Baby, It’s Cold Outside

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I found this photo from a few years ago of a place we sometimes had breakfast on sunny Florida winter mornings. I am fighting the deep grey feeling that comes from our deep grey winter days now that we are in Michigan for the holidays. I’ve been working on culling out photos that aren’t interesting or there are multiples of due to downloading from storage when I bought a new laptop – or maybe I was inept at creating my filing system in Lightroom. I’ve been focusing on Florida photos, hoping the sunshine will brighten my spirits. They do, but not for long. During Michigan winter I have to fight the desire to hibernate.

We are working our way into our Michigan schedule of exercising at the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Once or twice a week we motivate ourselves by going out to our favorite place, The Wooden Spoon – or “The Spoon” for breakfast. On our drive there today Jim was saying how much easier it is to go exercise when we are in Florida. I knew what he meant but he continued – “you know, putting on a heavy winter coat over multiple layers and finding gloves and being stiff from the cold.”

We walked into “The Spoon” and our favorite table by the window and across from the kitchen was open. Before sitting down I walked to the next table where a regular group of family and friends sit every morning. We laughed about my jug of maple syrup that we take in for our pecan pancakes, we laughed about the map I drew on their table that extended off the right edge and up Don’s shirt, we laughed about all the layers I had on – until I said that I better sit down before I get myself in trouble. I guess the warmth and joy of relationship and conversation doesn’t care if the sky is grey outside. Maybe all the shared pieces of ourselves and our laughter brightened the room.

Jana and Theresa don’t ask if we want coffee, one of them just brings it when we sit down, pouring two mugs and sitting the carafe between us. They have learned what we like so they bring a bowl of just flavored creamers. Then we experience the pure joy of that first sip of coffee as we hold the warm mugs in our cold hands. We sit in silence as we sip and refill and sip, listening to snippets of conversation from the big round table next to ours. This is where the old guys come and go throughout the morning, greeting each other by name. “Sam got a new trailer…” “…kids coming?” “…left that damn think right next to…” “…look at the size of those horns…” Sometimes one of them will direct a question or comment to someone passing by, most of the time the conversation volleys within the invisible but permeable boundary that encircles them. Our usual order of two eggs over medium, whole wheat toast, and a short stack of pecan pancakes with no syrup comes and we split it up so each of us gets one of each. We talk about how it is the best breakfast we have ever had. Jim fills our cups again and we discuss the errands we need to run after we go to exercise. We fill up on the comfort and good will that is around us, in no hurry to leave. As I look out the window at the grey sky, I think “life is good.”


I love beginnings, like starting new quilts and arriving at the Naples Botanical Garden in the morning when the sun is low in the sky, the temperature is cool, and my energy is high. The entrance to the Garden is a boardwalk through an area planted with tropical plants from around the world, something like an introduction to a novel or a trailer for a movie.


There is a stream running down one side and a small pond with a sculpture from the current collection on the other and I sometimes stop to take a few photos.


I am eager to walk on, to chat a minute with the woman at the window, the one who swipes my membership card. I am thinking about the type of light I think I will have and how high the sun is. I am plotting my course to either a favorite spot or a special corner of the garden my soul needs to visit. Or maybe I’m thinking about visiting the orchid garden first, before it fills with visitors.


I always stay too long at the Garden. After I decide it is time to head home, I seem to be drawn into another wonderful photograph and then another. I take my leave of the garden well after my energy is used up, and so tired that even my weekly scone and ginger limeade at the cafe doesn’t do much to perk me up.

I feel satiated as I head for the exit, eager to return home. And then something special happens. The exit is a boardwalk parallel to the entrance, with the lush tropical plants and stream in between. Here I slow down, and pause. Here I find a few more surprises and have to get my camera and tripod out of my cart.

I think I hear a lesson being taught, maybe an echo from long-ago regions of my memory. This lesson has to do with leavings – making sure to do it gracefully and memorably. I wonder if impressions are made more in the leavings than the entrances.


Windows to the World

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I have forgotten the name of this (Jake from Jakesprinter provided the name – a pedestal stereoscope) but I haven’t forgotten the wonder that I felt when I first peered through these windows. This particular one was at the Palm Cottage Museum in Naples Florida but they are like the ones my grandma had. This is how I got my first glimpse of far-away places. Not just pictures of far-away places but pictures that looked real – where there was depth. It felt like I was really there.

I was so very intrigued. On a very hazy level I learned that there were places other than my neighborhood. I wasn’t old enough to understand it but I know it opened a window of wonder about other worlds. The people in my family didn’t travel much – unless you count my grandparents emigrating from Poland when they were in their late teens. I didn’t understand emigration, they were just different in a familiar sort of way.

It has become fun reflecting on my life – maybe because I am gaining a lot of life to reflect on. I am intrigued with how different threads of interest and talent became woven together to form my tapestry, my life history. Seeing the bigger world through these 3-D windows didn’t lead to a life commitment to “travel to exotic places.” No, it wasn’t that conscious, but I think a combination of my personality and quirky fate repeatedly came together to guide my path through life. It was impossible to see when it was happening but now I’m beginning to see it more clearly.

