at the cabin, but the gas fire draws us in anyway. We grow almost too warm, and I light the candles I bought from London. The one labeled Winter is excellent, but the Highlands candle is eh, so I’ll gift that away. And we talk. Have you discovered the magic of a zoom call? I love them most of the time. My sister organizes it, I press a button and suddenly I’m looking at my brother’s ceiling, my father’s knee and my sister’s table. They are all yelling that they’ll be right there, and then we sit, talk, tell stories and laugh. We talk about our old cars that my day duct taped together. Well, one, but I could see the road underneath as I drove. Dad told me not to look down then! Laughter!!

Getting little gifts in the mail is a treat!

The talking. The connecting as we laugh about the Kentucky Meat Shower that someone brought up, we googled and it’s a thing! I’m going to miss the zoom calls. And the connections made on social media for me this year have been so fun. My friend who lives in Nevada sent me this gift, above, when I mentioned how I love Vegas and want to go back. Maybe the Luxor is in my future. I smile every time I see that. As I hope you smile when you pass by a trinket given to you in friendship. Or by a love. From a child. We still have that.

I think we will have a good deal more in the new year, and I hope you fill your eyes with the beauty of a sky filled with stars or the soft sound of snow gently falling, muting the sounds, filling us up. We can still use these next months well, before things get back to a new normal. We can read that novel, the good one about the Crawdads. We can talk face to face or on the phone. We can gather people together in our hearts, keep them in our thoughts and always our prayers. We still have some time before the reset button is pushed, so let’s use it for good.

We’re at the cabin, so its toasty warm here.

Use these winter months to be you. Sweatpants, messy hair, enjoying your cup of tea or your warming soup on a chilly day. Read, write, because people will want to know what it was like in the pandemic of 2020/2021. Walk outside. Sing inside. Light the fire, or a candle. Tell someone how beautiful they are, and then go back to playing your guitar, baking those cookies, and laughing at the year that was. We can certainly smile knowing this year is going to be a good year, because of all we have learned.

I’m wishing you a wondrous New Year filled with all the happiness your heart can hold.

Until next time…

Deanna

Sweet September Blue…

Night sweeps in earlier each evening, and the sudden change to a chilly house in the mornings is a surprise to me. September is usually still a warm month here, but it won’t be for the next ten days or so I’ve read. I decided to embrace autumn, stockpiling autumn candles that remind me of the woods ablaze with color, when only the pine trees kept their steadfast green. I miss the woods up north at this time of year, but trips aren’t really in vogue these days, so I’ll stay where some trees are shrugging off their dusty, too dry leaves, knowing others won’t turn vermillion until November.

I’m nostalgic for the days when every leaf changed at the same moment. That doesn’t happen here, so I create autumn in my home and my heart. Today I found the largest potted orange mums I have ever seen and bought them right away, adding some cute pumpkins with tall, thin stems that will look nice on the porch. I’m not ready to give into fall completely, and I adore those brave crickets who manage to stave off the frosts and live to tell their stories until November.

A cozy outdoor fire at our Kentucky farm last weekend…

Are there rules to September? Am I allowed to sleep with the windows open, only to turn on the furnace in the morning? Just for a half-hour. I savor each season as it’s handed out, which is so unlike my impetuous and impatient youth, where I waded through autumn and winter as if they were to be endured and not enjoyed. Not so now. Even those long January nights can carry warmth, love and laughter.

So I’m pulling you with me, into opening your eyes to the feast laid before us, or the one to come. Yes, the sun slips lower now, but that sweet September blue is back, and oh how the white wisps of clouds look perfectly content to sail high in the sky now that the haze has diminished. I know. It’s permanently hazy in the West, and I don’t want to hear of a hurricane. I need to know why the west is burning and can we please make it stop? The last time I was in the Northwest fires blazed, and none of us saw the mountains surrounding us. They stayed obscured, and I felt like I walked through apocalyptic days with the sun barely penetrating the daylight gloom.

Having fun playing with my candles at our Ohio home…

We can find happiness even then. Maybe not outdoors, but maybe so. I never saw the mountains on that trip, but I marveled at the gorgeous gardens, the homes built on hilltops, the thrumming of the Native Americans in the evenings just across the bay, and the shops that welcomed me as I made my way across the main streets. And did you know I stumbled across the most magical thing there? A tiny library for free. It was a very little cupboard on a post, telling people to take a book or leave one to share.

