A Song of Intent

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Song 1

A song by Shirley when things weren’t going well with the sale of their house.

In the style of David

 

My hopes were high.

 I have waited for your help,

asking over and over for you to finish what you have started with me.

One minute I was excited and feeling like you had blessed me,

and the next minute unexpected circumstances dashed my hope.

It looked like you had been toying with me.

It looked to some like I was foolish to depend on your goodness.

Why would God care about the sale of a house in Florida?

I would be wiser to acknowledge “chance”

or ask “the universe” to work things out.

 

But today, the sun slowly appeared on the horizon.

That sunrise!

Light shot straight up into the clouds and turned so many beautiful colors.

The clouds filling the skies glowed rose gold one minute and royal purple the next,

going through their changes like a kaleidoscope.

Even as I looked to every corner of the heavens,

 my eyes were drawn back to the center of light,

that blazing circle of fire.

As you have promised, it is there every morning

to remind me of your faithfulness, your creative power,

 your intent to make a world perfectly designed for me.

You even took care to make it beautiful as well as functional.

 

As you are faithful in these large things,

I will trust you with my own small concerns.

I will acknowledge your demonstrations of love and care.

I will wait for what comes next with interest.

There is no one who cares for me better than you.

Mystery in the Meadow

20181219_1138041622788714238647754.jpgThe pile had been growing for a couple of seasons. Downed trees from the bad storm a year ago, a  whole summer’s worth of fallen limbs, old pallets that he didn’t need – he’d hauled it all out to the meadow behind the barn. It was dry and ready to be torched. That was the one of the things on his list now that the weather was cold and the ground was wet from snow that had melted.

It wasn’t that kind of melting that meant spring. It was only December, the month of cold and early dark. He was thinking of the burn pile and other chores as he did a routine walk through the meadow and surrounding wetlands. It was a favorite winding down time near the end of his work day. He skirted the barn, crossed over the small creek and around the pond and surveyed the pile.

It looked different somehow. He had been out with his machine and pushed it up around the edges, but some of the larger logs looked oddly placed. He strode over and walked around the pile, trying to remember just how he’d last seen it. There was no doubt that something had changed.

20181219_1137183118489201353298995.jpgComing around the side away from the barn and out of sight from the path, he saw what was left of a small campfire about ten feet away from the pile. That was new. Someone had been here long enough to enjoy sitting around a fire.

Had he forgotten giving someone permission to use the meadow? It was his private property and although he allowed some friends and local residents to walk the paths around the wetlands it was hard to imagine any of them hanging out for any length of time, not in the weather they’d been having recently. And there was just something not quite right about that pile…

He was just about finished circling the perimeter when he noticed it. A gaping hole in the side opened into the interior of the piled up brush.  Kneeling down and peering in, he was amazed. There was enough room in there for a couple of people to roll out sleeping bags. The sides and top had been supported by pallets and piled high with tree trunks and brush. The whole pile had been re-engineered into a shelter, and a pretty cool one at that. It was empty, thank goodness.

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He couldn’t think of anyone who could have done it, and remarkably, without being seen. Maybe kids? There were lots of them out on Christmas break, probably bored and needing something to do. A vagrant? It was a bit drafty but definitely better than no shelter at all, and there was plenty of dry wood left to burn to keep warm.  What really bothered him was the thought of how he could have set the thing on fire with someone hiding inside. Not a good thought…

He sure wasn’t going to wait out there until someone showed up, so he decided to leave a note. He snapped a picture with his phone and went back to the house for paper and pen. The note went something like this:

“Hi. Whoever built this, please call me. You’re not in trouble. This is really cool but I am concerned about your safety. I was planning to burn this and add to it, and I did not know about this. Thanks. Dennis, Property Owner.”

He finished it off with a phone number and tacked it to a log inside the entrance where it couldn’t be missed. Now to wait.

 

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To be continued…

Hello Winter

Although it might sound like I’m complaining, I’m calling it explaining. Northern Wisconsin is a special place, with special conditions that are a bit extreme at times. I’m happy to be here and I’ll deal with it…

I know it’s winter everywhere in this hemisphere, but it’s like REALLY winter here. It’s only 16 days away from the shortest day of the year. They seem shorter than I remember.

