The Awe in Autumn

Easy to see the awe in autumn,
As trees dab color on the horizon,
As we decorate with the vibrant mum,
As we open curtains to welcome the sun.

Easy to hear the awe in autumn
As we stroll through leaves that crinkle,
As backyard roasting fires crackle,
As falling nuts make sounds that startle.

Easy to smell the awe in autumn
As stews and soups simmer in pots,
As cinnamon makes steaming drinks pop,
As wood smoke swirls from chimney tops.

Easy to taste the awe in autumn
As we savor caramel on apples- nothing finer,
As we sample pumpkin treats in every diner,
As we sip a marvelous tea or cider.

Easy to feel the awe in autumn
As pets scoot in for a warmer snuggle,
As the patchwork quilt gets doubled,
As the world gets ready to cuddle.img_6770

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Happiness Is…

Can I be happy enduring an overload of gray skies, buckets of rain and squishy sod?

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude” Shelley Riutta

You mean, life can be good even though I’ve yet to take that Caribbean cruise?

If I decide to book that, my clothes/accessories won’t sport the coveted labels. Will that spoil my fun?

My savings account isn’t growing very fast. Worrying doesn’t seem to help. Does that mean I am a failure?

And it is such an aggravation that chocolate malts don’t taste like they used to. In frustration I have tossed half full cups of mediocre ones.

Taking a bait and switch approach helps a heap. During the rainy days I have read some intriguing novels, letting myself indulge in fiction.

It has been said that the most pleasure from a vacation comes from the planning and anticipation rather than the destination itself. Some truth in that.

What fun I’ve had on infrequent shopping trips (I’d rather be reading) finding a ‘perfect’ dress or blouse or pair of shoes at a pittance.

Might be a good habit to put $$ saved into that account, but they go for gas in my search of the best chocolate ice cream.

The greatest contentment, though, has come from the company of kindred spirits as I strive to become a genuine soul whose company is worth having. Life is too unpredictable to base happiness on what we have or where we go. Better to bank on becoming one who can weather the storms with hope and appreciation for those silver linings others help us see. Enjoying now on our journey to become more rather than to acquire more may be a major key to happiness.

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Rednecks Unite!

Our beloved gem of a hamlet, in the midst of God’s verdant landscape with a spectacular river running through it, has acquired a new credential in the Midwest. We are tenth on the list of most redneck towns in Missouri.

This claim to fame is based on such stats as the numbers of pick- up trucks, gun owners, tobacco chewers and Walmarts. Since we don’t have one of those, yet, it must be the easy accessibility of the four nearby.

I very well could have become a typical redneck gal since I lived the first four years of my life right here. We moved to the city, though, when I started school, so I am a transplant. I still, however, love pick-ups; I have owned 4. I can hit a target with a deer rifle, though I can’t bring myself to hit a deer except with a vehicle. Can’t say I have stuffed chew behind my lower lip, but I did learn the value of spare spit cups and I have sampled a few Copenhagen kisses.

That makes me think of love and marriage, this being June, still the most popular month for weddings according to some sources, though April and October are gaining on it.

Istanbul, Turkey, and Las Vegas, Nevada, are the top two world-wide wedding destinations. Doniphan deserves spot #3 as the place to go for the perfect redneck ceremony.

We have a choice of venues for tailgate altars- gravel bars and river banks and rocky pastures abound. We have God’s greenery and wood for campfires, so no need to overspend on flowers and candles. No need, either, for planning too far in advance. Ice down the drinks in lots of coolers doing double-duty as seating, crank up some Toby Keith and Hank Williams, Jr. and the camo and denim-clad wedding party and guests will gather quickly. Pinterest surely offers decor ideas for red solo cups if there is a need for a splash of color.

If Mother Nature is smiling on the festivities, it will rain so everyone can go muddin’ at the end of the “I do, today’s” and “Don’t bet on it’s.”

Mother Nature has not been kind to local outfitters and other businesses lately. No campers or floaters anywhere. Maybe there is hope yet to lure tourists to our area with this official redneck destination designation. Can’t beat ’em? Might as well join ’em!

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Digging in the Dirt

Gardening benefits the gardener nutritionally, since those who make the time and have the energy and patience to grow food tend to eat that food. Mother Nature’s buffet offers no junk. To know a gardener who sells from their outdoor aisles or shares the excess from crowded rows benefits the rest of us. The less time from harvest possible and the least distance from the dirt feasible, the greater the health benefits for all of us.

Did you know, though, that a gardener benefits in ways unrelated to all those vitamins and minerals in that outdoor buffet? Being out in the fresh air and sunshine is a definite mood lifter. Communing with the Creator with hands in the dirt clears the mind, if only briefly, of worries and fears, thus offering a medication-free option to manage depression. Gardening can be a great stress-reducer.

