Can I Draw?

I remember sitting in art class as a young girl and being petrified. There was usually an assignment to draw some object and I’d look around me and the other kids seemed to be drawing something that resembled the object that stood atop a desk or table. I looked at my scribbles and my insides would jumble up. Then I’d just give up and draw whatever suited me. Usually I would draw a little cartoon my bff and I drew on all our secret notes. We called it a pulb. I can’t even remember how to draw it now. It’s not in my head anymore. I would make twenty of them on the paper.

Ultimately I had to hand in something that resembled what the teacher asked for. Many students art were placed on the walls lining the hallways. I can’t recall mine being there ever.

This may not have bothered some kids. They would draw the best flower or cow or building they could and hand it in and be done with it. I was driven mad by inability to create a nice drawing. I wanted to be able to draw and I wanted it to look just like the cow or the flower that was the model for our assignment.

The things I could draw when I was young were limited. I mentioned the pulb. And I drew tons of smiley faces. But when my fascination with horses bloomed I spent hours and hours drawing horses. Some I copied and even traced so I could get the feel of how to draw the neck or the head. Some of the drawings came out of my head. None were very good but it was my love for the horse and the time spent being in the moment of drawing it that seemed to be satisfying to me.

Another period of drawing came when I became enamored with houses. I loved to go into other people’s homes and see what their floorplans were like. I imagined Home floor plans when I looked at houses from the outside. I guessed where the rooms might be placed based on the where windows were . I perused floor plan magazines spending way too much time for a eleven year old going over every detail of the plan.

It was then I began to draw my own floor plans on graph paper. I made drawings of floor after floor. (I guess it’s not shock that later in life I wanted to be an architect. Something my grades and math skills never allowed but I did major in urban planning.).

I never tired of drawing floor plans and I also began a fascination with maps. (Again this plays into the urban planning major).

I spent all that time drawing and I never felt I was an artist. I wrote back then too. I wrote stories and poetry. I dreamed of authoring a book.

I was the dramatic poet in high school penning love poems to boyfriends. I took a pottery class in high school and loved it. I never made anything good but the wet clay between my fingers was so relaxing.

I never thought myself creative though. It was just stuff I did. When I was a kid you didn’t major in art. My dad wanted me to major in business in college because that’s how I would get a good job. Creative stuff wasn’t going to provide for me in the future.

I didn’t picture having a creative life even after I discovered photography when I was just 22. I fell in love. I loved the technical aspects of photography and the feeling of that camera and the power to capture an image I found beautiful or captivating. I have thousands upon thousands of photos.

I longed to dig deeper into the art. I took classes and was discouraged after one classmates portrait assignment blew mine away. In fact many of my fellow students had much better darkroom skills than I did. I stopped classes soon after but I never stopped taking photos.

It wasn’t until I became a member of a creative group online that I actually allowed myself to say I am a creative. I may not be earning money being creative but I am one. I’m a creative.

I have to say that I’m proud of much of my photography and sometimes the photos that resonate with me aren’t my best shots. They are the ones that convey some meaning to me. A memory, how I felt at that moment. For me each photo has my story in it.

I realized it’s the actual creating that is what matters to me more then the outcome. It’s how I feel doing it. Just walking around with the camera and looking at things differently bc I have that camera in my hand- that’s a feeling I love.

The same goes with writing. Most of the time my pieces that I wrote never turn out the way I thought they would. My writing takes on its own form as soon as I sit down to do it. That’s the part I love.

Creativity is about outcome yes – but it’s also so much about the process. At least for me it is. I think about Michelangelo on his back for so much time painting the Sistine Chapel. It had to be about the process. It took him like 7 years I think. And what about Picasso and Van Gogh? Their artistic styles were so different. Picasso’s work made no sense to many. But it did to him. And when people look at art they get their own feelings about it.

My photo of the Baltimore harbor (see below) means something to me that was personal bc I was there and moved by the scene before me. I know it was winter and I was in the Marriott hotel inside and I took the photos through the window. I had been there to watch a Christmas boat show – a getaway with my husband. See? I have a huge memory of that photo. To someone else looking at it it will mean something entirely different. How cool is that?

So in my creative evolution I’ve become more fluid. I’ve wanted to try more things. I took a glass cutting class where we made some cute trivets. I wanted to keep that up but it didn’t stick. I began painting furniture which I loved but had to give that up bc of my nerve damage to my arm.

