Day 365


What a bittersweetness I am feeling. In fact, writing my very last blog has overshadowed and superseded the reality of turning 61. I truly nearly forgot.

When I am close to finishing a book that I have really enjoyed, I experience a homesick-thirsty feeling. If I have about 10 pages left, I dole them out carefully. I save those last few pages to read until I can sit quietly, not feel rushed, and not be interrupted. I want to cherish and be entrenched in the ending. Occasionally when I finish a book, I actually miss the characters for a period of time.

My heart is heavy as I write this blog. It feels similar to finishing a great book. 

A few of you have been with me from the beginning. You have been incredibly faithful. My gratitude is fathomless. I am deeply humbled by your kindness. 

I will miss speaking to you every day.

Though I am ready for a bit of a respite, this is not the end. My plan is to begin the tedious task of going back and reading through the nearly 138,000 words I have written and begin an editing process. A thought from the beginning was to compile this into a book. I will begin that journey. 

My website will remain the same and I will give periodic updates, so stay tuned. I have had many thoughts about if and how to continue. I may write a “Weekly Wednesday” blog to keep my connection.

To stay tethered to your hearts. 

What day is it?” asked Pooh.

It’s today,” squealed Piglet.

My favorite day,” said Pooh.

Dog Days of Summer

For the record, Mama was not a cute little scottie today. She was a cantankerous, difficult, ready to nip at my ankles, beady-eyed Chihuahua. 

A recent study found that among the most aggressive breeds of dogs are the dachshund and the Chihuahua. Researchers discovered that one in five have bit or attempted to bite a stranger, and one in twelve have lashed out at their owners. 

Surprisingly, even the honey-haired ‘sweet’ little cocker spaniel, a very popular companion animal, having spent decades as one of the most popular breeds in the United States, has its moments. Its popularity has led to overbreeding issues, including a problem called “rage syndrome”.

A cocker prone to “rage syndrome” can become suddenly aggressive toward strangers, people she knows, or even her own family. And just as suddenly become calm again. 

I thought it might be an adventure to head out this morning with our coffee in hand and explore some garage sales. A friend had told me that her entire neighborhood of condominiums was hosting a huge sale today. I imagined that Mama and I could park and easily walk to five or seven of them and browse for books or glassware or other treasure.

That did not go well. Something triggered in her brain that I “did this to her last year” and it was all some kind of game to fool her; that it was a big conspiracy. I tried to assure her otherwise, to no avail. We did not stay long. On the way home she asked why I am being so cruel to her. She threatened to open the car door and find the police in order to have me arrested. Cocker spaniel alert. 

Oy vey. The best laid plans…

These times have to be okay. They do not feel okay but they have to be okay. It is part of the process of dementia. As my brother said “We lost our mom a year or two ago.” 

Today I wanted to ask a priest to call out this person living in her body and have my old mama return to me. But that feels like praying to idols; empty words to hollow figures. 

The difficult day melted into a long evening of confused questions and allegations. It was one of the worst times I have ever had with Mama. She was so fierce and yet so pitiful. She cried several times. So did I. Today felt like a step down deeper into the darkness. I felt the loss of her as she succumbed to the gnarled faulty wiring in her brain. 

Mama fell into the cocker spaniel “rage syndrome” today, but by bedtime she was a droopy-eared, red-eyed sad little hound, and I was her lost pup.


In 20 days I will be 61 years old. My daily blog will come to an end on August 21. I am feeling a bitter-sweetness about the arrival of this anniversary date. It has been an amazing journey. As in all journeys, it has been fraught with a collision of emotions, as well as losses and gains. I will be writing about those things in the next couple of weeks. But for now, let’s stay on the path together and remain steady and strong.

This evening as I sit at my desk, I hear the jigsaw sound of cicadas which always signifies a hot summer night. The buzzing becomes louder and high-pitched, then retreats, only to cycle again. It is constant. On the low end of the buzzing cycle, I hear cricket calls, so desperate for love. They go till dawn. 

Summer. Yet, tonight these sounds have a finality to them. It is as if the insects are scrambling for a humongous block party. They sent out the message and all are responding. One last hurrah! 