I think my sister-in-law has detected some seasonal affective disorder craziness going on and has offered me a light box. I need to read up on SAD. There is definitely a shortage of light here, “up north”. It’s been overcast for the last week or more, and it’s almost like the sun never comes up. It looks like dusk even in the middle of the day.  By 4:30 street lights are coming on and by 5 it’s pitch dark. This makes for a pretty long night.

I miss the colors of fall, spring and summer. It’s not that snow isn’t pretty because it can be stunning.

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Stunning, right?

But many days are so gray, in all directions, that it’s hard to believe there are that many gray things in the world. Here at Par Place, we are not in the woods so there is a lot of sky visible. On cloudy days half the field of view, from the horizon up, is varying shades of dirty white, soft gray, to angry gray.  The other half almost mirrors the same shades, with the snow and a few dark green pines thrown in once in a while. Some days a light sprinkle of snow falls constantly. Several days this week there was wind, steady wind, coming off an iceberg somewhere north of here.

One of the windy nights, we were awakened by a noise, repeating itself at random intervals. I tried to figure out what was rapping on the outside wall of our bedroom, until I remembered a clothesline I had coiled up and hung on a nail. It was worth waking up to see the night sky, with the clouds and the moon, and the wind.

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the night sky

So, I’ll borrow the light box.  I’ll walk on the treadmill if I can’t get myself outside. I’ll try not to stay up too late at night, reading (which I’m prone to do). I will keep busy with all the things I’ve heard people do here, in the winter, in the house, in the dark.  I’ll wait for December 22, when the days start getting longer.

What We’re Doing this Summer…

What’s Happening with Us…

What on earth have we been doing? We’ve been selling and moving for months already! Aren’t we gone yet? No, we aren’t. Here’s what’s been happening in the past few weeks of relative silence:

  • The husband has been finishing up his last weeks at American Aldes Ventilation. They finally realize he is leaving and are asking him questions and scrambling to learn the things he will not be doing for them anymore
  • About half of our “things” got boxed and put in a container that is stored someplace in Tampa.
  • Packing has continued as I empty out closets, dressers, cupboards and the garage.
  • Keeping the house “showing” ready in case an interested buyer comes our way. We’ve had two open houses, both of which had 0 visitors. Really. Everyone is up north I guess.
  • We have been using up our food supply, giving some things away, sold the freezer. (Now we’ll hopefully leave before we get a hurricane so we don’t have to restock.)
  • Sold my car, and traded our red truck for a newer Chevy Colorado in a sophisticated grey.
  • Ordered a topper to go with the new-to-us truck to give us space for the move. They take weeks to make and getting it put on will probably be the last thing before we leave.
  • Spending lots of time driving around together, since I love to drive the new truck and am not letting the husband get behind the wheel.
  • Doing our last visits to doctors and dentists, compiling our health records to take north with us.
  • Keeping up with summer growth in the yard, mowing, pulling weeds and vines, trimming trees.
  • Visiting with friends we may not see again for quite a while.
  • Last but not least, trying to keep healthy and find our way out of some disturbing health problems.

 

What we hope to be doing in the next few weeks:

Dennis Retirement  (Click here to see the invitation with a nice picture of the husband. I’m technically challenged to get it to show up, sorry.)

  • Retirement party!!! I am so excited to see the husband getting honored by his co-workers. He has been faithfully on the job for 35 years and has been through a lot with this company. They have been planning a special lunch out at a restaurant and a surprise. I have no idea what it is.
  • Making an appointment at Mayo Clinic. The husband is frustrated and depressed with his erratic blood pressure and extreme mental and physical fatigue. He has had a brain MRI and tests for his heart and circulation but no helpful diagnosis yet. Ever heard of NPH? We hadn’t either but it is one of the possibilities.
  • Emptying out the house. Filling our container and returning it to storage until someday when we have another house to furnish.
  • Buying a small trailer for the things we want to take north.
  • Taking our trip to Wisconsin, via Greensboro to see Julie and possibly Madison, Indiana to check out Ron and Marlene’s project (this is the first they’re hearing about this though, so we will be flexible on that.)
  • We absolutely have to be finished traveling and in Wisconsin by the end of July because the first week in August is the Smith Family Reunion and we are going to be there helping it happen!

