Waiting for the Sun

Waiting for the sun

Can you feel it

Now that spring has come

That it’s time to live in the scattered sun

– Jim Morrison

 

Apologies to the Doors, but it IS time to live in the “scattered sun”!

What a March it has been!  Days of strong winds were intense enough to bring down power lines, and, in our back yard, to rip a tree out of the ground by its roots.

Weeks of frigid temperatures, followed by a wallop of an early spring snowstorm have left us chilled to the bone and pining for the sun.  The dreary, unsettled March weather is apparently due to a polar vortex split, and the bad news is that the forecast calls for a cooler than average spring.

How I long to put away the heavy boots, the thick scarves, gloves, and coats, and don light weight dresses in pastel shades of pink and blue. How I want to again wear sandals and flip flops, capris and straw hats and sunglasses. I dream of walking past rows of red tulips, purple hyacinths and yellow daffodils nodding in the warm sunshine, to traverse lush green lawns and hike over rolling hills. I envision miles of sandy beaches and cushiony chaise lounges positioned on decks and porches, golden rays warming winter weary souls.

The winter has brought personal sadness, the deaths of friends’ husbands and parents, and another kind of death, the mental illness of a dear colleague.  Like a thief it came, robbing memory and personality.  This is the scourge of dementia: a group of conditions characterized by impairment of brain function.

Dementia affects not only the victim, but family and friends as well.  At least nine different types of dementia have been identified, but none are reversible and all worsen over time.

Is there hope of finding a cure for dementia?  Two new drugs that are showing promise, Solenezumab and Liraglutide, are currently undergoing clinical trials.  With a total number of affected individuals predicted to increase to 13 million in the US by 2050, the quest for a cure is real and imminent.

Yes, we are waiting for the sun- for peace, for health, for comfort.  After the winter is over, spring will come, and with it, the warmth we long for.

Someday, I trust there will be a bright and golden sphere where we and our beloved friends and family will enjoy the sun eternally.

Advertisements

After the Fall

On a frigid February evening, I was gingerly walking on the sidewalk in front of my house, only to hit a patch of black ice. I went flying. Oh no! Is this really happening? I landed on my left side and knew immediately that I was not ok. A trip to OSS verified what I already knew- I had broken my wrist, in two places no less, and needed surgery.

I have learned that the wrist is the most frequently broken bone in the arm, and that in the US one out of every ten broken bones is a broken wrist.  Lucky me!

Now encased in a cast from wrist to elbow, I am learning a valuable life lesson: after the fall, what now?

After the initial pain, I am learning how challenging it is to do things with one hand.

Things I can’t do:

open jars and cans

fold sheets

sleep comfortably

drive

cut my meat

hook my bra!

 

Things I can do:

dress myself ( slowly!)

load the dishwasher ( with one hand)

text and type (one-handed!)

wash and blow dry my hair ( though it looks nothing like it should!)

Still, over the last weeks, I am reminded of a quote from the Dalai Lama: Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

So, I am accepting a lot of help from people- loving care from my husband, cards, visits, and fruit baskets from loved ones, and casseroles from caring friends.

I realize how brazenly I took for granted my good health, and how, in the blink of an eye, ( or a patch of ice), it can be taken away.

Finding something to wear has uncovered a whole set of problems. How to look somewhat fashionable, and not like a real sickie. I don’t want to scare people.

Forget my winter sweaters. They don’t fit over the bulky cast. Hello, short sleeve shirts and sweaters thrown over my shoulder. I wish I had a cape! But spring is coming, and I will get this thing off sometime.

 

As you can imagine, I am spending a lot of time sitting around in recuperation. Enter the Winter Olympics!  From snowboarding with Sean White to skiing with Lindsay Vaughn- I learned about their past falls and injuries, only to medal in these games. From tragedy to triumph!

And those falls! Those gorgeously attired figure skaters, gliding over the ice, only to fall while attempting one of their almost unimaginable quads.  Whatever happened to the graceful Peggy Flemings and Dorothy Hamills of past Olympics, who were honored for their artistry more than death defying jumps?

And then, tragedy of tragedies, the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, occurred shortly after my surgery.

Fallen students, fallen families, falling tears.

After the fall, I pray there will be an answer.  A recovery for me, and a recovery for the land I love.

Here’s to the fallen- may we rise again.