Perhaps it is simply the butterfly effect. The Butterfly Effect is a term coined by Edward Lorenz and is a concept that states “small causes can have larger effects”.  It is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado being influenced by minor stresses or disturbances such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Fascinating. 

Minor stresses and disturbances most certainly influence bigger things. One year and 20 days ago I began the tiny flapping of butterfly wings. The oscillation has continued and grown. I have picked up momentum. 

It is an inevitable life truth. All movement leads somewhere. I may not be sure where I am going, but I’m in motion. 

Summer Fizzle

I made a quick trip to the grocery store this morning for a few necessities. When I turned to head down the “summer” aisle, this is what I saw. All summer stuff was clearance at 70% off. The ominous blue sign was hanging from the ceiling and the obligatory boxes on the floor held pencils and folders and glue and scissors and loose leaf paper and dread, for kids, anyway.

Wait…summer is over? It is only July 14. I haven’t even had on a swimsuit (not that I want to.) I haven’t yet been to a body of water (except the one in my clogged bathtub.) I haven’t had grilled chicken or made s’mores or been fishing or gone camping or received a sunburn. 

Later in the day I stopped by another store to pick up some candles and they had fall foliage and all things autumn on the shelves. I wanted to protest but when you are 60 years old and protest about something, you just look old and cranky. So I let out a big sigh and found my candles.

Tonight I heard the quintessential loud summer melody of crickets mixed with the low hum of cicadas. It is that sound that often accompanies humidity, mosquitoes and lightening bugs. But tonight it had a sad note, like an end of summer reprise, like a swan song.

Summer is actually not my favorite season. I do not love the heat, I do not love the constant yard work and weeding and flower watering. I do not love the schedule of long days and irregularity and people out of town. I enjoy the consistency of fall and winter. 

But I also do not love the idea of rushing a season. It is not time for school. It is not time for wool sweaters. It is not time for gold mums and orange pumpkins. I will love those things when it is their time. But it is not yet their time and I do not want to be told otherwise. 

There ya go. 

Endless Questions

I spent the afternoon, evening and now overnight with Mama. 

We have made a change in her living situation and moved her into a lovely apartment in a retirement village. She is not in assisted living or a memory unit. She is living independently but with full-time care from one of her children, a dear niece, JK, and her faithful daytime caregiver, Sherry. We’ve got a pretty good schedule going and it is working. At least it is working for us. 

Mama is definitely not happy. I arrived at 3:45 today. We chatted then took a short walk outside. That did not go well. Once we were outside, she looked at the building and asked if we had to go back inside that ‘big building’. “Yes, Mama.”

We saw a couple of other residents who were friendly and asked Mama how things are going. She looked befuddled and said “I don’t know what I am doing.” I took her arm, smiled it off and mumbled something about taking a while to adapt. They nodded, understandingly. 

Later we made dinner together. Well, I made it and she sat and asked me questions. “How long have I been here?” “Where is my family?” “Do I have to sleep here tonight?” “What is happening to my head?” “Who is paying for this?” “Don’t you think your pants are a little tight?” She has to throw in a couple of personal jabs once in a while. And those questions are on a continual loop for three, four, five hours at a time. 

After we cleaned up the kitchen, we chatted a bit more. I then suggested we dip some ice-cream into bowls and eat it on her balcony, she is on the second floor. And that is this photo ~ Mama enjoying her favorite, butter pecan ice-cream, with a side of scowl. 

Mama has a large flowering planter on her balcony. After I finished my ice-cream, I began to ‘deadhead’ the flower, pull off brown leaves and in general, give it a cleanup. Of course, that made a bit of a mess on the porch so I asked Mama if she would like to sweep it up. Bingo! Give her a job to do and there is, at least momentarily, a reprieve. 

We came back inside and the loop of questions began to play again.

I so wish she could understand that everything we do for her is FOR her. We want her to feel safe, secure, content. It, however, does not shake out that way.

At 8:30, I got out the church hymnal and asked her to sing with me. She usually loves that. Tonight I was singing solos. Every time I ended a song and flipped the page, she began with the loop of questions. I kept singing and sang till my throat ached. 