I never thought that I wanted to try drawing bc of my past fears. But recently my husband and I found ourselves perusing the aisles of a Michaels craft store (where items are way too pricey btw). Aisle by aisle I became inspired. And then it happened -my husband found a book of animals to draw. The fire lit inside me and before I knew it I was in line with the book and sketch pad and pencils.

It turns out I love to draw. I ordered myself a beginner book. The animal one was a bit hard.

I often think what I’ve drawn stinks. Then I go back after a day or two and I look and think it’s not so bad. I don’t think I’ll ever draw well. In my dreams I want to draw like the artists that can take a photo and draw it and you can hardly tell the difference between the two. I think that’s a huge gift and I don’t think God gave me that one. So I have to tamp down my hopes some.

I kind of want to find some drawing style that is me. But right now it’s the process that I love. I like the time lost in the learning. In the past I’m not sure I would have been as patient. I would have given up. But now it the process that benefits me. It’s akin to some meditation. It’s the same thing as my photos and my writing. All outlets for me.

So can I draw? Yes. Can I draw well. Not really -but I might get better. It doesn’t really matter though does it ?

What to say- and a painful setback

I see spring making it’s way to me.  I feel the warm sun as the angles change. I think about sitting out in the heat. I hope for an active summer. I want that.

I have been very mute lately when it has come to my writing. I have been blocked. There has been so many things happening in my world that I have become so overwhelmed and the words that need to spill out won’t.

Some things I just cannot yet write about – they are just too personal. I have always hoped to be as authentic as I could be when it came to my writing but so many things I just cant speak about now. It seems that God continues to test my faith. Is it that? Or just random hard crap that is bound to happen in some part to most of us- maybe some of us get more challenges than others.  I don’t know but my faith remains steadfast though I do shake my fist sometimes and ask why?  I think God gets it.

Anyway so what do I say? Maybe today I will write about things I can write about and maybe at some point I will feel ready and able to write about some of the other stuff. And maybe the stuff I don’t write about that is blocking me will take a step aside to allow my words to flow.

There has been a shift somewhere deep inside me this last year or so.  Sometimes I wonder if it as a result of all the surgeries I have had- all that anesthesia to my brain. Maybe its the pain I deal with- but I feel different. Not horribly down, but down sometimes and flat other times and sometimes I feel like me but with shifted worldview. I even went to my doctor to see if I am depressed and according to the questionaire I am mildly depressed. So I was prescribed an anti-depressant. I don’t do well on Anti-d’s typically -but I was given one that is in a different class than other ones I have used. All of those were for anxiety and depression and none ever worked right or I got some nasty side effects from them.

Anyway I haven’t take the Anti-d yet. Thats because I am now taking some other new meds for pain. My pain has returned – this time likely because of a failed fat graft. I have learned they can fail- die- form cysts etc. This graft in particular was put in an area in my posterior axilla (back of armpit) where the hope was that the stem cells would work to rejuvenate radiation damaged tissue.  I felt that graft with my fingers right after surgery. I worried that it felt really big in there and it sat in an area where I have had quite a bit of pain. But for over three months I didn’t notice anything. The grafts under the scars were doing well and that graft in the axilla wasn’t a bother- until it was.

A few weeks ago, I had a weekend where I did so many things (because I was able to finally do things again)and I can’t tell what may have set off the fury under my arm. Unloading boxes into my new kitchen after our reno was completed, I did a little barn work, I did a little working out.  Whatever it was set off a fire if intense pain that seemed to worsen each day thereafter. I called my nerve surgeon and gave me prednisone in hopes that we could calm down whatever was acting up. Prednisone was an elixir like no other. But as soon as the pack was done back came the pain. Stabbing, burning, searing, aching- crappy pain. Oh and this time swelling too. It just wasn’t feeling right under my arm.

When my nerve surgeon saw me he ordered an ultrasound and blood work and he added antibiotics because of low grade fever and the swelling  – and he ordered an anti-inflammatory – but no prednisone.  I begged for prednisone – it helped so much. You can only have so much prednisone I am told. Nothing has worked as well as that prednisone pack – not even medical marijuana. But maybe I don’t take enough MJ-I don’t want to feel “high”. My surgeon suggested trying opiates if needed. I haven’t taken opiates in months and want to avoid them if possible. I just want prednisone- it is hard to believe it is more dangerous than opiates.

