Clouds in my blue sky

First ride and a poem

There are clouds in my blue sky. Yeah, I know it’s not really my sky, it belongs to the Creator who made it, but it’s the sky that I see. And there are clouds in my blue sky. Here’s why.

The first ride of the year dawned on a day nearly seventy degrees perfect. We sat in our house all day on COVID -19 lock down trying to warm up. The chill in the air just would not go away. I, in my kerchief, and Opa in his sweater. Well, okay it was not really that bad off. But I was wearing my warming poncho most of the day. And Opa was in his sweater.

The sun was shining and the breeze was out of the south. So the furnace found it’s way into remission and the house just felt cold. The clouds would roll over and then we had to grab another hot cup of coffee to warm up our fingers. Finally at four hours past the noon meal, I called for a truce with the wind and decided to fight the gale for a walk. We made it to the corner and back in record time, with the wind to our backs.

And then, the question was posed, “How about a motorcycle ride?” Of course, after a fast paced walk the best way to cool off is with a motorcycle ride. So cool off, we did. What a beautiful lull before the storm. Never mind that after we arrived home again, we’ll probably have to clean the dog up from her fox hole digging. Who would have thought her idea of stay home means go dig a hole to China!

At this point in the COVID -19 pandemic, our lives have changed in minor ways. We are not shopping at physical stores, and have tried to keep our focus on necessities. We purchase most of our goods at the local stores eight miles from our home. My husband has moved his desk from plant location to the corner of the kitchen. This was the first week he saw a decline in his number of conference calls. His work involved the housing market and until this week most of it was business as usual. Production has just started it’s decline and that will probably show up in his hours and pay at some point. Clouds in the horizon?

My activities outside the home have come to a stop. For the most part, I was pretty stay at home anyways because of my eyesight and no driving. But this week, I did not go see my little granddaughter for the first time on Tuesday. It is hard to think of the possibility of no visits at all. But for the foreseeable future it looks like a halt to visits is best. Since her mother is expecting in late spring, we want to keep her safe from the virus. Thank goodness for video calling and the ability to see her on the screen as she plays and discovers new word meanings.

A friend of mine posted a status on social media that bears repeating, but I will try to summarize in my own way. All my nieces and nephews are now doing school at home or on line. This is not anything like the home schooling that I did with my girls for eighteen years. This is crisis schooling. And finding a new normal for cabin crazy children is difficult. I pray for all of them daily. From my cousins who are juggling children learning at the kitchen table with their own technical careers, to my relatives that no longer have a job because the entertainment has all canceled or gone online, I pray for you all. There are puffy little clouds diluting the suns rays.

All of my relatives that work in front of a screen have moved their offices home. Some find it wonderful and some find it extremely challenging. The environment that one is use to working in has all changed. I pray for you too. The sun is brightening the sky in the parts that there are no clouds, really.

We have not had coffee with the elder folks in our lives for a couple of weeks now. It is hardest not to see them on a regular basis. The phone calls do help. And it seems that for now, most people are spending a lot more time on the phone catching up with everyone. Encouragement does go both ways though. So I think especially of all our clergy friends. Their strength is relative to their faith in God. Thank you so much, to all of you, for your encouraging words through commercials on television, on line streaming of upligting messages and prayer conferences. I pray for you. Pray that you will send rays of hope through sky’s clouded and blue.

And we have relatives and friends in the healthcare field also. You are outstanding individuals and we pray for you most. While the sky is covered with clouds and grey, you are indeed the sunshine in so many days! There are nurses and families that seem torn apart and need our love and support in any way that we can give it.

So, the world has changed and it will never be the same. We are behind the curve here in the midwest. Our natural distance has helped with the social distancing measures that others have mandated for the the hardest hit places. We realize that for us the distancing may be for a longer period of time simply because our population numbers are lower. This can surely make the sky seem like storms are brewing every direction that we gaze.

There are clouds in my blue sky

Some are sweet and low

Some are dark and high

Though I hear them rumble

While I watch them grow

There are clouds in my blue sky

I am glad for the moment

I watch them roll by…

-written by Yvonne Annette March 31, 2020

Battle won by singing

Jahaziel’s prayer

In Second Chronicles 20, we read the story of Jehosophat’s Decree, Jahaziel’s prayer and a very unconventional battle strategy. The chapter recalls the moment when the Israelites surrounded by enemies, win the battle by singing praise to the Lord. The king makes a decree that the people are to meet and choose singers to Praise God. The Prayer by the priest Jahaziel tells the desperate situation. “We are powerless before these enmies, but the Battle belongs to the Lord,” is a good summary of his words. The King’s faithfulness is cited near the end of the story after the enemy all turned on each other at the sound of the Israelites singing praise to their God. Verse 21 states the words that the people sang, “Give thanks to the Lord for His steadfast love endures forever.”

