Another Time

I seem to be learning lessons about life rapid-fire lately.  Even as I grow older, “learning my lesson” keeps on coming, maybe even more so than earlier in my life.  So, kids of all ages shouldn’t feel called out when they have to “learn their lesson” over and over again.

Something I learned while playing matching games on my phone, usually when most people are sleeping, was not fresh knowledge but more of a refresher course.  The nugget that I received as a eureka moment was this, “there is an optimal time for everything.”

I know this fact but it came as brand-new knowledge when I found myself awakened after several dreams in the wee hours of the night, and decided to play a game on my phone.  When I opened the game app I remembered that I had closed it in frustration last time I played.  You see, I had nearly completed the game when I inadvertently tapped the home button and the game progress I made was wiped out only to start over.  I closed the app in exasperation.

When I opened the game this time, I played it lickety-split without any ads butting in, and as it was a typically long game with lots of points, I finished it in record time.  I said to myself by way of a reminder, “there’s a right time for everything.”

I’ve learned this same lesson hundreds of times, why don’t I remember it?  For example, why don’t I just simplify and erase some needless frustration by stopping an endeavor when exasperation first sets in, saving it for another time.  But no, I usually let the tension build way too much before abandoning it for that better moment in time.

Only until the better time presents itself and the task goes smoothly, or as it should, do I see the difference.  Some people have to learn lessons by seeing it or doing it for themselves.  They learn by doing, not by hearing.  Is that you too or is it just me?

Some of us call it trial and error.  We can’t see the end result abstractly; we have to actually do the task and see that it was the wrong choice (or the right choice) before we get it.

In the same vein, we can’t see in the moment, that if we had just WAITED, we wouldn’t have needed to worry or stress because it worked out better than we imagined.  That’s the downside of imagination, seeing a negative outcome when a positive one was on the way.  That’s an example of “hurry up and wait,” usually borne out in a hospital or doctor’s waiting room.

Many years ago, I had a dream that I got the job, in the waiting room.  Specifically, a bunch of us were waiting to be interviewed for a job.  It was an inordinately long wait.

There was a closet in the waiting room.  People who already worked there came out periodically and retrieved outdated office equipment like manual typewriters, shorthand pads, and Dictaphones, from the closet.

Some of the younger folks in the waiting room exited the building when they saw the old, unfamiliar stuff being unearthed.  Others of us just waited.

Morning dwindled into midday.  I took a train home to refresh myself and came back in the afternoon and just a few of the interviewees remained.  A child began to act out and it was too annoying for a couple of people who then left.

It was the end of the day and the interviewer came out and asked one question of the three of us who remained.  I got the job.

It seems that there truly is a time for everything.  Sometimes you just have to wait for it.  And if it’s not the time and you try to force it, you end up banging your head against the wall in frustration.  It won’t happen until the time is right.

Have you ever observed that some people have good timing and others just don’t get it.  Not until they blurt something out at the wrong time, do these folks realize they should have waited.  It would have made all the difference.

The origins for “a time and a place for everything,” comes from the Bible’s Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.  “For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven,” is how I remember it.

Ecclesiastes, along with Proverbs and others, is considered wisdom literature.  In particular, Ecclesiastes ruminates about the meaninglessness of life without God.

Therefore, this quote about time and place, put into the context of meaninglessness, explains the frustration we experience when we get the timing wrong.  “If I had just waited… maybe I wouldn’t have had to suffer….”  The wisdom and simplicity of sometimes just waiting, is highlighted in this Scripture.

In popular psychological parlance, we’ve been told to chill out and (pause), wait for it….  If you’ve been hanging out in the waiting room for a while, I’m your sister.

Try making the best of the wait.  “Whistle while we work,” is a little chorus I remember from lessons learned in childhood, originally from the 1937 Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, and it reminds us to go to work as usual, putting one foot in front of the other, while we wait for that other thing that we’re so tempted to force into being. 

The time will be right sometime.  So, dreams, jobs, waiting rooms, needless frustration, worrying for nothing… just wait for it.  Or not.  Maybe you’d rather learn your lesson again the next time around, like me.

Unedited Enthusiasm

For the last six months or so, I’ve had some back pain.  I’m not having a pity party, so don’t be offended if you’re not invited.

