Saturday, July 22, 2017

the cardinal in my yard

I first photographed this bird back in May. When I looked at the photos I noticed just how disheveled he was. His neck feathers were sparse and he looked a little sickly. He looks a bit worse now.

But it's July and he is still seen regularly in my yard and is active and full of life. He drinks from the birdbath and I throw him seeds from time to time. He returns day after day and just blends in with the life and rhythm of things. He sings beautifully as he sits on the roof or the bush outside my bedroom window. 

Tonight I heard his familiar song and stopped what I was doing to look outside. I followed the sound and saw him near the ground under the same bush... but he wasn't alone... he was feeding and seemingly caring for his spouse. He was definitely schmoozing up to a female cardinal. Although he looks as though he has had a rough life, he seems to be fairing just fine for now. He may be old. I read they live about 15 years! He's not a perfect specimen of cardinal, but I like so much that he hangs around. He seems very happy to have this yard as his home. And I like to keep fresh water around.... 

Legend implies that when a cardinal is seen it's a visitor from heaven. A reminder that you are loved. This one seems especially strong and worldly and wise. Like he's been around the block a few times. And he knows things. That's what I choose to believe anyway.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

how things change

Slowly..... consistently.... subtly.... so no one really noticed what was happening.... we've moved as a society. Mostly all of us have been effected, but those who are young and on social media most of the day are effected the most. As I think back to my own growing up... and then into my 20's and 30's, it was so different in that people didn't have so much information about what everyone else was doing. We had to call a friend up and talk to them or visit.... to know whether they went on a trip, or got their hair done, or went out to dinner, or got a new dog, ended a relationship, started a new one, or began a new exciting job.... Now people post about anything and everything. 

I'm not saying it's bad. I don't really know if it is bad or good. It's the way it is, but I do think there are certain changes that occur inside of us as we concentrate too much on what everyone else is doing. It wasn't as prominent back before this social media generation. People are so much more apt to compare themselves with others instead of living their own peaceful existence. Seems wherever you go people are so wrapped up in their phones so as not to miss something going on... and of course if you're doing something fun, you better let others know about that too.

Oh, that people were more present. Often at the checkout line or just walking my dog I pass people with headphones on... Whenever they have a spare moment people are looking down at their phones, in the car talking... and driving... often swerving a bit.... 

Am I getting too old and cranky? Sigh... maybe.

I just wonder where it's leading. I think of my own granddaughters and wonder how driven they will be to measure up to someone else's definition of what's valuable or fun or popular or worthy.

I so want them to know they are worthy just as they are. They are enough and they don't need to be  more or greater or compare themselves to anyone else. They are unique and valuable and precious.

I get excited to see this trend toward simplicity and I hope it continues. I really hope people can put social media, their phones, their devices into proper perspective  .... and give them a rest. I hope we can get back to some old-fashioned simplicity. 

I don't think everyone is depressed as this quote implies, but I do believe thinking others have it better than we do and reading what others are doing on a regular basis can make some think they don't measure up. 

Just my two cents.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

keeping it going

This week I have maintained a healthy diet every day. 

Every day I've used my elliptical machine for at least 30 minutes and also completed a yoga routine. 

Today I added a pilates workout and exercised for 90 minutes.

The pilates was hard.... and my joints hurt some.

But I took it easy and listened to my body...  and didn't go overboard.

It felt good to push myself. I know my body will perform better if my core is stronger.

So I will keep on this journey....

.... and be consistent.

I need to keep going and not give up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

those who are gone ...... and those who remain

I recently found someone on Facebook with the last name McCormick. I knew she was a relative somehow since she was a friend of another relative. One who was my mom's cousin. I wondered who she was so I requested to be her friend on Facebook and connect with her... so I could ask.

My grandmother's maiden name was McCormick and she came to the United States from Scotland around 1926. This was the passport picture. My grandmother is the little girl with the bow on the left.

McCormick family coming over from Scotland. My grandmother and her mother and siblings.

Although these people I connected with on Facebook have not been in my life at all in a personal way, I have from time to time heard their names growing up.  Not for a long time, but when my grandmother was alive.... or when my mom spoke of them.

These two women were my mom's cousins, so that would make them my second cousins.

Betty McCormick Wern was my grandmother's brother's daughter. I remember hearing about my mom's Uncle John, but as a little girl I didn't pay much attention and we never got together that I can recall.

Betty and I have recently shared stories and photos and it makes me feel a little more connected to family. She lives on Long Island and shared a few things with me about family history and just some interesting information. She is at this time 76 years old and was eager to answer any questions I had which I found very heartwarming.

Her grandfather (my grandmother's father) died in the Long Island Hurricane of 1938. He was only 45 years old. I looked up this terrible storm and found quite a lot of information on it. It was called the Long Island Express and many lost their lives. I always thought my great grandfather died in a blizzard in New York City, but I found out from someone who knew that he died in a hurricane on Long Island. Not that important in the grand scheme of things I suppose, but the accurate information adds to his life story and the fact that he was a real live person who mattered and was desperately missed... and how everything changed that day for those who loved him.

My great grandmother lost her husband in September of 1938 during that storm, but she herself lived close to another 30 years. 

I wish I knew her. I wish I could talk with her. I know my grandmother loved her and honored her. She had a picture of her on her dresser in her home. One that I remember well. I don't remember the details, but I remember the feelings I had and that my grandmother missed her very much. She died around 1965 and though I don't remember her, my grandmother spoke of her in a very reverent way.

