My, how time flies

Thanks to so many of you for asking where WordScarab has been these past few months. Right at my fingertips is the answer but I’ve been up to my elbows in “other” and rarely touched the keyboard. Then recently I found myself missing you  so, here we go …

Yesterday WordScarab was three-years old. According to the stats there have been 157 posts. Hard to believe, but who’s counting? Neither of us have time for that. We’ve got spring to celebrate, family to take care of, work to do, things to write, ceilings to paint, bikes to ride. (Weddings to plan!)

What brings me back this particular spring day is the recent juxtaposition of two ritualistic family events.

Last Saturday, we joyfully witnessed two robins take their first flights – one, then – painstakingly, the other.

Three siblings with eyes locked on mom. She entices them from the nest by holding food in her beak.

Over a few short weeks we saw mom fluffing last year’s nest then sitting on her eggs. How many this time, we wondered. In about 10 days or so we saw her fly in with food.

Moody, awe man. She was fine when Aw’gy or others walked by but she didn’t like me one bit! Several times I felt her wings ruffle my crown? “I’m not going to hurt ‘em. Geeze!”

It's time kids. You gotta come and get it.

It’s time kids. You gotta come and get it.

She fed them as I tended our spring garden, occasionally offering a live worm in hopes of keeping her out of my hair.

Didn’t work.

The kids seemed to grow up so fast. Isn’t that always the case.All of a  sudden, there were two. two

We caught them one Saturday morning – side by side in the family nest, looking at mom sitting about 15 feet away.

I imagined conversation: “She’s not going to feed us ya know. If you want it, you have to go and get it.”

I couldn’t help but picture nephews Max and Mike. Within hours, our family would gather for their high school graduation parties. Two more fledglings ready to leave the nest.

The birds watched mom on the hill. Number two inched onto the gutter, started shuffling its little birdie feet and looked back at the last one as if to say … hmmm. (We could hold a caption contest!)

See ya around ...

See ya around …

The ritual will repeat itself two or three times this summer.

When the coast was clear I swept up pieces of nest. But the very next day, the mom – or perhaps another tenant – came back with dried grasses and a piece of plastic. A bit gaudy for my taste but then it’s not my apartment. I’m just the landlady and a grateful witness. ready set



Same country, different world

“Wonderful” is the best word to describe a trip last week to my home-away-from home, Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was delightful to see dear friends and enjoy some local cuisine (THE best Mexican food this side of the Rio Grande). And I was reminded why New Mexico is called Land of Enchantment. I gotta tell ya, weather is a big part of it.

IMG_2255My first morning started with the sound of a rooster crowing in the distance. I looked out the window to see a beautiful blue sky blooming over pink, orange and yellow bands of sunlight. Delightful! Only 24 hours earlier, I awoke to another gray day that has come to typify winter near the lake. What a contrast.

As I’ve traveled these United States, going back to my corporate days doing business on both coasts with stops in many towns and cities in between, I’ve come to appreciate the vast differences in climate and geography.

I remembered my first trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale and being utterly amazed at Saguaro cactus. Or at Lantana blooming on bushes eight or nine feet tall and round. We’re lucky if we can grow them at all in the midwest.

There was that February trip to Newport Beach, California when the weather was so beautiful – quite a contrast from Chicago’s damp chill that time of year – when I said to my colleagues, “This is not the real world.” Ha. Not MY real world but it certainly was for them.

Nearing the end of a wonderful week in Las Cruces, my brother – who would have been an excellent meteorologist – texted the weather back home was looking to make travel kinda dicey.

“Near 60 today,” he wrote. “Snow Wednesday. Near 60 on Friday.” My response was simple, “Oh yay. Oh sh-t. Oh yay.” I moved things around and got on a plane that day, ahead of the 10 inches of heavy snow dumped on our town overnight.

There are joys in our midwestern winters, of course. My sister reminds me we all have roofs over our heads, warm beds, plenty to eat, our health, loved ones … her gratitude lift goes on. I’m grateful too. But because I’ve lived where the skies are not cloudy all day, I sure do appreciate  the contrast. Here’s the view from my bed the first morning back in Indiana. And what a treat!


The best flat tire I’ve ever had

UnknownIt could have been a lot worse.

I thought the tire pressure light on my Subaru’s dash was illuminated because, well, it was 15 below zero and I’ve seen that light on other cars I’ve owned when tires sat overnight on a frozen driveway.

