The Bathroom Spider

I have made it very clear that I am not a fan of spiders in general. Oh, I know how useful they are, plus they do make gorgeous webs. If you have ever seen a spider’s  web after a rain storm and the sun is out, it is truly a work of art; like strands of sparkling diamonds. The only spider I ever liked was Charlotte the spider in the children’s book, “Charlotte’s Web.”

We occasionally get a spider or two in the house at any given season. I am usually the one to find and squish them or give them a Navy funeral; AKA the toilet. As I’ve said before, it isn’t just the general creepiness of them, it’s more the fact that they scurry so.

That being said, we have had a “bathroom” spider on the corner of the ceiling in the shower for quite a while. At first when I saw it, I kept throwing water on it, hoping it would simply fall and slip down the drain.

But it didn’t. It stubbornly kept weaving its tiny little web in its corner. What it eats I don’t know. If only the occasional stink bugs would show up in there (instead of on our windows and curtains and lamp shades), the spider would have a nice meal. Considering the size of the spider (about the size of a dried pea), a stinkbug would look like a turkey dinner.

I have to admire the bathroom spider’s ingenuity and everlasting hope of a meal here and there. It’s web is tiny, but she keeps it clean and functional. The American Indians call the spider “*Grandmother.” These days I leave her alone, and always say hello and good day to Grandmother.

*From Wikipedia: In Hopi mythology, “Spider Grandmother” (Hopi Kokyangwuti) also called “Gogyeng Sowuhti” among many other names can take the shape of an old, or timeless woman or the shape of a common spider in many Hopi stories. When she is in her spider shape, she lives underground in a hole that is like a Kiva. When she is called upon, she will help people in many ways, such as giving advice or providing medicinal cures. “Spider Grandmother” is seen as a leader, a wise individual who represents good things.


Acts of Kindness “Just Because”

We may never know what a random act of kindness can do. Have you ever driven up to the window of a doughnut shop and found that your coffee and pastry was already paid for? Have you ever pulled up to a toll booth and found out that someone ahead had paid your toll? Has a friend ever impulsively given you a big hug—just when you need it?

These and so much more are random acts of kindness. We may never know the outcome of our own acts of kindness, but whether or not you believe it, it makes the world a better place.

I wish I could remember where this story came from, but here it is: in a small town there was a homeless man who spent his days sitting on the ground and hoping for a few pennies each day. He wore torn and dirty clothes, he had no shoes, his hair was long and dirty, and his fingernails were long and cracked. No one really knew him well, but a group of women in town decided to help him.

They set up a little washing station and cleaned him up as best they could. They shampooed his hair and gave him a proper haircut. They trimmed his finger and toe nails, brushed his teeth, and gave him new clothes and shoes. They brought him food and water each day, and generally just watched over him. They made him part of their families, and made sure that he was all right. In this way, the town made him a member of everyone’s family. You can only imagine what this act of kindness meant to this poor and lonely man.

We may never know the difference we make in others’ lives just by a simple act of kindness. It may be a little bit of money, time and care from you, but to the receiver, it means the world.

Happy Mothers Day

On this Mothers Day, it’s a lovely time to remember moms past and present. Even if our moms have passed on, their legacy is always with us. Our moms taught us everything we needed to be strong women. We might not have always agreed with our moms, but we love them just the same.

If you, like me, have never been a mother, I think you will find that you tend to “mother” friends, neighbors, family and pets. That’s mothering, and that counts. Even little girls, like my granddaughters, Ava and Juliette, mother their pets and their toys. Mothering is the purest and loveliest form of care; from the time we are helpless babies, we depend on our mothers. Our mothers teach us things that no one else can.

My own mother, who passed on in 2015, taught me everything I needed to be a strong and good woman. I still remember how she taught me to vaccuum when I was in school. Although I hate vaccuuming to this day, I know how to do it and do it well. She didn’t brook any of that “good enough” vaccuuming, either. There were days when I had to vacuum the whole house three times to meet her approval. This alone taught me that it pays to do a chore well right from the beginning.

Then there are women who, like me, never had children, so we mother our spouses, our pets, our friends and sometimes ourselves. For many years I lived by myself, and actually enjoyed it. When I came down with a bad cold, I mothered myself through it with chicken soup, hot baths, lots of rest and lots of books and TV. I didn’t feel one iota of guilt either. I was doing the mothering that I needed to do.

So, mothers everywhere, whether you mother children, pets, family members, neighbors and friends, you count. You are amazing. You are wonderful, loving, kind and generous mothers. Thank you for the love you give, the kindness you impart and the joy you bring to others.




Massage Therapy; A Gift to Yourself

Back in my 40s I started having joint and muscle pain. At that time in my life, I did race walking, yoga and some light weight lifting. I remember being surprised that, as I approached my 40s, I began to have joint pain. I didn’t think too much about it until I really had pain.