I am back to limited mobility once more. I see the plastic surgeon next week who did the actual grafting. He did confer with my nerve surgeon about my setback and did feel it likely is the graft causing the pain. He did say he can take it out- which means surgery of some sort.

So frustrating.

I keep thinking how can I make lemonade from this? Maybe tack on a facelift or some tweak while I am under? God knows I have aged a bazzilion years since this all has started. I deserve some tweak – fillers don’t cut it!  Well if nothing cosmetic can be done, perhaps he could add more grafts under the scars that were treated before- I was going to need another procedure anyway- but that involves liposuction and that has a longer recovery time. so we will see.

I am looking at this as a setback. Pop that graft out and hopefully that area that has been my most painful area since I began this pain crap will settle down so I can enjoy my summer.  I had been looking so forward to summer before this setback. I am trying to keep a positive attitude. Sometimes that isn’t so easy for me.

It is funny how pain can become such a focus when it is intense and when it is dialed back or gone you can so easily forget you had it. I have kept marching forward looking for things to ease my pain and understanding that those that try to help me are not always sure things will work- I am kind of a guinea pig I guess.  I just keep the faith.

So I sit here looking at the sun across my pastures and I wait for spring and the warmth. Our home renovation is finished with some minor tweaks here and there. I have an office and I have a kitchen that is so pretty I hate to soil it with cooking.  I remind myself that through hardships there are always blessings. I see them each day even if I don’t always acknowledge them. Lately, things have been hard for me and for my family.  I search for my words and for my authenticity. I will keep it as real as I can and maybe in time I will have more to say. Ill know what to say….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have we had enough?

The other day I sent my son to school without his cell phone.  This was as a result of some low grades and I had taken the phone away in hopes his grades would come back up so he could get the phone back. He had come into my room that morning and asked if he could take the phone to school and I refused him. Later I saw a text on my phone that he had sent me the day before “did you see the news about the school shooting?”  I had missed that text-and now I know why he came in to ask for his phone-it was the day after the Florida school shooting where 17 students and faculty lost their lives. Only when I saw that text did it occur to me that perhaps he had asked for the phone because maybe he was feeling anxious about attending school and having his phone would have made him feel safer to have a connection to me. Then I realized that it would make me feel better having a connection to him. Who would have thought we would be here as parents – fearful to send our kids to school. Wondering could it happen at our school?

I don’t always write about things that are controversial- but sometimes you just have to speak out.  And to be honest there doesn’t seem to be a need to make this topic controversial because I think we can all agree on the premise – that we are all sick of  kids and adults being shot dead in schools. This problem has become prolific.

Here is a list of recent school shootings in case you missed it.

Aren’t you frustrated at seeing the heartbroken faces of the families who lost a loved one? The faces of the murdered flow past our screens in rapid succession – maybe strangers to us but to someone they were the world.  And don’t we feel the pain? and don’t we become angry? I think most of us agree enough is enough.

But then what? It doesn’t seem our politicians can agree on what to do about the issue. They don’t want to become unpopular to their constituents or perhaps to the lobbies that fund them. So what happens? Nothing. They let  enough time go by and the masses demanding change thin out because they have life to get back to and the pressure on the politicians lessens and they go on without having done anything – then there is a next time and another.

And lets face it- nothing that is done will completely stop these horrible tragedies from happening but does that mean there shouldn’t be change?

And by this time you might be reading Gun Ban into my writing and if you are doing that you have read wrong. I don’t hate guns. I live in the country where many people own and use guns. I think guns are tools that need to be respected. But I do feel not everyone should have one.

The answer to this national epidemic doesn’t fall into one category. In my opinion, there needs to be a multifaceted approach to maybe begin to see the number of these school shootings and hopefully other mass shootings significantly decline. But we have to compromise and we have to admit the truth about a few key issues.

While I find that there is a need for gun reforms there is another pressing and urgent issue that must be addressed in this country and that is the failure of our mental health system. This especially applies to children and teens and young adults.  I keep hearing from politicians that it’s not a gun issue it is a mental health issue. Well politicians here’s the truth our crappy mental health system is the issue – it not hard to find story after story online of our fractured mental health system in the United States. The system is broken and must be fixed. The truth of this situation must be admitted by our national and state governments – only they can facilitate a fix to this crisis.  If it’s not a gun issue and is a mental health issue something better happen to begin improvements to a system that isn’t doing much to help the most broken among us. 