It took the people three days to retrieve all of the spoil (or loot) from the defeated armies. And the scripture says there was more left behind. They named the Valley of Baracah such that means Valley of Blessings. “Blessing the Lord He blessed us in return.”

Last night I stayed awake to pray for a family member awaiting surgery. While doing so, my husband came across a documentary on Ragtime Pianists. Supposed to be just a distraction to sleep, I found it fascinating to watch the Battle of Song. The fingers on the keyboard were giving testament to the hours of practice. When the young student out played all of the old timers, youthfulness won the day. But there was one particular “blessing the maker” participant. Only one player spoke of God’s gifts to the talent. The people were still in pursuit of the song, not the Creator of Song.

It saddened my heart to hear our dear little patient was still awaiting surgery this morning. That is such a long time to go without eating for a preschooler. God grant her parents patience. God grant a quick recovery, I pray.

Our church has been having prayer meetings by conference call. It helps to feel connected and to know others find gathering in prayer so important. Indeed we need to heed the command to Blessing the Lord, He will bless thee.

I heard the other day that the front porch family photo is back in demand. I remember a family photo taken when I was about fourteen. We girls, my mother, and my brother went over to the neighbors front steps. Our neighbor Perry took the snapshot of us all dressed for Easter Sunday. The morning’s crisp air and the sound of spring is recalled in my mind. One photographer in the twin cities is taking portraits of families on their front steps, so that they can remember this time of family at home-ness.

I wonder how many families will get dressed up for church on Easter Sunday, take these family photographs and then walk back into their homes to watch a streamed on-line church service. This is truly a moment in history that needs to be recorded.

Our family gathered via video chat the other evening. It was good to be “together” even if it was just for a half hour. I am so thankful to live in the 2020’s instead of the 1920’s. And will try to repeat “Give Thanks to the Lord for His Steadfast Love Endures Forever” as often as I can. Perhaps I will even begin to sing it!

I remember as a child singing this beloved old hymn during out benedictions on Sunday. It still makes me cry every time I hear it, read it, or think of it’s meaning. Jesus is truly a more binding tie than any other zip tie, keep tie, glue binding, book binding or kinship tie.

John Forest wrote Blest Be the Tie That Binds in 1782

  1. Blest be the tie that binds
    Our hearts in Christian love;
    The fellowship of kindred minds
    Is like to that above.
  2. Before our Father’s throne,
    We pour our ardent prayers;
    Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
    Our comforts, and our cares.
  3. We share our mutual woes,
    Our mutual burdens bear;
    And often for each other flows
    The sympathizing tear.
  4. When we asunder part,
    It gives us inward pain;
    But we shall still be joined in heart,
    And hope to meet again.

Horse sense

If only I had an ounce

Crafting is really not my thing. I own a glue gun so that repairs can be done. It never fails that at some point in using the glue gun I burn myself. Part of the reason is simply not having the peripheral vision to see where the other dots of glue landed in comparison to the one that I want to use for adherence. Bother, I tell myself. Why am I fixing this broken thing anyhow? Maybe I should just toss it and buy a new item.

This morning the horse had his date with the ferrier for the second time. Trimming hooves could be a dangerous job without the aid of a good bridle and hitching post. Thank goodness my husband had enough sense to put in a hitching post after the pony was here for a year or more. It makes any chore with a horse safer. Coco still stepped on my daughter’s toe when she took him back to his stomping grounds. He has such good aim when he wants to express his opinion.

Common sense is hard to find these days. The advertisements for the covid-19 all talk about washing hands. It’s as if people have forgotten how or something. I remember the fall the H1N1 was here. My whole family fought the illness and I did not. I was washing my hands so frequently with the canning season the virus never had a chance to stick.

So it’s time to pick up the soap bottle once again. Hopefully with our ready access to hot running water and the soap dispenser more of my family will be spared from the illness that has spread throughout the rest of the world faster than fire.

That’s perhaps the part of the virus that people misinterpret from the media. While there are other illnesses like the influenza that cause havoc on society, it is the fast vast far reaching spread that is the hype here. Common sense says that people aught to stay home some. But very few know how to live more than 3 days without a grocery store.

