Dream On

blogIMG_4420.jpgDo you ever awaken in the morning after a good night’s sleep and wonder where your head has been?

Often I think mine’s been camping out in Strangeland.  I’m judging that by the dreams I have.

I’m one of those people who almost always remembers the dreams my subconscious journeys to. And dreams can be such weird occurrences.

They can be nonsensical. They can be downright scary. And they can be so vivid that you are startled out of sleep and think what happened in your dream actually occurred in reality.

Sometimes I can figure out those nightly journeys.  Although they seem odd and don’t make sense in real life, I often can piece together why certain aspects appeared in the dream. Like the time I dreamed about two dogs growling and snarling at one another and launching into a bona fide vicious dog fight.

Why did my brain take me there? Because right before I climbed into my bed, my husband had been watching a history documentary on TV about World War 1 and the introduction of aerial combat. When fighting was conducted in the air via machine gunners in airplanes it was called dog fighting.

Even though I really wasn’t watching the documentary, the images and narration somehow got imbedded in my mind. And when I nodded off to dreamland, my brain called up the images and words but scrambled it into a literal picture of two dogs fighting. A dog fight.

When I recall dreams I’ve experienced, I usually can pin point why seemingly unrelated events or items show up in my nightly adventures. They’re somehow related to something I’ve read, seen, or talked about.

Greek biographer and essayist Plutarch once wrote, “All men whilst they are awake are in one common world: but each of them, when he is asleep, is in a world of his own.”

You can say that again! My own world while asleep can be downright crazy.

The dreams that truly cause me to shake my head in perplexity are visions that assemble together so many random things, you just can’t figure out where or from what they came.

I had one of those scratch-your-head-and-wonder-what-in-the-world dreams the other night. Or I should say the other morning as I dreamed this wild and wacky vision right before I awakened for the day.

Here’s my recall consisting of strange and random images.

First I was watching the beginning of a fox hunt complete with bugle call…in the sand.  People on horses took off galloping in white sand and then a motorcycle joined them zooming off in sandy terrain nowhere near a beach. 

They all rode off towards the horizon which in actuality was a huge stage curtain and they rode through it. As I watched it all I was thinking I should get a picture of this!

Then I realized I stood in the balcony of a gigantic church building watching the fox hunt unfold but it was a stage production with all of the ‘hunters,’ even the motorcycle rider, attired in biblical robes and headgear. I then purchased a large paperback book that told the story being portrayed in the production and also decided to buy one for my oldest sister.

Wandering around this cavernous building searching for a restroom, I saw a childhood friend who was also looking for the same thing. What we found was something I won’t describe here and we decided to forgo using it. (Wise choice!)

Suddenly, an old man approached us and said he was a security guard. My friend began talking to him about music (she is not now or has ever been a musician). She pulled out a ‘guitar’ made from a deer’s head  and antlers (I’m not making this up!!) and started strumming it. The old man joined in with some kind of guitar himself.

We continued wandering and came across crafts for sale. They were unlike anything I had ever seen. My friend tried on a handmade dress which I told her looked horrible and she shouldn’t buy it.  (Apparently, I’m brutally honest in my dreams!)

Next we examined extremely gaudy necklaces and a lady tried to convince me to purchase one. I declined, so she handed me a truly dreadful-looking and poorly-made stuffed pink bear and told me to buy it.

“No thank you,” I said, “my granddaughter has too many stuffed animals as it is” and I was thinking to myself, “Besides that is hideous.”

From there, my friend and I were walking through a field to leave the place when we were accused of stealing some of the crafts. We had to step into a small outbuilding where we showed them we didn’t have the goods.

While trying to convince them we weren’t thieves, a lady who I recognized came in and proceeded to choose an incredibly ugly ring and pay $100 for it. But when she searched her wallet for the money, she had none.

So instead she signed a piece of paper with what she bought and her name and left a dubious ‘medication’ (it had something to do with infertility and this lady is WAY beyond needing such a thing) in a portion cup there in lieu of cash.

Did you get the drift of this crazy dream? Neither did I. Coming up to full consciousness, I opened my eyes and my first thought was “Wow, that is the wackiest dream I think I’ve ever had!”

Because it was. Wacky. Weird. Wild. A wayward whopper of a tale. My brain must have been working over-time to produce that one.