If that’s not magic, I don’t know what is. Books. I love words and the way authors place them perfectly into sentences that haunt me for years. Words flavor my life, and I carry some books, read long ago, in my heart forever. Seeing that perfect little invitation to take a book, and right next to the most beautiful garden perched against a simple, humble one-story home tells me magic exists anywhere. We just have to look for it.

Placing my weekly dose of flowers in the kitchen, where we all can enjoy them…

Even in this season of smoke. Even when the weather is much cooler than anticipated. Even when a hurricane brings too much rain. Especially then, don’t you think? We can find pockets of pretty in the middle of almost anything. Every sport under the sun is being played at the same time, after months of nothing, to the point where we watched two people playing corn hole on ESPN. Now we have a feast, and isn’t it fun? I love football, baseball and basketball, but my hockey-long family is gorging on that. Every sport is trying to make it work, and I am mesmerized at how resourceful we humans can be when hard pressed!

Sweet sunset evenings in the country, after visiting the neighbor’s horses…

One summer when I lived up north in a place called Wauwatosa, I spent much of my spare time painting the trim around the windows of our bungalow. One day I decided to have rice for lunch, so I set it to simmer when I spied the paint and paintbrush waiting for me by the kitchen’s back door. I picked up my toddler and took her outside to play while I methodically applied brilliant white paint to the freshly scraped wood trim.

While I perched precariously on that ladder, I heard the somewhat far off sound of a car alarm or siren of some sort. After five minutes or so of the relentless siren’s scream, I wondered if the source might be coming from inside my house. Was I ever shocked to discover the kitchen smoke alarm blaring as smoke billowed from the pot of rice! My self-diagnosed ADD had kicked in, and I had forgotten all about that rice. I had been in such a hurry to finish the painting, because September had arrived and I knew the number of warm days were winding down. Rain and cold typically took over by the end of that month.

Seeded eucalyptus and a baby pumpkin…

I spent that gorgeous afternoon opening every window, turning on the fans not yet placed in storage, and I scrubbed the pot until I realized I had no choice but to throw it out. In the evening when my husband came home, he walked in the door and started laughing. “Burnt rice again?” was all he said, and I shamefully nodded my head yes. It’s family lore now, all the times I forgot about the rice on the stove and scorched it instead. Finally, one day my husband bought me a rice cooker, and I’ve never burnt another pot of rice again. Just don’t ask about the time I forgot about the bacon. And I did.

September brings an urgency to complete so many outdoor tasks, and back then I spent my poorer days painting. Now it’s more about making sure we have wood stacked, and bulbs planted and leaves raked, but here I have until the end of October to finish. Somehow all the Septembers of my younger years have imprinted a more hurried approach, and any chance to be outside is refreshing and welcome.

A bouquet of September blooms and grasses…

I’m sending you our blue skies from the Midwest, the Ohio River Valley as they say here. Grab a fistful of flowers and bring them inside, burn those summer or autumn candles (inside, of course), hit up a movie at the drive-in, savor the simplicity of vanilla soft serve ice cream. Play your favorite music until it surrounds and imbues your mood. I always love The Boys of Summer and play it endlessly each autumn. Take care of you right now. Others always, but in the middle of everything or nothing, remember you matter. Find the beauty in you. It’s there. Then find the magic out there, waiting for you.

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

Summer breeze blue…

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Summer conjures up spellbinding clouds wafting on a summer breeze, and I stop to wonder, wishing I could find a patch of grass to lie down in, bringing along time to watch those cumulus clouds piling high in the western sky. No worries about dinner, ironing, or cleaning the bathroom. Okay, so dinner is something to contemplate, but some nights I have popcorn and peanuts for dinner and call it a night.

 

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Summer breezes bring the sound of lawn mowers, and the smell of the grass, freshly shorn, and I remember all the years of childhood, where the perfect dummer day was to open all three bedroom windows, lie on my bed and read and read. The breeze filled my room with the smell of the new mown grass, and my mom would ask me to shut the windows because the air conditioning was running. I still need open windows, summer, fall, early winter. It makes me quite happy!

