She kept a list of names, revisited from time to time. In her naivete, she reviewed her enumerations with a dangerous, misplaced sense of pride. Accomplishment ~ almost. It was her way of keeping the reality of her life in good stead with how she wished to explain it, accept it, justify (twist it?) to herself. The truth, however, was a deceit. She did not, could not, know. Decades later, she is more tender and forgiving of her earlier transgressions although she can scarcely believe the same being – inside of her now – had done those things all those years ago.

Maybe everyone is able to relate, she thought. Perhaps others own similar cringeworthy moments but she doubts – no, she knows – that those in her circle cannot possibly share this same history of regret, of disappointment of self. How is it that she’s recovered so well? Maybe she never really has. Or does she simply possess no conscience whatsoever? Then again, maybe she’s just pragmatic and understands that that was then, this is now.

People can and do change. They are changing all the time.

Who will she be tomorrow?

The alarm ruled my days
And SAT/SUN were my carrots.
They were devoured, yet savored.
Required tasks done quickly
In order to yield maximum downtime.
Books to read, walks to enjoy, relaxation = joy.

Now, my own time spreads out before me
Like a vast ocean.
I’m sailing uncharted seas.
An entirely new paradigm.
Rather than peering forward, slogging through five for two places of rest,
Time = Islands = Respite
No longer applies.

I can do what I wish to now.
Later, there may be other, different carrots to propel me forward, through my days.
But for now, I no longer seek ‘land’ on the horizon to get my bearings.
The dimension of time now provides a new perspective.
Opportunities abound,
And I continue to wrap my head around the possibilities.

I have five sisters. But we ain’t got no sisterhood — that, you can bank on.

Oh, we go through the motions. We hug each other when we reunite after a long period of no interactions and then again when we part ways. We may occasionally end our texts and our phone calls with a cursory ‘love ya’ but there’s no undercurrent of stability or history or bonding there to support these proclamations. Not really….

This week, while doing some spring cleaning, I unearthed some old journals of mine, a few of which go back ten years or more. I made myself comfortable, sat down with a hot cup of tea and read through every one of them. A recurring theme, scrawled in my messy cursive which has since given way to a neater, tighter printed hand, was the hurt and anger and the renewed insistence on my part – time and time again – that I was going to, once and for all, keep my distance from my siblings. I was no longer going to allow myself to be disappointed and frustrated, I was tired of trying to fit in and be accepted and liked by them. And yet, I still tried.

How was it that my friends and co-workers found me to be a positive, fun and creative person but in the company of my sisters I was often little more than a bumbling incompetent, someone who’d made too many poor life choices, someone whose comments were often ignored, mocked or berated? I so wanted their approval. I wanted them to, a la Sally Field, simply just ‘like’ me – was that too much to ask for? Above all, I very much wanted the six of us, as well, to delight in and seek out each other’s company. I wanted the media-fed image of sisters as best friends, to experience a camaraderie amongst those of us who had been born to the same mother and father.

It’s gotten somewhat better over the years although a recent interaction makes me question even what little gains I thought had been made. And now, at age sixty, as the oldest of six girls, I should perhaps be wiser (and serene in that ‘wisdom’) but I still find myself feeling only cynicism and a grudging acceptance that what we are, what we have, of what our sisterly relationships have become, as being cast in stone. Knowing this, accepting this, realizing this may help me to manage my expectations but it doesn’t make this reality any less sad for me – or for any of us, really.

The Secret Project, currently on display through the end of March at the Glore Psychiatric Hospital Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, features a variety of art mediums to portray secrets shared anonymously with the artist, sometimes breathtakingly so. More than fifty works of art are exhibited in a special area of the museum and my husband and I were moved by almost each and every one of them.

Jarring. Introspective. Haunting. Sad and yet empowering. A beautiful and poignant exposition of inner demons, personal fears and both the bravery and ugliness of humanity.

While my husband and I were hiking a bike trail yesterday afternoon, we passed through a marina where boats are stored during the winter months while they wait for warmer weather. We spied three decrepit old houseboats, long past their prime, at the far end of a gravel lot and just knew we had to take a closer look.
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Here’s the view of some frayed rope attached to one of the boats and a deck chair on the upper level of the boat sitting there next to it. I highly doubt anyone will be scrambling up top to enjoy the warming rays of the sun anytime soon.
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I’m trying – without success – to imagine the series of events leading to the placement of these wicker chairs shown here.
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Were the elements, harsh Iowa winter winds or a summer storm, to blame for this broken glass? An accident of some kind when the waves caught someone off-balance? Or something more sinister perhaps?
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Is there anything more pathetic than the thought of someone still making monthly payments on this old vessel: land-locked, rusted, never to experience the taste of lake water again?
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And yet, I’m sure these once buoyant vehicles – in their heyday – brought much joy and satisfaction to their owners. Families and friends enjoying an afternoon on the lake, tipping back a few, relaxing, living life to its fullest. If so, despite their present state, they will have fulfilled their purpose.

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Throughout most of February, the heartland has been enjoying mild weather and record high temperatures this past week. Here in Des Moines we enjoyed temps in the 70’s and clear, sunny skies, perfect for a walk around Gray’s Lake. Today, many are experiencing blizzard conditions, lots of snow and travel advisories in northern Iowa. No matter. We’re almost to March and now that we’ve had a taste of spring, we’re better able to hold on until she’s officially here.

Seven random images posted the 11th of each month…

However, due to an injury my husband sustained earlier this month – falling from a ladder and obliterating his left elbow and thereby cancelling our scheduled trip to Mexico this month – I failed to package this up to send out. Shrug. Better late than never!

1. Icy Shrub
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2. Crochet Project
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3. Daddy’s Rose
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4. By Hook or by Crook
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5. Neighbor’s Roof
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6. Life’s Punctuation Mark
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7. 4th of July Remnant in the Dead of Winter

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