I say this with some experience circumventing the mental health system can be a nightmare.  Our family has been lucky – our needs weren’t huge. I wasn’t looking for a bed for a psychotic or homicidal child. I didn’t need to sit for hours and sometimes days in an ER only to be told  that there just weren’t any beds to admit their child.  Or told that their child didn’t meet the “criteria” for admittance to a residential facility or that the hospital that could take the teen that was suicidalcould only keep them for a few days -the family would need to find other facilities for their child- leaving them to step into the sea of beauracracy and limitation that is our mental health system .  We were lucky, We only had to try to find a psychiatrist and an therapist for my child. This seems easy enough but finding Psychiatrists wanting to treat adolescents under 18 are not easy to find and often the ones I found didn’t take our insurance. We paid the full hourly fee out-ot-pocket for years because we found someone very caring and open to working with our child. He left to go teach and we found another doc only to have him leave the practice shortly after we began to see him and  nobody stepped in to replace him.  I could go on with the stories but you get my drift – I think- i hope.  We are lucky that we could afford it- and we are blessed we haven’t been in the situations I mentioned above but I know of people who have been. Friends it’s a mess. 

The other day President Trump said that when people see dangerous behavior or strange behavior that they must report it. I know of families that did report that their children were becoming a danger to themselves or others only to be turned away. And worse –  At the ER the staff will often look at cases like these and if the parents ask for the child to be admitted- and refuse to take the child home – begging for someone to help – the staff at the hospital might call Child Protective Services or they might spell out what CPS might tell the family…you must take your child home – we have no bed- we cannot help – they don’t meet the criteria- they are too dangerous for XYZ facility – if you don’t take your child home then you will be charged with child abandonment and neglect. The very parents who are trying to get help for their child – the very ones who might feel fear of their raging teen but who still want ot help this child will be charged with neglect if they refuse to take this raging child home. Who is be neglectful really? It is our system.

So the very system that the President is asking people to depend on and report things to is broken and has turned away many people young and old that need attention.  I know the health care providers don’t want this but their hands are tied. This has to stop because those kids or adults who have ben turned away time after time will not be helped and we can expect to see more violence because of this. 

With the closing of many longer term intensive mental health care facilities in the latter half of the last century we see less beds and more doors closed for the mentally ill especially our youth.  Hospitals simply cannot meet the demands that are now placed upon them to handle severe mental health cases. And that leaves so many with no means of help.  What a tragedy.

So with the failure of our mental health system to meet the needs of the mentally ill population the people who need to be in a mental hospital will not be in one. So our gun laws will fail because the only way to fail the mental health part of a gun check to acquire a gun is to have been committed to a mental hospital.

Right now, under federal law, a person can be tallied in a database and barred from purchasing or possessing a firearm due to a mental illness under two conditions: if he is involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or if a court or government body declares him mentally incompetent (ref 1). So if you have a mental health issue but have not been committed or found incompetent you won’t be in that database that is searched for that red flag.  
So how does all this get fixed?  I venture to say it will never ever be full proof. But still things need to improve. Admitting to and then addressing the issues that plague our mental health system is a start. In the meantime let’s get some rational gun laws on the books. Personally, I do not like the high powered rifles and feel they should be banned but that is just my opinion and not a popular one- so in spirit compromise I thought of the following that could be put into place-

–Don’t sell guns of any type to anyone under the age of 21. Many states have a legal drinking age of 21 for a reason. Why not enforce the age 21 for gun purchases too?

–Don’t sell high powered weapons to anyone under the age of 30. Ok I know people are like What? That is not fair! Well if we take into consideration the maturation process of the brain – it has been studied a lot- and it’s proven that as we reach our latter 20’s our impulsivity declines. So perhaps by the latter 20’s a person may have better control over reactivity, better control over feelings and reasoning.  A more mature person might be inclined to use it for the right purposes. 

Maybe a young person with mental illness will be stopped from acting out in such a devestating way if we just make some effort to tighten up the laws to help protect the most precious among us.  

Now I am sure I will hear the argument  that if someone wants a gun they can find one…this might be true. But I think it might be safe to say that not all of these people who committed mass shootings would have obtained their guns illegally- some may have maybe all would have-but I doubt it  – but something has to give. If the gun laws change and nothing improves well then we know we are paddling up the wrong creek. And I won’t pontificate more on the other huge issue – our failing mental health system. Ive said enough here. 