It’s going to take me awhile to figure this dream out. In the meantime, I’ll just dream on. Apparently, it keeps my daytime hours sane. Ar least I hope so.

“Dreaming permits each and every one of us to be quietly and safely insane every night of our lives.” ~William Dement

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Button, button, who’s got the button?

blogIMG_5179The other day I finally accomplished a chore that’s been waiting for me – mending clothes. Does anyone do that anymore? I often wonder if some of the younger generations even know how to sew on missing buttons, repair a ripped seam, or patch a tear. 

I can usually mend clothing pretty easily thanks to my mother, who not only knew how to repair clothes but also was adept at making them by sewing, crocheting, and knitting. She taught me well and I learned from her…well, at least the mending part.

But I admit that it’s not one of my favorite household chores, so I often stack waiting-to-be-mended clothes in a pile until I get weary of them sitting on our clothes dryer.

Then I open my laundry room cupboard and lift out my old and well-worn sewing chest off the shelf and search for a needle and matching thread to accomplish the repair job.

So I gathered up the pile of clothes and set to work mending. Papa ripped a pair of shorts. And as I patched them up, I got to thinking. Oh, if only a tattered and torn sense of trust could be as easily restored as those shorts.

There. Not as good as new, but yet still wearable.

On to the next item. Torn apart seam in one of Papa’s favorite new T-shirts acquired on one of our recent trips and a wide open seam in one of my long-sleeved shirts.

If only a heart torn in two by sadness could be so easily sewn back together again. As good as new, totally fixed, just like those ripped seams.

And finally, one of Papa’s dress shirts with a missing button. Luckily, he found it when it came loose so it could easily be sewn back on. Again totally mended, as good as new.

If only the damaged soul we inflict on others with our wrongful words and deeds could also be so easily restored.

We search for restoration from our pain and our sorrows and sometimes a solution seems so difficult if not impossible to find. Kind of like the button-less shirt when no matching button can be located.

And that reminds me of the button jar. It was a big gallon-sized glass jar with a screw-on lid that had been passed down from my Grandma to my Mom. It was filled to the brim with buttons. All colors. All sizes. Buttons galore. You surely could find just the button you needed in that big ol’ jar.

Never one to waste anything having lived during the depression years, my grandmother and then my mother saved all buttons from old, worn out clothing that had no more use in them. The buttons were then placed in that giant jar because they certainly could be used again. Over and over.

Alas, the button jar is long gone. All I have left are a few buttons from that old jar that I liked or thought were unique. I placed them in an old, small canning jar that came from my parents’ home. That little jar sits on a shelf in my laundry room as decoration basically.

But I have my own assortment of extra buttons I’ve accumulated over 40+ years of marriage. And I sort through them when a button is lost from an article of clothing to see if I can find one that will match.

While thinking about all of those buttons, a childhood game simply entitled “Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?” also comes to my mind.

We kiddos sat in a circle with our hands pressed together palms inward in a praying fashion and held out in front of us. One child was ‘It’ and held a button in his hands held together in the same way as ours.

“It” would go around the inside of the circle pretending to deposit the button in everyone’s hands but would actually drop the button in one chosen person’s pressed together hands. Then “It” would say, “Button, button, who’s got the button?”

We would take turns trying to guess who actually possessed the mystery button and whoever ascertained the button holder correctly then became “It” for the next round.

A simple game with a simple object in simpler times.  Back then as a child, we didn’t even imagine that someday we would experience sadness, or loss, or hurtful actions.  We just enjoyed each day as it came just like we enjoyed that old game.

What if we tried to do the same as adults? What if we sewed up all our disappointments, despairs, distresses, and discomforts and buttoned them all shut? Once and for all. Then we handed our buttoned up hurts over to the only One that can restore our peace, mend our broken hearts, and repair our damaged souls.

When I sat down to do some family mending, I never imagined it would give me writing inspiration. Bits and pieces of this post came to me while I sewed and repaired the damaged goods.

Often times pouring words out of my mind and heart onto the computer screen mends the broken parts inside of me.  It feels just like it did as a child receiving that special button placed secretly into my pressed together hands – those hands that resemble praying.

The button is called happiness. Joy. Contentment. Peace of mind. And even forgiveness. And I do believe it’s a gift from a good Father above.