I remember hearing my grandparents say something about someone and then following up with “that fellow does not have an ounce of horse sense.” It took me a number of years to understand what they meant. My dad use to break horses for people. So the only thing that I had to relate the statement to was those times when I go to go along or ride along with him.

Having horse sense to me at the time meant that I should stay where the horse could see me. Being in the “blind spot” near the rear or behind the horse was dangerous. I never saw anyone get kicked, but I understood. Horse sense meant staying in the safe zone around the large beasts.

Now that my peripheral vision is disappearing, slowly but surely I have to set up new safe zones for myself. Puttling rails on all the decks and steps was key to staying upright. Having an open area of the yard to throw frisbee and launch the chuck-it balls is important also. I do not enjoy nursing the scrape wounds on my hands from being too close to a tree trunk.

Life at the hitching post is a thing of the past. Today there are still some that enjoy the comradeship and conversation that happens here. It does not take long in the company of those there to find out who the nearest relatives are. And not long into our first visit, we discovered the connection. Around these parts there’s usually some fifth cousin married to another’s third. So there, you have it, we’re related.

Maybe people that own horses have more in common than just owning a horse or two?

I am not a horse person. Neither am I a crafter. But I do crochet. So that usually helps me find a connection with someone who either knits, or sews, or has another hobby like painting. My cousin is a painter. We enjoy talking “shop” during out visits.

So whether you are in the line at the grocery store or on the phone with an aunt, find the connection. Use a little horse sense and keep your distance for the blind spots. And wash your hands a few more seconds longer. Stay in the safe zone everyone!

Without

That would be “as opposed to with or not having”

The definition of without can be defined as a preposition, an adverb, or a conjunction. In this situation it is a preposition and used as “not having the benefit of…”. In my life today on my walk through the neighborhood near my daughter’s home, it was walking without the benefit of a real true helping canine. Ahhh, but the tears flow fast.

There are many different types of grief, many different kinds of losses. Mourning takes all kinds of shapes, sizes, and emotions. But this is not going to be one of those “this is what happened and now I’m going to shave my head” type of writings. Nor is it the “I will just go eat worms” of the century story.

Today at church our pastor shared the second sermon in his series on the life of Job. He also gave an excellent children’s message on bad-awful-terrible-days. I go to church mostly for the children’s sermon. It’s the most relatable. Sorry, pastor. We did not leave town immediately, as my husband’s folks needed a few little errands done. They experienced one of those everything-went-wrong-mornings that pastor talked about in the children’s sermon. After figuring out the keyless entry to a vehicle and completing those little “save the day” items, we headed home to pick up the dog and go for lunch with our daughter number two and her hubby, our son-in-law number two. That is no indication of our feelings for them. We love them both the same!

After our lunch together the father daughter duo went to work on their plumbing project and I made the awful decision to go for a walk with the ditzy doodle Honey. It might have been a good decision if there were not so many factors that play into our unhealthy relationship.

We made it back to the house in one piece. And my anxiety attack did not land me any worse off than previous panic experiences. But here is the gist of it all.

A few years ago, I had a rescue dog I named Seymour. For some reason, when I put the harness on him to do the guide dog work, He just GOT IT. As a person going blind, there were moments that we did a few minutes of training and Seymour amazed me. His ability to grasp what I needed was just there. Then gradually, he got lazy in the house and because of his 95 pound stature , he would take up half the floor space. I began tripping over him in the house. He worked for me outside the front door, but slept like a baby inside the house.

And rather than making the changes to accommodate him and his “allergy” inducing episodes with family or friends, we decided to re-home him. He is happy in his new family.

But today on my walk with Honey, I realized once again exactly how gifted Seymour was in guiding me. Recently, my husband saw some statistics that stated even if the bloodline of the dog has a propensity for guide dog characteristics only about a quarter to a third of the dogs actually turn out to possess the qualities of an excellent guide dog. I did not know these statistics when I decided to trade in one dog and get another.

Seymour was trained as hunting dog, and probably failed the test. He was either abandoned or a run away. In his rescue days, he spent time healing from a trap wound on his foreleg. When he entered our family, we enjoyed the fact that the puppy was all out of him. Then, the days came for him to “guide” me.

His knack for learning about trees, hitches, the names of places, people, objects and such was uncanny. But more than his ability, there was the feeling of security that he gave me. Now that I have Honey, I can really grasp what I lost by giving him away.