 

So a lot has been happening, even as some important things, like the sale of the house, have not been happening.  We are learning and practicing our waiting skills. And since it doesn’t make much difference where we wait, we will do it with family. We are not discouraged. The house will sell, eventually.

Watching and Waiting: Part 2

The continuing saga of Hurricane Matthew in Jacksonville

Friday: It was a restless night. We kept hearing the noise of the wind and rain messing with the tarp on our roof. The logs holding it down kept rolling around, thumping, and we wondered when the leaking would start. When it was light enough, Julie decided to move her vet van out to the other side of the electric gate, in case the power would go out and leave her trapped.  She thought it would be good to move my car out as well so it wouldn’t get stuck in the mud.  I never had noticed all the power lines overhead, but now that it was time to avoid them, there they were.

The barn owner came over in his golf cart and suggested better placement of our vehicles, so out we went again, looking for high ground away from trees. The weather was not particularly scary so we decided to eat a good breakfast before leaving. The cats were going to stay put in the barn apartment so we fed them too. The horses, backs to the wind, heads down, were still grazing out in the field pond.  Water, water everywhere and more coming down all the time.

We relocated to the main house around 11 and took up residence with Cliff, Monica and their kids, “hunkering down” as hurricane people call it in their solid, block house which Cliff assured us was going to be super safe in spite of being surrounded by huge trees.  For several hours we cooked, watched tv, and did all those electric things that one takes for granted, until the power went out at 3 pm.  The party spirit was not dampened in the slightest since the generator went on and powered lights and fans, tv and internet quite adequately.  Out on the dining room table a four hour (agonizing) game of Risk took place at decibel levels that I’m sure were damaging to the ears. I blogged and caught up on my Solitaire challenges.

Somewhere in its progression Matthew took an eastward jog which newscasters credited with saving most of Jacksonville. The reports showed the devastation of the beach towns which were flooded, but even there the damage could have been much worse.  Piers were washed away, people reported sharks in their front yards, trees were snapped off, all the routine hurricane stuff… Just sayin’…

It seemed like the wind was dying down where we were as well and I wanted to get out of the house and check on our things in the apartment before darkness was upon us. Julie and I set out in the golf cart during a lull, but before we got halfway to the barn the wind picked up again and, well, really impressed us, I’d have to say. It wasn’t a fearful moment, but definitely exhilarating to be aware of the power of the wind and driving rain, to have to wade through a foot of water to open the gate, and to arrive drenched in spite of rain gear.

The expected leak had begun but the buckets were catching most of it. The cats were fine. We grabbed some food to take back and braved the elements again going back to the house. More eating, waiting, watching tv until bedtime. We decided to sleep at the house where there were lights and fans and good company if we needed it. Still raining, but we were glad to hear the promise of better weather for the morning.

Saturday: From a west coast friend “it’s hard for me to understand why people choose to live where they have to prepare for possibly devastating weather. Every year.” I guess I would answer that I didn’t really choose Florida for its weather at all – I loved Wisconsin where I came from (although some people can’t understand choosing to live there either…). Sometimes the more pressing matter is where you have a job that will support your family. And I have to say that most of the year Florida weather is pretty desirable, judging by the crowd we get down here. Florida has been our home for 30 years and this is only the second time I have “hunkered down” during a hurricane. I do appreciate that we are given ample time to prepare and make decisions, even leave the path if we desire.

Today’s waiting is for the power to be restored and the water to run off. Most of us are a little stir crazy. I’ve been out to check the apartment, sweep debris and pile up fallen branches. We are still on generator power and it doesn’t run the AC so it’s getting a little damp and warm in the house, but overall, still comfortable. Although we have internet, my pictures will not upload so I will have to add them later. Check back if you wish. Thanks to everyone who cared about our welfare, and thanks to God for protection and comfort in the midst of the storm.