My great grandmother Margaret Toll McCormick. She had 6 children

We also talked about the arthritis gene that is in the family. Something I am probably feeling some of the effects of. Another reason I have stepped up my effort to stay in shape, exercise each day and do my yoga for strength and flexibility.

Probably what I enjoy the most is knowing she was my mom's cousin and knew her as a little girl. She sent me a picture and what I see is what I've always seen in my mom's face and in her spirit. She was a mischeivious girl who was a lot of fun... and loved by everyone. 

Mom is the tallest girl in the back. Betty, her cousin is the littlest girl in the front.

As I learn more about some of my relatives in Holland and Scotland and here in the US, I feel a kinship somehow. I see hints of strong women who endured hardship and yet lived long lives. I feel a oneness and connection to these women who I came from.

Like my great-great grandmother (on my mom's side... her father's relatives) who lived in Holland and died in 1935. She was born in 1849 and lived to be 86 years old even though she lost her husband when she was 43 and was left with 9 children!!

Like my grandmother who had many health problems but still lived to be 71. She loved family gatherings and playing Hearts and telling stories to me when I stayed with her during the summer. 

Like my own mom who loved her family and was taken too soon, unexpectedly, when she was 77. She loved sewing, and shopping, and reading and computers and traveling... and her family best of all. And what a cute kid she was. 

I miss her so....

My pretty mom and her brother, my Uncle Neil

My mom as a little girl

My grandmother and my 4 month old mom

Sunday, July 9, 2017


So here's the problem for me.

I worry. 

I worry about myself and things I can't control.

I worry about others that I love ... people I also cannot control.

I tend to think of the worst possible outcome and worry about that happening. 

Feeling it and suffering over something that hasn't even happened. 

Not good for the body at all. Gee. When did I become such a control freak? I've always been one?

So. I am issuing a proclamation.

I am not going to worry about you(*) anymore. I am not going to overthink everything and dwell on the "what ifs" of your decisions, choices, outcomes, LIFE. I am going to concentrate on my own life, my own choices, my own situation, because as I look at someone else's all the time, I neglect my own. I stay stuck. 

You have to navigate your own life and have been making your own decisions in your own way for a long time, without my input...  often doing the opposite of what I might suggest. So I am not going to worry about what happens because of that. It is YOUR life to do with as you will. To learn, to grow, to discover. If you choose wrongly and feel pain, I cannot stop that. I couldn't even if I wanted to. It's a part of the natural order of things. No one is stopping my pain when I choose wrong, if I choose wrong. And I can't stop anyone else's pain or discomfort. That very pain is supposed to shape you and teach you. Hopefully anyway.

We all need to find the path that is right for us. No one can provide the right path for someone else. 

*The "you" is anyone I may be worrying about at the time!

Okay .... now go and live it!

Friday, June 30, 2017

decluttering.... again and again

I grew up in a magical place. At least it seems like that now when I look back. I was a happy kid and felt loved. There was lots of fresh air and room to run and play outside. Woods to explore and a dirt road to ride my bicycle down. And just enough nice neighbors to play with...

I remember my best friend, Debbie. I think of her from time to time now... and wish I had been a better friend to her after I married and moved away... and even before that. She was a few years older than me and in many ways very different, but we were good friends. Since she was into collecting things and garage sales. I wasn't and have never been a collector. She was one to collect things... like old Avon bottles... she always had a lot of stuff around and whenever I'd call her and ask what she was doing she'd say, "I'm cleaning my room." Funny how that is a memory I now have of her.

I heard she died of cancer quite a few years ago and when I heard I felt very sad... and wrote her mother a note saying how very sorry I was....

The reason I write about her now is that I seem frequently be trying to "clean my room". I strive to get rid of extra clutter in my life, but there always seems to be more. I just did a internet search on "what to get rid of and declutter" right now to give me ideas. The lists made me want to open up drawers and cabinets and go through my closet and garage! Which I will do when I finish writing this!

I am always struggling with what to hold on to and what to let go of. In my home... and in my heart and life.

But decluttering just feels good. I long to live more simply and yet I still struggle with "should I really throw that out? I think I will use it" (though I haven't in years).

But back to the "really nice place to grow up" part. Yes, I am jumping from one thought to another and back again, but I'm still so thankful for my home on Goodale Road to this day and miss it. When I go back into my long-term memory storage bank it's filled with feelings of warmth and security. I will always be grateful to my parents for that. The house wouldn't be considered elaborate by any stretch of the imagination.... and I can hardly believe there was just one bathroom and for many years, no shower, just a bathtub. How did we all survive? In some ways I've become spoiled and a bit too expectant and impatient. One bathroom would still be considered a luxury in some parts of the world... even today.

Anyway.... off I go to do some more decluttering....

Just an early photo of my brother and me on our front steps. I just love those young faces!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

life in and around my neck of the woods.... in the month of June

Norman .... too tired and hot to go squirrel chasing

Cardinal coming to drink

Norman in the garden after the rain

Pippa exploring the little stones

Always taking the time to give Norman a pat or slap!

Five carolina wren eggs in a nest made in my flower planter

Pippa being cute

Baby birds hatched and ready to be fed!

"Who are you? You're not my mom... and you don't have worms."

Fledgling escaping

The bird family's home in the planter

Another fledgling ready to move on with life
Back patio flowers

Pippa the explorer


Paislee..... always sweet and happy