Going blind, and being blind are two totally different things. But going blind is being blind in a new way all along the road. Some days I am more aware of my losses than other days. Some times it hits me literally (like when I run into the doorframe or something). And some days, like today it hits me in the gut. Hard.

Honey just does not have it in her to serve my need for security or stability. When she sees things or observes changes, her first reaction is “there is someone that I want to go jump on and that should love me because I love them!” Seymour gave me signals that were completely different. Honey gives me anxiety with changes. I never know if she is going to jump, bolt, or love with doggy exuberance. Seymour would have pushed me towards the person rather than drag me. This relationship is so different. And so hard to explain.

There are things about having a “helping” canine that you can never really explain to other people. These feelings of security and anxiety reduction cannot be fully expressed in one writing. If you have ever had a relationship with a dog like this, once it is gone, feelings of grief and loss arrive at moments least expected.

Today, was one of those days.

Honey might be sweet. But she’s a little sticky once she gets all over your fingers. After awhile, I just want to wash my hands of the whole affair. I want to trade her back for Seymour. But that’s not an option.

Just like it seems our family could only have one really good family dog, and his name was Furbie. Well, that’s a whole different story of a little Shih Tzu crossed Border Terrier that even had a toy he named “the worst Christmas ever.” That dog was one of a kind. Seymour was one of a kind, too. And Honey is absolutely not any thing like Seymour.

The anxiety over my eyesight was not given any relief by having anxiety over my hyper doodle. If anyone wants a dog that loves frisbee and flying fast on all four paws, you can have her. While she has all the best qualities of a really good dog, she just has not picked up on the “service” thing yet. And if she does not “GET IT” soon, she might just get replaced.

(Here’s the deal: I can only afford to go through so many sets of underwear, before I’ll have to get some fancy ones to catch the results of all this adrenalin dump that she is creating in my life. And, I really do not want to just sit around all the time, when I once knew what it meant to have a dog named Seymour that could help me for REAL!)

So there.

I said it.

I’ll try not to cry myself to sleep tonight because I miss my dog.

Or maybe, I will anyway.

Get out the new tissue box. I might be using the whole stack up tonight.

Best of the worst

Or is it the worst of the best?

Some days, my memories take me on journeys. This week while recollecting the days of my second daughter’s arrival into the world, I remembered myself stuck in a lazy boy chair.

There are a lot of memories I could have focused on. The joys, the deep brown eyes of my newborn. The inquisitive nearly two older sister that drove me crazy. The sadness I had to overcome as I put the crying infant into her crib and listened to her settle herself to sleep. I loved rocking my babies, and this one would not have it. So many thoughts tumble through my mind. But the memory that stuck for me was the day I was settled into the lazy boy to nurse the infant and read to the toddler. They both fell asleep. Yay!

Then I realized that part of my cesarean recovery was the inability to use my stomach muscles to kick the chair back down. Now what? And what if I had to go to the bathroom suddenly? The moment is frozen in my brain. The stricken feeling of not being able to move. My two daughters had just become a strap over my legs, arms and stomach. I had never been strong enough to kick the lazy boy down with just my legs anyway. Figure it out-I am a tiny person. So there I say. In the days of no cell phone, no remote next to me, and a sinking sun. They would eventually wake up, right?

That’s my best of the worst of the memories from the days following my second daughter’s entrance to the world. It’s not much to complain about. There are other semi-awful memories. It is no wonder I struggle from mild claustrophobia. Part of me still believes that my mother use to hold me down to get me to sleep. (Though I did have stitches twice and optic surgery once all under the age of five-so I was probably strapped down then.)

Celebrating birthdays of adult children is different than the fancy cakes and family gatherings of yesteryear. As an adult myself, I took to calling my parents on my birthday instead of them calling me. It’s something of a change when leaving home and parents don’t do the grand parade for you anymore. I simply call and state that I am ready for my greeting. There have been a few times the greeting is not given. Oh, well. I am still happy to celebrate another one and be able to call my dad or my mom.

Today was a sad day for some in the family. My sister-in-law will never get a warm hug from her sister this side of Heaven. The week of gathering and mourning is not the end of grief. It will come unexpectedly and often catch us off guard. How do we capture the best of our memories when the worst has finally arrived? Lots of conversation will end in tears and sometimes even in laughter. It is the age old circle of life. Others have done this also.

I think especially of my Grandma Millie. She saw all but one of her sisters buried before it was her time. And she was the oldest and held them all as wee-little ones. Oh, the precious memories of holding babies. So for us, we look forward to two new babies in the family this year. And our church is holding a baby shower for the newest infant in our midst. Babies do help us think futuristically.