This column isn’t really about that back pain, but an attempt to observe, out loud, what is, and adapt to it.  I recently heard a ditty, “It is what it is, and it’s not great.”  I’m contemplating this, in writing.

Once upon a time, I worked for a renowned research psychiatrist, focusing on childhood depression.  One of my tasks at that university job, was to supervise work-study students.

One particular student whom I deemed “moody,” essentially complained to the boss that I didn’t tell her what to do, instead asked her if she minded getting the mail from a neighboring building in the middle of a rain storm.  I thought I was being courteous and softening the blow.

However, to that young woman, whom the boss said was clinically depressed, I was sort of dancing around reality, in order to be polite.  And she clearly wanted me to stop it.  Or so said the boss.

I learned in that situation, to edit my enthusiasm“Be happy, nice, optimistic, but do you have to be THAT positive, all the time?  It’s annoying,” told me, to myself.

Back in that day we used to refer to someone with a “pie in the sky” approach to life, as a Pollyanna.  Unrealistic; excessively cheerful; all is sweetness and light, when sadness, frustration, anxiety, or at least neutrality is the more appropriate attitude toward certain external circumstances.  In less-than-ideal situations, Pollyanna remains stuck in wonderland.  It might be denial rather than optimism, sometimes.

Frequently we run into what might be perceived as “Pollyanna-ism” on the social media platform, Facebook.  Why?  It might be because we’re on a perpetual date, showing only our best side, and we’re wearing “social-makeup” on Facebook.

Some of us want to punch those perfect Facebook people.  You know the ones who are constantly, it seems, on a cruise, celebrating something with balloons, bells and whistles, or they’re at some exotic travel destination, promoting one event or another, and always dressed up.  Meanwhile I’m at Walmart on a Saturday night trying to get cat litter and there are even waiting lines at the self-checkouts.  This stuff might make Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) want to barf, me thinks.

I’m a wife, mother, and grandmother, with a job, if not a career.  I entertain a passion for writing – really wanting to be like Dave Berry.  With my spouse, we own a business, maintain a home, and are sandwiched tightly between generations of family to whom we love and extend care, to the best of our ability.  Is there any wonder I try to be everything to everybody, and look half decent in the process?  I’m trying to edit my enthusiasm here, so, I’d really rather not hear from any of those perfect people, “you look tired!”

In terms of that back pain, I sort of decided in order for me personally to find some sort of healing, I’d first have to bump up my awareness of how I move about this planet.  It seems that I’m not doing myself any favors by moving around like when I was, say sixteen years old.

I think I’m going to try living a tad more deliberately.  For example, instead of restringing that rag rug in our entryway, in situ with my legs poised Indian-style, I’ll put it up on something, waist-high.

Instead of stacking the firewood by myself, inter-weaving the pieces “just so,” because I’m really good at it, I’ll revel in the fact that my grandson enjoys helping us with that rather hard work.  We can give the opportunity to him to feel good about a job well-done.

I had a dream that I was a Massey-Ferguson or a Farm-All tractor.  In case you’re not familiar, these are/were tractors that were durable, reliable, not in the least fancy or highfalutin, but made to last and get the job done. Hm.

Over the holidays I found that I can let tradition along with the extra work, slide a bit if it means I don’t have to live on anti-inflammatory medicine with a side of pain meds.  And, I can accept that help, is not your usual four-letter word.

You might reply, “but I have …to….”  like all of us accustomed to believing, “if you want it done right, do it yourself.”  Do you have to?  Must it be done right, or can it just be done?

Just because you used to, doesn’t mean you have to, now.  Things change.  People change.

Enthusiasm is positive, and perfectionism is helpful in providing us with a high standard to aim for.  Reinhold Niebuhr said, “Aim for the stars and maybe you’ll reach the sky.”

The downside of perfectionism and unedited enthusiasm, is it’s not the material of personal contentment.  It’s more the maker of anxiety about not being enough, or God forbid, “too much.”  Not to risk too much sociological theory, perfectionism and unedited enthusiasm work out best for “the man,” the society, the organization, the institution, and not so much for the individual.

Somewhere along the journey toward trying to become enough, following the trail-sign, “I have to,” some of us become “too much.”  I’m self-aware enough to admit that at times in my life, I’ve been that person.