Button, button, who’s got the button? I know who has the perfect button to mend what’s broken. 

“Writing is like sewing together what I call these ‘buttons,’ these bits and pieces.” ~ Sandra Cisneros

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Pollyanna in an Incredible Hulk World

blogIMG_4613It’s everywhere. Anger. You sign on to your social media account – whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever – and anger spews forth from people’s posts or websites or organization pages.

Turn on the television or talk radio – you get the same thing. Angry words fly all over the air waves. Venture out in public and you see people walking around with chips on their shoulders and grimaces on their faces.

It seems no one is allowed to express their opinions anymore without someone shouting at you that you’re wrong.  And you’re an idiot to boot or you’re subjected to some other name calling, often with foul language attached.

How did we get this way? Why can’t we just agree to disagree when someone else doesn’t espouse our viewpoint? Or beliefs? Or choice of political party?

It’s difficult to be a Pollyanna in an Incredible Hulk world.

“Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage not weakness. ~ Unknown

I’ve always striven to treat those I meet with kindness, whether I actually am introduced to them or just pass them in the aisles at Wal-mart or some other public place. 

I try to be considerate of others and let someone else go first in line or say excuse me nicely if I’m in someone’s way or if I want to get past where they are.

I tend to notice other’s needs and don’t race to get into the closest parking spot in the lot if another driver has been waiting to attain it.

I’m not revealing all of this to get a pat on the back. It’s just the way I was raised. My parents not only taught me good manners, but they also instilled in me to think of others before myself.

And because of that I suppose I come across like Pollyanna – that do-gooder in fiction.

Being approachable and considerate must radiate from me. So much so that I’ve often asked my family if there’s a sign around my neck that says, “Go ahead. Talk to me, even though you don’t know me at all. I will be nice to you.”

For much of my life, complete strangers have attempted to initiate conversations with me. And they revealed way more than I wanted to know. But yet, I would listen and be kind and compassionate to them.

But that was back before this road rage gone viral permeated almost all walks of life.

If everyday occurrences are to be believed in the last few years, I’d bet my bottom dollar that my Pollyanna tendencies put me in the minority.  Rudeness and anger seem to rule the day.

I’ve been practically knocked over by people rushing past me to beat me to the strawberries at the supermarket. I’ve been cut off by carts in the check-out line.

I’ve had doors slam shut on me instead of being held open when my arms are full of packages. Drivers in parking lots can’t seem to wait until I get my car door shut before they go tearing out of the parking spot next to me or flying into it.

I try my best not to get angry over situations like those, but it’s not easy.

It seems like a dog eat dog world and I’m just the kibble.

But I still have hope. I still try my hardest to treat others the way I want to be treated even when they’re extremely discourteous to me. You know, the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you shall have others do unto you” as found in the Bible, Matthew 7:12.

Papa and I recently returned from a little vacation to New England. I’m happy to say I added three more states to my “been there, done that” list and now my grand total is only 10 more to go and I will have traveled to all 50 of our United States.

While on our trip, I decided no matter how inconsiderate folks were to me, I would not frown, or growl, or complain. Instead I opted to be the exception to the rudeness that seems to rule the world lately and see if it made a difference at all.

“Be nice to strangers. Be nice even when it doesn’t matter.” ~ Sam Altman

Since we did a lot of traveling by car from one of our desired destinations to another, we often stopped at rest stops along the way. Not a place where people take the time to be friendly. Travelers pull their vehicles over and get in and get out to do their business or grab a picnic lunch on the grounds.

Not much interaction there with others. And most of the time, I noticed people just walked with their heads down not even paying any attention to anyone nearby.

It would be oh, so easy to follow their examples. But I chose not to. When walking from and to my car I passed by other folks and if they happened to look up, I looked them in the eye and smiled. Just smiled. Even if they had a frown on their faces or a look of consternation.

Astonishingly enough, most of those I crossed paths with smiled back! Occasionally, someone even responded with a nod or a greeting of hello, good morning (or afternoon), or even “it’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?” All because I smiled at them.

I distinctly remember one older gentleman who seemed surprised when I smiled at him, because he hesitated just a second, but then his mouth turned up just as I passed him by.

