Monday, October 31, 2011

Gotta kick the covers off

PHOTOS: Some of my favorite blues


LuLu-ism #35: Everything looks better in blue. Flowers. Wall paint. Socks. I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t prefer in the color blue… except maybe … fried chicken.

This morning, LuLu and I ventured out after a week apart. It was good to get back in the saddle, even if I had to drag the cowgirl kicking and screaming. It was cold to be sure, but what got me so excited to be outside was the color of the morning sky.

Those of you who know me well, know that blue is my favorite color. Well, this morning’s sky was a blue I’d never seen before. It was a dark translucent, blue with aqua flecks highlighting it. The deep green, wet grass was an excellent compliment as ground and sky met at the horizon. Breathtaking.

Had I not gotten up early and decided to ride LuLu, I would have missed this wonderful gift of natural color, honey-tasting air, and that sweet feeling of accomplishment that exercise gives you. It was especially sweet because after not exercising for a week, it was soooo tempting to let another day go by without putting the cowgirl in the saddle.

It is so easy to let go of resolve, whether it’s dieting, exercising, or just about anything else that requires gumption, grit and just plain kicking the covers off. I must admit, there days I just plain fail at it. But, I’m discovering that the trick is to not let that one day of giving in, set the standard for the next day. I must shake it off and then get back out there.

That blue sky was something. I wish I could duplicate it, because I’d love to carry a patch of it with me everywhere. I guess I’ll just have to be on watch for it another morning. Which means, well you know what it means. Gotta kick the covers off. Gotta get my cowgirl in the seat. Gotta do it for me.

Wishing you your own blue, fall skies.


Thursday, October 27, 2011


Photos: Earthworks on the shore of Lake Michigan.


Another day without LuLu. Gary and I are still in Door County celebrating our fortieth wedding anniversary. I wanted to bring LuLu to this gorgeous vacation spot but the hubs convinced me that we’d go to all that trouble to get her here and then the weather probably wouldn’t cooperate anyway. As it turns out, he was right… he’s been right a few times during our marriage.

Yesterday, Gary, Murphy and I took a hike on a trail that led down to the pebbled shore of Lake Michigan. Imagine our surprise when we arrived at the water’s edge and found ourselves surrounded by a hundred or so man-made rock sculptures stacked along the shore. Balanced one on top of the other, rocks of all shapes, sizes and textures were creatively stacked into the most amazing earthworks. Think Stonehenge only tons lighter and lots smaller.

As we stood among the sculptures, the fresh air, and the gentle rolling waves we couldn’t help but feel that we were standing in the middle of a beautiful, large art piece. We responded in the only way we could-- we began to create our own sculpture. Stone upon stone we stacked and balanced rocks until we got them just right. It was exhilarating contributing to what was already begun. It gave us a sense of community, an extraordinary, anonymous community that simply wanted to say, “We were here. Enjoy.”

It was a serendipitous experience, a sweet gift. By using elements created by God, himself, we were able to create something within The Creation. It was a nice moment.

You can never have enough pleasant surprises.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October 23, 1971


October 23, 1971- Pinellas Park, FL- 6 p.m.- She stood in the nursery/cry room in the back of the church building having an out of body experience. Her best friends, one since childhood and one since freshman year in college, flitted around her like bees dressing her with the precision of soldiers going to combat. Her sister-in-law of two months was already in her purple and Ivory bridesmaid dress and holding her veil like it was made of spun gold, waiting for the signal to raise it overhead and crown her with it. Her mother stood nearby and watched through tears that made her daughter seem to shimmer as if in a dream. It was ‘go time’-- the day of fulfilled dreams.

The young bride finally clothed in traditional white heard the harmonizing singers begin just outside the nursery door. Whispered voices had been passing the closed small room filled with baby beds and colorful mobiles for over thirty minutes. College boys, uncomfortable in tight cumber buns and rented cuff links, were on task escorting guests to either the left or right of the aisle. Her ladies-in-waiting giggled. Her mother kissed her on the cheek and gave her only the look of a mama who wanted to shout with joy and weep all at the same time could. Her daughter was marrying a good man. Her baby, however, was leaving her and changing their lives forever.