One of the things that was spouted after this last shooting was that Cruz got his gun legally- but there are clearly gaps in the system that are causing problems. Lets be reasonable. I mentioned above I don’t want a gun ban. I dont hate guns. But I certainly do not feel that any of my children (I have two teen minors and one adult teen)should own a high powered rifle-they have no need for one -and I would venture to guess if you are reading this and you have kids you probably feel the same – ok so I know there are the outliers but I’m sure most of us don’t feel we need our 16 year old running around with an AR15. I am only trying to plead for some reasonable change in laws so we can better protect our schools and other public places – but especially our schools.

I have truly had enough. I read an article the other day about this last shooting in Florida and in the article a woman was interviewed while she and her husband were looking for their daughter. They had been reunited with their son but their daughter hadn’t turned up and wasn’t answering her cell phone. The mother knew the police often ask the kids in a lockdown situation to leave their backpacks in the school and to leave on foot. So she figured her daughter left the cellphone in her backpack. There was another rendevous point that was hard to get to – it was at a mall near the school I believe and her husband borrowed a bike to go to that mall to try to find her – but to no avail. That mom was fairly sure they would find her – she thought she must be with a friend or another parent…

…At the end of that piece was the news. The family confirmed later their daughter was among the 17 killed.

That shook me – my stomach fell- my heart jumped. I felt her hope in that interview. The hope only a parent can have when the alternative is too unthinkable. I can only imagine the horror and grief she felt when she found out her daughter was dead.

I have had enough. Haven’t you?

Am I that good? 

In the days and weeks since my mother in laws passing this past July there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t thought of her. I miss her so much and I feel a little lost at sea without her. 

I was a lucky one I got a great mother In law and she became a close friend. 

To know her was to love her. She was really special. When you spoke with her she made you feel so important. She never wanted the conversation to dwell on her. Though closer to her end time she did suffer and we did talk about her. We tried to make her feel nearly as good as she had made us feel over the years we knew her. 

Doris always made you feel like you were a great person.  In her eyes you were the best. If her son loved me then I was a rock star. 

Just knowing her made me feel like I wanted to be a better person. Not because she would judge you because you fell short but because she saw you in a way that maybe you had never seen in yourself. She was good and kind and you wanted to be good and kind. And just maybe bc such a good and kind person could see you in this way -just maybe you were those good things she thought you were -and you just walked a little differently -maybe more confidently maybe more happily or  you acted more kind to others. 

She herself was a quiet soul. She didn’t want a big deal to be made over her. We spent hours on the phone. She listened to my problems or just things I did since our  last conversation.  We talked about her life too. Our phone conversations are my most precious memory I have with her. Being together for our many family dinnners didn’t always allow for the intimate conversations that the phone brought. We were one on one. I was hers for that time. And she was mine. 

I was always awed at how far her love spread. She was close to cousins and nephews and nieces. And not once did she make you feel like you had to be anyone but yourself and never did she make me feel compared to anyone. Everyone in her life was as important as the other. 

That doesn’t mean she never got upset with anyone. She did. On rare occasions. Usually her dismay was understandable and it came from her fierce love and protection of her people. What she wanted most was for all of us to love eachother. Especially after she was gone. 

There are a lot of us. Six sons and wives and grand and great grands, nieces and nephews and cousins and removed cousins, and friends. We all loved her and we all miss her so much. 

Since she’s been gone I’ve run the gamut of emotions. I have wondered a lot am I really as good as she thought? I know I wanted to be a better human when she was living and I continue in that endeavor. But death makes you think of the short trajectories our lives have. Some run shorter than others. Doris lived 91 years. But I’ll bet she thought it rushed by. Whether she felt that like I do I don’t know but she loved so well during her time on earth. And in my hindsight of my life I see things that I’m not proud of. Things that I wish I could undo. Am I really the person she thought I was? I don’t feel that way now. But I hold on to the fact that she loved me warts and all. Because I know she saw the lessor sides of me. Me frustrated at my kids, me stressed as we hosted family dinners, probably even me angry. She knew I wasn’t perfect and she still thought I hung the moon. That is a gift I was given from her. 