This week was to be our week in an oceanfront house on Folly Beach, but we decided to put it off until next year, so I’m enjoying this week in a different way. By having some family over yesterday, and plans to go out to dinner on a beautiful patio enjoying one of the best wine selections around, and going on an antique hunt. I know I’m going to sit on the shaded porch in a minute and read until evening. Bliss.

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Believe it or not, but when we moved into this house last year, I felt the summer blues descending, and it’s because we are so far off the road, that I felt out of touch and disjointed. After nineteen years of being squashed between a neighbor having a pool party all summer long, and a lovely British couple who took tea in their garden, I suddenly didn’t have anyone around. Turns out right past the acre of trees behind me, I have new neighbors, and even if I never venture down the ravine and up their hill to visit, just knowing they are around makes me happier. Snug, cozy and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

See where I sit when we’re down on the farm? I bring out coffee, because I’ll take my Starbucks anyway I can get it, which reminds me to head over and grab a tea (sweet and yes, I feel guilty about that) before I begin my week of reading. What brings you delight in these days where night descends so late, and being outdoors is a delight?

What are you doing this summer to bring you happiness? Visiting family after not seeing them for a while? Drinking a margarita on the rocks while listening to music? What about heading out for long walk when it’s still cool outside, before everyone joins in? I’m still sleeping that early, but years ago, when my only option was to run at 6:00 a.m., I would head out and run these hills, and much later in the day I couldn’t remember if I had taken a run. Basically, I was running in my sleep; that’s how out of it I was. So evening or night walks are a pleasure to me.

 

 

I like how the candle matches the hue of the walls in our living room. Just had to mention certain colors make me happy, and so I’m sharing them here…blues, green and this muddy yellow or whatever the name was on the paint can. I love it!

 

 

 

 

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I still have so much to do here at home too, and when the sun is too high or too hot for me, I’m reminded to head back indoors and iron the linen, and put up the family photos in the little hallway upstairs. Every year I say I’m going to pick strawberries and turn them into jam, but when you can’t go out in the sun like me (damn lupus), it’s kind of difficult to do. Thank goodness I didn’t have this issue until my kids grew up, because my summer days focused on taking them to the neighborhood pool for long afternoons and even some evenings to keep them active and happy. Happiness comes so easily in the summer, if we look for it.

 

 

 

 

Take a swim, ride your bike, read long into the afternoon, but if you’re me that means reading until well past midnight, send a friend a beautiful card, buy a meal for someone, tip well, drink lemonade that’s ice cold and have ice cream from a mom & pop store, watch a film at the drive-in.  And when life gets to be too much or full of sadness, look up. I look at the trees, full green and owning their beauty, finding that first star at night but wondering if it’s Venus or a star and does it matter if I accidentally wish on a planet, or the clouds at sunset, the fading rays still touching the tops, and making them beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

Wander into beauty, and happiness will find her way to you. Another perfect scotch, neat? I’m proud of myself because I’m learning to like scotch. There’s no way I’ll ever get gin out of my system, because I learned ages ago, one good martini lasts far longer than a gin and tonic. That’s how I spent so little in the bars when I was in college in Wisconsin, where I swear drinking is a matter of personal pride there. I played darts, danced in the courtyard and carried my one martini around. Basically, I could not afford more than $10 out on a Friday, and some nights I had $5 to my name. But dancing never cost anything, and I still like waltzing in the kitchen with my husband, when we’re laughing and singing along. Summer laughter is easy to find.

 

 

 

 

Summer wanders in one day and decides to stay. Aren’t we blessed to be anointed with deep blues skies, balmy breezes, summer bracelets jangling on your wrist, wearing tee shirts every day, all day long, and coming home to find more flowers decided it was about time to show their beauty? We are so lucky.

 

 

 

 

 

Summer breezes in and blows another season into our hands. The days are long and the years so short. Grab it. Happiness is here, all around, and all we need is to recognize her when she’s near. Look up and wish on a planet, listen to the thunder, watch the rain fall. Have wine at noon, and espresso after dinner. I’ll have to write again some time and tell of how I had French espressos for a week in Paris, and I could still fall asleep. Another memory for another time. Enjoy those soft summer winds, and grab some happiness for yourself. I really do need to get a Starbucks….. (instant happiness in a cup!)

I’m wishing you all the happiness your heart 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