There are obvious physical benefits from all that digging, bending, stretching and lifting, helping to increase or maintain strength and agility. Movement is a motivator and benefits the body as well as the brain.

Even so, reading that those who garden regularly have a reduced risk of developing dementia


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Sleepless in Missouri

You know those nights. You wrestle with a raw dose of reality, your own or someone else’s, or imagine ways to create world peace, or wonder how long you can listen to the squeak of the ceiling fan. Once in a while a restless bedtime will lead to an all-nighter. For me that is a sleepless fest of mindless trips to the fridge and half-hearted attempts to read another chapter, all interrupted by Google quests and Facebook checks.

One of those nights I decided to follow some sisterly advice and check out a dating site specifically for seniors, which turned out to be a rather loosely-defined term. I gave it a whirl: posted a current photo; streamlined the most exciting parts of my life for the bio; and created a lighthearted description of the sort of fella that might interest me.

Somehow I misrepresented myself. Regardless of the decade that produced those males who responded, a majority had the particular stipulation for a motorcycle momma. They preferred one who was an intellectual/philosophical fit and looked like Melania Trump.

For starters, I am shorter than she is. Secondly, I wouldn’t climb on the back of a motorcycle driven by a fella I had known for years cause the smooth, steady, suave skills of his younger days were long gone. So, there is no way I would put life and limb in jeopardy riding with an unfamiliar soul. Heck, I can’t even successfully steer a scooter myself!

Then there is the universal joy of karaoke that seems to be shared by most mature singles. There are super karaoke performers out there. I tried it, and my performance critique varies based on the condition of those listening, if you get my drift.

Not that motorcycles and music won’t be in my future. I don’t like to rule anything out, EXCEPT continuing membership on a dating site. Leaving that up to fate and the weather has worked out just fine.

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This appeared first in my Close to Home column in The Prospect-News, the local weekly paper in Doniphan.MO.

Grass…It needs cut and sometimes watered. It is relegated to yards bordered by fences, alleys, sidewalks and curbs. The insects that roam in it are well-mannered and manageable; the grass is their domain and they seldom venture far from it.

City insects, that is. These rural bugs- bigger and faster and without proper confines- take some getting used to. And they have friends like snakes and turtles and mice and possums that share their borderless kingdom. Mercy! I had to adapt to random abrupt appearances of all kinds of critters when I moved from the city.

Adapting was noisy. Laughter from brother and father at my screams and scrambles thankfully fell on few ears in our rural neighborhood. After a year of critter conditioning I was back in concrete and asphalt habitats for college.

I returned to this “gem in verdure set” to begin my journey in the classroom and learn a new school song and lots of tidbits about education that college professors failed to address. My teaching path that first year did not lead me to one classroom that I called mine; it meandered down this hallway and that to borrow others’ spaces and even across a lot to another building for one tiny class of seven I conducted in a foyer.

Those students clambered up majestic steps through magnificent double doors with time to explore the lofty heights and make friends with the pigeons before I arrived. When we settled down to business in the vestibule, there were seven desks backed against one wall, a chalkboard hastily secured to the facing wall, with just enough space for me in between. As this was the pre- historic era before our schools had air conditioning, it was necessary to keep the huge fan on that was positioned above those magnificent doors.

The eighth grade language arts kids – 6 boys and one girl- cramped in that tiny space probably did not mind that the fan drowned out some of my grammar instruction. They certainly did not mind that it drew in hordes of grasshoppers, easy to catch and within easy toss to teacher’s back. That first year I did not yet have those eyes in the back of my head; survival of the fittest meant I would acquire them in time.

My training in teacher demeanor did not cover coping with students and insects within the same walls at the same time. More screams and scrsmbles from me, laughter from those students. Thank goodness there were only 7.

You can call me an overcomer.

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Longevity Tip

“Laughter is the sun that drives winter away from the human face.” Victor Hugo

Few of us would debate the idea that laughter is good for us, even if the sources behind it might not be considered so. 94-year-old Norman Lear, the brilliance behind once edgy TV programs like All in the Family, freely offers additional longevity tips when asked.

Lear proposed that two words could join laughter as the secret of his long life: over and next.

“When something is over, it’s over…And we are on to next’…And if there were a hammock in the middle between ‘over’ and ‘next’ that would be what is meant by living in the moment.”

Who wants to waste the now stewing over the past or fretting over the future? The precious joyful moments in our present can be so easily overlooked if we aren’t gently rocking in the hammocks of our minds making the effort to notice them.

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Virginia Satir

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