At bedtime, she was mad at me because I did not want her to sleep on the loveseat in her living room. I asked her to put on her pajamas. She said “I guess I have to. I don’t have a say about anything.”

Mama is at the heart-wrenching in-between stage. She is confused and has nearly no short term memory. Yet, she is sharp enough to know us and blame us for…everything. 

She is so very lost. Once this evening, she told me that her mind is floating away and she does not know how to catch it. I bit my lip to keep from crying and assured her that no matter what she feels, she will never be alone.

And now she sleeps. I hear her heavy, burdened, weary, bewildered breathing and I pray that she is at least dreaming in peace. 

And I pray I do the same. 

Summer Love

We have already had back-to-back days of 93 degree temperatures. Summer apparel is in full swing; shorts, tank tops, white pants, flip flops. We have it all. Yet, just this week, June 21, was the official start of summer. 

The summer solstice officially started on Thursday morning in the Northern Hemisphere. Every year, between June 20 and June 22, the sun reaches its highest elevation, making it the longest day of the year with a stretch of sunlight that lasts for 17 hours. 

During the summer solstice, the sun appears to stand still as it reaches its highest point, before moving off toward the horizon. 

Ironically, while the summer solstice marks the start of summer, the days are about to get shorter now because the sun is rising later and setting earlier. 

On June 21 sunrise was 6:09 a.m. and sunset was 9:04 p.m.The amount of daylight will decrease by about one minute every two days to every day thereafter. In a month, the sunrise will be 6:33 a.m. and the sunset will be 8:56 p.m. By the end of August, sunrise will occur at 7:06 a.m. and the sunset at 8:11 p.m.

So, today, June 23, we have lost one minute of daylight. How much we want to hold onto summer. It feels elusive, especially after summer solstice. We grasp for more but it slips through our fingers like sand.

We may be losing a few grains every day but we still have a beach of summer to hold in our hands. 

As in so many things, we must enjoy the day we have. So we lose a little bit of daylight, that only makes drinks around the fire pit begin just a bit earlier. It is all good. 

May Day

May Day is a public holiday celebrated on May 1. It is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities.

Dancing? Singing? Cake? Yes, count me in!

May Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. In the United States May Day was celebrated by some early European settlers of the American continent. In some parts of the United States, May baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone’s doorstep. The giver rings the bell and runs away. That sounds like fun!

May Day celebrations were common at women’s colleges and academic institutions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a tradition that continues at Bryn Mawr College and Brenau University to this day. Good for them for keeping up tradition!

I have vague but sweet memories of celebrating May Day at my childhood school, Kirby Road Elementary. I remember a Maypole with beautiful colored streamers hanging down and we would each grab one of the streamers and walk around the maypole while singing a song. I remember carrying flowers or wearing them in our hair. 

I googled Maypole to see what was the ‘411’. Here is the official definition:

A pole painted and decorated with flowers, around which people traditionally dance on May Day, holding long ribbons that are attached to the top of the pole.

Yep, that is how I remember it. I wonder when that stopped? I do not recall my boys celebrating May Day at school, which is unfortunate. I remember it fondly as the highlight of spring. 

For the record, the distress call “Mayday! Mayday!” is in no way related to the May Day celebration on May 1. “Mayday” the distress call comes from the French term m’aidez, which means “help me.”

On this May Day, perhaps you won’t leave a small basket of treats at someone’s doorstep or dance around a Maypole, while holding onto beautiful ribbons, but do something! 

Sing a little song, if only to yourself. Pick a flower and put it on your desk in a vase, or behind your ear. Or bake a cake and decorate it with pastel colors. Notice spring, in some way. 

Happy May! 


It is the first full day of spring. Though, it does not quite look that way or feel that way.

Winter is coming to an end. That is good news for most people. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am one of the few who actually likes winter.

It is March 21. We know that we know that we know spring is on our doorsteps. We are all bemoaning the last wisp of winter snow. But is it so terrible that we have to use our automobile seat warmers today? Is it such an egregious thing to build one more (wonderful) fire in the fireplace before you replace those charred, smoky ashes with an iron candelabra insert?

