Channeling Frank

Good morning! I wrote this a few months ago and never shared it. Let me know what you think.

It’s a gorgeous late summer afternoon. We’re just back from a few hours’ walk in the duneland woods, and I find I need to rush a bit to have dinner for 4 ready at 6. Why is it as I pull out onions and butter to start a tomato-onion tart that I need to turn on the TV – intent on finding golf?

“Golf?” my husband asks. “You watch golf?”

Normally, no.

I’m no longer a golfer and I don’t watch golf, much. But some Sunday afternoons I look for the match of the week. “Maybe it’s the peaceful voice of the announcer that soothes me,” I think; I wonder. “Maybe it’s …”

Today I think it’s because I’m channeling my dad.


That morning in church I tried channeling my parents – first mom and then dad – as I said the Our Father along with a hundred other voices. I imagined them forming the words using my lips. It was a wonderful exercise. I’m sure I’ll try it again.

We are our parents – half mom’s DNA, half dad’s. We might not like some of the things we inherited from them but then if we don’t like “that” – then we tend not to like ourselves and blame them. Or blame others.

Time and wisdom teach us to accept ourselves as we are. If there are attributes we don’t like, we get to change them. And at the same time can be grateful for the gifts our parents gave us, even enjoying televised golf on a summer Sunday.


Leaf, me be

I was walking Aw’gy this breezy fall morning while leaves swirled all around us. So many have already detached themselves from their trees only to land in the dunes or have been swept or raked then discarded. But one leaf is going to spend the winter on my desk. It’s the leaf that landed on my head.

It didn’t land really, but sort of plopped – purposefully. With a flat hand I plucked it from fine, graying hair. (It’s  a copywriter’s choice. Why say thin when fine will do? And, it’s in a ponytail. A sort of personal oxymoron.)

“Thanks,” I said out loud, studying the fine oak leaf in my hand.

photo-21Pin Oak, I know. Pinnate lobes, I thought, and alternating, not opposite. The base of the stem looked slightly green, telling me it had had a healthy life. I studied the fine veins. It had a few small blemishes and a couple of warts. Me too, except for the warts.

How many leaves did I rake this weekend, I thought as I raked a bunch to the curb. How many leaves are on the ground in these dunes? Hmm, how many grains of sand on the beach?

I stopped thinking about how many and became a grateful observer.

Exploring the Land of Enchantment

roadtripWe just came back from three weeks on the road. Put 4,900 miles on the tires and spent most of the time exploring southern New Mexico. There were beautiful vistas at almost every turn – the Sacramento Mountains on the way to Cloudcroft, crossing the White Sands Basin, darting through the forest toward Pinos Altos. But the views that come to mind this morning are the grand – my-camera-can’t-do-’em-justice – landscapes en route to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Park.

Years ago when I lived in Chicago and had to drive to the western suburbs, I imagined the clouds as mountains rising out of the horizon. No need to imagine in New Mexico! If you’re not in the mountains you can see them in the distance.

The road from Hillsboro and Kingston – once old mining towns, worth a visit for their tranquility and interesting history – was closed due to pretty serious washouts, so we took the desert highways from Deming through Mimbres into the Gila National Forest. I hadn’t used my “real camera” in quite a while since the phone has decent capacity but in the Gila, it would be a shame to point a phone at the mountains.  volcano


“Copperas Creek Volcano” read the roadside marker – remains of a 30-million-year-old volcano. In a way it’s like staring into the Grand Canyon – it’s hard to grasp the magnitude of this natural world.

From this point there are still mountains to climb, rivers to cross and bendy roads to follow to the national park, but it’s worth the drive. You learn the Gila Cliff Dwellings were home to many nomads over time; perhaps most notably the Mogollon Indians about 700 – 800 years ago.

Dear Readers, if you ever get the chance to visit, please do. There’s no place on Earth like the Gila National Forest. Although like many of our country’s national parks, it inspires awe, invokes awe and reminds us we are all connected in so many ways.


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!