M is for May. And Mom, always Mom.

May is a bittersweet time for me.

Spring is still around, the dogwood outside my office holding on to its pink petals, the lilac bush’s sweet smell of nostalgia reminding me why I planted it by the front door.

The daffodils are waning, but the clematis is busting with buds and the periwinkle irises will pop in the next couple of weeks. One bachelor button is showing off its feathery purple fronds, about 50 waiting to bust open right beside it.

The pink and white bleeding hearts wave at me as I make my daily pilgrimage to the trash and recycling bins. I’ll soon smell the sweet scent from the lilies of the valley that surround my deck, joining the Solomon’s seal and columbine, the daintiest part of my garden.

I hope to have two blooms this year on the red poppy that grows beside the lilac bush. My hostas are multiplying like crazy as are the may apples that skirt the pear tree that has already lost its showy, if stinky, blooms.

May will always be about flowers for me.

Mom’s birthday was May 5th. I only ever remember giving her flowers and womanpower to get them in the ground. She didn’t want fancy flowers to put it in a vase (the cat would’ve knocked it over anyway). She wanted begonias and marigolds. She wanted butterfly bushes and coneflower. She wanted #AllTheFlowers. She was on her knees with her hands in the dirt and I was there right beside her.

It’s all she ever wanted for Mother’s Day. Strangely, it’s all I want for Mother’s Day too: flowers and time spent with my kids outside with the sun on our skin and dirt under our fingernails.

I am a mosaic of emotions in May. My mom died 16 years ago and I miss her every day, more so these last several years than any time since right after she died. I wish she’d been here to give me advice, tell me I could come home, remind me of what a badass I am and that I come from badass stock. I wish we could walk around my yard and chatter about what flowers would look good in the back corner under the crabapple tree. I wish she were here to see her grandchildren with grass stains on their knees and dirt in their hair.

Mom gave me a tiny snowball bush as a housewarming present when we bought our old house. The yard was blessed with rich, dark soil, unique for my area. When we moved 5 years later the snowball bush was taller than me, too large to transplant to the new house. I had to leave it behind.

I drive by the old house almost every day and marvel at how 15 years later, that snowball bush is still thriving, still bringing beauty into the world. There is no metaphor more befitting my mother.

My mom’s gravestone reads in part, “The music is gone but the melody remains.”

Every day, Mom, flower to flower.

L is for Loki

Loki, God of Mischief, Trickster God, Marvel’s Favorite Villain, Thor’s Brother, Burdened with Glorious Purpose, Misunderstood, Insatiable Rightful King of Asgard, and beloved by millions of moviegoers across the globe, makes this fangirl’s heart beat a little faster.

Loki lovers are everywhere.

Example:

Recently I treated myself to a massage to which I work a Hulk mask.

Therapist: I like your mask. I’m a huge Marvel fan.

Me: Thanks! I wish I had a Loki mask.

Therapist: Loki! My wife loves him!

Me: Oh, I probably know her from one of our our super-secret online chat rooms!

Therapist: I’ve seen those chat rooms. You ladies should be ashamed of yourselves.

Me: *laughs my best mischievous laugh* We are everywhere…

And I’m not kidding about those anonymous Twitter accounts that exist by the millions worldwide simply to honor, praise, justify, and yes, drool over, Loki.

Since I went down the Loki Rabbit Hole shortly after The Avengers was released, I’ve made friends not just all over the country, but all over the world. From Alaska to Florida to England, Spain, and South Africa. Some of those ladies I consider to be good friends.

We are literally everywhere.

A person cannot have too many tribes. I am so grateful for the many tribes that have welcomed me over the years. I am so very lucky to have them.

So thank you, Loki, for introducing me to my fangirl tribe. They have provided me with hours and hours of entertainment, companionship, laughter, and love.

P.S. Marvel’s new series Loki premieres June 11th on DisneyPlus.