What is interesting is that as I understand my life more clearly, I also have more questions. Did God have a plan for my life even before I was born? What role did self-determination play if there was a plan? If God already had my life planned does it mean that I am delusional to believe that I made choices along the way? Is there a God who is involved with each individual to this extent – to the extent that a 3-D viewfinder was placed where I needed it to open the window of interest? I can’t get my mind around that one. Do I think too much? 🙂

If you want to see other windows or to post your own interpretation of this theme, go to:

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

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Yes, Spring does mean a big change – especially for people who have lived through the drab and cold of a Michigan winter. This isn’t from Michigan because there aren’t many signs of Spring in Michigan – it is from Tennessee. I took it Saturday morning at a rest area along I-75 on our two-long-day-drive from our southern Florida winter home to our Michigan home that is in late winter or early, early Spring.

This April drive is always interesting because we get to see a time lapse of Spring disappearing. The dogwood was beautiful in northern Georgia and the last of the deciduous trees were budding out so there was gold among the light new green leaves. When we got into Tennessee, the red bud was blooming along the roads and the early-to-leaf trees were sprouting foliage but there were still many bare trees. By the time we hit Kentucky there were daffodils and really green grass – but trees were still bare with only occasional flowering trees. By Ohio the terrain was – well, drab. In Michigan I saw a Robin which is always a sign of hope of Spring coming soon.

Viewing this change of seasons in reverse seemed to work on our nerves and we were cross on Saturday. The car didn’t seem quite big enough for the two of us. But there is a change that is much more interesting that takes place as we move from Florida to Michigan. We need to adjust our brains from one house to the other.

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My husband came out of our bathroom and said that he couldn’t figure out which way to turn the faucet handles. I laughed because they didn’t work right for me either.

Darn, that isn't where I keep my knives.

Darn, that isn’t where I keep my knives.

Every time I do something in the kitchen, I have to open several drawers before I find what I need. As I was unpacking our bags last night, I had a moment of confusion because I couldn’t remember what I do with dirty clothes between being on my body and the washing machine.

The biggest change comes from being in a home that is small and without much stuff to being in a home with a lot of stuff. We never were big collectors of stuff but when we moved after 35 years in our old home we realized that we had lots of stuff from raising three kids and having one set of grandparents and two sets of parents die and leave us stuff. Our moving mantra was “Do we really want to move this two miles up the road?”

Our Florida condo is small and every purchase involves a discussion of “Do we really need this?” “Do we really want to store this?” and “Where are we going to store this?” We have deliberately kept our life simple by not having a lot of “stuff” to pay for, store, maintain, and clean. I get to Michigan and look around and get a little overwhelmed by all the stuff – even though I have been brutal about discarding stuff.

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I did some heavy thinking about my northern stuff and realized that this is where I keep my life things. This is where I keep my memories – the things that remind me of my life and its meaning. If I lost it all, my life would still have meaning but there is a comfort in having these things around me. Besides, maybe our kids will want some of this stuff. If I’m logical instead of sentimental, I know most of it will  be a burden for them.

This yearly migration stimulates me to continue to discard things that have lost their importance or I won’t likely use. Today I cleaned out a linen closet that doesn’t have any room for linens. It still doesn’t hold linens, but it is neater. I also am getting rid of some papers and books in my library so it is less cluttered. That will make my life less cluttered, too.

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What isn’t changing is my favorite chair where I write for my blog and drink my coffee out of my favorite chipped mug. This is where I will rest as I spring-clean-away excess clutter. This is where I will sit and think about the changes that spring and aging and, well, being alive brings. Florida life feels a long time ago even though it was only three days ago.

To read more interpretations of change and to participate, click on the following link:

Sunday Post: On-Going

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It is Jake’s Sunday Post time and I am feeling at peace. I am confident of my ongoing place in the world – even if it isn’t forever. My ongoing is for today, for this moment, as long as there is “this moment” for me. In this moment I feel joy and there is a smile on my face. In this morning moment I heard beautiful music and a meaningful message – both of which touched my soul. I shared a delicious breakfast with the man that I love and we sat and talked. We laughed at funny little things – life has many funny moments when we look for them.

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But life is on-going. An on-going of moments. In some of those past moments I cried – in some we cried together. The crying came from deep pain but I still remember those moments with a kind of fondness. They were a part of my life – the moments of my life and they make me who I am. I’m glad that I care enough to be hurt by life’s injustices. I’m glad that I let love in enough so that I hurt when love leaves.

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Life is the on-going of changing moments. Children learning to walk – away from the nest – further and further. Bodies getting older, wearing out. New moments of new opportunities for work, for love, for fun. Life’s changing moments bring loss but also new; new needs, new pleasures, new sorrow, new treasures.

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Life is the ongoing change of who I am and who is in my life and what is important to me. So, as I have faced and embraced all of my past life moments, I will face and embrace the ongoing moments of my future.

The photographs were taken in the Naples Botanical Gardens.

To see other blogger’s interpretation of On-Going, or to add your ongoing thoughts, go to the jakesprinter blog at: