Time To Think

Time To Think

Friday, July 14, 2017

Tree Lessons

I absolutely love when I catch myself living in the moment. Lately, those times are sporadic, and scarce. To my delight, today was one of those times. While eating breakfast, my posture facing the patio door, I looked out and traced the boundaries of our property. My eyes focused on the lush green foliage from the treescape, and its divergent characteristics.

There had been trees on the land before we arrived, but not many, except on the adjacent city lot. I remember when my husband planted more trees to create a natural fence for privacy. I could hardly imagine then, that the sticks he would plant in the ground, would grow to be the deciduous shade trees they are today. I am unable to name them all, but what they have in common are lustrous leaves, durability and adaptability.

My eyes were drawn to an older tree, its bark badly peeling, branches thinner, some taken out by storms, and others cut down because of being weak and fragile. We had thought often about cutting the entire tree down, but year after year, as it turns out the tree is always reliable. Its leaves fall quicker than the others, and we barely expect them to return in the Spring, but they do.

It stands taller than the other trees and stands out among them. I am always looking for symbolism during moments of reflection. Today, the tree taught me a few lessons. It taught me that although it was older, thinner and declining, it still had much to offer. I made this observation as I watched a tree squirrel search for a trunk to shimmy up. The rodent appeared to frustrate itself with the younger, denser trees, and excitedly chose the older tree for its scamper. The trunk on the mature tree was apparently more suited for adventure.

Lesson: The tree is still useful.

I noticed that the grown-up tree flirted with the wind, more than the others. Taller and leaner, the branches effortlessly swayed in the breeze.

Lesson: The older one becomes, it is a blessing to shed some weight. Being lighter allows freedom for the flow. The tree showed me that the flow is so beautiful, younger trees submit to its representation, as they struggle to find their place in the ecosystem.

Finally, the tree showed me it lives. In spite of its shedding of leaves, brittle bark and failing limbs, it still sings its own song. The tree is resilient, it has seen some things, and it is happy to keep on living.

Musing off…

Friday, June 30, 2017

New Nest, New Branch, New Tree

We have LIVED in our Milwaukee home, located in the Florist Highlands for 23 years. These days, we are fixing and replacing worn out subjects, preparing to sell it, looking forward to our move to Arizona. We built the colonial, two-story, single family home in 1994. The builder called it a “saltbox.” The term became literal for us because of the nature of salt and its relationship to the earth. We envisioned our saltbox as a place suitable to raise our children, a welcome place for fellowship, food and fun. We’ve been blessed exceedingly and abundantly on this parcel of land! Our saltbox, we trust, added flavor to our neighborhood and community.

 I think back to the football games, wedding receptions, summer soiree’s and countless cookouts in our backyard. We soaked it all in, rain, shine, and snow! Our friends often considered our back-yard a private park because of its uncommon size for a city lot. We once had an open- door policy on Sundays. In years past, if you found yourself in the area, you could pull up un-announced and share Sunday dinner with us. We had to dial it back a bit- the un-announced thing, while my husband and I went back to school. This type of activity has recently slowed to make room for the move, but we are lucky that our friends and family still grace us with their presence every now and then!

The neighborhood has changed a bit, in a good way, with new families starting out building their lives. We have slowly gotten to know many of them moving in, and remain neighborly to the long-timers. My husband and I often joke, we are now the seniors of our block. I think back to when we were in our first home. We revered and respected the seniors on our block. We are now those people!

One of the neighbor kids, now a teenager, who I have known her since she was born, stopped by a few weeks ago, and began to reminisce while standing in our front yard. “Mrs. Lee,” she said. “Remember when we played softball in the back yard, and Bekah let us make a gym out the front yard, and play with the dogs? Boy, I am really going to miss you when you move to Arizona! So many good memories here.” I turned away as I found myself tearing up. I was around when her father and his siblings were her age. They played with my children. Wheww!

I was enjoying these reflections while taking down wallpaper in one of our bathrooms. The only way I could get through the task was by thinking happy thoughts. In fact, wallpaper removal was going to be the subject of this blog, but writing about plain ol’ wallpaper removal may have run the risk of being a tutorial, meaning- there would be no meaning. So, I am going to make meaning of it now.

Living in this house has been like the glistening beauty of newly applied wallpaper. Over the years, we have had some peeling, dulling and seam-splitting. Today, new trends abound for home decorating. Wallpaper is considered out of date for some, and has served its usefulness. It had to come down. The wallpaper was stubborn against its removal, and resisted in splits and tears, but finally gave in. However, the backing stood firm. To remove it required painstaking scraping, and steaming. It did not want to go, but finally relented.

That’s kind of how I feel,  however, unlike the wallpaper, I am not kicking and screaming against a move. But I am a little stubborn to my memories when they surface. Sometimes I feel a bit like I will be starting from scratch. The possibilities, while exciting, can be a little intimidating. I’ve become too comfortable, one of the signs that it is time for a change- besides the mid-western winters, if I am really truthful.