Since we traveled close to a couple thousand miles and visited several sightseeing spots, we crossed paths with lots of people. Our hotel offered breakfasts and while sitting in the same area eating with other guests, not everyone was friendly. Many just kept to themselves, stared at the television while eating, and didn’t even look at other people.

That makes me wonder if they’re really anti-social, or they just don’t want bothered, or they too are tired of all the impolite and bad-mannered people out there in the world.

And of course, we did not escape those kind either on our vacation. There were still rude and obnoxious folks, but they made the considerate and friendly ones stand out in my mind.

At one of our hotel stays, the desk clerk was not friendly at all. She seemed to have a surly disposition or else she really hated her job. Either way, she’s definitely in the wrong business. But I thought I would just smile at her anyway because maybe she was just having a bad day. Didn’t get a smile back though.

At another hotel, we found the complete opposite. The young man who checked us in was friendly and gracious. He thanked us for staying at that hotel and when he noticed the baseball cap with the word Army embroidered on it on my husband’s head, he promptly smiled and said, “Thank you, sir, for your service!”

Since it was around the dinner hour when we checked in, this reception clerk also asked us if we needed to find a restaurant for dinner and recommended two places nearby, even giving us directions to the establishments. We enjoyed a delicious meal at one of those places and our waiter there also was very courteous and friendly.

At another restaurant in a different state, we again were blessed with a congenial and excellent waitress who responded to our smiles and friendliness by asking my husband if he served in the military (he didn’t have his hat on this time). When he said yes, she scooped up the check and said she’d be right back. She gave us a 15% discount on our dinner when we didn’t even ask for it. 

On one of our excursions, we traveled by cog railway to the top of the highest mountain in New England – Mount Washington, New Hampshire at 6,288 feet high and infamous for erratic weather. At the summit, it was extremely windy and biting cold that day.  I felt sorry for folks who didn’t dress appropriately, especially those with small children and babies, as I shivered in my jeans and hooded sweatshirt.

A young family of a different culture than mine stood behind us in line as we waited to board the train back down the mountain. They spoke to one another and to their small daughter in their native language. The mother cradled an infant in her arms and desperately tried to keep him covered with a thin blanket and protected from the cold wind whipping around us.

I smiled at her. She smiled back.

Her husband stood on one side of her trying to block the wind but it wasn’t completely protecting her and the baby. I offered to help her a bit. “I’ll stand beside you to try to block the wind on this side for you and the baby.” Both her husband and she smiled at me and she responded, “Oh, thank you.”

As I did so, I noticed the blanket was open at the baby’s feet and the cold air was blowing in at the opening making him squirm. I asked her if I could tuck the blanket up under the baby’s feet and she nodded yes, and again said, “Thank you so much!”

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop

Kindness. It begets kindness just as surely as anger instills more anger.

That person you encounter who isn’t like you? That person that doesn’t have the same viewpoint you do? That person who is from a different culture? A different faith? A different political party? A different lifestyle?

That person is still a human being. That person deserves to be treated with kindness.  Even if that person is ill-mannered, discourteous, and downright offensive. Give ‘em a smile. It may be the only kindness anyone has ever shown to the rude one. Don’t return anger for anger.

See what happens.

“Your own soul is nourished when you are kind; it is destroyed when you are cruel.” ~ King Solomon

 ©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Life’s twists

blogIMG_0765.jpgHave you ever heard or seen something that just goes beyond what you call normal? Often times, we shake our heads and say, “Man, that’s twisted.”

This week’s photo challenge theme is exactly that – twisted.

I really haven’t had time to grab my camera and go out to capture a shot that would fit the challenge, so I resorted to my photo files. As I searched for a picture, the image of twisted that sprung forth in my mind was of tornadoes – sometimes called twisters.

I do have a bit of experience with twisters and have witnessed firsthand the devastation they cause. But I’ve never had an opportunity to capture one with my camera. And you know what? For that I’m grateful. I’d rather be safely ensconced in an inside walk-in closet than be sticking my camera out at a funnel-shaped onslaught of destruction.

