Category Archives: Passages

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



How can you love a lake for cry eye?

Today is a day to be truly grateful for living on the shores of Lake Michigan. The weather is glorious with clear blue skies. Only 60 degrees but I would have bet it was 75 at the lake this morning. It is joyful to see my dog Aw’gy tear down the beach or bite the water with his houndy muzzle. It brings me joy to be here. I love this lake.

I always thank Aw'gy for getting me out in the morning.

I always thank Aw’gy for getting me out in the morning.

After 7 years in New Mexico, I told friends I was leaving to be closer to family and the lake.

“You’re moving because you miss the lake? We have lakes in New Mexico.”

Well, yes. Technically. But nothing like the Great Lakes.

As a kid in Whiting, IN – about 8 blocks from the lake – my mom or someone’s mom would take us to the beach nearly every summer day. We’d pack up PB&Js; don suits, shorts, shirts and Keds and head to Whiting Park. From my dad’s store on the Boulevard, we’d take 117th Street, cross three sets of tracks and a red-bricked street to the beach.

For a little kid it seemed like a re-a-l-l-y lo-o-ng walk. But then, if you’re 5 or 6 with short legs anyway …

Those trips to the beach meant everything to me. Sheer joy. Our tradition started with my mother’s family living in Whiting and enjoying the lake, camping at the Dunes. And it continues to this day as my siblings bring their children, and their children’s children to the shore. Kids frolic in the waves, wade or swim out to the sandbar, build sand castles, eat PB&Js.

A year ago I lived 11 miles from the lake but thanks to a benevolent Universe, I’m less than a half mile. “Close enough to walk, not close enough to carry a full cooler,” I’ve been told. There’s no excuse not to visit the lake everyday, but some silly sense of responsibility tells me I’ve got to work first. I’m no longer that short little kid (I’m a short big kid.) Something’s telling me to rethink my priorities and spend more time with the lake I love.

(Note: As I write this, thoughts are with a family in New Mexico that lost a son to Lake Michigan this year. News reports said he went out to watch a storm. Many of us learned early on “the lake that thinks it’s an ocean” is to be respected.)

‘Knowing when to leave can be the smartest …’

Living in nature can be just as peaceful as it is overwhelming sometimes. Last Friday I was so taken by “nature” I had no choice but to leave … sore, disappointed, confused and abused.

You see, all summer I’ve been watching the weeds wreak havoc with the wild flowers in our yard. There is SO MUCH weeding I didn’t know where to start.

Then I realized I could make a difference in the Vinca patch next to the steps, under the Junipers. So I waited for the heat wave to pass and finally last week got psyched up and geared up to attack those weeds.

Starting at the top I pulled Goldenrod and Bittersweet, used the hand rake to release last fall’s oak leaves, pushed acorns down to the next step, and lopped dead branches from the Junipers. It was looking pretty – neat and tidy, as I like it. Speaks to my sense of order. Ahhh …

Stepping down to the next layer of Vinca I reached for the loppers once again to pinch off some dead branches but then WHAM! something hit me. I don’t even remember leaving the spot but all of a sudden I was swatting at bees swarming, landing on my black turtleneck, buzzing my face.

I found myself over the wall, on the stairs with bees on me. Tearing off my hat, shirt and gloves, I ran up the stairs – confused, flushed – and opened the front door just enough to say, “Help.” If there were any lingerers, I wanted them outside, right?

images Just the week before my Honey started weeding next to the house where we’re planning a small addition, and got jabbed in the hand. Twice. A close, bee-keeping relative said they were probably Yellow Jackets.

“You’ll know them because they have yellow legs,” she said.

Oh right! Let me just run out and check their little hairy legs! Even after suffering eight or nine stings, I don’t know what color their legs were. Doesn’t matter really. They pack a punch and leave a hot spot that lasts for several hours. Four days later the spots itch like crazy.

My reaction to stinging bees was so quick I don’t remember extricating myself. Yet it can take years to apply that lesson to relationships – where the sting can be felt much deeper and the pain may last far too long.

Why make your body sick to make sure it’s not sick?

Deck-waste fitting on a Cal 34 – better than posting the results of my last medical test!

Deck-waste fitting on a Cal 34 – better than posting the results of my last medical test!

Since 60 is the new 40, I turned 41 this year. And because I choose to keep this body healthy long into the “new 80” – I get an annual physical with most of the recommended tests. But this week – during the last test – I began to wonder if it’s worth making a healthy body sick to make sure it’s not sick.


I’m okay with a complete blood work up. In fact, if it weren’t for the darn needle it would be a piece a cake. Fasting for several hours is not a problem. I figure it’s good for me to skip a meal or a glass of wine and drink lots of water, or skip a morning cuppa. And I eagerly await the results.