K is for Knives and Knowledge

You should have knowledge about knives. I should have knowledge about knives. I do have knowledge about knives, but somewhere in my brain there’s a roadblock that prevents that knowledge from guiding my behavior.

Don’t give me pointy things.

I’d planned to write all about knives and how the only time I’ve ever been close to passing out is the time I stuck a steak knife right into the webbing between my thumb and forefinger while trying to pry a milk lid off the jug. It just stuck there, sticking straight up out of my hand. The wound opened like one of those old football-shaped coin purses. I could see meaty stuff down in there. Blackness literally came at me from both sides and my hearing was muffled, but I managed to lie down before I fell down.

Or the time one of my coworkers handed me a brand new multi-tool, even opened it for me, and I still managed to slice the top layer of skin off my thumb down to the nail. It turned blue and purple and puffy and filled with puss and was pretty much the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. Docs were able to glue it back together, but my bandaged thumb was almost the size of my fist for a week.

I now firmly believe I should not be trusted with sharp objects. You should see the look in my kids’ eyes when I grab a knife from the drawer. We all possess this wisdom now.

I also should know by now that when life hands me a big old lemon, I should take it into the woods for a walk. And then throw it in the river. Well, not really, Leave No Trace and all that, but figuratively for sure.

Last week, when the universe delivered a big ole dried-up rotten lemon, devoid of all juice from its many previous squeezes, plopped one last sour drop on me, I should have told it to take a hike. Instead, I let some of the sourness seep into me, trying to turn me bitter on the inside.

Without intention I took that lemon into the woods. I felt my thighs burn and my lungs gasp and my heart pump exquisite blood through my body to get me to the top of the peak. I breathed in air that smelled like water and dirt and trees, an aroma so sweet it absorbed the sour with extra to spare. I was dazed with the beauty of yellow, purple, white, and maroon wildflowers, hillsides full of them, and remembered we can choose to see beauty. It’s all around us. I may or may not have run from a few buzzy insects that could sting me, because while we can choose beauty, we can’t always escape pain, though we try. I was muddy and sweaty with an achy knee or two by the time I emerged from the woods, but I emerged alone, the lemon lost forever.

In my late-blooming-epiphany-having middle age, I now have the conscious knowledge to pack spoiled thoughts into the woods and leave them there. No sharp objects needed.

J is for Jacobson Park

J is for Jacobson Park

Over the years I’ve done a lot of things at Jacobson Park: walked, picnicked, fed the ducks, played soccer, watched movies, but this week I did something I’d never done before. I fished.

Well, I didn’t actually fish because I don’t have a license, but my boy fished, and I’ve rarely seen him so happy. His Cub Scout den met for pizza then spent a blissfully frenzied two hours baiting and casting and learning fishing basics from three very patient Cub Scout Dads. Bless their hearts.

Really, though, the boys were very good. They listened well and closely observed what the leaders said and did. My son had done a bit of casting before but never any baiting (live worms!) and never any removing the fish from the hook. He was skeptical about baiting the hook and decided it was easier to do with meal worms than earth worms. Turns out that’s better for bluegill anyway. Who knew?? He also warmed up quickly to removing the fish from the hook and even helped other Scouts who were a bit squeamish about it.

That’s my boy. He’s a helper. And a fisherman!

Fishing used to be a family tradition for us. My dad fished A LOT. He and my mom would take the boat out and my dad would fish while my mom would slather herself in baby oil to bake her skin under the water-reflected sun.

My dad’s parents used to fish a lot too. They’d take their boat out to Greenbo or Grayson Lake and come home with tons of fish. I don’t remember ever going out with them on the lake, but my mouth still waters for my Mama Roberts’ fried bluegill and crappie. Mmm-mmmm.

I get nostalgic wishing my son could’ve learned to fish from some of the men in my family, but they are all gone now. Well, except my brother, who does fish, but he’s about 2,500 miles away. Also, he’s too busy breaking his shoulder in a middle-aged snowboarding accident. (He’s OK).