I asked my husband Kevin if he thought any of us were as good as his mother thought we were and he said “no – probably not.” We both laughed and cried a bit. Doris Sweeney saw the light in everybody. 

In hindsight there are so many things I’d like to change. I don’t like how fast the sun rises and sets these days. But on each sun rise I can try to be the better version of me – the one she saw in me. She may not be here to put shine on me when I am tarnished but I can still try everyday to be that person she saw in me. I will try.  I will. 


Selfies! Mom (Doris) and me. 

He’s ok. 

It’s taken me over a week to write about this.  The pangs of fear have ebbed. My son lived through this. Thank God…

….



I came upon this scene not expecting what I saw. Our Jeep Grand Cherokee was laying upside down against a tree in a yard maybe two miles from our home. They say many accidents happen less than two miles from home. I guess either because we travel that distance so much or maybe we let down our guards so close to home. 

I sat in the car crying hysterically -the shock of what I was seeing was horrifying even though what I knew was that my son was alive. He was alive. He lived through that. He was the one who called to tell us to come. He said he had an accident in the car. He said something about hitting a mailbox. And it was bad. He never said how bad and I never asked that as I ran around my bedroom looking for my shoes and yelling for my other teens to go find their dad because there had been an accident. 

My sweet son saw me crying as we pulled into a neighboring driveway just feet from where the car layed upside down. He opened the door to the car and leaned in to hug me. He was sobbing. We hugged and cried.  He was breathing and whole. The paramedics needed to look at him. He pulled away. 

Kevin was out of the car talking to the police. I was a mess.  A stranger who helped my son out of the car held my hand as I cried and cried.  I couldn’t control it. My son was alive yet I cried at what could have been. This outburst so unlike me yet it took me over like an alien being. I could have lost him. 

The slap in the face  of the fragility of life that wakes you up is palpable in all part of my body. Life is so fragile. I thought I knew that already. We’ve lost a number of people very special to is just recently. But this. This is my kid. What is God or the universe trying to tell me? I’m listening! 

You let your kid leave the house and say a little prayer or cross your fingers that they will be safe when they are out of your site. You look for other things to keep you busy otherwise youd worry 24/7 about them. Maybe after a while you let your guard down a little. Then boom -the call. An accident. 

Parenting is not for the weak. We don’t have any control when they walk out the door. None. All the things I was dealing with that seemed so important before this happened seemed unimportant in the aftermath. If anything you get some perspective when these things occur.  

We spent the requisite four hours in the ER where you enter a surreal world where time is suspended. It never feels like hours and hours. Yet it does. And when we leave the ER it’s like we are spit back into the real world. My son was lucky nothing but scratches. The accident caused by low blood sugar      . They checked him for diabetes but they suspected that he had hypoglycemia after running a cross country race just before getting in the car. He hadn’t eaten since his lunch hours before his run. That was out of the ordinary for him. He usually carried a snack.  

An officer came to see us in the ER to give us the accident report. No ticket was issued. He wasn’t speeding or driving wrecklessly according to witnesses. He simply went off the road a little but right near a small embankment and his reactions were muted because of the low sugar.  The car took its own trajectory through a mailbox and a yard and then flipped over.  Airbags deployed. Amazingly that Jeep as bad as it looked stayed together around him. 

My son remembers very little.  And that’s good because he isn’t afraid to drive. He knows now not to get in a car after a race without snacking first. He knows what signs to be aware of that indicate low blood sugar. Not remembering is also bad in a way because you want it to shake them up – to teach them something so that you never have to get that call. Or see that scene ever again. But I think he learned. And really we just have no control. 

If we could do it all  over I would have made sure he had snacks and some drinks before he left that morning. My husband who saw our son right after his race would have stayed around longer and probably would have taken him to the local sub shop just like he always did before our son got his license. 

But these things happen and that bites! I’m so thankful for his being ok. I’m still shaken up.  I was just putting my guard down and relaxing a bit about his driving. Now I’ll be on high alert again.  

We can’t wrap them in plastic wrap. We have to let them go and do what they are going to do. But I want to wrap them in plastic wrap but I know I can’t. And I can’t wrap my heart in plastic wrap either. 

The heart sits vulnerable in my chest … and that’s the hardest part..

Forgotten friends: rediscovering my love of the physical book. 

When the digital age of books began, I got a kindle and then a kindle app on my iPad then on my phone. I loved it. I could read in the dark of night. I could read anywhere and I had a load of books with me all the time. In a small device. It was marvelous. 

