There is some spring-ish weather forecast for the end of the week — 52° F on Thursday, oh my! — but it’s snowing today, and I’ll have to shovel the driveway this afternoon so I can get out and go to work in the morning, in the dark, thanks to Daylight Savings Time.

Yee. Ha.

I love Spring, but the transition is hard, what with the industrial strength mud and ice and rain, rain, rain. Winter doesn’t give up easily, so I’m not too excited,,,yet. Last year the worst storm we had all season came in April — two feet of icy snow the consistency of sand that defied shoveling and nearly did me in.

So, though I feel almost desperate for Spring, as I do every year at this time, I know it ain’t over yet. It’ll take a while for all this snow and ice to melt, and it’ll be 2 months or more before the temperature will be above 50° with any regularity, at least 4 months, maybe 5, before I’ll be experiencing one of my favorite so-hot-I can’t-breathe-properly bike rides on the trail by the lake.

I’ll bundle up and get out for short rides on those 50° days, and I’ll enjoy them, but there will be a part of my brain, as always, that is cursing the cold, and asking myself why on earth I don’t live somewhere warmer. The answer to that question is simple – cuz my mother won’t leave this place and I won’t leave her.

Still I ask it, and 100 other questions over and over. They all start with Why, not who or what or how, cuz those are all “doing” words, and I’m limited — by many factors, not just my mother — in the amount I can do to change anything in my life right now, but I think about what I would change all the time.

I try not to — I want to be in the moment, accepting what is — but I forget, and before I know it my mind has fast-forwarded to 5 years from now and what I think I’ll be doing and where I think I’ll be doing it. That is, unfortunately, where I seem to be happiest lately — in the future.

This is an improvement over years past, when what I thought I wanted most was not to be somewhere else, or doing something else, but to be someone else. That is painful beyond measure, and I’m so grateful for the drugs, therapy and time that eased that burden finally.

I’m sitting here now, typing this, watching the snow fall out the window in the hall, and I realize that when I can just get back to the gratitude, that’s where all the answers to those why questions are. There is finally peace in just letting it all be, and allowing the gratitude and relief I feel for simply being able to experience life fully, on any terms, to fill my heart. It is in gratitude that I find happiness and contentedness with what isand where I am and who I am.

Honestly, I find it hard to be grateful for snow, or winter in general, or losing an hour of sleep. If that’s the price of admission, though, I’ll pay it. If I can find happiness in shoveling the drive for the 50th time this winter, then, man, I’ve got it knocked! It’s there if I look hard enough: I am alive, and healthy enough to shovel my own driveway. I have a house and a car that necessitates a driveway, and a job that requires me to keep it clear of snow.

Not everyone is that lucky. Really, I don’t need to go much further that the first one, do I? I am alive. That in itself is a gift — this life — and I honor it by showing up and fully giving myself to every minute of it.

What more could I possibly need?

Still hoping Spring comes quickly, though! What does your forecast look like?

In the bleak mid-winter

We’ve nearly reached the end of February, and with it the end of my patience regarding winter. A blizzard warning here today, and my reaction to that is simply:

NO. Just…no.

I’m ready for warmth and color and sunshine. I want to ride my bike. I want to go outside without first putting on 17 layers of clothing. I want to mow my lawn and smell fresh grass and see flowers blooming in my garden. I want to see Clover, the little bunny who lives under the big cedar in the backyard and know that she’s alright.

I’m sick to death of gray and white and day after day without a hint of sunshine. I’m sick of boots and gloves and having to brush off my car in the parking lot at work before I can return home. I’m sick of shoveling.

Before I could do laundry this morning, I had to wade through thigh-high snow to get to the place where the dryer vent on the side of the house was buried and dig out a trough to unblock it. When I came in I had to put my jeans and socks in the dryer cuz they were soaked through.

Throughout the entire 20-minute or so ordeal, I was thinking, “WHY am I doing this?” Other people do not live like this.

I’m winter-weary and just generally fed up.

The reality is, though, that we’re nowhere near the end of winter here in Michigan, and Mother Nature couldn’t care less about how I feel. She’s just doing her thing – same as every year – and she’s not ready to give up the cold and snow just yet.

So…I have to change my thinking. I can’t change how I feel about the weather, but I can change how I think about it. I wish I could say there were some things I appreciate about winter – that would go a long way toward thinking about it differently, but there isn’t even one thing I can think of that I like about it.

Let’s see…nope. I got nothin’.

So I’ll just have to work at acceptance, as I do with so many things in my life over which I have no power, and remind myself that it could be a lot worse. Yes, we have snow – so much snow – but we don’t have hurricanes or tornadoes. Also, most of the deadly little creatures on the planet – snakes and insects and other nasty critters – can’t live in the cold, so I have to worry less about meeting my death by inadvertently stepping on one of them than someone who is basking in sunshine and warmth right now.