In their wake, tornadoes leave a lot of twisted debris. The force of a twister is unreal, bending metal, stripping trees bare of their bark, picking up and smashing houses to smithereens.  As I was considering that, a photo I’d taken last summer came to my mind. (The photo above)

On a day trip, we ventured northward and visited Kinzua Bridge State Park located in the Kinzua Gorge. Years ago a tornado slammed into a railroad viaduct there, which was once the longest and highest such structure in the world, and destroyed a good portion of it. Its twisted metal skeleton still remains several feet below the surviving towers of the structure which have been turned into a sky walk.

But twisted things aren’t always the result of something horrific. Sometimes twisted items are things of beauty like this exquisite and huge glass sculpture fashioned by artist Dale Chihuly. One long winter season a few years ago, Papa and I visited our nearby city conservatory and botanical garden just to get a glimpse of color and this sculpture hung in the entrance hall of the conservatory.

blogDSCN0573 (2).jpgSo when it comes to twisted things, it’s all in your perspective, isn’t it? Just like life. Are you going to go through these days on earth you’ve been given with a negative attitude every time life doesn’t turn out quite like you planned (that could be really twisted) or will you embrace each day of life with an upbeat spin no matter what happens?

It may take some tweaking here and there, but I’m choosing to twist my attitude. Go for the optimistic. Be encouraging not critical. It’s up to me to decide which way I turn. And on that note, maybe I’ll just go fire up some oldies tunes and if I’m lucky, I’ll hear Chubby Checker singing “C’mon baby, let’s do the twist.”

You’re never too old to twist and see where it takes you.

“Life has many twists and turns and sometimes what looks like a very bad day can just be clearing the way for good things to come.” ~ J. Kim Wright

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A simple day

blogIMG_4024.jpgA simple life. Sometimes that’s what we yearn for, isn’t it?

In our 40 years of marriage, life often has been anything but simple for Papa and me. Changes and issues crop up that seem to prevent a simple lifestyle, but that’s just life in this 21st century.

One of the perks of being semi-retired is that Papa and I can plan little trips away from home here and there. Simple getaways providing a bit of escape from the hum-drum of life and its foibles.

This past month, we took an extended weekend trip south where our first-born daughter and son-in-law live. With middle daughter and granddaughter ensconced in the back seat of our vehicle, we left home on a Thursday morning to travel to a place we wanted to visit first, then would head to first-born daughter’s home the next day for the remainder of our trip. 

Celebrating our daughter’s birthday was on the agenda and just spending time together was the priority. Simple, right?

Our simple trip didn’t start out simply.  We managed to leave exactly at the time we decided upon – no easy feat with a toddler in tow –  but as we were tooling down the highway, middle gal mentioned that the back of the vehicle was shaking. Matter of fact, granddaughter’s car seat was even vibrating.

About a week prior to our trip, Papa purchased new tires for said vehicle. And just the day before we left, he had taken it in for a wheel alignment. Something obviously was very wrong.

So we turned around and headed back to the tire shop where the service had been performed. An hour and a half later, we were on the road again. Back to our simple trip.

Well, traveling with a potty-trained three-year-old isn’t that simple. Our trip consisted of numerous potty break stops, lunch and some time at the playground, more potty breaks, snack breaks, and then a lengthy dinner stop.

Finally, we arrived at our destination – a trip that should have taken seven or eight hours ended up being 12 hours long. It was late, we were all tired and relieved to check into our hotel (where we had a reservation) and collapse into bed.

Papa walked inside the hotel and up to the registration desk to check in while the girls and I waited in the car for him to bring us the luggage trolley. We waited and waited. And waited. Finally the entrance doors whooshed open and Papa stepped out.

Apparently, our reserved room had already been given to someone else, so the night clerk searched for another room to accommodate us and this seemed to take way too long. By this point, a bit of stress was beginning to raise its ugly head. This simple trip was undeniably becoming anything but simple.

After breakfast the next morning, we loaded up again and traveled the few miles to our sightseeing stop – a Shaker village from years gone by.

Something peaceful descended upon me the minute we stepped out of our SUV. Few cars sat in the parking lot. The scenery was lovely. Verdant green countryside enveloped in quietness. Simplicity. At last.

We spent the day learning more about the Shakers and their simple way of life as we walked down a tranquil limestone road. We learned about their beliefs, their music (we even practiced a Shaker ‘dance’ with the help of our tour guide), their farming methods, and their self-sustaining way of life.