I was never going to get a print book again unless it was signed by the author or I got a gift. Or if I needed a coffee table ornament. But you get the drift. 

But books had always had an allure to me. On my birthdays before the digital age of books I would request two things on my birthday to go ride my horse and to go to the bookstore.  That for we was the epitome of a perfect day.

I’d be nice and zen from a good ride and then I’d grab a coffee at the bookstore coffee shop and I would browse the books. I’d leave with a bag full. Do these big stores even exist anywhere? I know a few places where small independent bookstores still stand. Those stores are awesome. Strong and steady -a beacon for those who still read real books. 

My book fetish began by having a book loving momma.  She began reading to me when I was just an infant. And I did the same for my little’s. I remember my mother and I sitting down to read Babar and Mother Goose. First she to me then later I told her. Oh how I loved Babar. 

Out of that was born a reader. I read voraciously as a child. If we had a book list for summer break I doubled the amount required. 

We went to the library and that smell of the books became as important to me as the words that were in them. I loved getting new books because of how they felt in my hands. I would be the first to dog ear a page (I always lost my book marks and hated losing my place.). I felt something stir inside me when I got a book to read. 

My love for the real thing – a solid book really hasn’t left me. It just got put away on the back burner as I read and read on my reading apps. But every once in a while I stepped inside a bookstore.  And the feelings of book love returned. 

We have a small independent bookstore in Bethany Beach. I stopped in there a few weeks ago to browse. The kids and I all left with books. It’s much easier to read a real book on the beach. An electronic device and sun do not mix. Light is my friend when reading a real book.  I can see the print when I am on the beach but not so much at home these days. Which is why the switch to a reading app went so well for me.  I could make the print big. I didn’t need readers. 

My mother isn’t just a reader she’s a super reader. She has read thousands of books. I think she should have been a librarian, and a decorator, and a doctor. She did work at the Library of Congress for a stint. She’s pretty darn smart. 

My mother had hundreds of books on her shelves in her home. She loves them. Each book. They are not just words on a page. The books are her friends. They gave her joy.  There are some she didn’t keep over the years but that’s because they weren’t worthy of her shelves. A Bad book. There aren’t too many but there were some. Thank goodness or the books very well may have taken over. 

My mom was forced to move out of her last home and in with us last November. She had lost her husband -my stepfather- the year before and I was worried about her being alone in PA. But she stoically stayed the course and lived alone until one illness and a trip to the ER -a call to 911 she doesn’t remember making – and a ten day stay in the hospital -made her realize it was time to leave that home and go to Maryland to live with her daughter. 

It was a change for all of us. She basically left the hospital and never returned to that home. We handled the move from Maryland and Kevin and the boys got most of her belongs out and sorted. Some came here and some to our beach cottage in Delaware.  Her housekeeper packed up much of her stuff including hundreds of books. 

I hadn’t seen the extent of the move because I was sick and readying for more surgery. Most of her boxes went to storage then after many things moved to the beach cottage her many boxes of books and other personal things went into our garage. So much stuff! So many books. We didn’t need all those books. We had digital books now didn’t we? It seemed such a no brainer. We will sift through the books and keep just what mom absolutely wanted. We would donate the rest – no biggie. 

It was taking a while for us to get to the book sorting job. We had sorted through many boxes of her other things but the books remained. I had no idea where to put them. We have a small rancher and it was already full. So I kept putting that job off. But my mom asked often about the books. 

So in a frenzy of wanting to get rid of stuff because I could now physically handle the task and because I just love to purge – I made room in a bookcase in our dining area that I had used to hold dishes we never used much -if ever.  

So the task of unpacking boxes of books began one day recently. It was unplanned but my momma was feeling pretty good that day. I think I thought that many of the books would be going in the give away boxes. But I could see how much each book meant to my mom. She would pull one out and say how it was a good book or that my daughter might like it. We began to make a pile  for my daughter and one for the boys. I found a few that I wanted to read. We began a pile to be taken to the beach house. 

Pretty soon I realized something. 

I still loved the physical book. 

The whole thing words and paper and smells and covers. 

We found another bookcase that wasn’t really being used in the basement. We cleaned it off and the boys hauled it up to the dining area which was looking more like a library. We began adding more books. We did have a good number of books that went to be donated. When we were done I felt happy at a task done but more than that something felt so good about seeing those books on those shelves.