So not all bad. I’m not likely to lose my house in the blizzard today – power maybe, but that will be temporary, if at all, and if I don’t freeze to death in my house without power, I’m golden!

How am I doing? A stretch, I know. Acceptance of the things I don’t like but can’t change is a toughie for me. Endurance is hard. I want change, and I want it now! I saw a quote yesterday that said, “You’re not a tree – MOVE!”

Sounds good, doesn’t it? And sometimes possible. Not for me, though, cuz the old lady is welded to this place and all its misery. Ah, the old lady – another thing I can’t change or control.

My challenge: Acceptance of life as it presents itself to me in the moment. Endurance ongoing.

Going on.

Yes, that’s it. Just keep going. Spring has never failed to come. Until it manifests itself in the outer world, I’ll have to nurture it within. Light and new growth.

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

 Only 3 1/2 months to go…



The sun came shining through


I am inexplicably optimistic this morning. It’s Monday, it’s winter (6 months left to go, and it’ll get much much worse before it gets better), almost exactly 6 weeks to go til Christmas – my least favorite holiday – and I haven’t even started thinking about presents. I’m facing the prospect of a new year still with my mother and still in this job. There are other ucky things on the immediate horizon – a doctor’s appointment, our annual All-Staff Meeting at work, starting a gym membership cuz it’s getting too snowy and cold to be outside. (Ugh.)

Other icky winter things: Shoveling. Boots. Coats. Hats. Mittens/gloves. Cold. Ridiculous heating bills for the house I don’t live in, and outrageous water bills cuz I have to run the water in the kitchen so the pipes don’t freeze. Cold. Crap driving and crap drivers. Did I mention shoveling? Oh, and it’s COLD. But the worst part –

No sun. For days and days and days. ~shudder~

However, I have new tires, so driving will be less scary this year and I won’t get stuck in the parking lot at work everyday like last year. Yay! I get a longevity check in December and a raise in January, so I’ll be a little richer. Yay! I have 2 additional days off this week and 6 additional days off in December. Yay!

I have good books to read and I will get more for Christmas and my birthday and while I’m sitting inside for hours and hours, unable to go outside cuz snow and cold and wind, I can read, read, read! Possible this winter, unlike the past few years, cuz I have introduced my mother to the wonder of downloadable audio books that she can listen to on the phone I gave her (and she has finally learned to use), with EARBUDS. So we don’t watch DVDs so much anymore, and we can sit together in our cozy living room and read our books.

That is such a good thing! Yay! There are many good things, and today I’m in a place mentally and emotionally in which I can see those good things and be grateful for them. I haven’t been there for a few weeks, and I’m almost afraid to write that or think that or say it out loud, cuz generally when the universe has any inkling that I’m feeling good, it goes out of its way to kick me in the teeth almost immediately.

Paranoid? Ya, maybe. Whatever.

I had a nice weekend, including a long walk yesterday in the sunshine, even though I had to keep my head focused on the ice under my boots so I didn’t fall, and a shorter, snowier walk on Saturday that was nice, too. I had a few chores to do, but mostly I read and ate well and walked and relaxed. It was good. It was restorative.

Now it’s back to work, and so far it’s a crappy Monday, but it’s a short week as I have Thursday and Friday off for Thanksgiving, my second favorite holiday. (Easter is my favorite holiday – Spring, rebirth; I get giddy thinking about it.) Also, our best cook/baker brought in cake, so there’s that. Cake makes everything better. Always.

I bought a turkey breast and a frozen pumpkin pie and I’m going to be spending much of Thursday cooking, but that’s okay. Turkey and mashed potatoes and crescent rolls and Sara Lee pumpkin pie with Cool Whip. It’ll be awesome. We usually go out for T-day dinner, but as mom doesn’t leave the house anymore, we’re staying in – which I’m all about this year. What could be better than being in my jammies smelling turkey roasting and pie baking, hanging out with my mom and the cats? Turkey sandwiches and pie all weekend. Yay!

Then 3 WHOLE DAYS of not really that much that has to be done. Regular chores – cooking, dishes, blah, blah, but nothing that requires a lot of effort or even being dressed. Walking (I’ll put pants on) if it’s not too late November-y, (the forecast looks promising), and reading (new book from the library I got on my walk yesterday), and eating, eating, eating.

Perfect. The last two Thanksgivings were fairly crappy, so I feel like I’m due a good one. Two years ago our sewer drain clogged and it was not pleasant being in the house for 4 days. (‘Nough said.) Last year, our dinner out was hella expensive and not very good, so it was a big  disappointment, and mom and I got in a big fight about something and it overshadowed the whole weekend.