As the bridesmaids began their slow promenade toward the altar, the bride’s father stepped into view and placed her arm in his. His tears had dotted the chest of his starched white shirt. Never had she seen him this spiffed up. Gone were his khakis and steel-toed work boots. His thermos and black lunch box sat at home, replaced by a carnation pinned to his coat and shiny patent-leather shoes. A moment of panic when her contact lens slipped out of place on the stream of her own tears. Order restored. Dad saves the day one last time.

And then… there he is waiting at the end of an aisle she had been raised walking down, running down, and skipping down all of her life. But, this one last walk would take her to the end of the rainbow. He stood looking back at her as if she glimmered and had silver, wispy wings. She could tell it took all of his youthful patience to wait in place as she slowly came toward him. He wanted her. He’d won her. His love for her was an answered prayer.

She took his hand and in that moment, in the touching of fingers, warm palms, and wildly beating hearts, she gave herself, freely, openly and forever to the dark haired, southern, soft spoken man who would become her husband, the father of their sons, and the man who would keep the promises made that day for the next forty years.

Happy anniversary, Gary Marlin. Your bride still has no regrets.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Be there

PHOTO: Sidekick Rusty and faithful dog, Murphy.


LuLu-ism #34: Deep inside of us, God implanted a button that needs to be switched to ON. Trick is, He's left the 'switching' up to us.

It’s early, dark, windy, and rainy. Another LuLu-less day. So, Rusty, the faithful sidekick in the loft is my go-to guy… again.

This morning as I pedaled with my eyes closed, you can do that when there’s no fear of running into anything or falling over, I was struck with how non-participatory exercise can be. Your body can be doing something, like riding a stationary bike, but your mind can be back in bed, or going over the to-do list for the day, or whatever. That’s when it dawned on me that we can live life like that too… and I have way too often.

There is a little phrase I’ve chanted in my head for years now whenever I realize I’m having an out of body non-participatory moment: Live in the present, fool! So many times I’ve caught myself missing the moment because my head isn’t with me. Before I know it, time is gone, or an event has passed, and precious time was lost. My body was there, but no one was home. I’m convinced that’s not a good way to check off your days.

Be there. Come what may, don’t let one precious day get by you that you weren’t living it on purpose. I mean, even the bad days, the sucky days that have you wishing you’d rather be in Peoria or Bald Knob, Arkansas, just anywhere but where you are. Like it or not, it’s the sucky days that teach us most about life and about ourselves. Sadder still is that we don’t just do that, this wishing away our days, on the bad days. We do it on the good days too. We forget to show up in our own lives way too often. Missing. Regretting. Losing out.

Do you know it’s a proven fact, although I can’t quote you book and verse, but Google it if you don’t believe me that we get more out of our exercise if our heads are into it? As we lift a weight, or do a sit up, or say, pedal a bike, if our heads are counting and aware of the reps, or concentrating on the position of our feet, legs or whatever, our muscles respond better to what we’re putting them through, therefore we get more out of the moment.

I, for one, do not want to cheat my exercise regimen, especially if I’m losing precious sleep to do it, nor do I want to cheat my life of its days. Be there, folks. Be present, all of you, in what your doing, experiencing, learning, etc.,

Live in the present, dear ones…


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Plan B


I’m a wimp… a wuss … a sissy. According to our TV weather dudes, the wind was blowing 30 to 40 mph today. I opted not to ride LuLu. Hence, I’m a wuss, but I’m thinking a smart wuss in any case. I can take the cold, but the wind just does me in. So, I opted for Plan B meaning Rusty and I had a stationary ride in the loft.

How do you handle obstacles or a change of plans? Do they throw you for a loop or do you take them in stride? Well if you’re like me, you’ve probably responded in both ways, depending on how much you’re disappointed or inconvenienced, or how hard the change is.