We walked through the village noting several of the buildings being restored and entering those that were open for viewing. Little One enjoyed the animals, especially the baby piglets. We ate a simple lunch we had packed consisting of peanut butter sandwiches and fruit, listening to bird chatter and not much else.

A light rain fell for a brief period but didn’t hinder our tour. We climbed aboard for a wagon ride led by two beautiful draft horses and heard more about the Shaker life style as we toured the area and learned the Shakers had owned about 6000 acres of land there.

And as we settled ourselves back into our vehicle to drive to first-born’s after a simple day of peace and tranquility, this song echoed in my mind.

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
 ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d, 
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight, 
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right. ~ Lyrics by Joseph Brackett 

A simple visit to a simple place. It caused me to turn ’round right for the rest of our trip.

Simplicity. You can find it, if you try. 

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Drawing the line

blogIMG_2718.jpgI’m one of those people who do it. Read between the lines. Sometimes I may be off in my assessment by doing so, but often I’m right on the mark.

But you know what? I’d rather you just give it to me straight so I don’t have to analyze what you’ve said or even attempt to read between the lines.

Be upfront. Honest. To use an old 60’s motto, tell it like it is.

Because if you’re not straightforward, your lines often are just that – lines.

And when I can’t believe what you say, I’d rather not even try.

When I was a child, we often chanted an old saying, “Liar, liar, pants on fire. Nose as long as a telephone wire.”

I guess we were referencing Pinocchio whose nose kept growing longer and longer every time he told a lie. So if your nose was as long as a telephone wire, wow, did you ever tell a whopper!

Lying is one thing I really can’t tolerate. Lying breaks any assemblance of trust you may have had in another person and shreds it to nothing. It leaves a devastating sense of betrayal in its wake.

I think back a few years to witnessing someone tell bold face lies without any regrets or remorse. How can anyone with a conscience at all do that? It boggles my mind.

And that’s when I chose to draw my own lines – lines in the sand, so to speak – because those lines of deception infuriated me and it took every ounce of self-control I had not to retaliate.  I haven’t nor will I cross over the line with a person who practices such duplicity. 

I won’t treat the deceiver badly because I know as a believer in Christ, I’m to live my life exhibiting the fruit of the spirit. If you’re not familiar with these ‘fruits,’ you can find them in The Bible in the book of Galatians, Chapter 5, verses 22-23. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I can show all of those gracious attributes to the one who feeds my loved ones or me lines of deceit by not reacting in anger or revenge, but in order to protect myself from losing self-control, I also must  draw the line.

Cut off communication. Go my own way. Discontinue having conversations with the person who chooses to deceive and spew lies.

It’s called setting boundaries. Dividing lines. Creating space between two people where there really needs to be space.

As a believer, I know I must practice self-control and that’s why I draw that imaginary line in the sand between myself and someone who causes distress to someone I care about or me. That line, that boundary, protects us from the one who has no self-control but attempts to manipulate others and distort the truth.

It doesn’t mean I can’t forgive the transgression. But I don’t have to continue a relationship with that person.

Drawing that line and setting a healthy and godly boundary demonstrates that I’m not giving the offending person the opportunity to besiege me with more ill treatment.  It’s not wrong to set boundaries with someone who causes harm and destruction when reconciliation isn’t possible.

The poet Robert Frost once wrote: “The middle of the road is where the white line is – and that’s the worst place to drive.”

I find that to be true. I don’t enjoy drawing the line but I’ve found it necessary to determine where I stand.  Choosing the middle of the road won’t prevent the one who spreads deceit and hurtfulness from continuing to damage relationships.  I don’t have to read between the lines to see that.

“Sometimes you have to, as I say, build bridges where you can – but draw lines where you must.” ~ Fred Thompson

This week’s photo challenge theme was lines

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Lit up by litter

blogIMG_3991.jpgI apologize ahead of time, but if you clicked into Mama’s Empty Nest today for some encouraging words, I’m not sure you will find them. Instead, please bear with me while I go on a bit of a rant. And yes, I am remembering all too well my post from Tuesday about giving others grace, but I still have to get this out of my system.

Mama’s Empty Nest is situated along a country road.  Yes, we are rural – living a few miles outside of our nearest towns – but we’re not isolated. The two-lane state road that weaves past our house is well-traveled with local traffic and leads to an interchange for the four-lane highway taking one to the city.