And better yet I sometimes see my mom perusing the shelves or just staring at her books. I can tell now why she asked about them so much. She has lost a lot in the last few years so those books are a connection to the past. 

Do we need all these books taking up space? A few weeks ago I would have said heck no! But now I smack that me. Heck yes we need those books! 

Sometimes. I just don’t get it until I get it. 

Getting crabby

When Rudy and I walked down to the bay beach near Cool Breeze Cottage the other day I never expected I would spend a half hour turning over upended horseshoe crabs. The neighbors had warned me that we might see some upside down and we might have to give them a helping hand. 

Why so many Horseshoe crabs? 

Mating season. 

The Indian River Bay which is a two minute walk from our new beach cottage happens to be a prime migrating ground for Horseshoe crab mating season. 

Who knew?

I have hoped that I would begin to learn more about coastal nature. I want to learn about the land and sea animal and plants. So Horseshoe crabs are a place to start. 

Thanks to my Alexa I found out that the Horseshoe crab average life span is thirty years. Whoa. I bet many don’t get that far but when you see a dead one on the beach you might be looking at an old crab. 

That’s often how we see these crabs- dead on the beach. They look scary. But they are actually not aggressive. They don’t have claws that would pinch a human. I guess the horn could hurt if you ran into one underwater. They are quiet and docile and when upside down on the beach pretty helpless. 

The crabs spend two to three weeks in this mating pattern. The female beaches herself and waits for the guys to show up. Sometime she has more then one Suitor. It’s a real love in.  She then stays on the beach to lay her eggs and thanks to Wikipedia I read they can lay up to 160k eggs in one sitting. 

Well excuse me..

Whoa again! But many are eaten by birds. 

The birds -another cool story. The Artic tern just happens to show up during their migration north or south ( I forget which way) and are there just in time to eat the crabs eggs which controls the crab population and gives them strength to continue their migration. They come back every year at that time. 


So cool. 

Another cools thing is the eggs are about the size of BBs. The larvae are hatched and are a fully formed little crab. 


Phot0 cred above:imgarcade.com

I sadly missed the day where there were thousands on the beach. But I did get out there to see a lot happening. It’s really awesome. 


Photo cred: wnpr.org

So back to me turning over the poor crabs who were rolled over. Normally they are supposed to be able to turn over using their long horns. But some have cracked horns. And many that I turned over were missing horns. We all have our challenges and sometimes we need a little help. 

Rudy my Golden had no desire to be near the creatures and I was glad when my daughter found me on the beach after her run. I was on a mission to turn over all the upended crabs on the few hundred feet of beach. I handed her Rudys leash and I kept I turning over the crabs and for a while returning them to the water line. Which was getting tiring when my hubby Kevin came in the scene not surprised by my work. He began to help but pointed out just flipping them over would likely be enough as the tide would come in and take out the ones that were done laying eggs. 

Good point. So I just flippped and didn’t carry them back anymore. 

It was hard for me to see those crabs just laying inert upside down. Just looking like they were giving up. Likely the tide would have turned them over but I wasn’t sure. I wanted to give them a little help. A better chance. 


I would jiggle them slightly and if their legs began to work over I’d turn them. Don’t give up buddy. 

It’s how I am- I save worms. I do. I don’t like to kill bugs. I like to save them. Though the ants that were swarming my night stand the day I got home from the shore weren’t as lucky. There were too many. Kevin has a spray. So…see ya ants. 

I digress. 

I am fascinated by this love-in of the Horseshoe crab. I will be sure to get better photos next season. I love the things I learn and this time by accident. I can’t wait to learn more about the shores of the DelMarVa peninsula. 

Thanks for letting me share a little about the Horseshoe crab with you. And if you ever see one upside down feel free to give it a little help. They won’t hurt you. 

It’s just one being helping out another. 

What and amazing world we live in. A Horseshoe Crab with some hangers on. 

Oh and they have seven eyes and much of our understanding of eyes come from sturdy Horseshoe crab eyes. 
Oh and their “blood” is used in drug research. 

Oh….and you can read more by following the links below. 

Oh…and I’m done. 🙂

A quickly video I took: 

More information than you ever need about the Horseshoe Crab. 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_crab

http://flseagrant.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletter/#article/3449

Artic Tern-

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arctic_tern