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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Chaos and Cranberries

Please bear with me to the end (before judging me!) :)

My husband and I are empty-nesters, and love it. We are also parents to six awesome adult children and a growing number of loveable grandchildren, and live on a lake in Minnesota… so we have a lot of “visitors”, especially in summer.

Our house can go from sixty decibels to double that in a moment’s notice on many weekends. Sometimes the house feels like it’s pulsating with a heartbeat of its own… the grandchildren, TV, grown-ups trying to be heard above it all, barking dogs… and a lot of laughter. And sometimes it can get a little crazy.

The cleaning, food prep, laundry, before/during/after is daunting (and yes, they are all great about helping out!) and I think it's the switch from easy to hectic that gets me every time. I know, it sounds like I'm complaining--and I'm not, because I know that every single piece of effort I just mentioned is worth it. I know that.

But sometimes, when I’m escaping out the door for a quick trip up town for more milk and bread, my feet crunching on dropped cereal on the floor, and scouring the cluttered-with-everything-under-the-sun counter for my car keys, while gingerly handing over a sleeping baby and maneuvering around a sword fight between grand-kids, I find myself breathing a calming sigh of relief in the peace of my car as I head to town.

On the short trip, I appreciate the quiet, already looking forward to crawling into bed that night, even though it might only be 10 a.m. And just as I start to question my sanity, I drive by homes in our small town where I know for a fact, people are sitting inside… all alone. And wishing they had a little chaos and company to fill their lonely days.

And I remember. I think back to years ago when I felt lonely—in a house too-quiet and too-clean. Never again do I want that daily solitude, I remind myself, never again.

I also think of the main character in the book I've written. I made the poor woman so lonely! I killed off all her friends while dragging her through an empty nest and divorce. (Mean of me, I know!) SHE would have loved to be a guest in our chaotic house, reveling in the noise and clutter.

So, give me cereal crunching under my toes, chocolate hand-prints on the windows, endless laundry and total exhaustion. It reminds me I've been blessed with people I care about and am lucky enough to have in my life. Nobody sang it better than Barbra Streisand ~ "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."

For this upcoming holiday season, my wish for you is this: A little chaos with your cranberries, and maybe a fallen piece of pumpkin pie squished between your toes.
Then I’ll know you've been truly blessed!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hunting season

So I’ve been a little behind in the blog-department… life, and nice summer/fall days have deterred me. But all that freedom and enjoying the outdoors will change this weekend.

If you don’t live in an area where hunting is rampant, you’ll likely be unable to relate here. But feel free to sympathize as my life becomes engulfed by blaze orange (after a season covered in camouflage).

Simple walks or jogging become hazardous, unless you’re covered head-to-toe in lovely, blaze orange attire—which really accentuates your pallor this time of year.

Leftover Halloween candy is suddenly confiscated by deer hunters to stuff into their coat pockets and inhale while they waste, I mean hunt, their hours away in a tree stand.

The thing is; I used to be one of them. City-slicker-me, who had no idea growing up where beef and pork came from until I spent some time on a farm. After getting married and moving “up north”, I was enlightened as to what people do around here to deer. Shoot them.

Yes, poor Bambi—and his mom and dad, are ruthlessly hunted, and then (oh, I don’t want to think about this part) mysteriously appear on our dinner plates a few weeks later. Savages, yes. After going through the butchering process myself, I can assure you I wait a good long time before I can stomach any venison. I can still see those soulful brown eyes gazing at me when I close my eyes.

I have to tell you, I wasn’t your typical hunter. I was told “Deer can smell you a mile away, and can hear every little move. Don’t eat anything out there, not even gum, and don’t move a muscle.”

Hah! I’m not a good “sitter”, plus who wants to just waste time swaying way up high in a deer stand while sllllllllooowwwlllllly turning your head to look for deer? Not me. So I’d pack a lunch, and bring a book. Yes, a book. Read a page, gaze around me, read another page, repeat. I’m here to tell you, it’s a productive way to hunt. I had many years of success!

I actually feel sorry for the area men. For two weeks before hunting, they can’t sleep. Or, if they do, they’re hunting the elusive buck in their dreams. Then their neck swells to twice its normal size as they go into “rut”. And, if they actually shoot the elusive buck, then their head swells to twice its normal size!

So maybe instead of feeling sorry for me, I should ask you to empathize with our deer hunters. Or, at least, please keep them in your prayers. As annoying as this “season” can be, we’d like it if they all get through it safely.