Living in the country though we still have some ills of more populated areas. One of those is litter. Just the other day we were following an SUV on our byway when not only paper was flung out the vehicle window but a black plastic garbage bag as well. I was shocked at such blatant actions. 

And litter is a problem in our own yard, which is expansive – about 2.4 acres – and fronts the road.  I can’t tell you how many times we have had to pick up someone else’s trash thrown into our yard.

You name it, it’s been there. Beer cans and bottles, pop (soda) bottles, plastic water bottles, fast food wrappers and cups, plastic bags, all kinds of paper (once even a doctor’s instructions for a patient), cardboard boxes, you get the idea.

It’s annoying and Papa resorts to asking why people can be such pigs when he has to climb off his lawn tractor while mowing the yard to pick up other’s refuse. Don’t they have trash cans at home?

Earlier this week, before the rain, we had a glorious, sunshine-filled, warm spring day. Little One (my three-year-old granddaughter) and I enjoyed the afternoon outside soaking up the sun, examining the leaf buds on the trees, filling up the bird feeder, picking daffodils, and checking out the newly planted strawberry plants. 

I talked to her about spring and how the season changes things while we inspected the blueberry and raspberry bushes to see if there were signs of revitalization there.

Before we went back inside for a drink of cool water, we decided to walk to the mailbox and retrieve the mail and the day’s newspaper. On the way, I spied trash in our yard again. And then I had to deliver a little lesson to Little One about not throwing trash anywhere but the trash receptacle, even if some people don’t adhere to that lesson.

I’m human – far from perfect – and I have to confess it angered me to find garbage in our yard but I found it even more infuriating when I picked up the discarded item and saw what it was.

An empty cigarette box. But not just any cigarette package. No…it was from ‘organic’ cigarettes. Really? You purchase organic cigarettes because somehow they are healthier? Give me a break. Even the package had a disclaimer saying “No additives in our tobacco does NOT make a safer cigarette.”

If I’m stepping on some of my reader’s toes because you have succumbed to the habit of smoking, I understand you might get a little cross with me. But let me explain something. I abhor smoking. I detest it. I’m one of those people who literally…Can. Not. Stand. It.

If I’m around cigarette smoke, my nasal passages revolt, my sinuses go haywire, my throat starts to constrict, and I feel like I cannot breathe. And that leads to something akin to a panic attack. I must escape to find some fresh, clean air.

That’s why I rejoiced when restaurants and other public places became smoke-free.

I have a difficult time understanding why folks continue (or start) lighting up with all the information we now know about the health hazards of cigarette smoking.  

If you want to cause yourself and your family harm from doing so, it’s your choice. It is your business. I get that. Just please don’t do it in my presence for my health’s sake and stop throwing your discarded cigarette packages in my yard.

If I sound harsh, I’m sorry but unless you have a physical aversion to cigarette smoke like I do, you probably don’t understand.

And here’s the ironic kicker.  In addition to the trash in our yard being an organic cigarette package, I found the information printed on the back of the package satirical:


“RESPECT FOR THE EARTH. Reducing Waste. Our dedicated manufacturing facility is a 100% zero-waste-to-landfill operation, recycling and repurposing all waste – absolutely nothing ends up in a landfill.”

Apparently the company producing these things attempts to be “green.” But here’s the thing – your packages end up in my yard. Obviously, the end user of your product doesn’t respect the earth while throwing it out the car window.

Nor is the person respecting my little piece of earth.

“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…” ~ Otis Redding (who wrote the lyrics to Respect)

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com


Laundry lesson

blogIMG_3986Do you ever just get bone weary of doing the same task over and over again? Day in, day out. Week in, week out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.

If you’re anything like me, you do. Often times, I just need some change in my life instead of the same old, same old, you know?

I thought about this while doing the laundry last week. Laundry is never finished, is it? It’s the same chore over and over again.

For over 40 years, the Papa of this empty nest has worn white T-shirts. As newly-marrieds, my hubby wore those white tees under his Army fatigues.

After his Army days and for the next couple of decades, he continued wearing white tees under his crisply starched dress shirts worn with a business suit. And even though his business days are over, he still wears those white cotton tees.