Alien Invasion

Last evening, I was looking out the window when I was surprised to see a bright light in the sky. As I gazed more closely, I realized that it was a vehicle of some type, cylindrical in shape. It hovered right over the bird feeder in my backyard, then slowly sank to the ground. After a few minutes, a door on the side of the craft opened. Imagine my amazement when a little figure emerged. By this time, I had made my way to the door, and stepped out into the yard to greet my visitor. The creature was small in stature, its skin a luminous gray-green color, its eyes large and black. It spoke through a thin opening in its narrow face. In perfect English, it said, “I come in peace.”

Well, not really.

But, since the dawn of time, people around the globe have looked up at the sky and have witnessed objects, lights, or crafts that could not be explained.

Which raises the age-old question, Are we alone?

In recent decades, scores of photos of UFO’s have been taken.

A farmer in 1950’s Oregon captured a disk-shaped craft hovering over his fields. Despite thorough investigation, no hoax has ever been found.

Lights from an unidentified craft were photographed by a state police officer over Route I-84 near Waterbury, Connecticut, in 1987. Thousands of people witnessed UFO’s in this “Hudson Valley Wave” of the mid 1980’s.

A former Navy pilot was “pretty weirded out” by an unexplained episode over the Pacific in 2004. A mysterious aircraft was hovering over the ocean, causing the waves to froth and foam, as if the water was boiling. Then the object peeled away, “accelerating like something I’ve never seen.”

Then there is the infamous case of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. An unexplained aircraft crashed in the desert, leaving debris of unknown origin, and alien corpses.

A 1997 CNN/Time poll revealed that the majority of people interviewed believed that aliens had indeed visited earth, and that aliens had landed at Roswell, but that all relevant information was being kept secret by the US government.

A government cover up? Who knows?

But if aliens are visiting earth, where is the concrete proof? “We haven’t looked hard enough,” said Jill Tarter, former director of SETI ( The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence).

Pop culture has certainly taken off with books and films featuring aliens. Who could forget “ET”, Steven Spielberg’s 1982 fable about a lonely boy who befriends an extraterrestrial stranded on earth?

In 1997’s “Contact”, Jodie Foster discovers the existence of aliens on Vega and is chosen to travel to that distant star to meet them.

Sigourney Weaver faces down evil monster in the science fiction horror film, “Alien.”

I don’t know about you, but if there are aliens, I would certainly prefer the gentle creatures depicted in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” versus the beings bent on world destruction portrayed in “Independence Day” and “The War of the Worlds.”

What are the chances that aliens are actually visiting our planet? No one knows, but according to Air Space Magazine, the odds that we are the only advanced species in the galaxy are one in 60 billion.

With at least 200 billion galaxies, what are the chances that we are the only intelligent life?

I truly hope that before I leave the planet, I get to see a UFO, or better yet, get to witness an alien up close and personal.

What about you? Have you seen any UFO’s in the night sky?

Dreaming My Life Away

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.”

So says Prospero in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”

Did you ever dream that you were feeding birds some bread crumbs, only to have the birds start a conversation with you?  I have.

I also dreamed I had a pet chicken.

Crazy, you say?  Why all these dreams about our feathered friends?

According to some experts, dreaming about birds can be a reflection of harmony, love, and peace.  I can go for that.

Of course, my dreams usually involve more angst that that. I often dream of being lost, a common fear in my life. I seldom venture anywhere without my GPS.

Then there’s the fear of not getting a school paper done or not being prepared for a class- easy to understand after 20 years of teaching.

There’s the fear of having something go wrong while babysitting my grandkids. In a recent dream, my granddaughter jumped into a lake, my grandson hurt his back in a fall, and they both got lost.

Sometimes I have a really detailed dream. In one, I dropped my daughter off at college. Her roommate had long platinum blonde hair with bangs in her eyes. She came from a town called Silver Hammer.

In the midst of this current winter blast, I’ve been dreaming about snow. Snow on the beach (brrr!) or walking through waist-deep snow.

Given that an average person sleeps for 8 hours a day, that means we sleep for 229,961 hours in a lifetime, or basically one third of our lives. In all that sleeping, we dream.

It’s said that all humans dream, though we may not remember them.

A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. ( Wikipedia)

What do our dreams mean? One theory suggests that dreams don’t actually mean anything. Instead they are merely electrical brain impulses that pull random thoughts and images from our memories.

Why we dream is still one of science’s greatest unanswered questions. Researchers have offered many theories, but nobody knows for sure.