“Little did she know,” as writers sometimes write, that a shard of steel had pieced the rear-passenger Goodyear. Perhaps because of the cold or the way the steel pieced the tire or sheer dumb luck, the tire didn’t go flat until 36 hours later.

Of course, I didn’t leave the house Monday with the daytime “high” of 13 below zero (that’s minus 25 for my friends in France!). Tuesday the roads were still snow-packed and almost too treacherous to trek. Still, I managed a short drive for a few groceries and gas. “Huh. What’s THAT light doing? OHHH. Must be too cold for the tires. No worries.”

False hope.

Yet, when I hopped in on Wednesday for some errands the light was off. “Warmer today?”

Fortunately it was a bit warmer Wednesday. And luckily, I made it down the expressway at 60-65 MPH, no problem. Thankfully, I made it to the gym, Staples and the yarn shop on the square in Valpo. Easy peasy. I was even lucky, I figured, that the tire started to really lose its air just a couple of blocks from downtown Valpo.

Lucky that it was still daylight. Lucky that I wasn’t on a country road. Lucky that – here’s a woman’s thinking for ya, “Hmm. Can’t get Triple A or Subaru Roadside Assistance …” the recorded messages stated due to extreme cold and snow there would be a 3-4 hour wait for service – I could limp a few blocks back to my favorite yarn shop to hang out while I waited.

But even luckier still: just two blocks into my limping I happened upon Sandberg’s Towing & Recovery, 1252 W. Lincolnway, Valparaiso.

Pulling into the parking lot and reading the sign, I thought, if nothing else it would be a good landmark.

The lights were on and people inside had real car problems. An older couple’s Toyota died for no apparent reason on Route 30 and had to be towed. They were waiting to find out how long before their car could be repaired. “A couple days, with all the work we’ve got ahead of you.”

I had no choice but to wait patiently while a young bearded man named Eric Continue reading

Thanks, 2013, for a move to the Dunes

When I moved back to Indiana in 2011 and wanted to live as close to the lake as I could, I bought a bungalow 11 miles south of the Indiana Dunes State Park. I thought it heaven because my dog and I could be on the sand in just 20-minutes.

coverWe walked the shoreline in all sorts of weather – humid, summer mornings before it got too hot and frigid days with the low winter sun making my shadow about six feet longer than my actual height.

Aw’gy got longer, too, on the winter beach. And he loved it! Running, that is. I don’t know if it was because he was born in the desert or simply the freedom of running the sand with abandon but this dog loves the beach!

So you might imagine how happy dog and owner are now that we’ve moved to a Duneland community, in a house within walking distance to the lake! Yup, 2013 brought us a house in the dunes, which we happily share with our man (that’s another story.) Now, THIS is heaven!

Because the community is situated along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, we’re surrounded by nature. Houses sit atop and between sand dunes covered with trees, shrubs, flowers and vines. Streets roll and curve up and down and around the dunes.  Continue reading

Dear Universe: Thanks for the notes!

Long live Nelson Mandela. A crusader, a peacemaker.

It was my intention last week to write about gratitude. That post never made it off the yellow pad. Not that I’m not grateful – I am – but I wanted to express gratitude for things unseen – accidents missed, germs that flew past my nose, all the millions of things I take for granted.

thanks-7.05.57-PMBut how to write about things unseen? I’m not that talented. Then Sunday morning, it dawned on me – I am grateful, so grateful to have music in my life.

Not JUST music, which is so incredibly magical, mystical and mathematical that this writer can not begin to conjure the words – but HARMONY!

Harmony makes me cry. There. I said it.

Perhaps it began in 4th grade when the then Mrs. T. taught us the Mass of the Angels. Children harmonizing. The love of music and singing and harmonizing grew over the years thanks to choir directors and recording artists from the Beach Boys to the Blenders.

Thanks to Pandora radio, I dialed in a Manhattan Transfer Holiday-genre station, which is right up there with other favorite “stations” including  The Mills Brothers and the HiLos.

If you’re a fan of harmony, you gotta hear the HiLos’ rendition of Bali Hi, (Bali Hi – it’s amazing!)

Perhaps you’re grateful for new babies, soft snowfalls, seeing green leaves against a bright blue sky. Think for a moment about things you  might be taking for granted. Let me know and we will populate WordScarab with some of your favorite things.

In the meantime, harmony and me are perfect company thanks to Elton John. And I think in music, run-on sentences are acceptable. I know Simon and Garfunkel raised the dangling participle to a whole new level. I wonder if they meant to? (Couldn’t help myself!)