And so for the best of the best!

My little 19 month old granddaughter is picking up new words daily. The funniest thing she says right now is telling me the Winnie the Pooh characters. There’s “Pooh, and Owl, and Llelele.” That would be interpreted piglet! This morning with our subzero weather, she wanted to know if I was “cold?” And was “cocoa (the horse) cold?” And the “kitens?” And “Honey (the dog)?” It was almost a conversations. Next thing you know, she’ll be asking me about some family recipe or something!

Okay, I know, life does not march by quite that fast. But knowing that moments of yesteryear have escaped our grasp, today becomes pretty special.

While the COLD wants to snap our noses off, I will keep trying to think of the best of the best, Leaving the worst of the worst for it’s own moment in time.

Here’s a sample of what the fingers have been busy doing lately. I purchased a basket that I just had to have, and then tried to make one like it. Now, I know that I can do this, there will probably be more. I was not super pleased about the color that I had to practice with, but it is still functional!

Finding the giggle bug

And the lost kitten and the spectacles

This week we have been busy finding things. Not that all were lost, some were, some were not and some just played hide-and-seek for awhile until someone clever found them out. Here is the whole story.

We recently picked five kittens from a neighbor that lived five miles to the west of us. It was just enough distance with a creek bed between that the blood line is quite different than ours. Pleasantly colorful, the kittens are a wonderful contrast to the boring black that had plagued us for the past five to eight years. Having a different color scheme we though might help me enjoy their presence a bit more.

So a few days later when one, and then two of the kittens disappeared, I was pretty sad. How could a raccoon or fox be that quick to discover my new found little treasures? This country life was getting me down. The following morning, my husband did a little investigating and found one of the the errant kittens in the deck box where all the food was kept. (The first lost one is no where to be found.). Was I ever happy to see my four little kittens all paired up at their food dishes. Yay! We will put them in a crate at night until they refuse to fit in there.

One Kitten found.

Once a week I get up before the sun does and join my husband on his route to the big city. He drops me off to play with my granddaughter all day, and them continues on his drudgery to work all day. This week she had a routine doctor well check-up and had to have a shot for her vaccination schedule. Needless to say her giggle-bug got lost in the event and she shed a few tears. And frustrating as it is sometimes, she also had a slight reaction to the shot that required a Benadryl and Tylenol dosage. So while her mama was trying to contact the doctor and fix some lunch, we went out to the swing for a moment of distraction.

While at the swing, my silly noodles got ahold of me. The leaves are beginning to drop ever so little bit and I found some rather large leaves at out feet on the lawn. So I began talking about UP and DOWN and telling the leaves to “get back up on the tree where they belong.” My little grand-daughter thought that was the funniest thing ever. She laughed so hard that she coughed up some of the phlegm that she has had from a little runny nose cold with her teething. It was the kind of laugh that can never be repeated, nor captured accurately. A day later, she was still picking up leaves and throwing them up to watch them fall down.

One giggle-bug found.

Over the weekend my husband also finally got after the tall lawn with the lawn mower. It had been al least two weeks or more. And with the weather that we have had, mowing grass seems to be the biggest past time this area has found to do consistently. After the mowing and a late afternoon motorcycle ride to the local state park, he discovered his glasses to be missing.

We overturned all the pillows, the blankets, the sofa cushions and were still not successful in finding the lost. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday passed with no sign of the runaways. What could have become of the spectacles. I felt bad for not helping him look for them, and bearded myself for not being more thoughtful. Sometimes not looking is the best way to find such things.

So this morning after the dog danced and pranced to take a walk with me, I obliged her. The weather has taken a drier turn, and the early morning moisture was more bearable for my lungs. Off we trotted to take a mile to “smell the roses” that she finds so appealing. When we arrived back home, the driveway greeted me with a glimmer of reflecting sun. The sun’s reflection is not supposed to be there, I thought. I should be brave and see what shiny thing that is. In a few more steps, my courage was rewarded with a pair of scuffed up eye glasses. Bother, I’m not sure they will be so pleasant to wear, I thought, these things have been run over a couple times. But they straightened up some when I picked them up.

One pair of eyeglasses found.

Yay! What a successful or eventful week we have had just doing ordinary things. Perhaps the week is going to shape up into being a pretty good memory. The giggle bug was probably the best find though.