Nevertheless, people continue searching their dreams for clues to their inner lives.

Freud said that whether we intend it or not, we’re all poets. Dreams are a lot like poetry in that we express our emotions in them.

Writers throughout history have been intrigued by dreams. Shakespeare’s Hamlet proclaimed, “To die, to sleep- to sleep, perchance to dream- ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come.”

Poe concluded, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”

And the Everly brothers sang, “Whenever I want you, all I have to do is dream.”

I’ll continue to be fascinated by my dreams, whether humorous or horrible or confusing.

As the new year dawns, one could only dream of a peaceful age to come.

What are you dreaming?

 

Love Letter to Rehoboth

I just returned from a week in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

The beach in the fall, you say?

Why? No swimming, no sunbathing.

Yes, and yes.

But miles of beautiful wind-tossed beach, a nearly empty boardwalk, crowd-free shops and delightfully line-free restaurants.

Rehoboth in the fall: quiet peace.

Not that I’ve only visited this lovely Delaware beach town in the fall. My relationship with Rehoboth goes back twenty years. For many seasons, our church youth group camped in nearby Cape Henlopen for a retreat. On Friday evening, the entire group descended on Rehoboth for a night of fun, food, and rides. Along to help that year, I was at once stunned and surprised by the beauty of this beach resort. Having grown up in New Jersey, I was hardly aware that the Delaware shore existed. After an evening of dining on delicious cheese steaks and shopping in the many charming alcoves, I was determined to return to Rehoboth.

And return I did, almost every year, and in every season.

There were the fall weekends with old college friends, renting rooms in bed and breakfasts and biking on the boardwalk.

There were weeks spent in glorious condominiums overlooking the Atlantic, and days spent beneath colorful umbrellas on sandy beaches.

There were lovely oceanfront stays in a Victorian hotel, long walks on the beach, and lingering strolls through the charming town.

There were family vacations when grandkids dipped their toes in the cold water for the first time and created sand castles decorated with shells and seaweed.

There was the time I broke my toe the day before our departure, and I still managed to make it to the beach, my toe enclosed in a plastic bag.

And there are the delicious restaurants- too many and diverse to name, they range from the lowly Mom and Pop diner to the exclusive top drawer establishment. Boardwalk fries, ice cream, popcorn and salt water taffy- yes!  But also those serving upscale seafood, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Spanish cuisine. We love them all!

Year round events pack the Rehoboth calendar, from summer concerts and fireworks to home tours, art displays, and jazz shows, to the Sea Witch Festival, Christmas tree lighting and parades.

Known as “The Nation’s Summer Capital”, Rehoboth traces its beginning to the late 19th century, when a beach camp for the Methodist Episcopal Church was founded to provide summer religious gatherings. The source for the name, Rehoboth, comes from the Bible (Genesis 26:22). In early Hebrew, Rehoboth meant “broad places.”

That year, a post office was established, the first of several hotels were built, and the original Rehoboth boardwalk was constructed. A railroad later brought more and more visitors to the beach, including many from Washington, D.C.  Today, sun worshippers swell Rehoboth’s summer population to over 25,000.

A seaside resort, historic in nature, beautiful in all seasons- this is my Rehoboth. Coming there is like coming home.

 

Ode to Autumn

Leaves, golden bright

Cast a shadow in the night

Make a lacy pattern on the porch.

The moon above, a silver torch.

And all the world, unmoving there

As autumn nips the chilly air.

Rose Bateman Buscarini

 

Autumn! Always my favorite season.

Autumn means the beautifully changing leaves, a kaleidoscope of color on the hillsides.

Autumn means apples, dripping with sweet caramel and salty nuts; plates of corn candy, orange and brown; and pitchers of apple cider, cold and tangy.

Autumn means pumpkins and scarecrows and vivid displays of chrysanthemums in hues of orange, yellow, and red.

And, of course, autumn means Halloween! Witches, black cats, and trick-or-treaters!

In the suburban New Jersey of my childhood, Halloween trick-or-treating was serious business. Attired in homemade costumes, we roamed the streets, not returning home until our bags were full to bursting. One of my favorite houses served up delicious candy apples wrapped in crisp cellophane, tied with a crimson bow, and huge popcorn balls covered with sugary caramel. Others offered candy bars- full-sized ones, mind you, not the now popular miniature kind.