 

 

 

Watching and Waiting: Part 1

Watching and waiting for Matthew…

The worst thing about this hurricane, so far, has been making the decisions about where to go, whether to evacuate, where is the safest place if we stay? The decisions develop and change with time as there is always something new to consider. Second guessing is a constant temptation.

Tuesday:  I arrived a bit before noon and met Dr. Julia on her rounds. She had the dog with her so I had to share the passenger seat with a black lab.  We made a stop at the office and at the stable to drop off the dog. It seems that a lot of people don’t think about updating the vaccinations and Coggins on their horses until they have to consider evacuating them out of state. She has numerous emergency visits just to do health certificates.

Nearly all of Julia’s belongings are stored in a large metal storage unit. She goes down a couple times a week to look for something she needs and today she needs canned goods. We are more than a little upset to find out that a leak we reported two weeks ago is still leaking. I drive up to the office to let them know and return with their solution – a 50 gallon garbage can to collect the water.

We stop at Moe’s to buy dinner for ourselves and a friend and then return to the stable where nervous horse girls are painting phone numbers on their horse’s sides.  Our friend Doug eats burritos with us and says he’s not worried about the hurricane.  He seems to be very confident.

Wednesday night: After riding around seeing clients for most of the day, Dr. Julia started thinking about and questioning her employer as to her obligation to answer emergency calls during hurricane weather. After all, as she reasoned, she isn’t a government employee, doesn’t have fancy lights and sirens on her vehicle, might encounter impassable roads, might not be able to find fuel after the first tank, and doesn’t even have health or life insurance. She cancelled her Thursday appointments and will be talking people through their emergencies if they can reach her by phone. No one has complained. Evidently people have better things to do right now.

The husband has been texting us often, as he thinks of things we should be doing. He has suggested several places for us to evacuate to, and for some reason that I can’t fathom, is worried about us getting our laundry done.

I made a trip to the gas station to fill up the tank and find out why my tire pressure monitor was misbehaving. It was busy there. The Publix next door was doing good business too – every cash register was manned, the bottled water was gone, as was the bread.

Thursday:  We slept pretty good Wednesday night, knowing we had until sometime Friday to figure out what to do. We are in a small apartment in a stable, next to the feed room. Across the aisle from us are several stalls with horses. The barn cats are guarding the door. Inside the one room abode, Julia houses herself, her dog and two cats.  The barn is about fifty years old and has weathered one hurricane pretty well. It is open on each end which allows the wind to go through unimpeded. It has a metal roof and as far as anyone knows, there is only one leak above the apartment which is covered with a tarp weighted down with huge chunks of log. To me, the place feels pretty sturdy. There aren’t any big trees around to fall on it. I would consider riding out the storm here, even though the tarp will probably blow off and we might have some leaks. We have buckets.

Julia has joined a gym close to the barn partly for exercise, and definitely so that she can have a place to shower. That is her first mission for the day. We split up and I go to the post office for her and to Sam’s Club. I need to buy Half n Half because we can’t stand the thought of several days in storm confinement without cream for our coffee.

Another trip to the storage room, and there is good news. A repair has been made and the roof is no longer leaking in that spot. The bad news is that Julia discovers a new leak and we try to figure out how to move her bookcase to safety. We have come for hurricane supplies – a transistor radio and batteries, candles, toilet paper and vodka.

Today we spend quite a bit of time watching tv.  We check in on the hurricane but most of the time we   watch HGTV, Flip or Flop. We are both a little short on rest and can hardly stay awake.  The hurricane has not reached us yet but it has been raining almost constantly, sometimes very hard, with wind. I check on the horses who are standing, soaked in rain, grazing as if nothing is happening.   We have decided that it’s best to leave the horses loose in the pasture as a herd.  I finally go out to help feed them and have to wade through a sea of rainwater. Their feed turns into mash in the trough.

We are getting offers of shelter. The people who own the stable have invited us over.  Their house is surrounded by huge trees. In fact, the last time I visited during a storm, a big limb fell off one of their trees and trapped our vehicle in their back field. We also have an offer from a friend who has a nice new house, right on the marsh of the river. He’s in zone A for evacuation. HE SHOULD BE LEAVING so what’s with that?! Dr. Julia doesn’t want to leave her own animals, even though she knows the priorities of the situation.  The husband is still texting us that we should leave. He is reminding me of a Cat 1 storm that devastated a nearby town years ago, and this is a Cat 3 scheduled to go right over us.  We consider again and pray about it, knowing that it still seems best to stay where we are. We ask God to change our minds if he needs us to do something different. And we ask for peace for our family and ourselves.