Since we’re embarking on a new year, I’m planning to pay attention to how much is “too much.”  Instead of too much enthusiasm, having to be right, too much emotion, psychology, feelings, empathy, knowing…, I think I’ll try checking all that at the door and pretend that like Goldilocks, I’ve found that comfy place, called “just right,” and I won’t be afraid of how the bears will react to my having found their keys.

My astrological sign is Libra and it is symbolized by balances.  I hereby edit my enthusiasm and will attempt in 2024 to achieve some balance between what I really “have to” do, be, say, achieve, feel…. and what’s enthusiasm-worthyMaybe you and I can edit that ditty written above, to a more balanced, “It is what it is, and it’s okay.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

WTF, is an abbreviation or more technically, it’s an initialism.  FBI, is a familiar example of an initialism, which is the easier said abbreviation for Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FBI is not an acronym like the “word,” POTUS, which is an abbreviation for President of the United State, and is pronounced “POdus.”  We say the letters separately for the initialism, F B I, not as a word that would have to sound something kind of stupid like fibeye, which rhymes with ribeye.

Believe it or not, I did a stint at teaching back in the day.  Examples are the stock in trade of many teachers, “do you get it now?”

Back to WTF.  Let it be known that a whole bunch of American slang comes from our military.  And the majority of it arrived in the early-to-middle part of the last century via the NATO – an acronym BTW – phonetic alphabet, or some say, it more specifically came from the Navy.

You may have used this alphabet when spelling your name over the telephone, to a stranger.  I’d like to sometime in my spare time, learn the NATO alphabet because it was devised to be interpretable by persons from every nation.   I still stumble over my version of the phonetic alphabet on occasion, usually relying on Nancy for the N in my last name, when the NATO one is a very simple, November.  I do use “V like Victor.”

Initialisms have grown like weeds, probably hitting baby boom status in the last few years due to the proliferation of the text message.  Texting abbreviations are used for their brevity.  Who wants to type out on your phone, “by the way,” when you can shorten it to, BTW?

However, those military abbreviations often have, from my observations, been about screw-ups.  Also, to clean up the language used by “officers and gentlemen,” the U.S. Navy created some pretty fancy and funny euphemisms to escape their “cussing like a sailor” image in the mid-twentieth century.

So, about Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, what could it mean?  “Where’s the fubar?”  Uh oh, that’s an acronym for yet another military screw-up.  You may personally have to unravel the puzzle of the word fubar, as this chick does not cuss like a sailor.

SNAFU, is an acronym which has made it into the English language for something that is messed up.  Literally it means “Situation Normal: All -messed-Up (you fill in the F-word).”  Similarly, SUSFU means “Situation Unchanged Still -messed-Up.”  TARFU takes the place of “Totally And Royally -messed-Up.”

Then there are some flat-out funny acronyms like ASRAAM.  First say that three times without “cracking” a smile.  Even better, say it while looking at a picture of the Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile, and tell me you don’t giggle just a little bit.  That one reminds me somewhat of the German word we discovered while driving a rental car along the auto-bahn, AUSFART, meaning EXIT.  Yes, you can laugh now.

I surmise that, “forever” we have abbreviated, initialized, and substituted similar sounding words for the “real” cuss word.  How else does one express, in polite society, rather pent-up emotions which threaten our sanity?  The “merde”-word becomes “sugar,” or in my case, an ode to the 1963 song-reference, “sugar-shack;” “holy-moly” substitutes for “holy-merde;” or “holy cow,” presumably an unpleasant dig at Indian culture.  The list goes on, in our efforts to clean up the popular cuss words of the time.

We use some pretty silly substitutes instead of saying “bad words” in front of the children, or in “polite” company.  Here are some that I’ve heard: What the heck or H E double hockey sticks, Judas Priest, Dang, Jiminy Cricket, Freakin, and its brother, Friggin, Heavens to Murgatroyd, Dear Gussie, Dagnabbit, Son of a Gun, Heavens to Betsy, Geez Louise, oh for Pete’s Sake, Horse Feathers, For Cryin’ Out Loud, and one I use often, and mean it, Bless Your Heart!