After arriving home, bedraggled and costumes akimbo, my brother and I would stack up the candy in neat piles in a friendly competition of ” Who got more?”

Oh, those Hershey and Mars bars, Three Musketeers, Snickers, and Mary Janes!

Why are we intrigued by all things Halloween? Is it the moody, mysterious weather?

The fear of the unknown? Or do we just like to be scared?

From youth, I have been attracted to creepy books and horror films. I was awed by the Wicked Witch and her legion of flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz”, and horrified by the plight of Mia Farrow, who gives birth to the Anti-Christ in “Rosemary’s Baby.”

In “Stir of Echoes”, Kevin Bacon is haunted by the ghost of a murdered girl entombed in his basement, and in Stephen King’s “The Dead Zone”, a young teacher is the victim of a car crash, only to awaken from a coma with the ability to foresee the future. In King’s masterpiece, “‘Salem’s Lot”, the devil takes over the townspeople, turning them into vampires.  As a high school English teacher, I loved covering the tales of Edgar Allen Poe:

“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado”; and his famous poem, “The Raven.”

Where did Halloween get its start? A time of both celebration and superstition, Halloween is thought to have originated with the ancient Celts some 5,000 years ago. At the festival of Samhain, residents would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. Halloween is the evening before the Christian holy day of All Saint’s Day, held November 1, thus giving the holiday on October 31 the full name of All Hallow’s Eve.

Halloween has become one of the biggest holidays in America, with retail spending projected to be 9.1 billion in 2017, a new record. The average household will spend $83.00 on the purchase of candy alone, while the most popular costumes for kids will range from Superheroes to Star Wars characters to that old standby, a witch.

The fascination with Halloween and witches is not just for the young. A friend hosts an annual Witch Party, complete with “spirits” and crystal ball readings. Celebrants are required to wear a witch hat, but most attend dressed in full witch regalia, sporting garish makeup, and wearing gowns and shawls in dizzying shades of black and purple.

There is an award for the most original witchy portrayal.

Communities also get into the Halloween spirit. Our local York County Rail Trail hosts an annual Pumpkin Walk, a half-mile pathway lit with a gorgeous array of decorated and lighted hand-carved pumpkins.

As long as humans ponder the beauty of life and the mystery of death, they will be intrigued by autumn.

Have a fabulous fall!

Vega Magic

It was a bright orange, 4 cylinder Chevy Vega with black checked interior and it belonged to my future husband. Bought brand new in the spring of 1974, it cost $2650.00. A sporty four-on-the-floor, it burned oil like crazy. Not the greatest mileage either, but at least gas only cost 55 cents a gallon.

It was his pride and joy, and coordinated with his snazzy platform shoes, plaid pants, and longish over-the-collar hair. He was a dapper fellow, a cool dude.

We had been dating for about a year and he had been visiting me for the holidays at my parent’s house.

It was getting late on that Christmas night and I tried to talk him into staying until morning, but, being the dedicated type, he insisted he had to get back to Baltimore to work the next morning.

A few hugs and kisses later, he was on his way on the dark, circuitous route that led from

my parent’s place to the interstate. No lights lit his way on that rural Pennsylvania road, but he sailed along, listening to Paul McCartney belt out “Junior’s Farm.” “Let’s go, let’s go, take me down to Junior’s Farm!”

Suddenly, he hit a 90 degree turn in the road, the warning signs obscured in the dark.

Wham! Down into a ditch the Vega went, hitting a couple of boulders, momentarily tipping the car on its side. Crawling to safety through the passenger door, he smelled for gas before high tailing it out of  there to a nearby house to make some calls. No cell phones back in those days!

He was luckily and almost miraculously unscathed ( he was, after all, destined to become my husband, the father of two, and the grandpa of three), but the car was not.

Bent bumper and dented roof, the state police were called, and the Vega towed away.

When he called my house to inform us of the accident, my Dad and I came to get him. He spent Christmas night with us, after all.

My Dad was a kind-hearted soul, and perhaps sensing in him son-in-law material, lent said boyfriend one of our cars to drive back to Baltimore the next day.

Adventures with the orange Vega were not yet over. Early in our marriage, it was to tangle with a deer coming home through the Poconos in the fall of ’77.

Result: one mangled grill and one dead deer.

He was to keep the orange Vega for a few more years. It was never a great car, but looking back over the prism of years, still his first, magic Vega.