I read somewhere that a baby bird does not know for certain that it can fly until it takes the first leap off the branch of its tree. I feel like a baby bird, moving to the unfamiliar. While the thought of moving forward excites me, leaving my cozy nest requires a great leap of faith into the unknown.

I am sure I developed the feathers for it though, and they are designed to fly through the skies. Time to build a new saltbox, in a new nest, on a new branch, in a new tree. I’m leaping folks!

See you soon!

Musing off…

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

House Hunting in The Valley of The Sun

Arizona. The Northern Valley. Driving down the state’s landscape, I was awestruck by the mountainous terrain, with peaks so high, they appeared to touch the sky. The highways flaunted by sun washed canyons, and valleys, pocketed with desert shrubs, cactus and flowering sycamores, transported my thoughts to an oasis, even though my husband and I were visiting on business, planning our relocation. House hunting in the desert, what fun!

Our house shopping included seeing approximately 12 homes, located in several neighborhoods, surrounding Peoria, Anthem, Sun City and Sun City West, where we pushed open, pulled back, looked under, spread our arms, laid on the floor, kick dirt up in the yards, if you call dirt and rocks a yard, peered over fences, turn on and off lights, examined floors and roofs, sat on staged furniture, trying to imagine living in a desert home. We wondered what it would be like during monsoon season, when the “wash” behind the backyard filled up with rain to overflowing. Or, if the fence would be tall enough to stop a coyote or bobcat from penetrating its boundaries. We were curious as to how they grow all that greenery in rocks. Desert flowers really are beautiful. 

I learned about my new neighbors, the little ones. Richard, a member of the hotel staff told me that I should expect scorpions, beetles and lizards to stop by. He told me to adopt a lizard, that should help some with the pests. Yuk! I have a cat, I’d much rather Olaf take that job, but if I need a lizard to keep scorpions at bay, I guess I could adapt. Not sure how Lance and Phantom, my Shelties would like it though. As long as I don’t wake up and find a snake in the toilet bowl, which Richard said it could happen- most homes in the desert are without basements, so a snake can just squirm right on in, over the pipes, and inside the house. I looked at my watch, hoping that Richard, who was very kind, would get back to work. Oh, one more thing, Richard said. “We have pigs that come down from the mountains and get into the trash, you know like a stray bear.” “Pigs?” I asked. “Yes, the Javelina, the pig that is not really a pig, but a rodent. Don’t mess with them, they get a little nasty.”

I mentioned to our realtor about Richard’s disclosures, and she confirmed all of them, and told me that he forgot to tell me about termites. Termites!!!! WTH. “Yep,” she said, "but not how you think of termites, they are treatable." To me, a termite is a termite. I don’t even know how to spot them. Well wouldn’t you know, we looked at house, one that I liked in fact, it had, or had-had termites. I could just see me freaking out in that house, every time I saw a hole or something looking like a cotton string hanging from the ceiling. Treatable or not, NOT- buying a house where termites have stopped by. Thank you very much! Not deterred, I remained brave and resolved.

Our friends to the rescue! Craig and Yvonne, our friends from Wisconsin, now Arizonians, gave us a tour of Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, the latter, where one of the world’s largest fountains reaching up to 330 ft., a celebration of life and water, comes on every hour, if the wind isn’t too high. The spray shoots water into the air until it appears to touch the sky. Such a beautiful picture in a lovely park! We relaxed there for a while, watching as its sprays created a rainbow as the sun kissed it.

Afterwards, our friends drove us up to Camelback Mountain, the mountainous rock resembling the hump and head of a camel, with the summit at 27000 feet. The site is a serene blend of resorts, hiking trails, and luxury homes nestled inside hills of soft layered sandstone and granite. I wondered how they built those houses and made them stick out of the sides of the mountain the way they did, and I admired the residences (well envied just a little) the ones
way at the top. What must it feel like to literally, live on top of a mountain?

 I would have loved to hike one of the Camelback trails. Curiosity made me want to go in search of a burning bush, and be like Moses, coming down off the mountain after getting a glimpse of God. I felt like if I trekked up there, I might run into Jesus sitting atop, waiting to tell me stories about how He created such beauty and all about its purpose. It was a perfect culmination to a Sunday, where we earlier attended Impact Church- it really was a GodSized party. The pastor delivered a sermon about living with false securities, and how we really should live knowing who and what we are in God. I took lots of notes. The message was timely, considering our big move. Lots of insecurities going on. The reassuring message provide me with comfort.

I was delighted with every bit of our trip, not even the wildlife can discourage me from the move to The Valley of the Sun. I OD’d on the sun, I am sure that I got more than the 5000 IUs, that I take daily in Wisconsin. Yep, looking forward to lush life in the desert. Ya’ll stop by and visit us when you can. We’ll keep our new pets out of sight.

Musing off!