I thought of the widow her found her little coin and asked all of her neighbors to celebrate with her. The parable comes form a period of time that we do not really grasp well in out understand of the culture. The last coin from her ornate veil and dowry from her wedding week, does not seem like a treasure that needed sharing with all of her friends. But if we consider that it was the last piece of pleasant memory from years earlier, and a something that would keep her from being a beggar, maybe the knowledge will help us comprehend her joy at the found object. None of the things that we found this week had that much significance to our lives. But I thought that perhaps my neighbors would still enjoy rejoicing with me over our found things.

Thanks for letting me share with you. I hope you will find something new along with your find of something lost in the next week or so. And remember to grasp the joy that comes with that find for a long enough time to add it to your gratitude list!

Bridge to nowhere

The cradle falls down

“Rock a bye baby in the tree top

“When the wind blows

“The cradle will rock

“When the bough breas

“The cradle will vall

“who will catch baby and all?”

Years ago we built a fort for out girls. This picture was taken at the tail end of construction. Gavin and his dad were the braun. The girls are seen near and on the steps. The dog was our first, Labrador Lady. This fort was a rectangular shaped deck over a sandbox. The stairs were an antique slide stair made of cast iron. The hand rail was curved beautifully. Off from one corner we placed a slide down the opposite side from the ladder. The girls spent hours dragging stuffed animals, Barbies, and dolls up and down that fort. We even braved the night air once and slept up there. No comforter could bring us enough cushion or comfort. Poor daddy did not sleep at all running to the house for more blankets to keep us warm. Good memories.

When we moved to this place, the fort had to come with. The legs were chopped off and the sand box was recreated as a stand alone. The fort itself stood a few years until the wood began to crack.

When the girls were in junior high we put a “deck” up in the trees. The best of the boards from the fort were used. The platform was a project that the girls and their father put together. The same stairs were used and the many days spent up on the viewing deck were lots of fun. We even had school up there. If you can count going to read out on the fort with a pillow and blanket: school.

Finding pictures of those days is difficult. We had a no shoe policy and there weren’t many days when the old camera made it up there too.

The high school days seem long ago now as both girls are married. This spring with all of the rain, many of the split trunk trees could not handle all of the wells of water in their hollows. So the old fort fell down one night in another one of those windy rain storms.

We picked up the pieces… rather dad picked up the pieces and gathered the salvageable deck boards and the think tank session was in full motion.

One day, I got the grand scheme that we really ought to be adding more lanscape areas to our yard so that there is less mowing. Permanent visual art flower gardens would benefit me in my visual needs and perhaps this was the time to begin. What to do with that old deck wood?

How about a bridge?

I think my husband though I had gone mad. We don’t even have any rough, rocky, or hilly areas. But there are plenty of rocks to add to a landscape theme and perhaps a bridge to nowhere was just the thing to do with these old pieces of the first fort, turned viewing deck and now ….

We began with an idea and watched a few video how to’s and soon I was painting away.

The arched base was made from the floowbeams of the old deck. They were 2×12’s and perfect for the job.

The top of the arch is actually the pice that is cut from the bottom and lifted up to the top and planked together by screws and lag bots. The corner of the base bottom board is cut off to continue the arch. The three base pieces are held together with some 2×4’s in between. And soon we were putting the deck boards on.

The floor of the bridege was complete and then it was time to design the handrails. We went in for coffee and some more Google search time. Seeing the deck boards used for the third time and thinking about there age was good ruminating over memories. The boards were first used nearly 20 years ago. We never sealed the green treat lumber, yet here they are sanded and ready for another 20 years maybe. This time the paint will help them weather their use.

Once we figured out our design for the hand rails, the four uprights and the top rail could be placed. Happily the 1×3 we used for the handrail did not snap when we attached it. It was just thin enough to take the arch that we wanted it to have.

And finally it was time for those trying triangles again. Getting the angles on the ends of each board was a bit of trial and error, but thank goodness my husband is an engineer. One measurement and four boards later, each piece was placed and “eyeballed” into position!

Here is the finished project!

Of course, we aren’t really finished yet. The landscape idea is in process. Creating a dry river bed isn’t exactly what my husband wants, but having another mosquito haven is not my idea, so we will see what the landscaped area turns out like down the calendar aways.

So many days I needed to look at some item to remind me just where I have come from and where I am going. My eyesight will play tricks on me out in the yard, but if there is something to aim for, I can get moving again if I feel lost.

This bridge really symbolizes much. From the youth of our parenting days, to the years of homeschooling, and now the bridge to a future. We take each day, each step, one at a time. Days turn into years so quickly. Each decision we make to put another step forward leads us to a future that we may not always know the outcome. Yet we build things, we create memories, we make bridges.