At that moment, though, standing far enough behind my son to not hover but close enough to see the wind blowing through his long hair and the smile on his face, it was perfect enough just to be there, sun on my face, and bask in his enjoyment at learning to fish from Cub Scout Dads who obviously loved sharing their knowledge.

There was no place on Earth I’d rather have been.

I is for It’s Never Too Late

I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.

Here we go!

I is for It’s Never Too Late

I’ve written before about being a late bloomer in life, especially when it comes to self-discovery and insight into why I am the way I am. Maybe that independent, angry, and standoffish young woman never took a deep dive into herself because subconsciously she knew she’d have to work hard to straighten out a few things. Once I got a glimpse into the inner workings of my mind, I was fascinated. Now I can’t stop looking.

Self-enlightenment has been a slow process, but I had an epiphany dump during my first middle-aged crisis, around 41. My kids were little and things were going ok with life and work in my little privileged bubble, so I had time to worry about age old questions like why are we here? And, what do I want to leave behind? I discovered I didn’t know exactly, but being a taking-action-to-solve-the-problem kind of girl, I felt pulled to explore my creativity to search for answers. Though I couldn’t, and still can’t, put my finger on it, it’s the creativity and the desire to learn new things I was drawn toward.

So I started this blog, auditioned for a play, and took an acting class. Improv, to be exact, and I LOVED it! I am a planner, but there is no planning in Improv. You have to be spontaneous within the construct of the scene yet still advance the story. There was freedom in those constraints.

Auditioning for the play when the only time I had ever been on stage was my first grade Christmas play (I was an angel, natch), had never memorized lines or acted in any capacity before, was terrifying. Terrifying. But I did it. I didn’t get the role, but I auditioned.

And as most of you know by now if you are still reading these blog posts after all these years, if I could figure out a way to get paid for writing about my opinion or pondering ancient questions of the human psyche I’d be doing it by now.

I wasn’t able to continue Improv for a variety of reasons and haven’t had the chance to pursue acting again either, but I do a fairly decent job of sending my thoughts and opinions out into the world on a regular basis from this blog.

I was in my early 40s and did all those things for the first time and am pretty proud of myself for it. If I can do it, anyone can do it. The last several years I’ve focused my creativity on solving problems I’d never wish on anyone, though I did find the nerve to backpack again at 47 after not having done so for about 16 years . Pretty damn proud of myself for that too, even though it wasn’t always pretty.

I turn 50 this year and I’m feeling the need to venture out again. Preaching “it’s never too late” is one thing, but trying new things is scary and takes time, a commodity I’m sure we all feel we don’t have enough of. Still, I think part of why we are here is to constantly learn and evolve and do hard things. To meet new people, expand our knowledge, and continue discovering why we are the way we are.

After all, it’s never too late to learn rock climbing so you can apply for a really cool job or venture onto an online dating site (the horror). It’s never too late to plan a post-retirement through-hike of the Appalachian Trail or a sail around the world.

It’s never too late. We are NEVER too old.

H is for Hoka

I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.

Here we go!

H is for Hoka

Hoka is a footwear company that I discovered by accident. I was at my local hiking gear shop looking for a new pair of trail runners when my eyes were drawn to a bright pink and blue pair of shoes on the display wall. Color woos me every time and fate was doing me a solid that day.

The clerk brought out a pair for me to try on. I’d never heard of Hoka before, but any shoe that pretty deserved my attention. I slipped my feet into them, stood up, shifted from foot to foot a bit, and felt like I was standing on the softest, puffiest cloud ever.

I couldn’t believe it. I’d never had a pair of shoes feel so comfortable before (I may or may not have an addiction to running shoes so I’ve seen my fair share of sneakers). I bopped around the store, convinced I could bounce to the ceiling if I tried. If any shoe could motivate me to get outside more, surely this was the pair.