There are lessons to learn here. There is beauty in snow. It is soft and quiet and lovely and lays perfect, white fluff to every tree, every bush, every hill. There is a reverence in it.

Patience and gratitude are truly virtues. You have a warm car and a warm bed. You have hot coffee and toasty bagels in your cozy kitchen. You have fuzzy socks for your icy toes. You have a washer and dryer inside your house.

And you have spring on your doorstep.

Perhaps it is being 60. I certainly do my share of complaining about trivial things. But, oh my goodness, do not waste the beautiful breath you can see in front of you. It is your BREATH! You are a breathing, miraculously made human. Your lovely heart is staying steady at about 80 beats per minute. It’s nothing short of creation perfection.

Being a cool weather person, I may need to write another blog around mid-August reminding everyone (mostly myself) to stop complaining about the humidity. But that is a story for another day.

On this day, wait in grateful anticipation. Spring is on your doorstep.


Mrs. Mike

When I was a little girl, I saw an old movie on TV called Mrs. Mike. It is the story of Katherine Mary Flannigan, a young woman who travels to Calgary to care for an ailing uncle. There she meets and marries Mike Flannigan, a sergeant with the Royal Northwest Mounted Police. She moves with him to isolated posts in the Canadian wilderness. The story is set in the early 1900s.

The whole movie is so, so good but one specific scene has always stayed with me. They are out in a brutal, blinding blizzard and Mrs. Mike is injured. Mr. Mike shoots a grizzly bear, then cuts it open and places Mrs. Mike inside the bear to stay warm, while he goes for help. Such a great scene!

We have had quite a winter in Ohio; some good sled-riding/snow days for the kids (and teachers), some bitter cold days ( as my $800 heat bill revealed), and some icy/hail pellets to boot. We literally (yes, I used that word correctly), burned through all of our firewood by early February.

I know that many people are chomping at the bit for spring. When it arrives, I will love it, too. For now, I will enjoy the last bit of winter and pretend that I am Mrs. Mike out on the Canadian plains. I even have a slight dream of being placed inside of a grizzly bear to stay warm. I guess we don’t see too many of those in Mason, Ohio. Darn.


Kohler Hopes

I guess that’s what I get for saying I am fond of winter. It bit me in the butt.

Mike and I had plans to go on a little weekend trip, leaving early tomorrow. It has been a couple of years since we have taken a trip alone. We were headed to Kohler, Wisconsin. Yep, the home city of the Kohler Company, maker of those, oh so lovely faucets, as well as other plumbing products, furniture, cabinetry, engines and generators.

We were headed to the Inn on Woodlake, a super cozy, yet elegant resort in Kohler. A draw to Kohler for Mike has always been that it is the location of Whistling Straits Golf Course, where several PGA tournaments have been held and is the site of 2020 Ryder Cup. Though there was certainly going to be no golfing there quite yet.

Still, he was excited to see it, and the resort associated with it is supposed to be truly lovely. Of course the bathrooms are creme de la creme. They are all equipped with Kohler fixtures and have, as Mike calls it, car wash showers. You get the picture.

About three hours ago, Mike was talking with his mother, who asked him if he had heard about the snowstorm hitting Chicago. He hadn’t. We turned on the weather channel and have been glued to it since, except for the few minutes it took me to call and cancel our reservation at the Inn on Woodlake. The website stated that we would sacrifice our deposit if we cancel under 72 hours. However, when I spoke with the representative, she said that due to weather, we would receive that deposit as a credit, ready to use whenever we can get there. Made made feel a bit better.

The Chicago area, including into Wisconsin, is slated to have six to twelve inches of snow dumped on it, beginning tonight and continue through Saturday.

We considered going on, but realized it could be a mistake. We knew there was a possibility we could get stuck in Skokie at a Red Roof Inn.

So, for now we will be home. We may drown our disappointment in large amounts of pizza and if we are really sad, may drive through the car wash with our windows down and sunroof open. Perhaps they use Kohler sprayers.