“My cholesterol is slightly elevated? What’s the ‘good cholesterol’ number? Oh, higher than most. Okay. I’m good with that. And what’s the ‘bad cholesterol?’ In the range?”

Even getting my mammos grammed is okay. Flattening my ribs and soft parts under a plastic smoosher for a few seconds was weird years ago but I’ve gotten used to it – and it seems to be a small price to pay. Besides, I don’t have to fast, it’s not invasive, and the technicians are usually good at making us girls feel comfortable.

Lucky me, THIS year called for the colon camera! While I tolerated the prep pretty well, I started to feel sick  while my hospital bed was being wheeled down the hall toward the procedure room.

In case you’ve missed out, the “Easy Prep” – as they call it – consists of fasting for  about 20 hours plus downing a bottle of a lemon-lime saline laxative with two tiny stool softeners. One bottle at about 6 p.m. the night before the procedure and another in the morning to provide a clean track for the camera. It was okay, really.

My appointment was at 10 a.m. I followed orders not to drink water the 4-6 hours beforehand so I wouldn’t throw up. So I tolerated the prep, managed the dehydration – knowing it was temporary and heck, if I passed out, at least I was in the right place right?

A nice nurse named Veronica gave me a gown made for a 300-pound man. She started an IV in my right hand as we chatted, and all was well.

I’m a well person, I told myself. This is only a test. But when they started moving my bed down the hall I started feeling like a sick person – I started thinking, “what if I was sick? What if I was being wheeled into surgery instead?”

I began to feel queasy. My pulse quickened.

The super anesthesiologist hooked up the oxygen. “Wow, this is a big test,” I said, to three people working around me. As he released the sedative into the IV port he said, “You might feel a slight burn.” I waited – didn’t feel it. But I did feel the sedative begin to work. “Here it comes,” I said, and started thinking about sailing.

I awoke in a recovery room – kinda like ER with a curtain separating me from a woman next door. I looked up to see my honey walking toward me. Next the doctor showed up with his report – nadda. Thank you. Bye.

He was a very nice, caring man. Before the procedure when he asked if I had any questions for him, I said, “Yes. I’m a well person. I eat right. Take care of myself. Is this test really necessary?”

“Well, we do suggest every 10 years – if you’re well,” he said. Silly me. That’s his business.

This is a personal decision and one I cannot make 10 years in advance. I am grateful now to be well. But these bodies cannot last forever; we know that. We are given the opportunity to take care of them, or not. I’m not sure right now I would have another colonoscopy. I might just eat more broccoli.

What about you?



No children? Don’t you regret it.

Without children, I've had more time to focus on bringing out the best in this baby.

Without children, I’ve had more time to focus on bringing out the best in this baby.

Some girlfriends and most women in my family thought me odd for not having children. And as I read the August 12 Time Magazine cover story about “The Childfree Life,” (read it) I was reminded of some the trials and triumphs stemming from not having kids.

I didn’t choose not to have children. It just “happened” that way. Not choosing can be seen a choice, I know, but when something is not a priority, is not doing it a real choice? Maybe yes; maybe no.

It was not a priority for me. My goals included college, an English degree and becoming a flight attendant (“stewardesses” back then!). Also, to buy a Chevy Nova, of all things, and have a closet full of clothes. When I married it was not to have children but to share lives and interests, to be a lover and companion.

The trials of not having children have been in the courtrooms of others.

I can recall a handful of poignant conversations around children – when other women tried talking me into it; when my biological clock was close to striking 12 and I suddenly, frantically began talking about it with my husband, he said, “Okay you can have a baby but I’m not going to help you raise it. Is that what you want?” After the divorce, two mothers wanted me to fly to Korea to adopt.

Only when “time was running out” did I think twice about pregnancy. But that’s what the clock does. Sounds an alarm – are you sure? are you sure? are you sure?

I was never absolutely sure I didn’t want children. Nor was I absolutely sure I did.

Why live with regret? Why not find the triumphs in the lives we live rather than longing for the life we could have lived? There are so many ways to live your life. If you do have regrets, I can assure you there are ways to forgive yourself and do the next best thing.

I figure if I wanted to have children I would have had them! It’s as simple as that. There are so many ways to “get a child.” If I wanted and couldn’t I would have found another way. Or I’d be working with kids, or have opened a day care, or, or, or…

The joys of not having children include getting to know nieces and nephews and their children, being a better friend and even a mother to others. Spending more time alone allowed me to understand my disabilities and recognize my gifts – bringing out the best in this baby!

My new career is working on my childless legacy, which I expect to help more children than I could have raised. My regret would be not working on this project, and so, here I go!