Over the years I had neck and shoulder surgery, and carpal tunnel surgery in both hands. I remember saying to my doctor, ‘really?! I’m not old! What’s going on?’ He gently explained that as we get older, our joints and muscles also get older. (Well, duh!) It was hard for me to realize that while I could still exercise, I didn’t have to beat my body up to stay fit.

And then I discovered massage therapy. If you have never had a massage, it’s a wonderful experience. Massage therapists are angels as far as I’m concerned. They are kind and considerate and they know what they’re doing. Being a certified massage therapist takes a lot of time, study and practice. They do what they do because they want to help people feel better.

I already have lower back issues and have to do stretching exercises to loosen it up so that I can actually get out of bed. Just a few days ago, I did a real number on my upper back; somehow I twisted something and the pain throbbed in my neck and down my arms. It was so painful that I could not lift my head high enough to put eye drops in my eyes. That, along with my back issues made just getting out of bed a real nightmare.

So I booked a massage and it was amazing. It’s almost as though the massage therapist (a woman around my age) could feel exactly where the pain began. Slowly she worked from my neck down to my waist and I could actually feel the pain start to dissipate. It was a 30 minute massage, and by the time I got up from the table I felt wonderful. I slowly turned my neck from side to side; no pain. I tilted my head up and all the way down; no pain. I felt so good that I wanted to dance (I didn’t, though)!

Massage therapy is not just for young folks who lift weights, run marathons, etc. It is for anyone who needs help with some area of their body. With me it was my neck and upper back, and I felt (and looked like) a cripped crab. It was almost impossible for me to get out of bed, to dress and to wash up. The massage therapist I saw yesterday worked on my upper back and made it possible for me to be flexible again, and to feel better.

Know this, too: massage therapists are non-judgemental. They don’t care if you are heavy, thin, wrinkled, spotted, tattooed, old or young; it doesn’t matter to them. All they see is a person in pain who needs their help. I have benefitted greatly from massage. What they do is a gift; don’t be afraid to enjoy the gift.


Pond Music

As I walked around the pond yesterday, it’s clear that the wildlife has decided that warm weather is here to stay. While it’s not quite summer time, it’s just around the corner. The frogs are back, singing their chug-a-rum-chug-a-rum songs. Red wing blackbirds are already jealously defending their nests; you can hear them arguing with each other. Little gold finches were flitting through the bushes, cheeping in a happy manner. There was a single cormorant on the pond, splashing as he dove beneath the water. Across the bay in low tide stood a blue heron. While he didn’t have much to say, I remember his signature call: “grrrrawkkk!”

Even the monarch butterflies are out and about. Which makes me remember when Mom and Dad used to take off to Maine during the summers, renting a little cabin for themselves. One summer there was a monarch butterfly ‘invasion;’ there were tons of them. Dad, who was never a poet, said of this “they look like Halloween kites.” I love that vision.

When I was halfway around the pond and standing over the little dam, I saw an amazing sight. Swimming around in the shallows in grand fashion was a huge snapping turtle. He (or she) must have been about two feet long from stem to stern. He (or she) looked a great deal like the Hawaiian honos (sea turtles). It was quite a sight.

The “regular” turtles are out and about, and stop in shallow, sunny places to warm their shells. The little ones just bob in the water until they figure out how to climb up on the few branches that poke out near the dam.

Seagulls wheeled overhead, their scratchy honks letting everyone know their presence. This is the music I long for in the cold months, and now that it’s here it’s a joyous pleasure. These sounds are some of my favorite music. It is the symphany of the pond.


An Abortion Story

When I was 24 years old, I found out I was pregnant. I was using birth control, but as we all know, it doesn’t always work. At that time, I was working in a job that paid for the basic necessities and not much else. I did not tell my parents about my situation, but I did tell my boyfriend. He immediately said that he would marry me and we would raise the baby together.

At 24 years old, I could barely take care of myself. I could not imagine raising a child, and I certainly did not have the resources to care for a child. I told my boyfriend that I couldn’t marry him; I just wasn’t ready. For the life of me, I simply could not wrap my head around having a baby, caring for it and raising it. How in the world could I do it? I couldn’t.

Back in those days, if you needed to have an abortion and you were over the age of 21, you could have one. It is not an easy decision. Having an abortion is not just painful in body, but in mind and soul. Also, I was afraid that my situation would cause pain to my parents. Many years later, I told my mother about it. She understood my decision, but even that never stopped my guilt and sorrow over what I felt I had to do.

Now that there is more so much more controversy about abortion these days, it brings me back to my young self. At the time, abortion was the only recourse for me. I realize that this is a huge political deal these days; however, I still feel that it is up to the woman to decide her course.

Whether or not to abort an unwanted pregancy is a personal issue. I knew that, for myself, I could not provide for a child. Actually, I never wanted children of my own; I never felt that it would be in the cards for me. It did not mean that I didn’t like children, I just knew that I wasn’t cut out for motherhood.