Those Hokas have taken me walking, running, and hiking for the last several years. I’ve truly never had a pair of tennis shoes I loved more. I love them so much I recently bought a second pair, but the pink and blue ones still help me mow the grass every week. While I adore my second pair as well (they are just as comfortable), nothing compares to the love I felt for the first pair.

I may love running shoes, but I am not a talented or consistent runner, so when I say that Hokas helped propel me forward when I thought I didn’t have another stride in me, I mean it. I need all the help I can get! As a matter of fact, when you see me jogging down the street you probably say to yourself, “Oh, just look at that poor old thing. I hope she’ll be OK. Her face is awfully red, but look at those shoes!!”

And listen to this, HOKA CAME OUT WITH HIKING BOOTS LAST YEAR. OMG.

Take all my money!!!

I resisted them for a long time because I already have a pair of hiking boots that I like pretty good. Still, my feet do start to hurt a little after about 5 miles, and maybe extra cushion would help out with that. Seeking confirmation bias that I need to possess these boots, the internet told me that Hoka boots were PERFECT for people with arthritis. I have arthritis in both knees! I creak like a haunted house every time I stand up. Considering this a sign from God, I once again found myself at the gear shop perusing the Hoka boots.

But, unfortunately, I didn’t find any I liked.

Just kidding!

I tried on several different types, but wound up going with the pair I had my eye on from the beginning. A word of caution here, though, hiking boots are not meant to be as cushiony as running shoes. The whole point of hiking boots is to provide stability for my (arthritic) ankles. My new hiking boots and I weren’t love at first sight, but I can’t wait to see how comfortably they will boost my poor arthritic knees up the next mountain.

I don’t actually believe in fate, but once you go Hoka, you can’t go back.

*****

To go down the Hoka rabbit hole: https://www.hokaoneone.com/

To visit my awesome local gear shop, J&H Lanmark: https://jhoutdoors.com/?utm_source=Google&utm_medium=gmb_organic

G is for Gratitude

I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.

This year I’m going to choose a random word for the blog post topic, but I’m going to tie it into a memoir I’m working on about Nanny, my maternal grandmother. I hope this will allow me to think about her in a more creative way and unlock new memories to mine.

Here we go!

G is for gratitude. It may sound cheesy and unoriginal, but it’s the truth. I’m grateful for gratitude.

I’ve written about gratitude before and how I would not have gotten through the last several years without it. I promise that is not an exaggeration. Perspective is everything.

I keep a gratitude journal. I write down three things I am grateful for every day. Well, almost every day. Sometimes I’m too overwhelmed or tired to pick up a pen before my head hits the pillow. G is also for Grace.

There are no rules for my gratitude journal except that I must write down three things I’m grateful for each time I open it. Sometimes I’m grateful for big things like my health and that I was born in the United States. I’m thankful for friends and gardens and sunshine.

Sometimes I’m grateful for material things, like that I was lucky to go on vacation this year. Or that we were able to get the kids the electronic devices they wanted for Christmas.

Sometimes I’m grateful for tacos and beer. And lawn mowers that work so I don’t have to go to Lowe’s and learn enough about them to buy one. Exhausting! But how lucky am I then when my lawn mower fails I can go to Lowe’s and buy one? It’s a dent in the budget, sure, but it’s not like I’m not going to have to choose that over food. Or air conditioning.

Sometimes when my kids are driving me batshit crazy it is impossible to be grateful for their bickering little selves in that moment, but later at night when I open my journal, I am thankful that they arms to hit with and legs to kick with and voices of their own and opinions to voice. I’m thankful they are sassy and argue with me and stand up for themselves.

Sometimes when I miss my mom so desperately I think I might die, I shed some tears and then I’m grateful for all the good times and goofiness and love that I had with her over the years. I look at her pictures on the wall, thankful that I had a camera and money to get them developed, and show my kids their Grandsan and I’m glad they can see her larger than life personality.