May I take the liberty to have some fun with the WTF initialism?  How about WTF, “where’s the faux-pas?”  I don’t see my mistake.  Where did I go wrong?  With this example we get to use a common French word.  That’s fun.

“Where’s the fire?”  What’s your hurry?  This incident isn’t a crisis, it’s just a Monday.

“What the fiddle-faddle?”  The stuff that comes out of the mouths of politicians is such nonsense.

“Where’s the fortitude?”  One reason for so much divorce is, some people give up too easily.  In celebrity circles, they give up too quickly.

“Wait for it, the fumigator” is on the way to disinfect and destroy all the pests that threaten us this year.  One of the scary ones is RSV.

“Wisdom trains the funambulators.”  Get ready to walk the tightrope of 2024 culture.  It threatens to be a crazy one.  So, strap on all the wisdom you can muster.

One might judge the content of this particular column as a FONSI, a Finding Of No Significant Impact. At any rate, please have a very pleasant, blessed, and love-filled (VPBLF) 2024.

To Give

I personally feel some joy in the fact that there is a season set aside and somewhat universally acknowledged for gift-giving.  It’s like a government sanctioned generosity of spirit.

In the book of Acts from the Holy Bible, there is a verse, “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”  On the whole of it, and in all honesty, that might seem a bit wonky.  After all, aren’t we supposed to feel especially blessed to be the center of attention, opening the gifts given to us?

However, I have observed in my lifetime that there have been quite a few moments when, giving something to someone was an absolute thrill.  There’s a special feeling of giddiness watching someone open a present and beam with happiness at something you selected for them with your whole heart.

So, there is a synchronous give-receive, action-reaction mechanism in the process of gifting.  Surely someone has conducted a scientific study proving some kind of serotonin boost in this gifting experience.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find that that scripture in Acts is scientifically proven to be truth.

When our daughter was young, we absolutely delighted in shopping for “shoe-box gifts” for the Christian organization, Samaritan’s Purse.  To this day, as an adult, our daughter loves selecting gifts for others.  In fact, I would say that it’s a toss up whether she prefers giving, equally as much as receiving, gifts.

“Tis the season,” for gratitude as well as generosity.  There’s something about the holiday lights that warms the winter cold and enlightens the heaviness in this season of longer nights than days, making us more easily acknowledge our thanks for gifts given.

I once said boldly at a church meeting, that “I can’t imagine it ever being wrong to give.”  But a woman spoke, just as boldly, that we should be discerning when we give, and that it is indeed wrong sometimes, to give.

So, as I often do in such circumstances, I checked myself and pondered her comment.  Should I be more cautious in giving?  The more I thought about it, I went back to my original stance, that it’s never wrong to give.  I thought, “who am I to judge the worthiness of another to whom I’m inclined to give.  How someone receives my gift is one hundred percent up to them.”

Then there are gifts, otherwise known as talents.  Back in the day, certain children were deemed to be “gifted” and were given more challenging lessons and opportunities for learning, than us regular guys.

I’m a tad shocked that in 2023, with all of our political correctness, that not only is the term “gifted” still used, it’s expanded to “gifted and talented.”  So there, you talent-less schmucks out there, you might be labeled GNT only if you imbibe in the occasional or daily gin and tonic.

It is my opinion that gifts and talents seem to be distributed pretty much across the board to everyone.  But some of those gifts appear to be more socially sanctioned than others.  Therefore, some folks seem to get all the awards and rewards for their gifts while others remain unsung and uncelebrated, although equally gifted and talented.

Should we get jealous of others with flashier gifts than ours?  If someone is more talented than me, am I envious?

I wonder if, instead of comparing our gifts or talents, to others, we might think of the greater gifts that we possess and those that really matter.  It might just be that these greater gifts won’t be found under the tree, but around it.  Ponder these gifts and let your heart shine when you see how many of them you already have, wanting nothing.

Health, someone who believes in you, vision – not sight, toleration, love of others, free choice, attention to yourself, a boss who wants you to succeed, ability to soldier on through the storms, freedom to be you, books, unconditional love – just because, passion for life, children, a positive attitude, imagination, self-expression, friendship ….

Next in this little experiment, try giving away some or all of these gifts, and just see if the writer of the book of Acts was right, is it indeed more blessed to give than to receive?