However, God has been working on me lately in that area. You see my Plan A for life was college, marriage, kids, grandkids, then gracefully growing vibrantly old with my hubby. Plan A had been working well until last year. In 2010, my hubs was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Plan A didn’t include one of us getting sick. Hence, Plan B had to be put into action, which included trips to Mayo, radiation, reoccurrence, etc. I don’t like Plan B as much.

But, like it or not, Plan B is our new normal. I can either, kick and scream my days away, whining the “Why Me” song and live miserably and scared, or lean forward into this new life. I chose the latter.

And it is a choice you know. Yes, I am scared. Yes, I feel like kicking the cat at times. But what I want mostly is to live honorably within our new normal. I want to make God proud. Faith, family and friends have never been more important—thankfully, they are a roll over from Plan A.

Have you recently been kicked to the curb by your Plan A? If so, let me know how you’re doing. Us Plan B-ers need to stick together.

Blessings, ya’ll,


Thursday, October 13, 2011



LuLu-ism #33: Why didn’t God give humans wings? Could it be that we’d groom them and posture them until they’d no longer function, no longer resemble wings but rather stiff pillars holding us to the ground?

This morning while riding my little pink bike around the ‘hood’ I saw two little girls playing on their mound system. Know what that is? It’s kind of like an underground outdoor toilet. Out here in the country we don’t have city sewer, so we dig a big hole in our yards and place our own sewer tanks in and then cover them up with lots of dirt creating this mound in our yard. Grass grows over it giving our yards this lovely contoured look. Anyway, these two girls, I’m assuming sisters, were on the top of the mound with an umbrella and the older of the two was trying to convince the younger to jump off the mound with the umbrella. You know the drill, you’ve seen Mary Poppins, all you need to fly is an open umbrella, right?

I smiled. I got past them before I could see if the little one tried it or not, but it reminded me of a childhood experience. Picture me, age five, standing on the metal railing that surrounded the porch of the church building across the road from our house. It’s a Saturday and no one is around except me and two of my little friends, both older. Yes, I have an umbrella in my hand, and yes, my friends are trying to convince me that if I jump, I will not fall to the ground like a sack of rocks. Instead, said my dear friends, I will float down ever so softly and might even fly a bit around the neighborhood before said soft landing.

I won’t keep you in suspense. Picture me splatted on the ground on top of my mother’s flattened umbrella mad as a hornet. When I came home with the destroyed umbrella, I think it was the first time it had dawned on my mom that I was going to be that child, the one who would give her gray hair. I’m sure at that moment she had a horrible vision of me one day on the roof of a garage with scissors clinched between my teeth holding a board of rusty nails getting ready to leap off into a cup of water simply because some friend either told me I could or that I couldn’t and I was going to see for myself.

Childhood, it’s a grade B miracle that we even survive it. However, what a lovely way to start out in life, convinced you can do anything you set your mind to. What happens to that gumption we once possessed as children—that fearlessness, ever so misguided at times, but nonetheless had us convinced we could conquer the world?

At age 60, I say it’s time I got it back. Who’s with me? Who’s as tired as I am of cowering in the corner of life afraid of what folks will think of us if we step outside the lines, if we do something unexpected, but that gives us joy?

Hey, I’ve got an umbrella. I’ve got a garage. Anyone game?



Monday, October 10, 2011

One Last Look


Okay, I know you must be getting tired of me telling you what a great fall we're having here in Wisconsin. But it is, great I mean. Please forgive me for blubbering so, because in about in a day or two, true fall weather will be here; By that I mean, highs in the 60s, and then a few days after that highs in the 50s and a couple of days after that ... winter. So, I simply must blubber and bask in the sunset of our good weather.

My last hurrah was the Harvest Party my husband and I hosted for friends and neighbors this past Saturday. It's a tradition with us. We spruce up our three acres, dot the yard with pumpkins and mums, coax what flowers we have left in the beds to live just a few days longer and call it a party. Highlights this year were the pumpkin carving contest, apple bobbing, a haunted hayride and a bouncey house for the kiddos; And, lots of eating, snacking and good old fashion visiting was had by all. It was a perfect day.