I’m thankful my best friend picks up every time I call her. I’m grateful for all of my little tribes that love me when I’m ugly-crying and let me rage about politics and cuss and throw things.

I’m a fairly ordinary human being and I get jealous and envious and bitter just like everyone else. It’s really hard to be mad that I have a 10-year old car when that car takes me to work every day where I do good things and make money that puts food on the table and buys books and way more hiking boots than any one person should have.

It’s hard to be mad that my house needs some work and that’s going to cost money I don’t have or want to spend but I have a roof over my head, a furnace to keep me warm, and air conditioning to cool me off (thank God!).

It’s hard to be mad that I carry extra pounds when this body is almost 50 years old but birthed two babies and takes me up any mountain I want to climb, even if I get there slowly and huff and puff the whole time.

It’s hard to be mad that my insurance won’t cover all of an expensive antibiotic when there are people who have to ration insulin and can’t afford life-saving cancer treatment. I can pay for that antibiotic. Some folks can’t.

You get the picture. Gratitude is easy. Perspective is Every. Damn. Thing.

I wonder if Nanny had a gratitude practice if that would have given her perspective. She experienced a lot of sickness and grief in her life, but she also had a home and people who loved her. She drove them away with her demand for attention and loyalty and bitterness. As much as she loved to write, I can only image what a daily gratitude check-in might have done for her. To write on paper what made her happy. Maybe she was incapable of that because of her mental illness, but maybe not. Who knows? We’ll never know.

F is for Fudge

I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.

This year I’m going to choose a random word for the blog post topic, but I’m going to tie it into a memoir I’m working on about Nanny, my maternal grandmother. I hope this will allow me to think about her in a more creative way and unlock new memories to mine.

Here we go!

F is for Fudge

I couldn’t really decide on the topic for today’s post so when I picked my daughter up from school I asked her, “What is the first word you can think of that starts with the letter F?”

Stupid. Oh, so stupid. Mom fail.

As soon as that moronic question left my lips I realized my mistake.

Quickly, I said, “Waitwaitwaitwait, the first F word that’s not that F word.”

*giggles from the back seat* “What word is that, Mom? What F word are you talking about?” She was mocking me. I’ve raised her well.

I couldn’t turn around to look at her or I’d probably have wrecked the car. When she was finally able to mutter words instead of laughs she choked out, “Forest. And Fudge.”

Whew, I could work with both of those. I figure I should probably write about fudge since I spend a good chunk of time writing about forests already.

My Aunt Sharon makes the best peanut butter fudge ever. Like, ever. She uses a recipe from her 11th grade Home Economics class and it’s the real deal. It calls for real butter and peanut butter mixed with milk and sugar and vanilla. No marshmallow crème in those babies. It’s so delicious. Back in the day I could eat several pieces at a time it was so yummy.

She also makes a mean chocolate fudge, Fantasy Fudge to be exact. Most people think this is the culmination of Sharon’s fudge-making repertoire, and though it is also nomalicious, the peanut butter fudge is what I dream about at night. When I dream about fudge.

Since we couldn’t celebrate Christmas together as a family this year, I had to make my own damn fudge. Luckily, Sharon had given all four of us cousins a family recipe book as a gift years ago, so I had the recipe ready. Made my grocery list and came home armed with lots of sugar, butter, and chocolate chips.

My Aunt Sharon I am not. Here is how the recipe is written in Sharon’s pretty, cursive handwriting:

2 pkgs (24oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

So I bought two 24-ounce packages of chocolate chips. Right? That’s what anyone would buy, I know!

Turns out the recipe called for 24 oz TOTAL chocolate chips. Whatever mélange I concocted that day smelled like chocolate fudge and kind of resembled chocolate fudge when you looked at it up close, but Fantasy Fudge it was not.

Oh, it tasted chocolatey enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, but it was hard as a rock. We had to chip away flakes of it like we were archeologists digging out dinosaur bones.