Opened Doors

“Help, I need somebody.  Help, not just anybody…. Help me get my feet back on the ground…. When I was much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way… But those days are gone and I’m not feeling so self-assured….  Now I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors….”  Those are bits of the 1965 Beatles hit song, “Help!” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

In a recent dream, I was tasked with the responsibility of teaching young children about how God answers prayers.  I started with the universal beseeching prayer, “Help me!”  By the way, to “beseech,” is to eagerly beg.

First, I have to stipulate that REM sleep is vital to our health and well-being.  And it’s during REM-sleep that we dream.

There are a couple of mental health benefits to dreaming, one is overnight therapy for frayed emotions.  The other is to problem-solve and tank up on a fresh supply of creativitySo, our dreams can be one way that God answers our prayer for Help!

In my dream, I counseled those kids that it’s very unusual for God to help us directly or instantly with a supernatural levitation or lifting us out of our pickle.  That’s kind of the definition of a miracle, and these are rare.  They happen, but not usually.

So, how does God help us, when we cry out, “Help me!”  Well, referring to John Lennon’s observation, we might get some help for our problem, by “opening up the doors.”

One way to open a door when your “feet aren’t on the ground,” or your feet were taken out from under you, or you’re grounded in some way, is to sleep on it.

You’re already “down,” so just stay there for a time.  Just pull the covers over your head, drown out the sounds that put you down, and sleep.

“Let me sleep on it,” is often said when we need to make a decision and need a bit of time to think about it.  Why does sleep help in such circumstances?  Because we will maybe get a dream-answer without taxing our waking brain into overtime.

How many times have we gone to sleep in emotional turmoil and when sleep finally came, we awakened, and it wasn’t so bad?  The answer to our stressed mind was REM-sleep’s dream therapist, whether we remember our dreams or not.

Another way to open the door to Help, is other people.  And, “not just anybody,” or not?  I disagree with Lennon and McCartney on this.  I think perhaps God sometimes sends random people, “just anybody,” to supply just the kind of help we need.

Have you ever exclaimed, “that was weird,” or “that was odd,” or my favorite, “go figure,” when someone did something for you or said something to you that was randomly kind?  Just when you needed it most.

One way of opening up the door to help, is positivity.  When you’re negative, you’ve inadvertently locked the doors to goodness, mercy, kindness, and help.  Just turn the key and crack open the door, peek outside and look.

“Help is on the way!”  But you must be open to it.  Another way of closing the doors to help is, stubborn expectations.

Whoa baby, if you want help, but you’re stipulating to God or yourself in your minds eye, exactly how you must receive that help, you might as well lock all the doors, take a pill and go to dreamless sleep.  You can’t dream with a pill, and nobody can get through your mind’s bolted door to help you.

“Help me get my feet back on the ground,” is really a cry for self-help You need to get your feet back underneath you.  Your feet.

You know the adage, “don’t give fish to someone in need, teach them how to fish.”  The same goes for getting your feet back on the ground.  The best help we can receive is the gift of self-help or problem-solving skills, knowledge, or wisdom.

I wonder where I can get knowledge?  How about a book, any book.  Reading opens doors to an unknown universe.

I’ve learned valuable gems of self-help, from reading the least likely books, articles, or chapters.  It need not be a “self-help” book, but try biographies, fiction, poetry, or a random bible verse.

Help is found most often when you’re not looking for it, but when you’re going about your business and getting on with things.  Do what you need to do, putting one foot in front of the other one and help will show up.

Sooner or later, you’ll get the help you need.  The Beatles are a pretty unusual answer to a cry for help.  But maybe their whimsical lyrical insights may help generate an answer to prayer or open the door to Happenstance, “a chance happening?”

A line from the 1993 comedy-drama, Mrs. Doubtfire, which we watched with our young daughter, over and over again, was delivered by the lead actor, Robin Williams in his character, Mrs. Doubtfire.  I can hear it as if he were standing in our living room today in 2023, “Help is on the way!”  What do you say, we believe him.

Giving Thanks

I’ve often wondered if it’s a tad rude to voice openly that I’m thankful for my various blessings.  Please note that I’m all about gratitude, as a virtue which I attempt to cultivate, even more than usual in this season of harvest.