It’s so easy to point the finger at someone who has to make a decision about abortion. Unless you are in that situation, do not judge. You cannot know what that person’s life is like, what choices have to be made. Don’t think for a moment that having an abortion is easy; it is not. It isn’t just your body that feels pain, it is also your heart, your mind and your soul.

I wish that people would realize that having an abortion is not a frivolous thing. I will tell you that rarely a day goes by when I think of who that child would have been. I still feel that I was not the woman to raise that child, but I always hoped that that sweet spirit eventually went on to a family who wanted that particular child.

I hope so.



Wisdomly Bits From Garrison Keillor

If you are a fan of Garrison Keillor, you probably love the tales from Lake Woebegon. I hope that the following makes you laugh as much as I did. From The Quotable Keillor:

“Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.”
― Garrison Keillor, We Are Still Married: Stories & Letters

“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.”
―Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days

“If you lived today as if it were your last, you’d buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn’t you?”
―Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days

“I can see how I could write a bold account of myself as a passionate man who rose from humble beginnings to cut a wide swath in the world, whose crimes along the way might be written off to extravagance and love and art, and could even almost believe some of it myself on certain days after the sun went down if I’d had a snort or two and was in Los Angeles and it was February and I was twenty-four, but I find a truer account in the Herald-Star, where it says: “Mr. Gary Keillor visited at the home of Al and Florence Crandall on Monday and after lunch returned to St. Paul, where he is currently employed in the radio show business… Lunch was fried chicken with gravy and creamed peas”.”
―Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days

“The rich can afford to be progressive. Poor people have reason to be afraid of the future.”
―Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days

“Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.”
― Garrison Keillor, The Book of Guys

“A person cannot coast along in old destructive habits year after year and accept whatever comes along. A person must stand up on her own two legs and walk. Get off the bus and go get on another. Climb out of the ditch and cross the road. Find the road that s where you want to go. … The only sermon that counts is the one that is formed by our actions. She would quit drinking and thereby show Kyle life is what you make it. A person can grab hold of her life and change things for the better. This happens all the time. We are not chips of wood drifting down the stream of time. We have oars.”
― Garrison Keillor, Pontoon

“Selective ignorance, a cornerstone of child rearing. You don’t put kids under surveillance: it might frighten you. Parents should sit tall in the saddle and look upon their troops with a noble and benevolent and extremely nearsighted gaze.”
― Garrison Keillor, Leaving Home: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories

“The living wander away, we don’t hear from them for months, years—but the dead move in with us to stay.”
― Garrison Keillor, The Keillor Reader

“Do you think it’s right for Christians to use the names of pagan gods for the days of the week?”
― Garrison Keillor, The Keillor Reader

“They did not weave their lives around yours. They had their own lives, which were mysterious to you.”
― Garrison Keillor, The Keillor Reader

“Don’t worry about the past and don’t try to figure out the future”
― Garrison Keillor, A Christmas Blizzard

“Beauty isn’t worth thinking about; what’s important is your mind. You don’t want a fifty-dollar haircut on a fifty-cent head.”
― Garrison Keillor

“We come from people who brought us up to believe that life is a struggle, and if you should feel really happy, be patient: this will pass.”
― Garrison Keillor

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.”
― Garrison Keillor

“Going to church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car.”
― Garrison Keillor

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”
― Garrison Keillor

“Hurry up! Do it – get it done. You got work to do. Don’t put this off and don’t take the long view. Life is today and tomorrow, and if you are lucky, may be next week.”
― Garrison Keillor

“Lutherans don’t hold bingo games in the church basement. Lutherans are against fun in general, which is why for them, birth control has never been a big issue.”
― Garrison Keillor

“It was luxuries like air conditioning that brought down the Roman Empire. With air conditioning their windows were shut, they couldn’t hear the barbarians coming.”
― Garrison Keillor

“People complain about the obscurity of poetry, especially if they’re assigned to write about it, but actually poetry is rather straightforward compared to ordinary conversation with people you don’t know well which tends to be jumpy repartee, crooked, coded, allusive to no effect, firmly repressed, locked up in irony, steadfastly refusing to share genuine experience–think of conversation at office parties or conversation between teenage children and parents, or between teenagers themselves, or between men, or between bitter spouses: rarely in ordinary conversation do people speak from the heart and mean what they say.

How often in the past week did anyone offer you something from the heart? It’s there in poetry. Forget everything you ever read about poetry, it doesn’t matter–poetry is the last preserve of honest speech and the outspoken heart. All that I wrote about it as a grad student I hereby recant and abjure–all that matters about poetry to me is directness and clarity and truthfulness. All that is twittery and lit’ry: no thanks, pal.

A person could perish of entertainment, especially comedy, so much of it casually nihilistic, hateful, glittering, cold, and in the end clueless. People in nursing homes die watching late-night television and if I were one of them, I’d be grateful when the darkness descends. Thank God if the pastor comes and offers a psalm and a prayer, and they can attain a glimmer of clarity at the end.”
― Garrison Keillor