Since LuLu and I got together this past spring, we have been blessed with more than our share of perfect days. Now six months later, my pink bike and I are old friends. She has treated me to many miles of good bike riding and I've introduced her to the neighborhood and the lovely changing seasons around us. It's been a good match. Of course, hopefully, I'll be brave enough to keep riding her through the cooler weather ahead... at least until the snow flies that is.

But for now, I want to share with you one last view of our autumn and our recent Harvest Party. I do hope you have been enjoying your autumn days just as much.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Lust for Pink

PHOTO: My LuLu dressed for fall...


So, I was in the store yesterday and a pink bike caught my attention across the way. As I get closer my heart starts to thump hard. Could it be? How could it be? But sure enough there sat LuLu, well, not my LuLu, but the next generation of LuLu. Sleeker. Two hand brakes instead of one. Chrome fenders instead of pink. And, oh my goodness, a pink basket sitting on her handle bars as pretty as you please. There’s no other word for it… I lusted. I thought of my LuLu at home, now with a few dents in her fenders. Only one hand brake. Lots of miles on her white walls. And, lawdy, lawdy, a meager ol’ wire basket that I had to purchase extra. I wanted pink. I wanted the new LuLu! As I stood there gawking at the temptress, I reminded myself of a straying husband, you know the scumbags who trade in the wife of their youth for one with fewer miles on her tires. Shame on me!

And that’s how it happens. We’re attracted to the new, the shiny, the promise of something better and if we don’t watch ourselves we’ll buy what we don’t need, we’ll trade up only to find the new isn’t better, it’s just, well, pinker.

Isn’t this is how we’ve gotten ourselves into this financial mess as a nation? We can’t control our lust for pink, so to speak. We keep wanting more pink! A friend of mine once said that lust, in terms of a man, doesn’t start when he looks at another woman, it starts when he take his eyes off of his own wife. A wise thing to remember in marriage, good stewardship, and bike lust.

I went home jumped on LuLu and took a spin. The ride was sweet. Her brake did just fine. Her dents were endearing. Her tires got me home. The only pink I need, I’ve already got.

Enjoy your pink today!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011


PHOTOS: Taken on my bike ride yesterday.


LuLu-ism: #33: You know you've got a good neighbor when you can borrow a cup of sugar and he'll snowplow your driveway just for the fun of it.

Yesterday morning, LuLu and I were on a mission. We are having a Harvest party at our house and I needed to get invitations out to our neighbors. This party is going to be a little slice of Americana. The festivities include a pumpkin carving contest, bobbing for apples (apples generously supplied by my neighbor down the road with an orchard), a hayride through a haunted forest (compliments of another neighbor with his John Deere, hay wagon and the hours it took to decorate their back forty with ghosts and goblins), a washer tournament (a lot like a game of horseshoes, but with those little metal donut thingys instead), croquet, three-legged races and pudgy pies—it doesn’t get anymore autumn than this, folks.

So, LuLu and I rode down our road and dropped off invitations. It was a great way to visit with my neighbors, get some exercise, and take in all the nuances’ of fall. I love living in the country! As I rode it was like I was inhaling an earthy mint.

It was fun riding my bike up driveways I normally only see from the road. It felt a little trespass-y parking LuLu near the front doors of houses I rarely visit. I know some neighbors better than others of course, and a couple of them are complete strangers. I’m hoping this party will knock down some of those fences that keep us out of bounds from each other. It’s not like in the old days where I was raised. Every neighbor was a friend and a tattletale as far as I was concerned. I could do something slightly naughty two blocks over and before I’d get home, my mom would be waiting with her arms crossed and with that look that told me I was dead meat or I was going to be when my dad got home. Now days, if I ran across a neighbor in the grocery store, there’s a good chance I probably wouldn’t recognize them. My only view of most of my neighbors is through our windshield as we pass and wave.

I want to claim some of those old neighborly ways back. Good people live on our road—hard working, kind, generous, family folks. We’re just too busy to be neighborly. Maybe dunking our heads together in a wash bucket full of Macintosh apples will change that a bit. It can’t hurt, right?

Do something neighborly today.