Whether it is with people, places, or things where we came from might just be the bridge that gets us to where we are going….

From animation to art

When disability changes personality

One night last week, my mind found a hundred different sunset silhouettes to keep me occupied through the sleep hours. Wonderment filled me as I woke, had I ever seen any of these pieces in real life? One in particular was a tree swing, only the rope’s obvious use and frayed strings were more evident. Another was a scene from the Disney movie Bambi that is actually a fire in the back ground. One was the two doves on the tree branch, but with more leafage than the one below. And there are the fishing scenes on the lake, and the moored boats next to docks. While three hours looking for any silouettes on the internet was an empty handed fishing trip. The only ones in my dreams that sort of matched were these two. Each one in my vision did not have an ovious sunlight, the sun being off to the side of the actual object of focus. Sunset is implied rather than targeted.

And why would such art images fill my mind so much? I am unable to dissolve their possibilities in my mind. Each one just keeps recurring at some point in the day. What does this thought process mean to me? And why a sunset? I am not a prophet, I don’t think. Are these prophetic in their nature or a symbol of the past?

More revelation has come to me over the days since these images first appeared to me. I see so much more than the setting sun or a tree swing resting from its flight. The waters of the lake have no ripples from the jet-skies, or the breeze. Each item seems quiet, tranquil, peaceful.

At rest.

Years ago, my brother and I would write little plays and act out various performances. Remembrances of woodbox stages, and piano bench theatre fill my memory. We dressed up as pirates, or Indians and cowboys, or maybe Cleopatra, it does not really matter. Imagination was lord and we were King and Queen of the drama world in our home. From those days I learned to mime, to pretend, and to fib my way through our play day.

Throughout my childhood, from my early temper tantrum fits into my teen years, I learned the power of dramatic and emotional hand gestures. These seemed quite effective in the whole of conversation, speech, and relating an incident to an audience.

Until…

One day as a teenager, during my “waitress” years, I learned a valuable less about the tragedy of lost peripheral vision and hand gesturing. My father (who is the carrier for my families genetic retinal degeneration) was telling some story as he often did. While dramatizing his tale to a table of men, he used his hand to gesture some scene. Unbeknownst to him, I was coming in with his refill of coffee. I had tried to get his attention, but everyone knows how difficult it is to get my dad to quit talking. Interruption is not much of an option. Needless to say… the coffee got spilled.

Those were the days of my growing up. Many instances like that very one happened frequently. The challenge was to wait long enough to get noticed. Or to have the patience to wait out the telling. Or to simply never serve. Some chose the later. Gradually my father leaned not to wave his arms about while fabricating his stories. Sadly, it took me a few years to lean this dismembering of my arms and hands from conversation.

And not too recently, a plate full of desert was easily sprung to the floor when because of my lack of sight, my hands reached out for the item only to flip it through the air. Videos of food flying, cakes tipping to the floor, or cups leaping through the air are not funny to me. They are a part of the surprise of visual impairment. Sitting perfectly statue is the best response to the possible “Boo!” Not really so fun anymore.

One example that still frustrates me is my children’s club teaching years. Much of what one does while teaching children is achieving compliance so that the teacher can do her job. One particular student of mine never learned to stay in his designated space. I was actually okay if he did not sit, but the wandering into my space caused acciden after accident. My frustration reached its boiling point each week at lesson. Every night, I would go home in tears because Nathan would get “HIT” every week either by my arm, hand, foot, or another appendage. Could he never learn that I could not see him coming towards my path? I cried every week, because this child made teaching club miserable for me. My eyesight made teaching kids impossible.

Finally we made it to the end of the year and I quit teaching kids club at church. I was heart broken to end on such a sour note. I loved teaching, but children have this nasty ability to move faster than my eyes. Peripheral vision is key to dealing with “needy” children who cannot comprehend another might have some disability that clashes with theirs. I was so sad.

Ending my teaching due to my eyesight.

Yep, It was just one more thing my eyes had taken away from me. Grief set in for some time. I still don’t want to attend a Vacation Bible School program or any child focused event. It hurts. I still want to teach. But it is not possible. These encounters with moving targets still continue. I can’t even read children’s books very well because the text is so unpredictable on the pages. It’s all over the place. Up, then down, then in the middle, and sometimes on the edges. Uff. It’s just too much to feel lost all the time.

So RP changes personalities. Where does the teacher in me go?