So I’m optimistic. There are things I like about winter, and things I like about Christmas, and I’m going to try to focus on those things and let the rest go. Soon it will be my birthday and that’s great, and then St. Patrick’s Day, and Easter and then Spring. Spring. Spring! It goes quickly, I know.

“If winter comes, can spring be far behind?”
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Welcome winter.




Fat-bottomed girl


I have bike fever, and I have it pretty bad. I had dinner last night with a equally bike-crazed friend and she got me all riled up. It’s the time of year I think about all winter. My last bike ride was in October, (other than short rides on the trainer in the attic) and nary a pedal has been turned on pavement since then. I am soooooo ready to get outside!

The last of the snow just melted over the weekend – we got 2 feet on April 14 – and it’s still kind of chilly. Still a little too cool for this girl – a high of 46° F predicted for tomorrow – but I will be out there soon, I’m sure. When I was younger I would have been out already, but those cold temps are just too much for my asthma these days, so I have a pretty firm minimum 50° rule anymore. Maybe this weekend…

Nothing is as important to me as bicycling. Honestly, nothing. I love my friends, my cats, my job, genealogy, reading – so many things. I love life. Cycling saved my life 30 years ago, though, and it continues to every single ride. My mental and physical health depend on putting miles under my saddle on a very regular basis the 6 months of the year that the roads and trails aren’t covered in snow here.

There’s nothing like it. The freedom. The movement of my body. The sun on my back and the wind in my face. The smell of the pine trees on the trail along the lake that I ride so often. The sound of the waves and the gravel rumbling under my tires. The beauty of northern Michigan in the Spring and Summer and early Autumn, experienced at a slower, quieter pace. I love everything about it.

To make it all even better, last night my friend gave me a $50 e-card to an online bike store so I can buy some more bike stuff! I can’t honestly say that there’s anything I need, but there are a couple of old things I could replace, so that’s probably what I’ll do with the money. More than that, it’ll just be fun to troll through the catalog and look at all the shiny new stuff. I’ve never been into clothes or shoes, or other “girly” stuff, but give me a selection of new bike jerseys and shorts to peruse and I swoon. Or floorpumps. Or tires. Or water bottles…Be still my heart!

See you on the trail!

The falling leaves…


You know how I know it’s fall? Yes, the weather’s gotten colder, the days are shorter, and the leaves are turning; not that hard to figure out. However, even if I were trapped in a room with no windows, I would probably know just from the changes in body and mind.

1. I feel like listening to classical music, with opera being my first choice.

2. Hot green tea sounds better than a cold beer.

3. I want to eat soup.

4. I have the urge to buy fuzzy slippers.

5. I want fire. Put the incense away and light the candles. Lots of candles. MUST. HAVE. LIGHT.

Even though I hate fall – I mourn the loss of summer the whole of the year until it’s return in June – my body and mind are responding to it on their own. I live above the 45th parallel, so fall is usually early compared to the lower 90% of the US – this year it swooped in on September 3 – and decisive. On September 2 it was 90 ° and sunny. On September 3 it was 60 ° and raining. Just like that, the switch is flipped and the long descent into winter has begun. This time of year I want to pack up and head to Australia. It’s Spring there, you know. Lucky dogs.

I try to be a good sport about it. I avoid complaining every minute of the day, not only because it doesn’t help and makes me feel worse, but also because my friends and co-workers are aware of my hatred, and don’t really want to hear about it anymore. I come home and don my fuzzy slippers, make some tea and sit in my living room suffering in silence. The cat doesn’t like it any better than I do, though, so I can complain to him once in a while and know that he is totally sympathetic. He has taken up his winter position on top of the sofa, so I know he and I are on the same page. We’d both rather be outside in the sunshine and warmth, frolicking in those wonderful balmy SW breezes.

Oh well, it’s not to be. This is Michigan and this is September. Two seasons here as far as I’m concerned: Summer and Waiting for Summer. We have begun the 9 month period that is not summer. Pack up the shorts and the sunscreen, break out the wool and boots.

It’s just not fair. Neither, though, is the devastation in the south from Hurricanes Gustav, Hannah, and Ike this year. So today while I’m sitting here drinking my tea watching the soft rain fall outside and listening to the cat snore behind me on the couch, my thoughts are with those who are suffering the loss of their comfort, too, in a much more profound way than I am. Cold temperatures, falling leaves, and snow are small burdens to bear compared to what much of the world endures from Mother Nature.

It could be so much worse, and is for so many. Bless you all.