Gratitude isn’t one of the traditional or orthodox Christian virtues, but it does seem to go hand in hand with one of those traditional virtues, kindness.  Saying thank you and please, pump you up with happy hormones.  And I think people receive those words as acts of, not just courtesy, but of kindness.

Just recently a man pushed in front of my husband and me, to get an answer to what must have been an urgent question, from a customer service representative.  She quickly and efficiently answered his question and he walked off to his destination, without an “excuse me” or “thank you” to be heard.  My husband, the kind man that he is, said “thank you” to the CSR.

The reason I wonder once in a while if it’s kosher to voice my gratitude is this.  There are people out there unbeknownst to me, who are struggling with anti-blessings in the same vein as my blessings.  Not everybody gets a rainbow at the end of their rain-storm.

Is it kind of me to voice my joyful gratitude around someone who is coping with misfortune in that same area of the human condition?  I’m sort of uncomfortable with it.

You see, I’ve been there when someone said, for instance, “I’m so blessed that I’m not sick.”  This was right after someone else shared with them that they’re struggling with some sickness.  Okay, or someone said boldly and with genuine delight, “I’m thankful we are completely debt free,” when I knew that people within hearing distance were struggling with debt.

I observed that these expressions of gratitude seemed viscerally cringe-worthy, insensitive, or they just plain weren’t listening in the classic, people don’t listen, they’re waiting to talk, vein.

In fact, one of the best ways to express your gratitude is to actively listen.  Active listening is when you delve deeper into the words being said, into the realm of hearing what the speaker may actually have meant by what they said.

For me, I feel more genuine in voicing my gratitude in generalities, rather than the more specific ways I mentioned above.  “Today, I’m grateful to be alive and kicking;” because presumably the person you’re speaking with is also alive and kicking.

Or maybe those sentiments above that make me cringe could have been more specific.  It’s always better to parcel your honesty with some humility; your brokenness with beauty; and your uncertainties with possibilities.  For example, the debt-free person could have said, “some debt is good for the credit report, but mine was too much and I’m happy to be getting past it.”

Perhaps the best way to give thanks is to always combine it with kindness.  For instance, we all know that the expression, “thanks for nothing,” is clearly not gratitude mixed with kindness.  “Thanks for that,” is probably sarcasm bordering on offense, rather than thanksgiving.

I’m still on the fence about whether “thanks” and “thank you” are equivalent.  Saying “thanks” sounds to me a smidgen like you’re in a hurry and you have to say something, so you eek out the word “thanks.”  And since, you’re in such a rush, there is no need for or inclination for the recipient to reply.

“Thank you” on the other hand, is a bit more formal, polite, and connotes that you genuinely mean it.  After a “thank you,” most people want to keep the social encounter going with a reply such as “you’re welcome,” “no problem,” or in texting shorthand, “no prob,” or “welcome.”

One of the better ways of expressing gratitude is to write a letter.  Has the “thank you” letter died out in the quick and efficient days of texting, emails, and social media?  I hope not.  Hopefully it continues on even if it’s a changed version sent via text, email or on social media.

I’m thankful for many things.  In fact, I attribute two hymns which we sang at our church every year around Thanksgiving, to my deep appreciation of God’s bounteous provision in America. One is, “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come,” which sets before us in lyrical form a picture of peace, with all the thankful folks, safely gathered, with wants supplied.

The next hymn has helped to nurture in me a vast appreciation for our earth’s natural beauty.  It’s “For the Beauty of the Earth,” which is a hymn of “grateful praise,” specifically for the beauty of the earth, the glory of the skies, the beauty of each hour of the day and night, the hills and vales, trees and flowers, sun and moon, and stars of light; the joy of human love, and “friends on earth and friends above.”

That hymn is kind of the total Thanksgiving package and I’ve always loved it.  However, I’m a realist and I typically mix my gratitude with “whaaat’s up.”  I do not sugar-coat the reality of what’s going on from day to day, for the sake of sentiment, but I do temper it with “hope for the best.” 

What better moment, than right here and right now, to thank you for reading my column.  I appreciate you.

Winterizing

I have very mixed feelings about the weather these days.  I’m one of those people who treasures jacket-weather but shudders a bit at the anticipation of winter.