What happens to the dramatic, funny girl that once loved to tell a story and get laughs from the room?

One time someone told me, I acted like I did not want to be in a particular place all the time. Actually, that’s not it at all. When someone hands me a cellphone with an image to look at, I simply do not see the gesture. My focus has been on their face, and unless the words indicate their actions… It is not within my perpheral anymore. People in a room throw conversation around like a hot potato. It has become difficult to follow who is talking and where the ping pong ball is now. There are times it gets so tiring, I just don’t try to follow it.

So interjecting appropriate conversation has become difficult when there are more than two or three people in a group.

But just becuase I miss a lot of conversation cues, does not mean I miss every facial gesture. Sometimes I am completely passed up when a “picture” on said phone is shown. This does hurt. Not intentionally, but it does. Sometimes, I see someone roll eyes in my direction at another person because I missed something. Yes, that hurts too.

So I have changed.

From animation to still art form, I have become the unused swing hanging from the tree branch. While everyone else around me is playing baseball, or croquet in the lawn, I miss the whole thing. The ball wizzes right by my head and I haven’t seen a thing. I am lost. And no one has found me.

I am blind, but now I see. I see that I cannot be the same animated dramatic energetic self I once was. Moving too quicly through any space could be hazardous to my health. Having a friend that can’t even sit still for a conversation is not my cup of tea. I had a friend like that once. She was so busy bodied that I would get a head ache trying to figure out where she was all the time.

Now I see that being lost all the time might just be part of who I am. Getting my dog to figure out that she has to be my eyes is the task at hand. If she becomes a new tripping hazard….

Well, the blind fold might have to go up for a day to teach her that she is IT! When I am around people that do not see me as blind becuase there is no blindfold, well, life turns into a still life form in a piece of art. I become a silhouette sitting on the dock while others are gazing at a glorious sunset. The suns rays are not my friend, so I am looking at the silhouettes. The sky has a beautiful orange and pink glow. I hope I don’t forget it.

Painting grey skies yellow

Psalm 107:29-30. “He calms the storms, So that all is still, They they are glad because all is quiet; So He guides them to their desired haven.”

“Come see the sky with me.”

The night is fresh with the moisture from the recent rain. The storm clouds pass. Look at the back side of the formations. We are sure that the worst of the rain is further to the east. The sun dips below the horizon. The glow of the clouds leaves an ominous light upon everything. A yellow sky bids us farewell, “good night, sleep tight.” We watch the gray humid forms. There is no longer a shadow’s direction. Everything seems painted yellow. No sun rays focused on any particular world. The shadows all but disappear. The greenhouse seems to glow in the aftermath of sundown.

who had painted our grey world yellow?

“Come see the sky with me.”

Just one month ago the flower bed was bathed in purple. The irises that remind me so much of my Grandma Millie lasted for nearly ten days. This year no wolf-like winds huffed and puffed to blow the flower house down. I wish I could capture them better. Perhaps someday I can bring their essence into my dull winter days with a larger picture or the perfect purple shawl.

Today this sane haven of beauty brought me a plethora of tiger lilies. These are planted in memory of Gavin’s Grandma Edna. She use to have a huge gathering of lilies just south of the garage on the home place. Now there are too many machining tools there. The bright orange blossoms made me so happy this year. It’s the first year we have had thus many blooms since the garden bed was planted.

“Come see the sky with me.”

While I was pulling the vigorous grass and creeping weeds from the bed, one of last years kittens decided to play with me. I did not care for the scratch I recurved. So Cotton got a scolding and he left my flower patch. The playful kittens remind me of all the kitten knick-knacks that my other grandmother had witting around. It seemed she had shadow boxes on every wall. I often wonder if she ever had a favorite,or were they just an nderfoot nuisance. Life on the acreage would not be the same without them.

And so these things still storm-less, are painted and colored by hues that no one can reproduce. Pictures do not dare to display the depth of the beauty real life has to offer. take some time to watch the world today. See what colors the sun paints on your evening sky. Discover the flowers as you pass by.

Come see the sky with me

Let me paint the orange anew

Let’s imagine a world mauve and blue

Come see the sky with me

Can we reproduce that purple hue?

Can we paint the grey into greensand, the red a yellow too?

Come see the sky with me

Let’s watch the sun set down

The horizon with lots of lavender round

Come see the sky with me

The moon is orange and brown

The rainbow is upside down

Come see the sky with me

Have you ever seen such a glorious pink?

Have you ever had so much time to think?

Come see the sky with me.

-written by Yvonne Annette