So for 40 years, they land in our laundry hamper the way he puts them In there – inside out. Always. No matter how many times I’ve admonished asked him to please put them in right side out, he manages to forget.

And come laundry day, there they are – those inside out tee shirts.

What’s the big deal, you ask? I’ve spent a good bit of time in those 40 years of doing laundry removing those tees from the dryer and folding them. But before I can accomplish that task, I must make them right, turning the inside where it belongs – inside. Every time. Every T-shirt.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that Papa can and sometimes does do his laundry himself so he must be the turner of tees then. But more often than not, this chore falls upon me.

Last week was no exception. There was a large load of whites to be laundered. And the bulk of it consisted of those white T-shirts….which I had to turn right side out again.

You know how people often say God works in mysterious ways? Well, often times he works in the everyday ordinary ways for this gal. He gets my attention in ways others may find peculiar and gives me food for thought with the most commonplace events.  

He takes the mundane and turns it into the extraordinary in my thoughts. And almost always teaches me a lesson I needed to learn.

What does all of this have to do with laundering and correctly folding my husband’s white T-shirts?

While I was righting those inside out shirts again for the millionth time, I started getting annoyed with my husband. When he strips off those shirts and dunks them in the clothes hamper, why are they always inside out? Why can’t he remember to turn them back the right way so I don’t have to or at least take them off so they’re not inside out?

Why? Why? Why? How many times must I do this task of making them right? Over and over again.

And that’s when the Lord stopped me in my raving rant.  Halted me in my tracks of tirade.

How many times has the Lord righted our wrongs? Does He look down upon us humans and think, “There they go again. Committing the same transgressions! How many times must I forgive them when they turn their lives inside out? How many times must I set them on the right path – again?”

I know He doesn’t lose His patience with us. I know He doesn’t get annoyed with us even though we are not faithful to follow Him. Even though He must listen to us whine about the same old issues in our prayers.

How many times does He forgive our transgressions and faults and calls them forgiven once and for all because of what Jesus did on the cross for us? He continues to forgive us when we fall yet again and commit another wrong. 

How many times has He shown me grace…and mercy…and love? He never grows tired of me and my same old issues but lovingly corrects me and sets me straight.

Again and again. Day in, day out. Month in, month out. Year in, year out.

And shouldn’t I offer this same grace to my husband? Again and again. Over and over. Even while righting the inside out.

“To forgive for the moment is not difficult. But to go on forgiving, to forgive the same offense every time it recurs to the memory – there’s the tussle.” ~ C.S. Lewis

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com




Life’s piano

blogIMG_3977.jpgToday is  the last day of the 3 Day, 3 Quote Challenge. I enjoyed participating and adding a little tweak to the challenge by using my own photographs to accompany each quote and adding another related quote at the end of each post.

Thank you again to my blogging friend Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul who sent me the original challenge.

I nominate any of you fellow bloggers out there to accept the challenge and pass it on.

Happy Quoting!

“Life is like a piano. What you get out of it depends on how you play it.” ~ Tom Lehrer

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Wednesday with words


I’m taking a little deviation from the norm on this Wednesday and posting a photo with words instead of my usual Wordless Wednesday. I agreed to the 3 Day 3 Quote Challenge extended to me by my blogging buddy Yamina at Faith/Love/Soul. Thank you again, Yamina, for nominating me.

If you missed my post yesterday, click here to read more. In order to fulfill the rules of this challenge, I’d like to nominate any of my blogging friends willing to take up the gauntlet of posting three quotes for three days in a row. You don’t have to use photos like I did, just post quotes if you’d like.

Marrying my love for quotes with my photography hobby has been fun and more challenging for me.

I captured this photo near Asheville, North Carolina one summer in the early evening. I remember how well the sun’s rays radiated through the clouds in this photo and I knew it was a perfect fit for the Corrie Ten Boom quote.

Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian whose family hid Jews in their closet during World War 2 helping them escape from the terror of the Holocaust, spoke volumes about her faith in this quote. 

She knew firsthand how to let God’s promises overcome her problems. Both she and and her sister were imprisoned by the Nazis in a concentration camp for their actions, and at least one of her family members died in prison if I recall correctly.

“God never made a promise that was too good to be true.”  ~ Dwight L. Moody

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com