So, what’s this now? This anxiety about tasks not yet completed, about the day getting away from me. With all my talk of time seen now from an entirely new – and foreign – perspective, how is it that my heart is quickening when I consider what needs to be done, should be, ought to be done? Oceans of time, remember?

I tell myself it’s because I’m not feeling at the top of my game right now. My hands and wrists, sometimes even my feet, thrum with a constant, dull, relentless ache. Pain. And so little energy. I hope it’s nothing more than that. Just a spike in how my body behaves itself, treats itself, in spite of itself.

To cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.

Sunshine, flowers, warm breezes. Curiosity and eagerness – anticipation! – returned. I have to believe it to be so. That it will be, again.

Daily Prompt: Spike

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?

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.

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A week or so before the big day – that’s me ready to board the limo my husband surprised me with for my 60th birthday – I started to experience the visual phenomenon affectionately known as floaters. Little swirls, dots and squiggles that elusively darted in and out of the frame of my vision. Certainly, I’d heard of them but until now was ignorant of the fact that as we age, there is a gel-like vitreous fluid that eventually shrinks and separates from the retina of the eye, as more fully explained here. Perusing Google as I normally do when confronted with something outside my (limited) realm of knowledge, I was reassured that these little fellas are relatively harmless and just a normal part of the aging process.

So why the limo photo? After a celebratory dinner with family and friends, the driver brought us home and as I stepped out of the vehicle, which was lit up on the inside with funky lights in the ceiling and along the interior walls, and into the dark evening air, I experienced the sensation of what seemed at the time akin to paparazzi snapping photos of me as I exited the limousine. The lights flashed a few times and it seemed as though an inverted image of the night was on display before me. The surreal nature of these flashes (which I assumed were caused by the sudden emergence from the lights inside the vehicle and stepping out into the darkness of the night) was compounded by the fact that it was a stretch limo we were getting out of, not just any ordinary sedan. Weirdness, indeed.

Not wanting to alert the others to the drama playing out before my very eyes and thereby ruining what had been a very lovely evening, I said nothing. Images flashed intermittently the rest of the night and throughout the following day, vertical shapes that presented themselves on the right side of my peripheral vision. I still had not said anything to my husband about what I’d experienced but started to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t get this checked out with my eye doctor.

Two days after my birthday, I made the call and spoke with the nurse to see if this was something that merited a look-see. After answering a few questions (and covering my left eye to determine the range of my vision – all good, by the way) the nurse asked if I could come in that afternoon. She said it sounded as if I had a retinal tear and that it was important to rule out retinal detachment.

OK. Now she had my attention.

I steadily worked my imagination into a frenzy on the way in to the appointment and as I sat in the waiting room. The tech who did the initial exam allayed my fears as I began to cry, saying that it was good I’d come in to get it checked and that it was most likely nothing to worry about. And even if I did have a retinal detachment – per my Google searches prior to the appointment, I’d learned blindness was a potential outcome – I was in good hands for them to address the issue.

Well, I’m happy to report there was no retinal detachment. Huge sigh of relief upon hearing that diagnosis. What had happened when I experienced the flashes of light (in conjunction with the floaters I’d begun seeing a week or so earlier) is what’s known as PVD: posterior vitreous detachment which refers to the gel separating from the retina. A retinal tear occurs when the vitreous gel is so firmly attached that when it pulls away from the retina, it causes a tear. This tear can cause fluid to accumulate and ultimately cause a retinal detachment. I read this is similar to the situation where there is a rip in the wallpaper in a bathroom. If the rip is not repaired, over time the steam from the bathroom shower can get behind the wallpaper and eventually cause the entire sheet of wallpaper to peel and fall off. In the same way, a retinal tear – if untreated – can result in the retina from detaching. And as noted, loss of vision or ultimately blindness can occur.

So. I had experienced a PVD, a posterior vitreous detachment, manifested by squiggly floaters and the bright flash of non-existent paparazzi intent on snapping birthday photos of yours truly.

I was not aware of this potential hazard in my attempts to age gracefully. A natural occurrence, I’m told, but one not without its perils. I need only now to be alert to any changes in my vision, particularly objects in the peripheral range or to a significant increase in the number of floaters, but to rest assured that my eyes – my 60 year old eyes – are fine now, just the way they are.

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.

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Effective March 15th, I become a Free Woman. I am retiring!! More time to pursue photography, crochet, Adventures in Cooking, Adventures in Baking, hiking, biking, writing and blogging. No pesky office job to interfere with beautiful days perfect for driving along back roads to snap photos such as this or to explore the latest art exhibits or to cultivate container herbs and spices out on the deck. Early morning walks, reading in a comfy chair sitting in the sun with a hot chai or cup of tea, lazy afternoons relaxing with a few gel pens and a coloring book, getting up close and personal with bike trails, state parks, museums and music events, plays, wineries, binging on Netflix — the opportunities are countless and oh, so far-ranging!

A friend who retired a few years ago told me the first thing she did was to catch up on her sleep. So that might just be an option as well. It’s an overused phrase but, truly, this will be a whole new chapter. I began working in my early 20’s and aside from semester breaks as a non-traditional student, the last time I truly had time just for me was, well, probably never!

The countdown in days (not months!) starts NOW….