In my mind, a jacket or sweater completes an outfit.  I feel under-dressed all summer long without a jacket.  But, coat, scarf, glove-weather is just too much stuff to juggle and feels a tad stifling.

I guess I’m just a weather-Goldilocks.  My husband is too.  Is it ever just, right?

I seem to always be rushing my husband through the seasons.  He lallygags, procrastinates, dawdles, and postpones winterizing, in my opinion.

I presume that the feeling is, if you put off preparing for winter, maybe it won’t arrive any time soon.  I personally don’t hate winter but there is an expiration date on my patience with it and if its arrival should be delayed, I’d be okay with that.

I find that with age, I’m not as thrilled with the exercise of shoveling snow as in times past.  It used to be that snow-shoveling for me was just another form of winter cardio.  However, the last year or so, my body has rebelled to this form of activity, much preferring a gentler, prolonged walk, for its fitness.

The “hard work” of stacking fire wood, push-mowing the lawn, and shoveling snow seem to have become less rewarding both physically and emotionally than even a couple of years ago.  Apparently, there is a difference between work and exercise; at least my body has deemed it so.

So, back to the concept of jacket-weather.  When a light jacket is just the right outdoor apparel, I can be said to “love this weather.”  I would be happy as a clam, tickled pink, and as satisfied as a pig in mud, if the temps would hang around in the mid-sixties and the humidity would stay low, all year.

A tree-hugger in every sense of the word, I equate Autumn with falling and fallen leaves.  I grew up jumping into massive piles of leaves and would do so now if, well, you know why I can’t do that now.  But I love the look of yellow, red, orange and brown leaves piling up all on their own with the assistance of hefty breezes now and then.

I can let my hair down in Fall weather, literally.  And, I guess this weather frees me to also figuratively let my hair down and not do the “uptight” up-do that controls the frizz and the extreme effects of summer weather.  Fall weather means liberty, to this individual.

But winterizing brings with it an altogether new tension of preparedness.  My spouse particularly doesn’t love turning off the outside water faucets.  Draining the line feels way too permanent to him.  He washes the car at home about twice a year but he wants to be able to do so whenever he wants to and somehow flipping that lever and opening the faucets is a step too far for him.

All too often we’ve had to cope with the unpleasant alternative to winterizing the outdoor faucets, burst water pipes in the garage.  Accordingly, winterizing has become preferred over the alternative.

We also clean out my husband’s man-shed twice a year.  Among other things, this involves transitioning some heavy equipment such as a log splitter, mowers, spreaders, various saws, and such.  This year after he and our grandson split an epic amount of firewood, he was delighted to give the log splitter a rest and put it away.  In exchange, he retrieved from hiding, his “man-shed heater” to prepare for his greatly anticipated hours of winter-contemplation, rest and shed-solitude.

The deck umbrella has gone into storage and the chair and table covers have been unearthed, much to hubby’s chagrin.  He wants to be able to sit out there in fifty-degree weather, but never will, remember that shed heater?  He gets cold nowadays when he used to wear short sleeved T-shirts all year long.

For many people, winter is bleak and dark.  Don’t get me started on why Congress tabled a bill to leave us in Daylight Savings Time all year.  Instead, we’re back to Standard Time with its darkness at five o’clock in the afternoon.  At least with DST we  felt alive, not to mention awake, until six o’clock.

Maybe it’s the thought of winterizing and the nostalgia of summers past that initiates a subtle dread in those of us of a certain age who are embarking on the winter of our lives.  Poets have often opined about the beauty of winter.

Among my favorite “winterisms” are these from Naturalist and Philosopher, Henry David Thoreau:

“Summer is gone with all its infinite wealth, and still nature is genial to man.  Though he no longer bathes in the stream, or reclines on the bank, or plucks berries on the hills, still he beholds the same inaccessible beauty around him.” – November 22, 1860

“The dry grasses are not dead for me.  A beautiful form has as much life at one season as another.” November 11, 1850

“Live in each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” August 23, 1853

“Nature now, like an athlete, begins to strip herself in earnest for her contest with her great antagonist Winter.  In the bare trees and twigs what a display of muscle.” October 219, 1858

So, don’t be afraid to winterize.  Count the days if you have to, but spring is surely to come in due time.