We tried to remedy the situation by mixing in all the other ingredients in equal proportions to make a double batch. The effort was worthy, but the result disappointing. We were going to have to make do with wafer-thin, chocolate-flavored slivers of fudge-like substance.

The recipe has been edited so I don’t make that mistake again.

Now as I’ve said before, Nanny wasn’t much of a baker, so we don’t recall her ever making fudge of any kind. My Granddaddy, though, he made some killer chocolate fudge. I never got to taste it, and since he didn’t follow a recipe, nothing was ever written down. It was all in his head. Sharon says it was the best chocolate fudge she’s ever tasted.

She recalls he used Hershey’s cocoa powder, sugar, maybe some cream, and then a little scoop of peanut butter at the end (genius)! He whipped it for a long time (or what was a long time for a kid) and she and Mom couldn’t get enough of it. If anyone’s ever heard of a recipe like that, please let me know. I’d love to find something similar.

I don’t think it’s possible to have too many good fudge recipes, especially when they’re family heirlooms.

E is for Elastic and Wedgies and How I Stole My Friend Anne’s Maternity Skort

I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.

This year I’m going to choose a random word for the blog post topic, but I’m going to tie it into a memoir I’m working on about Nanny, my maternal grandmother. I hope this will allow me to think about her in a more creative way and unlock new memories to mine.

Here we go!

E is for Elastic and Wedgies and How I Stole My Friend Anne’s Maternity Skort

A couple weeks ago I decided I was going to walk around the park next to my office every day at lunch. Just a walk, no pesky sports bra or workout clothes necessary. All I needed was a pair of socks and sneakers.

I had just finished reading this book about the brain and early onset dementia and I was petrified my brain was turning to mush. One of the ways you can hold off dementia is by exercise. We all knew that right, but for whatever reason, that day I was convinced I had to go for a walk so my neurons would stay elastic and keep firing to make new brain connections.

The day I decided to start my new routine I wore an old black skort with an elastic waistband. For those of you that don’t know, a skort is a skirt with a pair of shorts underneath. I would live the rest of my life in skorts if I could.

Best Skort Ever

This particular skort had an elastic waistband that was large and thick and heavenly. It was short enough to wear with boots (when you’re a short girl like me, there is a certain boot-to-skirt ratio you must adhere to otherwise you just look like a pair of knees walking around) to make it dressy, but it was casual enough to wear with flats or tennis shoes.

Best of all, though, was the big piece of wide elastic that was sewn into the entire waistband. Comfortable for the two days post-stomach-flu glory when I walk around like a super model, but also for the days when I pig out on tacos. Multi-purpose! And comfortable.

Which is exactly what it’s designed for, since it’s a MATERNITY SKORT.

My friend, Anne, let me borrow three big tubs of maternity clothes when I was pregnant with my children. Dressy clothes, casual clothes, pajamas, you name it and it was in one of those big tubs. I can still remember my favorite khaki maternity pants and the blue denim shirt with the embroidered flowers. That was practically my preggo uniform. Anne essentially clothed me for two years of my life.

Ah, good memories from a time when society expected me to wear elastic clothes. When I gave those clothes back, I conveniently forgot to include the skort.

Here’s where it gets tricky (after the whole stealing your friend’s clothes thing). I had my youngest child in 2011. It’s now 2021. I borrowed the skort from Anne when I was pregnant with my oldest child, born in 2008. I’ve been wearing a stolen maternity skort for 13 years.

But it gets worse. I’d finally worn the elastic out of the skort. The day I started my walking routine I noticed the skort felt much looser than usual. Good for me! I must have lost a couple pounds!

Turns out it’s just a skort whose elastic is past its prime. I’ve worn out elastic before and while this skort wasn’t the worst elastic death I’ve witnessed (nothing compares to the men’s maroon boxers with the gray paisleys that were the only pajama bottoms I wore for YEARS), I was still really sad.