Before we turn in for the night, we pull our vehicles into the barn and load some things in them. In the morning we’ll head over to Cliff and Monica’s to spend the day and night during the worst part of the storm.  We fall asleep watching the weather report.

How to make four hours go fast…

It’s not a statement,  it’s a question. I’m all settled in at this big airport, at the place I think I’m supposed to catch the shuttle to my final destination. It doesn’t arrive for another four hours, and when it does we’ll have a three hour ride farther north. I’m tired of sitting which is about all I’ve done since leaving home at 7 this morning. 

But, it’s been a safe, uneventful flight.  Every time I dig for something in my backpack I’m enveloped in this heavenly smell of essential oil that has evidently been leaking in there somewhere. And believe me, I am so glad it’s the one that does smell heavenly rather than the one purported to smell like cat pee. Small blessings.

Growing up, I had no idea that I lived somewhere called “remote”. We seldom went anywhere farther than our 60 mile trip to get school clothes in the nearest town with a department store. But school away from home changed all that.

 And as time wore on, the girl from the north, in school down south (Texas), met a man from the east (Pennsylvania) and moved west (California), before coming back home to Wisconsin for a few years. I live in Florida and am afraid to guess what part of the U.S. is going to be next. I don’t know whether to say the world has gotten bigger or smaller. 

When I fly I look down at the land below. Although this is a very big country, it seems to be pretty full of people. All the habitable space is divided up into squares or circles with clusters of dwellings at every intersection. At night, I see towns dotting the darkness everywhere I look. During the day we fly between cities so sprawling and large that it scares me. Our ancestors could not have imagined this. And I cannot imagine the future.

I guess I’ve talked myself into being thankful for a destination that’s still three hours from a major city. It’s gotten bigger (but not much) and there’s more traffic but it is still beautifully remote and it’s home to many family members and friends, making it even more beautiful. 

Two and a half hours to go… just sayin’.

Wait a minute… March 2015

from themedicinejournal.com

Today I am gladly embracing the state of “waiting”.  There is a tension involved in waiting for things that could actually drive me to be unhappy or frustrated, but I think it is also possible to just relax and pay attention to what happens when I’m waiting. Some good things happen.

I start listening with an eagerness to hear.  Listening to everything that might have a message.  Kind of like heightened awareness.

I rest more.  There is resting and there is acting, and of course, there is a time for both things. Rest is an absolutely necessary preparation for whatever comes next.  So if I rest while I’m waiting I’m doing something important.  Waiting is not the same as doing nothing.

The ability to wait calmly and purposefully is helpful and reassuring to others.  It’s kind of the opposite of panic and drama, which on an occasional basis is entertaining, but who likes that as a regular diet?  Not me.

In searching for something to do with my mind while waiting, I find some different, creative thoughts popping into existence.

The very definition of waiting implies that something has not yet happened.  There is hope in that and I love hope.   I choose to think chances are high that the next happening will be a good one.  Deciding to be positive, and expecting the positive adds to the chances for a good outcome.

Waiting is, in a sense, empowering.  I recently had a circumstance that was pretty much out of my control. But I still had the power to wait well or to wait poorly.  Waiting poorly is such a waste of energy and emotion – oh my goodness!  I’ve done that too and there was absolutely no benefit from it.

I think I was meant to learn through waiting.  Every time I have waited on God, for his answers, I have learned something valuable about him. And here again is the part about hope – God seems so unknowable at times and yet when I wait I end up knowing more and trusting more.   There are all kinds of examples of this in Biblical narrative.  Can you imagine waiting until you are in your nineties to have a baby – and then having it happen?  Yeah.

Right now I am waiting on a number of things, of varying importance. I’m just saying that it is perfectly okay to be waiting.

(No, I am not thinking of having another baby. Don’t even go there.)