But also mad, because now I couldn’t go for a walk without running the risk of my britches falling down mid-stride and let’s face it, nobody wanted to see that.

So, I improvised. I pinched a bit of the waistband together and used a safety pin to hold it together. Didn’t work. The beauty of this skort is that the waistband is really elastic so it way too thick for a tiny little safety pin to hold together.

Safety Pin Fail

Plan B: a big ass paperclip. The only uses for those gigantic paper clips at the office is to hold together voluminous reports that nobody ever reads anyway. Holding my pants up while I went for a walk was a much more productive use for it.

Big Ass Paper Clip Fail

Except it didn’t work. The clip wasn’t quite tight enough to prevent the fabric from slipping apart. I was out of options. Either I could go for a walk constantly holding my pants up and look like a crazy middle-aged lady walking around the park talking to herself or I could let my brain rot and probably see signs of early onset dementia the next day.

Obviously, I had to walk. As I made my way to the trail, though, I discovered-and I can’t believe I’m putting this in writing-that if I pulled the skort up above my waist, like halfway up to my boobs, I’d give myself the wee-est bit of a wedgie, and I could walk for about 5 minutes without having to yank it up again.

And that’s how I walked 1.6 miles fighting a wedgie and saving my brain from imminent degeneration.

Now, how I tie all this into Nanny I’m not sure. Nanny was always naturally thin, like really svelte, and didn’t exercise a day in her life. She was proud of her figure. Her mother, however, spent years in the throes of dementia before she died. Nanny must have worried the same fate would befall her.

I’m not sure when the medical establishment linked exercise to a lower risk of dementia. I’m not sure even if Nanny knew about it, she’d have changed her lifestyle in any way.

I am quite sure, however, that the problem-solving process my brain went through to discover the power of wedgies to improve exercise activated 2 million new synapses and that I’m probably much safer from dementia than I was before, you know, when I was wearing regular non-maternity clothes.

Thank you, Anne, for my most favorite skort ever. I’m sorry I stole it from you, but it really has saved my brain. That counts for something, right? Please say you’re still my friend.

D is for Desiderata

I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, during which I’ll write a blog post every day in April except Sundays. The topic for the first day begins with the letter A and I’ll work my way down to writing about something beginning with Z on my last day.

This year I’m going to choose a random word for the blog post topic, but I’m going to tie it into a memoir I’m working on about Nanny, my maternal grandmother. I hope this will allow me to think about her in a more creative way and unlock new memories to mine.

Here we go!

D is for Desiderata

I am not much of a poetry girl. Most of it doesn’t make any sense to me. I get lost in all the meter, metaphor, and rhyme. It seems pretentious when a writer expresses an idea in such a beautifully complicated way that it becomes lost in the ether to Plain Jane Brains like me.

However, several poets do speak to me. Mary Oliver, for example. She is an author who writes what she thinks, what she feels, in a plainspoken way that makes me see what she sees and feel what she feels. I don’t have to think about it much; I’m present with her while she experiences her moments of awe and therefore I see the awesome in my every day. And that is enough.

I am mesmerized by the beauty of Pablo Neruda’s words. I am not a romantic at heart, but Neruda’s sonnets make me weep with gooey and luscious feelings of love and forever.

Nobody creeps me out like Poe and I still remember most of Casey at the Bat from 7th grade English. What fun it was to memorize that one!

Despite my aversion to poetry, I have a framed print of one of my favorite poems ever, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann, displayed in my home.

Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

I also believe poetry was meant to spoken aloud, to be performed. Below is a link to one of my favorite voices reading Desiderata (the poem is over at 2:37 into the recording).

My Nanny was a poet, preferring verse to all other forms of writing. She was an active member of various poetry societies and even won a few awards for her writing. She was friends with Jesse Stuart and eventually even had a small book of poetry published. Her poetry was more my style, more storytelling than ephemeral representations. Maybe that’s why I keep giving poetry second chances.